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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Landlord tax deadlines

Landlords Xmas is over and the new year is almost upon us. EEEk! Time for a landlord to prepare their tax returns unless you are one of those super efficient beings. The type who probably has been buying next years Xmas presents very sensibly in this years January sales.

Discounted landord insurance for professional landlords

I was looking on the Property Hawk website and I've found several property tax articles that might provide some useful guidance on what to do in filling out your self assessment tax form before the 31st January tax deadline. One was on tax demands and was particularly appropriate. Remember the Property Manager 2 allows landlords to workout their income tax liability using the FREE letting management software. I've been using it for several years and I must admitt i've found it alot easier than messing about with spreadsheets.

Happy New Year and have a look at my previous tips for how to reduce your letting business tax liabilities.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Landlords need a VAT break

The RICS has recently called for a cut in VAT from 15% to 5% on the costs of bringing empty homes back into reuse. Currently a landlord refurbishing a property for rent where it has stood empty for 2 or more years will only have to pay VAT at 5 rather than 15%.

Special discounted rates of landlord insurance

The RICS is calling for this VAT break to be extended to all empty properties.

This is to be supported as any encouragement to kick start property development and give developer landlords a helping hand in this difficult housing market has to be applauded.

If only a tenth of the country’s three quarters of a million empty homes could be brought back into use, there would be no need for any family to remain homeless and in temporary accommodation this Christmas, it said. But although help had been given to homeowners facing the possibility of repossessed, little had been done to help those who do not have a home to lose.

In making the call RICS has added its voice to a growing chorus demanding a reduction of VAT from 15 per cent to 5 per cent on home maintenance and improvement.

The Halifax has also called for the change. ‘We would like the Government to extend the 5 per cent rate of VAT for renovating an empty home to all properties vacant for more than six months not just those properties that have been un-occupied for more than two years’, said Halifax economist Martin Ellis.

For the Federation of Master Builders, Director of External Affairs at the Federation of Master Builders Brian Berry said there are currently 850,000 empty homes in the UK which could be brought back into use.

I would go further. Why should a landlord developer pay VAT at all. Currently new builds are zero rated. This to me is a massive anomaly. Surely a house, a home, a rental property has the same value to it's occupier and society whether it has been fashioned out or virgin ground or simply been refurbished from an empty building or property. Lets not make a value judgement about where a house has come from. Landlords refurbishing an uninhabitable building for rent play an equal part in helping to house our society as those building from new. Lets have a VAT and tax system that reflects this.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Landlords Get Chance to Delay Paying Their Tax Bill

Landlords struggling to pay their tax bill by January 31 will be allowed to defer it without incurring penalty charges.

In the pre-budget report last month, the chancellor, launched a scheme that enables companies to delay paying

The service is known as the Business Payment Support Service (BPSS).

Now, finally, for some good news for landlords

Revenue & Customs yesterday said this scheme was now available to 10m individuals who use the self-assessment system to pay tax, including landlords and people with income from buy-to-let properties or other investments.

Who said the government didn't care for us landlords?

Your darling Margo,
Bringing warmth and love alongside Alistair 'Darlings' to landlords in a cold climate.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Instructional Video for Landlords Letting Property

Watch this instructional video for landlords letting a property.

This landlord shows 'best practice' in property letting, from starting a tenancy agreement to increasing rents.

WARNING- Not to be viewed by landlords of a sensitive disposition.

Landlord TV from your Darling Margo

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Mr Landlord

A great reggae beat pleads to the better side of landlords.

Chilling with Half Pint and half a pint.

Landlord Radio is bought to you by your Darling Margo

Merry Christmas Landlords

Merry Christmas to all you darling landlords out there.

I hope that 2009 brings a more positive and profitable climate for buy-to-let investment.

But we shouldn't hold our breath.

Landlords should make merry over the festive season because 2009 might be the year to bring out your inner Scrooge and tighten belts.

Your darling Margo

Warmth and love to all landlords

Buy-to-let mortgage latest

My last post before I take my leave for xmas. Actually I've got myself a temporary job with a childrens entertainer. Don't you just hate being typcasted!

I've taken a final trawl around the buy-to-let mortgage market before taking my break.

A quick search for buy-to-let fixed rate mortgage shows that The Mortgage Works fixed rate is still the most competitive buy-to-let mortgage available with a fixed rate of 4.49%. This product whilst offering a competitive rate unfortunately comes with a pretty steap arrangement fee of £2450. The mortgage works do offer a no fee product with a fixed rate of 5.84%.

The best variable rate has a marinally higher headline rate of 4.75% available through the buytoletbusiness

Latest changes in the market show variable buy-to-let mortgage rates continue to fall. These will eventually feed through to lower offer rates but all this will depend on falling LIBOR rates and stabilising house prices.

