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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Darlington landlord fined for leaving tenant in the cold

A Darlington landlord has been fined £1,000 for failing to keep a rental property adequately warm. 

The landlord Kieron Munnelly, of South Street, Derbyshire left the tenant, a mother and her three children without working central heating throughout the winter period of 2013, then failed to act upon an Environmental Protection Act Notice served by the council March 2014.

He was fined £1,000 for the offence and ordered to pay court costs totaling £500.

David Burrell, private sector housing manager, for Darlington Borough Council said: “Action was taken against a landlord who left his tenants over winter without adequate heating."

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The West Brom BS verdict

A group of landlords, lead by Property118's Mark Alexander have lost their case against the West Bromwich Building Society.

Today in the High Court, Justice Teare ruled that West Brom BS were within their rights to increase the premium (margin) on the rate they charge above the Bank of England base rate.

The judge also ruled that the building society had the right to call in mortgages with 30 days notice. 

Mark Alexander commented "I am extremely disappointed to report that we didn’t get the News we were so desperately hoping to receive." 

The decision leaves the group of 360 landlords, who had donated £500,000 to fund the fight wondering as to whether to fight on with an appeal.

Read Mark Alexander's full and frank assessment of the West Brom BS case verdict

Read more comment on the verdict -

The West Brom verdict from MoneyMarketing 
The West Brom victory in This is Money
The West Brom verdict in the Telegraph

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lincoln landlords event

Lincoln estate agents, Mundys, and solicitors, Chattertons McKinnells, are holding a Landlord and Investor Evening at the Bentley Hotel in Lincoln tomorrow night ( Jan 29th).

The event is aimed at existing and prospective property investors, with an overview of the Lincoln lettings market, forecasts for 2015 and legal updates.

The event kicks off at 6pm on January 29, 2015 at the Bentley Hotel, Lincoln. 

More information is available at or by ringing 01522 556090 
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Advice for silver landlords from Stoke agent

A Stoke letting agent forecasts the continued rise of the 'silver landlord' following this April's pension reforms in The Stoke Sentinel
The new accessibility granted by the pension reforms will open pension pots up to the potential BTL investments.

Local letting agent Steve Swann of Northwood Lettings, reports already noticing a trend toward older landlords looking to make better returns of savings and can only see this trend increasing following April's pension reforms.

Steve says: “ The financial freedoms the reforms allow mean that increasing numbers are purchasing property for buy-to-let purposes, joining the growing numbers of private landlords."

“These are often people who have experienced good long-term growth in the value of their home and see property as a secure investment. The majority of ‘Buy to Let’ investments are within a 15 mile radius of the owners home so it is predominately local people we are talking to."

Steve advice to any new investors is  

“Discuss the market place with a reputable letting agent, they know the local market place, and decide which sector of the market place you feel most comfortable with. View some properties on the ‘To Let’ market, take advice about the legal requirements and how your agent can help make sure you don’t fall foul of the regulations. Look at the potential pitfalls and budget for ongoing maintenance of your property.When choosing your property consider questions such as would you be prepared to live there yourself, would you feel safe walking around the area on an evening stroll, are there facilities that would be suitable for your potential tenants such as parks, bus routes and schools? This is your retirement – do your research and talk to the experts.”
Follow us: @SentinelStaffs on Twitter | sentinelstaffs on Facebook

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Homeowners rush to sell

Credit agency Experian have published data showing the number of homes put up for sale jumped by a third at the end of 2014 - a sign that homeowners are looking to take advantage of price gains. 

However, Experian's data showed their was no comparable rise in potential buyers - a reflection of  increasing affordability issues in the market.

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Property prices and the art of wishful thinking

The global economy is in a spiral of uncertainty. Nobody knows what will happen next, not really, though many might pretend to.

Despite the concerns, at least the dogged UK homeowner remains optimistic about the future of property prices. This property price confidence is what gives a foundation to peoples existence. It encourages them to get on with their life, do things, buy more stuff, and keep the British economy turning over. Without this confidence, the UK economic house of cards will fold in on itself. So please nobody bang the table.

