Hazel de Kloe is a highly respected UK Property Mentor and Coach, the only one I have ever approved as a Property118 sponsor. She has been building her portfolio since 2001 and has worked with over 150 personal clients over the last 6 years to build reliable and profitable property businesses. Hazel is known for her... Read more
I’m at the point of making a life changing decision, for the past 5 years I have managed to live quite comfortably off the rental income from a portfolio of 12 properties. I was fortunate enough to take out lifetime tracker mortgages and have benefited greatly from the exceptionally low Bank of England base rate.... Read more
After a year long battle, I have recently evicted a tenant and am in the process of repairing the damage to the property by the previous tenant in order to re-let. There are a number of letters still being received at the property addressed to the previous tenant which give a strong indication of possibly... Read more
I am thinking of using an answering service for my property business. Someone gave me this advice for a variety of reasons such as giving a professional image, never missing a phone call and screening calls. I have done some research and come up with quite a number of options. I believe there are people on... Read more
[Ben Reeve Lewis shows us how he does it ...]
When I write newsround I keep all my housing news feeds on a holding website called “The Old Reader”.
That way all the numerous publications are in one place, one click away, without me having to google each service individually.
Each week’s offerings are lined up as hundreds of headlines to choose from. This is a snapshot of this weeks :
- Parents spend retirement cash to buy children homes,
- Fears cuts to budget will hit supported housing
- Housing experts criticise ‘political dithering’ on green belt development
- 80,000 children in temporary accommodation
This is a tiny example of a fairly typical week’s list. Difficult to get fired up to write an article when faced with hundreds of depressing entries like this week after week.Where has the laughter gone?
Where are the people that made me laugh?
- HMO Landlady has gone silent since mid-July and
- Planet Property, home of much of the whackier housing stories shut up shop back in February.
- Renter Girl penned her last joyously provocative article, also back in July
Has the UKs broken housing market gotten so bad that even the funsters can’t find anything to laugh at anymore?
At least we still have Ben Brandt over at Rat and Mouse who somehow manages to dig up some of the more leftfield pieces of news that tickle my fancy.
Mind you, even he might break away from his keyboard now and again to call the Samaritans, who knows.Small spaces
I did get two laughs out of an article in The Guardian about London Landlord Andrew Panayi – he of the ‘Channel 4 Cash Cows’ fame, who is renting out 19 dilapidated rooms measuring just three metres by three metres.
The first laugh is the brilliant graphic which accompanies the article showing a man swinging a cat and the second laugh in the form of the information that the council have decided to stop paying him anymore, deeming the miniscule size of the rooms to be an HHSRS Cat 1 hazard.
Each of these so called ‘Studio flats’ has the bed space, kitchen, shower and toilet all within the same three metres, so you can have a wee whilst simultaneously and rather handily, stirring your soup on the hob.
One tenant said:
“I have bruises on my legs from constantly pushing the bed around so I can get to the shower or the kitchen. The hot cooking plate is less than 60cm from my bed. I am very depressed. I used to live with dignity… councils are supposed to invest in property and not spend £255 a week on prison cells. It is abuse of the taxpayer.”
A spokesperson for Investing Solutions Ltd who manages these rabbit hutches said they were:
“Very, very shocked” by the decision to declare the flats unfit for human habitation”
“The ones I saw were normal studio sized, we don’t measure them. That’s the landlord’s responsibility.”
Panayi with his usual charm commented that the lack of space was the fault of the tenants who crammed too much furniture in.
How much furniture can anyone cram into three metres by three metres? There are Buddhist monks who would struggle with that one.Minimum space standards coming
Of course government, ever on the side of the tenant have announced plans to introduce a minimum space standard for new build.
The article points out that there has been resistance from developers over this suggestion on the basis that the restriction would increase the cost of homes but all is settled to their satisfaction now, as the article points out:
“Resistance from developers may be more muted due to the fact the standard is not mandatory”.
I’m so relieved for them, glad that one got sorted then. The words ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Teapot’ springs to mind.Using drones
For some time I have been really intrigued with stories of councils and housing associations using drones to deal with a range of problems.
Some are using them to detect beds in sheds, some for cannabis farms. Inside Housing this week reported on Bromford and Halton, two of the more innovative housing association who are using them to check the roofs of their housing stock.
Why on earth would they do that? You may well ask….I know I did, well apparently it saves tens of thousands of pounds on scaffolding each year. How surprising is that? I like it.
