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Sunday, August 30, 2015

A thousand BTL products available

Tel: 029 2069 5446

Saturday, August 29, 2015

I've bought a penthouse apartment

Well, I've got to that time in my life were I'm due a mid life crisis.  It's either going out and blowing my savings on a ridiculous red projectile super car like a Ferrari that costs me a fortune to run and repair or some other rash statemental gesture to prove my youth and underlying vigor.

Being a sensible type of chap; I've opted instead to splash my cash on a penthouse apartment.  I'm rather glad I did.  I've been squirrelling away my spare cash into shares since the financial crash and these investments largely have done ok.  Looking at the uncertainties surround global stockmarkets and in particular China I'm quite glad I was forced to sell up.

When my penthouse opportunity presented itself because it was a repossession;  buying the property with was a huge advantage when it came to negotiations and the ultimate acceptance of my offer.  I will fill you in exactly why in future blog posts.

What features did I look for in my penthouse?

Lets be clear I never set out to buy a property.  I do love property.  It's in the blood.  I can't pick up the Sunday papers without ogling and swooning over the fantastic bits of real estate that you can buy, rent and visit.  Everything from cute country cottages, Georgian townhouses, grand country houses, exotic beach front villas. They all offer a visual feast and a split second of fantasy before they all crashing down as you realise buying a log cabin in Alaska probably isn't going to fit into your busy work and business life.

I would argue that my penthouse found me.  There it was.  All unloved. Raped and abandoned with it's spiral staircase ripped out and sold on eBay by the malicious owner to grab a couple of hundred quid before loosing the lot and getting booted out by the mortgage company.  This was love at first sight.  My penthouse, sat on a beautiful listed Georgian building in the centre of the historic Lace Market in Nottingham. A new build pod with mezzanine floor and glazing giving you a window on the world and out onto a proper balcony.  Not just one of those Juliet things that is no use to anybody.  Having refurbed a host of buy-to-let property in my time I am tired of buying apartments & updating letting boxes; with budget fittings, laminate flooring from wickes and the cheapest IKEA kitchens.  Don't get me wrong they can look good.  But it ain't ever going to give you the wow factor.  My penthouse was different.  These are the features that attracted me to my penthouse and ultimately why I think it's going to be more financially rewarding than owning a Ferrari.

The features that made me buy my penthouse apartment:

1. It was a proper penthouse apartment.  It was built as a penthouse.  It has double height ceiling space in the main living area rather than been crammed into a loft conversion with weird ceiling angles and protruding dormer windows.  It feels like a palace in the sky.
2. It's in a upmarket location set within a Conservation Area, above a Georgian listed building surrounded by beautiful Victoria lace factories.  There is no point in buying your penthouse in some dodgy part of town.  How are you going to live the dream if you have to run the gauntlet of alcoholics, drug dealers and urban squalor.
3. It has lovely electronically operated wrought iron gates.  Hey, when I pull up in my Porsche (not brought yet but I can still fantasize) I feel a million dollars when the gates swing open and I enter the underground car lift!
4. Most of the properties in the block are owner occupied.  These apartments in this block are brought by people to occupy generally as their home.  The astronomical service charge (£4000 a year) puts off most landlords looking for a decent net rental yield.  This means when I do sell I will be selling to somebody looking for a home not a tight arsed investor (I classify myself as one) looking for rental yield.
5. The property is unique.  One thing that this property has given me is the ability to create a unique pad.  With so many properties particularly in the city centre built to the same space cramming rabbit hutch format.  This place with it's glazing, mezzanine floor with spiral staircase and panoramic city view offers me an opportunity to create a pad that is truly unique and what's more somebody will be prepared to pay for.
6. The actual name of the property is the Penthouse.  This isn't an apartment that is stuck in the attic and the estate agent has euphemistically labelled.
7. I have always steered away from the luxury end of the rental market because of the risk.  However, the capital appreciation opportunities represented by my penthouse acquisition I suspect will far outway any marginal additional income from another mid range buy-to-let property.  However, what I would say is 'right property, right time'.

The chances of me finding a similar property investing opportunity would be non existent, I could search for years without finding something similar, which is exactly why I had to have it!

