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Saturday, August 31, 2013

'Rent to rent' tenant fined

'Rent to rent' is the latest get rich scheme put forward by the 'get rich property pundits'.  I've commented before that 'rent to rent' is not only immoral from a landlords point of view it is almost certainly illegal.

Just to back up my sentiments a recent case in London involving a 32 year old tenant Vivek Strivastava establishes this.  He was recently prosecuted by Camden Council for renting out his Council property to students and was found guilty of two charges under the Fraud Act.  He was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £6,000 to cover the Councils legal costs.

I hope that this case sends out a clear message to any tenant who thinks it's OK to rip off their landlord by illegally sub-letting their rental property.  'Rent to rent' is simply wrong.  Right!
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Friday, August 30, 2013

Get your property on Rightmove for LESS

After my warning this week over using the free letting website Gumtree most landlords realise to give themselves the best chance of letting their property quickly and to quality tenants they need to get it listed on Rightmove.

There are now a number of websites that allow landlords to get their property listed without using the full services of a local letting agent.  These include the likes of : UPAD, Landlord Direct and Letting A Property.  The functionality of all these services have improved massively over the last few years and now it means that landlords can get their properties listed on Rightmove, with photos and description in minutes rather than hours and all for less than a hundred quid.

The guys at Letting A Property have very kindly given all Property Hawk users a £20 discount off their usual fees.  So feel free to try to let your property by trying one of the free letting websites.  But if you want to get your property let quickly you really do need to get it on Rightmove.
Get me on Rightmove for LESS

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Gumtree warnings

I've written before about my less than satisfactory experiences with trying to let my properties using Gumtree.  I know it's free for the first couple of rental adverts, but despite trying the service at least half a dozen time I've never bagged a single tenant with it.  Having said that Gumtree has been great for letting my garages.  I've let them all through Gumtree and have had a cavalcade of exemplary tenants.  On my rental properties ...nothing, zilch!

Gumtree rental scams

It therefore doesn't surprise me when I read that a number of people are using Gumtree to scam unsuspecting tenants by setting themselves up as bogus landlords and then requesting money from unsuspecting tenants.  After the money has been BACS or transferred to the 'landlord' the tenant never hears from them again.  OK...the tenants are somewhat naive parting with money without a tenancy agreement in place but it does highlight the fact that Gumtree without any filters on who uses it and no upfront investment in time or money Gumtree can be a bit of a lettings jungle.  Landlords be on your guard!

Have you had a good or bad experience of trying to let your property through Gumtree - please post your comments below.
Get my property on RIGHTMOVE.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tenant warning signs

I've had a new tenant for 9 months and there are a few warning signs that have made me uncomfortable.  Now I could wait for a tenant car crash or I could take action.

Listen to your landlord instinct

My approach to letting is always to listen to your landlord instinct.  Is there such a thing?  I think so and mine has often proved to be right...  My new 9 months into her tenancy.  From the start she was not the sort of tenant I would normally expect to take on.  In other words they haven't got a regular job and a clear means of support.  Like many landlords keen to let their property you sometimes have to make compromises.  Sometimes they work out.  I have had one tenant who is a DJ.  God knows how she makes her money.  I don't think she is any kind of David Guetta but she always pays her rent and has been with me for 6 is it 7 years.  The gamble paid off!

Tenant warning signs

My new tenant.  Tenant XX (a woman).  She's a victim.  Life has happened to her.  That's not good! To date she has been locked out twice and had to break in once at my expense when I had the locks changed.  The place has turned into a tip.  No self respect or pride in your appearance generally means no of a lot of respect for others including the landlord.

Missed rent payments

The latest incident was a missed rent payment.  She did subsequent make up the full rental payment during the month but missing out on the rent is again a worrying sign.

Time to act!?

I'm thinking that all these factors are makng me nervous.  It's time to act.  What I can do is to issue a section 21 notice.  In that way at least I have an accelerated route to possession.  I know that if that's the route it goes down it wont be easy.  But it does give me the certainty that I will get my rental property back in a reasonable time frame.

