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Is Facebook Marketplace the new Rightmove? asks top agent

A prominent regional agent says the industry owes it to vendors to try competing marketing outlets for property, and not to rely solely on portals - and he’s tipping Facebook Marketplace to eventually topple Rightmove from dominance.

Sean Newman is chairman of Rugby-based Newman Property Experts and a partner of Fine & Country’s activities in the Midlands; he is also an advocate of the ‘associate’ model of estate agent, working with the support of a centralised hub. 

Newman is also a devotee of contemporary marketing, using Instagram, Facebook and other social media as well as portals - he uses Rightmove and OnTheMarket. 

But he recognises that in a market with rising costs for agents, there is a need to maximise competition to existing services such as the major portals.

“I recognise that Rightmove has done and is doing a fantastic job. No one had heard of it 20 years ago when it started and now it’s dominant. But it now presents two problems to the industry” he has told Estate Agent Today.

“Firstly it could be said to be abusing its dominance by its increasing fees. Secondly, and this isn’t Rightmove’s fault, but it’s made some agents lazy because they think if they just list something on the portal it’s job done - that means they’ve become little more than Purplebricks” he explains.

However, he believes that Facebook Marketplace could become a genuine rival to Rightmove - and it’s free for agents to use.

“Anyone setting up a rival to Rightmove has an almost impossible task to get public awareness and spend enough on marketing, but that’s not the case with Facebook: it’s already known to everyone and isn’t going to close down anytime soon” argues Newman. 

“When you first look on Facebook Marketplace you say ‘oh my God’ because it’s got so much more than you anticipate. And that’s why it’s a natural for homes” he says. 

Newman believes that in 12 months time, this could become an obvious place for prospective buyers to look - but only if enough agents upload their property details.

OnTheMarket automatically puts its members’ properties on Facebook Marketplace and Newman says agents worried about the overhead of loading inventories could use OTM or other non-portal providers that can do fast bulk uploads at a low cost.

“And most of all, agents owe their vendors an obligation to market their properties as far and wide as possible - and Facebook Marketplace is ideal for that” he insists.


Four in ten letting agents thought of giving up as fees ban threatened income and profits

Four in ten letting agents have considered ceasing trading over the past year amid falling profitability.

One in five agents lost 20% or more of their revenue as a result of this year’s fees ban, and only 2% saw no loss in revenue at all.

To counteract the loss of revenue, 80% of agents raised landlord fees and 60% introduced new revenue streams, while the same proportion cut costs.

The new annual Fixflo Lettings Report, based on responses from 443 agents and 223 landlords, also found evidence that the industry is coming to terms with the effects of the ban.

While 39% of agents said they had thought about quitting, this was actually down from the 42% who contemplated it the year before – ahead of the ban.

The current issue of most concern is landlords quitting or reducing their stake in the sector.

Over a quarter (27%) of landlords are planning to sell at least some of their rental properties.

The phased abolition of tax relief on mortgage interest is cited as one concern, and the impending abolition of Section 21 is another.

Responses from letting agents showed their concerns, with almost three-quarters reporting that “landlords selling their properties” was the main reason they lose clients.

Almost all landlords (89%) said they had found owning and letting properties harder over the past year.

Fixflo has also released a new report on the leasehold and block management market.

It surveyed 207 individuals representing 170 leasehold and block management companies and 37 industry suppliers.

The report found low profit margins in firms with over £500,000 turnover, and average deficits of 12.5% in those with lower turnovers.

The report also found demanding workloads, with companies typically growing their businesses but not their profits.

In almost half of firms, one property manager looks after fewer than 20 buildings, but about a quarter of firms have at least 30 buildings under one property manager, and 7% have each property manager looking after 50 buildings or more.

The report identifies build to rent as a “£2.6bn missed opportunity” for the sector, saying that 70% of block management companies have not expanded into build to rent.


Lettings platform warns void periods are rising despite start of traditionally busy lettings season

Lettings platform Goodlord is claiming void periods are on the rise, despite this time of year traditionally being one of the busiest for letting agents.

Analysis of 4,000 tenancies processed through the platform last month found that void periods increased in seven out of eight regions in England and Wales.

Void periods in the west midlands more than doubled month-on-month, moving from 15 days in August to 34 in September. Void periods in Wales and the east midlands were at 23 and 26 days respectively.

The shortest void periods in September were recorded in the north east, where it took just ten days to fill an empty property in September, up from seven days in August.

London was the only region in the sample with a reduction in void periods, dropping from 14 days to just 11 in September.

Overall, it took an average of 18 days to fill an empty property in the UK in September, up from just 11 days on average in August.

Tom Mundy, chief operating officer at Goodlord, said: “The trends seen throughout the summer were characterised by very low void periods and an uptick in average rents. The figures for September show that this ‘summer bump’ for agents and landlords might be coming to an end.

“Void periods have ticked up again across nearly all regions, taking us back to levels seen in the first quarter of 2019, and average rent prices are proving jumpier as the market adjusts to new levels of demand.

“As we move into the winter months, letting agents and landlords should do all they can to ensure their business models can withstand any forthcoming market fluctuations.”

Autumn is traditionally a busy time of year for agents and the mood on the ground appears to contradict Goodlord’s figures.

Marc Schneiderman, managing director of Arlington Residential, told EYE: “We have had no significant change during the month of September, although generally we are experiencing more tenants renewing their leases as they feel it is not quite yet the time to buy.”

Tim Hassell, managing director of Draker Lettings, said numbers have been stable and are helped by an influx of students as well as those who come to study and choose to stay and rent after they graduate.

He said: “We have seen a stable level of new properties coming to the market, but an increase in tenant numbers and new tenancies being agreed.”

James Somers, head of residential letting at Sotheby’s UK, said: “I saw void periods fall during September which was fuelled largely by the huge demand which is typical for the time of year but combined with the lack of supply we’re experiencing at the moment.

“Tenants are securing properties as soon as they come back to the market and aren’t taking any risks in waiting for something better to come along, as in this current market there is no guarantee of when that might happen.

“There is large demand from international students in September who are prepared to pay a premium to be in popular areas or on the doorstep of their university as well as paying six months to a year’s rent upfront which can be very attractive to a landlord and not always something your normal renter can match.

“This means competition is rife and securing a property as soon as possible is essential.

“We now have more than five prospective tenants on our books for every new letting.”

A Goodlord spokesman said the difference could be due to its users having relatively lower void periods in the summer months.


Rent rises reach record high for fourth consecutive month

The number of tenants experiencing rent rises following the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act continued its upward curve in August.

The latest figures from ARLA Propertymark show 64% of agents witnessing landlords increasing rents, up from 63% in July.

This figure is significantly higher than the 40% of agents who reported rent rises in August last year and the 35% recorded in August 2017.

ARLA Propertymark says the number of renters experiencing higher rents has now reached a record high for the last four consecutive months.

To reach these figures, the trade body, which started keeping these records in January 2015, surveyed 279 of its members during September.

The study also found that rental property supply increased from 184 properties managed per letting agency branch in July to 197 in August.

On an annual basis, the level of supply has remained the same, however it is 4% higher than the figure recorded in August 2017.

Alongside rising supply, tenant demand also increased in August, up to an average of 76 prospective renters per branch from 73 the previous month.

Meanwhile, the number of landlords leaving the market remained steady at four per branch in August.


Up they go: Fees Ban already producing record numbers of rent rises

The number of tenants experiencing rent rises increased to the highest figure on record in July according to data just produced by the Association of Residential Letting Agents. 

No fewer than 63 per cent of agents witnessed some of their landlord clients increasing rents during July - this is a 15 per cent increase from June which was itself a previous record high.

Back in July 2018 the proportion of agents seeing rent rises was just 31 per cent.

David Cox, ARLA Propertymark chief executive, says: “Following the Tenant Fees Act coming into force in June, rents have continued to rise, which we believed would happen. The fees agents have been banned from charging are still being paid for by tenants - however it’s now through their rent, rather than upfront costs. 

Meanwhile agents had an average of 184 properties under management per NAEA member branch in July, a decrease from 199 in June.

Demand also increased in July, with the number of prospective tenants registered on average per branch rising to 73 compared to 70 in June.

Year on year, demand has fallen, from 79 house hunters registered per branch in July 2018.

And last month the number of landlords exiting the market remained at four per branch. This remains the same from July 2018.

“The fall in the number of properties available further increases competition in the market, which only pushes rents up or forces landlords to exit the market entirely. As the sector faces increased levels of legislation, it’s evident this is putting even more pressure on the industry” says Cox.

Source: www.lettingagenttoday

Average rents fall across much of the country, says latest index

Average rents dropped in five of the eight UK regions monitored by property technology company Goodlord.