Landlord insurance - landlord insurance brokers - your choice

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Nationwide's HPI for August sees 0.3% rise

Nationwide's house price index has recorded a 0.3% rise in August, bringing their annual growth rate down from 3.5% to 3.2%.

According to the bank, the average UK property price is £195,279.

Chief economist at Nationwide, Robert Gardner commented on the latest set of data -

‘This month’s data provides further evidence that annual house price growth may be stabilising close to the pace of earnings growth, which has historically been around 4%,’

‘However, survey evidence cautions that this trend may not be maintained unless construction activity accelerates. Surveyors reported the lowest ever number of properties on their books in July whilst new buyer enquiries picked up,’

‘Clearly house price trends are determined by a wide range of factors, but labour market developments are amongst the most important. The strength of the UK labour market in recent years is a key reason why house prices have recovered more quickly,’

‘There is a strong correlation between employment and house price growth since the financial crisis across the major developed economies. House prices remain further below their pre-crisis peaks in countries where employment is also well below pre-crisis levels,’

‘Supply side developments also play an important role in explaining the divergence in house price performance. The UK experienced a much smaller increase in building activity in the run up to the financial crisis. As a result, there was much less of an overhang of unsold properties to be worked off in recent years,’

‘However, with UK house building running well below the expected rate of household formation in recent years and with demand for homes rising, a significant increase in construction activity is required if affordability is not to become stretched in the years ahead,’

Newcastle BS enters BTL market

Property Hawk Mortgages is pleased to announce that Newcastle Building Society has entered the buy-to-let mortgage market with a highly competitive range of products starting at 2.35%. 

All rates are available up to 75% loan-to-value and come with a free valuation. 

These excellent products are available exclusively via Property Hawk Mortgages.

Newcastle BS buy-to-let products -
  • 2.35% 2 year fixed with 2.50% completion fee
  • 2.49% 2 year discount with £999 completion fee and no Early Repayment Charges
  • 2.69% 2 year fixed with £1999 completion fee
  • 3.59% 5 year fixed with 2.50% completion fee
  • 3.89% 5 year fixed with £999 completion fee

All products have a free valuation and are available up to 75% LTV.

Andy Young at Property Hawk Mortgages says: 

"We are delighted to be working with Newcastle Building Society and look forward to helping develop and distribute its buy-to-let mortgage offering. It is great to see another buy-to-let lender entering the marketplace, offering even wider choice to landlord clients."

“Newcastle’s new buy-to-let range has some competitively priced products starting a 2.35% and also includes a 5 year fixed rate option, which are becoming more popular with landlords. The free valuation will also be attractive to those looking to reduce upfront costs.”
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.

Buy-to-let mortgages top 1000

The number of available buy-to-let mortgage deals has hit 1000 for the first time since April 2008 according to Moneyfacts.

In April 2008 just before the financial crash there were 1,128 deals. This plummeted to 476 by August 2008.

There has been a slow recovery in mortgage products available with 460 in August 2013, 681 in August 2014 and today 1,011 buy-to-let mortgage products available. There has also been a considerable change in the mortgage rate since the credit crunch with the average variable mortgage rate dropping from 6.66% in April 2008 to 3.6% today. Fixed rates have also fallen from 6.48% to a lowly 3.8%.

Mortgage Search - all of market - expert broker

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fluctuations and reflexes in an ever-changing market

Andy Young, at Property Hawk Mortgages says:

The buy-to-let mortgage market has always been subject to ebbs and flows caused by a number of influencing factors that affect the lending policies of finance providers in the sector. Some factors that exert pressure on lenders include FCA announcements, Bank of England interest rates, LIBOR movements, European Union policies, UK government policies, corporate lending targets, approaches to risk exposure and market competition.

The weight these factors bear upon lenders appears to vary significantly as each lender establishes its lending criteria and product design according to its own pricing models and risk strategies. This can result in seemingly contradictory pricing fluctuations among lenders and sudden changes to criteria.

As a broker operating in the buy-to-let market this can cause uncertainty, making the placement of some cases a tricky endeavor and one that can change greatly from one week to the next. Therefore at Property Hawk Mortgages we keep a close eye on the market and monitor the daily changes that occur.

Certainly, there has been a flurry of activity in recent months as interested parties have reacted to the continued growth in the buy-to-let market. On the one hand we have seen more new lenders enter the market including TSB Mortgages and Newcastle Building Society, keen to capitalise on the opportunity in this sector.

