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White Paper or White Wash?


The government’s action plan for property looks as though it was watered down so much that even former Tory housing minister Grant Shapps has admitted it will make barely any difference at all.

With the government under pressure on many fronts this month, its failure to grasp the housing agenda, which the Housing White Paper clearly shows, particularly with respect to renting, is on display again this week as the government is bounced into promising help for high street firms hit by its controversial revaluation of business rates, in the face of a major Tory rebellion.

The Housing White Paper published early February sets out the direction of the government’s policy on the housing market. Whether you see the UK housing market as “broken” or not, or the proposed new direction the correct one, the paper does not mince its words on the matter: “The housing market in this country is broken, and the cause is very simple: for too long, we haven’t built enough homes.”

Nothing new here as it’s been common knowledge that government after government, of whichever colour you choose, has missed its set housing targets by miles. This study however, sees the problem as threefold:

• Not enough local authorities planning for the homes they need;

• House building that is simply too slow;

• And a construction industry that is too reliant on a small number of big players.

The laws of supply and demand dictate that in any market, where supply is short, prices rise, it’s just a fact of life in a free market economy. This, coupled with asset price inflation resulting from pumping credit into the system (quantitative easing and ultra-low interest rates) means that the result is quite predictable: since 1998, the ratio of average house prices to average earnings has more than doubled – from under 4:1 to almost 8:1.

The shortage of supply in housing is compounded by demographic changes that have increased demand:

• Migration / immigration, where net migration has reached unprecedented levels in recent years.

• More single living, coupled to divorce and longer living

• Worker migration from the poorer regions of the country to regions where job creation has brought more opportunities, but consequently expensive living.

• An economy that has grown faster than any other in Europe, resulting in record employment, especially in the south-east.

These changes, which have accelerated over the last 20 years, and have resulted in a situation where owning a home has become a distant dream for millions of people, and that dream, it would seem, is getting further out of reach for many. “Generation Rent” has become a familiar term in the UK media, though we should bear in mind that Britain is not alone, the problem is far from unique to us, though in Britain it is perhaps more acute on a relatively small land space: nearly...


Better Viewings. Better Tenants.

Viewings are crucial to securing quality tenants and in this article James Davis, CEO and founder of Upad, shares his advice on how to make the most of tenants viewing your property.

As a landlord, turnover periods are always the most stressful part of the tenancy cycle. A large part of this is arranging worthwhile property viewings.

With the right planning viewings don’t have to be draining and can become a great opportunity to change your approach, find better tenants and safeguard your asset.

Put yourself in the process

Given the choice, 90% of tenants would prefer to meet the landlord as part of their property viewing. In fact, it’s likely that you will get a much more honest level of interest if you have looked potential tenants in the whites of their eyes.

Before meeting tenants, there are a number of things that you can do to make them aware that you are involved. For example, not many landlords mention the fact that they are a credited property owner with good track record in their listings. Why not? If you’re a reliable landlord, let it be known from the get go.

And whilst it’s important to meet potential tenants, don’t feel you have to invite every person that responds to your advert to a viewing. Do your due diligence when you first receive an enquiry and find out their current situation. Where do they work? Who will they be moving in with? What did they like about your listing? It’s best to get this information...


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What You Need to Know About Student Tenants

Are you thinking of investing in the student property market? It’s a great niche to work in, as the number of students attending university grows every year, but there are some things to be aware of. Renting to students is definitely different to other types of tenants, so here is everything that you need to know.

About Student Tenants

The student accommodation market is growing. The Government is encouraging more school leavers to go into full time education, but we also have a growing number of international students who come to the UK to study. This means that there is more demand for student accommodation. Most students will go into halls for their first year of university, before choosing a house or a private flat with their friends for the next year. Student tenants are very easygoing and undemanding – for most of them, it’s the first time renting a property of their own, so they don’t expect the latest furniture or top-tier decor.

If you’re considering...


Home owners warned of new inheritance tax break pitfalls

Home owners planning to take advantage of a valuable new tax break on what they leave to their children are being warned to study the rules carefully, amid the risk of losing thousands of pounds.

Leading tax and trusts lawyer Gary Priest, a partner at Midlands law firm mfg Solicitors, has flagged the issue after becoming concerned that too many people will think they are automatically better off by the changes to inheritance tax coming into force in April this year.

