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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Darlington landlord fined for leaving tenant in the cold

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

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

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

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

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The West Brom BS verdict

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more comment on the verdict -

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

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lincoln landlords event

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve advice to any new investors is  

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

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Homeowners rush to sell

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

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

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Property prices and the art of wishful thinking

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Property prices to crash by 50%

Or is it just scaremongering to sell a magazine subscription?

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

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New site for migrant renters in PRS

Barclays allow 'other incomes' for BTL affordability

Some pleasant news from Barclays on their BTL lending.

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

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

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

Barclays' managing director of mortgages, Andy Gray said: 

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

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

Registering a deposit with the DPS

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

Monday, January 26, 2015

Onthemarket launched today

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

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

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

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Most popular BTL mortgages this week

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

A new year BTL Mortgage Update - 2015

Andy Young, at Property Hawk Mortgages says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apartment blocks can yield results

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

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

Finance my investment - Mortgage Search

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Tenants prefer landlords to agents

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

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Residential development opportunity - Surrey

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

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

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

For sale with vacant possession

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

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

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

Advanced investment strategies

Thursday, January 22, 2015

West Brom BS case arrives in court

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The hearing continues.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

BOE unlikely to raise rates in 2015

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Rotherham's Landlord Selective Licensing Scheme

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

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

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

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

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

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Rents rise by 3% in 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Telegraphs shares how to profit from crossrail

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New 'hands off' property investing idea

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

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

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

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

Daniel Gandesha, chief executive of Property Partner, said: 

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

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

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Letting agent guilty of fraud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Metro Bank drops buy-to-let rates

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

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

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Monday, January 19, 2015

North / south divide widens

Young increasingly staying with parents

Gazunder... it's 2015

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

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Rightmove house price index for Jan 2015

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

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

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

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

Homelets December Rental Data Report

The December 2014 Homelet Rental Data Report has been published.

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

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Mansfield BS reduces fixed rate

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

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

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

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Salford landlord fined £4,000

A Salford landlord has been fined £4,000 for failing to respond to improvement notices issued by the council.

Landlord, Liam Kelly, of College Farm View, Newbridge, County Kildare, Ireland failed to attend his court case at Manchester City Magistrates' Court on Wednesday 7th of January. He was found guilty of failing to comply with a housing improvement notice issued by Salford City Council and was ordered to pay £1,060.54 in costs and a victim surcharge of £120. 

Council officers described how the rental property did not meet basic fire safety requirements, with no smoke detector fitted to the ground floor,  a stiff back door and unopenable bedroom windows.  The property was also described as 'damp', and a leak from the bathroom had caused bulging in the kitchen ceiling.

In March, officers wrote to Mr Kelly and his letting agent, Reeds Rains of Memorial Road, but neither responded within the required 14 days. The council then issued an improvement notice requiring the work to be completed within the next three months, but this dead line was also ignored.

An inspection in June showed no one of the work had been carried out. Mr Kelly was invited to either attend an interview in Salford to explain why it had not been done, or send in a written defence but  failed to respond again.

Buy-to-let mortgages a growth story

Landlords are borrowing more than they did a year ago and are the only group to up their lending according to latest reports in the Telegraph.

CML figures for November revealed that buy-to-let mortgages and lending to landlords is up 9% compared to a year earlier whilst lending to mainstream home buyers fell by 7% and to first time buyers was 3% lower than a year ago.

There were a total of 17,700 buy-to-let loans in November representing lending of £2.4bn.  The mortgage activity for landlord was roughly evenly split between new purchases and remortgages of existing buy-to-lets with 8.900 loans being advanced for new investment property purchases and 8.600 remortgages were given to remortgage an existing buy-to-let investment.

Mortgage Search - whole of market

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Savills' five year rental value forecast

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CML reports continued BTL growth

The latest Council of Mortgage Lenders data shows 17,700 buy-to-let loans were taken out in November, with a total lending figure of £2.4bn. 

The November figures were down on October's, with loan volumes down 10% and the value total of loans down 11%. The fall reflects a seasonal slowing of the market and not a downward trend. When November 2014 figures are compared with November 2013 figures, the number of loans increased  by 9% and the total value of these loans went up by 14%.

This increased popularity in BTL shows increasing numbers of personal investors are looking to the BTL sector to improve on the diminutive returns they are being offered by their existing savings accounts.

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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.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cornwall landlord fined £24,000

Landlord, Jin Ming Cao from Cornwall has been ordered to pay fines and court costs totalling £24,000.  Mr Cao, owner of the Dynasty Restaurant on Perran Cross Road pleaded guilty to six offences under the Housing Act 2004 for the seven bedroom flat he had rented above his restaurant.
Three offences related to the non-compliance of improvement notices and three offences related to the management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations, including an obstructed fire escape route, a faulty fire alarm and no valid Gas Safety Certificate.