On the other hand, some parties have expressed concern over a potential ‘buy-to-let boom’ which may have caused other lenders to consider imposing stricter controls on their loans.

For example, Natwest and Accord have both increased their rental income calculation recently, which significantly impacts the amount of money that landlords can borrow. Natwest has increased its notional rate by 25 basis points from 5.25% to 5.50%. So, for a property with a monthly rental income of £700, the maximum borrowing has been reduced from £128,000 to just over £122,000.

In fact, many lenders have a rental calculation in the region of 125% at 5% at the moment, which means that buy-to-let clients can struggle to reach the maximum loan-to-values that are on offer. However, for landlords looking for lower rent stress tests there are a number of lenders who have a pay rate calculation which can increase the maximum loan available considerably. For example, Fleet Mortgages with a rental calculation of 125% at 4.07% gives a maximum loan of just over £165,000 (for a monthly rental income of £700).

This also demonstrates how important it is to look beyond just the headline rate being advertised by lenders and to examine the overall product offering when finding a suitable buy-to-let mortgage.

Despite signs that some lenders are imposing slightly stricter criteria, the growth in the market in terms of number of lenders and products has continued to create a highly competitive environment.

There are currently around 750 products on Property Hawk Mortgages’ free online buy-to-let mortgage finder and the pressure on pricing is ever present.

Newcastle Building Society launched its new buy-to-let range with Property Hawk Mortgages in August, providing a boldly priced selection of products starting at 2.35% up to 75% LTV. This is a very attractive rate and it is proving very popular, however there are at least 10 lenders currently offering sub 2.50% rates. Natwest, Virgin and Accord are also offering rates below 2.00% up to 60% LTV (at the time of writing).

To discuss your buy-to-let requirements please contact the Property Hawk Mortgages Support Team.
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.

Rogue landlords have little to fear from councils

Take advantage of our discounted landlord insurance rates

Tips to increase your BTL profits

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Rents rising twice as fast as living costs

Take advantage of our discounted landlord insurance rates

Doubling of people remortgaging

Tel: 029 2069 5446

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

BTL seems safe in comparison

Despite the doom-mongerering press predicting the death of BTL, bricks and mortar seems secure in comparison to other investments  -

Legionnaires Disease – What are a Landlords responsibilities?

Some of a landlords legal requirement are set out by the HSE legionnaires -  what you must do;  but there is also a lot of other contradictary information that clouds the issues. For instance does a landlord have to carry out a Risk Assessment? Does this have to be in writing? – the HSE guidance is equivocal.

A landlord responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act

There are legal duties placed on landlords by the Health and Safety at Work Act. To carry out a risk assessment, the Responsible person ( Landlords ) must be competent which is defined. Since 2013 there has been a lot of publicity from companies suggesting its now a legal requirement to have a legionnaires certificate for rented property.  The cost of these certificates are often three figures.
The HSE have confirmed  that certificates are not mandatory for most residential properties. However, the safety, duties and responsibilities on landlords are defined and have legal sanctions.
For example, there is certain information that a landlord must provide to tenants.

Courses On Landlords Duties Regarding Legionnaires Disease

Arising from legal sanctions introduced in 2013, there are courses available on Landlords duties regarding Legionnaires disease from half or a full day. A full day’s course can cost around £200.
A half-day course is now available with Chris Daniel that succinctly but thoroughly covers the subject is available.  What a landlord can expect to gain from this course:

* To have the Legionnaires disease duties and responsibilities of a landlord thoroughly but succinctly explained.
* A customised and abbreviated summary of around a hundred pages of HSE literature on the subject. [ Summary is 16 pages ]
* The knowledge gained will provide a landlord with the level of Competence required to comply with HSE guidance in most Residential properties.
* An example of a Risk Assessment ( including Schematic diagram and written scheme of control ) and Information for tenants leaflet,
* Practical demo of testing of water temperature.
* Bound Reference book containing the above and example documentation.