Live ain't ever easy when you get a new tenant.....but don't ever ignore the warning signs!

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Burgalaries - the statistics

The Truth Behind Burglaries
Lighthouse Security Locksmiths

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Report finds landlords happy to let to tenants on benefits

A study conducted by last month has reported that approximately 75 per cent of agents and landlords are happy enough to rent out their properties to tenants receiving Housing Benefit.

Yet contrary to popular belief, nearly 61 per cent admitted that their biggest fear was not property damage – with many under the assumption that LHA (Local Housing Allowance) tenants were just as likely to cause damage to property as much as private tenants – but in fact, rent arrears. Additionally, around 40 per cent of those questioned strongly believe LHA tenants maintain their property as private tenants.

For quite some time opinions have remained divided over tenants on Housing Benefit. It’s positive to see that research is going into this so there is visibility on statistics.

The industry should be working together to strengthen landlord and tenant relationships; not weaken them.  Just 33 per cent of letting agents and landlords felt fraudulent behaviour to be considered a risk amongst LHA tenants, while around half think it just as likely with both private and LHA tenants.

As with any responsible landlord, just by making sure you have the correct protocol in effect can help improve tenancy standards , The landlord sector has undergone a huge transformation to ensure it upholds high standards – resulting in many landlords increasing their property portfolios.

By successfully encouraging landlords to consider both private tenants and those within the Housing Benefit category, has in turn widened the availability for tenants on both sides of the property coin.

How can I ensure adequate coverage as a landlord?

With many recognising the advantages to enlisting the help of a specialist provider, more and more people are turning to brokers for their landlord insurance needs. By working with a broker to tailor a quote that covers your specific requirements, you can be safe in the knowledge that everything important to you and your property is covered. For leading advice from one of the UK’s most prominent property experts, talk to the experts at Total Landlord Insurance today.

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Dodging the tenants punches

When I refer to dodging punches I am luckily talking metaphorically.  I know it happens that tenants can get violent.  Thankfully this is one thing I haven't had to deal with yet.  We did advise one landlord recently about what to do in this situation with violent tenants that he was trying to get rid of.

Soft spot for boxing

I must confess I do like a spot of boxing.  I've always marveled at the speed, strength and shear stamina that the top pugilists possess.  I have recently incorporated regular sessions on the punch bags into my daily gym work out. 

Landlords need some boxing skills

I do think that being a landlord some pugilistic skills are helpful.  We are constantly required to dodge tenants punches and keep calm so that you are still in a position to deliver a knockout blow!  Having survived the latest onslaught of one tenant not paying their full rent, another with a malfunctioning oven and a triffid like hedge (all now sorted).  My latest onslaught comes from a tenant determined to get the failing double glazing replaced.   Having slipped my tenant a couple of playful jabs I'm looking to manouvere them onto the ropes before hitting him with a series of knock out blows and delivering to him before Winter a perfect set of functioning double glazing to his shock and amazement.  KNOCK OUT!

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Buy-to-let booming!?"

I know the latest headlines are proclaiming a buy-to-let boom.  I don't think so.  I would call it steady growth when much of the rest of the economy has stagnated, shrunk or flat lined.

Ex-Chancellor Steps Into The Breach

The latest politician to throw his opinion into the ring is the ex-Chancellor Norman Lamont according to reports in the Guardian probably most famous for being in charge when we were forced out of the ERM (predecessor to the EURO). His concern relates to the increase in buy-to-let lending as interest rates have fallen for all mortgages as Government measures kick in to bring down the cost of borrowing and stimulate the ailing housing market.

'Sympathy'-With Anti Intervention

On a political point I have some sympathy with anybody that argues against government intervention in any markets which generally subverts and perverts the operation of the pricing mechanism.  House prices are still too expensive if you look at the long-term price to earnings multiples (they should be nearer 2 but are at over 4) but they seem 'affordable' because public policy has pushed down interest rates to practically zero to stop the economy going into a massive contraction.

