What name should I give my Property Company – and why does it matter?First Published: June 2014 | Available in: Property Articles Your Property Network
Many property investors us a property company – whether they are landlords, developers, agents, or some other service provider. Before a company is set up, it needs a name – so what should you think about when choosing a name for a company?
Why does it matter what name I give my company?
We live in a world where image matters – like it or not. So the name of your company is a reflection on you as the owner – whether good, bad or indifferent! All manner of people may see, hear or read the name of your company, and will form a view about it, your business, and you as a person as a result.
The following are just some of the people who will see your company name:
The lifeblood of a rental business – the people who actually pay you for your property ‘product. When a tenant sets up a Standing Order, or pays money over a bank counter, or signs a tenancy agreement with you, the name of your company will tell them something about the person that you are.
So, most landlords will choose a name that sounds professional, business-like, friendly, non-threatening, non-corporate, possibly even bland or ordinary.
You may want to choose a name that sounds like a letting agent (e.g. Jack & Jill Property Rental Ltd) – to avoid tenants thinking you are a rich landlord! – or perhaps a name that feels friendly (Jill’s Lovely Properties Ltd). Student landlords will often have to interact with students’ parents – and they may ‘like’ a solidly reassuring name (Jill’s Quality Properties Ltd). LHA landlords may want a name that is sympathetic to their tenant sector (Jill’s Great Value Houses Limited). Think about your tenant profile, and what kind of name may appeal to them.
2. Joint Venture partners
Most JV partners are serious people – and are keen to check you and your company out. A comedy name (Jill’s Crazy Properties Ltd) may sound ‘quirky’ but serious people with serious money / experience / ambitions may find it amateurish, and a turn-off, to be associated with a silly-sounding company. Believe me, these things do matter!
Equally, don’t try to be something that you’re not: putting words like ‘Holdings’, or ‘Group’ into your company name often sounds feeble and obvious – like you’re trying too hard to impress.
Often, simple is best – if you’re an investment company, use that word (Fylde Property Investments Ltd). Or, if you’re a trader / developer, use those words (Fylde Property Traders Ltd).
Many lenders are on the look-out for companies that may present an underwriting risk to them – specifically, that may expose the lender to ‘creative’ financing (sub-sales, back-to-back deals etc). So calling your company something very obvious (Jack’s Creative Property Deals Ltd) may not be a great idea! Words that suggest a ‘fast sale’, a ‘below market value’ strategy, or anything vaguely connected to sell and rentback, are to be avoided.
4. Tradesmen / suppliers
Often, tradesmen and suppliers will offer credit terms, or special offers, to property companies. The reason of course is that they want your business – so make sure your company name strikes the right note, and avoid names that may inadvertently sound like you are not a property player (Jack’s One and Only Property Limited).
5. Other investors
We’re all the same – we want respect from our property peers. That means being proud of your business card, website, and property business – so choose a name that you personally like, and that send out the message that suits your personality and business model. There is room in business for both Rolex and Poundland – both are extremely profit businesses – but very different in terms of ‘kudos’ – or not, depending on your view!
Recently, HMRC have been targeting companies with words like ‘lettings’ or ‘rentals’ in their company name, to force such companies to provide a list of landlord names (so that HMRC can then check whether all landlords letting property through the company themselves are registered for tax self-assessment. While in itself this may be harmless, it nonetheless involves time and effort on your behalf to liaise with HMRC.
Other factors to consider
Websites / email addresses
If you are planning to set up a company website, and emails addresses, make sure the website address is available – it would be a shame to set up your company and then find the website URL has gone, or is too expensive. Indeed, many company owners start with available website addresses, and choose a name to fit that. And make sure the name isn’t long (Jack and Jill’s Property Rental, Lettings, Investment, Trading, Developing and Deal Sourcing Company (North West England) Limited, or, too difficult to spell (Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Limited).
A company name can be changed
Companies House allow a company name to be changed online, for the princely sum of £8, with a next day service. A new certificate is issued, and the company simply continues to trade and exist. Obviously, bank accounts and stationary will need to be changed – but the simple act of changing a company name is quick and cheap. So, don’t worry TOO much about whether your new company name is perfect…
A word of warning!
Be careful not to leave yourself with an “inappropriate” acronym if the full name of the company is abbreviated. For example, Super Home Investments Trust Ltd may not be an ideal company name if abbreviated to S.H.I.T Ltd (excuse my language Editor!). You may laugh – I’ve seen this kind of thing a few times!
Summary – what’s in a name?
Deciding on a suitable company name is a key early decision for company owners – it’s a projection of their values, personality, and tells the world something about their property business.
Regular interactions with tenants, lenders, tradesmen and suppliers, JV partners and other property people, means that your company name and image will come under constant scrutiny – what does it say about you and your business?