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Landlords warned as to the changes in the Deposit Protection Legislation

There were two big changes made to Deposit Protection legislation in April 2012

Firstly, the penalties for failure to comply with Deposit Protection legislation were changed.

Where previously there was a standard penalty of the full deposit plus 3 times the amount Judges now have the discretion to award from 100% of the deposit and up to 3 times the amount.

We expected that this discretion would mean that a minor failure, i.e. the deposit was protected a few days after the 30 days or some of the documents that should be provided to the tenant were not given, would result in 100% of the deposit being returned to the tenant regardless of damages or losses.

A recent case, Ayannuga v Swindells, November 2012, has shown that this is not the case.

Secondly, the deposit must now be protected within 30 days of taking it and all the information that the law requires must be given to the tenant within that time. Previously we had 14 days in which to protect the deposit and landlords were “getting away” with protecting the deposit after the tenant has begun legal action against them.

It is this second issue that is causing concern this week.

Two of the Tenancy deposit protection schemes continue to protect the deposit from the date that is it registered by the Landlord or Agent until the date that the tenancy comes to an end or a significant change is...


Property Portfolio Software

7 Tips for Landlord Success in 2013

2012 was a great year for many landlords, and all the signs are good that demand for rental properties will continue to rise and 2013 will be an even better year.

But this does not mean you can sit back on your laurels and relax for the next twelve months!

Whether you are an experienced landlord with a large portfolio of rental properties, or a new landlord about to invest in your first rental property, here are 7 tips for landlord success in 2013:

1. Maintenance
Regular maintenance is vital. It might be tempting to overlook those irritating little tasks, but putting them off will only end up costing you more in the long run, so when a tenant calls to tell about a leaky gutter, sort it before you have damp to deal with, too!

2. Research
Do your research and check out rental prices in your area—doing a little homework will help you price your properties competitively and ensure you are never without tenants for any length of time.

3. Relationship Building
Get to know your tenants—you don’t have to invite them round for supper every Friday night, but cultivating a good landlord-tenant relationship should help you to avoid any future problems.

4. Carry Out Regular Checks
It is also worth keeping a close eye on your tenants! Carrying out...


RLA - Residential Landlords Association

The RLA guide to Universal Credit

What is it?

The Government has announced new procedures for benefit payments under the universal credit system when it is rolled out from 2013 onwards. It means the end of direct payment to landlords for rent as we have known it. The intention for the new procedures will apply across the board to local authority tenants, housing association tenants and tenants in the private rented sector.

At the heart of the new procedures is the idea of promoting tenants’ abilities to manage their own finances and to bring the benefit system in line with conditions that affect working people.

Why should I care?

The key change for landlords is the proposal that there will no longer be any ‘back stop’, and landlords will no longer be able to insist on direct payments if the tenant is eight weeks or more in arrears. Instead, 90 per cent of payments will be made directly to tenants and it will be up to them to pay their rents or not – meaning an increased possibility of some tenants falling into arrears.Furthermore, tenants will no longer have the right to have their housing benefit paid directly to their landlords, meaning they will be denied a freedom of choice in how they wish to pay their rent.

The RLA’s position

The RLA has a number of serious concerns about these proposals:

1. They contain no ‘back stop’ provision under which a landlord can demand...



27 viewings arranged in 5 days, my property let and at zero cost… pinch me, am I dreaming….

Well it appears not.

As a landlord with a property to let in Brighton, I recently decided to try out an online property letting service that was offering 'free property letting'. I have to admit to being more than a little sceptical, however, with the opportunity to save £675 in letting agent fees, I thought it was worth a go.

The agents I decided to go with are called www.tenants4u.com and whilst they have a number of 'fee based' options, I decided to try out their 'Free Tenant Find' service.

Overseas at the time on holiday, I fired up my laptop and started to upload the rental property details - a pretty straightforward process of describing the property and uploading images. I stated my availability to start viewings in 5 days time when I knew I would be back in the UK and whoosh, my property had been posted as available to rent. I instantly received confirmations that my upload was successful and within 24 hours the property was on Rightmove and I was receiving texts from Tenants4U confirming viewing requests. By the time it came to conduct my viewings, 5 days later, I had no fewer than 27 prospective tenants lined up to view the property.... yes, 27!

The first person who viewed the property wanted to take it and I had another 3 hours of viewings lined up. Tenants4U organised all of the tenancy agreement paperwork, they charged the tenants a £99+VAT application fee and wrapped everything up very swiftly.

