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Rent Control: Is it a Real Possibility?

The London Assembly’s housing and regeneration committee, a left-leaning sub-group, has recently called on Mayor Boris Johnson to adopt a London based pilot scheme for rent control.

This is not the first time and will no doubt not be the last time this is called for: Ken Livingstone and Jeremy Corbyn (MP for Islington North) have both been advocating the move for some time.

If rents keep on rising, pressure on politicians will increase as struggling tenants get more public support for the idea. There are far more voting tenants than there are investor landlords.

The move is very unlikely under the current administration, and perhaps in the next, but a Labour government in two years time could conceivably be a different matter. Ed Miliband has already been calling on local authorities to reduce the rents they pay to private landlords to emergency house social tenants, and there’s some that believe it could become Labour party policy if Ed Miliband were to become prime minister in 2015.

For those who have not experienced rent control in their lifetimes, most people, those not old enough to remember life in England under the Rent Act, or know about the experience of this in other countries, rent control may appear to be logical step towards a fair way of solving the housing problems in London. After all, isn’t it about time those...

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TenantVERIFY


Upad founder to ride 100 miles for Down’s Syndrome charities

James Davis, Upad CEO and Founder will be taking part in the 100-mile Prudential London-Surrey bike ride to support a very personal cause. His third child Abi was born with Down's Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects just 1 in 1,000 new born babies in the UK. As well as seeking to raise money for two Down's Syndrome charities, James wants to raise awareness of the condition, as is it often misunderstood.

James explains...

“I wanted to mark her [Abi's] first birthday with an event I can raise money for, to help put back some of the totally amazing support and guidance my family have received over the past 12 months. I, like many others, knew very little about 'DS'; and did the worst thing we all generally do nowadays of 'Googling it' when we are confronted by situations like this.

Those few initial hours, days and weeks were exceptionally tough - in...

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Licence to let

Are you a landlord letting out domestic properties in the U.K.? Have you heard about the property licensing scheme for landlords? Well, if your let properties are located in the London Borough of Newham you will already know about this – but if not, beware, as a trend is about to start I suspect, across the whole of the U.K., adding yet more levels of financial and administrative burden to private landlords (whether you let as an individual landlord or through a limited company).

Many councils up and down the country are eagerly watching the growing success (including, dare I mention it, the revenue earning potential) of the property licensing scheme being run by Newham council.

Did Newham just invent their property licensing scheme? No, they used the provisions of the Housing Act 2004 - Part 3 – Section 88 – “Selective Licensing of Other Residential Accommodation...

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Camelot Europe


Industrial units: Should we be investing?

The UK economy has been rife with uncertainty over its stability despite a 1.2 per cent p.a. forecast for 2014. The cost of living is continuously becoming an issue with rental costs rising 3.9 per cent in the UK and Wales while wages are increasing by a mere 0.8 per cent creating speculation that pubic spend will decline further. However, despite the gloom professional investors are urging people to invest in brick and mortar with property funds yielding 4.5 per cent.

Property investment can be particularly attractive as borrowing costs are declining and there is a comfort in obtaining a steady alternative income.

The property market continues to be monopolised by geography with London and the South East proving popular compared to the rest of the country. The question is what type of property should be invested in?

According to MHW Magazine, industrial units could hold the...

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The Online Letting Agents


Make the Most of Your Property Advertising

When you use an online letting agent, such as The Online Letting Agents, your property will be advertised across the UK’s leading property websites, such as rightmove and zoopla.

Your online agent will ask you to provide a description of your property and accompanying photographs.

In order to achieve a high number of viewing requests, it is important that both the description and photographs “sell” the property, as it is the online advertisement that will determine whether a tenant will view your property or not.

Before you begin, consider who would want to rent your property, and who you would want to let it to. If your target market is young professionals, you will write a different description to if your target market is a family. Think about...

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Eliminate Electrical Fires in Your Premises

Heat Resistance Connections (HRC) in electrical circuits are a known cause of fires in all types of premises.

It is widely appreciated among professionals that a poor electrical connection in any mains electrical circuit can potentially create a hot spot and eventually a fire, which has been a serious menace virtually since electricity first arrived in buildings.

Within the distribution board or consumer unit, avoidance of overloading has been controlled by fuses and standard circuit breakers. More recently has arrived protection against electrocution and shock which has seen the implementation of imbalance detection. This is achieved by Residual Current Devices (RCD) or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters in North America (GFCI)

In some cases the above operations have been combined into one single unit which in the UK is known as a residual-current circuit...