Buy-to-let Healthy

My view is that neither buy-to-let or the housing market are booming they are just healthy and returning to normal as a result of a massive government stimulus and buyers and landlords being able once again obtain mortgage finance.  But headlines like 'boring boring buy-to-let' isn't going to grab anybody attention so landlords will just have to get used to 'buy-to-let booming' whilst us real landlords know this means we are just doing alright! Boring after the last few years is good!

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Tenants dissatisfied claims website

A new tenant website claims that 37% of tenants would not rent another property from their current landlord or using the same letting agent.

In it's survey of 2000 tenants it found that:

39% of tenants said that rental properties were generally tired and in need of updating, with 17% saying they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with overall conditions of the properties they had rented.

57% of tenant said that their tenancy had ended amicably whilst 14% revealed that they had never had a tenancy that had ended on friendly terms.

What does this survey from website Tenant Voice tell us about the state of the rental market?

Well it tells us some tenants are dissatisfied with their lot.  This we probably already know.  It does also show us that if people join a website for dissatisfied tenants then probably the figures are going to reflect this and not be that reflective of the general rental market as a whole.  The website The Tenants Voice in it's own words was:

"Founded in 2012, The Tenants Voice believe passionately that rentals must be fair, friendly and easy to negotiate.  With the support of great tenants, the best letting agents and good  landlords we know we can achieve our vision of providing everyone with a better rental experience."

I think we can sign up for that even if the stats might be somewhat skewed!

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Boiler problems - google it!

I've bored you at length in the past with my search for the perfect boiler.  Fear not ...I"m not about to subject you to any more of it.

I did eventually find what I thought was the perfect boiler.  As is the case with all these things there are minor maintenance issues.  One regular fact of life with looking after any boiler is that from time to time the pressure in the system may drop.  It's generally not a problem.  All you need to do is repressurise the system and you are off again.

I was recently contacted by one of my tenants with exactly this issue.  Having reminded myself about which boiler I had installed.  My reaction was to simply google the boilers name and some suitable term like repressurise the system.   Up popped a very helpful video by Gloworm on how to repressurise the Gloworm Ultracom 2.  Brilliant just what I needed.  I forwarded the details to my tenant and 'jobs a gooden' as they have managed to sort the problem out on their own.  This has saved me a considerable amount of time and money by not having to call a plumber out to sort out the problem.

I have found in the past that by simply googling your boiler problems can throw a lot of light on any of the difficulties you might be having with your boiler.  Next time you have a problem you might be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to fix your boiler yourself.  

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Universal credit to be delayed

Despite the coalitions original plans to have all claimant on universal credit by April 2014, there now appears to be no confirmed date for universal coverage to be implemented.

Once again this throws more questions into the air of landlords letting to benefits such as the Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

Recent statistics indicate that more landlords are shying away from tenants on benefits as recent changes in rates come into affect.

Here are 7 reasons why landlords are not letting to LHA tenants

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

TDS - 'Superstrike' minister responds

We have recently written about the implications of the 'Superstrike' case which has thrown some confusion over the status of deposits held by landlords for tenancies that have become statutory periodic tenancies.  This is because the court of appeals ruling was that periodic tenancies were in fact new tenancies.  The implications under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme is that the deposits would require protection under one of the approved Tenancy Deposit Schemes.

In a recent response Housing Minister Mark Prism responded to landlords concerns by issuing a letter to the Residential Landlords Association in which he stated that:

“This was not the intention of the legislation and we are urgently exploring whether new legislation is required to clarify the situation.

“I understand that concerns have also been raised that the decision could have implications for some tenancies where a deposit has been protected in an authorised scheme in relation to a tenancy begun after 6 April 2007 and the fixed term has expired, and the tenancy continues as a statutory periodic tenancy.

“While the Court of Appeal did not make a decision on these particular facts and we cannot advise on individual cases, as a precaution, landlords could decide to re-issue the prescribed information to their tenant(s) which should ensure they can rely on the section 21 procedure if they wish to end the tenancy.

