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Friday, July 31, 2009

BM mortgages enhances range of buy-to-let trackers

With the Chinese making moves and entering the UK buy-to-let mortgage market this will have hopefully shaken up some of the big UK lenders who have been content to write business with big fat lending margins but nothing else. The prospect of the Chinese muscling in on the lending market with their huge financial resources may well prompt the UK buy-to-let lenders into offering more competitive markets for the fear of being crowded out of their home market.

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That may well have been the thinking behind the launch of Birmingham Midshires latest range of buy to let mortgages. They have launched this week a 2 year tracker product with a low 4.15% rate, just marginally above the Bank of China's 3.5% lifetime tracker. The downside is the fee at 3% which makes it expensive for larger advances. LTV is only 60% but Birmingham Midshires will lend upto a portfolio of 9 properties. There also offer a 4.7% rate for landlords wanting a higher LTV.

VARIABLE TRACKER RATE MORTGAGE of 4.25% for 2 years withdrawn & replaced. NEW VARIABLE TRACKER RATE: 4.15% for 2 years, max 60%, fee 3% + £275, BBR + 3.65% for 2 years. FIXED RATE MORTGAGES of 7.00% to 1.9.14 & 5.40% to 1.9.12 withdrawn. NEW FIXED RATE MORTGAGES: 5.40% to 1.12.11, max 60%, fee 2.5% + £275; 6.15% to 1.12.12, max 75%, fee 2.5% + £275. END-DATES on all remaining FIXED RATES extended to 1 December. W.e.f. 25.7.09.

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Landlords may be required to risk assess their toilets

The news about a 67 year old Australian woman who got trapped in her dunny for a week should strike fear into the hearts of landlords. Why?

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The rumours are now flying that the madmen in 'health and safety house' are already drawing up plans to require all landlords to carry out a risk assessment of their toilets.

Can you imagine the tick sheet that landlords would need.

Age of toilet
Basin height
Flush velocity
Angle of U bend

Don't laugh - these are the same 'bright sparks' that believe that a landlord register will transform the private rented sector! If this does come in then I'll be locking myself in my toilet, just to get away from these idiot law makers.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tenants aren't interested in EPC's

Apparently the majority of tenants have none or little interest in the EPC's required when letting out property.

According to the National Landlords Association, Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are often at the bottom of a tenants’ lists of requirements, if there at all.

Poor landlords keep thrusting this £80 bit of European directive into glazed tenants faces.

Considering the fact that EPC's seem to stand out as the only semi useful part of the HIPS pack ........... yes, that useless pile of junk that is slowing up the housing market, it really does make you wonder where the millions of pounds it cost to evolve and develop these concepts could of been possibly spent.

This Governments housing policy seems to refuse to get anything right.

Wondrous, bewildering incompetents.

Get an EPC - anywhere, any property for £80.

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Rogue landlords stay clear of 3rd floor to avoid HMO licensing

Rogue landlords avoid licencing by steering clear of defined "house in multiple occupation," or HMOs.

Landlords are buying up two-storey property and converting them to low quality self-contained units, to avoid the restriction of HMO licensing.

Planners and councilors in the Welsh town of Rhyll are criticising the narrow criteria of classification of a HMO requiring a license from the council.

The current classification of a property requiring a licence as a HMO is that the property has to have at least three floors and house more than five people in two or more households.

Many landlords have moved away from three floor properties to avoid having to obtain a licence since the schemes introduction in 2004.

This is underlined by the fact that Rhyl has at least 600 HMOs, but only 33 require a licence.

Read more on rogue HMO landlords in this BBC article.

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'Fringe Cut' Fear for Landlords

Rental values on Edinburgh flats have seen falls of 10 per cent over the last three months.

An over supply of rental property has knocked down rents according to research by online letting portal Citylets, who are reporting rental falls for the second consecutive quarter.

'Fringe cut' for landlords likely
This years Edinburgh Festival could see a relative over-supply of flats and available rental property for the festival which could result in lower rents for visitors and further bad news for local landlords.

