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Monday, December 24, 2012

Property optimists to be disappointed

Those landlord looking to 2013 for a general revival in property prices may be disappointed according to the latest research by Hometrack.

They estimate that house prices will fall on average by 1% next year as families who are facing financial woes will become increasingly reluctant to add to their debt levels and this will have a knock-on effect on house sales. This effect is not evenly spread as some areas such as London continue to buck the general trend (in 2012 20% of property postcodes recorded rising values).

The message for landlords looking to invest in the near year is that they can't bank on general rising capital prices to increase their returns in the short term.  Be selective on what and where you buy and make sure you understand the implications of the rental yield.

Mortgage Search - Free quotes and expert advice
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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Labour plans to meddle

If you thought the Labour Party had had enough of meddling with the private rental sector.  Thing again.  After their aborted attempts at trying to introduce a landlords licence they are once again hatching to meddle in the private rental sector.  This time they are setting out some of their thoughts in their policy review snapilly entitled : Private rented housing: Providing stability and affordability for renters and families.

Plea to renters

Unsurprisingly, it reads as a plea to dissatisfied renters to vote for them.  They want to provide tenants with an opportunity to longer term tenancies.  Many landlords would welcome this.  The Labour Party would in turn reward the landlord with indexed rent increases.  They want 'affordable homes' for renters.  This is were it all goes a wry.  Who defines what is 'affordable' and affordable to who?  I would love an 'affordable' mansion in Kensington and would welcome the State making a contribution.  Most tax payers would object rightly to the state subsidising my desire for affordability.  Going back to the Labour Parties policy review.

Labours intentions unearthed

The strapline of the press release reads that the Labour Party actions are aimed at: "Ensuring that the many responsible landlords who do the right thing are not disadvantaged". That to mean sounds like if landlords don't do what the Labour Party want and therefore do the 'wrong thing' will feel the full force of the Labour Parties wrath if they once again are given the opportunity of power.

Historic precedence

The reality is that ever since the Labour Party has been in existence they have been fundamentally apposed to private individuals owning private property that they rent out.  They don't believe that landlords can be trusted.  There actions of rent control and security of tenure brought the private rental sector to it's knees by the end of the 1970s.  My view is fundamentally the Party has not changed it's views even if they try to portray themselves now as landlord friendly.  So landlords beware - they will be looking to regulate YOU given half the chance.  To view their proposals download the Policy Review here.

Landlord Insurance - professional rates

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Most popular BTL mortgages

Max LTVInitial RateTermCompletion feeBooking feeIncentivesOverall Cost for Comparison
85%5.49% Discount2 Years2.5%£130.00No6.9% APR
80%5.79% FixedFeb 29 2016 1.5% (min £595)£0.00No5.6% APR
80%4.98% Fixed2 Years£1999£0.00Free legal fees for remortgage5.9% APR
75%3.99% FixedMar 31 2015 0%£195.00£500 Cashback5.8% APR
75%4.99% FixedJan 31 2018 £1499£250.00Free valuation up to £700 for purchases and remortgages and free legals on remortgages only.5% APR
75%4.85% Tracker5 Years1.75%£150.00Free valuation on all applications received by the 31st December.5.5% APR
65%3.99% FixedMar 31 2016 £995£0.00Free valuation and free legals for remortgages (properties valued up to £500,000).5.6% APR
60%3.44% FixedFeb 28 2015 2%£0.00£500 cashback on completion5% APR
60%3.89% FixedFeb 1 2016 2.5%£0.00£500 cashback4.9% APR

Tel: 029 2069 5446 

IMPORTANT! Due to current market conditions, lenders are withdrawing and replacing products with little or no notice. Please check our website regularly to see the most up-to-date products available.
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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Have you been scammed?

For all novice buy-to-let investors this investigation on how it can all go wrong is worth watching if you are considering buying an investment property for the first time.

Remember the rule of thumb is that if a scheme looks too good to be normally is &

If somebody else it trying to sell you an unmissable investment opportunity rather than keeping the scheme for have to wonder why? (I don't believe in altruistic investment advisers but I do believe in dodgy salesmen)
Landlord insurance - professional online rates

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Is more Regulation of the Private Rented Sector now Inevitable?