I'm sure that every property let through this type of service doesn't let quite as easily as mine did, but there is no doubting the power of such a service. I would never consider any other way in which to let my property. Furthermore, all of my details are now with them, so when it comes to re-let, all I need to do is literally click a button and the process starts again -...


Total Landlord Insurance

Cold weather warning for landlords and tenants

As the floods subside, forecasters are warning that the first cold spell is due to sweep across the UK kicking off a month of wintery conditions. With ‘Escape of Water’ being the most common property insurance claim, largely as a result of burst or frozen pipes, Total Landlord Insurance is issuing a stark reminder to landlords to ensure their properties are suitably prepared for the winter ahead.

Over the last two years, 32% of all Total Landlord Insurance claims have been as a result of escape of water, with 78% of those being due to burst pipes and the majority of these claims coming in December, January and February. With most regions expected to see temperatures plummet well below freezing and with a strong chance of snow, Eddie Hooker, CEO of Total Landlord Insurance comments “as a homeowner we tend to be aware of the necessary steps required when the weather turns cold. However, with a rental property it can often be a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. As we head towards Christmas landlords should be mindful that tenants may well be away from the property for extended periods of time and without proper precautionary measures, properties can be at risk of water damage.”

A burst pipe is an emergency; it can cause serious damage to the structure of your home, electrical wiring and your possessions with the cost of repair averaging £3000...


Accommodation for Students

Revealed – Britain’s property investment hot spots

Where should I buy is the question at the top of most student landlords shopping lists.

Now, new research from property analysts Hometrack has come up with a heat map of hot and not so hot locations for property investors.

The firm graded every region in the UK according to the strengths and weaknesses of the local private letting market – including renting to students.

Then, each area was colour coded according to rental activity –

• Red for hot

• Yellow for OK

• Green for average

The results that popped up should give student landlords a good idea of where to buy – obviously somewhere with a university or college narrows down the search, but the map whittles away a huge area as a not-spot.

The results revealed:

• Green areas add up to 38% of the lettings market but 71% of the country – and landlords with properties here can expect lower rents and longer voids

• Yellow areas make up 22% of the country and 40% of the rental market

• Hot spots – the red areas – are only found in 7% of the country and account for 29% of all rental activity.

Richard Donnell, Hometrack’s research director, said: “Landlords, developers and councils have to take in to account how the buy to let market works in their area...


TWD Accountants
12 Days of Christmas - A gift every day with LandlordZONE

Direct Rent Payments

Major changes to the UK benefits system will affect landlords when the planned Universal Credit (UC)* is introduced from October 2013.

Private landlords lost their right to receive HB payments direct, except in limited circumstances, following a Labour Government Green Paper, A new deal for Welfare: Empowering people to work, introduced in April 2008.

This controversial move was bitterly contested at the time and since by landlords and the landlord associations, but despite all the protestations the system has prevailed. What angered many in the private landlord community was that social landlords (housing associations, and local councils) were effectively exempt this measure. In effect, many claim, quite undemocratically, private landlords were used as guinea pigs in this social experiment.

Council tenants currently receive their Housing Benefit as a rent rebate and their rent accounts are adjusted accordingly. Housing associations, on the other hand, the other main providers of social housing, still require tenants’ Housing Benefit entitlement be paid direct to them by the local authority.

Universal Credit

Under Universal Credit, due to be phased in between October 2013 and October 2017, working-age tenants will receive a single monthly payment directly from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This will include their support for housing costs. This represents a significant departure from the current arrangements for social landlords. This will at last bring the social housing sector in line with the private rented sector.

Apparently, pensioners will be excluded from Universal Credit and residents of ‘exempt’ supported housing (vulnerable tenants) will have their help with housing costs provided outside of UC. This means that both groups of tenants will be able to continue to have their Housing Benefit paid direct to their landlord.

The DWP has also accepted that there are some working-age people who will not be capable of managing a monthly payment, and for whom direct payments to the landlord will remain appropriate. There will be a mechanism within UC to facilitate the payment of benefit direct to the landlord once someone is identified as vulnerable. However, ministers have not yet announced what types of tenants will fall into this ‘vulnerable’ category.

Demonstration Projects

In the run-up to these...


12 Days if Christmas - a gift every day with LandlordZONE

Award winning LandlordZONE website launches Christmas promotions campaign

LandlordZONE®, winner of the 2012 Landlord & Letting Magazine, property portal of the year award, has successfully launched its 12 days of Christmas promotion for 12 of its key clients.

