In this episode, Legislate meets Magda, owner of Hometime property management. Magda explains how she overcame the administrative hurdles of setting up a letting agency and why the small things in a contract can have a huge impact.
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Charles Brecque: Welcome to the Legislate podcast, today I'm excited to welcome Magda, owner of HomeTime Property Management, to the show. Magda, would you like to share a bit of background about yourself and HomeTime Property Management?
Magda: Thank you so much and thank you so much for having me. So, yes, my name-, my journey with property starts around three years ago where I was looking for my own place to live and I met a landlord, we just started talking about when we found the place for me he asked me if I would help him with finding tenants, which was something completely I was doing, and this interests me so much I think, 'Okay, maybe this is something that I could do.' So, with his guidance-, because he's a really good landlord with a lot of experience, I opened my own agency, did a qualification from Propertymark, and started my own business, which is very exciting. It's not very easy to start because there's a lot of documentation you need, but when you finally do it's very exciting to be in the field of.
Charles Brecque: What's been your favourite moment so far?
Magda: I very much like meeting landlords and explaining to them what I can do for them, and especially showing them my staging part of business, because as long as I am a letting agent I do staging also to explain to the landlords how to-, so I like to show the landlords how to rent the room with max rent, with not putting too much money on, so showing the property in the best way to bring the best amounts they can have with the max rent they can achieve.
Charles Brecque: And what staging tips can you share with our audience?
Magda: So, I won't go very crazy because if you do over then it looks very fake, so I do very area you will live in. So I do a bed with covers, with cushions, throws, a nice lamp, a few decorations, a few artworks to just make the room more cosy and look like someone is living there. So if you can imagine yourself living in the room then it's more likely the tenant will take it. And right now, I have a few sets which I can mix and match, I do shopping in IKEA, TK Maxx, some of the brands that are not very expensive where you can find good things and you can mix and match with others. So, you do not have to have thousands of cushions, you can have a few that are matching, then you can create new sets. That's basically what I do. Doing good photos, not a very dark room because, unfortunately, many of them are like that on that on advertising. A good angle. So, I spend quite a lot of time photographing the room and then going on the different apps to create the best ways of lighting them up, cutting off, to just see, 'If I would see this online, will I click interested?' If no, then I'm going again or choosing different photos.
Charles Brecque: And since you've been in property for three years now, what do you wish you'd known before entering the world of property?
Magda: I would definitely have liked to know what documentation you need for opening an agency and advice with the bank because, unfortunately, every bank can open you the necessary accounts, so the small tips. But I did it, so if I did it everyone can do it.
Charles Brecque: Documentation on the administrative side is always a challenge, as are the number of rules and updates to know about on the legal side. We try to help with these at Legislate through education, and blogs, and content. What's the vision for the next three, five, ten years?
Magda: So, I would like to see my property boards with letting and managing not only in Bedfordshire but a little bit more across and seeing offices around, and people knowing if I say, 'HomeTime Property,' they know who I am. And I also would like to be invited more on guest speaking because I really enjoy that, to share my knowledge and experience, especially maybe something that I know sounds obvious for me but someone doesn't know that, so as always, we don't know what you don't know. And also from podcasts like yours when I've always been asked, it's a really great thing to learn from experienced people because you always learn, every day you can learn something new.
Charles Brecque: As a business owner and a letting agent I imagine you create a lot of contracts. What are the key contracts you interact with most frequently?
Magda: So, right now, my contract which I do all the time, room only let, sometimes I also do for a whole property but right now I'm more focusing on room only and also on guarantor forms because, unfortunately, not every tenant can be taken on contract because of their work issues, so we're taking them on with a guarantor because this is what has to be done. They are easy forms but sometimes when you are going with slightly different-, because everyone is different so you cannot put everyone in the same shoe, it's sometimes really tricky what you should put on, yes.
Charles Brecque: When you say everyone's different and the contracts need to be different, what are some of the key differences you find? Are there any objections that you need to overcome with those contracts?
Magda: So, right now, many people are asking for different lengths of contract or payment, because not everyone is aware if you're taking a payment, for example for 3 months ahead, then you have 3 months notice to your contract, so it's a way of how to get away from that, but you need to amend your contract or put that information about who they're going to be after payments. So you will know straight away this is coming with experience. I have two different groups I belong to from the property side, where I have legal advice or where they can help me out with that. But there are some things which would be nice to have some booklets explaining small things to you in the contracts because the worst is if you put something not fair to your tenant then, unfortunately, it's going to be a huge problem.
Charles Brecque: Contracts need to be fair, it's the basis for smooth relationships. At Legislate we try to make fair contracts, provide booklet information and, because it's a digital service, there is that audit trail. With those contracts, you mentioned you can get legal advice from landlord associations, what type of support are they able to provide you, property owners, or property entrepreneurs.
Magda: So, they can advise you what is best to do, especially for the landlord's side. Unfortunately, they cannot give proper legal advice, because last time when I called asking for the contract for unmortgaged or mortgaged, unfortunately, they couldn't tell me exactly what I should do. So, unfortunately, my landlord was not available and I can't give contracts saying it's an unmortgaged property if it's mortgaged. So I know this is quite a small thing but, unfortunately, it makes a huge difference in your contract and also on insurance. I call them up regarding, for example, stuff like that, unfortunately they couldn't give me a proper answer, they just give me guides. So most of them are a guide of what should do about documentation the tenants will need to bring for you when you sign the contract, information on what you should present, for example, on the website when you're doing your advertising. Because my landlord, one time, tried to not show one thing which I explained to him, 'No, unfortunately, this had to be shown, the tenants ahead to see, not when they sign the contract because they have to be aware of everything.' So, it's quite good having backup like that, so if you're not sure about something to give a call and have the second opinion to see if what you think is really what should be done, because the worst case if you're wrong is-, because, unfortunately, in property the mistakes cost you quite a lot, not only money or prison-, because, unfortunately, you can also go to prison, but also your good name and all the work you have done to build your name can go for this quite quickly.
Charles Brecque: Mistakes can be quite a big impact in a contract, especially seemingly simple matters. I'll ask you a closing question we ask all our guests, if you were sent a contract to sign today, what would impress you?
Magda: So, I will definitely check terms and conditions because I like to read the small print because you can always find something there. And definitely what's important for me is looking good and clear, so I can see everything that it is standing and explain everything. Obviously, I don't like to have a book, like 50 pages of contract, and that's sometimes it's necessary to do, but I like where they are clean and tidy, written on the page so it's easy to read by anyone.
Charles Brecque: At Legislate we offer clean contracts, easy to read and understand, because we simplify the language and present a summary of the key terms as a set of questions and answers, available to tenants and landlords. Thank you very much, Magda, for your time.
Magda: Thank you so much, it was a pleasure from my side to be on the show and all the best.