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Build-to-let - here come the big boy property landlords

As BTL investors crawl around the debris of the property investing dream, the Government is hoping the future of the residential rental sector in the UK will be salvaged by the big boys galloping in on their white chargers.
Both Aviva and Legal and General are in discussions with the Homes and Communities Agency over injecting a boost to the UK residential rental sector.
The two massive pension funds are looking to launch into the 'build-to-let' market and develop purpose-built residential blocks for the property rental market.
The Government are keen to bring in the big boys and squeeze their reliance on the dirty, unwashed private landlords. ( I have a rinse down once a week - don't they know? )
The Government is hoping that the large investment institutions will bring a much needed cash injection to re-start their house building strategies for affordable housing. With a return to 1950's style long term renting a potential growing trend in wake of the 'popped property bubble'.
Ask yourself the question, aren't these the same pension companies that have invested away so many poor folks pensions pots? I dont feel any great insurance that they wont do the same again as landlords.
If you want lower investment returns, let the big boys manage inefficiently and take the largest percentage share of any investment returns in charges and high costs.
All I can advise potential property investors is, keep your property investments local, self managed and carefully funded to bring in the returns.
Personally I don't mind getting dirty , and I trust myself to look after my property investments shrewdly.
Here's to the great unwashed that remain self reliant.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Chinese offer the best buy-to-let mortgage rates

Any landlord who has 'arrived' at their 'middle years' will probably remember the pop ditty by the Vapors proclaiming the arrival of the Japanese as an economic and cultural world force.

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Things move on....It's now the Chinese that are coming. A report in the FT at the weekend herald the arrival of the Bank of China into the UK buy-to-let mortgage market.

Their offering is a very competitive 3.5% lifetime tracking buy-to-let mortgage. Max LTV 65%, Application fee of £1495. The buy-to-let mortgage is only available on a repayment basis. Max loan £1m, min £35k, 100% rental cover.

With lending margins in the UK at historically high levels and property prices stabilising, the UK promises rich pickings for lenders. The chinese know this and landlords should expect further buy-to-let mortgage products from the Chinese in the coming months.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Average rental yield across landlords’ portfolios rise

In the three months to the end of June, the average yield across landlords’ portfolios rose from 6.2 per cent in Q1 to 6.4 per cent in Q2.

Its natural that landlords enjoy rising yields but not if it is largely due to falling property prices.

The balancing act continues.

The RentIndex shows that average rent sits pretty static at £581.56 per month.
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Holiday Time

Is it OK to go on holiday? What if something happens to your property when you're away - you won't be there to deal with it. Well, no, but it's probably best to try and spread your wings and relax, at least for a few days. It's been a difficult year. Don't worry, your tenant will ring the Fire Brigade.

Be courteous and efficient: let your letting agent and/or tenant know that you are going to be away and then off you go.

Renting is, of course, the only way to go for landlords. Why stay in a hotel when there are so many other landlords you could support with their choice of villas, country cottages and apartments with sea views.

What you need is a change of scenery. Instead of lying awake at home fretting about fire safety, gas safety, electrical safety and drainage you could take a boat trip around the harbour, explore the Old Town and enjoy an evening at the taverna. Then, stumble back to your whitewashed holiday cottage to lie awake fretting about fire safety, gas safety, electrical safety and was that a rat's tail I saw poking out of that drain?

A change is as good as a rest.

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Falling capital values cause landlords to lose £324 million a day!

Sainsbury’s Finance have estimated that becasue of falling house prices buy-to-let landlords have seen the collective value of their buy-to-let properties fall by a staggering £118.4 billion between the first three months of 2008 and the same period for 2009.

This they say equates to an estimated £324 million a day. Quite a lot! Worst affected is London where private landlords have seen the value of their properties fall by an estimated £37.36 billion.

Despite these fall we urge landlords not to cut the sum insured under their landlord insurance. This is because despite falling house prices build costs have largely remained unaltered. When insuring a buy-to-let property landlords are austensibly insuring themselves against the costs of rebuilding their property or theft and damage. If anything the risks faced by landlords have increased during the current down turn so now is not the time for landlords to be playing fast and loose with their landlord insurance cover.

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Foxtons - renewal fees why things are far from straightforward

Landlords who have watched with interest the OFT v Foxtons case over wether it is legal for letting agents to charge renewal fees.