I wish I could persuade my employers to buy me one but I’m not sure I wouldn’t be able to resist the urge to chase people down the street with it, filming the look of horror as they dive into hedges and posting them on YouTube under the ‘Epic Fails’ series, or peer through bathroom windows as it cruises by. Come on….don’t tell me you wouldn’t be tempted.Assaults on housing staff
Inside Housing also informed us this week that since 2008 there has been a six-fold increase in assaults on social housing staff.
I remember in 2008 training a council in London where the situation had gotten so bad that they were forced to employ mini busses during the afternoon to ferry staff from the office to the tube station because local residents were so hostile.
If they have seen a six-fold increase there then I would imagine they are using armoured cars by now.
The opinion of the various councils and housing associations surveyed was that this development:
“is the latest in a series of mounting evidence pointing to rising numbers of attacks by social housing tenants who are experiencing increased pressure due to welfare reform and the rising cost of living.”
Being, if not exactly a social housing worker but a worker employed by a council to take on criminal activities in the private sector I am understandably interested in these figures.
I have been threatened on occasions too numerous to mention and assaulted in a handful of them, always in incidents when I have attempted to confront people bullying other people.The hidden cost of targeting criminal landlords
As the fight to tackle rogue landlords gathers apace among the local authority enforcement officer community that I inhabit, these incidents are also stepping up, albeit anecdotally as nobody seems to ask us what we are going through yet.
In the past few months I have encountered environmental health officers who took on the wrong landlords and whose families are now under police protection and officers who were followed home and beaten on their doorstep in front of their family.
We are advised to have our car registration numbers blocked at the DVLA and to use aliases when carrying out standard duties.
This is on top of the routine wearing of stab vests and the exhortations to be aware of booby trapped cannabis farms that can see you in hospital through a variety of medieval Heath-Robinson style contraptions, usually wired up to the mains.
Last year two housing officers were shot whilst attending the eviction of a council tenant
Welcome to housing work 2014.
But before any anti-council types think we deserve the abuse that is so often routinely heaped upon us, think on the case this week of one of my fellow TROs Beverley Holdsworth over at Waltham Forest Council.
Her tenant/client named her baby after her following a serious harassment and illegal eviction case which cost the life of one of her unborn twins. The tenant at the sharp end of the stick said:
“It was a nightmare and looking back I don’t know how we got through it. Beverley was like an angel and went well beyond the call of duty in helping us with our situation.”
Beverley commented of the landlords Ogechi and Chanel Anyanwu:
“I find it very difficult to get into the heads of people like the Anyanwus. Elizabeth and George lost a lot of possessions in the turmoil and of course the tragedy of losing one of their babies was just heart-breaking”.
Yes, most landlords are fine decent people but there are still a lot of sh*tbags like the Anyanwus and the Panayis out there and stopping them is what motivates me to get up in the morning and spoil their days, even if people are cynical and sarcastic about what I do for a living.
See ya next week.
While most estate agents are breathing a sigh of relief at the Scottish referendum No vote, some say more clarity is needed over what happens next and how it will impact the market.
Mark Hayward, managing director of the National Association of Estate Agents says the decision is positive but "does not necessarily guarantee clarity for the market" while Alastair Hart of Hunters says "after a year of good growth and good sales we were concerned that a yes vote would have brought this to a halt."
But Strutt & Parker says the Westminster government must provide details on the tax-raising and legislative powers which will be devolved in the near future, so vendors and purchasers can plan accordingly.
Strutt's senior partner, Andy Martin, says: “I expect today’s vote to give a boost to the Scottish property market, although we do need certainty from Westminster on further devolution in order to confidently resume normality. However, it is a stepping stone; we can now return to work and continue furthering our economic recovery together.”
Smiths Gore, an agency which sells substantial numbers of estates and farms, says land reform may become another political hot potato until there is clarity over future devolution.
Knight Frank's Ran Morgan says that the decisiveness of the majority (55 per cent to 45 per cent) means a rush of business is likely as buyers and sellers deterred ahead of the vote will now return to the market.
“The fundamentals are in place to ensure a full recovery, led by the key cities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow and rural counties within commuting distance of large employment hubs. Improving economic activity levels in the UK, better consumer sentiment and higher bank lending will all help to kick-start the market. We expect to see an increase in the number of transactions at all levels" he says.
Savills has even put a figure on its expectations for market growth in Scotland. Its spokesman Charles Dudgeon says: “We expect Scottish prime residential market values to grow by 23 per cent in the five years to end 2018, in line with the rest of the UK, and for mainstream values to grow by 19 per cent in the same period."
