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Legislation, Landlords, Letting

Mastering Letting Compliance in Scotland with Cairn Letting & Estate Agency

Mastering Letting Compliance in Scotland – Your Essential Guide with Cairn Letting & Estate Agency The Importance of Compliance in the Scottish Letting Market Scotland’s letting market is buoyant and diverse, offering significant opportunities for landlords. However, the landscape of letting compliance in Scotland is comprehensive, encompassing various legal requirements designed to protect tenants and landlords alike. Compliance isn’t just a legal requirement; it’s a cornerstone of trust in the landlord-tenant relationship, influencing tenant satisfaction and the long-term success of your letting venture. Navigating the Letting Compliance Maze Letting compliance in Scotland involves several key regulations and standards that landlords must adhere to, ensuring properties are safe, secure, and suitable for tenants. These include: Safety Regulations Landlords are required to ensure that all gas and electrical installations are inspected annually by a qualified professional. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must be installed in specific locations within the property. Energy Efficiency An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) must be obtained for the property, demonstrating its energy efficiency to potential tenants. Repairing Standard Landlords must ensure that the property meets the Scottish Government’s repairing standard, which includes the property being wind and watertight and the installations for supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation, space heating, and hot water being in a reasonable state of repair and working order. Tenant Information Pack Landlords are required to provide tenants with a ‘Tenant Information Pack’, which includes essential information about the property, the tenancy, and the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords. Private Residential Tenancy (PRT) Introduced to replace assured and short assured tenancy agreements, the PRT offers more security to tenants and flexibility for landlords. It’s crucial to understand the implications of this tenancy type on your letting arrangements. Simplifying Compliance for Scottish Landlords The complexity of compliance can be overwhelming, particularly for new landlords or those with multiple properties. Cairn Estate Agency is your partner in ensuring that your letting properties not only meet all legal requirements but also stand out in the competitive Scottish market. Our comprehensive compliance services include: Regular updates on changing legislation and how it affects your properties. Organising and maintaining all necessary safety certificates and documentation. Guidance on meeting the Repairing Standard and EPC requirements. Assistance with preparing the Tenant Information Pack and managing Private Residential Tenancies. By leveraging Cairn’s expertise, landlords can navigate the compliance landscape with confidence, focusing on maximising their investment’s potential while ensuring a safe, compliant, and attractive offering to tenants. In the fast-paced and regulated Scottish letting market, staying compliant is key to success and tenant satisfaction. Cairn Letting & Estate Agency is dedicated to providing landlords with the knowledge, services, and support needed to navigate letting compliance with ease. Whether you’re an experienced landlord or new to the market, our team is here to ensure your properties meet every standard and regulation. Contact Cairn Letting & Estate Agency today to learn more about our letting compliance services and how we can help you build a successful, compliant letting business in Scotland.

Legislation, Edinburgh, Property Management

Navigating Edinburgh’s property regulations

Navigating Edinburgh’s Property Regulations: A Guide for Homeowners and Investors Understanding and complying with property regulations in Edinburgh is essential for both homeowners and investors. These regulations are in place to ensure safety, preserve heritage, and maintain the city’s unique character. At Cairn, with our extensive experience in Edinburgh’s property market, we are adept at navigating these regulations, ensuring peace of mind for our clients. Edinburgh’s property regulations cover a wide spectrum, from building and planning codes to specific requirements for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and rules governing properties in conservation areas. Compliance with these regulations is not just a legal requirement but a responsibility for all property owners. Among the crucial regulations are building codes that dictate construction and renovation standards, HMO regulations for properties rented by multiple tenants, and specific guidelines for properties in Edinburgh’s many conservation areas. These regulations can significantly impact property management, renovation projects, and investment decisions. One common challenge in Edinburgh is aligning refurbishment and development projects with regulatory requirements, especially in conservation areas. At Cairn, we help property owners navigate these challenges by offering expert advice and solutions, ensuring compliance while meeting the owner’s objectives. Cairn Letting & Estate Agency brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table when it comes to regulatory compliance. Our team are well-versed in the nuances of Edinburgh’s property regulations, providing clients with comprehensive support in property management, investment, and development projects. Furthermore, in this ever-evolving landscape, it is vital to stay informed about the latest regulatory changes and trends. The city of Edinburgh is known for its rich history and distinctive architecture, which means property regulations often include specific guidelines on maintaining the aesthetic integrity of buildings, particularly in historic districts. We actively monitor these changes, providing clients with timely updates and strategic advice to adapt to new requirements. Our comprehensive services include detailed assessments of properties, identifying potential regulatory hurdles early in the process, and offering innovative solutions that align with both the client’s goals and regulatory mandates. Whether it’s a small-scale renovation or a large development project, our team ensures that every aspect of property management, from acquisition to renovation, adheres to the highest standards of compliance and excellence. For property owners and investors in Edinburgh, understanding and adhering to local property regulations is crucial. At Cairn, we offer the expertise and support needed to navigate these regulations effectively. Get in touch with our Edinburgh Branch to learn more. 