One of the first independent property websites in the UK, www.landlordzone.co.uk has a direct e-mail marketing channel to over 100,000 registered landlords.

Founding director and editor, Tom Entwistle said, “We regularly mail out to our member database with solus broadcasts on behalf of our advertisers. This Christmas campaign was a great opportunity to promote 12 genuine offers to landlords from 12 of our regular advertisers”

Based on an advent calendar theme, each advertiser has one exclusive day, right up until the 20th of December, to promote their offer on the LandlordZONE® website, newsletter and e-mail broadcasts.

Each company has something special to offer landlords and agents in this Christmas season promotion – see: http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/xmas

The 12 participating companies are:

Day 1 – 5th December 2012www.lettingaproperty.com – Established in 2008, lettingaproperty.com is one of the UK’s leading online letting agents successfully assisting UK landlords find tenants nationwide.

Day 2 – 6th December 2012www.propertyportfoliosoftware.co.uk – Property Portfolio Software founded by experienced landlord, author and public speaker Amer Siddiq is a leading National Landlords Association approved property management package.

Day 3 – 7th December 2012www.rla.org.uk – The Residential Landlords Assocaition (RLA) is a leading voice for landlords in England & Wales representing over 12,500+ landlords with a combined portfolio of more than 150,000 properties.

Day 4 – 10th December...


Business Accountz

Book Review – The Insider’s Guide to Buying Property in Difficult Times by Mark Periklis

Property investing has obvious benefits, but the boom times of the “noughties” and the fashionable period of property investment, where everyone at the dinner party had a buy-to-let, or was in the process of buying one – are long-gone.

Those who bought in the good times will, in the main, have realised by now that there’s a lot more to property investment than meets the eye, especially when they were looking through the rose coloured glasses of 10% capital growth every year.

All that’s gone for now and what’s left is the stark reality of making the investment pay until growth returns – probably some years away. What that stark reality means is managing tenants efficiently so that your property investment returns a good regular cash-flow to cover mortgage payments, running expenses, and still leave a reasonable surplus profit.

Thankfully, mortgage rates are so low at the present time that anyone who took out a mortgage in recent years should be on ultra low repayments. The problem now is getting a mortgage in the first place: lenders are now so cautious they want hefty deposits and large set-up fees.

But all is not lost as far as the buyer is concerned: all markets have a hypnotising effect on people, whipping up a crowd-wide buying frenzy near the top and a dearth of interest at the bottom. It’s hard to be contrarian and go against the crowd, but often the real long-term winners in investment are those who buy when everyone else is either selling or showing no interest at all.

The Insider’s Guide to Buying Property in Difficult Times is written by London based lawyer, Mark Periklis, and published by Filament Publishing.

Mark’s approach to buying property, as you might expect from an experience property lawyer, is a bit different to that of the average investor landlord. Being cautious by nature, lawyers don’t get carried away by the emotion of the deal, but emphasise the due diligence (DD) needed if the purchaser is to avoid making a huge mistake.

However, as a property investor himself this author understands the thought processes that buyers – property investors - go through.

As he says in his introduction: buyers will often have become emotionally attached, have made an offer and secured a mortgage, and the buying process will be well under way before he or she even thinks about contacting their lawyer.

His key point is that if a buyer has all the relevant information about the purchase – past, present and future – at the point of decision, and an experienced lawyer on hand who is able to point out any...


LandlordZONE - Winner - UK's No.1 Landlord Website at the Landlord&Letting Awards

The industry stars revealed… 2012/13 Landlord & Letting Awards Winners Announced

“The ceremony was a great evening as ever. To win is a great achievement as we gain recognition as industry leaders from very reputable judges. When clients instruct us and see the winner’s logo, it gives us great credibility”, said Jamie Lewis, of Code Students, as he walked away with the Landlord of the Year - Student Trophy.

Jamie was just one of over 250 private rented professionals in attendance at the glittering Awards ceremony, hosted by TV presenter and celebrity Sofie Allsopp, held at Stoneleigh Park Coventry on the 28th November 2012.

The guests, donned in their finest attire, were in good cheer and brimming with excitement and anticipation throughout the sumptuous three course gala dinner, which was enjoyed before the winners for each of the 30 categories were revealed.