Alliance & Leicester
END-DATE on Buy-to-let FIXED RATE MORTGAGE extended to 31.3.14 & product no longer available via intermediaries, w.e.f. 23.12.08. ...more
23 Dec 2008
Birmingham Midshires Solutions
ALL MORTGAGE PRODUCTS withdrawn and replaced with NEW VARIABLE TRACKER RATE MORTGAGE with "House 2 house" criteria: 5.69% for 3 years, NEW FIXED RATE MORTGAGE with "House 2 house" criteria: 5.49% to 1.4.12, NEW VARIABLE TRACKER RATE MORTGAGES: 5.19% for 2 years; 5.49% for 3 years; 5.69% for 3 years and NEW FIXED RATE MORTGAGES: 4.99% to 1.4.11; 5.29% to 1.4.12 and 5.49% to 1.4.12. W.e.f. 20.12.08....more
23 Dec 2008
Nottingham BS
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced to 6.54%, w.e.f. 22.12.08 & Minimum rental cover requirement calculation now based on BBR + 5%....more
23 Dec 2008
Yorkshire Bank
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE will be reduced to 4.99%, w.e.f. 31.12.08....more
23 Dec 2008
Clydesdale Bank
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE will be reduced to 4.99%, w.e.f. 31.12.08....more
23 Dec 2008
Holmesdale BS
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE will be reduced by 0.25% to 5.99%, w.e.f. 1.1.09....more
23 Dec 2008
Cumberland BS
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced by 0.50% to 5.55%, w.e.f. 22.12.08....more
23 Dec 2008
Newbury Mortgage Services
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced to 5.25%, w.e.f. 20.12.08. & VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGE of 5.75% for term withdrawn. NEW FIXED RATE MORTGAGE of 5.99% to 30.9.13, w.e.f. 20.12.08....more
22 Dec 2008
Coventry BS
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced by 0.35% to 4.99%, w.e.f. 1.1.09....more
22 Dec 2008
Godiva Mortgages
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced by 0.35% to 4.99%, w.e.f. 1.1.09....more
22 Dec 2008
Leek United BS
BUY-TO-LET STANDARD VARIABLE RATE increased to 6.49%. STANDARD VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGE of 5.99% for term withdrawn and NEW DISCOUNTED VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGE of 5.99% for 3 years (0.50% discount) collared at 3.00% launched w.e.f. 19.12.08....more
22 Dec 2008
Bank of Scotland
Buy-to-let FIXED RATES withdrawn and replaced with NEW FIXED RATES of 5.99% to 31.3.11, 5.24% to 31.3.12 & 5.79% to 31.3.14. NEW VARIABLE BASE RATE TRACKER of 5.44% to 31.3.12, w.e.f. 20.12.08. ...more
22 Dec 2008
Principality BS
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced to 5.34%, w.e.f. 22.12.08. ...more
22 Dec 2008
Ulster Bank (NI)
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced to 4.67%, w.e.f. 19.12.08....more
19 Dec 2008
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced to 4.94%, w.e.f. 19.12.08....more
19 Dec 2008
END-DATE on FIXED RATE MORTGAGE extended to 2/4/12, w.e.f. 19.12.08....more
19 Dec 2008
Stafford Railway BS
Further to the previous news dated 5.12.08, buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE will now reduce to 5.00% & VARIABLE RATE for multiple occupancy to 5.50%, w.e.f. 1.1.09 and not as previously stated....more
18 Dec 2008
Stroud & Swindon BS
Buy-to-let FIXED RATE MORTGAGE of 6.80% to 30.9.11 withdrawn w.e.f. 18.12.08....more
18 Dec 2008
Yorkshire Bank
END DATES on Buy-to-let FIXED RATES extended by 1 month to 31 March, w.e.f. 19.12.08....more
18 Dec 2008
Clydesdale Bank
END DATES on Buy-to-let FIXED RATES extended by 1 month to 31 March, w.e.f. 19.12.08....more
18 Dec 2008
NatWest Mortgage Services
FEES on selected FIXED RATE MORTGAGES reduced, w.e.f. 18.12.08....more
18 Dec 2008
Dunfermline BS
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGE withdrawn w.e.f. 17.12.08....more
18 Dec 2008
Royal Bk of Scot Mtges Direct
FEES on selected FIXED RATE MORTGAGES reduced, w.e.f. 18.12.08....more
18 Dec 2008
Derbyshire BS
All buy-to-let FIXED RATE MORTGAGES withdrawn....more
17 Dec 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Landlord Loses £3 million property portfolio - Will the floodgates open?

This is a sorry story of a poor landlord been sold the dream of riches and wealth.

Mr Morris invested £3 million in Leeds city centre apartments, promised by the developer that they were discounted property, and would secure high rents and big increases in values that never materialised. He has now gone bust.

Unfortunately I believe we will see a flood of 'Mr Morris' type tales through 2009 and 2010. I have been predicting this flood from the bubble within a bubble for some time, so we will see what the scale is as it starts to unfold. Interesting times.

But Mr Morris has picked himself up by helping other investors who lost out and contributing to a motivational book, Overcoming Obstacles.

"It is money. We made it before and we can make it again." he recounts bravely.

Good luck to him, and I admire his enthusiasm and persistence, however I'm not sure if I will be looking to purchase the book, it's those kind of motivational , 'You Can be a Success' 'Make a Million ' type books that got him in trouble in the first place.

Nobody seems to write books called 'How to Make a Sensible Investment' or 'Use Your Common Sense' or ' If it Sounds to Good to be True...' or 'Don't Believe a Salesman' or 'Let's Be Logical About This'.

Suggestions for more useful book titles most welcomed

Buy-to-let fraud

It's official. Many buy-to-let landlords were duped by so called professionals such as surveyors, solicitors who were all signing off speculative residential developments often in City centres knowing that buy-to-let property was over valued whilst happily taking their fees. Landlords were misled by developers and their surveyors that they were receiving a discount when in fact they were over paying for property even with the so called generous 25-50% discounts.

Property Hawk highlighted this potential buy-to-let fraud way back in August 2006.

The Times has recently highlighted an investigation by the serious fraud office into this practice of buy-to-let fraud

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) are investigating several schemes that have obtained millions of pounds in funds from banks.

The SFO said last week it was investigating two alleged buy-to-let frauds, involving properties in Leeds, Cardiff, Nottingham, Derby, Liverpool, Hull, Newcastle upon Tyne, Glasgow and London. Police in Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, and West Yorkshire are also involved in the inquiries.

At the centre of one of the biggest police investigations is Morris Properties, which specialised in student new-build flats and refurbished homes in Leeds and the northeast. It sold 1,000 properties before going bust last summer.

The firm was established by Simon Morris, a local developer who built up a £69m fortune by selling buy-to-let properties.

Morris’s firm lured investors with promises of substantial “discounts” on flats that were allegedly overpriced, and guaranteed rental income, which in many cases failed to materialise. Investors, drawn in by the mirage of ever-increasing house prices, were easy prey.

Have you fallen victim to buy-to-let fraud? If so post your experiences and thoughts here and help other landlords get justice.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Libor rates fall

According to David Whittaker of Mortgages For Business one of the UK's leading buy-to-let mortgage brokers the 3 month LIBOR rate which influences heavily the rate which buy-to-let lenders are prepared to lend to landlords is falling. Latest figures from emoneyfacts have it at 1% above the base rate. This is well down on the 1.5+% margin we have seen at certain points during the year but also a long way off the 0.1-0.15% which was considered normal before the credit crunch struck.

David comments that :

"There will be a limit to its downward movement towards the end of the year
as those banks with 31 December year ends preserve cash on their balance sheet
and let creditors rise accordingly. Effectively it may not go much below 3% in
the short term yet with Base Rate at 2% it needs to get going again early in the
New Year as pressure for another 0.5% cut down to 1.5% rises on the back of ever
declining economic data."

Propspects for interest rates next year

He then goes on to talk about interest rates for next year.

"In more rational times the MPC would wait until the retail sales figures for December were available along with preliminary January Sales from the major high street stores as well as the Quarterly inflation figures ahead of the February MPC meeting. But these are extraordinary times and with many retailers already having Sales in November and December, I am left wondering what they have left to discount come January - indeed, with rising unemployment and general consumer nerves, will anyone be out spending anyway ???