Legislation, Letting

What will happen after the 31st March 2024 regarding Scottish Government’s Rent Cap?

What will happen after the 31st March 2024 regarding Scottish Government’s Rent Cap? From the 6th September 2022, there was a temporary cap on rent increases for private tenancies in Scotland. This was part of the Scottish Government’s wisdom to lessen the burden to tenants on the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. The cap was set at 3% and is expected to stay in place until the 31st of March 2024. The government’s current proposal is that from 1 April 2024 landlords can issue a rent increase notice up to the current market value of the property. The tenant could then refer the increase to the rent officer for adjudication if they felt it was too high. The rent officer would be able to restrict the rent increase through a tapering mechanism. The larger the difference between the current rent and the open market rent, the larger the increase which would be permitted by the rent officer subject to a maximum figure yet to be announced (but likely to be in the region of 10-15%). These proposals are still under consideration and SAL will notify members as soon as a firm announcement is made about rent increase procedures from 1 April. Rent increase notices issued before 1 April are still subject to a 3% cap, even if the increase doesn’t come into force until after that date. Assured or short assured tenancies which contain a rent increase clause in the contract terms are exempt from the current rent cap and are also expected to be exempt from the proposals set out above. Q: Can I increase the rent to market value after March 31st 2024 if I have implemented the 3% increase in the last year? A: No, if you have increased your rent by 3% in the last 12 months you cannot increase it to market value until 12 months has passed since the 3% increase. Can rent for an active tenancy can be increased by any amount? A: No, to prevent steep increases post-rent cap expiration, the government plans to introduce temporary charges to the rent adjudication process. These measures lasting a max of one year and subject to regular review aim to protect tenants during the transition. We doubt most landlords will seek steep rental increases. We know that many landlords have helped tenants throughout the uncertainty of covid and the cost-of-living crisis. Q What are the new temporary changes? A: When the emergency rent cap is removed the Scottish Government plans to amend the rent adjudication process so decisions must be based on the lowest of the three comparators: Open market rent The new rent proposed by the landlord A maximum “reasonable” increase for that tenancy, which will be defined by a new taper calculation. Unfortunately, with less than three months to go we do not yet have firm legislation on the rent increase cap. However, the potential plan set out by the Scottish Government does seem sensible for both landlords and tenants. As an experienced letting agent, we do not foresee any of our landlords requesting for rents to be increased at an unreasonable level and we will always advise them of the market value and what we believe is a suitable increase. Rent Officers will monitor these closely and ensure all landlord and letting agents are being fair and reasonable.  

Legislation

Landlords, are you ready for the changes to EPC regulations ?