BONUS session, – 60 minutes of General Landlord advice on common topics
Course dates for Legionnaires Course  :
Croydon, 7/10/1510am-2pm.
Watford, 16/10/15. 10am-2pm
Cost – £67.00  ( Don’t forget to claim this against your Tax )

Monday, August 24, 2015

It's the death of BTL - again

This Telegraph article outlines the impact of Osborne's recent tax changes for BTL landlords with some seeing a doubling of the tax they pay pushing them into a loss.

The article's title, 'Death of buy-to-let' may be a touch sensationalist, (The Telegraph, sensationalist? Surely not) however, there's no doubt that Osborne's changes are going to hit some of us very hard indeed.
For those landlords who haven't already, it would be worth signing the Gov. petition against the proposed changes to landlords tax relief.

Three reasons to get out of BTL

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Average rent breaks £800

'Your Move' and 'Reeds Rain's' latest  buy to let index reports average rents in England and Wales have broken through the £800 barrier for the first time since the chains began collecting data.

Data from July saw a monthly rise of 1.9% on average rents, up from £789 to a record high of £804.

According to the agency chain average rents are up 6.8% year on year.

Despite rent rises the index reported a fall in the average landlord's annual returns, down from 12.5% a year ago, to just 8.7%, due to the slowing of capital growth.

The average annual capital gain for each landlord over the 12 months to July, stands at £15,632, of which £7,188 was from property price increases and £8,444 from rental income. 

Director, Adrian Gill, commented 

‘House price growth is easing back and this has had an effect on total annual returns. However, rental yields are perking up to compensate. The mortgage market has stabilised after a post-election bounce, and the current political stability makes for clear sailing in the buy to let market despite the chronic housing shortage. With mortgage repayment rates so low and returns still remarkably enticing, there’s rarely been a better time to invest in rental properties,’

Property prices set to rise 30% in 4 years

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Half of tenants don't attend 'check out'

The latest research from the Deposit Protection Service (DPS) has revealed that out of the 8,035 tenants surveyed almost half (48%) had said that they had not attended the final check out with their landlord.

Out of those tenants that did not attend 46% revealed that they had either not being informed or invited to attend by their landlord or letting agent.

The tenant check out is often the most overlooked aspect of the tenancy and forms a key part of a landlord dealing with the tenants deposit particularly should a dispute arise over fair wear or tear of the tenanted property.

Landlord insurance brokers - expert advice - online rates

Update on Berlin's rent cap saga

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Leamington landlord fined after fire

A landlord from Leamington Spa has been fined nearly £11,000 at Nuneaton Justice Centre following a fire at a rental property.

Manjit Chima was found guilty of a number of ‘serious offences’ that put tenants at risk, although fortunately the tenants managed to escape without injury.

Following an investigation by the Fire Service and Warwick District Council, the two-storey house, split into 7 bedsits was found to have breached safety regulations on a number of grounds. Kitchen doors that were needed to help contain the spread of a fire had been removed, a garage and outbuilding had been converted into flats without proper escape, and there was no record of any servicing records for the fire alarm, or of any gas or electric inspections been carried out.

Brent's licensing scheme figures

Brent Council's mandatory landlord licensing scheme still only has a quarter of local landlords signed up.

Of the estimated 20,000 landlords in the area, 5,000 have signed up for a licence, of which 4,000 have been approved by the council.

Unlicensed landlords could face a £300 additional “finders’ fee” and a fine of up to £20,000.

Head of Brent Council housing and development, Cllr Margaret McLennan, attempted to put of positive spin on the figures -

“It is fantastic to reach this milestone of 5,000 applications but there are still many more rental properties in Brent that need a licence.

We want to work with the good landlords to drive out the minority of bad ones and so I thank all of those landlords who have already shown their co-operation and submitted their applications to us.”

However, I just wonder how many of the 5,000 landlords who've signed up are the 'rogue landlords' the scheme is attempting to control?

Probably not many, if any at all, but at least the council might have raised a bit of extra revenue and wasn't that always the real purpose....

What next for mortgage rates?

Tel: 029 2069 5446

Petition against changes to landlords tax

The petition to reverse the Government's planned changes to restrict tax relief for ‘individual’ landlords has hit the 14,000 figure.

The petition argues -

"We operate as sole traders and incur costs in the course of running our business. The planned restriction will unfairly target us by preventing us from offsetting costs in the same manner as other sole traders. We ask that the planned restriction be reconsidered as it has unfair implications.More details

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has stated, in response to the Budget, individual landlords are already taxed more heavily than other homeowners.