“Again, we are exploring whether new legislation is required to clarify the situation.”

Property Hawk waits with bated breath for the outcome.  In the meantime we would advise landlords not to panic.  If the problem gets to large then the government will have to act. 

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Interest rates may rise soon

Landlords who may think that interest rates could stay at their current low level for another 3 years may be in for a bit of a shock according to the latest article in the Telegraph. 

We highlighted last week in our piece on financing your property investments that the actions from Mark Carney of linking interest rates to the unemployment rate may bring forward investment and stimulate the economy.  The result being that economic activity zips up and unemployment rates fall much faster than expected and interest rates start to rise. It's all about 'the economy stupid' and the state of the economy is all about confidence once our massive debt overhang has cleared.  If you get those things right, just watch the economy go with interest rates having to rise sharply.

Read the article in the Telegraph here.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Stuck in a postcode time warp

Areas aren’t always as you remember them 
– photo courtesy of C Law @creativecommons
I’m searching for an investment property and spending most of my Saturdays in the town where I grew up, viewing houses with garish carpets and questionable extensions. But when considering what would constitute a fair offer, I’ve found I’m suffering from postcode blindness.

I didn’t notice until my husband pointed it out, but I’m judging the quality of an area based on my childhood memories. Which means my valuations are about 25 years out of date!

One of the houses we looked at was close to the town centre, mid-way between the council estate and the boxy suburbs that make up the town’s best housing stock. When I was a child, it was considered a nice street. My friend Michelle lived there and my parents thought her family must be doing well as they lived in a street they’d call “lovely”.

Areas aren’t always as you remember them 

When I walk down that same street where I played British Bulldog all those years ago, I see it as it was then; filled with upwardly mobile families making the most of their back yards and keeping their windows immaculately clean. Somehow, I failed to notice the take-away that’s opened up round the corner with the litter and noise that come with it, and the fact that owner occupiers are a rarity round here nowadays.

Location, location, location

I found myself arguing with my husband that this was a “good area”, he and the estate agent gave me a reality check. “It used to be excellent” they said, and right they were. Nostalgia had clouded my judgement and I was suffering from postcode blindness. Just one of the unexpected upshots of buying in an area you’ve been away from all your adult life.

So from now on, it’s my mission to look at all those familiar streets from my childhood with fresh eyes. The ones that have gone up in the world and the ones that have lost their gloss. 

Alison Doering is a north east landlord who caught the BTL bug three years ago and has never looked back. Going from zero to six properties in three years and juggling a high pressure job in marketing means every day is a school day; there’s always something new to lock away in that mental filing cabinet marked “Never do that again!”

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Landlord’s Guide to Selecting Tenants

Since the recession started the number of people able to save for a mortgage deposit has declined rapidly meaning that a large percentage of the population now choose to rent properties instead of buy.  While this sounds like good news for private landlords at first, the reality is that for each property you let you will probably have a large number of applications.  Choosing the right tenant can therefore be a time consuming process, which is why we looked at some ways to make it easier:
Attend Viewings
One of the best ways to get to know your potential tenants is to attend property viewings as it is during this point that they will have a number of questions to ask and the time for a proper face-to-face conversation.  Meeting someone in person is always preferable to contacting them via phone or email as it means that you can get an accurate impression of what they are like.  During viewings you can also mention your policies when it comes to rent payments, inspections and general rules to gauge the reaction of each tenant.   If they come across negative they may be difficult to deal with in the future!
Do your Research
If you want to avoid a tenant that falls into rent arrears, takes part in anti-social behaviour or disappears with no notice then you need to make sure you reference all potential tenants thoroughly.  A number of companies offer referencing services, however before you buy it is essential that you make sure you have the right product for you.  For example, some companies only perform basic reference checks to ensure that a tenant is not in any financial trouble, while others perform more extensive referencing by looking into a tenant’s employment history and contacting their previous landlords.
Hire Professionals
If you have a large property portfolio or another occupation you may find that you don’t have the time to attend viewings or perform in-depth referencing.  This is why many landlords choose to hire letting agents that perform all these tasks for them and ensure that if problems do occur they are dealt with in a quick and easy manner.  Furthermore, since the government announced that landlords are now also responsible for ensuring all tenants are in the country legally even more landlords have been hiring professionals to protect their livelihoods.  Just remember that even if you do hire a letting agent it’s always polite to make regular contact with your tenants in case they need to discuss anything with you.

