Feedback on the Landlord Law Members Survey January 2022

February 26, 2022

feedbackIn January I asked Landlord Law members to complete a ‘members feedback survey’.  To tell me about themselves and what they want from the site.

We had 150 responses which was pretty good.  So to thank them/you, I am writing this ‘feedback on the feedback’ post – to acknowledge what was posted and to tell you, where relevant, what we are doing about it.

Note that you will need to be logged in as a member to follow some of the links below.  A few items are Business Level members only (but you can always switch your membership if you want to see them).

As this is quite a long post I have done an index with links

About you (the Landlord Law members who responded)

  • Most of you are landlords – 70%, with 9% being a letting agent and a landlord.  The rest of you are a sprinkling of letting agents, advisers and a few lawyers.
  • You learned about Landlord Law in a variety of ways, mostly via a search on the internet or a recommendation by one of our members.  Although quite a few of you joined so long ago that you can’t remember!
  • Quite a few of you are HMO landlords – 44% HMO to 56% non-HMO landlords.  I was pleased to see that no-one ticked ‘not sure’!
  • Over 90% of you rent property in England with around 9% having property in Wales.
  • Most of you either joined Landlord Law to use the tenancy agreements or for long term support.
  • Most of you are longstanding landlords – 73% for over 10 years and 13% between 5 and 10 years.
  • A majority (51%)  own less than 5 properties with a further  18% owning between 5 and 9 and 10% with between ten and 19.  10% own over 20 properties.
  • 67% manage your own properties, 9% only through a letting agent and 16% use a combination of self-managing and letting with an agent.
  • Most of you (66%) own your property in your own name with 22% using a limited company for one or all of your properties.

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Using the Landlord Law website:

This section looks at how you interact with the site.  According to the survey responses:

  • 70% of you have had no issues with 22% having had minor issues.  Mostly the issues seem to be around navigating the site
  • 17% of you find the site navigation easy, 46% find it ‘somewhat easy’ with around 20% of you finding it difficult.
  • This may be explained by the answer to the next question which shows that more of you, 35%, use the search box – which is perhaps the least effective method of finding content, with only 14% using the A-Z page and 14% using the checklists, which are probably the best ways to find content.
  • We set up a bookmarks system a few years ago to help members find content again but it seems that only 12% of you use it and 42% of you did not realise it was there!  Despite there being a bookmarks icon on the site header.
  • We also have some ‘quick tour guides’ which it seems that 40% of you have used although 20% did not realise they were there.
  • Most of you have not used the ‘green button’ messenger service yet – but please do use it when you want to contact me rather than sending an email.  It is much more reliable and your message is less likely to get ‘lost’ in my inbox.
  • More of you are aware of the Landlord Law points now – but still, 54% of you did ot realise that you can get discounts off some of our products.  I have noticed more of you using them recently so maybe the survey brought them to your attention!
  • As regards the popularity of our various services, the most popular are the tenancy agreements which 78% of you like, along with the articles and FAQ (65%) and the other forms (66%).  The next popular are the checklists (49%), the forum (41%) the eviction guide (39%) and the monthly training (36%).  Note that the numbers do not add up to 100 as you could tick whatever you liked.

The next questions were text boxes looking at what you liked and didn’t like.

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Things you liked about the site

Looking at the responses, it seems that the things which people most like about Landlord Law are

  • Me (thank you!)
  • Our comprehensive content
  • The fact that we are responsive to changes in the industry (eg our COVID content)
  • The legal accuracy and reliability of our content – which people feel they can trust
  • The fact that we explain things clearly in plain English with little or no ‘legal waffle’
  • The easy to understand tenancy agreements and other documents, and
  • The fact that it is there!

There were a lot of lovely comments from you – for which thank you very much!  I won’t copy any of them here as it will make this post too long but it looks as if, on the whole, the site is doing its job and you are happy with it.