The private rented sector is heavily reliant on individual landlords. The planned change is likely to result in higher rents due to landlords looking to offset higher tax liabilities.

In some cases, employed individuals own buy to let properties as investments for retirement. The planned restriction would adversely and unfairly affect them."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Our most popular BTL mortgages

Max LTV Initial Rate Term Completion fee Booking fee Incentives Lender
85% 4.99% Discount 2 Years 2.5% £130.00 No Kent Reliance Semi Exclusive
85% 5.19% Fixed 2 Years 2.5% £130.00 No Kent Reliance Semi Exclusive
85% 5.29% Discount 2 Years 2.5% £130.00 No Kent Reliance Multi Let & Ltd Co. Semi Exclusive
80% 3% Fixed 2017-10-31 2.5% £150.00 Free valuation Mortgage Trust Exclusive
80% 3.25% Fixed 2017-10-31 £2495 £150.00 Free valuation Mortgage Trust Exclusive
80% 3.29% Discount 2 Years 0% £0.00 No Hanley Economic Exclusive
80% 5.39% Variable 0 Years 2% £0.00 No Saffron Light Refurbishment
75% 2.35% Fixed 2 Years 2.5% £0.00 Free Valuation Newcastle Building Society
75% 2.75% Fixed 2017-10-31 2.5% £150.00 Free valuation Mortgage Trust Exclusive
75% 3.69% Fixed 2 Years 2% £125.00 No Foundation Prime
75% 3.79% Fixed 2 Years 1.5% £100.00 No Axis Bank
75% 3.89% Fixed 5 Years £999 £0.00 Free Valuation Newcastle Building Society
75% 4.59% Fixed 5 Years 2% £100.00 No Axis Specialist
70% 4.99% Fixed 2 Years 2% £125.00 No Foundation Light Adverse
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.

ONS latest house price statistics

The property market remains steady as she goes.

In brief ONS data shows -

  • Increase of 5.7% in the year to June 2015, up from the May 2015 figure of 5.6%.
  • House price annual inflation in England now 6.1%, Wales now  0.8%, Northern Ireland now 9.0%, Scotland drops0.6%.
  • English rises due to strong performance in East region (9.2%) and South East (7.7%).
  • On a seasonally adjusted basis, average house prices increased by 0.4% between May and June 2015.
  • First-time buyers saw 5.1% annual price, compared to owner occupiers who price increases of 6.0%.
The press comment -
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Knight Frank Housing Market Forecast

Dangers of HMO properties

I've always shied away from HMO properties just because of the additional management time involved.  If landlords are prepared for a greater churn of tenants, added complications from a more intensive occupation of their property then the returns are there.  A friend of mine owns a terrace property in Nottingham with 5 letting rooms with a value of about £120,000 which he has financed through an interest only mortgage he is clearing a grand a month.  That's a fabulous 10% net return on the equity.  However, there are dangers.  A recent meeting with him highlighted one of these.

Disruptive tenant a danger to HMO property lets

One of the big problems of a HMO property is that if you end up with a disruptive tenant and a tenancy that goes wrong it could rapidly empty your entire HMO property.  This is exactly what has happened with my mate.  He has got the tenant from hell.  The tenant refuses to pay rent and also will not leave.  Despite my landlord friend issuing a section 21 notice the tenant looks as if they will resist eviction until the end.  The process of gaining possession as I know from personal experience could take the best part of 6 months.  Already, he has lost 2 of his best tenants as the antisocial non paying HMO tenant disrupts the whole of the house.  It's a nightmare and he is powerless to stop the tenant from causing mayhem and at the same time remove him.  Clearly, if things continue my friend could find that he has NO paying tenants and his net £1000 per month could rapidly become a cost as he is just left having to pay the bills plus the interest charge on his mortgage.

Risk vs Reward

When I spoke to my HMO landlord friend last year I can remember thinking rather enviously that he had a cracking business model and that perhaps my rather pedestrian approach to letting property was failing to draw in a high return.  My single let properties with a couple or single tenant will generate a gross yield of no more than 6%.  However, now reflecting on things; if I do get a bad tenant it effects only one property and tenancy.  My approach  does not generate the maximum return but equally I do not take the biggest risk.