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Buy-to-let boom powers ahead

Buy-to-let lending powers ahead 21% according to new data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) to a five year high.  The stats reveal £5.1bn was advanced to landlords to the end of June, up 21% on the first quarter.

It looks like us landlords are regaining our nerve and starting to put our hands back in our pocket.

Andy Young from Property Hawk Mortgages comments:

"During the first half of 2013 the buy-to-let mortgage market has continued to improve with more lenders and products for landlords to choose from. Increased competition has led to some very keenly priced rates being offered with a good selection of sub-3.00% products available from a number of lenders including The Mortgage Works, Mortgage Trust and Hinckley & Rugby Building Society – with some available even up to 75% LTV.

The remortgage market continues to provide opportunities for landlords looking to release equity in existing properties. In fact this segment of the market is thriving, with 49% of applications received by Property Hawk Mortgages during Q2 2013 being for remortgages.

There is a wide selection of products specifically for remortgages many of which include incentives such as free valuation or free legals. Mortgage Trust, Leeds Building Society and Godiva are good examples of lenders currently offering attractive remortgage deals.

Overall, the buy-to-let mortgage market is in good shape and there are plenty of options for professionals looking to purchase or remortgage properties. However, there is always room for improvement and it is important for lenders to facilitate financial solutions for landlords in order to continue meeting the demands of tenants in the UK."

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Wednesday, August 07, 2013

A re-style can bring property rewards

This Telegraph article discusses how to turn an ugly, unfashionable property into something more desirable.

From my own personal experience it's surprising how many property buyers are lead by style over substance. So the re-style of an unfashionable property is always something worth exploring. The ugliest house on a good street is always worth considering as a property development. It can be amazing how some cladding and new windows can turn the heads of those with more money than sense.

What's square footage when the shoe's so ugly?

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OFT investigate quick house sale companies

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) have started investigations into three quick house sale companies they believe to have acted illegally.

The sector has been accused by many of taking advantage of vulnerable sellers. Partaking in unscrupulous practices that have prized properties from desperate owners at discounted prices of up to 53 percent.

The OFT have resisted calling for statutory regulation of the sector but are pushing for greater self regulation in the sector.

Download the OFT report on Quick Sale Industry here

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Prism trumpets BIG landlords

Mark Prism the current Housing Minister has been busily trumpeting the success of his BIG initiative on drawing in institutional investment into the private rental sector.  It's good news.  He seems particularly excited about getting some marauding Swedish institutions investing in our buy-to-let schemes.  Careful Mark.  Remember the last time we had a marauding Skando at our door buying up big slabs of the British landscape.  It heralded the financial crash.  I'm sure this time things will be different.  Mark makes great play that £6.5 billion is available to property investors in the form of mortgage guarantees.  However I understand that these benefits will only be available to organisations such as housing associations not individual landlords.

Small landlords neglected.
I do hope Mark as well as trumpeting his successes with his BIG institutional friends he stops to acknowledge the fantastic work done by us small scale landlords who have grown the sector in good times and bad and provide little old UK with quality accommodation for students, the unemployed to professional and even Russian olligarchs across the land.  Whilst the big boys seem to be the beneficeries of these big bucks incentives, us small landlords seem to have been totally bypassed.

So Mark remember we built this sector, we are Margaret Thatchers children.  Don't forget about us  small guys.  How about some small scale tax breaks to incentivise landlords to invest even more into our properties.  I've said before ....big isn't always beautiful!