The biggest drop was recorded in the West Midlands where average monthly rents fell from £719 in June to £711 last month - a dip of 1.11 per cent. The South East, South West, London and Wales also saw average monthly rents fall. 

In contrast, the North West saw a month-on-month increase of 1.95 per cent, taking average rents in the region to £750. The East Midlands and the North East also saw small increases. 

The shifts in July’s figures take the average rent for the whole of the UK to £906 per month. 

The highest rents by some margin continue to found in London, where they currently stand at £1,608. 

This is almost twice that of the next most expensive region, the South East, where the average rental cost was £992 in July. 

Meanwhile, the South West continues to have the lowest average void periods in the UK, where it took just nine days to fill a property in July. 

It took almost three times as long to fill a vacant property in the East Midlands in July, where the average void period remained unchanged from June at 25 days.

However, all eight regions were recording lower void periods in July than their year-to-date average, pointing to an uptick in the pace of lettings across the UK as a whole.

London of course continues to be the least affordable region for renters in the UK, with an affordability ratio of 3.3. 

Goodlord defines affordability as a tenant’s guaranteed yearly income divided by their yearly rent share, with 2.5 considered the minimum affordable ratio. 

The North East, West Midlands and Wales were the most affordable regions in July, each with an average affordability ratio of 3.9.


Online agents undervalued, underpaid and 'not really self-employed'

One of the most experienced and high profile figures in the industry says individual agents working for online companies are typically suffering from low income, struggle to have a good work/life balance, and don’t enjoy the true benefits of self-employment.

Adam Day has been an estate agent for 22 years and is best known for a trio of online positions - he founded one of the first online agencies, Hatched, in 2005 and then sold it to Connells in 2015, after which he headed up operations at easyProperty before joining the original Emoov where he was head of estate agency for a short period. 

Now Day is leading the UK activities of EXP Realty, a US estate agency that describes itself as ‘the Amazon of property’ and which allows its freelance agents a higher-than-usual chunk of sales commission as well as equity in the company.

In an extensive interview with industry commentator and consultant Christopher Watkin, Day talks about the challenge of agents going self-employed - “making the big jump” - and how in some cases they are disappointed at the lack of empowerment that comes with working for themselves, despite believing it was going to be easier.

Referring specifically to online agents, most of which have self-employed local experts, he says: “Some of them have to have three interviews, have to ask for holidays, have to work own Saturdays, they’re expected to hit targets - that’s not being self-employed.”

He says many agents in the online sector are frustrated at reduced investment by the surviving businesses which have been unable to sustain high spending levels, and says there is a widespread feeling amongst online agents that “It’s not worth my while to go out to do this for £250 a listing.”

Day admits that on a practical basis going into self-employment in an online agency may be easier than doing the same thing with a traditional bricks-and-mortar firm because the £250-per-listing comes relatively quickly - typically as soon as there listing is confirmed - while waiting for a commission to come through from a private treaty sale can take weeks or months. 

But he insists many self-employed agents in the online sector in particular suffer from an inability to achieve the work-life balance they wanted. 

He is also wary of how agents employed by firms - particularly corporates - “are part of a very rigid process” that means they cannot express themselves fully as salespeople or as entrepreneurs, working to a regime that often allows little scope for personal initiative. 

It’s a fascinating interview with one of the leading figures in the industry. It’s kindly been made available exclusively to readers of Estate Agent Today by Christopher Watkin - you can see the full discussion below.


Fees Ban: record rent rises in response to Tenant Fees Act

Mixed picture for rent rises in first month of the tenant fees ban

Average rents climbed slightly in the first month of the tenant fees ban but are still lower than at the start of the year.

Analysis of the tenancies processed through lettings platform Goodlord found average rents in England and Wales increased from £901 in May to £907 in June, when the ban was introduced.

The average is still below the £917 recorded in January.

The ban won’t be applied in Wales until September but rents were up by 5.8% on a monthly basis to £800.

In e was a 5.7% increase in the south west to £947 per month.

Rents did fall in some areas, down 6.1% in the south-east and 1.3% in London.

The research also showed void periods across the UK fell from 20.3 to 16.1 days, with the highest at 25 in the east midlands.

The south-west and Wales had the lowest void periods at nine days.

Tom Mundy, co-founder of Goodlord, said: “It’s been another interesting month across the UK. We continue to see a range of market factors affecting average rental prices.

“Whilst London prices are holding fairly steady, we’ve seen a big drop across the south east as a whole.

“This contrasts sharply with a steady rise in rents for the south west and Wales.

“As we move into the summer – typically the busiest season for lettings – it will be interesting to see what the impact of student housing churn and the repercussions of the tenant fees ban have on rental costs and void periods.”

JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune2019 Regional AverageMonth on month % change May-June
East Midlands£842£864£820£832£805£800£827-0.6
Greater London£1,694£1,619£1,651£1,652£1,643£1,621£1,647-1.3
North East£653£635£645£618£634£657£6403.6
North West£815£752£761£774£711£735£7583.3
South East£984£967£984£1,009£1,044£980£995-6.1
South West£947£878£902£867£896£947£9065.7
West Midlands£668£689£673£699£720£719£695-0.1
UK average£917£887£898£902£901£907£902


Ending Section 21 evictions will be a disaster, agents and landlords warn

The largest ever poll of landlords and letting agents conducted in recent times has found that 46% are expecting to scale back their activity in the private rental sector if the government ends Section 21 evictions.

Conducted by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), it received responses from 6,500 letting agents and landlords, the largest in its history.

The proposed end to Section 21 evictions would  appear to be a ‘final straw’ for many following the tenant fees ban, tax relief reductions, Stamp Duty increases, proposed ‘indefinite tenancies’ and mandatory qualifications for letting agents.

This is because, the RLA claims, the alternative Section 8 notice court process can take up to five months to complete.

According to the survey, of those landlords with experience of such repossessions, 79 per cent did not consider the courts to be reliable.


The survey is not all fire and brimstone. Landlords and letting agents overwhelmingly support the introduction of a national housing court to bring all disputes under one roof, and 40% of respondents said they’d wait and see what other regulations might be in the pipeline before deciding whether to rein back their private rental sector activity.

“Security of tenure means nothing unless the homes to rent are there in the first place,” says David Smith, Policy Director for the Residential Landlords Association.

“With the demand for private rented housing showing no signs of slowing down it is vital that landlords are confident that they can quickly and easily get back their property in legitimate circumstances.

“Whilst the system should clearly be fair to tenants, it needs also to support and encourage good landlords.”


Landlords shocked to be told their costs will rise because of tenancy fees ban

With just over a month to go, some landlords are apparently only just waking up to the price of the tenancy fees ban.

In this link to Property Tribes, one landlord says how his letting agent has just told him “what they are going to do to ensure that they can still drive their big flash cars”.

Rents charged to tenants will go up; charges to the landlord will go up by 1%; and the tenant find fee will rise from £150 to £350.

“A kick in the teeth for loyalty,” complains the landlord.

Another landlord says that they too have been notified of new fees, including a £225 compliance and reference charge at the start of each new tenancy; check-out fee of £60; inventory £60; and deposit management fee of £12.

Vanessa Warwick, EYE contributor and co-founder of Property Tribes, says: “I wonder how tenants will react when they hear the news that the rent is being increased due to the tenant fees ban?

“This is the perfect example of unintended consequences when the Government tinkers around the edges of the PRS, pulling various different levers without understanding the knock-on effect.”


Fees Ban will prompt lettings revamp, says property management firm

The ban on tenants’ fees beginning on June 1 presents an opportunity to overhaul the private rental sector, says a property management firm.

Mark Neighbour of Mcilroy Smith says agents could use the ban to boost the status of the sector.

“Combined with requirements for qualifications, this will also hopefully go some way to improve the negative view of lettings professionals and instead allow managers to be seen as a qualified professional service - which the majority are” he says. 

“The evolution of the ‘high street agent’ has been clearly on the horizon for many years now…The fees ban is just the next mechanism which is driving this change. I believe the business needs to change to meet the new challenges raised by legislation and changes in technology but also to improve the way qualified agents are viewed.  

“Clear transparent pricing based on service is the best way to accomplish this and show both tenants and landlords that they are working with a professional and ethical company.”

But he warns that if most agents charge higher fees to landlords, this would drive up rents.

“We do not think that it has to mean rent increases for the tenants in general” he says. 


Foxtons rules out new branch closures but suffers huge fall in transactions

Foxtons has ruled out further branch closures as it continues to struggle against what it calls “the continued weakness” of the London market.

Late last year the company closed offices at Beckenham, Enfield, Loughton, Ruislip, Park Lane and Barnes but it insists that is sufficient to meet its current targets - the firm continues to cover over 85 per cent of London postcodes from 61 branches.

It has "no current plans for further closures" according to a statement.