Landlord insurance - HMO cover - expert brokers

Monday, August 17, 2015

Landlords caught out by empty property exemption

Landlords that have their buy-to-let property left empty for any period of time could be putting their investments in jeopardy as a result of the empty property exemption on their landlord insurance cover.

I have recently had to take out specialist property insurance as a result of my property being  empty following a period of refurbishment and now because it is being marketed for sale.

Landlord insurance brokers - specialist brokers

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Landlords fail to stop Borough Wide Licensing

A legal challenge by local landlords to prevent Croydon Council from introducing a Borough wide mandatory landlord licence failed at the hands of the Judge.

The Croydon Property Forum case hinged on the grounds that 'reasonable steps' had not been taken by the Council to consult.  Judge Sir Stephen Silber QC refused the Croydon Property Forum's application for a judicial review.

This Borough Wide scheme was the last prior to new legislation  which came into effect on the 1st April which requires councils to obtain government permission for landlord licensing schemes that affect more than 20% of private housing within their boundaries.

The cost of the mandatory landlord licence for the unlucky croydon landlords will be £750 per private rented property from the 1st October.

For more details

To sign the petition

Landlord insurance - professional rates - expert brokers

Nottingham Savills Auction Catalogue

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Required EPC ratings for let property

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Latest BofE Inflation report

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Record low levels of property for sale

RICS UK Residential Market Survey for July report higher prices due to squeezed supply.

Surveyors reported their average number of properties for sale per surveyor had fallen to a record low.

Such low levels of supply are expected to push up house prices in all areas of the UK over the next year, with surveyors in East Anglia and Northern Ireland expecting the biggest price rises.

Despite rising prices and short supply, new buyer enquiries rose for a fourth month in row.

Jeremy Blackburn, RICS Head of Policy calls for - 

"coherent and coordinated house building strategy is required across all tenures. This should include measures that will kick-start the supply-side, such as mapping brownfield, addressing planning restrictions and creating a housing observatory to assess the underlying economic and social drivers of housing and provide the impetus for solutions.

The changes brought in through Fixing the Foundations, the Chancellor’s productivity plan, were welcome and refreshingly on the supply side – such as zonal planning, dispute resolution for S106 and local plan enforcement. But these alone are not a strategy for increasing housing supply across all tenures.

In the lettings market, tenant demand continued to rise while landlord instructions, despite increasing slightly, failed to keep pace once more. Consequently, 34 % of respondents expect rents to increase right across the UK with members in the West Midlands (4%) and the South East (3.3%), projecting the sharpest growth over the next twelve months."

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Gov consider price cap on country homes

 Something to worry landlords of holiday lets ....
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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Could Corbyn kill BTL?

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Our most popular BTL mortgages

Max LTV Initial Rate Term Completion fee Booking fee Incentives Lender
85% 4.99% Discount 2 Years 2.5% £130.00 No Kent Reliance Semi Exclusive
85% 5.19% Fixed 2 Years 2.5% £130.00 No Kent Reliance Semi Exclusive
85% 5.29% Discount 2 Years 2.5% £130.00 No Kent Reliance Multi Let & Ltd Co. Semi Exclusive
80% 5.39% Variable 0 Years 2% £0.00 No Saffron Light Refurbishment
80% 3% Fixed 2017-10-31 2.5% £150.00 Free valuation Mortgage Trust Exclusive
80% 3.25% Fixed 2017-10-31 £2495 £150.00 Free valuation Mortgage Trust Exclusive
80% 3.5% Discount 2 Years 0% £0.00 No Hanley Economic Exclusive
75% 3.79% Fixed 2 Years 1.5% £100.00 No Axis Bank
75% 4.59% Fixed 5 Years 2% £100.00 No Axis Specialist
75% 3.69% Fixed 2 Years 2% £125.00 No Foundation Prime
75% 2.75% Fixed 2017-10-31 2.5% £150.00 Free valuation Mortgage Trust Exclusive
70% 4.99% Fixed 2 Years 2% £125.00 No Foundation Light Adverse
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.

Take advantage of our discounted landlord insurance rates

Property shortage intensifies

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Seven landlord fined under Right to Rent

According to information obtained by the Economist, seven landlords have been fined under the Right To Rent pilot scheme currently being piloted in the West Midlands.