Renting is on the increase. The difficulties of obtaining a mortgage, the problems of raising deposits - particularly for first time buyers – and the ongoing uncertainty in the housing market are forcing many people to rent their home rather than buy. Young professionals who, just a decade ago would have been clamouring to get onto the housing ladder, now find themselves renting, often well into their thirties.

With so many people now living in rented accommodation, there is renewed talk of how conditions in the private rented sector might be improved and how tenants can better be protected from unscrupulous letting agents and so-called “rogue” landlords. All this focus on raising standards is to be welcomed in principle, but the proposed solutions differ widely across the country.

In London, almost 1 in 4 households now live in private rented accommodation and London Mayor, Boris Johnson has recently called for a “new deal” with private landlords, letting agents and tenants based around a so-called “London Rental Standard” (LRA). This is expected to be launched next year after a period of consultation. The LRA is intended as a form of charter, containing a number of commitments such as minimum response times for repairs, protection of deposits and transparency of fees. There is also a proposal for more emphasis on training and accreditation schemes for private landlords.

Contrast London's collaborative approach with that of the Scottish Government. In one of the toughest clampdowns on the private rented sector in years, Scotland has brought in a swathe of new regulations which has left private landlords and letting agents squealing in protest. Here are just some of the measures recently introduced: compulsory registration of all private landlords and their properties (with a fine of up to £50,000 for landlords failing to register); criminal record and other background checks before an applicant is permitted to let a property; a prohibition on using a letting agent without notifying your local authority (it's now a criminal offence to use a letting agent without prior notification); a blanket ban on letting agents or landlords charging tenants fees; compulsory Tenant Information Packs.

The Welsh government is expected to introduce similar laws to Scotland.

Somewhere in between Boris' London Rental Standard and the Scottish regulatory approach, are local authorities such as the London Borough of Newham. Newham is bringing in compulsory registration of all its estimated 35,000 private landlords at a cost of £500 per property, starting 1st January 2013.

It is probably only a matter of time before the UK government brings in reforms for England, perhaps not on the same scale as Scotland, but expect consultation on longer leases and more security of tenure as a minimum.

Some argue that tougher regulation will do little to crack down on the minority of bad landlords and letting agents who already flout current laws and that it will simply drive up rents as landlords pass on the costs of compliance to their tenants. Others believe that the sector has got away with bad practice for long enough. One thing is certain: there are major changes afoot in the private rented sector which are likely to put some agents out of business and put many amateur landlords off the whole idea of letting a property.

Author: Christian Duggan is a director of, a website specialising in renting property from private landlords.
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Gas Saftey Checks - essentials

For me the middle of December means Gas Safety Checks.  This year I even had an early reminder from one of my tenants (customers - who'd 'av 'em!) 

Despite one of my regular plumbers going AWOL earlier in the year (I suspect he was avoiding me because he wasn't keen on a job I wanted him for ).  I managed to get hold of Scott straight away ( much to my surprise ).  A brief catch up and check to see he was OK.  Then down to business.  The usual arrangement is for me to text through my tenants details and then for him to contact the tenants directly.  I'm hoping he keeps the price at £40 for each property for the 5th year running.  Isn't it sad the things that make you happy these days.  Who said that property investing wasn't sexy!

Landlord insurance - expert brokers - professional rates

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Generation rent

The latest Census reveal that the number of home owners is declining.  Down from 68% in 2001 to 64% last year.

The 2011 data indicates that more people are renting.

The proportion of the population renting from private landlords has risen from 9% to 15% over the last decade which means that we are all having to adjust to 'generation rent'.

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Warm Front scheme suddenly pulled

As some regular readers of my blog will no I've been ummming and aaarrring about going ahead with cavity wall insulation in one of my properties.  One of the positives was that it was totally free under the governments Warm Front Scheme funded by the utility companies. The downside is that I'm concerned that it may result in a longer term bridging of the cavity wall and cause internal damp conditions.  I'm hoping a by product of the insulation is that it helps to cure some of the patches of condensation that have appeared in recent years.

