Swayam Property Services

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Swayam Property Services's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Swayam Property Services is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.swayam.co.uk

1SWAYAM PROPERTY SERVICES |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
0207 183 8366 / 0203 322 5520
ONE
PROPERTY NEEDS
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FOR ALL YOUR
STOP SHOP
Managing Director Sheeba Kumar
Swayam Property Services,
Newham, London
Founded in 1999, Swayam Property Services Ltd is a family-
run estates and lettings agent based in Newham. Sheeba
Kumar founded the business while on maternity leave from
her former job in the civil service and has seen the business
go from strength to strength. Her husband Anil Kumar joined
the business full-time in 2008 and they now manage over
300 properties and a team of eight people. Sheeba tells the
Review
more.
What sets us apart from our rivals in the sector is our friendly and professional
approach to customers. Our staff team is highly motivated, well trained and
experienced, and its members possess extensive knowledge. Our marketing
materials are of the highest standard and we are committed to integrating the
latest IT solutions and marketing expertise into our services. We make sure all
of our properties are marketed in the best possible way and that our properties
benefit from the best exposure so that our clients can find the right tenants.
The business started in 1999 when I ran into issues with a tenant living in a
buy-to-let property that we owned. At the time, we had delegated the property
management to a local lettings agent but when a tenant stopped paying rent and
refused to leave the property, the agency was unable to help. We decided to go to
court ourselves and, while the legal fees were expensive, we managed to secure an
eviction within nine months. From this process I learnt a lot about how to deal with
tenants and questioned why I was using an agent in the first place.
In response, we decided to manage the property by ourselves. A few months later,
one of our close friends – Yamuna Nair – asked for the letting agents’ details for
FACTS ABOUT
SWAYAM PROPERTY SERVICES
»Managing Director:
Sheeba Kumar
»Founded in 1999
»Based in Newham, London
»Services: Lettings and property
management
»No. of employees: 8
Swayam Property
Services
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2| SWAYAM PROPERTY SERVICES
our house so her sister, Ganga, could
use the services of the same agency.
When I told her our story, she asked
if we would look after their property
as well and offered a monthly fee
of £50 for doing so. We agreed. A
few months later, Yamuna and her
husband bought another house and
moved out of East Ham, and their
property in East Ham was also given
to us for management. We decided
then to take the business seriously
and register a company as the vehicle
through which to run it.
Solid foundations
In 1999, there were around 38
agencies managing the sales and
letting of properties in the Newham
area, but we felt with a unique selling
point we could penetrate the market.
Many of the businesses were not
effective at dealing with troublesome
tenants and by offering to guarantee
the rents for our clients, the business
was able to grow quickly. Initially,
growth came by virtue of referrals and
word-of-mouth recommendations, but
this soon snowballed and by the start
of 2003, I was managing 67 properties
from my home cellar.
A few months into 2003, I decided I
couldn’t manage from the cellar any
more and started renting a first-floor
office in Katherine Road in Newham.
The business continued to grow and
by 2008 I was managing over 100
properties, encouraging me to move
the business to a high street shop
in East Ham, which is our current
office. Initially, we did not have the
confidence to commit to additional
overheads, so we opted for a five-year
lease; however, in 2013, we renewed
the office lease for another 20 years.
Risk and reward
The unique selling point that sets
Swayam apart from its competitors is
our willingness to guarantee the rent
to our landlords as per their contract.
This means that when a tenant
stops paying, we still pay the rent to
landlords as agreed in the contract.
Providing such a guarantee played
a vital role in building our portfolio.
This, coupled with excellence in
customer services, helped us to retain
our competitive edge in the rental
propertymarket.
To cover our guarantees in the past,
we paid up to £8,000 over a period of
one year to an insurer to protect the
rental incomes, but later we found
out they weren’t actually protecting
the properties for which we had paid
the premium. We have since stopped
paying for the service and have instead
increased our focus on stringent tenant
checks and providing client-centric
support. Part of this process is offering
complete honesty and transparency
with our clients and guaranteeing
that we will deal with any issue they
have from start to finish. We have
the necessary resources to solve the
issues that our clients and tenants
face and therefore have built a strong
reputation within our local community.
Lettings and property
management from our
East Ham offices
What sets us
apart from our
rivals in the
sector is our
friendly and
professional
approach to
customers
3SWAYAM PROPERTY SERVICES |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
Our reputation was further enhanced
in 2013 when we started offering
to complete the property licence
applications for our clients. This was
a time-consuming process and soon
a number of property owners that
hadn’t been previously using our
services came to us for help. We
completed around 500 applications in
total and our client portfolio grew by a
significant number in the sameperiod.
Need for greater enforcement
There are a number of challenges
facing the sector in which we work
but the local and national authorities
have not done enough to tackle
them. Firstly, there are a series of
unscrupulous agencies that are both
taking advantage of tenants and
reducing the amount of business that
legitimate operations can expect.
Such agencies aren’t following the
processes that have been set out, but
the regulation does not yet exist to
stop them. Many of these agencies
will offer attractive deals to clients,
such as putting up a certain amount
of rent before taking the deposits
and leaving the tenants with nothing.
There is money laundering involved in
a number of these situations and the
regulations have not yet caught up.
Secondly, government policy is in a
constant state of change and this
can often leave agencies in the dark
about the future. The licensing process
caused a significant upheaval but
there wasn’t sufficient help given
by the council. Similarly, the council
is slow at intervening when we are
trying to evict troublesome tenants
and does little to prevent illegal
subletting. As part of the licensing
agreement the council is supposed to
provide us with assistance, but this
help is simply not forthcoming. We
already operate in a high-risk industry
and the lack of support from councils
throughout the UK is only enhancing
that risk. Tenants are aware of how to
get around the rules and we therefore
need greater support in re-enforcing
the rules so that they work better for
us all.
Government
policy is in a
constant state
of change
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THE TEAM SWAYAM
The Swayam team

www.swayam.co.uk

This article was sponsored by Swayam Property Services. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster