Far too often I hear of local authorities criticising letting agents or landlords and even prosecuting them so it was a pleasant surprise to hear of a council actually praising them.
Burnley Council has been quick to laud the professional approach of some agents and landlords in their district when organising the letting and management of residential properties. The council prides itself on actively working with private landlords and encouraging them to raise their standards.
Many things distinguish us Brits from Continental Europe but one of the biggest is our obsession with home ownership.
This obsession was fuelled throughout the 20th Century. When it began, only 23% of the population owned their own homes. By its end that figure had been turned on its head with just 35% living in rented property.
Today, however, home ownership in the UK is falling for the first time in a century. We find ourselves crammed into the smallest homes in Europe. Should renting really be so undesirable?
I heard recently about a landlord who had let a property to three students. He had reason to believe that a fourth person had moved in and wondered whether it would cause problems for him.
My most immediate concern would be that it could invalidate the landlord’s insurance policy. If the insurer has been told that there are three students in residence then that is what they expect. The fourth person might be claiming benefits, for instance, and that could create issues.
I was asked by a landlord recently what my views were on allowing tenants to keep pets in rented accommodation. My answer? It depends…
If you say “definitely no pets allowed” then you will be drastically restricting your market. A gerbil or hamster in a cage is still a pet but unlikely to cause any damage, for example.
My general rule is to say ‘pets considered’. This covers you nicely but it does mean there is a judgement call to make. Providing one of the tenants is at home at least part time then I usually have no problem with a cat or dog as they will be supervised much of the time.
I recently read of a horrific case of fraud in the world of lettings. Martin Marcus has been jailed for four and a half years after admitting five cases of fraud at Harrow Crown Court.
Barnet Council Trading Standards carried out a four year investigation into Marcus’ actions and found that he scammed tenants and landlords alike out of some £220,000 in rents and deposits.
A report has confirmed that there is an increasing trend towards renting long term over buying a property.
Scottish lettings agency D J Alexander Lettings surveyed tenants whose leases were expiring between February and May this year. Just 17% said they intended buying a property rather than continuing to rent.
A data marketing agency has published a list of the most popular phrases typed into search engines by prospective property purchasers and tenants.
The agency, Blueclaw, claims an obvious key phrase such as “houses for sale” will attract an average of 368,000 searches per month.
In this internet age Google’s Consumer Barometer Survey has estimated 84% of people say the first place they look for any information in general is online. The figure searching for property or real estate information on the internet is 79%.
I was horrified recently to hear of the case of a rogue landlord harassing tenants to such an extent that a court ordered him to appoint a managing agent.
In what is believed to be the first case of its kind, a landlord in the Midlands has been issued with a Criminal Behaviour Order requiring him to instruct an agent to manage his portfolio of properties to let.
The ruling was made by Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court and is effective on the landlord, Jaspal Singh Sahota, for ten years.
If you are thinking about buying a property with the intention of letting it out, you are going to want to know which is likely to let quickest and with the least trouble.
While nobody can be sure 100% of the time, properties that let quickly are likely to have most of these features:
• Convenient location. Good transport connections and being close to shops, schools and parks are important to people. If you are considering student lets then quick and easy access to college or university is essential.
I was interested to read the results of a recent survey by Belvoir, a nationwide franchise operation specialising in letting properties.
Of the landlords surveyed, 68% said they had not raised rents in the last twelve months but 88% believed that the increased costs for purchasing buy to let properties introduced by the government would inevitably lead to a general increase in rents.
I fear the fallout continues following the Chancellor’s announcement of a 3% increase in Stamp Duty for buy-to-let properties and second homes in his Autumn Statement.
The increase is due to be introduced in April and there is speculation that small landlords will rush to purchase properties to let before that deadline.
The Chancellor George Osborne gave the housing industry plenty of good news recently in his Autumn Statement. At the same time, though, he announced a 3% increase in Stamp Duty for buy-to-let properties and second homes, which analysts fear could lead to price hikes and resultant rent increases.
The positive news for the housing market was the announcement that the Government’s housing budget would be doubled to £2 billion to build more homes. The Chancellor made a commitment to building 400,000 new homes by 2020.
Savills, one of London’s top Estate Agents, has published research which shows demand for buy-to-let property will continue to increase in coming generations as domestic tenancies rise while property ownership falls.
I was surprised to read that they predict fewer than half of those people born in 1990 will be home owners by the time they reach 40. Their Residential Property Focus 2015 reveals some 53% of people born in 1960 owned their own home by the age of 30, which rose to 71% at the age of 40 and 79% at 50.
I was shocked to read recently of a landlord who let a property with serious health and safety issues to vulnerable adults and was subsequently fined £1,350 for breaches of the Housing Act 2004.
John Kiernan pleaded guilty to failing to implement satisfactory management standards when letting the property in Birkenhead. When housing officers from the Wirral Council inspected the property they found it had several health and safety risks:
• There were no fire precautions
• The electrical wiring was in a dangerous condition, including some exposed live wires
• There was serious damp and mould was growing
• Some of the windows were boarded up
• The kitchen and bathroom facilities were extremely poor