So a cut to 1.5% in January might even be followed by a further cut of 0.5% in February bringing BBR to a historical low of 1%. Buy To Let lenders have a few products below 5% (the best is currently a 2 year fix from The Mortgage Works at 4.49%) but this number should increase in January.

Another encouraging sign is the number of products on our Buy to Let
Sourcing System (now branded Morgage Flow) has risen in the past week to 109 different morgages. We expect this number to grow from mid January onwards........ "

Property Robin

Making a guest appearance today, Property Sparrow’s best friend,
Property Robin.

Gorgeous isn’t he?

He’s a good singer and he enjoys poetry.

The north wind doth blow
And we shall have snow
And what will poor Robin do then, poor thing.

He'll sit in the barn
And keep himself warm
And hide his head under his wing, poor thing.

He thinks everyone working in property should do the same, at least for a while.

Happy Christmas.

Landlords Are an Easy Target for Societies Ills

There was another case highlighted in the papers regarding fantastically high rents been paid out by councils to house tenants.

A family on housing benefit have been placed in a £2 million house in the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea - at a cost to the taxpayer of more than £91,000 a year.

The council have been paying the landlord £1,755 a week in rent for the property, since last September.

It seems a ludicrous situation to me and one of the governments own making.

What annoys me is the accusation in the article by a Susie Squire, campaign manager for the TaxPayers Alliance, that

'Councils need to work harder to find more affordable housing and we need to stop the greedy landlords.'

Greedy landlords?

This landlord is receiving £91,000 a year on a £2,000,0000 property. Not what I would call a greedy rental amount on such an expensive property.

Do the maths Susie.

Are landlords just an easy target, are we just voiceless voodoo dolls that society can blame for all it's ills?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

landlord tax information

Landlords looking at filling in their self assessment forms over the xmas period might need to clarify certain matters regarding the taxation of their buy-to-let portfolio.

Landlords can buy various books on property tax, but there is much information which is available free on the internet such as the section within the Landlords Bible

However, why not also look at getting information direct from the horses mouth. The HMRC has all their guidance available within the practitioner section of their website. Go here to view all the tax guidance on buy-to-let property

Friday, December 19, 2008

Buy-to-let mortgages - slowly, slowly lower

Any landlords that are looking for dramatic movements in buy-to-let mortgage rates following recent base rate reductions will be sadly disappointed. However, slowly slowly, little by little rates from many lenders are creeping lower.

David Whittaker of mortgages for business highlights that the number of buy-to-let mortgage products is also increasing:

the number of products on our Buy to
Sourcing System (now branded Morgage Flow) has risen in the past week to
109 different morgages. We expect this number to grow from mid January

This is promising for landlordlords looking at remortgaging in the new year. Here are some of the latest developments in the last day on the buy-to-let mortgage front. I particularly like the fact that both Natwest and sister bank RBS are reducing fees on some of their fixed rate products.

Ulster Bank (NI)
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced to 4.67%, w.e.f. 19.12.08....more
19 Dec 2008
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced to 4.94%, w.e.f. 19.12.08....more
19 Dec 2008
END-DATE on FIXED RATE MORTGAGE extended to 2/4/12, w.e.f. 19.12.08....more
19 Dec 2008
Stafford Railway BS
Further to the previous news dated 5.12.08, buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE will now reduce to 5.00% & VARIABLE RATE for multiple occupancy to 5.50%, w.e.f. 1.1.09 and not as previously stated....more
18 Dec 2008
Stroud & Swindon BS
Buy-to-let FIXED RATE MORTGAGE of 6.80% to 30.9.11 withdrawn w.e.f. 18.12.08....more
18 Dec 2008
Yorkshire Bank
END DATES on Buy-to-let FIXED RATES extended by 1 month to 31 March, w.e.f. 19.12.08....more
18 Dec 2008
Clydesdale Bank
END DATES on Buy-to-let FIXED RATES extended by 1 month to 31 March, w.e.f. 19.12.08....more
18 Dec 2008
NatWest Mortgage Services
FEES on selected FIXED RATE MORTGAGES reduced, w.e.f. 18.12.08....more
18 Dec 2008
Dunfermline BS
Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGE withdrawn w.e.f. 17.12.08....more
18 Dec 2008
Royal Bk of Scot Mtges Direct
FEES on selected FIXED RATE MORTGAGES reduced, w.e.f. 18.12.08....more
18 Dec 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Auction update - 80% repossessions

At the November auction conducted by Allsop, the auction house, 80% of stock comprised repossessions from landlords and lenders, with 91% of lots sold raising £90m. EIG, the auction information service, is routinely recording discounts of 50% on new-build properties, and 25% on non-new build. For example, a two-storey terrace in Leytonstone, east London, bought in 2006 for £200,000 sold for £150,000 at auction on November 5.

Last month, a two-bedroom home in Surrey sold for £205,000 — 18% less than its 2004 sale price of £250,000.

The high sale rate was attributed to the catalogue comprising 80% repossessions sourced from several lenders.

‘Quite a few of the professional buyers were saying that they felt that it was difficult to compete against the private buyers at the auction,’ said Murphy.

‘One interesting comment made by a professional buyer was that he felt we were selling in a rising market, in the sense that they had come to bid for a flat in a block and ended up paying more for it than they had a month earlier for a similar flat in the same block.

‘That indicates to us that the market has, for the time being, reached a bit of a plateau and shown some signs of recovery.’

Allsop’s final residential auction of the year will be held on 15 and 17 December in central London.

Property Hawk comments

First time auction goers and landlords need to be wary of jumping in to buying property at auction as a result of the recent significant falls in residential property prices. Many commentators expect residential values to fall further next year and it could be a case that buyers could be jumping in now because they preceive prices to be low compared to their historic highs when by waiting they may be able to obtain them at much cheaper prices later on.

Taxation - double glazing

Many landlords will look to update their buy-to-let property at some stage by replacing the existing wooden glazing with UPVC windows and doors.

Where can landlords get professional discounted landlord insurance?

Up until recently HMRC considered the replacement of single glazing with double glazing as an improvement and therefore not allowable as a revenue expense. Landlords would however be able to include the costs within their capital costs when it came to selling their investment property and working out their likely CGT liability.

However, the HMRC have conceded that now replacement by UPVC is a repair and should be treated as a revenue expense.