A couple of weeks before the contractors were due to start I got a phone call out of the blue from them to inform me that the scheme was no longer free.  That immediately struck me as strange. Apparently the company had been informed that the original energy company had pulled the scheme without any warning and then they had to search around for another provider.  The only one they could find was a company that charged £99.  I was left with the option of not going ahead or paying the fee.  I did check with the Local Authority first and they confirmed that this was the case.  So having gone to the expense of having half the garden cleared so the contractors could work on the place.  I wasn't going to give up now so I gave the contractor the go-ahead.

Time will tell whether there is any genuine benefit for the tenants.  But if landlords do want to make the most of the free insulation from the Warm Front Scheme my advice is act now before it's too late.

Landlord Insurance - internet rates
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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bad request message in Firefox

We've found that some users of the Firefox Browser are experiencing a 'BAD REQUEST' message when trying to access Property Hawk pages.

To stop this problem users need to clear there Browser Cache by going into

-TOOLS - Clear Recent History

If this doesn't resolve it please email us to let us know.

Apologies for any frustrations

Property Hawk team
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Landlord ASBO's - could they be the answer?

Are landlord ASBOs the answer?
The first landlord to potentially be awarded an ASBO for letting out unacceptable rental property has got his mug in the Daily Mail.

David McCabe, 57, whose been a landlord for 30 years, had just been fined £28,000 following 28 counts of breaking regulations and failing to clean up two of his rental properties.

Plymouth Magistrates Court heard that the landlord was renting out litter strewn squalor to poor and vulnerable tenants. Rotting floors, inadequate fire alarms and junk filled gardens, doors seized shut. I think you get the picture.

To try to prevent McCabe from continuing to rent out his squalid properties Plymouth City Council are attempting to launch a legal application for an Anti-Social Behaviour Order which would stop him renting rooms to anyone on housing benefit.

The council lawyer explained that 'The council tried to work with him for many years and he is brought before court as a last resort."

Now I wonder could landlord ASBOs be a better way forward to weed out the 'rogue landlord' element than the push for mandatory landlord licences. At least this way you could punish the rogues and not lumber the majority of decent landlords with expensive licences. For let's face it these costs will only be passed onto the tenants through increased rents.

Read the full Daily Mail article

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Our Most Popular BTL Mortgages

Max LTVInitial RateTermCompletion feeBooking feeIncentivesOverall Cost for Comparison
85%5.49% Discount2 Years2.5%£130.00No6.9% APR
85%5.79% Discount2 Years2%£130.00No6.9% APR
80%4.99% FixedFeb 28 2015 £1800£199.00Free valuation up to £335 for purchases and remortgages and free legals on remortgages only.6.1% APR
80%4.69% Discount2 Years2%£130.00No6.7% APR
75%4.19% FixedJan 31 2015 2.5%£150.00Free valuation on all applications received by the 31st December.5.4% APR
75%4.85% Tracker5 Years1.75%£150.00Free valuation on all applications received by the 31st December.5.5% APR
70%3.79% TrackerFeb 1 2015 2.5%£0.00£500 Cashback5% APR
70%4.25% Discount2 Years0%£199.00Free valuation up to £335 for purchases and remortgages and free legals on remortgages only.6% APR
65%3.99% FixedMar 31 2016 £995£0.00Free valuation and free legals for remortgages (properties valued up to £500,000).5.6% APR
60%3.25% Discount2 Years£1750£250.00No5.3% APR

Tel: 029 2069 5446 

IMPORTANT! Due to current market conditions, lenders are withdrawing and replacing products with little or no notice. Please check our website regularly to see the most up-to-date products available.
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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Green deal - software glich

The 'Green Deal' is coming.

Landlords can already register online for the scheme but reports indicate that some of the vital software that is required to complete the assessment is not working correctly.  This means that despite the loans being available from January 2013 the vital assessment cannot be completed.

It would be interesting to about landlords experiences in trying to access the loans.  Has anybody tried and what have been your impressions?

Landlord insurance - professional rates & cover

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

18% of landlords not covered

According to Direct Line, 18% of landlords do not have the specialist landlord insurance required for their rental property, instead rely on a standard home insurance policy which leaves them without cover if any problems do arise.

