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Friday, August 26, 2016

Section 21 notice which one to use?

Here is the quickest and most succint guide to which section 21 notice to use and what notice to give your tenants from our legal partners at Seatons 

Which Section 21 Notice?

After October 2015 – always use 6A

Pre October 2015:

o   If in fixed term then s21(1)

o   If out of fixed term and there is no mention of what happens at the end of the term (i.e. no mention of periodic tenancy) then s21(1)

o   If always contractual then s21(4)

o   If out of fixed term but tenancy mentions periodic tenancy therefore making it contractual rather than statutory then s21(4)

What notice period?

With the s21(1) just has to be two months.

With the s21(4) has to be at least two months and at end of tenancy period.

For more guidance on how to fill in a section 21 notice

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Tips for new landlords from Savills

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Fall in young adults owning a home

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Landlording life and death

Chris Horne
Landlording can not only be a serious occupation it can be a matter of life and death.  I was shocked today with a text from one of my tenants  who in the first sentence wanted to paint the bathroom.  In the next breath he just dropped in the fact that his mum had unexpectedly died.  What do you say? 

Dealing with the death of a tenant

I've never yet had to deal with a death of a tenant in one of my properties.  The text from my tenant just reinforces the fact that landlords do get involved in the lives in their tenants and sometimes this can be life or death.  There was a recent post in the Landlord Forum on obtaining vacant possession after the death of tenants.  I hope I never have to experience this as I can only imagine the practicality of having to deal with your dead tenants belongings and their family being horrendous.

It does remind you that being a landlord is about dealing with real life and real life situations.  That makes it more than a job!

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Are negative interest rates a harbinger of falling house prices?

What does this say about the economic climate when you can't give away money? Negative interest rates such as those witnessed in Japan are not good news for people investing in property based assets.  It's saying that potential borrowers don't want to borrow money to invest in assets which have  a serious risk of falling values.  Property prices can go down as well as up least we forget.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Letting Agent deposits - are they safe?

New moves by the Government to make mandatory the protection of letting agent client account money in much the same way as holiday makers have their holidays protected by the industry scheme ABTA has been announced.  The measures on client money protection were flagged when Housing Minister Gavin Barwell announced a consultation exercise with the letting industry to ascertain their views.

Many tenant & landlords at risk

In his announcement the Housing Minister indicated that the letting agent industry currently holds approximately £2.7 billion of funds.  If the agent does not have protection then potentially both landlord and tenant stand to lose their funds if the letting agent disappears or goes out of business.
Since the launch of a voluntary Client Money Protection Scheme it is thought that between 60-80% of letting agents and their clients funds are now protected.

You can read all about an agents view on the regulation of the client funds.  For full details of the Client Money Protect visit their website or have a look at the infographic below:

What is Client Money Protection?

Client Money Protection (CMP) protects the money held by a letting agent (i.e. rent and tenancy deposits where the deposit has not been properly protected by an agent through a statutory scheme), meaning tenants and landlords can recover their funds if a letting agent steals that money or uses it fraudulently.

Is it the same thing as tenancy deposit protection?

No. Tenancy deposit protection is a legal requirement for a landlord or letting agent to protect a tenant’s deposit, it does not cover rent money. Where an agent steals a protected deposit or uses it fraudulently there is recourse for recovery through the deposit scheme’s insurance.

Currently, CMP is not a legal requirement for lettings agency firms, although SAFEagent is campaigning to change this.

How does CMP work?

All letting agents registered with SAFEagent are part of a Client Money Protection Scheme that reimburses consumers in the event that a letting agent uses their money fraudulently or steals it.

There are several CMP schemes in the sector operated by NALS, ARLA, NAEA and RICS to which agents voluntarily belong. The scope of these schemes varies and consumers should contact their agent for full details of the scheme they are covered under.

What does SAFEagent do?

SAFEagent campaigns for full and mandatory CMP - which protects landlords and tenants from the worst practices in letting agency.

SAFEagent is a reliable mark denoting firms that protect landlords and tenants’ money through Client Money Protection

Set up by the industry, the initiative ‘by agents for agents’ is administered by The National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS). It is recognised by the Government, and supported by industry organisations and consumer bodies. It is referred to in the Government’s How to Rent guide.

According to research from YouGov, undertaken for SAFEagent, 61 per cent of renters incorrectly believe their rent and deposit money is protected by law.

Although mandatory CMP is now finally on the Government’s agenda with amendments to the Housing and Planning Act, it is not yet mandatory and many consumers are still at risk.

I’m a tenant, when I give my money to my letting agent is it protected by law?

Not unless the agent is signed up to a CMP scheme. According to SAFEagent, at the moment at least 1 in 5 tenants and landlords aren’t protected by CMP. The only way to ensure your money is safe and protected is by using a letting agent who has CMP. Before entering into a contract you should check this with your agent.

How can people ensure their agent has CMP?

Firstly, ask! Before handing over any money, your agent should be able to tell you if they are part of a Client Money Protection scheme. Ask them which scheme and then ring the organisation and check it out. If they are not part of a scheme ask them why not?

Consumers should look for the SAFEagent logo, in the agent’s window or on their website. This is an easily identifiable consumer mark denoting the letting agent is subscribed to a Client Money Protection Scheme.

You can also visit to find a SAFEagent in your area

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Slowdown hits Westminster and Kensington

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

London new-build oversupply sees slide in prices

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Burnham pledges Manchester PRS clean up

Labour’s Manchester mayoral candidate, Andy Burnham has promised to introduce a landlord licensing scheme across Greater Manchester if he gets elected.

Mr Burnham also states that if elected as Mayor he would take on further powers to regulate rent increases and property standards in the private rented sector.

As part of his proposals, the Labour leader wannabe, has outlined a ‘community buy-back fund’, that would fund council purchases of private rented homes that fail to meet a ‘decent homes standard’.

Good luck with that one Andy. It sounds as if you might be incentivising property investors to let property's fall into a state of 'rack and ruin'.

The falls in UK house building since 1980

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£40k fine for overcrowded HMO property

Brent Council has successfully had another landlord fined for overcrowding.

Landlord, Tilak Raj Sarna has been left with a bill of £39,540 from his case at Willesden Magistrates' Court.

The court heard description by Brent Council Officers of a Wembley rental house crammed with 24 people living in 'squalid conditions'.

Although the property had been granted a HMO licence, that was for a maximum of seven people, but when Brent Council Officers made a spot check of the property they discovered it to be inhabited by seven families along with their 10 young children.

Squalid conditions were outlined by Brent Council Officers  -
  • A cockroach infestation
  • Missing smoke alarms
  • Overloaded electrical sockets 
  • Inadequate fire doors
  • Cold and damp rooms
  • Overflowing bins 

Mr Sarna was found guilty of a number of charges relating to overcrowding and fire safety offences at the House in Multiple Occupation.

He was also ordered to pay £33,000 in fines, £6,420 in court costs and a £120 victim surcharge.

Furnishing a holiday home

What furnishing shall I include in my holiday home?

I'm going through to extensive process of furnishing my holiday home in Bakewell.

The list of items required by holiday makers is extensive.  Everything from cork screws to upmarket shower gels.  Because holiday makers tend to be more discerning and demanding than your average buy-to-let tenant then standards are much higher.  After all a stay in a holiday let could be somebodies holiday for the year that they have scrimpt and saved all year to afford.

For a landlord like me who is new to the world of letting out a holiday let then this helpful guide for a holiday let by a specialist holiday let insurance business.  To take a look at the self catering cottage inventory list

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

FTBs hit by sneaky mortgage rate rise

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Talking up a London property crash

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Tenants bought 12,246 council homes

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ONS house price data for June

The ONS house price data for June 2016 has the UK average house price growth at an annual rate of  8.7% (up from last month's 8.5%  ).

The average UK house price is now £214,000 according to the ONS new HPI data, £17,000 up on June 2015 a monthly increase of £2,100.

regional house price growth june 16

average hpi by country june 2016

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London Council letting agency flops

Haringey Council launched its own letting agency back in October 2015 and it's a flop. 

The council agency, branded Move 51 Degrees North ( catchy ?? )  has let out just 2 rental properties over the course of these ten months!

With the agency start up and running costs totalling £406,618 that is not what anyone could describe as  a 'stellar performance', nor would it be the kind of business to set the crowdfunding platforms all a twitter. 

I've known far bigger letting agency flourish from a stool in a coffee shop, with the outlay costs of a laptop, a mobile phone and a two shot cappuccino. 

Thankfully for us its only tax payers money gone down the pipe- (breaths out an a exasperated sigh)

Sadiq Khan - take note.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Landlords and the new energy regulations

Meeting the standard:

How the government’s new energy regulations could affect you

In less than two years from now, landlords could face fines of up to £150,000, if their rented property has an energy rating which falls below the required minimum standard.

The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, or MEES regime, was set out by the government in March 2016 and seeks to improve the efficiency of both domestic and non-domestic buildings. The new regulations will be brought into effect from 1 April 2018 for all new lettings of commercial and residential properties in England and Wales. Under these regulations, it will be unlawful for landlords to grant a new lease of properties which have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating below ‘E’.

From 1 April 2023 onwards, MEES will then apply to all lettings, both new and existing, and a landlord will be in breach of these regulations if they continue to let a property which falls below the minimum energy rating criteria. Poor energy performance is not restricted to old or obsolete buildings (subject to specific exceptions and exemptions), meaning the regulations raise significant issues for landlords.

As such, careful planning and preparation will be required to mitigate the potential impact, so that landlords should take action now if they wish to avoid legal headaches in the near future.

Practical points

The terms of any leases, both new and existing, need to be reviewed to ensure landlords have the necessary tools to deal with MEES, as and when the regulations come into effect.