Landlords, are you ready for the changes to EPC regulations? EPC requirements are changing in Scotland as of 2025, where properties in the private rented sector (PRS) will be required to have an EPC rating of C at change of tenancy. Thereafter, all properties will be required to have a minimum rating of C by 2028. What is an EPC? EPC stands for Energy Performance Certificate which provides information on how energy efficient a property is. It is based on a rate scale from A (most efficient) to G (inefficient), it also provides measures towards the end of the report which can improve the energy efficiency of a home with rough costs. The rating of the EPC is a measure of the energy performance of the property itself (fabric) and its services (hot water, heating, and lighting). The higher the cost of running the property, the lower the energy rating will be. When are EPCs needed for rental properties? The EPC is required for advertising purposes and must be less than 10 years old at the point of advertising a rental property. The purpose is to give tenants an indicator on what it will cost to heat, light and maintain their home. What are the changes and how will it affect my rental property? Previously the Scottish Government intended on implementing a requirement to have a rating of D at change of tenancy in 2022. However, this proposal was not taken forward as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, changes to the regulations have now been implemented which require properties in the PRS to have a rating of C at change of tenancy from 2025. Thereafter all PRS properties will be required to have a rating of C by 2028. Exemptions will apply where the landlord can demonstrate that it is not technically feasible or cost effective to reach a rating of C. What can be done to improve the EPC rating? Attention to what is detailed in the report itself is crucial, as this will give you pointers on actions to take to increase the energy efficiency of the property. The recommendations on the report will vary from a small action (changing the type of lightbulbs) to larger works (wall cavity insulation). Some examples of what may be listed in the report are detailed below: Wall cavity insulation (very effective improvement and may also be funded through the Green Deal) Roof / loft insulation (very effective improvement which can lead to savings of up to 20%) Upgrade heating controls (room thermostats will switch the heating off when the room reaches a certain temperature, creating more heat efficiency) Low energy lighting for all fixed outlets (cheapest option, only has a small impact on the rating but every little helps!) Replace boiler with more efficient boiler (old boilers can be less than 70% efficient) Fit modern electric storage heaters (fan heaters are smaller and better insulated) Replace single glazing to double (one of the more costly options but will also improve the comfort of the property and make it more desirable to tenants) Increase hot water cylinder insulation (this could cut heat loss by 75%) Replace / remove any secondary forms of heating (the EPC software will assume that secondary forms of heating are used i.e., old gas fires which will most likely be very inefficient, the removal of these will remove the risk of this form of heating being included with the rating) In most cases, landlords will need to bear the upfront costs of improvements made but many of these will result in great improvements to the energy efficiency of the property over a 5 year period. At Cairn, we are currently working hard for our landlords and investigating any funding that may be available. However, if you have any questions meantime, please do not hesitate to contact your property manager who will be more than happy to answer any questions you have. Please contact our friendly team for our range of services on 0141 270 7878 for Glasgow and 0131 346 4646 for Edinburgh, or by email to enquiries@cairnletting.com

Legislation

COST OF LIVING (TENANT PROTECTION) (SCOTLAND) ACT 2022 – RENT INCREASE BAN UPDATE

Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act 2022 – Rent increase ban update. A coalition of letting bodies and landlords have submitted a Petition to the Courts against the discriminatory and unreasonable eviction and rent increase ban in Scotland. The Scottish Association of Landlords, Propertymark and Scottish Landlord and Estates have joined forces and are seeking judicial review of the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act which was passed in October 2022. Landlords and property professionals have voiced concerns over this rushed and badly planned legislation. Many feel that this is an attack on private landlords, worsened now that the rent increase ban has been removed from the social rented sector as of 1 March 2023.  For the private rented sector? As of 1 April 2023, landlords can increase the rent by 3%, or apply to the rent officer for a 6% increase, to cover increases in the ‘prescribed property costs’ which are: The interest payable on any mortgage or standard security over the rented property. Any insurance premium you pay which relates to offering the property for rent. For example, landlords’ insurance. Increases in premiums for building or property insurance are not included. Any service charges related to the rented property that the tenant pays towards as part of their rent if this was agreed between you and the tenant as part of the terms of the tenancy. Not the best deal for private landlords, who are also suffering through the cost of living crisis whilst being expected to carry tenant rent arrears and pay for maintenance and compliance. Not forgetting the eviction ban! So, can I increase my rent from 1 April 2023? Yes, for PRT tenancies, a rent increase notice can be served on the tenant from 1 April 2023. However, the legislation is clear that any notices issued before 1 April 2023, still fall within the 0% cap, even if the notice does not take effect until after 1 April 2023. For Assured and Short Assured Tenancies, rent increases are still permitted and not affected by the ban as long as the tenancy agreement has a rent increase clause. Rents can be increased to the market value per the terms of the clause, unless there is a specific formula stating otherwise.   In such difficult times as these, it is now more important than ever to have a knowledgeable and qualified agent managing your rental property and your interests. If you would like to discuss your options of changing agent or letting your property, please contact our friendly team on 0141 270 7878 for Glasgow and 0131 346 4646 for Edinburgh, or by email to enquiries@cairnletting.com We also have a in house Compliance Manager who is more than happy to assist landlords facing difficult letting and eviction issues.