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The recent victory by the OFT appeared to herald a new era for landlord protected against being charged unfair renewal fees and potential able to claim thousands in over paid charges from existing and previous contracts with their letting agent.

However, things aren't that straightforward!!!!!!

Firstly, part of the judgement related to the way that the important terms were tucked away in an obscure part of the agreement in such a way that they represented a ‘trap’ or ‘timebomb’ in the way that such important obligations were bought to the landlords attention. Lord Justice Mann didn't rule that renewal fees parse were illegal, just the way that Foxtons tried to 'hide' them in the agreement. He said: “I shall not decide whether or not renewal commission is always unfair to consumer landlords.”

Secondly, The OFT case was based around a case bought under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 (UTCCRs). These regulations are intended to protect consumers and not businesses.

Some landlords operating more than a couple of buy-to-let properties would probably be considered by the courts to be a business as a posed to a consumer and therefore may not benefit from this level of protection. The courts may instead consider that any transaction between a letting agent and a business landlord as a business transactions bound by the law of contract.

The only certainty in the Foxtons case is that it is likely to rattle on for some time.

What should a landlord do about renewal of letting fees?

If a landlord has concerns that they may have been unfairly charged renewal fees by their letting agent. The first step is probably to send a Letter of Claim to the letting agent according to Richard Jones solicitor at the Residential Letting Association. The landlord should give their letting agent 14 days to respond threatening them with a claim in the County Court.

It is possible that a landlord is able to claim back up to 6 years of fees limited by the statute of limitations. Several words of caution. Firstly, its always advisable to take your own legal advice Secondly the County Court may suspend any hearing pending any further outcome of events in the High Court such as an appeal by Foxtons over the case.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Are politics about to shake up the BTL Mortgage Industry?

At the very least, it’s been a great week for bold statements from politicians.

The shadow chancellor George Osbourne has said he’s going to scrap the Financial Services Authority if the Conservatives get into power and the Lib Dem treasury spokesman, Vince Cable, is calling for the break-up of the new Lloyds Banking Group. So no messing about then, all change next year by the sounds of it.

As you can imagine, this hardly helps to add stability to the mortgage market; after all, if you ran the Lloyds Group you’d probably be looking over your shoulder for the next 18 months whilst making your lending decisions.

However, stability is something we are starting to see (generally) in the market.

Figures show mortgage lending for house purchase was up by 28% in June on the previous three months, while mortgage approvals for house purchase were 13% up in June on the previous three months.

Oh, and did I mention 3 month LIBOR is now 0.94%, which is below one per cent for the first time since it was setup in 1986? And has this had an effect on the pricing of buy to let mortgage products? In a word,NO.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

House builder reports a rise in buy-to-let inquiries

Apparently David Wilson East Midlands has reported a rise in buy-to-let investors inquiring about it's properties.

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Apparently in a bid to make the most of once-in-a-generation prices!

Apparently the developer it is not just seasoned investors seizing the opportunity but more significantly Sales Director Philip Lacey has spotted an emerging group of first-time buy-to-let investors using the downturn as a chance to start a professional property portfolio.

How much truth there is in this and how much is just marketing spin...... read the article and you decide!

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

BTL Product Update

This is such a fantastic deal we have to detail it again (no early redemption penalties, remember)

Shepshed BS

Interest rate: 5.45%
LTV: 75%

Rental: 120% at pay rate
Product Detail: 2 year tracker

Arrangement Fee: £999 (£150 upfront with valuation fee)
Early Redemption Penalties: None

Our thoughts: Reasonably low tracker with no penalties and low arrangement fee, a good option for possible buy to sell deals. No flats or properties within the M25 (A bit old fashioned; paper applications so not for deals that need to be hurried through!)

BM Solutions

Interest rate: 5.4%
LTV: 60%

Rental: 125% at pay rate
Product Detail: 3 year fixed

Arrangement Fee: 2.5%
Early Redemption Penalties: 3% until 01/09/2012

Our thoughts: Great low fixed rate for 3 years for remortgages. Quick and efficient as ever.

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BTL Mortgage Lender of the Week - Northern Rock

Just thought I would quickly touch upon 3 reasons why people would use Northern Rock (apart from the fact that as taxpayers, we all own them, so were supporting our own business!)