The change, which was an election pledge by the Conservative party, can potentially save families up to £140,000 in inheritance tax.

The tax amendment is known as the Residential Nil Rate Band (RNRB) and gives people an additional tax allowance that applies to their home.  The new allowance is being introduced in April, although the full benefit will not be available until 2020/21.

However, Mr Priest says people must look carefully at their existing arrangements as certain types of wills and discretionary trusts can still incur very hefty inheritance tax.

He said: “As with all tax rules, the devil is in the detail, and we are advising people to be extremely careful with their calculations...


How landlords should use digital marketing to advertise their properties

Would you walk into a car dealership, armed with no prior knowledge, and allow the first sales person you saw to completely guide your decision?

Of course you wouldn’t. That’s because in today’s world, big purchases are painstakingly researched before a decision is made. This is certainly true for moving house; a process which often takes weeks of searching and comparison, the majority of which is done online.

It is surprising to discover that, in spite of there being fewer bigger life choices than choosing a somewhere to live, few landlords have got to grips with how to effectively market themselves and their properties online.

Are you an old fashion landlord that’s bemused by the internet? If so, you’re not alone. You are in the majority of landlords who have...


Furniture in Rental Properties

As a landlord, it is your responsibility to make sure that you are following the correct safety regulations, otherwise you risk receiving hefty fines and committing a criminal offence. Here is a quick guide all about following the safety regulations for your furniture and other furnishings to be used by your tenants.

Fire-resistant furniture

Fire resistance is one of the main, and most important safety regulations to meet. All upholstered furniture must fulfil The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended in 1989, 1993 and 2010) which set levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other products containing upholstery.

The penalty for an offence is a fine of up to £5,000 and/or six months’ imprisonment...


How to create a productive environment

Creating homes that people love is an invaluable skill for landlords who want to keep tenant turnover as low as possible. With professionals and students being amongst the most profitable tenants, it is important to provide spaces that are not only comfortable, but also offer a productive work environment. As we become more connected, more people are bringing work home or working from home, making it more important than ever to create space which encourages productivity.

Keeping tenants happy will see more contract renewals and therefore fewer administrative fees and a lower chance of the property standing empty between contracts. Creating a space in which tenants feel they can produce good work will increase the chances of them remaining in the property. With this in mind, we’ve looked...


LandlordZONE Suppliers Directory

Elfin Kitchens

Editorial, February 2017

Another eventful month in the world of the private rented sector (PRS), with a long promised government Housing White Paper published in early February – see our lead article in this issue – not that it brings much that is really beneficial for buy-to-let landlords, apart from underlining existing challenges.

The government is to continue its efforts to bring up safety standards in the private rented sector, and to drive out rogue landlords. The measures introduced in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 will soon bring in banning orders to remove the worst landlords or agents from operating, and enable local councils to issue, in effect, on-the-spot fines, as well as prosecute. But the effectiveness of these measures still depends on someone taking action; councils don’t have a great track record when it comes to sorting out bad landlords.

On that point, shame on Cardiff City Council for releasing private details of hundreds of landlords who were going through the process but were not yet fully registered on the “Rent Smart Wales” scheme. Their details were release in a mass an e-mailing message sent out by an administrator.

Rent Smart Wales is a Wales-wide scheme aimed at registering all landlords and agents in Wales in an attempt to raise standards of renting. One of the main arguments against landlord registration is that private landlords’ personal details would be available to all. Cardiff City Council commenting on the serious breach of confidentiality and data protection rules said: “Rent Smart Wales and the City of Cardiff Council take data protection seriously. The matter is currently being investigated in line with the council’s data protection policies.” Full story here

The new energy efficiency regulations setting out minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) for England and Wales will apply to buy-to-lets from April next year (2018), meaning a property cannot be let with an EPC rating below E.

There are plans to extend mandatory licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation from the current 5 unrelated occupiers over 3 stories, to all HMOs, namely smaller shared houses, and there are also ongoing consultations regarding the introduction of mandatory electrical safety checks for rented properties, banning letting fees for tenants and mandatory client money protection for letting agents.