In there own words:

Generally, if the replacement of a part of the ‘entirety’ is like-for-like or
the nearest modern equivalent, we accept the expenditure is allowable revenue

For more details on a landlords allowable deductions landlords should go to this section of the HMRCs website.

Therefore by offsetting this cost against their revenue a landlord reduces their potential income tax liability which for many landlords has increased substantially as interest costs have fallen.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

TV appearance for Belvoir Sunderland’s Neil Whitfield

Proprietor of Belvoir Sunderland Neil Whitfield appeared on screens throughout the country last month when he was approached to take part in the BBC's lunchtime business, consumer and personal finance show, Working Lunch.

Business correspondent Rob Pittam and his cameraman wandered into Belvoir Sunderland looking for people to take part in a feature highlighting a report sanctioned by the Royal Mail which claimed that Sunderland had the most new business start ups on a national level. And, Neil was happy to oblige.

“I was surprised when the correspondent and cameraman walked into the office looking for volunteers to appear on the BBC's Working Lunch,” says Neil. “It was completely unplanned and impromptu - but I was happy to get involved. I knew it would be good publicity for Belvoir Sunderland, both locally and nationally, and could potentially be seen by many investors and landlords. I had nothing to lose and potentially a lot to gain.”

The recording took about half an hour involving an interview section followed by other shots around the office and external shots of potential tenants looking through the window at the properties to let.

Neil says he was pleased to have been involved but couldn't help feeling nervous when he watched the programme back afterwards on iplayer. “I was conscious that I wanted to come across well and apprehensive about projecting myself well,” he says. “But it was a good piece and I was pleased I'd done it.”

So, what advice would Neil give others who are approached to take part in a TV programme?

“Without a question just go for it,” he says. “Don't be shy. A TV appearance could deliver long-term benefits for your business and I thoroughly enjoyed taking part.”

The episode of Working Lunch featuring Neil was aired on Wednesday, 11 November.

To find your nearest Belvoir office, visit their website at

On your bike!

“We’re reducing our carbon footprint,” says Belvoir Sheffield

With more and more negative press coverage about global warming, Belvoir Sheffield have gone one step towards reducing their carbon footprint by their intoduction of the retro Belvoir-branded scooter.

This nifty little scooter can do up to 100 miles to the gallon, which saves money as well as reducing fuel consumption and long-term damage to the planet.

“I decided to introduce the scooter to our fleet of Belvoir-branded vehicles (we already have two Belvoir-branded minis) as it seemed a fun iniative which would save time and money, plus help reduce our carbon footprint,” says Rick Flay, proprietor of Belvoir Sheffield.

“It’s used mainly by Belvoir Sheffield’s viewers when they’re meeting tenants at properties and also for doing inspections and moving in and out visits.”

“The scooter’s ideal to avoid traffic jams in Sheffield’s busy city centre and it’s perfect for getting from A to B when commuting between tight appointment deadlines. It’s very noticeable too – it’s certainly got everybody talking about Belvoir and we’ve had some great anecdotal feedback so far.”

Will 2009 bring better news for landlords?

This has been a bad year for landlords and property investors.

Bad news has followed bad news, 2008 has been a depressing year for the property market.

The question is will 2009 be worse or better than 2008?

If it is worse, I would predict an avalanche of re-possessions on buy-to-let property.

What are your predictions?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Landlord insurance - how much?

A landlord who wants to calculate how much landlord insurance cover they need should start by finding out details about their buy-to-let investment property such as the: type of building, size in square metres, area. Using this information it is then possible to calculate the rebuild costs for your buy-to-let property.

Where do I get landlord insurance at discounted rates

To do this a landlord needs to use a rebuilding estimator such as the one found on the Building Cost Information Service (BCIS) website

This calculator takes account of the area that the building to be insured is in, the type of property and its’ construction and will then generate a reinstatement value on which to base the level of landlord insurance you require.

Remember that rebuild costs tend to rise each year so a landlord will need to raise their rebuild costs in line with building inflation costs. Most insurers will automatically raise the sum insured to take account of this.

Buy-to-let mortgages latest

Some lenders have responded to the latest reduction in the base rate. However, none are passing on the full rate cut by cutting their standard variable rates by the full 1%. This means that for landlords whilst rates are coming down, relatively (to the base rate) they are still getting more expensive. One building society the progressive has actually responded by increasing it's standard variable rate by just under a quarter of one percent to 5.99%. Other buy-to-let lenders who have taken Government bail out cash such as Lloyds and RBS owned lenders have no doubt succumb to Government pressure and passed on some of the reduction meaning that the likes of RBS and the The Mortgage Rates are offering tracker rates of less than 4.5%. However, this is still way above the 0.5-1% margin which was common place before the credit crunch struck

  • Money Partners
  • 3 month LIBOR reset at 4.00%, END DATES on all FIXED RATES extended by 3 months to 31.01 with REVERT RATES increased by 1.72%. W.e.f. 17.12.08....more
  • 16 Dec 2008
  • Cheltenham & Gloucester
  • NEW buy-to-let VARIABLE TRACKER RATE MORTGAGES of 4.99%, 5.29% & 5.59% to 30.4.12, w.e.f. 16.12.08....more
  • 16 Dec 2008
  • Lloyds TSB Scotland
  • NEW buy-to-let VARIABLE BASE RATE TRACKERS of 4.99%, 5.29% & 5.59% to 30.4.12, w.e.f. 16.12.08....more
  • 16 Dec 2008
  • Progressive BS
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE increased by 0.24% to 5.99%, w.e.f. 15.12.08....more
  • 15 Dec 2008
  • RBS IP NatWest
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced to 4.94%, w.e.f. 15.12.08....more
  • 15 Dec 2008
  • The Mortgage Works
  • Selected Buy-to-let FIXED RATE MORTGAGES reduced by up to 0.69%. NEW VARIABLE TRACKER RATE of 4.99% for term & NEW FIXED RATES ranging from 4.95% to 6.24% to 28.2.11 and 4.99% to 6.14% to 29.2.12, w.e.f. 13.12.08. ...more
  • 13 Dec 2008
  • Scarborough BS
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE will be reduced to 5.99%, w.e.f. 1.1.09....more
  • 12 Dec 2008
  • NatWest Mortgage Services
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced by 0.75% to 4.94% w.e.f. 15.12.08....more
  • 11 Dec 2008
  • Royal Bk of Scot Mtges Direct
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced by 0.75% to 4.44% w.e.f. 15.12.08....more
  • 11 Dec 2008
  • pms®
  • Premier Mortgage Service has changed its name to PMS with immediate effect....more
  • 11 Dec 2008
  • Alliance & Leicester
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced by 0.5% to 5.34% w.e.f. 2.1.09....more
  • 11 Dec 2008
  • Melton Mowbray BS
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced to 5.24%, w.e.f. 9.12.08....more
  • 10 Dec 2008
  • The Mortgage Works
  • ALL BUY-TO- LET PRODUCTS withdrawn and replaced with VARIABLE BASE RATE TRACKER of 4.99% for term and FIXED RATES of 4.49%, 4.99%, 5.49%, and 5.99% to 28.2.11, 5.44% and 5.79% to 29.2.12, 5.99% to 28.2.14 and for remortgages only 5.29% to 28.2.11, 6.14% to 29.2.12, 6.44% to 28.2.14 and for limited companies only 4.74%, 5.24%, 5.74% and 6.24% to 28.2.11, 5.69% and 6.04% to 29.2.12 and 6.24% to 28.2.14, w.e.f 10.12.08....more
  • 10 Dec 2008
  • Skipton BS
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE will be reduced to 5.00%, w.e.f. 1.1.09....more
  • 09 Dec 2008
  • Northern Rock
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced by 0.5% to 5.34% w.e.f. 1.1.09....more
  • 09 Dec 2008
  • Northern Bank (NI)
  • Buy-to-let VARIABLE BASE RATE TRACKER reduced by 1.00%, w.e.f. 5.12.08....more
  • 09 Dec 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