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Tenancy deposit protection in the light of the case of Superstrike Ltd v Rodrigues

The Superstrike case was published a couple of weeks ago and has caused quite a furore among the landlord community.

What the case said

The case concerns a deposit taken BEFORE the tenancy deposit regulations came into force in April 2007 where the fixed term ended AFTER that time. The landlord did not protect the deposit as he did not believe it was necessary.

However the Court of Appeal awarded judgement for the tenant. There were two reasons:

1. A periodic tenancy which arises at the end of a fixed term, is in fact a new tenancy (although lawyers have long known this) and

2. The deposit should be treated as having been paid back to the tenant and repaid to the landlord at that stage (ie when the periodic tenancy arose), meaning that the deposit then needed to be protected at that time (or at any rate before the...

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Help to Buy Homes will not Benefit Economy Unless Renting is Boosted too

Government backing for people to buy homes could tie up people’s money in property and slow down the economic recovery, one of the region’s leading housing experts has warned.

Julia Williams, director of Midland property management specialists Premier Places, is urging Chancellor George Osborne to re-think what she has labelled as a “well-intentioned but flawed” budget pledge of taxpayer-funded subsidies to get the housing market moving.

Ms Williams fears that while there will be a boost to the construction industry, the Treasury-led scheme will direct too much of people’s personal finances into buying houses with mortgages they will find difficult to exit - as...

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Landlord Action
Elfin Kitchens


Editorial Comment – June 2013

As we begin to see tentative signs of economic recovery, particularly in the US economy, bond yields are rising and interest rates with inflation will surely follow. Whilst governments endeavour to engineer a soft landing as the financial world weans itself off quantitative easing, there are still severe risks of a further set-back in the highly indebted countries such as the Eurozone and to some extent including the UK.

The prolonged ultra low interest rate environment has encouraged risk taking in the search for income. Property is one destination for investors’ funds which generally offers a safe haven, a hedge against future inflation, the prospect of long-term capital appreciation and a good income providing you are not over extended and you can manage tenants.

However, as we warn here – see article: Beware the offer you can’t refuse – great care is needed when committing to some property investments, particularly when they are abroad and promoted by some of the more dubious property investment companies.

London has become a victim of its own success. The success of the capital relative to the rest of the UK (London’s share of Britain’s economic output is put at 22% by the ONS), and the attractiveness of London property as a safe haven for foreign investors’ money, are putting increasing pressure on housing for the middle and working classes in the capital.

London property prices are starting to rise again, despite the fact that prices have fallen or are still falling elsewhere. The cost of renting has risen to over half the average wage in two thirds of London boroughs, putting many workers under intolerable pressure.

All this is leading to calls for “rent stabilisation” or in other words rent control; that ugly phrase that will strike fear in the hearts of those landlords who remember the Rent Act era and know the full implications of such a move: rent control would be an absolute disaster for the property market in London. See our lead article: Rent Control: Is it a Real Possibility?

We include three articles here on the question of Deposit Protection and the recent appeal court judgement in Superstrike Limited v Marino Rodrigues [2013] EWCA Civ 669. In what appears, at first sight anyway, to be a perverse twist in a continuing saga, it seems to imply that deposits need to be re-protected and a new s213 notice served whenever a tenancy moves from a fixed-term to a periodic tenancy. Hopefully, common sense will prevail in the end when further clarification from the deposit protection agencies and perhaps a superior judgement arrives.

Electrical causes have long been a common reason for fires in premises. Heat Resistance Connections (HRC) in electrical circuits are a known to cause of fires in all types of buildings. A poor electrical connection in any mains electrical circuit can potentially create a hot spot and eventually a fire, which has been a serious menace virtually since electricity first arrived. A new, essentially British invention it is claimed can eliminate this risk – see the article: Eliminate Electrical Fires in Your Premises

Finally, James Davis, Upad CEO and Founder will be taking part in the 100-mile Prudential London-Surrey bike ride to support a very personal cause. His third child Abi was born with Down's Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects just 1 in 1,000 new born babies in the UK. As well as seeking to raise money for two Down's Syndrome charities, James wants to raise awareness of the condition, as is it often misunderstood. If you would like to help with a donation, click Here

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Book Review: Housing Law: an advisor’s handbook, second edition by Diane Astin and published by The Legal Action Group.