1. They will remortgage with no minimum period. Just be aware they will remortgage on the original purchase price NOT the current valuation. However, very handy for properties bought for cash/bridging finance where you want money out before the usual six months.

2. They will look at multiple flats on one title. For example, if you have 2 flats on one freehold title then the good people at NR will lend.

3. Flexible features - quite rare at the moment for buy to let mortgages. You can make lump sum over- payments and then draw them down when you need them, thereby saving excess interest payments. For example, if you remortgage for £200,000 and need £100,000 this month and £100,000 in 4 months time, then you can immediately pay back £100,000, and draw it down when required.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

And the winner of the women in property of 2009 is.....

Margo Leadbetter.........

No sorry got that wrong, she won the award for the Hazel Blears look alike competition, it is actually......

Shona Davidson

Congratulations Shona............was it the speech on how you like traveling and meeting children and small dogs that clinched it?

For those eager to find out the winners in the other categories

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

What's in an areas name?

We don't often bring individual properties to the attention of our landlord readers but thisl buy-to-let investment being offered in North Kensington is an example of where the areas name does not paint the full picture.

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To the unitiated North Kensington would cunjure up images of lavish and exquisite london garden squares in the poshist part of town. Not quite so......

North Kensington is one of those places where the name hints at somewhere poshier than the reality. It is an area bordered by the A40, Kensal Rise and Wormwood Scrubs to the West. Handy you may think!

Any landlord looking to pick up a bargain HMO in this part of London should check out the details below:

* St. Quinton Avenue, North Kensington, London . W10
* Freehold HMO investment
* Consisting of 38 fully self contained studios
* Shared Laundry facilities
* Additional communal wcs
* 36 on A.S.T
* 1 on a company let
* 1 Vacant flat
* Total current rent £385,496 p.a
* Current Rental Yield 8.1% (with vacant possession of 1 flat)

Price £O.I.E of £4,750,000

For more details:

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At last - funding for HMOs, Freehold Conversions and Limited Companies returns!

We at Mortgages for Business have been aware for some time that many Buy to Let landlords and property investors have been struggling to find finance for certain property types e.g. HMOs and Freeholds split into several self-contained units. Many of the lenders who were happy to lend on this type of property have left the market during the credit crunch, leaving many investors high and dry when it comes to mortgage options.

Mortgages for Business now has access to semi-exclusive funding available from Aldermore Bank Plc. We have been specially selected onto the Aldermore limited panel of brokers and such funding lines will not be available outside of this small selection of brokers.

Aldermore will consider the majority of Commercial and Residential property types and will lend to Limited Companies. If you have previously struggled to source finance for a particular transaction, Mortgages for Business may now be able to assist.

Access to these funds may be limited so we urge people to act promptly.

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Landlords Looking to Free up Some Cash

Tip of the week 1: Free up some cash

Have you got spare capital in one of your properties and would like to get access to it? Well, remember you can still use the technique of the ‘further advance’.

Here’s an example with BM Solutions.

Say you bought a property last year, significantly under what you thought the market value was, and therefore you reasonably believe there is equity in it. As it’s a fixed rate, you don’t want to remortgage due to early redemption penalties however so you can apply for a further advance.

And use this neat trick!

We can determine the market value by getting an online index valuation from BM within minutes, we can then tell you how much cash you can release and what the cost will be.

So, cost to you for this information: zero !

Time spent by you: five minutes!

Give us a call, and we’ll talk you through it. We will just need your BM account number.

BTL BROKER 01424 205 373 ref PropertyHawk for No Fees Special Deal

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Bank of China extends buy-to-let mortgage criteria

We know that the Chinese are slowly taking over the world and that the 21st Century is the Chinese Century.

Landlords looking for a buy-to-let mortgage may not know that the Chinese in the form of Bank of China are also a lender on UK buy-to-let property.

They have in fact just extended their lending criteria and are now prepared to lend on buy-to-let portfolios of up to 10 investment properties or a maximum advance of £1m.

LTV's are 65% for under £250k, £60% for over £250k.

Rate is 3.5% above base

Min income for the borrower is £18k.