In its full year figures for 2018, revealed this morning, it says group revenue declines five per cent but the largest drop by far was in sales revenue - this plummeted 15 per cent from £42.6m in 2017 (already a weak figure) to just £36.2m last year.

This represented a drop in sales volumes from 2,962 to 2,529.

However, the company describes its lettings revenue as “resilient” - it actually rose marginally from £66.3m in 2017 to £67.0m in 2018 - it has 19,621 units under management, which is slightly below its 2017 figure.

The company’s Alexander Hall mortgage business also saw a six per cent decline in revenue to £8.3m last year, although Foxtons insists this was “a solid performance” given the state of the London market.

Overall, Foxtons' pre-tax losses were, as expected, some £17.2m last year contrasting with £6.5m profits in 2017; group revenue dipped from £117.6m to £111.5m, and adjusted EBITDA was down from £15.1m to £3.6m.

There will be no final dividend.

Garry Watts, Foxtons chairman, says: “The London sales market is in a prolonged downturn and the current uncertainty surrounding Brexit is clearly impacting consumer confidence. We are managing the business to reflect this and ensure we are well prepared for any change in market conditions. 

“Foxtons retains a strong balance sheet with no debt and has a powerful, high service model, which is increasingly relevant to our clients who want an agent that delivers results. Technology is improving our business both by making it more efficient and enabling clients to interact in a way that is most convenient for them.”  

And Nic Budden, chief executive, adds in this morning’s statement: “We are managing the business for these conditions with a focus on cost control and appropriate investment to improve efficiency and reinforce our customer focused offering.  

“Our brand and its associated characteristics of high service levels, professionalism and delivering for customers, resonates in the market as evidenced by the thousands of customers who continue to trust Foxtons to sell or let their property. We will continue to evolve and enhance our offer in a way that builds on this and maintains our differentiation.”


Government revises rental property minimum room size guidance

In an announcement made just hours before much of the industry started its Christmas break, the government has clarified its guidance on minimum room sizes.

Since October this year, rooms used for sleeping by one person over 10 years old have had to be at least  6.51 square metres, and those slept in by two people over 10 years old will have had to at least 10.22 square metres. 

Rooms slept in by children of 10 years and younger have had to be at least 4.64 square metres.

The Residential Landlords Association had raised concerns that the regulations could have led to landlords being in breach of the law where a pregnant tenant gave birth.

“Whilst the RLA believes that tenants should never face the dangers of overcrowded accommodation, it was concerned that the changes could have seen councils required to take action against landlords where a tenant gave birth and as a result there were two people in a room sized for one. A landlord who sought to evict in this scenario would be carrying out unlawful discrimination” says the association.

However the government has now cleared up the potential confusion with a guidance note issued on Friday afternoon.

The guidance says that in instances where a tenant has given birth to a child since moving into a House of Multiple Occupation, there is an expectation that local authorities will not be acting in the public interest if they commence a prosecution.

David Smith, RLA policy director, says: “We warmly welcome this new guidance. It reflects considerable work between the RLA and the government in addressing serious concerns about the consequences of the room size changes.

“The government has clearly listened to our concerns and this document should provide much greater assurances to landlords and tenants alike.”


Rents 'growing strongly in regional cities but not in London'

Rents in major regional cities are growing significantly faster than both London and the UK average, according to data from buy to let lender Landbay. 

It says UK rents rose by 0.03 per cent in November which, although the lowest monthly rise since the start of the study, feeds into growth of 0.97 per cent over the full year. 

This is fractionally better than at the same point in 2017. 

The average monthly UK rent currently sits at £1,212, a rise of £10 since the start of the year. When London is removed, rents sit at £769, up from £761 since the beginning of 2018.

Rents are rising in 27 of the 33 London boroughs, a very different picture from this time in 2017 when rents were falling in 26 of the capital’s boroughs. 

While every region in the UK has seen rents rising, the speed of growth has not been consistent - with all areas other than London experiencing a slowdown.

The East Midlands (up 2.25 per cent), Yorkshire and Humberside (up 1.5 per cent) and the West Midlands (up 1.48 per cent) have all experienced the most substantial growth in the past year and are expected to climb further in 2019, says the lender.

Growth in the North East peaked to its highest point in two years in November 2017 but since then growth has depreciated to 0.05 per cent on an annual basis – it’s lowest growth rate since August 2013.

“It’s hard to escape the fact that we’ve seen a slowdown in the property market due to Brexit uncertainty and recent tax and regulatory changes for landlords” explains John Goodall, chief executive and co-founder of Landbay.

“In that context, these growth figures show just how resilient property continues to be as an asset class. As with all investments, it is prudent to have a diversified portfolio – backed up in the case of buy-to-let by London’s recent fall and revival alongside strong performances from cities including Leeds and Manchester.

“London’s green shoots paint a positive picture for landlords ahead of what will likely be testing economic times with Brexit and further interest rate rises expected.”

While London’s rental growth stands at 0.58 per cent year-on-year, it is now cities like Leeds (up 2.54 per cent), Birmingham (up 2.05 per cent) and Manchester (up 1.91 per cent) which are experiencing accelerated annual growth, claims Landbay.

It says this could be attributed to internal migration as millennials leave the capital at the highest rate in almost a decade. Since the start of 2012, London has seen a net loss of nearly half a million residents as people vote with their feet amid the growing living and housing costs.

“The truth is there is now a twin speed rental market as London’s rent growth is dwarfed by cities such as Leeds and Manchester. This is being fuelled by the capital’s millennial exodus as countless young professionals realise there is more to life than London. This same message carries weight with landlords, who are increasingly seeing the value of investing in these regional hubs” says Goodall.

“In many ways it could be argued that the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ is beginning to take effect amid stretched affordability and a harsher tax regime.”


Asking prices to go down in the south but up in the north next year, says Rightmove

Asking prices will stay flat next year, Rightmove is forecasting.

It believes that the “current sound fundamentals of the housing market” will continue, but that any increase in political or economic uncertainty would have a detrimental effects.

Rightmove says asking prices in the north could rise by 2% to 4%, but that prices in the London commuter belt could drop by 2%.

Asking prices across London will still fall, but by 1%, rather than the current annual rate of decrease of 2.4%.

Rightmove director Miles Shipside managed to deliver the forecast without mentioning Brexit, although he did refer to uncertainty.

He said: “Since the property market’s recovery from the 2008 financial crisis, many parts of the northern half of the UK have seen marginal or relatively modest price increases.

“We predict that these areas will continue to see price rises, though tempered by affordability constraints. In contrast, regions in and around the influence of London saw prices go up in a five-year period by an average of around 40%.

“Consequently, we forecast that these previously booming areas will continue to see modest downward price re-adjustments in 2019.

“Agents in some locations are reporting that home movers are being negatively influenced by the ongoing political uncertainty, and a more certain outlook would obviously assist market sentiment.

“Whilst uncertainty traditionally deters some discretionary movers, particularly at the high end of the market, there are many would-be buyers and sellers who will be getting on with their lives and will be keeping the market moving.”


Rental market 'has fallen into recession' says The DPS

A gloomy report from The Deposit Protection Service says the UK’s rental market is in recession for the first time since the banking crisis started a decade ago. 

The latest figures from The DPS Rent Index show that during the April-to-May period of this year, average monthly UK rent decreased for a second consecutive quarter; this last happened in 2009. 

Average rent also fell year on year for the first time since the crisis, falling £10 or 1.3 per cent from £774.

Julian Foster, managing director at The DPS, says: “Following almost a year of low growth, the UK rental market is now in recession in almost every part of the country. On top of this, our prediction last quarter that rents would decline year-on-year in Q2 for the first time since 2009 have proven accurate.

“There are clearly long-term issues with the sector that are having a substantial effect on growth, particularly in the capital, and it’s difficult to see this negative trend ending any time soon.”

These two consecutive quarters in which average rent decreased followed three quarters of low rent growth; and average rent in Q2 2018 was cheaper than it has been since Q3 2016.

Outside of London, average rent during Q2 2018 was £671 - this is £5 or 0.75 per cent lower than a year earlier.

Average rent was lower during Q2 2018 than Q2 2017 in every UK region except Northern Ireland, Scotland and the South West.

Yorkshire experienced the greatest percentage decline in average rent between Q2 2017 and Q2 2018 by 2.95 per cent or £17 from £567 to £550.

London experienced the greatest value decline in average rent between Q2 2017 and Q2 2018 by £36 or 2.73 per cent from £1,326 to £1,289.

During Q2 2018, the North East was the cheapest UK region in which to rent property - £527.

Average UK rent also decreased as a proportion of average UK wage from 32.56 per cent to 32.13 per cent between Q2 2017 and Q2 2018.

The DPS’ report is available here.


Property transactions hit four-year low, but are sales picking up?

Transactions in England and Wales are at their lowest level since the new graduated rates of Stamp Duty were introduced, but may be starting to improve, figures suggest.