The English legal system on housing law is complex and based on principles going back hundreds of years. The contract law and basic common law principles underlying this, plus housing and landlord and tenant statues, in both private and public housing, have been defined, interpreted and refined over the years by many hundreds if not thousands of case decisions.

It’s a really interesting field when the basic historic principles of housing law and landlord and tenant law, as they have developed, are fully explained.

Some say the whole area is ripe for modernisation and reform, but if the experience of recent attempts at new legislation are anything to go by, (see other articles in this Newsletter on the Deposit Protection changes), then – in my humble opinion as a non lawyer - it’s perhaps wise rather that the authorities save themselves a lot of time and effort, accept things as they are, build on past experience, and be guided by the wisdom of experience and countless high court decisions.

Housing Law: an advisor’s handbook, second edition by Diane Astin and published by The Legal Action Group


For the layman, the landlord, the housing advisor and solicitors, there is therefore always a need for good analysis and clear interpretation which brings together the numerous strands all in one up-to-date volume.

This book easily fulfils such an aim. Published...

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Tenancy Deposit Protection

Following a recent appeal court decision, landlords need to take extra care when renewing tenancies or when tenancies become periodic tenancies as it is easy to fall fowl of this legislation.

Since the tenancy deposit protection legislation came into force on 6th April 2007 through the Housing Act 2004, there has been a raft of cases interpreting the effects and pitfalls for landlords in the private sector.

This subsequently led to amendments to the provisions which were largely viewed as a badly drafted piece of legislation. The amendments took effect from 6th April 2012 as part of the Localism Act 2011.

The latest twist in the life of this legislation came very recently on 14th June 2013 in the Court of Appeal’s decision in Superstrike Limited v Marino Rodrigues [2013] EWCA Civ 669.

Lord Justice Lloyd’s Judgement in that case creates a number of issues and potential problems for landlords protecting tenants’ deposits. The determination...

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Landlord & Letting Show - The Reebok Stadium in Bolton on Wednesday 26th & Thursday 27th June 2013


The Landlord & Letting Show comes to the North West

Supported by LandlordZONE and sponsored by British Gas and Direct Line Landlord Insurance, the Landlord & Letting Show comes to The Reebok Stadium in Bolton on Wednesday 26th & Thursday 27th June 2013.

Whatever your involvement in the private rented sector, this show promises to deliver everything you need to succeed!

Looking for access to great advice and deals?

Whether you’re involved in property on a personal or professional basis, visiting the show will be highly beneficial.

For over six years, landlords and prospective landlords, letting agents, developers, investors and more have been attending our exhibitions to be kept up-to-date on the latest developments and take advantage of some great product and service...

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Business Accountz


Reaction to Shelter’s Lettings Fees

Peter Grant, VTUK's Chief Executive, comments: “Shelter’s campaign to have lettings fees to tenants banned, which was granted in Scotland this year and launched in England & Wales on 12th June, also comes at a time when the news has been awash with reports of letting agents being targeted by protesters because they’re not being transparent enough with their fees.

“The Government seems to be holding fast with a “hands off” approach to the industry as a whole but as ever, public opinion can change this rapidly. In the case of Scotland, we held a round table meeting, including Shelter, leading agencies, law firms and the Shadow Minister only two days before the law was passed and the entire group felt it would be going nowhere. For this reason, it is crucial for the industry to act now, taking a pre-emptive and commercially viable approach rather than waiting for the axe to fall.

“Forward thinking agencies already operate schemes that produce transparent...

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Landlord Check List & Risk Reduction

A pre-tenancy checklist for landlords to help ensure all legal, necessary and sensible tasks have been completed which will help to minimise risk and reduce the likelihood of problems arising once the tenancy has started.

The majority of this list will be information most landlords are aware of already, but this guide is to provide all the information in a concise guide and to highlight that even the most trivial points can help to save you time and money, and help reduce the risk of your rental property being the next landlord horror story! Don’t leave anything to chance.

TENANT CHECKS AND TENANCY AGREEMENT MATTERS

1. Referencing your tenant.

We all understand the importance of this, but a reminder to all landlords, a full tenant reference check not only checks the tenants financial situation – but also confirms they are who they say they are.

2. Ensure your tenant is photo ID verified...

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Holding deposits – to charge or not to charge?