House Price predictions 2009

Yet more predictions published today for house price trends for 2009.
A mixture of bravado, doom and gloom and realism among the estate agents commenting on this information. Perhaps many are close to hysteria.

See more here and here.

Inside Track's Jim Moore to set up property vulture fund.

It's interesting times in the world of property, as we continue to see the fallout of the poorly conceived rise of the new build city centre apartment.

The vulture landlords are starting to peck at the carcasses of unfortunate, ill advised property investors.

Often these struggling property investors bought apartments through 'rip off' property investment clubs.

The most high profile of these was Inside Track, which recently went bust, leaving many angry and frustrated 'members'. Many of these investors have lost £100,000's on poorly advised and mis-sold property investments.

The founder of Inside Track , Jim Moore is now looking to set up a £500 million 'property vulture' fund, that he proposes will buy them back at hugely discounted prices.

Any thoughts or comments from Inside Track ' members' much appreciated.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A tick list for tenants... What are tenants looking for in a rental property?

With the wide choice of rental properties now available tenants can afford to shop around for that ‘perfect’ property.

But, what are tenants currently looking for in a rental property and how can you make sure they will want yours?

Proprietor of Belvoir Bournemouth Kate Jackson says, “Tenants are looking for good value accommodation that isn’t dated. The property must be in top condition and all safety laws must be adhered to. Added to this, the property should be warm and energy efficient with plenty of storage – and the tenant must have confidence that any problems during their tenancy will be dealt with effectively and swiftly by the landlord or agent.”

Ensure your potential tenants feel at home by asking yourselves the questions about your property that they will inevitably be asking themselves too...

√ How much can I afford to pay?
Make sure your property is competitively priced for the area and look to reduce the rent you’re asking if necessary. In the current climate all prospective tenants will be looking at their budgets and calculating what they will have to pay each month, including bills. Some savvy landlords are even offering the first two weeks rent free to ensure a quick let. Kate adds, “In the current climate we’re finding a lot more tenants are putting in offers on rental properties and all these must be considered by the landlord.”

√ What’s the location like?
They often say location is everything when buying a house... and renting one is no exception! If looking to invest in a buy-to-let, search in low-crime areas with good transport links, such as a major road network or a train station nearby. Think about what the area is like and visit the neighbours to find out what it’s like to live there.
And, remember, areas with universities, hospitals or major industry are likely to be densely populated with people looking for temporary homes.

√ Are their any local amenities?
Potential tenants will want to know that they can enjoy their chosen lifestyles with ease, so ensure that there are good range of amenities, such as schools, restaurants and shops nearby.

√ What condition is the property in?
Tenants will be put off by properties in a poor condition so give your property a face-lift – whitewash interior walls and clean the carpets. Crumbling paint or signs of damp are going to send potential tenants straight back out your door. The structure of your building is important too – leaning walls, large cracks and leaky gutters won’t help you let the property quickly either. Kate says, “Tenants are now just as picky as owners – ensure your property is in a good condition, neutrally decorated and has a modern kitchen and bathroom.”

√ Are the appliances in good working order?
Potential tenants will not only be inspecting the interior and exterior of your property - they will also be taking a close look at the appliances you’re supplying. Kate says, “Tenants are definitely looking for good quality white goods and, wherever possible, a microwave and dishwasher too – ensure your appliances are modern and in good working order before marketing the property.”

Take a walk around your property and consider the following:-

• Are there enough telephone points?
• Are their sufficient kitchen utensils?
• Is the shower more than a dribble?
• Is there a dishwasher and microwave?
• Does the toilet flush easily?
• Are the fridge and freezers big enough?

√ Am I going to be warm?
Potential tenants will be looking for a good central heating system and they’ll want to know all the radiators actually work too.
Good insulation is also essential. Double glazing, well-fitting doors and windows and roof and wall insulation will all help to keep your tenant warm, as well as saving them money on their gas and electricity bills.

√ Is there going to be enough room?
Are there built-in wardrobes? Big enough work-surfaces? Sufficient kitchen units? A tenant will want to know that they’ve got enough room to live comfortably. You can’t make a small house bigger but you can come up with clever storage solutions to make living in a small space appear more appealing. Kate says, “Plenty of storage is always a good thing to offer.”

√ Am I going to be safe?
Make sure that a prospective tenant will feel safe at your property by doing the following (and, remember, many of these things are legal requirements too!):-

• All soft furnishings should be labelled as fire resistant
• Fitting a burglar alarm
• Point out the carbon monoxide detectors
• Fitting five-lever mortice locks and window locks
• Providing a safety blanket and a fire extinguisher
• Make sure the smoke alarms work
• Ensure all electrical appliances have been PAT tested
• Provide copies of your gas and electric certificates

√ What happens if I have a problem?
Make sure your potential tenant knows that you are there to help and will try to fix problems and do minor maintenance as quickly and efficiently as possible. You may even want to leave them emergency contact numbers for local plumbers or handymen.
Kate adds, “Additionally, if your property is fully-managed by a good property management agency, such as Belvoir, it will give your tenants the confidence that problems will not only be dealt with swiftly but also helpful advice will only ever be a phone call away.”