So there’s plenty to think about on top of all the other new regulations that came in for Section 21 and other regulations over the last 18 months or so.

What I find so disappointing about the White Paper is the seeming lack of support and recognition for the smaller buy-to-let landlord, the backbone of the UK’s private rented sector. The government appears to be pinning its hopes on institutional investment (build-to-rent) to help fill the gap in housing supply, but so far previous initiatives...


Book Review - Buy to Let, 7 Steps to Successful Investing by Dawn Brooks.

Investing in buy-to-let and making it pay is getting more challenging, but property is still a good safe long-term investment if you approach it in the right way. You need to treat it as a business and not a get rich quick scheme.

Property investing and becoming a landlord can be hard work at certain times, but it is very satisfying as you are actually doing something that benefits society, your community and the individuals you house – your lovely tenants!

When you have done it as long as I have you meet all sorts, and every situation, every tenancy is different; most go along very smoothly, while others, thankfully the minority, bring up all sorts of problems, problems which you must learn to overcome if you are to be a successful landlord.

Buy To Let 7 Steps To Investing

Landlording is a learning process, you’re learning lessons along the way, the most painful experiences being the hardest lessons but the ones that you never forget. The next best thing is learning from the experience of others. Thankfully, there are a lot of books on the market that help, books written by landlords who have done it before and help by relaying the lessons and their experience in an organised and lucid and way.

The subject of this review,...


A new property challenge for landlords seeking extra income.

Last month, over 50 LandlordZONE members expressed their interest in the franchise, in which 72% of established franchisees have earned over £10,000 in a calendar month.

In addition to this, there will now be a new HomeXperts franchise in Bury St Edmunds, as one LandlordZONE member has already decided to take on a new challenge and become an estate and letting agent in a lucrative, and growing industry.

With the April tax changes drawing ever closer, landlords may be looking for an additional income stream and this could be the perfect opportunity for those with existing experience in property.

As you are aware property prices grow year on year, and there will always be an interest in property as people need a place to live. Therefore, this has to be an avenue for your consideration.

Landlords could also use their agency to manage their own properties, cutting letting agent fees at a time where that could provide a huge boost to the income you receive on your properties.

Accompany this with an impressive British franchising network, in which 97% of units (including new businesses) were profitable*, why would you not consider property franchising as an option for a new form of income?

With HomeXperts, hardworking franchisees often expand their territory, gaining employees to help them build an empire. Chris Tunnicliffe of HomeXperts Northwich stated: “I now have four franchise areas and 2 employees which I'm really proud of.

It's safe...


Landlord Investment Show

The UK’s only leading property event for landlords reveals a new-look to its Landlord Investor Magazine and launches a mobile website

Landlord Investor Magazine, published since 2014 will also contain more in-depth stories and additional interviews with leading industry figures.

The redesigned magazine will reach 44,000 opted-in subscribers monthly and will cover news from UK and overseas, with a focus on how current and potential landlords and investors can keep up-to-date with legislation and leverage investment most effectively.

With Landlord Investor Magazine, investors and property professionals can keep their finger on the pulse of the buy-to-let and investment property markets.

Each edition is now available online via a new mobile website, as well as in its current digital and print formats. These enable readers to access information on the go via their preferred platforms.

The investment in the new digital platform and redesign is a result of consistent feedback from advertisers and readers who want their content optimised and available on any device while they’re on the go. Additional sponsorship and advertising formats have been made available across all platforms to meet the demands of advertisers in the industry.

The LI Media portfolio includes:

Landlord Investor Magazine is a subscription-based product available in both print and digital formats with 11 issues each year. It offers advice, features, and news, and helps property professionals keep up to date with essential industry developments.

For further information on...


When is the Best Time of the Year to Let a Property?

If you’re a first-time landlord, or considering increasing your portfolio in 2017, having a sound knowledge of rental market peaks and troughs is an essential ingredient in making any buy-to-let a success.

Whilst you shouldn’t find it too hard to find a tenant – especially if you go through an online letting agent such as lettingaproperty.com – you may find that certain tenants are attracted by the prospect of moving at a specific time of year. Here are just four time periods to watch out for:


A new rental home for a new year? Absolutely! As well as tenants looking to make a fresh start in a new property at the start of a year, research has shown that landlords investing in property should begin their search in January / February to allow time to exchange, complete and be ready for marketing during the spring and summer peak moving seasons.