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Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Treating Black Spot Mould

I've been plagued over the years with mould in my rental flats. Particularly those victorian brick properties that have been sealed up by plastic double glazed units. They stop the air ventilation. I put added ventilation in: air bricks, extractors, dehumidifiers. But tenants being tenants either block them up, because they're 'too crafty', or don't use them, because they're 'too expensive to run.'
That compiled with too many washing machines, hobs and showers all stuffed into too small a space means that I have lost many an hour scrubbing black mould from my walls.
I've just had this press release sent through that might give a solution to those landlords who are blighted by this annual conundrum. Its an advert but it does give a breakdown of the various treatments - other paint manufacturers are available.

Post any tips you might have.

Kingfisher UK’s Top Tips: Treating Black Spot Mould
Black Spot Mould is the creeping menace lurking in almost all properties, a fungal infestation thriving on the condensation which, thanks to modern insulation, heating and lifestyles, is prevalent in our homes. As well as causing unsightly black marks, and thus inevitable redecoration costs, black spot mould is also linked to many health concerns, leading to tenant complaints and, in extreme, cases legal action.
  • Always clean affected areas with a special fungicidal wash such as Kingfisher Mould Cure (1L - £12+vat). Regular household cleaners may remove the visible black marks (for a while at least), but they are unlikely to kill the spores already embedded in and behind your paint, walls, plaster, skirtings and tiles. In fact, wiping without an appropriate fungicide will merely spread the spores thus facilitating further infestation.
  • Using a specialist fungicidal wash, wipe or sponge at least 1metre past the obvious contaminated area to sanitise invisible concentrations of spores around the perimeter. Do not worry if some black staining remains – Mould Cure renders the mould inert and ready for painting.
  • Prepare the area for painting – fill any cracks with decorators’ filler, and ensure the surface is clean, dry and smooth before proceeding.
  • Re-decorate by applying a specialist anti-mould paint such as Kingfisher Anti-Mould Paint (5L - £26.30+vat) – or add an anti-mould additive such as Kingfisher’s Anti-Mould Paint Additive (120g -£8.35+vat) to your own choice of paint.
  • Further reduce the risk of black spot mould recurrence by applying Kingfisher’s unique dual action Thermapaint Anti-Mould Paint (5L - £33.58+vat) in a choice of 12 Lakeland colours, and enjoy additional insulation and energy saving benefits too.
  • Do all that is practical to improve airflow – e.g. open or vent windows, clear brick vents, avoid sudden temperature increases, dry laundry outdoors whenever possible.
  • In rooms where moisture is particularly prevalent, consider the installation of an energy efficient Heat Recovery Room Ventilator. These units provide a continuous air charge, replacing stale, moisture-laden unhealthy air with filtered, fresh warm air from outside.
For further FREE technical advice on these or other Kingfisher UK products telephone 01229 869 100 or 0141 353 6996.

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Most popular BTL mortgages

Max LTV Initial Rate Term Completion fee Booking fee Incentives Overall Cost for Comparison Lender
85% 4.99% Fixed 2 Years 2.5% £130.00 No 6.8% APR Kent Reliance Semi Exclusive
85% 5.99% Discount 2 Years 2.5% £130.00 No 7% APR Kent Reliance Multi Let & Ltd Co. Semi Exclusive
80% 4.99% Fixed Oct 31 2015 £995 £0.00 No   The Mortgage Works
80% 4.14% Fixed Oct 31 2015 2.5% (min £595) £0.00 No   The Mortgage Works
80% 4.99% Fixed Aug 31 2015 £1800 £199.00 Free valuation up to £335 for purchases and remortgages and free legals on remortgages only. 6.1% APR Leeds Exclusive
75% 2.88% Tracker 2 Years 2.5% £150.00 Free valuation for purchases and remortgages & free legals on remortgages 5.3% APR Mortgage Trust ltd Edition Exclusive
75% 4.19% Fixed Dec 31 2015 £995 £0.00 £500 cashback on completion   BM Solutions
70% 4.09% Fixed Nov 1 2015 £995 £0.00 £750 cashback   Virgin Money
70% 4.25% Discount 2 Years 0% £199.00 Free valuation up to £335 for purchases and remortgages and free legals on remortgages only. 6% APR Leeds Exclusive
65% 4.74% Variable 0 Years £749 £250.00 Free valuation up to £700 for purchases and remortgages and free legals on remortgages only. 3.6% APR Godiva
65% 4.2% Tracker 2 Years 3% £150.00 No 5.4% APR Paragon
60% 2.45% Discount 2 Years £1950 £250.00 One free Valuation on properties valued up to £1,000,000 5% APR Hinckley & Rugby Exclusive