The scheme has been running for nine months.

The average fine was £800.

Chatham landlord fined, ..again

Chatham landlord, Robert Emery, has been fined £3,500 after ignoring notices from Medway Council to update a one bedroom rental flat.

The landlord failed to carry out the requested work to improve the roof insulation, upgrade  the water supply, replace windows and specific fire precaution measures.
This latest fine, follows a £12,000 fine the landlord received in 2013 regarding dangerous electrics and failed sanitary ware in other rental properties.

Emery was found guilty of five offences at Medway Magistrates Court, after failing to comply with an improvement notice issued under the Housing Act 2004.

Latest London prime property research

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Homelet rent index up 11.8%

Homelet's rental index, July 2015, has rents in the PRS up 11.8% over the year.

In brief, the report has the three months to July compared to the same period last year as
  • Average rents for new tenancies in the UK up 11.8% 
  • Average tenant incomes up 4% 
  • New tenancies in London up 9.5% 
  • When London is excluded, the average UK rental values are £761pcm - 8.1% up A
  • Average rental values have increased in eleven out of twelve regions in the UK
Read Homelet's rental report for July 2015 in full

Take advantage of our discounted landlord insurance rates

Most popular BTL mortgages

Max LTVInitial RateTermCompletion feeBooking feeIncentivesLender
85%4.99% Discount2 Years2.5%£130.00NoKent Reliance Semi Exclusive
85%5.19% Fixed2 Years2.5%£130.00NoKent Reliance Semi Exclusive
85%5.29% Discount2 Years2.5%£130.00NoKent Reliance Multi Let & Ltd Co. Semi Exclusive
80%5.39% Variable0 Years2%£0.00NoSaffron Light Refurbishment
80%3% Fixed2017-08-312.5%£150.00Free valuationMortgage Trust Exclusive
80%3.25% Fixed2017-08-31£2495£150.00Free valuationMortgage Trust Exclusive
80%3.5% Discount2 Years0%£0.00NoHanley Economic Exclusive
75%3.79% Fixed2 Years1.5%£100.00NoAxis Bank
75%4.59% Fixed5 Years2%£100.00NoAxis Specialist
75%3.69% Fixed2 Years2%£125.00NoFoundation Prime
75%2.4% Fixed2017-08-312.5%£150.00Free valuationMortgage Trust Exclusive
75%3.7% Fixed2017-08-310%£150.00Free valuationMortgage Trust Exclusive
70%4.99% Fixed2 Years2%£125.00NoFoundation Light Adverse
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.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Is the Chancellor trying to kill B2L?

Landlords have now had time to consider the Chancellors latest actions of removing the tax breaks for higher tax paying landlords with a mortgage by removing their ability to offset interest payments against their rental profits.

Money Week's Dominic Frisby has asked the question that is this the thin edge of the wedge and an attempt of the Chancellor to kill of buy-to-let.  Certainly, the whole rise of the rental sector flies against the Tories ethos of home ownership.  However, ever the pragmatists the Tories also realise that the buy-to-let sector ticks several boxes.  Firstly, it provides housing for the increasing demand from generation rent who prefer or cannot afford to buy.  Secondly, it's sits with the Tories support and encouragement for entrepreneurship and self sufficiency.  I know anecdotally that many of my compatriots who are looking at retirement in the next 10 years and many sensibly see buy-to-let as an important part of their overall retirement strategy.

Could George Osborne be trying to kill of buy-to-let?  Personally,  I don't think so but clearly this move calls into question the Tories apparent policy inertia in respect to the private rental sector.  It could be that this is an isolated move against high earners and a sop to Generation Rent who were calling for stronger action against landlords. However, it does make you wonder.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Petition against loss of landlord tax refief

Property Hawk likes a good campaign; so we were obviously keen when asked to support one against the latest budget tax changes.

We are also a little confused by the Chancellors latest move on removing the interest tax relief but only for higher tax payers.  Far from simplifying the tax system it seems like an accountants charter to confuse and complexify something that was fairly clear cut and in my view right.

Landlords - despite many erroneous claims from disaffected groups don't get huge tax breaks.  In fact, much less then other businesses.  We also miss out on the huge tax break that homeowners get when they sell their property.