From Good Friday to May Day, Bank Holidays make a very attractive time for tenants to move. This is because they can use a three-day weekend to move without having to take time off work. This is where you can really reap the benefits of investing during the earlier months of the year.

Be warned, however, if you are offering a six-month tenancy, you may want to extend it as an agreement that ends in November/December is classed as the ‘low’ season – and for many landlords with vacant properties, this is a no-go zone.


It’s during these summer months that many families will be looking to move. This is because they want...


Landlord Law Conference

David Smith at the Landlord Law Conference 2017 Norwich

David Smith is one of the most authoritative voices in housing today and has always been an important Landlord Law Conference speaker.

At our Landlord Law Conference in May he will be doing two important talks:

An HMO Update - critical for all landlords who rent to sharers.  Even if you think this does not apply to you, you need to understand this area of law.

Consumer law for landlords - this is a rather scary area of law (for those on the wrong end of the rules) which most landlords and agents know little about.

You can watch a short video here where David discusses the two talks he will be doing and why they are so important for landlords.

Other speakers’ talks at the Conference include a legal update, tenancy agreement clauses, possession proceedings, right to rent and leaseholder...


Will Landlords Find Shelter in Interest-Only in 2017?

Many buy-to-let landlords will have been happy to see the end of 2016 in the hope that better lies ahead next year. After decades of bumper yields and rising rents, 2016 was the year the government put the brakes on the buy-to-let market.

The additional three percent stamp duty surcharge on second homes that came into force in April of last year was undoubtedly the headline change. This forced thousands of buy-to-let landlords to rush through purchases they had planned before the surcharge came in. The result was that £25.7bn of mortgages were agreed in March last year, representing a 59 percent year-on-year rise and a 43 percent increase on figures for February 2016.

However, there were also a number of other significant changes that rocked the foundations of the property investment market. New affordability checks were announced, obliging lenders to tighten their calculations when considering applications from prospective landlords. We also moved closer to the the mortgage interest tax relief cuts which will be phased in from April 2017.

So in the face of a barrage of detrimental changes, what can buy-to-let landlords do to find shelter in 2017?

Are interest-only mortgages the answer?

According to the National Landlords Association, the shifts in the buy-to-let sector mean most landlords now choose an interest-only mortgage; but unlike residential buyers, they do not plan a separate vehicle to repay the...


An Alternative to Airbnb hosting - International students.

In January, AirBnb announced that it will set an automatic cap on “entire home listings” in London to 90 nights a year. Additionally a 60-night per year cap is set to be established in Amsterdam, a move which is set to hit Airbnb hard. With predicted losses of £325 million in London alone, the hospitality company’s third biggest market.

Over the past year, Airbnb has faced increasing pressure from housing authorities in several of its major cities. In November, the company was fined €600,000 by housing authorities in Barcelona, for listing unlicensed accommodation. While in June, a Berlin court upheld a ban on short-term renting. Those who rent out more than half their property without a permit on a short term basis run the risk of a €100,000 fine.

These new regulations are coming into place after concerns from housing authorities around the world, that permanent residential housing is being brought by some landlords with the sole purpose of renting out entire complexes on Airbnb to turn big profits. Which is eating away at taxable income and inflating rents in already stretched private housing markets.

Airbnb in effort to crack down on those exploiting the platform and to work more closely with local municipalities, has redoubled its efforts to collect taxes on bookings and ensure that listings comply with housing regulations.

But as more hosting regulations come into place in major cities, what other options are there for hosts looking to lease rooms or apartments on short term contracts and still comply with their local municipalities?

Leasing to international students should be a consideration. Most international students tend to rent on a short term basis due to exchange semesters or internships, and are more likely to pay for...


What the wear and tear allowance means for landlords and how to maintain your profitability

Tax has been a worry for landlords throughout the past 12 months. Many changes have been brought in, most notably the stamp duty hike, and a wave of further regulatory and tax changes are due to take effect in April 2017. With the scrapping of the ‘Wear and Tear’ allowance in April 2016, it’s not been easy for landlords, has it?