Thankfully, for now all is well, people seem happy. 

Zoopla's latest confidence survey reports that on average, UK homeowners predict a 7% rise in values during the first six months of 2015. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Property prices to crash by 50%

Or is it just scaremongering to sell a magazine subscription?

Have a read, then come back and let us know what you think.

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New site for migrant renters in PRS

Barclays allow 'other incomes' for BTL affordability

Some pleasant news from Barclays on their BTL lending.

The bank will now allow landlords to use 'other incomes' on their mortgage application when a property falls short on the affordability calculation for the rent / mortgage repayments. 

Barclays will now allow an BTL mortgage applicant to use proven disposable income to improve their affordability calculation. 

To qualify, landlords need to list - net income, commitments and dependents, details of their existing residential mortgage, and a breakdown of their BTL portfolio, including tenancies, rents, and all outstanding BTL mortgages. 

Barclays' managing director of mortgages, Andy Gray said: 

"There are only a handful lenders that allow any shortfall in the rental income used to calculate affordability to be met by the applicant's disposable income.

Barclays' new policy provides a greater opportunity for those planning for their financial future and choosing to invest in rental properties to help support their longer-term goals of, for example, paying for their childrens' university fees or enhancing their lifestyle in retirement."

Registering a deposit with the DPS

A video tutorial for landlords wanting to register a tenancy deposit with the Deposit Protection Scheme.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Onthemarket launched today

The new agent's property portal, On the market has launched today.

Much has been written regarding Onthemarket's disruption / fragmentation of users property search.  

Put simply, if you want to make sure you've seen all the properties up for sale, you'll need to check - Rightmove, Zoopla and now ... Onthemarket.

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Most popular BTL mortgages this week

Max LTV Initial Rate Term Completion fee Booking fee Incentives Lender
85% 4.99% Fixed 2 Years 3% £130.00 No Kent Reliance Semi Exclusive
85% 5.49% Discount 2 Years 3% £130.00 No Kent Reliance Multi Let & Ltd Co. Semi Exclusive
80% 3.79% Fixed 2017-04-30 £2495 £150.00 Free valuation Mortgage Trust Exclusive
80% 4.25% Fixed 2017-04-30 0% £150.00 Free valuation Mortgage Trust Exclusive
80% 3.9% Discount 2 Years 0% £0.00 No Hanley Economic Exclusive
80% 5.29% Fixed 2017-02-28 1.5% £150.00 No Fleet Ltd Co
80% 5.39% Variable 0 Years 2% £0.00 No Saffron Light Refurbishment
75% 2.5% Discount 2 Years £1995 £250.00 One free Valuation on properties valued up to £1,000,000 Hinckley & Rugby Exclusive
75% 5.39% Variable 0 Years 2.5% £0.00 No Saffron Light Refurbishment
75% 3.29% Fixed 2017-02-28 1% £150.00 No Fleet
75% 5.39% Fixed 2017-02-28 2% £150.00 No Fleet HMO
75% 2.25% Fixed 2017-04-30 2.5% £150.00 Free valuation Mortgage Trust Exclusive
75% 3.5% Fixed 2017-04-30 0% £150.00 Free valuation Mortgage Trust Exclusive
60% 2.45% Discount 2 Years £1950 £250.00 One free Valuation on properties valued up to £1,000,000 Hinckley & Rugby Exclusive
IMPORTANT! Due to current market conditions, lenders are withdrawing and replacing products with little or no notice.  Please check our website regularly to see the most up-to-date products available.  
Search the whole BTL mortgage market free
Tel: 029 2069 5446
Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgages.  
The Financial Services Authority does not regulate some forms of mortgage.

A new year BTL Mortgage Update - 2015

Andy Young, at Property Hawk Mortgages says:

As 2015 starts to unfold, I am feeling very optimistic about what lies ahead for the buy-to-let mortgage market. 2014 was a year of considerable growth and product development. Property Hawk Mortgages had access to some very competitive exclusive products from a number of lenders and, in fact, received its highest levels of business since the credit crisis.