BTL BROKER 01424 205 373 ref PropertyHawk for No Fees Special Deal

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pressure grows on Government to reconsider LHA

The government is coming under increasing pressure from landlords and letting professionals to rethink their new system of housing benefit called the Local Housing Allowance (LHA). Many landlords according to the latest reports by the BBC are being financially penalised by a system which pays benefits direct to the tenant and not the landlord as under the previous system of housing benefit.

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The reality for many vulnerable tenants is that many will also lose out as landlords increasingly shy away from the new system and decide not to let to tenants on benefit reducing the scope and choice of vulnerable tenants to rent property from private sector landlords.

As is the case with much of this governments attempts at regulation is that the vulnerable members of our society suffer whilst regulators, bureaucrats and lawyers get fat!

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Landlord insurance and flooding

According to a recent post on landlord insurance brokers Direct Line have been giving advice to landlords that may be affected by flooding.

With global warming on the rise and a recent survey showing that 11% of businesses affected by flooding each year then landlords should consider the details of their landlord insurance very carefully to ensure they are fully covered.

Is your buy-to-let property in one of the governments flood risk areas ?

Landlords should take specialist advice when purchasing their landlord insurance to make sure their buy-to-let property is fully covered against any flood risk.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Mortgage Works launches new range of buy-to-let mortgages

The Mortgage Works the specialist lending arm of the Nationwide Building Society responded last week to the MPCs decision to keep interest rates on hold by releasing their new buy-to-let mortgage rates.

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VARIABLE TRACKER RATE MORTGAGES withdrawn & replaced. NEW VARIABLE TRACKER RATE MORTGAGE for second time buyers & remortgage, with no penalty payable: 3.69% to 30.9.10, max 60%, fee 3.5%, BBR + 3.19% to 30.9.10. NEW VARIABLE TRACKER RATE MORTGAGES for second time buyers & remortgage: 4.29% to 30.9.10, max 70%, fee 3.5%, BBR + 3.79% to 30.9.10; 4.15% to 30.9.11, max 60%, fee 3%, BBR + 3.65% to 30.9.11. NEW FIXED RATE MORTGAGES for second time buyers & remortgages: 3.69% to 30.9.10, max 60%, fee 3.5%; 4.29% to 30.9.10, max 70%, fee 3.5%; 4.69% to 30.9.10, max 60%, fee 2.5%; 5.19% to 30.9.10, max 60%, fee 2%; 4.99% to 30.9.11, max 60%, fee 3.25%; 5.49% to 30.9.11, max 60%, fee 2.25%; 5.99% to 30.9.11, max 60%, fee 1.25%; 5.99% to 30.9.12, max 60%, fee 3%. NEW FIXED RATE MORTGAGES for second time buyers only: 5.49% to 30.9.11, max 70%, fee 3.5%; 5.99% to 30.9.11, max 70%, fee 2.5%. NEW FIXED RATE MORTGAGES for remortgage only: 5.59% to 30.9.11, max 70%, fee 3.5%; 6.08% to 30.9.11, max 70%, fee 2.5%. All of the above have minimum fees of £595 and revert to The Mortgage Works Managed rate of 4.69% for term. W.e.f. 15.7.09.

The Mortgage Works continues to provide the most extensive and competitive range of buy-to-let mortgage products in the vastly diminished buy-to-let mortgage market.

The Mortgage Works, amongst other changes, sees the return of remortgage only products and new fixed rates for purchase or remortgage only and for both purchase and remortgage. Amongst the new fixed rates, is a 5.99% to 30.9.12. This deal is available up to 60% loan-to-value and has a fee of 3% of advance.

BTL BROKER 01424 205 373 ref PropertyHawk for No Fees Special Deal

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Ten HIP tips for selling your property

Landlords that are thinking of selling should have a look at the Times 10 tips for HIPS.

Landlords now need a HIP before marketing their property for sale.

We think they are a ridiculous piece of bureacracy. The Tories have promised to scrap HIPs.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Southern letting agent reports increased letting activity

Leaders – the UK ’s largest independently owned letting specialist – experienced an exceptionally busy June, with the total number of lets across its offices up 6% compared with June 2008, and some offices up by as much as 25%.

