We were truly sorry to hear the news that Upad has closed its virtual doors. We know how stressful this must be for both customers and employees alike.
But what should you be doing to make sure that this sad announcement doesn’t impact you, or your tenants?
1. Notify your tenants
Landlords are likely to have heard the news through the sector press or via correspondence from Upad, but do make sure that your tenants are aware – especially if your property is under management, Upad managed your deposit or you are in the process of sorting out a new tenancy. Keeping everyone in the loop at this stage is vital! A quick email letting them know and directing them to the statement on the Upad website is a good start.
2. Sort out the rent
If Upad was collecting rent on your behalf, make sure that any rent is now paid directly to you. Legally, all letting agents are required to hold all client money in a separate ringfenced account, so your rent payments should be perfectly safe, however Upad will stop collecting by direct debit after October 10th, so landlords and tenants should make immediate alternative plans for upcoming payments to prevent any confusion.
3. Get back any owed money
If you paid for a Upad advertising package, and you haven’t found a tenant, then you could claim for your money back. Upad are saying that anyone who bought since 1st October should get a refund, but not if you bought prior to that.
Assuming you bought it with a debit or credit card, it may be quicker and safer to try and claim back the money now regardless of the date of your purchase. You can do this via the ‘chargeback schemes’ operated by the card networks (Visa, MasterCard etc.). They will refund payments made by card if the company goes bust before receipt of goods. You need to contact your bank or credit card company to start the chargeback process – call the number on the back of the card. Make sure you have your Upad transaction details to hand. You have 120 days to make a chargeback claim from the point of purchase, so don’t leave it long.
If you paid by PayPal, then it’s a similar process, but called a Dispute, which is then escalated to a Claim. Go to your PayPal account and start a dispute ensuring it is categorised as ‘Item Not Received’
If you are owed money that wasn’t paid by card, then a lot will depend on what actually happens to Upad. This government guide details how to claim money from companies in liquidation.
4. Make sure your property is legal
It would be wise to do a quick audit of the paperwork you have for your properties, and take note of anything you have outstanding, or can’t lay your hands on. Make sure you can locate all the relevant copies of required documents such as gas safety certificates, EPCs, HMO licences that the Upad team may have arranged for you so that you know you are fully compliant. If you can’t dig them out, you can trying contacting Upad on firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are having trouble finding any of the vital legal documents, don’t panic. Here at Howsy we can arrange everything to ensure you are compliant with the law – give our team a call and we can help fill in any gaps!
5. Manage the deposits
Any tenant deposits are protected by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. They have been moved from TDS’s Insured Scheme to their Custodial Scheme. This means that landlords will be able to manage the deposit directly, and that tenants and landlords can apply to TDS for deposit repayment when the tenancy ends. TDS say that they will contact all tenants and landlords by email soon, so get in touch with them if you haven’t heard anything by the end of October. Details of TDS’s message for Upad customers are here.
6. Serve notice
It’s probably an academic point as Upad looks like it is ceasing trading, but you should also serve them notice just to make sure that you’re acting within the bounds of your contract with them.
7. Get your property let
If you were in the process of getting a tenant, then next steps are dependent on what stage you’re at in the process.
If you have found a tenant that you want to proceed with, and are happy to handle the ongoing admin of drawing up contracts, references, right to rent checks and managing deposits, you are perfectly placed to proceed without Upad.
However, if your property is currently being marketed online (visible on sites such as Rightmove and Zoopla) via Upad, then it may be best to just to start again. You will be unable to access the tenant details that show interest at this stage, so the advert won’t be doing anything for you.
To move on as quickly as possible, there are a few simple steps to take:
- Copy the URL (the website address) of your property advert. Find it on Rightmove or Zoopla and take a copy of the link – it will look something like www.rightmove.co.uk/property-to-rent/property-6xxxxxxx.html.
- This listing may disappear, however it is useful to be able to pass this on to a new agent if you can. It’ll help provide key details about your property – saving you time and helping get you back online quickly.
- Get in touch with another letting agent as quickly as possible to avoid losing out on valuable marketing time. Every day counts if you have an empty property!
- If you have tenants in situ, don’t forget to keep them notified with regards to what’s going on.
If you are looking for another tenant find only service, then we’d recommend Urban.co.uk. Their simple and efficient system will get you back up and running as quickly as possible.
If you are looking for a more comprehensive level of lettings management, then get in touch with Howsy. Our 24/7 property management team provide an end-to-end service, from tenant find and rent collection, to repair management and renewals.
Help is at hand at Howsy!