The wear and tear allowance served landlords well, but the recent changes have caused most buy-to-let mortgage owners a headache. Under the old ‘Wear and Tear rules, landlords were able to deduct 10% of their rental income in calculating taxable profit to allow for wear and tear of a property. Nice and straightforward. It was beneficial to landlords as there was no clear definition of ‘furnished’ and even if a landlord hadn’t bought any new furniture, it was still possible for him or her to claim the 10%. However, this was replaced by the Replacement Furniture Relief (RFR) system, allowing landlords of residential property to deduct only the actual costs incurred on replacing furnishings in the same tax year.

Here, Managing Director of Online Mortgage Advisor, Pete Mugleston, explains what the changes mean and shares ways to maintain...


Latest News

  • 24 Feb 17 - Landlord optimism grows -

    Landlords are now thinking ahead to mitigate tax relief changes as Paragon Mortgages says 60% of landlords are aware of the implications of the changes and are taking action. There are now more landlords...

  • 22 Feb 17 - Making Tax Returns Digital -

    Digital Tax: The Government’s “Making Tax Digital” plans mean that they are working towards requiring small businesses and private landlords to submit their tax information quarterly rather than...

  • 20 Feb 17 - Buy to Let Tax campaign -

    Tax Campaign: The Residential Landlords’ Association (RLA) is organising a pre-budget campaign to get Mortgage Interest Relief (MIR) restored for buy-to-let landlords – #FightingMIRChanges...

  • 17 Feb 17 - Irish Landlord Association Reprimanded -

    Rent Control: The Republish of Ireland national landlord body, which represents a membership base of approximately 5,000 landlords, has been rebuked after encouraging its members to levy charges for...

  • 16 Feb 17 - Leaseholder signed contract by mistake -

    A leaseholder, Luke Mosson, signed a contract with his freeholder to extend the lease on his flat to 190 years. However, one of the clauses in the flat contained a term which said that the £250 ground...

  • 14 Feb 17 - Last Big Push on Mortgage Interest Relief -

    Tax Campaign: The Residential Landlords’ Association (RLA) is organising a pre-budget campaign to get Mortgage Interest Relief (MIR) restored for buy-to-let landlords – #FightingMIRChanges...

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Why 2017 is the year of build-to-rent

Over the last decade, the Private Rental Sector (PRS) has grown by 82% and squeezed past social rent in 2012/13 to become the second biggest tenure in the UK.

Over the same period, the way we build rental property, and the way we rent it, has changed, too.

Last year, the report Housing Futures: Urban Renters, published by Strutt & Parker, Stanhope and Network Homes, was published. This report had a closer look at Britain’s emerging build-to-rent sector, as the recent developments within the sector are reminiscent of those in other rental countries, such as Hong Kong, Germany, Japan, Sweden and the US.

The research found that 48% of respondents had been renting the same property for at least two years. And 24% said they saw themselves renting even after they started a family.

Furthermore, the report also revealed that an ever expanding number of tenants defined renting as their first choice rather than just a last resort.

More recently, the Housing White Paper has shown yet another shift towards a more renting-friendly UK. Sajid Javid appeared to have distanced himself, and the new Government, at least somewhat from Cameron’s very traditional view of the UK as a nation of homeowners.

With an encouragement of institutional investment in the PRS as well as support for smaller builders to build off-site and therefore be more competitive, the sector is about to see a shift in interest. And input.

Of course, how exactly all of these...


Budget busters!

Does it add up? The experts at Belvoir reveal six expensive economic errors… and how to avoid them

Perceptive purchasing

“One of the most costly mistakes a landlord can make often occurs right at the beginning of their investment journey and before a property has even been purchased,” says owner of Belvoir Swansea and Belvoir Mumbles Ben Davies.

“Investment errors at the initial stages will inevitably affect profit potential. In fact, choosing the wrong property or paying the wrong price can significantly reduce monthly rental return, expected yield and capital growth on resale.

“Make sure all the finances add up before signing on the dotted line. Research the market to find out how much rental return you can expect for a property of that type and size, plus how similar properties have performed on resale in that area. Don’t be afraid to negotiate on the sale price either – many vendors are willing to reduce the asking price, especially if you...