Data from property investor London Central Portfolio (LCP), based on cumulative Land Registry sales registered in the 12 months to July, show residential property transactions fell 2% in that period to 876,628.

This is the lowest annual figure since the new graduated Stamp Duty system was introduced in 2014, LCP said.

Average prices in England and Wales are up 2.5% annually in the 12 months to July to £293,897, while new-builds are priced at a 21% premium at £343,175, according to the research.

The capital has seen a bigger drop in sales, down 8.3% over the 12 months to 3,831 in prime areas and 6.5% in Greater London to 88,189.

Average prices in prime central London (PCL) are up 12.5% annually to £1.96m, while Greater London saw a 2.2% increase to £293,897.

The data also shows that new-build prices in London have reached record highs, at £3.4m in PCL and £784,892 in Greater London.

Naomi Heaton, chief executive of LCP, said: “There are very few causes for optimism in the domestic property market, where real terms, inflation-adjusted house prices are no higher than they were in 2007.

“Affordability remains heavily constrained in a post-Mortgage Market Review world, where wage growth struggles to out-pace inflation.

“Artificial stimulation of the market through Help to Buy and first-time buyer incentives has supported the market but there is a general reticence amongst up- and down-sizers to commit at this point.

“The continued lack of a defined exit plan from the European Union, combined with economic uncertainty and a number of punitive tax changes targeting the buy-to-let sector, have caused the market to stagnate.”

However, official Land Registry data suggests transactions actually picked up last month.

Its latest Price Paid Data for July 2018 shows 89,454 residential sales lodged at the Land Registry last month.

This was up 12.2% on June and the third consecutive month that registrations have increased.

The figure is also up 1.7% annually.

There is a time lag between a property sale and its registration, but the Land Registry said 24,719 transactions took place in July of which 526 were of residential properties in England and Wales for £1m and over.

The most expensive residential sale was of a terrace property in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London for £18.5m, while the cheapest was a terrace property in Henllys, Cwmbran, for £6,120.


Three sets of agents fined after 11 people found crammed into three-bedroom house

Three managing agents have been  fined after a property  was  used for multiple occupation with 11 people living in a three-bedroom house.

Rockpole Ltd, Woodlands Ltd and Station Estates were all found guilty of failing to license a House in Multiple Occupation that was severely over-crowded and unlicensed.

Barking and Dagenham Council originally sent someone to the road to visit another property for a compliance inspection in February 2017. It was during this visit that the property managed by the defendants came to the officer’s attention.

Looking from outside the property, the officer noticed a bed in the front room and five bins that were filled with rubbish. After knocking at the door, they were greeted by a woman who was unable to communicate with them.

Council enforcement officers later returned to visit the property and discovered five rooms with six double beds and two single beds. There was only one bathroom and one bedroom had severe mould due to lack of ventilation and the number of occupants living there.

After researching the property, officers found the landlord spent the majority of the time travelling away on business and had recruited a managing agent – Rockpole – in October 2016 to rent out the property for £1200.

The landlord was unaware that Rockpole had signed an agreement with Woodlands to sub-let the property and then did a further sub-let with Station Estates to increase the number of tenants living in the property.

The managing agents increased the rent to £2,000 which was paid in cash by the tenants and were making a profit of £165 per month, the council says on its website.

It said that the landlord had no knowledge there were another two managing agents involved and they were all taking a share of money from the property.

A legal case was put together by Barking and Dagenham Council and all the managing agents were summoned to appear at Romford County Court on  October 22 where they pleaded not guilty.

The case was referred to Romford Magistrates Court where snow postponed the first trial date in February.

All three have now been convicted of failing to license an HMO under section 72 of the Housing Act 2004.

Rockpole were fined £2,500 while Woodlands and Station Estates were both ordered to pay £2,000.

Cllr Margaret Mullane, cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, said: “We will not tolerate any estate agents who are trying to find a loophole through subletting a property without informing the landlord.

“The actions of such agents place an extra burden on law-abiding citizens, and we will take enforcement action against such practices in order to protect residents.

“The conviction of these three managing agents sends out a strong warning that we will take the strongest possible action and bring them to justice.

“It should also act as a warning to all landlords that they need to make sure all relevant research has been carried out before committing to an estate agent.”

EYE note: This report has been taken from the council’s own website. Agents with similar names are not implicated and are nothing to do with the case.


Flat sells after 575 days at £111,500 below asking price

The Money editor of The Mirror newspaper has finally sold a home he first put on the market in late 2016 - but after one year, six months and 29 days he has got £111,500 less than the initial valuation given by his agent.

James Andrew has written in today’s Mirror that in order to sell the flat - which had more than 20 viewings - he spent over £4,000 buying the freehold, in addition to spending several thousands on repainting and carpets.

But Andrew’s story isn’t one simply blaming the agent - his is a chronicle of “bad luck, a bad market, buyers changing their minds, hold ups, legal issues and more.”

“We looked at online estate agents, to save on fees, as well as traditional high-street ones – and eventually decided to pay more to get more from a high street agent” writes Andrew, who doesn’t say which firm he chose.

His property was a two-bedroom, two reception room apartment in Clapham, south London, and he says he chose the agent on the basis that he valued £30,000 above the second-highest.

“By the time the photos were in and the brochure ready it was the start of January. Our first viewing was arranged for just a couple of days after the flat came on the market and all looked well” he says.

In March 2017 - around three months after the property went on the market - he cut his asking price by £50,000. 

Andrew realistically describes how the additional stamp duty surcharge on additional homes, the phasing out of landlords’ mortgage interest tax relief and other measures - including uncertainty caused by Brexit - added to the torpor of the market and reduced the possible landlord market which might have been interested in his home.

In addition, the surprise early summer General Election last year added to the hiatus.

At the end of last summer, Andrew was more aggressive at price-cutting even than his agent. 

“We cut another £50,000 from the asking price - £30,000 more than the estate agent first suggested – and this time it worked. The new price went live in October, almost a year after we started the process, and the first person to view it after the reduction put in an offer” explains the editor.

Although that was £20,000 lower again, Andrew accepted but he soon found it was too early to celebrate.

The buyer backed out just before Christmas and “we were back to square one.”

By January 11 this year had accepted a new offer – this time £12,000 under asking price – but that carried a condition from the buyer that the deal be done by April.

Andrew then rejected the conveyancer offered by his estate agent (he objected to “referral fees of hundreds of pounds flowing from the lawyers to the estate agent”) and instead chose a cheaper firm with a ‘no sale, no fee’ guarantee.

“While we saved hundreds compared to some firms, and the lawyers did the work, it wasn't done fast. They simply didn't respond to emails, from the buyer's solicitor or us, for days or even weeks” he writes.

In the end Andrew commissioned and paid for a fire report, gas safety report, FENSA certificate and an electrical PAT test to satisfy the buyer’s legal side. 

Then, less than a week before his April cut-off date, Andrew went to his solicitor in person - only to find a range of forms had either been omitted by the firm or incrrect ones had been completed by Andrew himself. 

“We missed our April deadline” Andrew admits.

Finally, having luckily been granted an extension by the purchaser, all the paperwork was gathered together and - despite a last-second hitch requiring other flats’ freeholders to sign a document - everything was ready. 

He writes: “Finally, on Monday June 18 - 575 days after instructing the estate agent, having spent £672.80 on lawyer fees, £4,000 on redecorating, £1,944 on 18 months of storage, £4,708 on the freehold, £179 on safety certificates and not having had a holiday in a year - we were sold. The sale price finished £111,500 under the first valuation provided by the estate agent, they received £12,840 of our sale price in commission.”

Perhaps predictably, Andrew concludes his lengthy piece by saying “I’m never moving again”.

But he does not blame the agent, nor even the conveyancer - although, if you ignore the sluggishness of the housing market, it seems that conveyancing was the area where most of the pitfalls and panics happened.

Instead, it’s an interesting story of how complicated an apparently simple sale can become, and how slow it is - partly because of buyers and the market, but also because of ‘the system’.


Shock 3.1% house price drop 'but reality is more stable' insists the Halifax

House prices in the three months to the end of April were 2.2 per cent higher than in the same period a year earlier - that’s down from the 2.7 per cent annual growth recorded in March.

But the figures, from the Halifax, also reveal that taking the last three months alone prices actually fell, albeit by a tiny 0.1 per cent. 

More surprising, on a monthly basis, prices fell by 3.1 per cent in April following a 1.6 per cent rise in March. The Halifax says this reflects “the volatility in the short term monthly measure.”

"Both the quarterly and annual rates have fallen since reaching a recent peak last autumn, with these measures providing a more stable indication of the underlying trend than the monthly change” explains Russell Galley, Halifax’s managing director. 