Leaders reports strong demand for rental accommodation of all types across the South, with a balance returning to the market, as many so-called reluctant landlords exit lettings in the face of the improving sales market.

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Demand looks set to stay strong, with 90% of tenants surveyed who signed up to a new tenancy with Leaders in June saying that they intended to continue renting after their tenancy ends. 75% said they expected to continue renting for at least another 2 years.

The most common reason for renting was not being able to afford to buy. However, 20% of respondents said they liked the flexibility of renting and 14% said they did not want the responsibilities of home ownership. 6% said they were between owning homes or waiting to buy.

Those signing up to new tenancies with Leaders in June proved fairly decisive when choosing a property to rent. The majority looked at 3 or less properties before choosing their new home. Leaders believe this is a reflection of the fact that it is now less of a renter’s market and tenants need to act quickly to secure a property they like.

The features cited as most important by most tenants were the location of the property, the quality of the fixtures and fittings - particularly the bathroom and kitchen - and that the rent should be reasonable

Tenants were of ages ranging widely, from 18 to 70+. The overwhelming majority were under 40 years old (77%) with a significant minority (12%) aged between 50 and 60. Other reasons given for renting were divorce or separation, working away from home and studying.

Says Leaders’ managing director, Paul Weller: “It is clear that renting remains a popular choice for many, not only because of affordability, but because of the flexibility that it offers. Good quality properties in the right locations and at the right rent are letting very quickly. Renters - who have had their pick of properties over the last few months - will find that there is now less choice available as property stocks have gone down and they will no longer be able to negotiate rent reductions so easily.”

As attitudes to renting have become increasingly positive, the Private Rented Sector in the UK is predicted to grow significantly, and become more like that in Europe , where renting a home is more common than home ownership

Says Paul: “Over the long-term, buy to let looks set to continue to be an excellent investment. Yields are increasing, and we are seeing more tenants wanting to sign up for longer tenancies. With increasing demand and decreasing property stocks, the market is now very much in need of more quality, well-priced properties.”

Those considering investing should always seek specialist, impartial advice on the market in their chosen area to ensure they choose the right property and present it correctly. Leaders are independent specialists with more than 25 years experience in lettings and are recognised experts in the industry. 98% of those surveyed last month rated Leaders’ service, lettings consultants, office and literature as excellent or good.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Buy-to-let awards- we want a MEDAL, MEDAL

The world is award mad. Apparently everybody wants their 15 minutes of fame as Andy Warhol once referred to it. We all apparently want a medal and an excuse to dress up in a black tie or fancy frock and pretend we are somebody. Well landlords just like the cartoon character Mutterley from the 70s cartoon you get your chance to pin a medal on the shirt of 16 lucky winners in the landlord and buy-to-let awards 09 .

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The 16 categories are in reverse order:

1.Achievement Award
2.Landlord of the Year
3.Customer Service
4.Legal Services
5.Electrical Safety
6.Letting Agent
7.Estate Agent/Auctioneer
8.Property Sourcer
9.Financial Services
10.Public Service
12.Sales and Rent Back
13.Insurance Services

Well if you fancy voting for our website all I can say is we want a MEDAL, MEDAL!

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Improved rent guarantee insurance launched

An improved rent guarantee insurance policy has been launched by Leaseguard.

Rent guarantee insurance is become increasingly popular to landlords as tenant unemployment rises as a way as protecting their rental income.

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Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action comments on couple facing prison for conning homeowners out of thousands

In response to the recent news story about the couple who conned homeowners out of thousands by squatting in properties that they had no intention of buying, Paul Shamplina, Director of Landlord Action, comments: “we have evicted many professional bad tenants over the years who simply go from one property to another duping landlords into renting their properties whilst having no intention of paying. In my opinion this couple are most probably a worst case scenario as they knew their victims and charmed them into believing that they would purchase their properties. They coaxed their way into the property by promising to pay the rent until the purchase of the property was completed, but the couple didn’t pay and, what with the downturn in the property market, cost their victims thousands in unpaid rent, a loss of sale and left them with legal fees. It was only due to a tenacious detective, who came across the husband 30 years ago, that led to their prosecution. The worst case of a serial bad tenant that we have dealt with conned five landlords and owed a combined total of £120,000.”

Landlord Action

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