This is obviously a great way to lead up to a new year and I am predicting more good things to come with the key drivers in the buy-to-let sector remaining strong such as high tenant demand and good rental yields, the appetite of landlords remains unabated.

2015 is likely to see more lenders in the buy-to-let arena providing a greater choice of products and resulting in increased competition. There will be more options for professional landlords too with the launch of Fleet Mortgages in January, and others yet to be announced, by the end of the first quarter.

In 2014, Property Hawk Mortgages offered exclusive buy-to-let mortgage schemes with 6 different lenders, so I am expecting to see more lenders providing market-leading exclusive products through restricted distribution channels in 2015. This strategy helps lenders to control the quality and quantity of new business.

There is likely to be further innovation in the market too, with lenders offering alternative schemes like the Castle Trust Equity Withdrawal Scheme. This scheme is an equity loan, secured via a second charge, of up to 20% of the property value and up to 85% LTV including the primary mortgage. It is now also available for new purchases through Property Hawk Mortgages in conjunction with a lender’s first charge buy-to-let mortgage.

There is also the possibility of some lenders introducing a level of flexibility in their lending such as providing a forward funding facility. This would allow landlords to borrow up to, say, 60% LTV with the option to drawdown a further 10% at some point in the future. This would be especially useful for landlords who buy properties at auction when funds are required at short notice.

As lenders remain keen to provide buy-to-let finance, I think we will see higher levels of lending in 2015. It is expected that the level of new buy-to-let lending was circa £25 billion in 2014, which was a 20% increase on 2013. I am expecting a further increase of 20-25% in 2015 reaching around £30 billion by the end of the year.

Search the whole BTL mortgage market free
Tel: 029 2069 5446
Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgages.  
The Financial Services Authority does not regulate some forms of mortgage.

Apartment blocks can yield results

Latest figures from MFB indicate that the rental yield from apartment blocks may be out stripping the traditional highest yields generated by Houses in Multiple Occupation. 

Clearly a block of apartment can be an attractive investment giving a landlord control over the common areas and the option to realise arbitrage gains by selling off individual apartments over time.  The disadvantage to an investor is that they will have to tie up more capital at the outset and Loan to Vaule may be lower than with a traditional buy-to-let investment of up to 80%.  To read more about which type of property give the biggest returns have a look at the Telegraph.

Finance my investment - Mortgage Search

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Tenants prefer landlords to agents

A survey of 4000 tenants conducted by Spareroom, recorded 87 per cent would prefer to deal direct with the landlord instead of a letting agent. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Residential development opportunity - Surrey

Property development has already represented huge opportunities for landlords.  The combination of development profits used to then seed a residential investment is the perfect scenario for a win win residential investment.

Leave your development profits in your investment as your equity and a landlord could secure themselves a fabulously income producing investment with no equity.  Mathematicians could talk about infinite returns on your investment where zero capital produces large and increasing rental and potential capital returns.  Now I'm not saying that the property below rates in this category.  As always buyer beware & landlords need to do their due diligence.

Tanner House & Tyrell House, Challenge Court, Barnett Wood Lane, LEATHERHEAD, KT22 7LW

For sale with vacant possession

Freehold property comprising two self-contained office buildings of approx 2,819 sq m (30,340 sq ft) GIA Residential consent granted through permitted development rights for the conversion of both buildings from B1(a) office space to C3 residential Further consent granted for alterations to the external elevations including addition of dormer & velux windows at roof level.

Proposed scheme comprises 45 residential units with a total net saleable area of 2,322 sq m (24,994 sq ft) with the benefit of 67 associated car parking spaces Offers invited in excess of £4,250,000 subject to contract.

The property is to be offered by Auction on Wednesday, 25 March 2015 unless sold prior.

Advanced investment strategies

Thursday, January 22, 2015

West Brom BS case arrives in court

The West Bromwich Building Society BTL mortgage case arrived in the High Court yesterday.