“Housing demand has softened in the early months of 2018, with both mortgage approvals and completed home sales edging down. Housing supply – as measured by the stock of homes for sale and new instructions – is also still very low” he adds. 

“However, the UK labour market is performing strongly with unemployment continuing to fall and wage growth finally picking up. These factors should help to ease pressure on household finances and as a result we expect annual price growth will remain in our forecast range of 0.0 to 3.0 per cent this year.” 

Market commentator Jeremy Leaf - the north London estate agent who is also a former RICS residential chairman - says the Halifax data is disappointing.

“There is a market of sluggish growth and transactions, despite still showing modest price rises. And yet we are entering what is supposed to be the busy spring buying season, which tends to set the tone for the rest of the year. More recently, activity and listings have picked up but we are finding the market still quite sensitive and only those prepared to negotiate hard are moving on” says Leaf.

“Now that interest rates are unlikely to go up this month, hopefully there will be more interest, and particularly from first-time buyers, to take advantage of competitive mortgage deals and realistic prices” he adds.

The Bank of England’s monetary policy committee meets tomorrow and some observers believed the base rate was likely to rise - however, in recent days there have been suggestions (including from Bank of England Governor Martk Carney) that a rise may be delayed by another month at least.


Tenants have worked all year so far just to pay rent, claims BBC

Private rental sector tenants have spent the year so far working only to pay for their accommodation, the BBC claims. 

The broadcaster says that a middle income earner in England would work 86 days to rent a average two-bedroom home, five more than in 2011; by contrast in Scotland and Wales the number of working days needed to cover their rent fell to 79 and 71 days respectively.

These broad-brush figures obviously mask many significant regional variations.

So for example the BBC says that if a typical full-time worker in England, living alone, spent everything they earned after tax and national insurance on their rent, they would have made enough money by May 3 to cover their rent. In London the cost of rent eats up 15 more days' pay than it did in 2011.

Tenants in much of the north of England, Scotland and Wales have seen the number of working days fall. In these areas take home pay has broadly increased faster than rental prices, owing to rises in the amount people can earn before paying tax, known as the personal allowance.

Similar workers in Scotland would have earned enough money to pay their rent by April 24 and in Wales workers would be rent free by April 12, says the corporation.

David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association, told the BBC: "There are local pressures across the country each with different underlying cause...What we need is a housing policy that is more flexible and we need to remember the vast majority of landlords don't rent out properties to make a fortune off the backs of young people."

The BBC used data from over 200,000 private rental agreements plus Valuation Office and Office for National Statistics information. 

It says the number of days it would take a tenant to pay the annual rent on a private two-bed property was calculated by dividing the median annual rent for a property by the median daily net pay for a full-time worker in each local authority area.

Net pay was calculated by taking the gross annual pay for the median worker in each local authority area, accounting for the personal allowance, income tax and national insurance, then dividing the figure by the total number of days the median worker could spend at work. The calculation excludes weekends, eight bank holidays in England and Wales and nine bank holidays in Scotland.


Right To Rent 'not demonstrating its worth' says government inspector

  • Right To Rent 'not demonstrating its worth' says government inspector

    The controversial Right To Rent policy has been attacked as having failed “to demonstrate its worth” in encouraging immigration compliance.

    Under Right To Rent, landlords, or agents acting on their behalf, are responsible for checking the immigration status of their tenants with the prospect of prosecution if they know or have “reasonable cause to believe”  that the property they are letting is occupied by someone who does not have the right to rent in the UK.

    But in a foreword to his report on the scheme, David Bolt - the independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration - concludes the policy has “yet to demonstrate its worth as a tool to encourage immigration compliance.” 

    He also writes that the Home Office is “failing to coordinate, maximise or even measure effectively its use, while at the same time doing little to address the concerns of stakeholders.”

    The government’s response to the report rules out including groups concerned with the rights and interests of migrants on its consultative panel on the policy, thereby preventing the experiences of migrants themselves from being properly heard by the government. 

    Ministers have also failed to accept the inspector’s call for a more meaningful evaluation of the impact of the scheme on all those affected by it.

    Now a trade body, the Residential Landlords Association, is calling for Right To Rent to be suspended pending a full evaluation of its impact, especially on the ability to rent a property of those who cannot easily prove their identity.

    It says the fear of criminal sanctions has made many landlords reluctant to rent to non-UK nationals out of fear of being duped by forged documents.  

    Research by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has found that the scheme has made 51 per cent of landlords less likely to consider letting to foreign nationals. This is backed up by similar research by the RLA.

    The same JCWI research found that 48 per cent of landlords were less likely to rent to someone without a British passport as a result of the scheme because of the threat of criminal sanctions. 

    The association says this poses serious difficulties for the 17 per cent of UK residents who do not have a passport, and it is backing calls for a Judicial Review of the policy being sought by the JCWI which argues that the policy discriminates against foreign nationals.

    “[The] report is a damning critique of a failing policy. The inspector is clear that it has yet to demonstrate its worth and the government has failed to take on board the concerns of key stakeholders in the sector” says David Smith, director of policy for the RLA. 

    “Landlords should not be used as scapegoats for the failures of the border agencies. It is time to suspend this controversial and unwelcome policy.”


Average landlord sells up at a profit of nearly £90,000 – but that’s before tax

The average landlord in England and Wales who sold their rental property last year did so after owning it for an average of 8.7 years and sold it for nearly £90,000 than they paid.

That’s according to new figures from Countrywide, which found that landlords made a gain of £86,651 on selling their property in 2017.

The average owner-occupier selling last year made a bigger gain (£92,886) than a landlord after owing their property for longer (nine years on average). The big difference is that landlords have to pay Capital Gains Tax, whereas owner-occupiers do not.

The average gain for landlords last year was very slightly up (0.4%) on 2016, when they made an average of £86,302.

Landlords in London made the largest gains, at £253,981, with 96% of sellers making a profit.

That compared to the north-east where gains were the lowest at an average of £23,874.

Johnny Morris, research director at Countrywide, said: “House price growth has driven investor gains.

“Landlords selling in 2017 owned their homes for nearly nine years.

“In eight of those last nine years, house prices have risen.

“Even in areas where price growth has lagged behind most landlords have made a profit from rising prices.”

“Rents continued to grow in January. London continues to see the greatest falls in the stock of available homes to rent, on the back of reduced investor activity. This scarcity of supply is driving rental growth.”


Fees Ban 2019 deadline shouldn't lull industry into complacency - agent

This week’s news that the government will not be implementing the ban on letting agents’ fees on tenants in England until at least the spring of 2019 should not lull the industry into a false sense of security, says a leading online agent.

On Wednesday the newly-renamed Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government told NALS that spring 2019 would be the earliest implementation date.

However now James Davis, founder of online letting agent Upad and himself a portfolio landlord, says landlords in particular cannot afford to be caught on the back foot. 

“In my experience, there’s a certain amount of ‘head in the sand’ mentality around the impact that this ban could have, both amongst letting agents and landlords.

“Unfortunately, many headlines focus on how rents will increase once this legislation is implemented but the reality for landlords is that this needn’t be the case.  

“Most private landlords don’t, in fact, charge excessive upfront costs and by simply taking the time now to consider how else they can manage their costs, they’ll be assured of being prepared for the ban whether that happens, this year, next year or indeed at all” he says.  


How is the competition going between online and the high street? Your help is requested

A researcher who is tracking how high street agents compete with online firms is asking for our readers’ input into a new survey.

Mark Notari completed his first survey in February 2016 as part of research while taking his Master’s degree in real estate – which was awarded a merit – at Reading University.

Notari is an unusual academic in that while studying for his Master’s he also worked as a negotiator for a London estate agent for a year, and then spent two years at Zoopla, working with overseas agents and helping generate new business internationally.

His university thesis was partly based on an online survey in which 135 high street agents participated. He also conducted a series of interviews.

Although no longer at university, Notari says he has a strong interest in continuing the research into the evolving market – although he says that he personally has no plans to set up an estate agency.

The main findings of his first survey showed that high street agents were looking to compete on cost but unwilling to sacrifice their service levels, but with 54% of agents saying they would consider charging fixed fees in the near future.

His thesis made two recommendations: first that high street agents should be proactive about the online competition; and second that high street agents should not try to compete on both cost and differentiation.

Notari suggests that agents cannot compete simultaneously on both cost and on differentiation without facing the risk of being “stuck in the middle”, a situation where the company does not secure a clear competitive advantage.

He said his earlier survey showed: “Rather than seeking to compete on both dimensions, businesses need to identify a clear strategic position and accept the associated trade-offs, thus limiting their business to a certain market segment.

“Companies that do not limit themselves to one competitive strategy will blur the lines of their product offering, creating confusion in both their employees’ and customers’ minds, and will eventually undermine their competitive advantage.”

His conclusion then was that agents who did wish to compete on both cost and differentiation should create a separate business unit, with a different identity and business model.