Several firms which operate across both England and Scotland - LSL Property Services, for example, with Your Move outlets in both countries - would have faced corporate disruption had there been a Yes vote. Likewise Century 21, the franchise operation with many offices across England but with its UK headquarters in Scotland, may have had to restructure some of its activities.
Some agencies such as Savills, with branches and staff on both sides of the border, had key staff at their desks by 6.30 this morning in case the result had been Yes and the companies had to begin work on restructuring strategies.
- Scottish Referendum
- estate agents
- housing market
Estate agents have enjoyed an average 5.2 per cent increase in salary over the past year but their total income is eclipsed by some other groups within the residential sector.
New figures released by specialist recruitment service Deverell Smith shows that the average basic salary for agents is a very modest £23,848 - actually the lowest of 18 job groups analysed within the residential jobs market.
However, agents’ average bonus was £58,643 - the highest of any residential job group with the exception of property investment specialists.
Here is Deverell Smith’s full list:
Architect/Designer - salary £46,062, bonus £7,000, unchanged on last year
Auctioneer - salary £37,559, bonus £12,238, unchanged
Building Surveyor - salary £35,666, bonus £9,000, unchanged
Business Development - salary £45,380, bonus £16,050, up 9.9% on last year
Estate Agency - salary £23,848, bonus £58,643, up 5.2%
Estate Management - salary £45,763, bonus £9,607, up 6.6%
Facilities Management - salary £38,185, bonus £9,500, up 2.3%
Investment - salary £49,103, bonus £60,833, up 5.3%
Land and Development Agency - salary £55,888, bonus £71,600, up 3.3%
Marketing - salary £41,068, bonus £7,100, up 2.4%
New Homes Sales and Marketing - salary £29,654, bonus £46,424, up 4.2%
Project Management - salary £50,818, bonus £13,833, up 3.13%
Property Management - salary £38,830, bonus £8,409, up 2.6%
Quantity Surveying - salary £37,560, bonus £8,588, up 3.29%
Residential Development - salary £67,013, bonus £40,250, up 5.25%
Retirement Housing - salary £33,075, bonus £5,600, unchanged
Social Housing - salary £31,595, bonus £4,896, up 1.6%
Valuation - salary £37,450, bonus £8,650, up 1.2%
- estate agents
- Residential Sector
Haart says the average UK house price growth is now 8.9 per cent with a typical home costing £206,578 - although London once again is streaking far ahead.
Within the capital homes are 23.6 per cent more expensive than a year ago having risen 2.4 per cent in the past month alone.
The number of transactions nationwide has risen by 8.9 per cent while in the capital the supply of properties on the market is shooting up - it’s 26.6 per cent more over a year ago.
“The market is recalibrating as our data shows, with an easing of demand as new buyer registrations across the UK decrease 5.5 per cent annually, in contrast to the uplift in homeowners looking to sell – up 4.1 per cent” according to haart CEO Paul Smith.
“Despite this influx of stock the market remains competitive with an average 9.5 buyers registering interest in every new home that comes to market, which is the driver behind property price growth. This gradual return to normality should now dispel fears about property bubbles which we have always dismissed as hype” claims Smith.
The data for haart’s figures come from management reports produced from about 100 of the firm’s 200 branches. The firm is one of six brands in the Spicerhaart group.
- House Prices
The autumn sales and lettings markets may be in full swing but plenty of agents are still doing good works in the name of charity.
We at EAT and LAT hugely admire the often-unsung work by agents who donate energy, time and money to charity. We want to shine a spotlight on this side of agency.
If you want to be mentioned, please let us know. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, here are this week’s updates.
Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research: Crouch End estate agent Mark Johansen has swum the Channel in memory of the stepdaughter he never met, Ellie Merritt. Ellie was just nine when she died from a form of leukaemia which, tragically, had claimed her father’s life a few years earlier. This year, Ellie would have been 25 and Mark, manager at the Crouch End branch of Prickett and Ellis, wants to eventually raise £25,000 for the charity so “other families do not suffer the same heart-breaking loss as Ellie’s sister Hope Merritt and mother Lindsay Nicholson”.
Action Medical Research and CHYPS: Arun Estates managing director David Lench is doing a bike ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats to support Action Medical Research and Chyps. He left almost two weeks ago with colleague Kevin Hafner and they are keeping a daily blog - including on how they’re keeping a low profile in Scotland! - on http://www.wardandpartners.co.uk/news/lands-end-to-john-ogroats-the-day-before/. David’s target is to raise £100,000 for the two charities and you can do your bit without the pain of riding, by visiting http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LenchLEJOG.