The flat was rented out to ten workers from his restaurant. 

Stuart Kenney from Cornwall Council’s Private Sector Housing Team said:

“We have been working with colleagues from the UK Border Agency, Devon and Cornwall Police and Cornwall Fire and Rescue service to investigate the quality of multi-occupied accommodation above commercial premises such as restaurants, takeaways and pubs. The majority of our inspections have revealed substandard living conditions and poor fire safety provision which has routinely required enforcement interventions. All landlords must ensure that those dwellings meet minimum safety standards and any landlord who is unsure of their obligations is encouraged to contact the Private Sector Housing Team."

DPS map of off-shore landlords

Deposit Protection Service (DPS) data reflects the diverse residency of UK landlords, with ex pats and foreign investors protecting their deposits from all over the world.

DPS Director, Kevin Firth says: 

“These figures provide a fascinating picture of the truly global diversity of landlords using the Deposit Protection Service. 

In terms of overseas residencies, unsurprisingly more than half of non UK resident landlords live in Europe, with France hosting more than one in ten (13.31%). (presumably a favourite retirement destination for ex-pat landlords). 

Spain follows in European popularity, with (6.69%), Ireland (6.43%), Germany (4.72%) and Switzerland (4.30%).

Other favourite UK landlord residencies are the English speaking nations of Australia (11.99%), USA (9.21%), Ireland (6.37%) or New Zealand (3.81%). 

The Arabic-speaking world houses 4.43% of landlords based aboard, within which the United Arab Emirates (which includes Dubai and Abu Dhabi) dominates with 121 of 166 landlords from the region.

(Expats clinging to piece of dear old blighty and a foothold in the UK property market?)

RLA launch a PRS manifesto

The Residential Landlords Association have published an election year manifesto calling for reform in the private rented sector.

Their main reform points are -
  • Changes to planning regimes and tax changes to encourage landlords to invest and aid the sale of rental properties to first time buyers.
  • More rigorous enforcement of powers to tackle the small minority of criminal operators who bring the sector into disrepute.
  • A new right for tenants to renew their tenancies for up to five years to provide more security.
  • All parties committing to a period of stability in the welfare system for landlords and tenants alike.

RLA chairman Alan Ward said:

“Landlords want a private rented sector that is first choice and not second best. Our sector is now the only part of the housing sector in the UK which is growing. Landlords have already responded to the growing demand for homes to rent but, with the right support, there is much more we could do. Our manifesto sets out a series of policy proposals which would help landlords play the fullest possible part in addressing our country’s housing needs.”

Download the  RLA Rental Manifesto for 2015

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Latest ONS House Price Data out

The ONS House Price Data for November 2014 shows -

  • Average UK house prices increased by 10.0% in the year to November 2014, down from 10.4% in the year to October 2014.
  • House price annual inflation was 10.4% in England, 3.1% in Wales, 4.4% in Scotland and 11.7% in Northern Ireland. 
  • House prices continue to increase strongly across the majority of the UK, with prices in London again showing the highest growth.
  • Annual house price increases in England were driven by an annual increase in London of 15.3% and to a lesser extent increases in the East (11.9%) and the South East (10.8%).
  • Excluding London and the South East, UK house prices increased by 7.1% in the 12 months to November 2014.
  • On a seasonally adjusted basis, average house prices increased by 0.2% between October and November 2014.
  • In November 2014, prices paid by first-time buyers were 11.0% higher on average than in November 2013. For owner-occupiers (existing owners), prices increased by 9.5% for the same period.

Download all the charts and data for the ONS House Price Data November 2014

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Tory criticism of Enfields landlord licensing

The Enfield Council's introduction of a selective landlord licensing scheme has been labelled a “costly farce” by Edward Smith, the Conservative housing spokesman.

The Council consultation period for the introduction of the scheme was considered to have been insufficient by the High Court following the case being brought by local landlord.

Edward Smith declared the  

“The council’s proposed landlord licensing scheme has descended into a costly farce, with legal fees escalating and taxpayers having to foot the bill.”

Enfield Council is appealing against December’s High Court decision. 

UK house building will not meet demand

The BBC magazine have done a piece asking 'Why can't the UK build 240,000 homes a year?'

It's a good question, but for whatever reason no Government has, and likely never will.

Set alongside today's other BBC news, of the recent baby boom and school places, the  tides of net immigration, there is one inevitable outcome - housing supply will increasingly not meet demand.