Tel: 01494 894639

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.

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HMRC set sights on landlords

Figures obtained by law firm Pinsent Masons show an increase in the number of tax evasion prosecutions. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) hit 617 between April 2012 and March 2013, more than twice the 302 brought before the courts in 2011/12. Landlords and BTL investors can expect to find themselves in the firing line as the HMRC continues to crackdown on the middle-classes dodging tax.

Jason Collins from the firm said 'Those in a position of trust or responsibility, such as lawyers, medical practitioners or business or financial consultants, are increasingly in HMRC’s line of fire, and we are also seeing an increase in buy-to-let investors falling foul of the system.' 

Warning landlords by saying: 'Many people see buy-to-let as a substitute for a pension.  It may produce similar financial results but they need to remember they can still incur significant tax liabilities.For new, part-time landlords who put their buy-to-let properties to the back of their mind to focus on their day job while the money rolls in, it can be quite easy to get caught out.'

The Government has set a target of more than 1,100 prosecutions by 2014/15.

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1st September big day for landlord insurance

Statistically I have read that the 1st of September is the biggest day for landlords renewing their landlord insurance.  I've no idea why ....but statistically it seems to be so.

In which case if you are landlord looking at buying or renewing your landlord insurance make sure you read our advice about 5 star landlord insurance and also ways to save money on your landlord insurance.

Remember, there are no winners in this game....apart from the insurance companies (why do you think that Warren Buffet aka the 'Richest Man in the World'..or one of them loves insurance companies!)  We might not be able to help you to win outright but hopefully you will secure at least a score draw out of your insurer!

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Monday, August 05, 2013

What to do with the neighbour from hell?

Neighbour harmony, 
courtesy of Zebras Hate Hail @ Creative Commons
She plays Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ on full blast all day. Her ‘lawn’ is a jungle. Her dog keeps breaking into my tenanted property and chewing the tenant’s daughter’s toys. And now, the final straw, she let herself into my tenant’s home while under the influence and asked my tenant if her grandchild could play on her trampoline (even though she has an identical trampoline in her own back garden). What to do, what to do?

Like the poor couple who brought their nightmare neighbour to book this week after a five year ordeal, I will do anything to make it stop. I started by building a very high fence, which solves the dog problem and the unsightly garden issue. And my tenant’s started locking her front door when she’s in. But as for Celine Dion, my hands are tied.

I know the neighbour’s son, so I suggested reasoning with him and getting him to have a word. But the tenant is understandably worried it will make the problem worse. The other neighbour complains all the time and the police and council are there regularly, so I know she’s on their radar and wonder if there’s any point in reporting it again. 

My main worry is that I will lose a great tenant because of something beyond my control. On the bright side, I’ve had a lucky escape when you consider the other crazy tenants in my neck of the woods; read the unbelievable Northumberland Man smashed neighbour's face because he wouldn't let him watch his cat give birth 

Have you had a problem neighbour and how have you dealt with it? All advice very welcome. Thanks folks.

Alison Doering is a north east landlord who caught the BTL bug three years ago and has againever looked back. Going from zero to six properties in three years and juggling a high pressure job in marketing means every day is a school day; there’s always something new to lock away in that mental filing cabinet marked “Never do that again!"

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House prices on the rise

The Nationwide report house prices rising at the fastest rate in 3 years in July leading to further signs that the market could be recovering. On a month-on-month basis prices increased 0.8% in July.

