Thursday, 30 August 2012

Landlord vs Tenants

The private renting system can land both tenants and landlords in the soup when care is not taken. Two recent articles, one from the Herald Express; detailing rogue landlords in Torbay, South Devon, the other from the Central Somerset Gazette; concerning appalling tenants in Glastonbury.

Within Torbay, private landlords hold hundreds of low quality, ill-kept and poorly maintained properties across the resort. Many are often in the most deprived areas of the town, areas amok with the less disciplined kind of youth, prone to outbreaks of graffiti, noise and violence. Within just the last year, there have been 1400 complaints from local tenants, compared to just 3 and 40 from nearby, comparable towns. The landlords evict any tenant that complains about the low standard of living/quality of life.

The Glastonbury report tells the story of a landlord who accepted tenants on housing benefit and under the care of social services in the mistaken belief that this would provide some form of security, in that the public sector would ensure his new tenants are kept in line. However, when they finally moved out the unfortunate landlord discovered his house had been effectively ruined, with human excrement on the walls and the interior furniture left in wreckage.

Both cases highlight the importance of ensuring a detailed check is made on both sides of the tenancy agreement. Both the landlord and the tenant-to-be are making a costly decision that significantly affects their lives. Such a decision cannot be entered lightly and without the utmost care. The landlord should make use of a professional tenant letting service which obtains references from past landlords to check how they treat a property and their employer to check they can pay the rent.

The tenant should make at least one visit to the property before signing anything. A prospective tenant should make a check-list of what they're looking for in a property, tell-tale signs of maintenance required and prospective problems. They should check the lights, plumbing, electrical, doors, heating and more to know the property they are moving into sufficient to provide for their basic needs. Another useful task would be contacting local residents, scouting the nearby area to judge the quality of the neighbourhood.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Oxfam Maintenance Initiative

In a new initiative to organise the maintenance and repair of their 128 shops within 30 miles of the Warwickshire area, Oxfam, the global aid and development charity, is setting up a meet event for local contractors to attend.  Over the course of 4 and a half hours on the morning of Wednesday, the 29th of August, a team from Oxfam will personally judge any chain of contractors that turns up. As the event is free and requires no membership in the organisation, Construcionline, that is setting it up, I am sure that they can expect quite a turnout. I am also confident that Oxfam will have a difficult time deciding and judging the relative merits of these excellent tradesmen.

BPM Maintenance is unfortunately too far from the region to participate, though you can count on that we would be there if a similar opportunity opened up in the Bath, Bristol or North east Somerset area. Any contractors that hope for a deal with Oxfam will have to present good evidence that their work is of the highest quality and is affordable for a chain of charity shops. These property maintenance workers will have to remember that Oxfam will not have the budget of a retail company which doesn't rely on goodwill and volunteers to support their business.

Any prospective contractor would need to show good links with local business, especially in the retail sector. They would need to provide a strong range of trades such as plumbing and electrical that may all be required by Oxfam. A charity would certainly prefer to use a single maintenance company rather than organising multiple to work together for a single project, with the escalating costs that would bring. Accreditations and proof of experience and qualifications would certainly be a requirement. BPM Maintenance meets all these stipulations with flying colours; we can only hope that the Bath, Bristol or Somerset area Oxfams conduct a similar meeting with local businesses so we can extend our trade further.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Construction Sector has Shrunk Nearly 10% in the Last Year

On the 10th of August, the Office for National Statistics published a new report showing the construction output figures for the second quarterly period of 2012. Unfortunately the already shrinking building sector has contracted further as the recession continues. Only one sector remained unscathed; non housing repair and maintenance. Thus we at BPM Maintenance have not been hit quite as badly as our competitors, due to our strong relationships with local businesses in the Bath, Bristol and North East Somerset area. We provide as range of commercial and retail maintenance work, that the statistics have shown some growth in; 0.8% year on year.

The Economics Director of the Construction Products Association, Noble Francis, had this to say on the new figures;

‘However, what is most concerning is that private sector activity has also fallen sharply, implying that not just activity but also confidence is sadly lacking.

This situation is rapidly becoming a crisis and at this rate I wouldn't be surprised if manufacturers begin to shut down their operations and lay people off.'

Many experts view growth in the building industry as integral to the economic growth of the country as a whole regaining momentum. The government itself recognises this, but continues to deny the necessary measures to stimulate growth.

The population of the Isles is ever growing, yet the decline in housing repair and maintenance shown in the statistics released may hint that many people are unable to afford professional services and are resorting to DIY to solve plumbing or electrical problems. Many of these maintenance jobs can be more involved and dangerous than they appear. Attempting to re-wire or fix an electrical installation without the necessary training for example, could easily cause further damage or injury.