Tag Archive: landlords and tenants

George F. White Agency: A New Beginning

This year, we made the decision to introduce a complete property management service across all of the George F. White offices. Sheryl Sowden, Head of Residential Agency, and Donna Cheney, Head of Lettings, explain the reasoning behind the decision and the benefits to our clients.


Historically, George F. White’s agency team have offered both residential sales and residential lettings services, however, for the past four years, GFW Letting, a dedicated property management branch of the group, ran residential lettings in Northumberland and Newcastle. The GFW Letting business model has been a phenomenal success therefore; we took the decision to introduce a centralised lettings and property management service to the George F. White brand in order to complete our all-inclusive offering, meaning that we now have dedicated lettings and property management teams in our Wolsingham, Barnard Castle and Bedale offices.

Not only does the introduction of an expert lettings and property management team in these offices benefit our overall service offering, it presents attractive and innovative opportunities to our clients. The prospect of our residential agency and residential lettings team working side by side opens many doors, particularly in regards to knowledge sharing and best practice. Inevitably, we strive to ensure that our clients get the best from their investment, whether that be when they are buying, selling or letting a property.

Sheryl Sowden said: “A prime example of how the two markets go hand in hand, in particular for clients, is to look at reluctant landlords. This is perhaps somebody that has inherited a property that they want to sell but the market won’t accommodate it for various reasons. We have the facility to advise and offer an alternative option within the same branch, with the same trusted advisors. As vacant properties no longer receive any council tax discounts the owner is liable for those charges, and the longer the property is empty those costs actually increase. In addition to this there is the cost of heating the property to ensure that there is no deterioration of condition, meaning that property owners are losing money unnecessarily. In this case we would look into introducing a tenant in order to take the financial weight off the client’s shoulders in the short or long term.”

“If a client ideally wants to market their property for sale whilst it is tenanted, so long as there is good communication between the management team, tenant and sales team this process can also work very successfully, but transparency and a good relationship are critical. This is also facilitated extremely well if the process is managed by one company working closely together”.

Thanks to both our residential agency and lettings teams being housed under the same roof, our clients are dealing with the same people, but the individual that has the most relevant expertise, they receive the same level of service from beginning to end. Buying, selling or letting a property is an extremely significant financial and emotional investment, therefore, professionalism, transparency and trust from all parties is key.

Donna Cheney said: “Now that we have a Head of Lettings and a Head of Residential Agency, we’ve found that it has enhanced our communication and our understanding of how the sectors are increasingly overlapping. A progressive understanding of each area has allowed us to identify our business objectives as well creating a diverse, attractive and innovative service offering for our clients.  We are extremely positive about the future opportunities that this integration and cooperation affords us and our clients.”

For more information, contact your local team or find out more about what we can offer here.


Positive changes to disputes of agricultural tenancies but will they be embraced?

For those that own or occupy land under secure AHA 86 act tenancy, there was a significant and much welcomed change in March, aimed at trying to ensure better long lasting relationships between Landlords and Tenants.


Previously, disputes particularly over rent, game damage, written tenancies and model clauses, have had to be decided by the arbitration process, but this has changed to allow third parties to determine the dispute; whether that be family friends in family disputes or experts if it is a matter of rent for example.


So why the change? Well the arbitration process is particularly lengthy and as a result ends up in significant cost. Invariably, there is often a winner and a loser, and it’s often the loser that ends up picking up the costs for all the parties. Therefore, there is risk associated with the process, which may go on for many months if not years if it is a complicated matter. The issue of costs is particularly damaging for both parties, as it’s used as a bargaining tool to achieve an outcome in the first instance. If the matter does proceed to arbitration, this often leaves a bitter lasting memory with the loser, which is often irreparable. Of course there are insurance policies to help cover costs but it is the damage to relationships that the use of an expert may help to prevent.


It’s important to note, that the third party needs to be appointed before the relevant term date and has to be agreed by both parties; if one fails to agree to such a proposal, then the only recourse is arbitration. Once the third party is appointed, you then can’t go back to the arbitration process and therefore needs to be embraced at the outset of the dispute.


There is a fundamental difference between the two processes; an arbitrator has to make a decision based on the facts and evidence presented to him, whereas the expert can use his expertise to help make that decision and therefore it is important to use someone with the necessary expertise to ensure clarity over the dispute and appointment.


I see this move as a real positive in helping ensure that relations between Landlord and Tenant remain in a business-like manner and don’t end up in bitter disputes which are costly and often end up being driven forward on matters of principle, rather than a focused business decision. The key will be whether landlords, tenants, agents and lawyers, see this is a positive and embrace the process and I do hope that it now becomes a discussion before needlessly appointing arbitrators. Of course it also requires good experts, which I suspect may also be difficult to find those that are impartial!


Another positive and much welcomed change is that from the 1st October, clarification over model clauses on repair and replacement liability comes into force. This will hopefully clarify certain grey areas over the past years that have caused too much debate and cost to both parties.