However, there were, inevitably, a few:

Things you didn’t like

So I want to take this opportunity to explain either what we have done about the issues you have raised or why they’re not something that can be changed.  So let’s look first at:

The forum

I know some people find this difficult so the survey has prompted me to re-do the forum help videos which can be found here

I hope you will find them more useful than the last ones.  Although actually, as you will see below, most people who use the forum find it’s OK.

Finding things on Landlord Law

The trouble is that Landlord Law is such a huge site with a massive amount of content. However I organise things some people will find it counter-intuitive.

However, in the past year, we have introduced the AZ page and the checklists which should help.  And please do use the bookmarks – so you don’t lose something once it is found.

Someone has suggested a site map so we may look into that. 

But be aware that there are multiple ways to find things.  On the whole, the search box is not that helpful (although we have tried to improve it) so if that is your only method of looking for content you are bound to be disappointed.

There is a help article here which explains the options.

Amending the tenancy agreements

The system does not allow you to change the basic (boilerplate) text, and this is not going to change.  Sorry.  There are two main reasons for this:

  • It is not technically possible with the system we are using and
  • If you are not legally qualified you are likely to amend the document in a way that is not legally correct – and I do not want tenancy agreements incorrectly drafted bearing the Landlord Law name!  It could negatively affect our reputation – not to mention the problems it could cause you.  This is also why we do not give you a Landlord Law ‘word’ version to hack about.

If you really want to change things there is nothing to stop you from copying the text into your word processing software and amending it here.  I will not claim copyright if you do this while you are a Landlord Law member.

If you just want to change one or two clauses – this can be done via the additional clauses box.  Ask me in the forum and I may even draft up your alternative clause for you!

There is a help page here which explains how the system works – although most people seem to have no problems using it.

Legal References

Some people (probably our lawyer members) have said that they would like to see more of these.  I tend not to give too many references as I don’t think non-lawyer landlords want this. 

But note that we have a list of legal cases here and legislation pages here.

Tax and financial content

I am not an accountant and never was a conveyancing solicitor (when I was in practice) so I took a policy decision some time ago to leave this type of content out. 

Landlord Law deals with the things you need to deal with after your property has been purchased (although we do have a few FAQ – see buying property in the AZ page).

Tax is a complex subject and my view is that you should professional accountants for this (as I do).  There are also some excellent online resources you can use.  Property118 has a lot of tax content for example.

I also don’t want to get into the whole business of investment advice (I am not authorised for it anyway) – there are lots of other people who can advise on this (although be careful who you choose).

Wales

Practically the whole of the Welsh landlord and tenant system is going to change on 15 July and my assistant Mark and I are working on this.

I hope to get some tenancy agreements up which will comply with the new Welsh rules within the next few weeks.

A free telephone advice line

We have the forum!  And I would like a life!  My husband has warned me that if I have Landlord Law members ringing me up night and day he will be considering divorce proceedings …

I also think the forum is actually better than a telephone helpline as you can go back and read things again.  And you get the benefit of other members’ advice sometimes – which can be really helpful.

I am always happy to answer members’ questions, at no extra charge – but only on the forum.  Unless you need technical support when you should use the green button service.

If you really want telephone advice we have a paid telephone advice service – which is cheaper for members.

Spelling

Yes, sorry about that.  I now have Grammarly and am trying to root out the typos.  The trouble is, when writing I tend to be more concerned about legal accuracy than spelling.  I also type quite fast and sometimes my fingers transpose letters which occasionally I don’t pick it up.

The ‘punctuation police’ don’t like me much either.

Time

The other problem, which I can’t help with, is that people say they don’t have time to read all the site content!  Still, at least it’s there when you need it.

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Specific parts of the site

The next part of the survey looks at some particular areas of the site to see how much you use them.