The Octavia Appeal: On Sunday September 21 the single-office central London agency W A Ellis is going to undertake a half marathon paddle board down the Thames in aid of The Octavia Appeal, the paediatric arm of The Friends of Royal Brompton Hospital, a charity which raises funds for projects the UK’s largest heart and lung centre. Last year the agency raised almost £20,000 for Action Medical Research and now it’s hoping to do at least as well this year. The agency team can be sponsored at https://www.justgiving.com/waellisoctaviapaddleboard.
Agents Giving Ball: This is being sponsored by Zoopla Property Group and will be held on October 2 at London’s prestigious Marriott Hotel in Grosvenor Square. ZPG’s support (the portal recently raised £4,000 for AG through a separate event) has enabled the ball to be ‘in profit’ from the start, meaning more money for charity, according to organisation chairman Peter Knight. Billed as ‘an evening of celebration’ to recognise the great fundraising achievements for the Agents Giving charity over the past year, this event will provide another opportunity for the industry and suppliers to raise money for good causes. If you are interested in securing a place for your company at the Agents Giving Ball, just email email@example.com.
Baxters Loch Ness Marathon: The Highlands Solicitors Property Centre has extended a sponsorship deal with the marathon – which includes a £1,000 donation to the charity of the winner’s choice - for a further five years. The sponsorship, which also includes a trophy and a commemorative quaich for the first runner to cross the line with an address in the Highlands, was initially set up five years ago in memory of Gerald Cooper, the property centre’s chairman, who passed away in 2008. The Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running takes place on September 28 and will see thousands of runners descend on Inverness.
- Estate Agent
- Estate Agent Today
Watch the latest weekly video roundup of news from Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today, featuring stories on the launch of easyProperty, Chestertons' search for a new owner and a Galaxy-stealing letting agent.
- Weekly Round Up
- Estate Agent Today
- Letting Agent Today
Philcox Gray. Solicitors and Mediators
Ideally 3 years + PQE
Philcox Gray is a long established and well respected firm specialising in Housing & Public Law, Family & Childcare.
Our dedicated housing team consists of 3 solicitors, a trainee solicitor and paralegal support. We aim to provide high quality legal advice and representation to the local community.
We are looking for an enthusiastic and experienced solicitor who has the ability to run a busy housing law caseload. You should either be a LAA Supervisor in Housing, or you should be quickly able to meet this requirement through your current caseload and by attending a relevant training course.
You will have specialist knowledge in all areas of housing and public law – both under legal aid and through privately funded work. You will have a willingness to take on work in a variety of aspects of housing law and to work well as part of a team.
We are a very family friendly firm, we offer a competitive salary, flexible working hours, and childcare vouchers. For more information about our firm, see our website: www.philcoxgray.co.uk
Please apply by letter with CV to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to
73-75 Newington Causeway
Closing date: Wednesday 1 October 2014. Interviews will be in the week of 13 October 2014
Here is a question to the blog clinic from John who is a landlord:
One of my tenants left the house after receiving a Section 21. Unfortunately he left behind a car (parked on our drive) and loads of clutter and working goods in our garage.
We signed a document where we both agreed that he would collect his possessions within a month, but he failed to do so.
What shall I do with his goods (probably worth around 300 pound) and mainly with his car?
No doubt readers will correct me if I am wrong, but I think you can get the Local Authority to remove the car if it has been abandoned. Or is that just if it has been left on the highway?
The general situation with goods left behind is as follows.
When someone leaves things in your possession, as they are not yours, you do not have the legal right to sell them or dispose of them. You are in the position of what lawyers call an ‘involuntary bailee’.
However it is unfair for you to be stuck with these things forever, so the law sets out a procedure for you to follow in the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977.
Under s12 of this act, you need to write to them giving reasonable notice that you intend to sell the goods. The details of the letter are set out in schedule 1 – you have to say where the goods are stored, what they are and give a (reasonable) period of time during which they need to collect them.
Note that the letter will need to be sent by recorded delivery or registered post. The act came in before we had texts or emails so they will not count.
If you do not know the address of the owner of the goods you do not have to send the letter so long as you can prove that you have taken ‘reasonable steps’ to find them.
So far as any proceeds of sale are concerned, this belongs to the tenant not to you so you will need to give it to him, less any reasonable costs of sale.
Note that members of my Landlord Law service will find a letter that they can use on the site.