Legislation

Scottish Property – Cairn Legislation Update ( 9th November 2022 )

Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act 2022 Following our series of blogs on the rent increase and eviction ban, we can confirm that the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act came into force on 28 October 2022. The legislation will be in force until at least 31 March 2023 and can be extended (with parliament agreement) to 30 September 2023 and again to March 2024. Rent increase ban Under the current legislation, any rent increase notices served on or after 6 September 2022 fall under the permitted rate cap of 0%. Meaning a landlord cannot increase a tenants rent on or after this date until the rate cap is either increased or removed. The permitted rate cap does not affect increase notices issued to tenants before 6 September 2022, these are still enforceable under the legislation. There are some options still available to landlords: Landlords can increase the rent between tenancies. Landlords can still increase the rent for Short Assured / Assured tenancies which have a rent increase clause within the lease. The cap does not affect rent increases for these tenancies, regardless of the date the increase was served if there is a rent increase clause within the contract. Landlords can apply to the Rent Service Scotland for an increase up to 3% to cover increases in the ‘prescribed property costs’. Prescribed property costs Prescribed property costs per the legislation are: The interest payable on any mortgage or standard security over the rented property. Any insurance premium you pay which relates to offering the property for rent. For example, landlords’ insurance. Increases in premiums for building or property insurance are not included. Any service charges related to the rented property that the tenant pays towards as part of their rent if this was agreed between you and the tenant as part of the terms of the tenancy. Landlords can apply to Rent Service Scotland to increase the tenants rent to recover up to 50% of the increase to the prescribed property costs above. This application can only be for prescribed costs in the last 6 months prior to the application being made. If Rent Service Scotland is assured that the landlord’s prescribed property costs have increased within the last 6 months and that the increase proposed by the landlord represents no more than 50% of those costs, the rent officer must order a rent increase. The maximum increase in rent permitted through this process is 3%. To apply to increase the rent landlords must complete the government application form, which can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/rent-cap-private-landlord-guidance/documents/ Landlords are required to notify the tenant of their intention to increase the rent before the landlord form is submitted to Rent Service Scotland. The government has also provided wording for this notification which can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/rent-cap-private-landlord-guidance/documents/ The rent increase comes into force 3 months and a day after the landlord issued notice to the tenants of the proposed increase. This legislation has also been written into the Private Residential Tenancy agreement (PRT). Eviction ban Under the legislation, the issuing of notices to end the tenancy is not banned. Landlords are still free to serve notice to end the tenancy if they wish to do so. In most cases, tenants vacate the property during the notice period, it is only when the tenant does not vacate the property that the restrictions may come into effect. If the tenant doesn’t leave at the end of the notice period, the landlord can still apply to the Housing and Property Chamber, First-tier Tribunal for Scotland for a formal eviction order. If and when the eviction order is granted, the legislation places restrictions on Sheriff Officers from enforcing this order and recovering the property for the landlord. The legislation states that evictions cannot be enforced until restrictions are lifted, or the order has been in force for 6 months, whichever is sooner. There are some exceptions to this restriction, which are detailed below. Exempt eviction grounds: The tenant is not occupying the Let Property as his or her only or principal home The tenant has a relevant criminal conviction The tenant has engaged in relevant antisocial behaviour The tenant has associated with a person who has a relevant conviction or has engaged in antisocial behaviour Let Property to be sold by the mortgage lender. The tenancy was granted to an employee and the Tenant is no longer an employee. New grounds have also been included in the PRT under the legislation which are exempt: The Landlord intends to sell the Let Property to alleviate financial hardship. The Landlord intends to live in the Let Property to alleviate financial hardship. The Tenant is in substantial rent arrears (equivalent to 6 months’ worth of rent). The above grounds also apply to Short Assured and Assured tenancy agreements, however the notice periods differ slightly per the terms of the lease. Landlords need to provide evidence to the Tribunal of the eviction ground being used / demonstrate their financial hardship. These could include: a letter of advice from an approved money advisor, local authority debt advice service, independent financial advisor or from a chartered accountant. an ‘affidavit’ stating that you are intending to sell the let property or to live in the let property. This is a particular type of statement which is sworn under oath There are other types of evidence which landlords can provide to the Tribunal to demonstrate financial hardship, such as: Information detailing your income Details of the things you are responsible for paying Any outstanding debts or payments which you need to make Information to show that you are not able to cover the essential things you have to pay for because you do not have enough money coming in Information to show that you are often unable to make any essential payments or repayments which you are required to make Information to show that you are having to borrow money in order to pay your bills Information to show that you are only able to make essential payments by selling things you own Information to show that you are on a formal debt management plan Information to show that you are bankrupt Information to show that you are unable to meet the costs of maintaining or repairing the let property to meet the standards you are required by law to meet as a landlord The Tribunal will consider all relevant information in the case, including any evidence or information provided to them, and decide whether it is reasonable to evict the tenant. For any eviction applications submitted to the Tribunal before 28 October 2022, these should still be heard as normal, and the eviction should be enforceable under the legislation as long as notice was served on the tenant prior to 6 September 2022. Our qualified and knowledgeable staff at Cairn are always on hand to support landlords with any queries they may have regarding rent increases or evictions during this ban. With the ever changing legislation being implemented on private residential landlords, it is imperative that landlords employ reputable and qualified agents to manage their properties in Scotland. This will ensure legislation is being followed and that the most recent and correct advice on how to manage tenancies is being received. At Cairn, we have fully qualified and friendly staff waiting to assist landlords with management of their properties, we also have an in-house Compliance Manager who is both ARLA and LETWELL qualified to assist landlords with more difficult tenancy issues. Please do not hesitate to contact us to obtain further information on our management services.

