If you have parents who want to bequeath you their home, read on… It is such a common situation I felt Property118 readers might appreciate a simple story with examples which dispel a few common misconceptions over what can and cant be done to protect legacies. Like so many families, Charlie and his parents did... Read more
Hello readers – I’d like to draw on your wealth of experience. I have circa £50k to invest and already have 2 BTL’s. I’ve collected them by accident in that I’ve previously lived in them both and had never intended to let them (until I did!). I’m interested in approaching this purchase from the other... Read more
Well the government have finally made an announcement regarding the implementation of the Immigration Act.
No doubt all landlords who do not have property in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Walsall and Sandwell will be heaving a big sigh of relief.
Those who do have properties in those areas will be anxiously wondering how this is going to affect them. As if they get things wrong they could be fined up to £3,000.So whats it all about?
Here is part of the ministerial statement :
The Immigration Act 2014 contains a range of measures to reform and streamline the immigration system and address illegal immigration. It introduces restrictions on illegal immigrants accessing rented housing.
When these provisions come into force, landlords will be prohibited from letting residential accommodation to people who have been disqualified by virtue of their immigration status.
Sounds simple, but immigration is a notoriously tricky area. How are landlords supposed to know whether someone is disqualified or not?
The government have put several resources online to help landlords. There is a code of practice on illegal immigrants and private rented accommodation, but on the first page it is described as a ‘working draft’. This may mean that it will be changed, which is a bit worrying for landlords and their agents faced with having to get to grips with it before December.
A short leaflet however claims that in most cases it will just take a few minutes to do the check as all the landlord will need to do is check the tenants passport or biometric residents permit.
If the tenants don’t have the right documents, the leaflet goes on to say that landlords can request a check using an online form and will get an answer within two days. Hmmm.
There is also a ‘right to rent tool’ and a helpline on 0300 069 9799.
The new rules will only apply to new tenancies starting after 1 December in the pilot area and landlords will not need to check the immigration status of existing tenants.
Only the private sector is targeted, as the rules do not apply to social landlords or to non commercial organisations wholly or partially funded by government or a Local Authority.
It sounds straightforward, but how will it all work out in practice?Initial Reaction
The RLA (Residential Landlords Association) are not happy about it, believing that it will jeopardise good landlord and tenant relationships, and a survey carried out among their members shows that 82% of landlords oppose the plan.
Chris Town, the RLA Vice Chair commented
Many British people do not have a passport and for those tenants on housing benefits, without passports, this will create an added difficulty for landlords.
Whilst the RLA fully supports measures to ensure everyone in the UK legally resides here, this policy continues to smack of political posturing rather than a seriously thought through policy.
For a Government committed to reducing the burden of red tape it is ironic that they are now seeking to impose a significant extra burden on landlords making them scapegoats for the UK Border Agency’s failings.”
Nearly Legal quotes some particuarly obstruse papragraphs from the ‘working draft’ and comments on the scheme in general that
It places a significant burden and indeed risk on landlords, faced with – to put it mildly – hideously complicated issues of immigration and residence status.
As a result, it will certainly result in ‘safety first’ acts of discrimination against potential tenants whose right to reside in the UK is not glaring obvious, like a UK passport.
In their report, Property Industry Eye points out that we are currently in a time of heightened national security amid international tensions. Is this really the best time to start a new scheme of this nature?
We hope to be able to provide some more information and guidance to landlords on the new immigration rules soon, so watch this space.
[Ben Reeve Lewis looks at two views of the housing crisis ...]
I was intrigued this week to see the start of a series on BBC 1 presented by Matt Alwright of ‘Rogue Traders’ fame called “The Housing Enforcers”.
It has been going out at 9am each morning following different councils and looking at how they deal with the worst landlords and the worst properties.
I haven’t seen any of them, as at that time of the day I’m out doing it for real and cant be arsed to watch them on BBC iPlayer, as who wants to go home and watch a TV programme about what you have just spent the last 8 hours doing?
In actual fact several months ago I was asked by 24 Productions who make the programme if I could spend some time training Matt in the rudiments of landlord tenant law.
Trouble is, they seemed to think I would do it for nothing…….as if?!?!?!Getting real about the housing crisis
Mr A introduced the series with a piece in the Daily Mirror where I was pleased to see that spending a few weeks in my world he changed his previously simplistic notion of rogue landlords and acknowledged:
“The majority of private landlords aren’t a demonic class of Rachmans and Van Hoogstratens. Most were trying to provide decent homes.