To find your nearest Belvoir office, visit their website at

Landlords Should be in Fear if Anarchy Ever Breaks Out

The Dead Kennedys had a clear manifesto on what to do if anarchy did break out.

My thoughts are - 'let them eat cake'

Down the revolution.

Not to be viewed by landlords of a sensitive nature.

Your Darling Margo

Landlords Should Factor their Time as a Cost in any Property Investment Decision

High yields often bring high maintenance for landlords.

The High Rental Yield Property

A HMO might bring a good rental return but if often brings, higher wear and tear levels and consequently more maintenance.

It brings endless re-lets of individual rooms to tenants, which potentially brings lots of meetings and viewings for landlords. All this adds up in terms of property management hours.

The Low Rental Yield Property

A family home can often bring more careful tenants who are looking to settle and make a home. They may look to improve and maintain the property to a high standard, repair any damage and look to stay for 5 - 10 years.

This brings low maintenance and management, saving time for a landlord.

How to Calculate the Options

It's worth landlords looking to evaluate the value of their time before deciding on a property investment strategy.

For example if a landlord is a solicitor or high paid company Director they may calculate their hourly rate is worth £50 - £100, if this is the case the low maintenance property investment might turn out to be a more profitable option.

Landlords who self manage should look to factor in an hourly rate for their time before they decide on which investment route to take.

Remember 'Time is Money'.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Landlords Need to Start Building a War Chest

I was just reading that the NLA were reporting on landlords concerns over rent arrears in 2009 and beyond.

As more redundancy occurs, landlords will need to face the increased risk of rent arrears, as more and more tenants fight to pay the bills.

In a time of high credit levels, robbing Peter to pay Paul may not be possible for many tenants, and many landlords might have to face the fact that any unpaid rent will be dripped back to them a pound a week for the next 40 years, through a court judgment.

In the mean time a landlord may face big holes in their cashflow at a time when they least can afford it.

With the Mortgage Support Scheme due to launch in 2009, most likely not to include buy-to-let property, times may be tough for some landlords.

My advice is for landlords to start a war chest ( something that 'prudent Gordon didn't do ).

It would be worth landlords cutting back hard now, and to start saving as much as they can to guard against the potential of rental arrears in a deep depression,

To the trenches!

Your darling Margo

Bringing landlords warmth in a cold economic climate

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Celebrity Property Investment Business Goes Under

'Help Im a Celebrity Landlord Get me Out of Here' - The poorly property market has taken more victims, and this time they're famous.

This time the celebrities weren't going 'down under' instead they are just 'going under' as another opportunist property business goes into administration.

Celebrities, including Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir David Frost and (of course )Grant Bovey (husband of Anthea Turner and serial failed property entrepreneur.)

The Times has stated that AAim, a £3 billion property investment company backed by HBOS and chaired by Sir David Frost ( who would invest in a house like this? ), has gone into administration. It is feared that shareholders will lose all their investments, fortunateley they are massiveley rich celebrities.

The property company had invested billions in both European and British property in recent years, basing a highly geared investment model on future capital growth . ( which we all know didn't happen).

Grant Thornton, were appointed by a court as the administrator of AAim yesterday.



Monday, December 08, 2008


It’s 170 years since the birth of Octavia Hill. Philanthropist, property manager, social reformer and artist. The ‘Florence Nightingale’ of landlords and property managers. A good time to remember that very little of what we are trying to do in property now is new.

Octavia Hill came from a wealthy family of active social reformers. As a girl she helped her mother to run workshops for poor children making dolls’ house furniture. Her father lost his money during the big recession of the early 1840s but when she was 26 Octavia was able to put together financial backing for her first property management project.

She borrowed money to buy some slum properties and began to manage them directly herself with an emphasis on improving the conditions and the financial viability of the properties. Her friend John Ruskin then paid £750 for three houses for sale in Paradise Place, Marylebone and asked Octavia to manage them on condition that they were managed on a 5% return on his capital investment. Ruskin did not need the money, his purpose was to encourage others to invest in housing for the working class. Octavia found herself managing three stinking run down tenements ‘bursting at the seams with roughs and rowdies.’ She was very good at it. A combination of extending and refurbishing the accommodation, regular maintenance and cleaning, and weekly visiting (both to collect rent and work where necessary with the tenants) led to the successful operation of the scheme. Once the 5% return was achieved, any surplus could be spent by the tenants on projects such as a playground or an ‘outdoor sitting room.’

She had a very clear view on the relationship between landlord and tenant. The tenant must pay the rent without fail (or the 5% return was not achievable) and the landlord was morally obliged to keep the property in good repair. Her strict approach has been criticised as inflexible; she did not tolerate bad payers or anti social behaviour and her army of volunteers and workers (her ‘visitors’) immersed themselves in tackling worklessness and household debt among the people who lived in her developments. This paid off and bears a close resemblance to present day housing policy on the encouragement of greater economic independence and social mobility among tenants.

She used the same model over and over again. She was offered the management of more and more properties and by 1874 she was managing 15 housing schemes with around 3000 tenants. Those who invested in her housing projects would see a 5% return on their capital and tenants had to pay their way. She insisted that the only constraint on her work was a shortage of the right people and not lack of money. She held a list of donors waiting to buy houses for her to manage and when she found the right property and the right person to manage it she would put them together. The full extent of her portfolio is not recorded but by the time of her death in 1912 some estimate that she was managing 20,000 dwellings, the equivalent to a large housing association today.
She took on the management of larger blocks of flats, accepting them as necessary in an urban area. She was actually very critical of their design and argued that they were prone to problems in their common parts, not necessarily cheaper to construct or to maintain, difficult to manage and often ugly and uninteresting to look at. No doubt she would have had a lot to say about new build blocks in city centres today.

Her essays and letters, especially Four years’ Management of a London Court 1869
edited by Robert Whelan from p.51 give further insight on her work and thoughts.

She argued vehemently for the development of public open space and gardens. Indefatigable, she was one of the founders of the National Trust.

Octavia Hill Museum in Wisbech was refurbished earlier this year. It’s closed now until next March but it’s worth a visit if you want to see what Octavia was up against in the day to day management of a Victorian slum, giant bed bugs and all.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Discount Letting Service for landlords

Discount Letting Services offer landlords full exposure of their rental property adverts on Rightmove and the other major property letting sites for £59.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Buy-to-let mortgage latest

Following yesterdays cut in the base rate to 2% equaling the lowest level in it's 314 year history.