For these reasons we are happy to add support to this petition calling for the reverse of this tax change.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Generation Rent - a force for good

Have you heard of Generation Rent - a campaigning group who want "professionally managed, secure, decent and affordable private rented homes"? They come at it from the tenants' point of view. But as any sensible landlord will tell you, good tenants are what makes it all work.

Last week I met Betsy Dilner, Director, and Seb Klier, Policy and Campaigns Manager. They are both sensible, committed people, and many Property Hawk users would nod along with their views about letting agents and double charging.

Have a look at their policies web page and you'll see what sense they are talking - the headings are Affordability, Professional Management, Security of Tenure and Decent Living Conditions.

Maybe you will support what they're doing, or feel that it's healthy to have these points raised by someone on the tenants' side. If so, you could join me in giving them some money.

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Sunday, August 02, 2015

Landlords can fightback against leaseholders

Landlords can be the victims of other landlords where they have to pay a management company for a service charge. 

Leaseholder being overcharged

We have highlighted before the cases of leaseholders being overcharged.

I have come across numerous cases where leaseholders that could include landlords have fought back against unreasonable  charges.  One of these featured in the Guardian involved a leaseholder who took up a case against Peveril also known as OM, Solitaire or perhaps Cirrus and now rebranded as First Port.  

Escalating service charge a threat to landlords returns

I have highlighted to landlords previously the perils to your investment returns of investing in property where a service charge increases at double the rate of inflation and potentially your rent rises thereby inexorably squeezing your net rental returns.

Leaseholders removing the managing agent or company

The cases above showing leaseholders fighting back proves landlords don't have to accept unreasonable and escalating charges indefinitely. One option open to leaseholders is to remove the management company and replace it with their own.  I owned a leasehold property in a large converted house with approximately 9 apartments in the block.  From memory the monthly charges were incredibly low at something around £27 per month.  The management company was run in a very democratic fashion with each apartment owner having 1 share in the management company.  Clearly, unlike with a commercial management company who have an interest in raising charges if their fees relate to the total costs (or more importantly they don't have an interest in keeping them to a minimum).  This means that the shareholders in terms of the leaseholders are keen for any maintenance work to be kept to the minimum whilst keeping the block looking good.  They are also dead keen on using the best and the cheapest contractors and not keen to give them a 'kick back' for appointing them.

The downside of self management

The downside and clearly there is always a downside; is that not all leaseholders are going to agree on what needs doing and when and how much they want to pay.  This can lead to tension.  Normally, just like any company you will probably appoint a company secretary and various members to the management committee who will be responsible for making the major decisions on behalf of the rest of the leaseholders.  Again this means that any successful leaseholder based management company will need people who will prepared to give up their time for nothing to run the company.  But, this if you think about it is only the same kind of thing that you would need to do if you owned your own freehold place..sorting roof repairs, painting decorating, gardening, etc.

How easy is it to take back control of your leasehold property

Are you disaffected with escalating management charges?  One of the problems is that many management companies don't keep proper accounts and that charges are not transparent in the way they should be.  A recent discussion in a Commons round table looked at the murky world of leasehold service charge accounts. 

Clearly there are considerable legal complications surrounding taking action against an errant freeholder or managing company.  Many are making disproportionate and easy money from leaseholders through a series of 'kickbacks' and scams.  They are not going to give up this 'cashcow' without a fight.  So leaseholders and landlords need to be prepared for a long but ultimately rewarding fight.

Have a look at this forum post for some interesting examples of costs and other leaseholders that have taken action against the management company.

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Saturday, August 01, 2015

Latest ONS Index Of Private Rental Prices

Latest private rental figures

 The ONS have just released their latest private housing rental prices show that private rents in Great Britain rose by an inflation busting 2.5% in the 12 months to June.

Rent rises in the other parts of the UK were less strong with a 2.1% increase in Scotland and a mere 0.8% up tick in rents in Wales during the same period.

Rents in England were up by 2.5% with the strongest growth being found in London with a 3.8% rise year on year.

The Rent Index now shows that the average rent in England and Wales is just shy of £650 per month up from an average of £570 in January 2008 showing an approximate increase of £10 per year during this 7 year period.

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