Legislation

Compliance Update – Electrical Installation Condition Reports

Compliance Update – Electrical Installation Condition Reports On 28th March 2022, changes were made to the wiring regulations that electrical inspectors must follow when conducting electrical installation condition reports (EICR’s). This change falls under ‘Amendment 2’ of the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations, BS7671:2018: https://www.niceic.com/18th-part-2 Changes were implemented originally with a 6-month grace period and became mandatory on 28th September 2022. These mandatory changes impact the way in which electricians code items during an EICR inspection. The two most notable changes are: All consumer units in every property must have Surge Protection Devices (SPD) installed. SPD’s provide protection against sudden spikes in voltage known as transient over-voltages. They safeguard the electrical installation from this, which consists of the consumer unit, wiring and accessories. SPD’s also provide protection to vulnerable equipment with sensitive electronic circuitry, such as computers, fire fighting systems and emergency lighting. Arc Fault Detection Devices (AFDDs) must now be installed in higher risk residential buildings, including: HMOs High rise flats Care homes Other properties where there is an increased risk of fire The AFDD is a circuit breaker which uses microprocessors to identify the presence of dangerous electrical arcs and disconnect the circuit affected. They are installed onto the consumer unit and are more sensitive than conventional circuit protection devices. As a result of this change to regulations, landlords may now note that their EICR checks are coming back as ‘unsatisfactory’ if the consumer unit fails and needs replaced, as all consumer units now require the appropriate SPD to be present. Any consumer units installed without the appropriate SPD would be classified as ‘non-compliant’, therefore it is mandatory that these works are undertaken if noted on the EICR. Similarly, the electrician will determine if the property is ‘higher risk’ (such as an HMO) and may mark the EICR certificate as ‘unsatisfactory’ because an AFDD is required as another level of protection. It is again mandatory that these works are undertaken if noted on the EICR. We appreciate that this could result in quite substantial costs for landlords to comply, therefore Cairn is working hard in the background to get the best deals on cost possible for our landlords with our approved and qualified contractors. Please be assured that you are in the best hands, however, should you have any questions regarding this, please do not hesitate to contact our friendly and qualified letting team, who will be more than happy to assist. Gemma Waters ( MARLA ) Operations, Compliance & Training Manager 18th October 2022