I've been scowering the buy to let market for the latest update on buy-to-let mortgages. Lenders continue to reduce their SVR. Some lenders have withdrawn their tracker rates such as Cheltenham & Gloucester and Lloyds TSB Scotland just prior to the latest cut in base rate.

Other lenders are tightening lending restrictions such as Stafford Railways BS which has reduced its maximum LTV to 50%.

Access 4 leading lenders with 1 enquiry form

  • Cheltenham & Gloucester
  • Buy-to-let VARIABLE TRACKER RATE MORTGAGES withdrawn, w.e.f. c.o.b. 3.12.08....more
  • 04 Dec 2008
  • Principality BS
  • END DATE on buy-to-let FIXED RATE extended to 31 January, w.e.f 4.12.08....more
  • 04 Dec 2008
  • Lloyds TSB Scotland
  • ALL buy-to-let VARIABLE BASE RATE TRACKERS withdrawn, w.e.f. 4.12.08....more
  • 04 Dec 2008
  • Scarborough BS
  • ALL BUY-TO LET PRODUCTS withdrawn w.e.f. 3.12.08....more
  • 04 Dec 2008
  • Shepshed BS
  • BUY-TO-LET STANDARD VARIABLE RATE reduced by 0.7% to 6.04% w.e.f. 1.12.08...more
  • 04 Dec 2008
  • NatWest Int Personal Banking
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced to 5.19%, w.e.f. 1.12.08. All products withdrawn & replaced with new VARIABLE TRACKER rates of 5.29% & 5.49% to 31.1.11 & FIXED RATES of 5.49% & 5.69% to 31.1.11 & 5.89% & 6.09% to 31.1.12....more
  • 04 Dec 2008
  • Royal Bank of Scotland Int Ltd
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced to 5.19%, w.e.f. 1.12.08. All products withdrawn & replaced with new VARIABLE TRACKER rates of 5.29% & 5.49% to 31.1.11 & FIXED RATES of 5.49% & 5.69% to 31.1.11 & 5.89% & 6.09% to 31.1.12....more
  • 04 Dec 2008
  • Stafford Railway BS
  • MAXIMUM LOAN-TO-VALUE on Buy-to-let products reduced by 25% to 50% w.e.f. 3.12.08....more
  • 04 Dec 2008
  • Cambridge BS
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE will be reduced to 6.29%, w.e.f. 4.12.08....more
  • 03 Dec 2008
  • Manchester BS
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE will be reduced to 5.95%, w.e.f. 1.1.09....more
  • 03 Dec 2008
  • Platform
  • ALL BUY-TO-LET PRODUCTS with "Almost Prime" and "Minor Adverse" criteria withdrawn, FEES on all products amended to £1,995, ALL FIXED RATES with "Buy-to-let" criteria withdrawn and replaced with products of 6.99%, 7.09%, 7.49% and 7.59% to 1.3.12, w.e.f. 1.12.08....more
  • 03 Dec 2008
  • Leeds BS
  • Buy-to-let STANDARD VARIABLE MORTGAGE RATE reduced to 6.24%, w.e.f. 27.11.08....more
  • 03 Dec 2008
  • Pink Home Loans
  • All buy-to-let MORTGAGE products funded by Platform withdrawn, w.e.f. 1.12.08....more
  • 03 Dec 2008

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Landlords - Positive News from Positive Cashflow

With this further 1% cut in the base rate, I'm feeling more and more positive.

Cashflow positive that is.

Finally bringing landlords bits of good news - and the snows thawing too.

Landlord hugs and kisses

Darling Margo

'Think positive like the yanks do'

Buy-To-Let in these difficult times.

I'm back after a long break and haven't things changed quickly over the last few weeks!

During the course of my business I had a long chat with one of my clients and he gave me a long article he had put together. I have summarised it below. This is really aimed at someone new to the Buy-To-Let market, but it's always useful to remind yourself why you are in a particular business.

1. Research the market

If you are new to buy-to-let, what do you know about the market? Do you know the risks, as well as the benefits. Make sure buy-to-let is the investment you want. Your money might be able to perform better elsewhere. If you know someone who has entered the buy-to-let market, ask them about their experiences, or chat with other investors.

2. Choose a promising area

Promising does not mean most expensive or cheapest. Promising means a place where people would like to live and this can be for a variety of reasons. Where in your town has a special appeal? If you are in a commuter belt, where has good transport? Where are the good schools for young families? Where do the students want to live?
Have a look at the rental market and homes to buy in your town on

3. Do the maths

Before you think about looking around properties sit down with a pen and paper and write down the cost of houses you are looking at and the rent you are likely to get. Traditionally buy-to-let lenders want rent to cover 125% of the mortgage repayments, although some are relaxing this, and interest rates are higher. Most also look for a 15% deposit, which protects against falling prices. Will your investment work out? What will happen if the property sits empty for a month or two? Ask youself some questions.

4. Shop around

Do not just walk into your bank and building society and ask for a mortgage. It sounds obvious, but people who do this when they need a financial product are one of the reasons why banks make millions in profit. If you are looking for advice consider using a specialist buy-to-let mortgage broker. Remember asking them for information means you are under no obligation to use them.

5. Think about your target tenant

Instead of imagining whether you would like to live in your investment property, put yourself in the shoes of your target tenant. Who are they and what do they want? If they are students, it needs to be easy to clean and comfortable but not luxurious. If they are young professionals it should be modern and stylish but not overbearing. If it is a family they will have plenty of their own belongings and need a blank canvas.

6. Don't be over ambitious

We have all read the stories about buy-to-let millionaires and their huge portfolios. In most places the days of double digit house price rises are gone, so experts say invest for income not short-term capital growth.
Once mortgage, costs and tax are taken into account, you will want the rent to build up over time and then be able to use it as a deposit for further investments.

7. Consider looking further afield

Most buy-to-let investors look for properties near where they live. But your town may not be the best investment. The advantage of a property close by is being able to keep an eye on it, but if you will be employing an agent anyway they should do that for you. Cast your net wider and look at towns with good commuting links, that are popular with familes or have a sizeable university. Use to look at different areas.

8. Haggle over price

As a buy-to-let investor you have the same advantage as a first-time buyer when it comes to negotiating a discount. If you are not reliant on selling a property to buy another, then you are not part of a chain and represent less of a risk of a sale falling through. This can be a sizeable asset when negotiating a discount.