Notari is now undertaking an identical survey to see how the competitive landscape has evolved over the last 20 months.

He said: “It is clear that things have moved on since the beginning of last year and it will be interesting to see if and how agents’ attitudes have changed.

“One particular risk identified 20 months ago is how high street agents can run a digital offering without cannibalising their own business.

“Another risk was the fear of undermining the company’s image and reputation. Agents were most concerned about compromising on the quality of service.”

Almost two years ago, as the thesis showed, three-quarters of agents wanted to stay focused on their traditional business.

Almost 20% wanted to “play both games at once” by creating an online agency in addition to their traditional activities. The remaining 9% preferred to ignore the online competition altogether.

One of the questions asked in the February 2016 survey which might now get a different answer was whether agents expected to see online agents’ market share increase over the next five years: 75% said it would.

However, more respondents predicted that the online market share would drop within the next five years than within the next year.

Notari concluded in his thesis: “This would suggest that high street agents view the online model as having a limited market space, which could run out of steam in the long term, once it has reached maturity.”

So, what has now changed? This is where EYE readers come in.

The new survey asks just 15 questions and should take no more than ten minutes of your time. At the end, you will be able to access the full results of the 2016 survey.

Results of the new survey will be shared exclusively on EYE.

The survey is open now and will close on Monday (Nov 27) at 5pm.

It can be found at


London slowdown bottoms out, but only low price growth in long-term

Property consultancy Hometrack says London’s 12 month market slowdown has bottomed out with the annual growth rate rising to 2.8 per cent -  up from 2.3 per cent last month. 

There have been consistent month on month price increases averaging 0.5 per cent across London for the last 6 months and average prices are now 1.4 per cent higher over the last 3 months in the capital, says Hometrack, which puts the stabilisation down to lower transaction volumes and an absence of forced sellers. 

Housing turnover across London has fallen 17 per cent since 2015.

Meanwhile annual house price growth across major UK cities as a whole stands at 5.3 per cent now compared to 7.4 per cent a year ago.

Growth has picked up in recent months on faster rate of monthly price increases and continues to remain robust in regional cities. Birmingham (8.0 per cent), Manchester (7.1 per cent) and Nottingham (6.9 per cent) are the UK’s fastest growing cities this month.

Aberdeen remains the only UK city in the top 20 list to suffer house price falls (down three per cent). Average house prices in the city are now 16 per cent lower than they were in December 2014 as the fall in the oil price impacted the local economy.

Aberdeen’s housing market serves as a warning to the rest of the UK about the potential for macro-economic factors to have a negative impact on an over exposed local economy, says Hometrack.

“The London housing market has registered a rapid deceleration in house price growth since the start of 2016 as affordability pressures impact demand and the Brexit vote adversely affected housing market sentiment. Turnover is down 15 per cent from the recent high recorded in 2015 and sellers are slow to accept downward adjustments in prices in the face of weaker, price sensitive demand” says Hometrack’s Richard Donnell.

“There remains a clear divide between the prospects for house price growth in regional cities, where affordability levels are attractive, and the prospects for house price growth in London and other high value cities in southern England. We expect house price growth in regional cities to be sustained at current levels for the rest of 2017 whereas London is set for a sustained period of low nominal price growth and lower sales volumes” he adds.


Average tenancy in UK is now 20 months - and many are longer

The average UK private rental tenancy is now 20 months, almost a fifth longer than in 2014 according to research from Your Move.

London - home to nearly a fifth of the UK’s rental properties and sometimes depicted as having a volatile rental market - in fact has an average tenancy of 20 months, exactly in line with the all-UK average according to the data. 

This is despite the fact that the capital remains comfortably the most expensive part of the country to rent in, with average payments hitting £1,277 a month in June this year. 

Outside of London, across the South East and commuter belt, rental contracts are typically longer. 

The commuter town of Sevenoaks in Kent boasts the longest tenancy lengths in the UK, with the average property being let for 44 months, despite rents rising from £780 a month in June 2014 to £885 in June this year.

The shortest tenancies in the UK were found in the South West (just 15 months) where the average rent has fallen to £664 a month in June 2017 from £684 nine months previously. 

In some locations in the South West - specifically Filton and Taunton - average rental agreements are as little as six months.

Over the Severn Bridge in Wales, where the average rent as of June 2017 is £599, the typical renter stays in the same property for two years and in a small number of locations as long as 30 months.

In Scotland, tenancy lengths hits 18 months, with renters in the east of the region staying in rental properties for 20 months on average, while those in the Highlands and Islands changed contract every16 months.

Northern Ireland is currently experiencing rentals lasting an average of 17 months.

Here’s the regional breakdowns of average private tenancies (all figures from Your Move):

- Wales: 24 months

- West Midlands: 22 months

- South East England: 21 months

- East of Scotland: 20 months

- East of England: 20 months

- London: 20 months

- East Midlands: 20 months

- North West: 20 months

- Yorkshire and The Humber: 19 months

- South of Scotland: 18 months

- Edinburgh & Lothians: 18 months

- Glasgow & Clyde: 18 months

- North East England: 18 months

- Northern Ireland: 17 months

- Highlands & Islands: 16 months

- South West England: 15 months


Brexit and tuition fees hurting student housing sector, warns agency

A specialist student lettings agency says the drop in the number of applicants for UK higher education courses this year threatens to turn the shortage of student accommodation into a surplus. says that despite university terms starting in less than two months from now, landlords are still trying to secure student tenants in a number of key university areas. 

Demand for student properties in Exeter is just 62 per cent, it says, followed by Reading and Bath with demand of only 52 per cent. 

Overall, the number of people applying for UK higher education courses in 2017 has fallen by more than 25,000 - equivalent to four per cent - compared to last year. 

This follows the announcement that university fees will increase from £9,000 to £9,250 this year, and student loan interest rates will be increasing by 1.5 per cent, from the current 4.6 per cent to 6.1 per cent this autumn. insists that its research has shown what it calls “a drastic shift from an undersupply in previous months.” 

Furthermore, following the Brexit vote last year, the number of EU students planning to study in the UK has also fallen by five per cent from 51,850 to 49,250. 

Danielle Cullen, managing director at StudentTenant, says: “Landlords are starting to feel the strain of finding tenants for the next academic year, as many still have rooms left to let. I personally feel the blame sits firmly on decisions made by our government.

“We’re now seeing supply for student properties outgrowing demand in some areas, which could spell a huge problem for the student lettings market and the future of private student landlords. 

“Whilst the fees and interest are having an impact on British applications, it seems that post-Brexit, some EU students don’t want to study in the UK. A year on, there’s still uncertainty for EU students. Naturally, they’re worried about how it could affect them and they’re not applying to our higher educational system as a result.” 


Lettings sector tax increases - they're hurting, but they're not working

The Residential Landlords’ Association says recent fiscal changes hitting the private rented sector are hurting tenants but failing to achieve their stated objective.

The association says recent criticisms of the cost of rental accommodation by the Local Government Association and several other bodies are merely a reflection of the supply crisis in rental housing, exacerbated by sharp falls in buy to let mortgage applications.

According to the RLA the situation is likely to only get worse as landlords feel the squeeze as mortgage interest relief is phased down to the basic rate of income tax.

RLA research has found that just 19 per cent of landlords plan to invest in new property over the next year, with 58 per cent considering reducing further investment in their rental properties due to recent finance changes because of tax increases.

It says that although ministers have sought to boost the number of homes for private rent by encouraging Build To Rent, the London School of Economics has said that individual landlords will remain the dominant players in the market.

The RLA is warning that no route can be found to boost the supply of homes for private rent that the country needs without providing support for the majority of landlords who are individuals or small firms. 

Now it is calling on the government to scrap the decision to tax a landlord’s turnover, rather than profit, abandon the mortgage interest relief changes started earlier this year, and to no longer apply the stamp duty levy on additional homes where a property is adding to the supply of housing available to rent.

Source: www.

Rightmove reports 12% surge in homes to let and slowing rent rises

The remaining overhand of last year’s buy to let buying surge by landlords means the annual rate of rent rises has slowed thanks to a 12 per cent surge in available units.

The data, from Rightmove, means that its calculation of average rents rising by 1.8 per cent is the lowest for 18 months and less than half the 3.9 per cent recorded in early 2016 before the rush to buy properties ahead of the stamp duty three per cent surcharge.

This uplift in available properties means it is taking 10 per cent longer for letting agents to secure suitable tenants than this time last year, and almost 20 per cent longer in London.

The time it takes to let a property has been calculated based on agents who have marked properties as ‘let agreed’ on Rightmove.

In London, asking rents rose 1.5 per cent compared to last quarter, but annually the price fell by 4.2%. Rightmove says rental prices have been falling over the past year in London as stock has been increasing, so it’s not a surprise that it is the most affected region for the length of time to secure a tenant, with properties now taking a fifth longer to let than this time last year.