The long term future is clear, property prices will continue to climb, alongside with rents.

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Moneyweek urges to fix

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Tel: 029 2069 5446
Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgages.  

The Financial Services Authority does not regulate some forms of mortgage.

Monday, January 12, 2015

UK landlords have made £177 billion profit

Using Savills data, the Financial Times has declared that UK landlords have made £177 billion profit as a result of the capital growth in their property investments from the resurgent market of the past five years. 

Unlicensed Oxford HMO landlord fined

Landlord, Jeffeth Junior Latchman, has been fined £4,500 for an unlicensed House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) in Oxford. 
Oxford City Council's HMO Enforcement Team first visited the property in August 2014 after a tenant complained of poor living conditions. 

The HMO on Nowell Road was found not to have the required license, and describe by council officers as unsafe, in disrepair, and infested with cockroaches.

Mr Latchman pleaded guilty of all charges, including failing to obtain the required licence, for which he was fined £2000, as well as five additional breaches of the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006, fined at a further £500 per offence.

Mr Latchman was also ordered to pay the Magistrates' Court costs of £815. 

Oxford City Councillor Ed Turner commented

"Landlords who fail to meet their responsibilities to their tenants and the wider community should be in no doubt that they will be prosecuted, and the courts are now imposing substantial fines."

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My Deposits explain deposits on BBC breakfast

My Deposits chief, Eddie Hooker talk through the procedures for tenancy deposit schemes on Fridays BBC breakfast News.

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Five common mistakes made by landlords

Letting agency chain Andrews share what they perceive to be the five biggest mistakes made by landlords and how best to avoid them.

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Failing to submit deposit dispute evidence

The Deposit Protection Service, a provider of one of the tenancy deposit schemes, says that 17.63% of landlords required to submit evidence after agreeing to dispute resolution either missed their deadline or sent in nothing during 2014, meaning an automatic ruling or pay out for the tenant.

According to the DPS’ figures, tenants were even less likely to submit evidence in time, with over 22.86% either providing evidence after the deadline or failing to deliver any at all.

Alexandra Coghlan-Forbes, Head of Adjudication at the DPS, said: 

“Too many landlords and tenants are shooting themselves in the foot during disputes by failing to get us the evidence we need to assess their cases.

“Our Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service ensures an impartial adjudication for both landlord and tenant, but is reliant on both parties submitting proper evidence in good time to work effectively.

“We do everything we can to make sure both parties understand what’s needed and by when, and it’s important that both landlords and tenants meet the 14-calendar day deadline.” 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Four London suburbs to watch in 2015

The Evening Standard have done a piece on the four suburbs in London to watch in 2015, although this is set against my last post, with the predicting a fall in London property prices in 2015. 

The four suburbs the ES want you to watch are - 
  • In West London -Notting Dale.
  • In North London -Hornsey.
  • In East London - Leyton.
  • In South London - Brockley.
So they you go...

Friday, January 09, 2015

The battle of the property portals

The battle of the property portals roll on. Rightmove retains dominance, aside the young pretender, Zoopla.

Many attempts have been made to snatch their positions as the estate agents favourites, but so far all have failed.

2015 looks to be another year of desperate duelling, and more fights to the death.

In the week that one portal is finally killed off, another two attempt to battle their way into the hearts of the agents.

Neadaproperty needed more money

This week the property portal 'needaproperty' went out of business. Launched in June 2012,   'needaproperty' declared it had been “designed to provide a viable and cost-effective alternative to the established competitors in the market”

Unfortunately it clearly never became a viable business and presumably some start up investors have lost a big fist of tax efficient investment money on this bright idea.

Houser are a new kind of portal (yawns , oh yeh..?)

Looking at their countdown clock officially launch on Sunday. In their own words ' is not just another property website. ( Don't all portals say that?) It claims to ' a host of amazing features for sellers, buyers and estate agents' (Again, you're hardly going to say anything else )

They appear to say they are going to be stripping all the data from the other portals and plonking it on their database - I wonder what the other portals will say about that?

I had a look at the Beta site and just felt it was a confused mess of everything - too much, this, that and the other, but what do you think?

Onthemarket plays dib, dab, dog****

The new portal from the posh agents consortium of Savills,Douglas & Gordon, Knight Frank, Chesterton Humberts, Glentree Estates and Strutt and Parker launches on the 26th of January. The Agent's Mutual collective are playing a hard ball game with the other agents, saying you can only advertise with 'On the market' and  one other of the other big two, i.e., pick between Rightmove and Onthemarket, or Zoopla and Onthemarket,  but not all three. It's going to certainly upset the portal status quo, but it is a risky strategy that I think might backfire in the long term.