Lead by Mark Alexander, as part of a Property 118 action group, the action follows West Bromwich Building Society's decision to raise its agreed end of mortgage term tracker rates. A rise that affected 6200 landlords.

The building society justified the doubling of a specified 1.99 per cent rate to 3.99 per cent by referencing small print in the BTL mortgage contract that stipulated unfixed mortgage rates ‘may be varied by (us) at any time’.

The landlords legal representative, Mark Smith, warned that if West Brom BS won the case, it could allow them to do the same to residential mortgages and that other lenders could be encouraged to follow suit.

The West Brom's defence, Raymond Cox QC, defended his client actions by saying the right to vary the interest rate ‘was repeatedly made clear in the documents sent to Mr Alexander’and that the
Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) had disregarded all complaints made to them regarding the rise. 

The case could form a legal precedent that could effect millions of mortgages across the country. 

If the West Bromwich Building Society are able to justify their actions, other lenders of both BTL and residential mortgages could look to raise rates, the potential of which was recognised by the defences Mr Cox,  saying -

‘If we win our case then, going forward, if people have tracker mortgages under the same terms, then other mortgage providers could do the same as us.’

The hearing continues.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

BOE unlikely to raise rates in 2015

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Rotherham's Landlord Selective Licensing Scheme

Another council is ready to nestle itself in with the selective landlord licensing club.

Rotherham is the latest in a list of councils starting on a consultation process. The council is proposing a five year, £625 licence on all PRS properties in three of its electoral wards -

Rotherham Central, Dinnington and Maltby South East as Selective Licensing areas under the 2004 Housing Act.

A three month ‘public statutory notification period’ has begun.

Read more from the horses mouth about - Rotherham Councils Selective Licensing Scheme

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Rents rise by 3% in 2014

The letting agency chain LSLPS has released it's December BTL Index . The agency groups which includes the Reeds Rains and Your Move brands reports the following key findings.

  •  2014 saw a 3.0% average rise in rents.
  •  December  saw rents drop 0.1% across England and Wales
  •  East of England, Yorkshire & Humber, East Midlands and London remain at a high.
  •  8.9% of rent in arrears, the highest since previous Christmas peak. 
  •  Cooling property prices caused a fall in total annual returns to 11.1%.
  • The average residential rent across England and Wales is £767. 

Adrian Gill, Director of estate agent Your Move, reflects : 

“There appears to be a new fire in the rental market as we enter 2015. Demand for homes to let is hotter than we would normally expect at this time of year."

“Recent months have shown a divergence from usual seasonal norms. Historically, there is a tendency for rents to ease in the winter, particularly December. With fewer tenants willing to relocate in the festive period, landlords usually compete to fill empty properties and agreed rents tend to dip as a result. Last month that happened – and rents fell compared to November – but by much less than the usual extent."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Telegraphs shares how to profit from crossrail

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New 'hands off' property investing idea

A new online platform has launched that lets people invest in residential properties in a 'hands off' way, much like investing in shares. The idea uses 'crowd funding' principles applied to residential property investment, enabling smaller investments that take ownership of a specified portion of a property.

Property Partners let's investors take part shares of individuals properties. The company takes a one-off transaction fee of 2 per cent on the purchase of investment, then manages the letting and maintenance of the property at a rate of 12.5 per cent of any rental income.

Property Partner then pays investors their portion of any monthly rental income profit as well as giving them future access  to any capital growth via a secondary market sales platform.

The site has been funded using £1.25m of seed funding from Octopus Investments, Alchemy Partners and Better Capital founder Jon Moulton, and Ed Wray, co-founder of Betfair and director of Funding Circle.

Daniel Gandesha, chief executive of Property Partner, said: 

“Time and time again I wanted to invest in residential property in a particular area. I would see nice coffee shops starting to pop up, steady increases in the number of estate agents setting up shop, regeneration plans being approved – but still didn’t make the step."

Oh, Daniel, if successful property investing was only that simple. Let's hope for your investors sake the market remains buoyant. PH

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Letting agent guilty of fraud

A Harlow lettings agent pleaded guilty to 10 offences at Chelmsford Crown Court.