At the moment in the land of lettings, holding deposits are a hot topic! There are two schools of thought the first that holding deposits are a reservation type fee to safeguard landlords against void periods should tenants pull out at the last minute. The second that a holding deposit is a deposit and therefore must be protected by the landlord within an approved tenancy deposit protection scheme.

There appears to be no right or wrong answer. A recent court case in Brighton highlights this issue; a judge ruled that taking a rental payment in advance to secure a property constituted the landlord accepting a deposit which should have been protected. It is a vital point that a tenancy deposit must be protected within a TDPS and the relevant prescribed information provided to the tenant. If this process is not followed the landlord will be unable to gain possession of the property via Section 21 notice. Therefore if, as the judge in this case ruled, a holding deposit is considered...

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Landlord Action comments – TDS Court of Appeal Ruling

After reports emerged that thousands of landlords could face legal action for inadvertently breaking the law over tenancy deposit protection, Landlord Action’s solicitors are looking into the ruling in some detail as they say it does not make any sense at all.

It has been reported that tenants whose deposits were not re-protected when their fixed term tenancy rolled over into a statutory periodic tenancy (if they stayed on in the same property) after the tenancy deposit law became mandatory in April 2007, may have a legal case against landlords, even arguing any eviction was unlawful.

Clarifying just who may be affected, Justin Selig, Solicitor and Director at Landlord Action comments “Firstly, if you are a landlord and your tenant occupies your property under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy and you have taken a deposit from your tenant, then this applies to you. If you have not taken a deposit, then you have nothing to worry about.

“If you have taken...

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Another award for Belvoir Lettings After an Award-winning performance from Belvoir Telford

Belvoir Lettings are proud to announce that their office in Telford recently won the award for Outstanding Customer Service at the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce Business Awards 2013.

Held at The Telford International Centre, the annual award ceremony aims to highlight and recognise the success of local Shropshire businesses.

“We’re delighted to have won the Outstanding Customer Service Award,” say owners of Belvoir Telford Simon and Sally Bell. “To enter the award we put forward a written proposal of 500 words and were then visited by three judges including the sponsor, BMW, who met the team and saw the office. We presented the business case of why we thought we were suitable and answered a large number of questions, and provided our key performance indicators. From this we were then short-listed to four finalists, which included a wide variety of different businesses.

“Along with the team we attended the awards ceremony on Friday 14th June....

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Elfin Kitchens offer greater flexibility for landlords

Elfin Kitchens has expanded its range to offer greater flexibility for landlords in terms of delivery and cost.

The new contract range features a 1000mm and 1200mm kitchen that can be ordered with or without hotplates and the choice of a left or right handed sink. With cost remaining a significant factor for landlords, this new kitchen range does not include taps offering landlords more flexibility and the chance to install their own under-sink water heater with purpose made tap. The contract range are also pre-built which gives the landlord a quick and simple installation.

The Contract range does include a new click shut, flush fronted, no-handle door and a Techwood A+ rated fridge. Manufactured in the same durable, high quality power coated steel and worktops, the new range marries all the distinctive elements of quality and appearance but recognises the financial challenges faced by the landlord market.

Quite often your local authority will require additional dry storage or a length of impervious worktop to accompany the compact mini kitchen and these elements can be found in Elfin’s range of additions thereby making the kitchen ‘compliant’

Elfin prides itself on providing useful help and advice to landlords when they enquire about our range of products, this...

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Beware the offer you can’t refuse

In these straightened times, people, especially retirees, are looking for investments which provide a good income.

With interest rates at rock bottom levels, income from investments in safe banks and building societies does little to support the average lifestyle; no wonder more and more of us have to continue working into old age!

So, many people now look elsewhere for investments that can provide a good income, and what better and safer way to achieve that than putting your savings into bricks and mortar. Property ticks all the boxes: a tangible asset you can see and touch, very reassuring and a lot less risky than the stock market, you’ll get a good rental income, long term capital growth protecting you from future inflation, the list goes on.

That is until the unwary, the naive and the ever hopeful come up against the power of the slick salespeople of a certain class of property investment company, that peddle their wares through the most glossy advertising brochures and exceedingly slick high class HD websites.

A case in point is one company specialising in luxury hotel resort developments in the Caribbean, others have developments...

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Property Investor News


Private rentals favoured over social housing

What was the old belief, you just need to be young, female and fall pregnant to secure social housing for life?

