Of the many services provided by the National Landlords Association (NLA), perhaps the most useful and unique benefit is the help and assistance offered by the Advice Line. In an increasingly complex regulatory environment, it is a great comfort for NLA members to know that on the other end of a telephone line is the sympathetic ear of a trained adviser able to offer practical aid and pragmatic advice on any and all issues to do with running a lettings business.
The NLA receives over 38,000 calls a year covering a wide variety of issues from landlords who need some advice. We are here to give professional and practical assistance to all our members, whether small, one property landlords or larger portfolio landlords and agents. Alan Jakeway, Head of NLA Advice Line, gives you the low down on the NLA Advice Line.
Who are the advisers?
Our Advice Line consists of 18 professional members of staff all with extensive experience of the lettings business. The advisers come from various backgrounds: some are legally trained to a high level, others are housing law practitioners, and many have been trained in the gentle art of negotiation. All advisers receive regular training and professional development, so that they are all fully aware of current legislative requirements.
In most cases, the NLA member will find they are also talking to a fellow landlord, who will empathise with the issue they are discussing. The advice team all work part-time, on average two days a week; for the rest of the time they will be running their own businesses. It is not uncommon to hear an adviser say to a member: ‘Yes, the same thing happened to me only last week.’
What does the Advice Line do?
As a UK-wide organisation, we deal with queries from landlords based in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the role of an adviser is not just to give advice, but also to listen.
Call times can vary between five minutes to thirty minutes or more if the matter is more complex, such as assisting in the filling out of court forms. In some cases, landlords are very distressed and need time to relate the full issue and it’s vital that we tease out all the necessary information after which we can get to work on briefing them and offering advice on the most appropriate course of action. There are times when more than one possible course of action is available; in such instances the member will be presented with the various options available to them and the likely outcome of each one.
There is always a minimum of five advisers working at any one time, with six on what we class as peak days (Mondays and Fridays). Calls are received from the moment the lines are opened at 9am and continue non-stop until 5pm when the lines close. Members who cannot get through immediately are able to leave a message and all calls are returned, usually within the hour. On a typical day, the advice line receives on average 160 calls.
What issues does the Advice Line commonly deal with?
A high percentage of calls will be concerning possession proceedings. It is an unfortunate fact that landlords will occasionally have to go to court to secure possession of a rented property. Most of the advisers have had experience of court possession procedures and assistance can be given with what to expect in court, how to instigate the process and how to correctly fill out the court forms. While there can be no guarantees, the NLA can confidently assert that if the correct procedures are followed a successful result will almost certainly be achieved. This has been our experience even with difficult and defended claims.
But there are a whole host of other issues we advise members on, and each poses a slightly different scenario. The most common subjects landlords raise with the Advice Line include:
- Rent arrears
- Dealing with letting agents
- Contract law matters
- Court procedures
- Local Housing Allowance and Housing Benefit regulations
- Council Tax liability obligations
- How to go about serving a Section 21 and Section 8 Notices
- Deposit protection
- Tenancy contract issues
- Queries relating to houses of multiple occupation (HMOs)
- Joint Tenancies/Deed of Assignment
- Housing Benefit regulations
Don’t take a gamble, get the right advice
If you can relate to any of these problems, or are currently grappling with an issue you’re unsure about, why turn to the internet when you’re not guaranteed a correct answer? As one of our experienced advisers has said: ‘I can look at any so-called legal advice website for landlords and within 5 minutes find a legal error.’ You could always call a solicitor, but that might prove more expensive in the long run.
Full NLA members have free access to the Advice Line as part of their membership. If you are not an NLA Full Member, then we also offer a more flexible solution in Call Credits, which gives you the opportunity to try out the Advice Line without committing to NLA membership. When you purchase Call Credits for the first time we’ll enrol you as an NLA Landlord Associate which gives you FREE access to our approved tenancy agreements, forms and letters which cover England, Wales and Scotland. We’ll also deduct the cost of previously purchased Call Credits from your membership fee if you later decide to join as a Full Member within 90 days.
Join the NLA and find out exactly how we can help support you to make a profitable success of your letting business.
NLA Full members can access the Advice Line on 020 7840 8939