Landlords will need to consider:

· Who is going to pay for any necessary energy efficient works?

· What access to provisions are there in your lease, both to inspect the property for MEES purposes and to carry out any necessary MEES works?

· How will MEES impact upon rent reviews, service charges and dilapidations claims?

· What obligations are contained within your leases to prevent your tenants from obtaining an EPC certificate, which will result in triggering MEES, or alternatively, carrying out alterations which negatively impact on the EPC rating of a property?

In cases where properties have an EPC rating less than ‘E’, landlords will need to put an energy efficiency plan in place to bring the property up to the required standard. Failure to do so will result in civil penalties, and could incur that fine of up to £150,000, unless one of the exceptions or exemption criteria applies.

Exceptions and exemptions:
Various exceptions and exemptions apply to the new regulations which landlords will need to consider. Broadly speaking, properties with short leases of less than six months, or those with long leases of 99 years or more will be exempt, as will listed buildings and temporary or religious properties.

More specifically, there are three exemption criteria which allow landlords to let, or continue to let, properties which do not meet the relevant EPC rating:

1. Cost-effectiveness

Where a landlord can demonstrate they have carried out all of the recommended improvements to the property and if these are not cost-effective within a seven-year payback.

2. Third party consent

Where a landlord is unable to obtain the necessary consent of a third party to carry out the required energy efficiency improvements.

3. Devaluation

Where compliance with MEES would devalue a landlord’s property by five per cent or more.

Strict rules apply to anyone seeking to claim the benefit of these exemptions and landlords will likely need to seek input from a specialist surveyor and solicitor to confirm whether they can claim. Any exemption that is sought will last for five years and must be recorded on a central periodically reviewed register.

If you are a landlord, Shulmans can assist you with a proactive strategy to minimise the potential impact of MEES on your property. T

To discuss further, please contact Luke Maidens in our property litigation team.

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Wasp nests - a landlords responsibility?

Wasp nest removal - a landlords responsibility?

I received a call this morning saying that my tenant has a wasp nest and that the wasps were entering the bedroom were the tenants young kids sleep.  Obviously, there was no intention to pull on my heart strings here.

Legislation governing removal of pests from a rental property

The legislation governing the removal of pests and vermin in a rental property is clear.  Unless there is specific provision in the tenancy agreement to the contrary the removal of pests such as: wasps, rodents, bed bugs are the tenant responsibility once they take up residency.  However, if as in my case the tenants have been longstanding (over 10 years) and they pay the rent then to make a big issue about the removal of one wasp nest seems a little petty.  I could argue the toss with them but sometimes, it pays to be a little generous.  In this case I have caved in.  On who is responsible for maintaining the garden ....that's another issue!

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Asking prices fall post-Brexit

Some truly post-Brexit data has landed on the Property Hawk virtual doormat.

Rightmove's House Price Index for August has asking prices on properties coming to market down slightly, at 1.2% or £3,602. Don't panic though, this drop only echoes the summer slowdown expected at this time of year.

average asking price rm august 2016

Miles Shipside, Rightmove's market analyst reflected on the data:

“Many prospective buyers take a summer break from home-hunting, and those who come to market at this quieter time of year tend to price more aggressively. This summer is also affected by both Brexit uncertainty and the aftermath of the buy-to-let rush in March to beat the stamp duty deadline. Most sellers seem to recognise that buyers may want some extra encouragement to get them to put their towel on a property to reserve it as well as on their sunbed! The average fall in new seller asking prices at this time of year has been 1.2% over the last six years, so this month’s fall is exactly in line with the long-term average. The largest price falls at this time of year were -2.0% and -1.3% in 2014 and 2010, with the smallest fall being -0.8% in post- election boosted 2015.

It will be welcome news for some northerners that the traditional north-south divide may be taking a rare turn in their favour. London has seen its price boom curtailed by punitive stamp duty and over-stretched affordability and has been in re-adjustment for a year or more, mostly affecting Inner London. At this time of year interest from buyers of more expensive properties that typify much of London and its commuter belt tends to tail off more, as they are often discretionary movers. Having waited for the referendum result, it now seems that some are also waiting until the summer holidays are over before reviewing their course of action.

There is pent-up demand with potential buyers still enquiring in very large numbers though obviously more muted compared to 2015’s post-election highs. While the summer sales slowdown has come early in some locations with the run-up to the referendum subduing activity in May and June, there are still hundreds of thousands of buyer enquiries every week. Buyers can often get a better deal at this time of year if estate agents match them up with motivated sellers. By autumn we should get a clearer view of the strength of any post-referendum hangover, though that also depends on buyers’ confidence to turn this interest into action. The latest interest rate cut making already cheap-to-borrow money even cheaper should act as an added boost to confidence.”

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Moving flat costs £2k - cheaper options

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The Housing Act's impact on London

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Converting a garage into a rental

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Property auctions - buying garages and ground rents

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