Some had to contend with nightmare tenants who trashed their houses.
Some had no money to repair inherited crumbling properties. And some were, frankly, a bit useless and disinterested.”
Going on to say:
“The real problem seemed to be supply and demand: If there aren’t enough houses, but people always need houses, what is there to encourage landlords to behave responsibly?”The multiple bullet approach
The thing is, speaking as a housing enforcer myself Matt, you don’t need to persuade most landlords to behave responsibly, they do it anyway as decent human beings would.
You focus on the rogues and hit them with everything you’ve got in your arsenal, from planning enforcement notices, building notices, demolition orders, involving HMRC, injunctions, damages claims and on and on, until they either clean up their act or get out of the business.
There is no single bullet to the head for these guys, it’s a long slog of targeting and keeping up the pressure.The Prof begs to differ
Beneath Matt Allwright’s piece in the hard copy of the Daily Mirror was a short few paragraphs by University of Oxford Professor Danny Dorling promoting his book “All that is solid”.
It seems an interesting read but at £20 I wont be buying it so I went researching and found a piece on his housing views in the Times Higher Education Supplement.
He doesn’t agree with the TV presenters views on the housing shortage, which is also held by most housing professionals. Instead he offers up that the problem isn’t housing shortage but inequality and the inefficient use of housing.
He points out that there are, even now, more bedrooms in London than people and yet second homes and investment homes lay empty while elsewhere people live in sheds.
His view is that what underpins this largely is a gross inequality in the British political psyche that isn’t evident in all European countries.
“Fundamentally, the meaning of housing has changed in the UK. It is no longer seen – by the government, institutions, property capitalists and individual owners – as a right, but primarily as an asset to be traded.
The outcome is potential misery for the young, the old, the poor, the reasonably well-off and most people in between.”
Says Dan, and who am I to argue with him? Him being a professor and me with just me driving licence.Corporate renting comes to town
And if Danny Dorling is calling for new ways to approach the housing crisis he isn’t the only one. Reading Tessa’s Landlord Law Blog roundup on Sunday led me to an article on a new scheme called “Corporate Renting”
I ended up having quite a long discussion with Frazzy about what this all meant. She is an excellent person to bounce my ideas off as (a) she is not involved in my work at all (b) she knows nothing of the machinations of the housing business and (c) she has about as much sympathy for the jobless and homeless as the Bullingdon Club.
So her views are quite challenging and often carry a lot of good old fashioned West Indian common sense. Her favourite expression on human folly being “If you don’t see, you feel”.
Anyway, I digress.So what is it then?
Corporate renting, so the BBC article explains, is the latest import from the USA where it is common.
Basically they are corporations who build and run thousands of properties that have been specially designed to attract and retain professional tenants and keep costs down, including having specially designed skirting boards that can be dusted easily and whole flats that are capable of simply being steam cleaned between tenants.
Director of Essential Living Ian Merrick explains that what they are looking for is tenants who will stay longer, saying:
“If they stay, we’ve made hundreds of thousands of pounds, If I could get them to three or four years, I’m laughing,”
People moving into their upcoming new development Archway Towers in North London can expect to find fresh lemons, boutique olive oil and the latest Jamie Oliver on the bookshelves so there is no doubt about who their customer base is.
So I went and had a look at their website and their heart is most definitely on their sleeve.
They have certainly put their finger on a particular type of tenant and property and neatly highlight the concerns of private tenants everywhere, when they say:
“The demand for rental is on the rise, but for tenants, the current market leaves much to be desired meaning they must deal with:
- Confusing contracts
- Onerous move-ins
- Inflexible tenures
- Inaccessible or aloof landlords
- No sense of community
- Poor quality/inefficient buildings
- Inadequate space
- No sense of ownership
- Hidden expenses
- No customer service
- Poor maintenance
I’m liking them already.
And I’m liking them all the more when further down the page they label tenants over 35, which is me, as “Not necessarily young” haha. How clever is that?But will it help anything?
But the thing is, what are they bringing to the renting market that will help the housing crisis? Not a lot really.
They are merely focussing on young and …..I have to get it in again…..”Not necessarily young” tenants who are working professionals. Basically they’re just a housing association for hipsters.
My landlords are great. The don’t always put the rent up, they always do repairs promptly with no quibble and best of all…..I’ve never met them. They are portfolio landlords who know what they are doing and as long as we pay the rent and don’t abuse the property both parties are happy.