Prices were up 3.9% year on year and now stand at an average of £170,825 according to the building society's figures. 

Despite all the optimism house prices remain 10% below the highs recorded in 2007 and when rampant inflation is taken into account the reduction is over 25% and prices have now dropped significantly below the average trend rate of growth of 2.8%
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Saturday, August 03, 2013

Are property investment courses worth it?

We recently had a post on our forum asking the question are buy-to-let investment courses worth paying for?  The short answer is NO and here's why:
  •  They are run by people who have no professional background in the area that they profess to be expert in.  They are simply 'average Joes' who may have brought a few properties and now think or try and maintain that they are a property mogul and experts and charge you to tell you how you too could be a fabulous success .....just like them.
  • They are normally overpriced and tell you pretty obvious things that you can find out for free on dare I say it websites like Property Hawk.
  • The people running the courses will try and then cross sell you services and products with a dubious list of characters who see naive property investors as easy prey.  You won't get a good deal and you probably will end up with something you neither want or need.
If you are going to spend out money on doing a landlord related course I would advise going on something like a RLA run course teaching you the legals of letting property.

You don't need to spend hundreds if not thousands listening to some self proclaimed property messiah to tell you what you probably already know.  So save your money and put it towards a bigger deposit.  That's your first lesson over and it will cost you just a mere thousand pounds.  Cheques payable to Property Hawk enterprises!

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Thursday, August 01, 2013

Base rate sees no change - shocker

It's hardly news, but the Bank of England have kept base rate at 0.5 percent.

Read more on the BBC

Imagine the fright when it does it go up...

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Being a Landlord: Responsibilities that are yours to Upkeep

As a landlord, it’s your job to maintain the functioning of a property so that your tenants live in a habitable place and you adhere to the many regulations and stay above board. The rental market is a competitive place and anyone who has had experience with letting out their property, or indeed being a tenant in one, will know that as long as everything runs smoothly and stays legit, neither the landlord nor the tenant will run into problems. 
As a landlord, you have a number of responsibilities, as does the tenant, that you need to upkeep. Stay legit and in the best position possible by keeping up your end of the bargain. 
  • Repairs – both internally and structurally, are your responsibility. You will need to organise a suitable time to pop over to the property to analyse the problem and make the necessary arrangements to ensure it’s fixed. 
  • Heating System – including hot water and radiators. You may wish to organise cover for boilers from British Gas so that your back is covered. You can apply for dedicated landlord cover which gives you the peace of mind you’ll need. 
  • Hygienic installations – i.e. baths, showers, toilets and sinks need to be maintained, as well as the pipes and drains that are connected to the house. You can extend your boiler cover to include plumbing and drainage at too. 
  • You need to ensure that the property has an up-to-date gas safety certificate (CP12) while all gas appliances, flues, pipes and ventilation need to be looked after as well. 
  • Electrical appliances and wiring needs to be ensured its all safe and any furniture that you provide needs to be fire safe as well as meeting EU regulations. 
It’s also imperative that you put your tenant’s deposit into a government approved scheme, so that it’s safe until the time when they vacate the property. Remember that if you have a mortgage on the property, it’s your responsibility to amend it to a Buy to Let mortgage so that everything remains above board. 
Being a landlord needn’t be stressful – make sure that all your responsibilities are taken care of and hopefully, you’ll have a tenant that meets their end of the bargain too! 

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End of rabbit hutch developments

Ministers are set to announce A fresh government consultation is set to bring an end to many of Labour's needless measures forced upon house builders. As well as a new measure  recognising that rooms can't be too small.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has blamed Labour’s density targets for condemning families to be “trapped in rabbit hutch homes”.

RICS figures show the average UK home has shrunk 40 per cent in 80 years.
The consultation proposes cutting the measures from 100 to 10.

Don Foster, Communities minister, said: “I’m proposing to cut needless red tape to let housebuilders get on with the real job of building the high quality new homes that people need, especially families and first time buyers.

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