“The supply boost following last year’s buy to let frenzy in the first few months of the year has continued through to 2017, introducing more competition in the market for letting agents trying to secure suitable tenants for their landlords’ properties” says Rightmove’s head of lettings, Sam Mitchell.

“However, agents are still reporting that well-priced properties in popular areas are letting quickly. The new tax changes that started to phase in from this month may also lead to some landlord’s selling off properties and the extra stamp duty on buy to lets may deter some landlords from expanding their portfolios, so now seems to be the right time for tenants who want to have more choice to look around” he adds.


Quarter of London letting agents report rent falls

Rent increases have slowed in London with only eight per cent of agents reporting increases last month - and a quarter reporting falls. 

Across the country as a whole 25 per cent of agents reported rent increases and 10 per cent saw drops in February.

The data comes from the latest Association of Residential Letting Agents market report. 

Nationally, the number of properties letting agents managed per branch decreased by five per cent last month from January’s 193 to 183 last month. 

However, this is a four per cent increase from February 2016, when there were 176 properties managed per branch.

In February, there were 34 prospective tenants registered per member branch – this is the same number as January, but down year on year with 37 registered in February 2016 and 40 in February 2015.

“The fact that rent prices in London are bucking the national trend is a positive sign for both renters and prospective renters in the capital. However, this isn’t being seen across the rest of the country, as the national average for the number of agents reporting rent hikes rings alarm bells” says David Cox, ARLA Propertymark chief executive. 

“With the imminent withdrawal of mortgage interest relief and the government’s decision to ban letting agent fees will more than likely have the opposite effect on rental costs across the country if an outright ban is imposed. The costs of the services provided by letting agents will need to be recouped and will inevitably be passed onto renters through increased rent” he warns.


1.4m landlords 'unaware of mortgage interest tax relief change'

The campaign against the imminent changes to mortgage interest tax relief for the buy to let sector estimates that 1.4m landlords are still unaware of the proposals.

The Landlord Referencing website - which backs the so-called Axe The Tenant Tax campaign against the tax change contained in S24 of the Finance (No.2) Act 2015 - says that it has polled 1,000 of its members. 

“Worryingly, 70 per cent of those polled where oblivious to any such tax change at all – meaning that circa. 1.4 million landlords are unaware of the drastic effect it is going to have on their rental income and their tenancies over the next four years” claims the website.

It says that overall some 8.2m people in England alone will be affected, because they let residential property as an individual, or in a partnership or trust. 

The main campaign against the measure - which is phased, with part one coming into effect on April 1 - has the support of ARLA, the NLA and RLA, UKALA and the Scottish Association of Landlords. Last year the campaign lost a bid to trigger a judicial review of the measure, first announced in George Osborne’s post-election Budget of 2015.


Tenants face rent rises of 30% warns ex-Bank of England chief

Tenants face potential rent increases of between 20 and 30 per cent as a result of tax rises hitting landlords, says a former independent member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee.

David Miles, now Professor of Financial Economics at Imperial College London, says he wants the current three per cent stamp duty surcharge and the imminent start of the phased reduction of landlords’ mortgage interest tax relief to be abandoned. 

Miles says “rents would need to rise between 20 and 30 per cent” to offset the impact of the government’s measures.

Addressing the argument made by the previous Chancellor that the tax changes are about making it easier for first time buyers to enter the market, Miles says that “aspiring first-time buyers are hardly helped by squeezing the supply of rental property and driving rents up.”

He concludes by warning that “It’s strange to believe that having households channel more of their savings into US government bonds or into equity issued by German companies is to be preferred to their investing in providing rented accommodation in the UK.”

Miles’s analysis is included in the latest comments by the Residential Landlords Association which claims a majority of landlords will be negatively impacted by the tax changes.

The RLA wants the government to use the unexpected extra revenue from its stamp duty levy to halt the implementation of the mortgage interest changes, or at least apply it only to new borrowing for new housing.


Confirmed - government WILL ban letting agents' fees on tenants

The government will today announce that it is banning letting agents’ fees levied on tenants - meaning the fees will instead fall on landlords who will recoup them in higher rent anyway.

The measure will come as part of the Autumn Statement announcement; it will apply to some 4.3m private rental sector tenants in England, saving a government estimate of £337 in fees for each tenant. 

The decision will prove an interesting one for housing minister Gavin Barwell who has on a number of occasions voiced his opposition to a ban on agents’ fees levied on tenants. 

In September Barwell, in a question-and-answer session on social media, told another industry publication - Inside Housing - that a ban was “Bad idea - landlords would pass cost to tenants via rent. We’re looking at other ways to cut upfront costs and raise standards.”

Prime Minister Theresa May has also voted against such a ban, twice, in the Commons.

There is also embarrassment for local government minister Marcus Jones, who six months ago said in a Commons debate: “Banning or capping fees would not make renting any cheaper for tenants - tenants would still end up paying, but through higher rents.”

That’s certainly the view of the National Landlords’ Association. 

“The new Chancellor is clearly aware of the pressures facing those living in the private-rented sector, but in attempting to improve affordability he has shown that, like his predecessor, he lacks an understanding of how the whole sector works” claims chief executive Richard Lambert. 

“There’s no doubt that some unscrupulous agents have got away with excessive fees and double-charging landlords and tenants for far too long.  Banning letting agent fees will be welcomed by private tenants, at least in the short-term, because they won’t realise that it will boomerang back on them.

“Agents will have no other option than to shift the fees on to landlords, which many will argue is more appropriate, since the landlord employs the agent.  But adding to landlords’ costs, on top of restricting their ability to deduct their business costs from their taxable income, will only push more towards increasing rents”. 

Today’s news will render a private members bill in the Lords redundant.

Currently Baroness Olly Grender, a Liberal Democrat, is proposing the measure which seeks to ban agents’ fees on tenants.

She told peers last week: “There are good lettings agents out there who are members of government-accredited redress schemes and pursue best practice. They should continue to charge a fee for the work that they do but the fee should be from the landlord, who can shop around and choose which lettings agency to use. Landlords can decide to use the decent, regulated ones.”


Agency says rents flat-lining in London, falling in prime areas

Rents have flat-lined across most of the capital according to Benham & Reeves Residential Lettings, which says it is advising its clients not to request rent rises if the tenant has a good track record. 

According to the London-wide letting agency, most tenants are readily agreeing renewals. It says this is particularly noteworthy for the past quarter when transactions are normally at their highest just prior to the start of the school year.

Only a few small pockets saw significant change in the three months to the start of October. 

Notably, rental prices in prime central London have fallen for the second quarter in a row. 

BRRL’s lettings director, Marc von Grundherr, says an over-supply of rental properties in Belgravia, Chelsea and Knightsbridge continues to have a negative effect on rental values in the area. The agency says it has identified a number of apartments in these areas that are actually less expensive than equivalent properties in what might be considered emerging rental locations. 

“Prime central London arguably has the best value properties in the capital at the moment,” says von Grundherr, “And transformed pockets of North West London such as Colindale continue to offer excellent returns for investors who got in there early.”


Buy to let mortgage lending slumps thanks to tax changes

Buy to let lending is well down according to data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders. 

Apparently contrary to an optimistic report from Rightmove yesterday the CML reports that landlords borrowed only £3 billion in August, representing an annual decrease of 12 per cent. Gross buy to let lending remained substantially down on year earlier levels, and nearly two thirds of buy-to-let loans were remortgages rather than house purchase.

“Buy to let ... continues to operate at lower levels five months after the stamp duty change on second properties. This appears to be a long-term trend and with lenders potentially tightening affordability checks ahead of the tax changes in April 2017, activity on the buy to let house purchase side may well remain at current levels” says Paul Smee, director general of the CML.

Meanwhile, borrowing for owner occupier purchases hit £12.2 billion in August. Buyers took out 66,000 loans – up 13 per cent on July and 24 per cent on August last year.

“House purchase activity bounced back from a dip in July, reflecting resilience in first time buyer activity. Mortgage rates remain at or close to historic lows, and the re-pricing of mortgages following August’s base rate cut should help to underpin a continuing, strong appetite for home-ownership over the coming months” says Smee.

First time buyers in August borrowed £5.1 billion, up 12 per cent month-on-month and 19 per cent year-on-year.

‘The buy to let market continues to be subdued, with landlords looking to consolidate existing portfolios and perhaps incorporate rather than necessarily adding to them. It is unlikely that the changes to mortgage interest tax relief are a fatal body blow for the sector but it will make people think twice before investing, which is no bad thing” suggests Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients.


Cleaning disputes lie behind half of students' retained deposits

Four out of 10 students lose well over a third of their deposits when they rent privately while at university or in higher education, a new survey suggests.