So what’s new about Essential Living? Is it even a radical product?
Things aren’t going to change for the current shed dwellers and people I see crammed in loft spaces, who’ll be looking, longingly up at Archway Towers from the decidedly grubby Holloway Road.
The status quo that Danny Dorling refers to are’t going to be hanging up their guitars anytime soon (did you see what I did there?)…….
See ya next week.
Watch the latest weekly video roundup of news from Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today, featuring stories on immigration checks, Agents' Mutual and pet pigs.
Here is the latest set of exploits undertaken by our industry in the name of charity: it features golf, an alpine adventure, volunteering, and stories from the war.
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 email@example.com.
Here are this week’s updates.
Get swinging for a good cause
The next charity golf day for estate and lettings agents across the UK is set to take place on 25th September at Donnington Valley Golf Club in Newbury.
Organisers Agents Giving need agents to pick up a club and get swinging for good causes. Agents Giving patron, property expert and TV presenter Phil Spencer, is dusting off his clubs to join the agents for the entire day.
The ever popular golf event, now in its fourth year, takes the format of an 18-hole team stableford competition.
The golf day is being sponsored by Hunters and Property Academy.
For more information and get to get involved click here.
Waterfords estate agents make time to play
Following on from their recent volunteer days at Make a Wish Foundation and Frimhurst House, another group of helpers from Waterfords estate agents have “donated a day”. This time, a team of six went to the Pine Ridge Sure Start Children’s Centre on the Old Dean estate in Camberley, transforming an unused play area back into a usable space.
The Sure Start Children's Centre in Camberley is a place that offers access to a range of support and outreach services for families with children under the age of five who have been identified as in need of them. The outdoor play area at the centre had become overgrown and the sandpit had gone mouldy, meaning that the children could no longer play there.
Welsh Conveyancer completes Alpine three peaks challenge
Convey Law’s Geraint Aubrey has completed an Alpine three peak challenge in aid of Cancer Research UK.
He explained what the challenge involved: “On day one, I climbed Monch which is 4,107m and returned to base camp at Monchshutte for the night. On day two, I traversed the Ewigschneefeld Glacier to get to the base of Gross Fiescherhorn. From there we climbed to the summit of Gross Fiescherhorn at 4,048 metres. On day three we attempted Jungfrau. After three hours of climbing we reached the Rottalsattel at 3,900m.
“The whole experience has been fantastic and it has been great to raise so much money for this wonderful charity. Thank you to everyone who has or will make a donation. I am looking forward to next year’s expedition.”
Geraint’s aiming to raise £10,000 for Cancer Research UK. Donate at www.justgiving.com/Geraint-Aubrey.
An evening with heroes
Winkworth franchisee Nick Goble has arranged An Evening With Heroes for his old army regiment.
The Friends of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment event takes place on 23 October 2014 at Grand Connaught Rooms, 61–65 Great Queen Street, London.
Attendees can engage with heroes and hear first-hand accounts, ask questions and listen to personal stories from people who have fought on the front line. We will be joined on the night by highly decorated individuals from the armed forces as well as the only living recipient of the VC.
Visit http://www.pwrr.org.uk for more information.
- fund raising
- estate agents
The Council of Mortgage Lenders has published a manifesto aimed at the political parties in advance of the next General Election.
Entitled “A housing market to be proud of”, the manifesto points to the decisions and actions that mortgage lenders believe politicians should take to deliver effective housing solutions for the future.
The CML looks at home-ownership, private renting, and social renting through the eyes of "the young, the old, and the in-betweeners", and concludes that strategic public policy is needed to address the needs of all these groups.
For the young, the main issue is the sheer cost of housing. For this group, the CML wants the government to:
• Focus on measures that increase the supply of housing in all tenures, enabling more young people to gain a housing foothold;
• Reform stamp duty to reduce its burdens, distorting effects, and unintended consequences; and
• Recognise that, for many, shared equity/shared ownership is becoming a permanent tenure, rather than a stepping stone to full ownership.
For the old, the main issue is how to balance the competing considerations of income, the potential to release housing wealth, and care/housing need. For this group, the CML wants the government to:
• Address the regulatory stumbling blocks that relate to lending into retirement;
• Promote better pathways between the mainstream mortgage market, lifetime mortgages, and downsizing;
• Create opportunities for older households to downsize, promoting more efficient use of the housing stock; and
• Ensure new housing supply fully reflects the needs and aspirations of an ageing population.