I can see a price war between Rightmove and Zoopla on fees, but when it comes to the switch off will agents want to switch off either of the big two?

JRF predict a grim future for UK housing

The future is impossible to predict. Just look at the 'Back to The Future 2' vision of 2014. In it, Marty Mcfly was flying around on a hovver board whilst dodging 3D projections. Well that's clearly not happening.

So on to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's vision of 2040. In their What will the housing market look like in 2040? report produced by Heriot-Watt University.

In it they predict that - 

• People who rent will be more than twice as likely to be living in poverty than homeowners.
• Private rents will rise by 90%, twice as fast as incomes. The average private rent today is £132 per week – it will be £250 per week in 2040 in real terms.
• One in five (10.6 million people) will be living in private rented homes, up from 7.2 million today. Half of these, 5.7 million, will be in poverty (a rise of 2.6 million).
• One in 10 will be living in social housing, down from the current figure of 8.2 million to 5.7 million in 2040. Social rents will increase 39% to reach £92.10 per week in real terms.
• If social rents continue to rise towards market rates, the cost of Housing Benefit could rise by 125% - adding £20 billion to the current bill.
• Real median house prices for owners will increase to £263,000, a rise of 57%. 35.3 million people will be home owners by 2040 (a reduction of 820,000 people from 2008). Real household incomes will grow from £32,300 to £45,500.

The JRF are calling the Government to make changes to policy to avoid this less than futuristic outcome by

•  Doubling new house building to more than 200,000 units a year.
• Restricting social rent increases to inflation plus 1%.
• Housing benefit continues to support housing costs at similar levels.
• Increase supply of affordable social housing.

The JRF's Chief Executive, Julia Unwin says: 

“These stark findings are a wake-up call for political leaders. After decades of failing to build enough, those in power have a responsibility to act now to build more genuinely affordable homes. Without that we are storing up trouble for the future – a price that will be paid by children starting school life this year. These high costs are bad for families, the economy and Government.

“We need a clear strategy that builds the homes we need in the right places and avoids locking low income households out of affordable homes. This is about more than frustrated aspirations of home ownership from Generation Rent: the reality facing many people is a life below the poverty line because of the extortionate cost of keeping a roof over your head. Addressing the rising cost of housing is crucial to tackling the high levels of poverty in the UK.”

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Thursday, January 08, 2015

London's most glamorous rental homes

For landlords who want to see what it takes to meet the demands of tenants at the top of the London market - the DM have put together a nice slide show of London's most glamorous rental homes

CEBR predict property price fall in 2015

The CEBR predict that UK house prices will decline in 2015, dragged down by a slump in the London property market.

The think-tank propose that 2014's growth of 8.8% will be followed by a 0.6% drop in 2015.

They propose the drop will result from a slowing of the prime London market and the uncertainties of an election year. 

London will see the most severe of the falls, expected to be 3.3%, to reflect what has been a period of high growth in the capital and a changing global situation impacting on the demand from foreign buyers. 

The CEBR also factor in the potential interest rate rises from the Bank of England towards the end of the year, although expected to be gradual, buyers are still likely to react by postponing purchases.

CEBR's Economist, Nina Skero, comments: 

“The new stamp-duty system lowers tax payments for 98% of home buyers and will give a slight boost to the market, but not enough to prevent a price drop.

“The uncertainty surrounding May’s election, proposed changes to property taxation, and reduced foreign demand are already bringing down house prices.
“Subdued price rises or modest declines also reflect a correction in the housing market after a period of very strong price growth.”

Tenant arrears up from a downward trend

Serious rent arrears rose on an annual basis for the first time since 2012, according to the latest tenant arrears tracker report.

The LSL Property Services data for Q4, 2014 showed a rise in tenant rental arrears.

They reported that now 68,100 tenants were in severe rent arrears ( arrears of more than two months). This is an annual rise of 7.2%.

Despite the rise, figures are still far off the Q3, 2012 peak, when LSL reported 116,600 tenancies in severe arrears.

Adrian Gill, director of estate agents Your Move and Reeds Rains, remained positive that the downward trend on arrears would return, saying

‘The long term trend is increasingly clear. Since the sharpest pinnacle of tenant difficulties in 2010 the number in serious rent arrears has practically halved,’ 

‘As rising wages start to combine with much lower levels of unemployment, the fundamentals of the economy have started to turn in favour of tenants. If that can continue, then so can the trend away from arrears, as renting becomes more affordable,’ 

The LSL data also reported a 4.4% drop in eviction rates, with an annual tenant eviction rate down by 6.0%.