  • The Landlord Law checklists seem to be popular as 48% of you use them a lot and only 7% don’t know they are there.
  • The Property Inspection Kit (business level members only) is also quite popular although most people just look at it and don’t use it much (39%) with only 11% using it a lot.
  • The Dealing with Changing Tenants Kit only has 37% having looked at it with 62% either not looking at it or not being aware of its existence, and
  • Only 17% have used the Local Authority Directory.
  • However, things are slightly better with the training webinars as 44% of you have watched at least some of them with a further 25% having watched some of the recordings.
  • So far as the document generator documents are concerned, some 80% of you have used them with 70% finding the system easy to use and only 1 person finding it difficult.
  • The forum is used by 62% of you with 8% using it a lot.  32% found it easy to use, 19% found it tricky to start with but are OK now, with only 14% finding it really difficult.  If this is you please check out the new help videos here.

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Training

I am a bit shocked that 55% of you have not done ANY training over the past 2 years, although I suppose being a Landlord Law member does ensure that you have up to date support.

Our CPD service (1-hour CPD per month) does not seem to be very popular with only 7% of you having used it.  Although this may be because you did not know it was there (37%).

As regards training events, only 13% prefer face to face training with the rest of you either preferring online training (49%) or having no preference (38%).

This is reflected in your preferences for our new in-person/livestream events with only 9% saying you will only want the fact to face and 31% saying which one you chose would depend on the circumstances.

I have noted your suggestions for future training – apart from the answer which said: “any topics that I’m not too familiar with.”  How am I supposed to know what that is!

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Technical things

It looks as if most of you (74%) still use desktops or laptops to access the site, but there are quite a few who use tablets or smartphones, at least part of the time.

Which is good, as generally, I think Landlord Law is best viewed with a larger device – although our theme is mobile friendly.  The document generator system is however not really suitable for phones, however smart they may be.

The vast majority of you say you are either good with computers (45%) or a re reasonably competent (51%).

Most of you tend to use Chrome as your browser (64%) but we also have quite a few mac users on Safari.  I am glad to see that only 12% of respondents ever use Internet Explorer – as this is now out of date and does not work well with the Landlord Law system.

Some of you find the site speed fast (18%) and most of you think it is OK (67%).  We did have some work done on this a few years ago.  The trouble is that it’s a big site with a lot of functionality, which affects the speed a bit.  Not much we can do about that.

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Hopes and fears

We had a text box for people to put their number 1 frustrations about being a landlord.  Answers included:

  • Bad or anti-social tenant issues
  • Unpaid rent issues
  • Universal credit problems
  • Complex and punitive legislation, and
  • Continual legal changes and ‘government meddling’
  • Unreasonable expectations from tenants
  • Repairs issues – and finding decent tradespeople to do them
  • The time it takes to evict tenants
  • Everyone thinking you are really rich
  • Negative press about landlords
  • Too much paperwork
  • How law seems to favour tenants
  • Councils’ unfair attitudes towards landlords, and
  • Bad or inefficient letting agents

Some of you though, said you had no real problems.  Hopefully at least partly due to your Landlord Law membership and the support that you get!

We also asked what worries you most about the future of the private rented sector.  Answers included:

  • Green issues and having to become energy efficient
  • More legislation, and
  • The law changing too much in favour of tenants
  • The cost of maintenance rising to more than you can afford
  • Massive fines for landlords for insignificant errors while tenants ‘get away with it’
  • Government departments not understanding the sector properly, and
  • Landlords’ vulnerability to ‘politically motivated populist changes’
  • Changing rules for eviction (especially the removal of section 21) making it harder for landlords to get their property back
  • The prospect of tenants being given the right to buy their property
  • More onerous tax
  • Rent caps, and
  • The work of being a landlord generally becoming more onerous with increased stress and loss of job satisfaction

We then asked what your future plans were:

  • 8% of you plan to stop being a landlord fairly soon
  • 21% of you are continuing for now but are considering reducing your portfolio
  • 30% intend to remain as a landlord for the time being but this may change if the new legislation proves too punitive
  • 31% of you have no intention of selling up 
  • The rest are either not a landlord or don’t know.

The survey ended with a request for tips to help other landlords which I am putting in the weekly bulletin (if you have a tip, please leave it here).

And that’s it.

Thank you very much to all who responded.   I hope this post has answered any questions you had.

Tessa Shepperson

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