Discount landlord insurance from Alan Boswell

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It's not too late to bag a bargain.

I know that Christmas is fast approaching but those ambitious landlords who are still looking at bagging a bargain before the big day still have an opportunity at Allsop's last residential auction of 2012 next week.

In total there will be 294 lots offered with a number of distressed sellers.

Read our guide to buying at auction and remember 'caveat emptor'!

Mortgage Search - best rates
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Monday, December 10, 2012

No change in house prices

Commenting, Martin Ellis, housing economist, said:

"There has been very little change in house prices overall during the past year with the average UK price in November almost identical to that in November 2011. Prices in the three months from September to November were 0.7% lower than in the preceding three months."

"Both demand and supply pressures in the market have altered little during the course of 2012, and this has been the key reason for the lack of anything other than modest changes in house sales and prices at a national level compared with a year ago. Challenging economic conditions have constrained housing demand whilst low interest rates have helped to support affordability and demand."

Discount landlord insurance from Alan Boswell
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Tenancy agreement - how long?

I was horrified the other day when a friend of mine told me that a letting agent they had used signed up a NEW tenant for an initial 12 month fixed term. Why?  On the face of it it seemed fine.  The landlord wanted a nice long-term let.  Obviously, the letting agent had done all the due diligence stuff such as having the tenant referenced and in fact there was even a tenant guarantor in place.  But all this doesn't change the fact that the new tenant could be a 'nightmare'.  You normally find this out in the first 6 months.

The power of the section 21 notice

With only a six month initial fixed term tenancy the landlord has the 'whip hand' in getting their property back through a non fault based possession procedure and one where in theory the courts have no discretion and must give the landlord back possession at the end of the term.  With a 12 month tenancy the landlord has to wait a full 12 months to be in the same position.  Why would you?  Personally, any letting agent that does this should be shot for incompetence!  If you have had a tenant who has performed well during the tenancy and pressures you for a 12 month tenancy then and only then it might be worth signing a longer term fixed term tenancy.  But never ever at the start of a new tenancy.

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Saturday, December 08, 2012

Rent rises over-hyped

Many landlords have read the headlines about constantly rising rents.  But how much has this been over-hyped.  I know that from personal experience as a landlord in the East Midlands I've not witnessed any spectacular increases over the last 2-3 years.  In fact my most recent letting has been at a considerable discount to previous rents.

The British Property Federation has recently expressed concern over the lack of accurate official rental data may be allowing over bullish agents to present an inaccurate picture of the real situation on residential rents.  They highlight the fact that many organisations use advertised not achieved rental figures and also do not take account of the majority of tenants that are not moving.

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, comments:

"Some of the figures that have been bandied around trumpeting large rent increases are very misleading and do not reflect the picture across the entire country.

"While in some hotspots rents are rising more than average, across the country as a whole about 85% of rents are rising below CPI according to reliable VOA figures.

"For a long time we've been calling for more reliable rental figures and I welcome the UK National Statistics consultation that has just closed, which is looking to improve its statistics on residential rents, and we support the suggested switch to Valuation Office data. The larger sample size should lead to improvements in the quality of data and provide a more comprehensive picture across the whole market."

Free property management software, Free tenancy agreements
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Thursday, December 06, 2012

Manchester is UK's top global investment

I've just read that Manchester is in the top 20 cities for property investment globally.
Manchester? Are you sure?

In the eyes of estate agents Jones Lang LaSalle it beats cities such as Paris, Beijing and Milan, notching up 15th place and  the only UK city to make the top fifty.

The placing was  based on the relative size of the city's economy. 

Only time will tell......

Landlord insurance - discounted professional rates

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Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Rightmoves landlord confidence survey

Rightmove’s latest Consumer Confidence Survey reports that just 25% of landlords were looking to  increase their rents over 2013. 
The website is predicting a 2 percent increase in rents over next year.
The majority of landlords (61%) were described as taking a ‘benevolent’ attitude towards rents and are not looking to increase rents, 14% of landlords were undecided,  and a pessimistic 1% expected to actually reduce rents.