Sanjit Alangh, 26 was a director of Rent Team Ltd, a letting agency based in the West Gate area of Harlow pleaded guilty to 'engaging in unfair commercial practice between November 12, 2011 and April 15, 2013' and one offence of 'Fraudulent Trading between November 12, 2011 and June 21, 2013'.

The court heard how the letting agency boss had "knowingly or recklessly engaged in a commercial practice which contravened the requirements of professional diligence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and which materially distorted or was likely to materially distort the economic behaviour of the average consumer with regard to a product."

The offences included defrauding creditors by obtaining lettings deposits and other payments.

Alangh was ordered to pay compensation of £11,000 to 11 victims, £5,000 costs and given 120 hours of unpaid community work.

The case underlines the difficulty in picking which letting agent to manage your properties.

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Metro Bank drops buy-to-let rates

The Metro Bank has reduced rates on it's own buy-to-let mortgages by bringing in a 2 year fixed rate of 2.69%.

There is also a 2 year tracker rate available to landlords of 2.69% up to a loan to value of 75%.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

North / south divide widens

Young increasingly staying with parents

Gazunder... it's 2015

The slowing property market has lead the Telegraph to predict that 2015 will see the return of 'gazundering' ( the last-minute lowering an agreed offer on the day of exchange ).

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Rightmove house price index for Jan 2015

Rightmove's latest house price index has been published today.

As if we didn't already know, the nation appears to be ever more property obsessed. The country's largest property portal has posted yet more growth in visitor traffic, with the highest ever Rightmove page views on Sunday 11th January and site visits to date up over 10% on last year.

Other key points are -
  • Price of property coming to market up 1.4% (+£3,798) in a month where prices usually fall
  • Upwards price pressure as the number of properties coming to market (+2%) fails to replenish agents’ historically low stock levels – currently 10% below same period last year
  • Activity boosted by Stamp Duty savings of up to £1,250 for some first-time buyers – double incentive for early-birds as average property price in this sector is down by £1,132 this month
  • In spite of the above and low mortgage and inflation rates, sellers will have to work harder in 2015 than in 2014:- election jitters and mortgage restrictions suggest a moderate reduction from the high transaction volumes seen in 2014 
  • - 2015 will be the ‘Year of the Selective Mover’ 
  • - lenders are selecting buyers who are good risks to lend to, and in turn buyers are very selective with the properties they choose.
Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst comments:

 “Early 2015 statistics currently point in the right direction for home-movers, with the Chancellor’s early Stamp Duty Christmas present perhaps being the spur for people making New Year resolutions to get on with moving. There are more positive signs of early-bird activity rather than pre-election jitters or economic worries deterring prospective movers. However, we are only a few days into the year and it remains to be seen whether this initial flurry is sustained.”

Homelets December Rental Data Report

The December 2014 Homelet Rental Data Report has been published.

The key points are - 
  • In the three months to December 2014, average rental values for new tenancies in the UK were 7.6% higher than the same period last year
  • The annual growth in average rental values for the three months to December 2014 (7.6%) was higher than 2013 (3.8%), 2012 (3.5%) and 2011 (3.5%)
  • In the three months to December 2014, average tenant incomes were 7.1% higher than in 2013
  • Average rental values for new tenancies in London (£1,393pcm) were £149 more expensive per month when compared to average rental values in December 2013 (£1,244pcm)
  • Average rental values for new tenancies in London (£1,408pcm) were £140 more expensive per month when compared to average rental values in November 2013 (£1,268pcm)
  • When London is excluded, the average UK rental value was £694pcm - this is 1.5% higher than last year (£684pcm)

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Mansfield BS reduces fixed rate

Buy-to-let mortgage provider the Mansfield Building Society has reduced the rate on it's 2 year fixed rate mortgage by 0.5% from 3.99% to 3.49%.

The buy-to-let mortgage is available up to a loan to value of 70%.

To search buy-to-let mortgage products have a look Property Hawk Mortgages for the latest rates.