Legislation, Landlords

Legislation Update – Answers for Landlords

Rent increase and eviction ban Scotland Following our last blog on the rent increase and eviction ban issued on 6th September 2022, Cairn have been working hard in the background to obtain answers for landlords on how this will work in reality.  We have received update today that The Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Bill has now been published: Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Bill 2022: overview – gov.scot (www.gov.scot) Overview of Bill The Scottish Government have produced this Bill, as it is believed that people who rent in Scotland are the most at risk of poverty due to the financial crisis. The emergency measures have been implemented to: Protect tenants with the cost of living crisis by stabilising housing costs Lessen stresses and impacts on the wellbeing of tenants by evictions being banned. Give tenants more time to find alternate accommodation when facing eviction Reduce unlawful evictions and also raise the level of damages paid to a tenant by the landlord if unlawfully evicted. If passed, the Bill intends to place an immediate ban on rent increase notices and a moratorium on evictions until at least 31st March 2023. Wording has also been included to allow legislation to be extended by two further periods of six months with Parliamentary approval. However, there is a requirement for legislation to be examined and reported on, every 3 three months to ensure that the Bill is proportionate and reflects the changing economic crisis. Rent increase ban The emergency legislation aims to set a permitted rate of rent increase, known as the ‘rent cap‘. The cap will be set to zero from 6th September 22 to at least 31st March 23. However, the Scottish Government do have the powers to vary this cap to take into consideration the economic crisis on a wider scale which we sincerely hope will be investigated, as it is not only tenants whom are struggling from the current crisis. The cap applies to any rent increase proposed on or after 6th September 22 and no rent increase can be issued whilst the cap of zero is in place. This legislation does not affect rent changes/increases between tenancies. The legislation does take into consideration the impact the cost crisis is having on landlords and has been updated to allow landlords to apply to a Rent Officer to increase the rent to cover some of the ‘prescribed costs‘ in the preceding six months. Prescribed costs are mortgage interest payments (for the let property) and landlord insurance (other than buildings or contents insurance) / service charges which the tenant is responsible for per the terms of the lease which the landlord has had to pay. The landlord will be required to provide evidence to the Rent Officer and where authorised, the landlord would be able to increase the rent by the lower of 50% of the increase in the ’prescribed costs‘ in the preceding six months, or 3% of the current rent level. Landlords and tenants will also have the ability to appeal the Rent Officers decision via the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland. Rent increases issued before 6th September 2022 It has been confirmed in the legislation that rent increase notices issued before 6th September 22, will still be enforceable after the required 3 month notice period to the tenant. However, tenants also has the right to apply to the Rent Officer to challenge any notices issued if they believe the increase has been set at an unfair level. Eviction ban The moratorium will stop enforcement action for induvial evictions over the next 6 months. However, safeguards have been implemented to allow enforcement of evictions in certain circumstances, these include: Cases of antisocial behaviour and criminal behaviour Cases of abandonment Substantial rent arrears (where at least 6 months worth of rent is owed at the point the eviction order is issued) Eviction applications submitted / orders issued before 6th September 2022 If an eviction order is granted before this legislation comes into force, or if a landlord has submitted an application for eviction with the Tribunal before the legislation comes into force, the case will not be affected by the moratorium. This also applies to an eviction notice issued to the tenant before 6th September 22 as these should still be enforceable in line with current legal requirements. Increases damages for unlawful evictions These changes have been implemented to discourage landlords from conducting unlawful evictions and if passed, seek to increase the award to tenants to the maximum amount of 36 months worth of rent. There is also a requirement being placed on the Tribunal to notify the relevant authorities (Police / local authority / landlord registration), that an order has been made against the landlord. With the ever changing legislation being implemented on private residential landlords, it is imperative that landlords employ reputable and qualified agents to manage their properties in Scotland. This will ensure legislation is being followed and that the most recent and correct advice on how to manage tenancies is being received. At Cairn, we have fully qualified and friendly staff waiting to assist landlords with management of their properties, we also have an in-house Compliance Manager who is both ARLA and LETWELL qualified to assist landlords with more difficult tenancy issues. Please do not hesitate to contact us to obtain further information on our management services.


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