Miles Shipside, director and housing market analyst at Rightmove comments:
“The widening gap between tenant demand and rental property supply over the last few years has fuelled upwards pressure on rents. However, the majority of landlords now seem to be prepared to exercise constraint and are planning a ‘rent freeze’ for 2013. Lettings agents still report consistently high demand but more are warning landlords of the risks of squeezing tenants’ finances too hard. However, some tenants in rental hotspots like London and Manchester may bear the brunt of higher rises. This combination of apparent benevolence and bullish hotspots may give a less racy rent rise outlook overall, but does not mask the fact that some tenants are again in for a rent rise shock.”

Rightmoves data reports-
  • A increase in average rent of 13.64% between Q3 2009 and Q3 2012.
  • Existing tenants spend an average of 39% of their monthly take-home pay on rent.
  • 22% of tenants currently spend more than 50% of their monthly earnings. (after mandatory deductions) 

Shipside comments: 

“Landlords appear to be becoming increasingly aware of the need to strike a balance between long-term security and short-term gains. They need to weigh up whether it is better to ‘stick’ and hold rents for a model tenant or ‘twist’ and chance a rise and run the risk of ending up with a less desirable occupant, or even a void. Interestingly, around one in four landlords is an ‘accidental landlord’, and with 9% of landlords stating they are actually tenants themselves, perhaps this growing band of non-professional landlords is more sympathetic to tenants’ rental price concerns?"

It's good to hear that the majority of landlords are a sympathetic bunch. Aaahhhh.
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Fifty property buying tips

The Money Saving Expert gives what can only be described as an extensive fifty tips to buying a property.

Most are common sense but there are a few bits that some investors might not of thought about.

Read the 50 property buying tips here

Landlord insurance - professional rates

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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Lenders refuse benefit tenants

According to Landlord Today the BTL lenders BM Solutions and Accord will not lend on a property with DWP assisted tenants or tenants in receipt of housing benefit.

Chris Maggs, Accord’s national account manager for buy-to-let, said:

“Historically, this type of tenant has been of a higher risk, and this is reflected in our criteria. We are currently reviewing this aspect of our lending criteria, and will communicate the outcome of this review when appropriate.”

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Electrical Safety - top tips

Landlords have a legal duty of care that the electrics in their buy-to-let properties are safe.  The Electrical Safety Council has produced a list of top tips for landlords to keep their properties safe:

Landlords are responsible for making sure the electrical installation is safe in a property
This responsibility applies at the start of a tenancy and the property must be maintained in a safe condition throughout its duration. Landlords should carry out basic visual checks to ensure that the installation has no hazards, including broken accessories (such as sockets and light switches), signs of scorching around sockets due to overloading, damaged cables to portable equipment or trailing cables/flexes.

Have a regular periodic inspection and test carried out on the property
If you own a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), a landlord has a legal obligation to have a periodic inspection carried out on your property every five years. If your property is not an HMO, you are not legally obliged to get your installation inspected and tested on a periodic basis. However, the ESC recommends that a periodic inspection and test is carried out by a registered electrician on your rental properties at intervals not exceeding five years, or on a change of tenancy. They will then issue an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) which details any damage, deterioration, defects or conditions within the installation that give rise, or potentially give rise, to danger.

Make sure that your property has adequate RCD protection
Since 2008 the UK standard for the safety of electrical installations, BS 7671, has called for almost all electrical circuits installed in homes to be RCD protected. An RCD is a life-saving device which protects against dangerous electric shock and reduces the risk of electrical fires.

Use a registered electrician for any work on your property
By choosing a registered electrician, a landlord will have the peace of mind that comes with knowing the work is being done to the UK National Standard, BS 7671.

Carry out Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) on appliances provided as part of the rental agreement
As a landlord you are required to take reasonable steps to ensure that the appliances you provide are safe. Portable Appliance Testing is one way of doing this and it should be carried out before every new tenancy.

Download the ESC's 'Home Electrical Safety Check' smartphone app
Their new smartphone app makes it easy for you to carry out a fast and effective review of your properties and fulfil your responsibility for tenant safety.  Visit the Android Market or App Store and search for ‘Home Electrical Safety Check’.