Tom Entwistle, of LandlordZONE, who won Website - Information/Portal Award said: “The Competition on this year's Awards was at very high level. Winning the Award gives the whole team a real confidence boost”.

Over the last four years, the Awards have rapidly grown in the popularity throughout the private rented sector, and finalists and winners alike believe that being a part of such a high profile industry accolade really helps...


Landlord&Letting Show - Barbican - 13th & 14th March 2013

Landlord & Letting Shows go “from strength to strength”

Landlord & Letting professionals have given their stamp of approval to industry event organisers AEP Media Ltd in 2012.

Landlords and letting professionals keen to raise their game and keep up to date with industry developments flocked to the specialist Landlord & Letting Show exhibitions in their thousands. Enabling the company to retain its crown for organising the largest and most well attended private rented event for another year.

In feedback forms, most visitors stated the principle reason for attending as being the need to obtain services or advice from exhibitors. A visitor at the London exhibition in September commented: “ As a landlord, the show is ideal way for me to keep up with legislation, network with others, visit the exhibitors and discuss products and services on offer”.

Four out of ten said the range of free to attend seminars were a main attraction and another visitor said:” I found the seminars particularly good and look forward to the opportunity to attend the show next year”.

AEP Media are already have next years calendar in place with six events across the country culminating in the hugely successful Landlord & Letting Awards on the 28th November 2013. “We are not resting on our laurels”, said Oliver Romain, managing director of AEP Media. “We are already working hard...


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Savvy tips for money conscious landlords

A New Year is approaching! And with that typically comes resolution-making and generally getting yourself well prepared for the year ahead. So, what better way to start than by making sure you are being as budget conscious as you can be with your property investment business?

Here at Cover4LetProperty we share a selection of money savvy tips gleaned from some of our customers ...

Tax breaks

Are you taking advantage of any tax initiatives, such as Energy Saving Allowances? As a landlord, you can save up to £1,500 a year on your tax bill (per property you own) with the Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance.

This initiative enables you to claim Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance for the costs of buying and installing energy-saving products into your let properties, such as solid, cavity and loft insulation; floor and hot water system insulation; and draught-proofing. Find out more at www.gov.uk

Similarly, if yours is a furnished property and you have replaced worn out or damaged items, the Inland Revenue allows you to claim either a 10% wear and tear deduction or the one off cost for replacement. Find out more at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk


On the subject of furnishings, if yours is a furnished property and you need to replace items – or you are just about to kit it out for the first time – house...


Knight Knox International

British Buy-to-Let is Back!

The traditional buy-to-let market in regional towns and cities is beginning to show strong signs of recovery. High rental demand coupled with a lack of existing, affordable stock has led to a wave of new construction projects in popular locations like Manchester and Sheffield, signalling a confidence that has been lacking of late in this once traditional sector.

Rental demand in the UK is the highest it’s ever been, as first-time buyers are increasingly priced out of the market due to the continued hike in house prices and the lack of affordable mortgages available. Faced with the prospect of having to fork out thousands of pounds for a deposit, potential buyers are increasingly forced to look to the burgeoning rental market as the only way to gain some measure of independence.

So what does this mean for portfolio landlords and private investors? In their recent residential report, property experts Jones Lang LaSalle predict that there will be a 3% rise in rental growth pa in 2013; strengthening the position of high tenant demand versus current available stock.

The North-West in particular is showing positive signs of recovery, with demand for residential buy-to-let properties in the region continuing to soar, due to the high ratio of tenants in comparison to the number of properties available.

Having built up a strong clientèle of investors over the years, Knight Knox International is certainly experiencing a far higher rate of enquiries for new-build stock than ever before and there is a palpable excitement about the prospect of investing in new-build developments, as the current buy-to-let properties on the market are over six years old in some areas, requiring a higher level of maintenance and refurbishment to raise them to the acceptable minimum standard expected by tenants.

Increasingly becoming a more ‘hands-off’ investment, due to the huge improvements in the quality of the rental management companies that maintain the properties, buy-to-let residences are once again a sound investment choice for any savvy property investor.

Knight Knox International Market leaders in worldwide property investments...


Landlord Manager for Sage

Using Property Management Software to manage your portfolio

To be successful in managing your lettings business, being in control is essential. As your portfolio grows you cannot expect to maintain this control by relying on the use of spread sheets or management systems backed up with second rate accounting systems.

Investment in the right property management software is invaluable in gaining that control; increasing efficiency and service, and ensuring that you have a clear view of business finances. Choosing the correct software can definitely add value to your business.