Which flooring to choose for your home

There are so many choices when it comes to choosing flooring for your home, the decision can seem quite overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.

When choosing the best flooring for your home, bear the following 3 things in mind:

1) Your budget

2) The purpose of the room in which you are installing the floor

3) The style and colour scheme of the room

Once you have considered these three things, you will be much more equipped to choose the best type of flooring for your home. To help, here is a list of common types of domestic flooring and their properties:

Solid wood flooring

Solid wooden floors come in many different styles and colours. From oak to walnut to bamboo, you will be able to find a type of wood to match any interior. As solid wood is a natural product, it develops character overtime and does not fade or lose colour like carpets do. Solid wooden floors are durable, making them great for busy living rooms or hallways. They can last for years and do not need to be replaced when they grow tired, they can just be sanded down and...


Thinking inside the Box

Anyone can invest in commercial property: all you need is the cash or enough cash to get a mortgage. Anyone can invest isn’t the same as becoming an investor. To become an investor, one needs to think like an investor.

Investment is about becoming better off than you are now. For a property investment to go up in value, the price you pay when you buy it must allow for that possibility. To assume that it does is a mistake. It is easy to overpay, especially if you are the sort of investor that thinks that buying an investment property automatically makes an investor.

Commercial property has two values: a value if the property were vacant and a value if the property were let. Unlike residential property which is generally more valuable when vacant than if let, commercial property is generally more valuable when let than if vacant.  The difference in value between vacant possession and let on an existing lease is the premium that buyers in the market for the particular type of property are willing to pay.

Whether that premium and how much of it is worth it depends upon the bottom-line. Successful investors protect the bottom-line: what’s the worst that could happen?  For investors generally, most of whom are not successful beyond if luck would have it then just about keeping up with inflation, the worst doesn’t bear thinking about so they don’t. Instead, they imagine that they would be able to manage regardless, hoping that when everyone’s in the same boat help will arrive for everyone. In the meantime, with the market generally behaving itself, they assume that if the property were vacant then it could be let or sold or developed for reletting or sale, and if the property were let already then the tenant would pay more at rent review or on expiry of the lease or if that tenant goes broke or quits at the end of the lease then another tenant would be found and at least pay the same, possibly more. The fact that those assumptions normally incur...


10 cheap ways to improve your rental property

Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference – you can transform your rental property almost overnight with just a few (cheap) changes.

Landlords want the best return on their investment and tenants want the best deal on the market, so it pays to know your market so that you can meet in the middle.

Here are 10 small changes you can make to your rental property that might very well reap big rewards, without costing you more than a bit of time and some elbow grease.

• Estate agents talk about ‘kerb appeal’ continually in the context of selling a house, but it’s just as important if you’re hoping to rent out your property. It won’t cost you more than a few hours of your time and maybe a pot of paint to transform the front garden and exterior of your building. Remove weeds and rubbish from the garden, cut the grass or prune the shrubs, remove chipped paint, check outside light fixtures and try to have a designated area for rubbish bins and recycling (preferably out of sight!).

• Paint is the landlord’s best friend: it can transform a space, revive tired walls, brighten dark areas and highlight your property’s best features. Use satin or waterproof paint that you can wipe clean. And don’t make the mistake of freshly painting all your walls but leaving your woodwork looking chipped, grotty and unloved.



Listed Building Buying Guide

Purchasing a property either for yourself or for the rental market is tricky enough – but listed buildings come with a whole host of considerations and legalities to consider.

Listed buildings defined

For a building to be listed, it must be classed as being of ‘special architectural or historic interest’ by the National Heritage list. When a structure meets this criteria, it is deemed listed and falls subject to rules and regulations regarding renovation, repairs and other work.

What criteria makes a building listed?

Any that were made before 1700 and are still in a manner resembling their original state are automatically included – as are many built between 1700 and 1840. However, particular attention is paid to buildings created...


5 considerations before buying an investment property

Property investment can be complex and, if done poorly, can also be highly costly.

So what do you need to consider to help avoid any financial traps and make the process easier?

When done right, there’s no doubt that property investment can be a significant wealth creator.

So what do you need to consider before buying an investment property to help ensure success?

Here are 5 things I think you need to consider before buying an investment property:

1 - Your finances

Perhaps one of the most important...


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