To download the full electrical safety manual follow the link.

Landlord insurance - expert brokers - internet rates
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Monday, December 03, 2012

Chancellor expected to shelve U25 HB changes

There is an increased belief that the Chancellor is about to shelve his plans to cut housing benefit for under 25s. with some reports suggesting the move has already been shelved.

Yesterdays Observer article reports that he had already decided to with the idea and will announce it in next weeks autumn statement this week after heavy opposition from Nick Clegg and co.

Fingers crossed for next week.

Landlord insurance - professional rates

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New 3 year fixed rate BTLs

Property Hawks Mortgage providers are  delighted to offer these highly competitive, exclusive 3 year fixed rate BTLs with Skipton Intermediaries; a 3.99% fixed rate up to 65% LTV and a 4.39% fixed rate up to 75% LTV. Both products have a low flat fee of £995 and a free valuation and free legals for remortgages. 

IMPORTANT! Due to current market conditions, lenders are withdrawing and replacing products with little or no notice. Please check our website regularly to see the most up-to-date products available.
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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Buy-to-let tax allowances

It's almost here.

No...I'm not talking about Christmas.  For most landlords the big day is the 31st of January when you have to make your self assessment tax return including the profits or losses from your rental business.

Firstly, it's a common mistake that you can off set losses you make in your rental business against your PAYE tax liabilities.  You rental profits and losses are assessed separately and can be carried forward to future years.  Here are the main costs that you can claim as expenses against your rental income when submitting your tax return. Remember it is possible to use the Property Manager software to record all your expenses and produce your fully worked through return that can be emailed to your accountant or used to fill out your tax return.  The main allowable tax expenses are as follows:

Interest on buy-to-let mortgage payments
The biggest expense by far for most landlords are the mortgage payment. Remember though that it is only the interest, not any capital repayments that are tax deductible.

Running a letting business
Running a letting business is like running any other business in that the expenses associated with doing this are deductible against your profits.  Things like the cost of travel to and from your letting properties, costs of telephone calls and even those of running a home office can be all offset against your profits.  Where you need to be careful is apportioning the costs so you need to be clear on this concept before working out the figures.

Repair costs
The costs of maintenance on your buy-to-let property is an allowable expense.  However, adding new facilities or improvements are not.  This can of course be quite a grey area.  For instance until very recently replacing wooden windows with UPVc windows was classed as an improvement and therefore not allowable.
Professional fees
There are a number of professional fees that a landlord can off set against their rental profits: Letting agent fees, accountant and legal fees being amongst them.

Landlord insurance
All landlords should be insured.  Make sure that the full cost of you landlord insurance
is deducted from your rental profits.  Some landlords take out rental insurance and again this are also off settable.

Expenses of holding property
Most local taxes and utility costs are normally borne by your tenant.  However, during voids the landlord is liable for costs such as council tax payments and the utility bills.  These can all be claimed as a legitimate expense.

Here are some recent articles about saving tax:

Tax saving advice
Tax saving guides
10 Ways to save tax

Landlord insurance - discounted professional rates
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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

BTL mortgages - current popular products

Max LTVInitial RateTermCompletion feeBooking feeIncentivesOverall Cost for Comparison
85%5.49% Discount2 Years2.5%£130.00No6.9% APR
85%5.79% Discount2 Years2%£130.00No6.9% APR
80%4.69% Discount2 Years2%£130.00No6.7% APR
75%3.74% Discount2 Years£1999£250.00No5.4% APR
75%4.99% FixedJan 31 20151%£0.00No5.4% APR
75%3.99% Tracker2 Years2.5%£0.00No5.3% APR
75%4.39% FixedMar 31 2016£995£0.00Free valuation and free legals for remortgages (properties valued up to £500,000).5.7% APR
70%4.25% Discount2 Years0%£199.00Free valuation up to £335 for purchases and remortgages and free legals on remortgages only.6% APR
65%3.99% FixedMar 31 2016£995£0.00Free valuation and free legals for remortgages (properties valued up to £500,000).5.6% APR
60%3.25% Discount2 Years£1750£250.00No5.3% APR