There are many options available today, with different levels of functionality and price ranges can vary hugely. You need a solution which has a proven track record which allows you to manage properties effectively and able to keep your accountant happy.

The accounts functionality of a system is essential and Landlords and Agents with numerous properties and or companies, offering a variety of services such as guaranteed rent, housing benefits routines and automatic commission charging for example, need to ensure that their accounts are spot on.

The most trusted and widely used accounting system is Sage and of course is accredited by the Institute of Chartered Accountants. With this in mind, rather than developing an accounts engine for property management software, Visionbase Software went about using the Sage accounting engine for managing property accounts then built a property management solution around it to provide...


Elfin Kitchens

New Website Covers Answers: the ‘How To’ of Kitchen Care

Ensuring tenants take proper care of rented properties can be a real trial for landlords. To help, Elfin Kitchens, has launched a new range of ‘How To’ guides on its new website.

Ranging from topics such as proper cleaning to installing the combination microwave oven the guides aim to provide advice on every area of Elfin’s compact kitchens. While it might seem basic, such information can be of real use, both for tenants and landlords, especially as the kitchen is an area of heavy use.

There are many horror stories regarding damage to kitchens, issues over cleanliness and problems with appliances. As Elfin’s kitchens are predominantly powder coated steel and stainless steel users need to be careful of using abrasive sponges our scourers, which can damage the surface.

Elfin’s ‘How To’ guides also offer more technical information relating to installation, covering the electrics, water and waste. Such information, and the easy access to it, has become increasingly important in the rental market for both landlords and tenants.

Without a doubt, the kitchen is considered to be one of the most important areas in any home, however its estimated that more than 40% of privately rented flats and houses in England are in a ‘non decent’ condition. Therefore the need to provide a modern, functional kitchen has never been so apparent...



*Winter Warning* Protect your property portfolio

With winter looming, promising shorter days and sub zero temperatures, Camelot Property Management advise: Don’t be caught out in the cold.

Winter is here and unfortunately it is the season in which your vacant property is most vulnerable. Aside from the year-round risks of arson, theft, fly-tipping and vandalism, there are added seasonal threats to your property. Some of these include:

Frozen plumbing and pipe work- this may not sound like a devastating situation for your property, but thawing pipes is difficult and time consuming. At worst, the pipes will burst and split, leaving you with a hefty bill to re-plumb the property.

A much higher threat of leaks and storm damage due to seasonal weather changes. Even the smallest of leaks can cause devastating effects if it is not fixed promptly. A small amount of water in the property, or even a broken window, will lead to problems such as damp, mould, spores and rapid dilapidation of the property.

More incentive for homeless people and squatters to occupy vacant properties. With much harsher weather conditions and plummeting temperatures the danger of squatters entering your property is at its peak. New legislation that criminalises squatting in residential has meant commercial properties, particularly pubs, are an increasing target

Increased crime rates, due to fewer daylight hours. Winter months see crime rates soar as criminals hide under the cover of darkness. Crimes such as theft and arson on properties increase, causing devastating effects for not only the property itself, but also for the surrounding community.

The added risks during Winter mean that property owners must implement a management strategy that secures and maintains their vacant assets. The current economic climate, ever tightening budgets and increased pressure to generate profit...


Loft Interiors

Maximise your return by furnishing your property

Many first time buyers are now being faced with having to find unrealistic deposits of up to 40% to get onto the property ladder, this is forcing many to rent. Consequently, the UK lettings market is buoyant as demand begins to outstrip supply.

High demand for rental property is music to property investor and landlord’s ears, as many reap both the benefits of the low interest rates and the lack of rental stock helping to push up rents.Landlords should be looking to take advantage of the current situation and maximise their return on investment.One way to help maximise your rental income is by furnishing your property.

In a market where first impressions count for everything, it's vital your property looks its best for prospective tenants. Maximising your property’s potential before viewings begin will give you the best chance of a quick tenancy and help to achieve maximum rent.A recent survey by letting agency, Leaders, found that 38% of tenants felt the quality of fixtures and fittings in a property was the most important feature to them when choosing a property to rent.

More significantly, the survey also found that this was the second most important factor to tenants behind location! Landlords cannot afford to ignore interior design when confronted with the tenant driven market of today.

Target Audience

Knowing your target audience is essential. There are a number of key factors which can help you to decide:


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