As for the in-betweeners, this group is finding it increasingly difficult to achieve home-ownership and financial security, or to move up the ladder if they do achieve it. For the in-betweeners, the CML wants the government to:
• Reduce affordability barriers to transacting by reforming the application of stamp duty;
• Watch for any unintended consequences of regulation on credit-worthy mortgage holders;
• Work with industry to develop a more effective safety net against the risk of change in household circumstances; and
• Ensure that policies affecting all tenures (such as welfare reform) are holistic and align with private sector markets.
As a parting shot, the CML says that the government should recognise that while "the UK housing market" is really a whole set of local markets, most finance is provided by national lenders who need standard operating frameworks.
It also urges the next government to ensure that neither localism nor European regulation hinder rather than help the effective delivery of housing and housing finance. And it exhorts politicians to ensure that the practicalities of regulation are in line with government policy, and support the long-term health of the economy.
Paul Smee, CML director general, said: "There are many things that the mortgage industry can and will do to promote a healthy housing market. But it is also crucial to have strategic public policy for housing that is clear, deliverable, and long-term. We hope our thoughts will help to stimulate political thinking about practical ways to deliver the right types of housing, supported by the necessary finance, in the right locations – this is the only sustainable and permanent solution to housing affordability."
- General Election
- Mortgage Lending
London is home to over a third of Britain’s gross property value, with the capital’s homes currently worth a total of £1.5 trillion, according to the latest research from specialist London estate agents Stirling Ackroyd.
This is already comparable to the value of every home in the rest of England, which stands at £2.24 trillion as of 2014.
Moreover, by 2017 London homes are expected to be worth a total of £2.1 trillion, closing the gap with the rest of England put together, and making up 40% of all residential property value in Britain.
By contrast, in 1987 London homes were worth a total of just £273 billion, or 27% of all property wealth.
But today, property in three East End boroughs is worth more than all the homes in Wales. Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Southwark together have homes worth £170 billion, 5% more than Wales’ £162 billion in residential property.
The findings follow Stirling Ackroyd’s Heritage Report, which details how the value of property in eastern boroughs of the capital has outpaced more traditional stores of wealth in West London.
Andrew Bridges, managing director of Stirling Ackroyd, said: “London is a growing asset for the UK, in a multitude of ways. From a city in decline with a falling population just thirty years ago, our capital has rebuilt its place at the heart of the financial, cultural and technological worlds.
“This is both a success story and a call to action. London is enormously valuable, but it is also a prime field of opportunity for developers. We expect a growing wave of new homes in the capital in coming years and under the right conditions, development could help to ease supply. This progress will add hugely to London’s value and in turn its dominance in the British property market.”
- property market
- house price
- stirling ackroyd
Has anybody redeemed their Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF) voucher yet? I’m told [ by someone answering the Phone at GDHIF, so make of that what you want ] that Landlords with more than 5 Vouchers are being double audited and none of that group has redeemed a voucher yet. Only People with less... Read more
The National Landlords Association (NLA) has warned the Government to tread cautiously in introducing minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector (PRS). The NLA has called for an extension to the deadline for rented properties to reach minimum energy efficiency standards after the shambles introducing Green Deal finance into the sector. The warning... Read more
The post NLA call for extension on deadline for efficiency standards appeared first on Property118.com.
We are a group of sharers falling into the “young professional” age category (a mixture of accountants, engineers and consultants) looking for a 5 bed in the Clapham/Battersea/Balham area and it amazes me how few properties there appear to be with an HMO license. One letting agency even went as far as to recommend lying... Read more
The post Why is it so hard to find 5 bed properties with an HMO license in the Clapham/Battersea area? appeared first on Property118.com.
When looking at financing an investment property that is not immediately suitable for a Buy to Let mortgage the costs and stress of repaying the initial Bridging loan required after 6 month can be high. However Shawbrook Bank offer the ability to switch directly from their Bridging facility to their Buy to Let products with... Read more
The post Commercial Bridging loan converted to Buy to Let in one package appeared first on Property118.com.
For 8 months I have been trying to sell my leasehold flat. I have had two offers but both sales have fallen through at the eleventh hour when the freeholder has sent a long list of grievances to the prospective buyers solicitors. Most were irrelevant and related to previous tenants, whilst others were unqualified statements... Read more