9. Know the pitfalls

Before you make any investment you should always investigate the negative aspects as well as the positive. Even in popular areas properties can sit empty. One rule of thumb many buy-to-let investors apply is to factor in the property sitting empty for two months of the year – this gives a substantial buffer. Homes often need repairing and things can go wrong. If you do not have enough in the bank to cover a major repair to your property, do not invest yet.

10. Consider how hands-on you want to be

Buying a property is only the first step. Will you rent it out yourself or get an agent to do so. Agents will charge you a management fee, but will deal with any problems and have a good network of plumbers, electricians and other workers if things go wrong. You can make more money by renting the property out yourself but be prepared to give up weekends and evenings on viewings, advertising and repairs. If you choose an agent you do not have to go for a High Street presence, many independent agents offer an excellent and personal service. Select a shortlist of agents big and small and ask them what they can offer you.

I hope this proves useful.

Rat in the kitchen

No this isn't the start of me singing lines from 1980s hit tunes. Any body who remembers this one from the 1980 foot stomping outfit UB40 are clearly as middle age as me and Miss Jones.

I was awoken the other day with a text message from one of my tenants informing me that the suspected mouse had grown/evolved into a Rat. Nice I thought. Apparently, the little bugger had managed to excavate a little entrance through the brick work under the kitchen floor and has been busily noring through varies electrical wires for amusement.

I've christened him Gordon and yesterday I spent a good 20 minutes blockading him out from his little den. Get back to 10 Ten Downing Street I thought. It's no good trying to hide from all the flack. You spent 10 years telling us how good we were having it. How prudent you were, how you had ended boom and bust.

If you really are prudent, I'm George Clooney. Readers can look at the photo and make their own decision.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

LIBOR margins continue to fall

LIBOR continues to fall. Currently the 3 month sterling rate, the one used by many buy-to-let lenders stands at 3.88%. This is 0.88% above the base rate but given that recently it was 1.2%+ it shows that money market are very slowing returning to some sense of normality. However they still have a long way to go to hit the 0.1-0.15% that has been historically classed as normal.

Professional landlord rates on buy-to-let insurance

Falling LIBOR means that lending markets between banks are slowly freeing up and should make lending to landlords in theory more available. However, given the contraction in the economy and rising mortgage arrears buy-to-let lenders are unlikely to want to loosen their purse strings too much in the short term.

Landlords Face Increased Cashflow Thanks to Bank Rate Cuts

Landlords could face a cashflow bonanza.

The reality of the current economic downturn is that the next twelve months could provide landlords with the most positive cashflow period of their landlord career to date.

I keep seeing my BTL mortgage interest repayments cut as my tracker mortgages are all linked to the Bank Rate.

With talk of a further 1% cut tomorrow I'm starting to feel warmed against the harsh winds of the economic storm.

Yes, my capital values have been slashed, yes my borrowing options have been demolished, but for now I have more money in my pocket each month.
What shall I go and waste it on to help boost the economy's retail spending?
Maybe a big 52" plasma TV? What about an expensive designer watch? Maybe some unjustifiably, costly after shave or a new car?

Forget it! I am a landlord!

Landlords, save and invest - we do not like to waste money on consumables. We leave that to tenants.

But saying that I might go and splash out on one of those DVD players, apparently they are very good, and having watched them come down in price over the past ten years from £1500 to £15.99 it might be time to invest in one.

Special Rates on Alan Boswell Landlord Insurance

Landlord insurance tied to buy-to-let mortgage

Many landlords especially those new to being a landlord and buy-to-let investor are talked into taking out landlord insurance with their buy-to-let lender. This is invariably a mistake. A landlord will probably be paying at least 30-40% over what they should do for their landlord insurance.

Buy-to-let lenders often 'subtly' encourage landlords to use their insurance by making them pay an administration charge for not selecting their landlord insurance and opting to make their own provision. I have never used my lenders insurance, partly out of principal. No body is going to black mail me into having their insurance. And partly because I know I'm paying far too much for their landlord insurance and given that the average landlord holds a property for 17 years - this is going to work out at a lot of dosh.

Where would I go for my landlord insurance?

Firstly, I would always advice landlords to get a range of quotes before deciding.

Go here where many professional landlords go for a good choice of some of the most competitive landlord insurance providers. I use Alan Boswell for my and have done for over a decade. They have a specific landlord insurance department. Seem to know what they are doing, have friendly helpful staff and there has never been a problem. They also do most of the landlord insurance for the landlord associations. But never buy the first landlord insurance product you find, make sure you get at least 3 quotes to be sure you have got the best deal.

A tenant struggles to get on with his landlord

A tenant struggles to get on with his landlord. How do your tenants think about you?

The tenant landlord relationship is always a fragile one, especially if the tenant is a sensitive artistic type.

Your Darling Margo

Leeds landlords face big loss

According to Property Week some property investors have taken a massive hit on a luxury Leeds residential development. This is because many investors are defaulting on the purchase of 52 flats at the tower.

Bridgewater Place, a joint venture between St James Securities and Landmark Development Projects, teamed up with residential developer KW Linfoot in a 50:50 joint venture to develop 200 luxury flats at the 32-story tower.

The JV has completed the sale of 148 flats but several investors cannot complete their purchases on the remaining 52 flats.

The buyers, many of them buy-to-let investors, have failed to secure mortgages after the banks demanded larger deposits.

The 360 ft tower comprises 236,000 sq ft of offices and 200 flats arranged as 103 two-bedroom and 71 one-bedroom apartments, as well as 26 ‘smart pads’.

If all 52 flats had been sold at the originally agreed contract price it would have generated around £10m for the developers.

Chris Gilman, a director at Landmark Developments, commented:

‘The sale of 50 flats hasn’t been completed because the purchasers can’t or won’t complete. The buyers can’t get mortgages, particularly the buy-to-let investors, and need a much bigger deposit. We recognise this is a genuine problem and we are trying to work with them.

‘We have looked at selling the flats to other investors and we have had several offers from vulture funds who wanted to buy them at a heavily discounted price. We are not prepared to accept those prices and we are turning to a medium-to-longer-term view in which we plan to rent them out and then sell them at a later date.’

He said they would retain the investors’ 10% deposits and might, in some situations, pursue compensation payments.

Property Hawk comments

This case just highlights to landlords the dangers of buying off plan. Having placed a 10% deposit a property investor is effectively placing a bet on the health of the housing market 9-18 months out from completion. This is great when prices are rising and many investors made good money particularly in London 'flippin' investments. The 'Flip' side is when prices fall and investors have to walk away from their 10% deposit and then risk the developer coming after them for further funds because of breach of contract.