Tel: 029 2069 5446 

IMPORTANT! Due to current market conditions, lenders are withdrawing and replacing products with little or no notice. Please check our website regularly to see the most up-to-date products available.
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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Soggy buy-to-let properties

Damp is a fact of life for landlords at this time of year.  I know the rain has been particularly bad over the last few weeks and it does cause problems.  I've had several tenants contact me.  The main problems I find are:

1. Blocked gutters or leaking gutters causing water to gush and constantly wet an area of external brick work.  This results in damp occurring inside as the porous bricks allow water ingress over a period of time causing internal damp patches.

2. Drains and rising water table.  The constant rain has caused the water table to rise generally as the natural aquifers fill and leaks or inadequacies in the storm drains are exposed often resulting in problems with rising damp as water is absorbed through the superstructure of the building.

3. Condensation is the other major damp problem as tenants keep window tightly shut and crank up the heating.  The wonders of UPVC windows and our modern obsession with cleanliness (2 showers a day) mean there is no way for the high levels of moisture to escape resulting in condensation and then mould.

4. Expanding doors and windows that jam as a result of the absorption of increased humidity and moisture levels.

Landlord insurance - all risks
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Monday, November 26, 2012

RICS calls for crackdown of rogue letting agents

RICS are calling for a 'clamp down' on the lettings sector to help kick out unscrupulous rogue agents turning it, in there words, into "the property industry's Wild West".

RICS has declared the sector as having "a total lack of effective regulation".
A turn up for the books then, a trade body asking for further regulation.... funny that.

Rates to stay below 1% until 2018

Most landlords have borrowed heavily to purchase their buy-to-let property.  This means that mortgage charges are their biggest cost when it comes to financing their rental business dwarfing other costs such as insurance and maintenance.

Most landlords are rightly pretty obsessed with what is going to happen to the Base Rate.  Rates have been on the floor now for over 3 years and the latest predictions are that even a quarter percent rise to 0.75% will not happen until April 2014 at the earliest.  This gives landlords another year of record rental profits.  The projections are even pointing to the fact that the base rate will not get to 1% until 2018 at the earliest.  Unbelievable but fantastic if you are as I am with a large proportion of my mortgages on base rate trackers!

Have a look at what the experts are saying about interest rates.  A word of caution though.  Experts have been wrong before so bet your house on it...

Mortgage Finance - expert brokers
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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Property pension

A recent survey of landlords reveals that more than 80% of private landlords intend to us their property portfolio to fund their pension.

The Survey by BDRC Continental found that 4 out of 5 landlords interviewed intended to live off rental income or sell off their properties to fund their retirement years.

Mark Long, director at BDRC Continental, said: "Landlords consistently tell us that they see their property portfolio as forming a critical part of their pension provision for the future."

Property Hawk has been advocating for years the long-term benefits of residential property investment and it's use as part of an overall retirement plan.  We have also urged government to give this asset class the same tax advantages as other investment products held within personal pension schemes such as SIPPs.  So far to no avail!
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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Should I let to desperate tenants?

I'm having real problems letting a property at the moment.  Despite the place being advertised with two very good letting agents in different parts of town there has been no suitable takers.  I have just had one couple with child that are desperate to rent.  The letting agent maintaining that the couple are lovely (I've not met them so it's a difficult one to verify) I am concerned.  Why?  Well it turns out that the couple and child are currently living in a hotel.  They have moved from down south with the husband starting work whilst the wife is currently on maternity leave.  Now call me old fashioned but if I had a job offer you normally know several month in advance when you will be starting work and therefore will sort out a place to live in advance (especially if you have a child).  I'm not comfortable.  I don't understand the back story and that make me uneasy.  I like to have organised well ordered tenants not ones that appear to lead chaotic lives.  To me this spell trouble even if the tenants appear to be earning a decent wage.