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Halifax House Price Index Q4,2014

The Halifax house price data for Q4 2014 showed a slowing UK property market.
  • Average house price grew by 0.3% in Q4,  the lowest growth rate since November 2012 (-0.3%). 
  • This slowing growth rate meant annual house price growth has fallen from a peak of 10.2% in July and is now at 7.8%. 
  • Average house prices grew by 0.9% between November and December.  

Commenting, Martin Ellis, housing economist, said:

"House prices in the final three months of 2014 were 0.3% higher than in the preceding three months. The quarterly rate of increase has now fallen for five successive months. Annual price growth also eased further, to 7.8% in December. This compares with a peak of 10.2% in July.

“The deterioration in housing affordability as a result of rising house prices, earnings growth that has been consistently below consumer price inflation until very recently and speculation of an interest rate rise, have combined to temper housing demand since the summer. The weakening in housing demand has led to a reduction in both price growth and sales in recent months.

"We expect a further moderation in house price growth over the coming year with prices nationally predicted to increase in a range of 3 to 5% in 2015. Housing demand, however, should continue to be supported by a growing economy, rising employment levels, still low mortgage rates and the first gain in ‘real’ earnings for several years." 

Scottish rental index hits high

Citylets rental data for Scotland in Q4,  show the average rent in Scotland has saw 7.9% growth over 2014, hitting a all time high of £732 pcm.

The rises have been driven by rent rises in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow, with the majority of Scottish towns seeing smaller rises below the general rate of inflation.

Citylets warn that the downward pressure on oil prices could result in a 'cooling' rental market in Aberdeen.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2015

NHF call for longer tenancies

We warned this year would bring a din of 'beefy talk on additional regulation, licensing, tenancy reform and rent caps', so here's some more.

The National Housing Federation have joined the call for longer tenancies, citing new research that shows that private renters are now nine times more likely to have moved in the past year than homeowners leading to tenants feeling uprooted and unable to plan for their futures.

The builders lobbying organisation is no doubt using the tenant dilemma argument to push Government to further relax planning laws.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said:

“With house prices continuing to soar out of reach, and typical deposits for first time buyers hitting £30,000, younger generations are seeing their dream of home-ownership replaced with a life of renting.”

“It’s clear that the younger generation is being let down, and given no alternative but to move from one short-term let to the next, never being able to save enough to buy because their wages are eaten up by rent.”

“We’ve found that nearly eight out of 10 people (77%) in England don’t believe any of the main political parties will effectively deal with housing [7], but they still have the chance to put that right. With a bold long term plan for house building our housing crisis is solvable. We need politicians from all sides to commit to ending the housing crisis within a generation."

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CBRE 2015 UK property forecast

Property consultancy, CBRE have laid out their 2015 forecast for UK property.

Their predictions in brief -

• Continued growth of Prime London markets and improved growth in secondary housing markets
•Average returns of just under 13%
• Further improvement in rental yields as investment inflows continue into the UK market
• Price growth in the housing market will ease in 2015 to around 6% 

Miles Gibson, Head of UK Research, CBRE, commented:

“This has been a year of extraordinary expansion across the property sector and while this will continue into 2015, overall there will be a return to more sustainable levels of growth. Rental growth will continue in all sectors and we expect investment yields to continue to improve as levels of capital flows into the UK market remain high. In terms of where growth, we forecast a ripple effect next year as property investors shift from London out to the regions.

“Although there positive signals for the property market, we recognise that there will be uncertainty caused by the imminent general election. The combination of these trends makes 2015 an intriguing prospect for the sector.” 

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Proposed rent caps in PRS

It's election year and landlords are set to be a key political target / punch bag on the run up to May.

Expect to hear plenty of beefy talk on additional regulation, licensing, tenancy reform and rent caps.

Civitas, the political think-tank haven't wasted any time getting in on the debate, publishing a new report of regulatory recommendations on January 2.

The reports author, Daniel Bentley, accuses landlords of exploiting the housing crisis at the expense of taxpayers and tenants, saying -

‘Unfortunately, the Housing Benefit system, which effectively props up purchasing power at the lower end of the market, militates against fair prices by subsidising landlords’ rent demands. This vicious circle will only worsen as the private-rented sector comes to represent an ever-larger proportion of the housing market and more and more tenants have to fall back on Housing Benefit.’

The report is calling for indefinite tenancies as the norm which are then linked to capped rent rises. Any rent rises that reach beyond this fixed rate would only be allowed if a landlord could prove they had made improvements to a property substantial enough to warrant it. 

In his report Bentley, proposes regulatory exemption of new build property as a means to shift landlords away from investing in the existing owner occupied market and over to new-builds.

Baby boom to compound housing crisis

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