Whilst we are sure this demographic is still being ‘looked after’, the trend for easily accessible housing now falls within the private rental sector. As waiting periods and lists for social housing increase, those looking to rent accommodation are finding their needs met promptly by private landlords as opposed to local authorities.

This change in direction is just one of the reasons noted in an article by the Independent newspaper, as to why private rental numbers have overtaken social housing numbers. According to the English Housing Survey 2011/2012, conducted by the Department for Communities & Local Government, 3.84 million rent privately compared to 3.8 million who are reliant on social housing.

The article also cites the following...

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Good landlord recognition for Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield lettings business

Newly-opened Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield lettings agency KIS Lettings have been recognised as one of Hertfordshire’s best landlords.

Despite opening for business just last month and only charging 5% full management fee, the company has already become the only letting agency in the Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield area to be accepted by the Partnership for Accreditation for Landlords scheme (PAL), a local project which recognises landlords who manage properties to a high standard.

Designed to raise the standard of rented homes in the Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield area, PAL gives tenants piece of mind that their homes will be kept safe and in good repair, their landlord will treat them with courtesy and respect and that if a problem arises with their property it will be solved quickly and effectively.

The scheme is operated by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and the University of Hertfordshire and supported by the Hertfordshire...

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Mixed-User Buildings and Service Charges

When a building comprises ground floor commercial premises let on a business tenancy, and upper part residential flat sold on a long lease, there are two ways for the landlord to recover the costs and expenses incurred by the landlord in connection with repair and decoration of the common parts of the building, such as main structure walls, foundations, roof, etc.

One way is a ‘pay-as-you-go’ clause in both leases whereby the respective tenants separately covenant to reimburse the landlord whenever expense is incurred. The other is a service charge, payable part in advance, the balance after the end of each yearly accounting period.

Even though when repairing, etc., covenants are only partly the tenant’s responsibility, there may not be a reciprocal covenant on the landlord to carry out the work. The CML likes defined responsibility, basically for the landlord...

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Investment Advice: a holiday cottage in the UK

Creating a top notch holiday cottage is a lifestyle choice and can be very rewarding. Investing in bricks and mortar (or thatch and cob) in the current UK property market is a long term game and even more so if you are considering dipping your toes in the holiday letting business. Repeat business is the key.

Your country bolt hole can earn its keep, whilst reserving some time for your own weekend escapes, but for your cottage to be considered a Furnished Holiday Letting for UK tax purposes it must meet the following criteria:

The holiday cottage must be available for rent to the public for at least 210 days of the year as of April 2012, and actually occupied with paying guests for at least 105 days in the year as of April 2012.

Jude Dalton of New Forest Living, an established holiday cottage business based in the New Forest, has the following advice; ‘Select an area which ticks the boxes for an all season destination - two hours from Greater London...

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Mock Civil Trial

2 JULY 2013 at 5pm

MARLBOROUGH TOWN HALL, WILTSHIRE

Entrance is free.

The trials will be conducted by three London barristers, including a senior treasury counsel who will play the part of the judge.

Professional stage, TV and radio actress Kim Hicks, whose credits include Casualty and Crossroads, will play the part of a rogue company director in one of the cases.

Marlborough lawyer Anthony Reeves, of The Merriman Partnership, who is staging the mock trials, explained: “The cases concern the personal liability of directors and late payment regulations. “The event would be of interest to small businesses, students or anybody who wants to get a better understanding of how the law works".

To reserve a seat, please call 01672 512244

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Letting Agents Fees are necessary but must be transparent and fair

Peter Girling, Chairman, Girlings Retirement Rentals comments on Shelter’s call for a Ban on Letting Fees.

Shelter has called for a ban on ‘out of control’ letting fees, which they say average around £350 per tenancy, but can be over £700.

They are calling for agencies to be barred from charging ‘administration’ and ‘holding fees’, which in some cases are non-refundable, even if the agreement falls through.

Whilst there are undoubtedly unscrupulous letting agents out there, most are not and the reservation and administration fee reflects a contribution by the tenant to the cost of the work involved in referencing and processing the legal paperwork before a tenancy commences.

The idea that the customer contributes to the cost of setting up a long-term financial transaction is well established and not confined to the residential lettings industry. The essential thing is for agents to ensure that their fees are reasonable, justifiable and most importantly, transparent.

Setting up a tenancy requires skilled and trained staff, especially for agents like ourselves that deal with vulnerable groups such...

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TWD Accountants

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