Currently, I'm awaiting the reference and credit check but unless I get to the bottom of why they are staying in a hotel I'm not going to hand over the keys whatever the agents assurances are?  After all it will be me that is left trying to deal with the fall out if things go wrong.  What would you do?  I'd be interested in how other landlords would approach this dilemma.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

East Midlands Property Owners Conference

East Midlands Property Owners (EMPO) is hosting the East Midlands Landlord Expo.

The FREE event will be held at the East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham on March 19th 2013.  It's a  one day event aimed to improve housing standards in the private rental sector. 

Providing a  platform for landlords, letting agents and property investors across the East Midlands to exchange information, seek advice, network and improve on current service deals with exhibitor companies.

There will be over 40 exhibitor companies and local authorities providing advice.
A Graham Penny live property auction. 

Seminars covering
  • An Auctioneers Guide to Buying at Auction.
  • Current requirements for licensing.
  • Why tenant referencing is important.
  • How to deal with issues around tenancy deposit disputes.

Pre-register on the Expo website to receive a FREE ticket! 
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Financing Auction Property with a Bridging Finance Loan

The popularity of property shows such as ‘Homes Under the Hammer’ have inspired a generation of people to look at auctions as a means to finding their next property investment. In today’s economic climate, as many potential homeowners struggle to secure a deposit or mortgage, it is an ideal time to find a property bargain. One of the best ways of doing this is in a property auction. Property auctions rely on you making quick decisions and securing the best deal, and a bridging finance loan from specialist bridging loan providers such as Ascot  is one of the quickest ways of financing an auction property purchase.

A bridging finance loan is designed for a shorter period than a mortgage, often for any period ranging from a few weeks to a few years. It is designed to give you cash quickly, especially important if you have seen a property bargain in an auction. It provides the capital in the short term so that you can then arrange a mortgage to finance the borrowing over a longer term. This is perfect for those looking to grab a bargain in an auction, as properties are often snapped up by serious investors and property developers, especially with the buoyant rental market. In addition, when you buy a property from an auction, you often only have 14-28 days to complete the sale and pay for it, meaning that longer-term borrowing solutions are often more difficult to arrange quickly. Bridging finance loans are often repaid once the property is sold, or if a mortgage is taken out, meaning that there is no pressure to repay immediately as there might have been with a bank loan or credit card.  They can also be used if you currently own your own property, and have a mortgage, but are looking to add a buy to let investment to your property portfolio.

Bridging finance loans are especially useful when, for instance, you know that you will be hoping to purchase an auction property and that you will have a mortgage arranged a few weeks later. They should, generally, not be considered as a long-term borrowing solution because they can work out more expensive. Here at Ascot Mortgages, we can help you to find the best deal, one that does not have any early exit fees, so that you can pay the loan off in full when your mortgage is arranged. This type of loan has increased in popularity as the housing market has become increasingly depressed and means that there are often competitive deals to be had, which we at Ascot Mortgages can find for you.

There are two main types of bridging loan, the ‘closed bridge’ and ‘open bridge.’ The first option is generally for people who have already exchanged on their property, but the ‘open bridge’ is especially suitable to those who are looking to buy a second property, perhaps through an auction. Buying a property through an auction, either as a home or an investment, can be a brilliant thing to do; it can let you grab a bargain, free up money to make the property your own, or provide a source of extra income that may increase in value. Bridging loans can be the ideal solution to this, but because of the choice available.

For more information please contact a part of the Ascot Mortgages Groups 

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HM Revenue to target SE landlords

Landlords in the South East are one of the groups to be targeted by the tax authorities according to reports in the Guardian. HMRC has previously 'announced' that it will employ cutting edge tools such as "web robot" software to search the internet for people and companies and their affairs.  A so called task force is reportedly to be established and is likely to use it's investigators to glean information from other government departments and sources such as letting adverts and university accommodation departments.

To find out how landlords can reduce their tax liabilities have a look at our recent articles.

To put things into context though the Revenue often announces these headline grabbing purges of the great 'under taxed' but rarely has the extra resources to back up the headlines. The threat of 'cyber spooking' is probably a bit like their version of the TV detector van.  (How does that work?).  Having said that it's probably a prompt for landlords to starting getting their financial house in order ready for the self assessment tax deadline of the 31st of January.

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