The research also highlights that 79 per cent of students do not sign a photo inventory when they move in. 

Half of the disputes that led to retained deposits concerned cleaning, a quarter were down to damage to fixtures and fittings, and others included excessive wear and tear and unpaid bills. 

One in four students said they did not receive details of any deposit protection scheme for their deposit.

The survey was conducted by the personal finance website Money which recommends that photo-inventories be insisted on by student renters, as well as checks about deposit protection and detailed analysis of any contract.

Source: www.lettingagenttoday

Another warning of buy to let mortgage restrictions coming soon

There has been another high-level prediction that mortgage lending for buy to let investors is likely to be restricted further in the near future.

Richard Sharp, an external member of the Bank of England's financial policy committee, has told the Treasury select committee of MPs that lending for the sector would "cool significantly" later this year.

"I suspect the banks will want to see what regime we're in, in terms of house prices before they go back to aggressive lending," he is quoted as saying.

Recommendations from the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority have told individual lenders to increase ‘stress tests’ on borrowers who would have to prove they could cover interest payments in a worst case scenario of interest rates rising to 5.5 per cent for a full five years.

Although the Bank has not formally ratified such restrictions, many lenders are getting their retaliation in first by making similar changes voluntarily: Barclays, TSB and Nationwide have already implemented a proposal for rental income to provide 140 or 145 per cent mortgage cover.


Over a quarter of landlords consider using online letting agents to save money

Some 27 per cent of landlords consider an online letting agency to be a more attractive option for managing property than a traditional agency - with 31 per cent of landlords considering going online to save money.

A survey by property consultancy Allsop concludes: "It would not surprise us if the preference for online lettings grows in the coming years. A hybrid model of providing expert advice by technological advances, allows for innovative management and letting solutions."

The survey, conducted for Allsop by BDRC, also finds that 59 per cent of landlords believe recent government tax changes for the private rental sector will damage their profitability, while 41 per cent are considering incorporation.

Some 40 per cent of landlords anticipate rental growth over the next six months, in some cases to help the landlords themselves with their falling profits.

Another 37 per cent have reported increased demand from tenants in the past six months - up from just four per cent in the previous half-year period.


Petition against letting agent fees gathers over 250,000 signatures

A petition against letting agent fees has now gathered some 250,000 signatures.

It has been organised by Vicky Spratt, from young women’s online publication the Debrief.

Earlier this week, Spratt appeared on The BBC’s Daily Politics show, presenting a a two-minute film explaining why she thinks the rental market is broken, and calling for people to support the petition. This was followed by a three-minute discussion with presenter Jo Coburn, Labour MP Chris Bryant and Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi.

Spratt yesterday told EYE: “All fees should be banned. Tenants can use websites like Spare Room to get in direct contact with property owners.

“The fees are meaningless. It’s money for old rope. Tenants can do their own assured shorthold tenancy agreements.”

Letting agents fees are banned in Scotland and Spratt said she wants the rest of the UK to follow suit.

She said: “On the show Mr Zahawi said that banning fees will just lead to an increase in rents but there is no evidence of that happening in Scotland. There was a small increase immediately after the ban but prices in Scotland have not risen significantly more than in other parts of the UK.”

In fact, this week Your Move said that rents in Scotland had plunged in the sharpest month-on-month fall in Scottish rents on record.

In her piece for Daily Politics, Spratt also warned that home ownership for young people is “now little more than a pipe dream”.


Tenants will damage properties to avoid eviction” claims online lettings agent

Tenants could be trying to avoid eviction by damaging property and abusing the new legal system designed to ban revenge evictions, an online lettings agent claims.
The new legislation came into force on October 1 meaning landlords who have failed to remedy legitimate repairs requests cannot use the traditional Section 21 procedure to regain possession of their property.
But research by PropertyLetByUs - an online agency - claims that 10 per cent of tenants have admitted that they have caused over £500 worth of damage to properties.

“While in principle the legislation is a good move, ensuring that landlords don’t evict tenants because of a genuine disrepair issue, it is open to dishonest tenants bending the law to avoid eviction” claims the agency’s managing director, Jane Morris.

“Landlords need to ensure that they make regular checks on their properties and handle tenants’ complaints about damage, quickly and efficiently. If landlords are suspicious that the damage is intentional to avoid eviction, they should seek legal advice.”


Trade body criticises “unnecessary” reform of HMO licensing

The government should rein in its plans to transform the way Houses in Multiple Occupation are licensed.

That is the view of the Residential Landlords’ Association, which is warning that government plans could potentially mean hundreds of thousands more homes needing licences.

At present mandatory HMO licensing is restricted to properties that are three or more storeys high, containing five or more people in two or more households with shared facilities.

Under the new plans the three-storey criteria for licensing will be amended, either by changing it to two-storey or extending licensing to all HMOs containing five or more people. 

The Government is also considering a new national minimum room sizes, of around 6.5 square metres for a single room and 10.2 square metres for a double room.

The RLA believes many of the changes are unnecessary and says they will put a huge strain on local authorities.

The association instead wants no change to current HMO licensing criteria, a simpler definition of HMOs to be created without any minimum national room size, and it also demands licences to be granted by default when councils fail to process applications within an agreed timetable.

“The consultation documents assume that maintaining the status quo is not an option. Local authorities already struggle to enforce the current mandatory licensing requirements and in the face of further budget savings their ability to police an extension that will bring hundreds of thousands of homes into the regime is questionable” insists RLA policy director David Smith.

London council adds another 8,000 rental properties to licensing scheme

Agents and landlords across a large part of central London are warned that this week, a new licensing scheme came into force.

In Camden, as from Tuesday (Dec 8), all Houses in Multiple Occupation had to be licensed.

The scheme will extend property licensing to an estimated 8,000 properties, and includes all private rented accommodation shared by three or more people who are not related, even if the tenants moved in together on a single tenancy.

The licensing scheme also includes ‘Section 257 HMOs’. These are properties that have been converted into self-contained flats but do not comply with the relevant building regulations.

Camden Council has restricted the licensing of these Section 257 HMOs to properties where at least 50% of the flats are privately rented.

The licensing scheme has been introduced in an attempt to drive up standards in the private rented sector.

As part of the evidence gathering process, Camden environmental health officers visited 391 HMOs and rated 19% as poor or very poor for property management and condition.

During the 22-week consultation exercise, the council received 1,400 responses to their online survey of which 70% were in favour of the proposed licensing scheme.

To obtain a licence, landlords need to complete an application form, supply various supporting documents and pass a “fit and proper person” assessment. They must also pay an application fee of £450 for the property plus an additional £45 for each separate letting (e.g. bedroom, bedsit or studio flat) within.

Accredited landlords will receive a £95 discount if they have joined a scheme approved under the London Rental Standard.

The council says that every single property that is made the subject of an application will be inspected.

Further information is available on this excellent website:


Inventory clerks urge caution on allowing tenants to decorate homes

Tenants should not be coerced into paying higher rents to redecorate their landlords’ property according to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks.

A recent survey by Endsleigh Insurance found that 43 per cent of tenants would be happy to pay more rent- up to £150 a year - if their landlord allowed them to put a personal stamp on their property. 

But the AIIC says describes tenants paying extra to be able to decorate as a ‘strange concept' that could lead to further problems down the line. Potential consequences could include a poor standard of work, unsightly colour schemes and damage to the property.

Instead, the AIIC says that tenants who want to decorate should contact their landlord and if both parties can agree on specific details, the tenant should proceed.

This way, both sides of the rental partnership are kept happy and the tenant isn't left having to fork out extra money for something that will cost them in the first instance.

“Of course landlords want their tenants to feel at home and by being handed some creative licence, tenants will be encouraged to stay for longer. The ideal scenario is for tenants to get their landlord's permission and then agree and confirm what work is going to take place” says Pat Barber, chair of the AIIC. 

She says redecoration also highlights the vital role of an independently compiled property inventory.

“A detailed inventory will provide tenants with a thorough description of the property’s condition, complete with photographs. It will set out in black and white the condition the property is expected to be returned to at the end of the tenancy and could well reduce the chances of a subsequent deposit dispute between landlords and tenants” she says.


Most landlords out of pocket after tenants' property damage

Over two thirds of landlords find themselves out of pocket as a result of property damage caused by vacating tenants. 

A survey of landlords have revealed that the biggest problem is stained carpets - 76 per cent of landlords say they need to remedy this in voice periods. Filthy ovens were a problem for 67 per cent of landlords while 58 per cent had to redecorate to cover marked walls. 

Around 47 per cent of landlords with outside space had to pay for gardens to be cleared when a tenant departs, while 22 per cent had to replace damaged worktops. 

More than one in three landlords claim that the damage inflicted on their rental property appeared to have been caused by pets – scratched floors, torn carpets and marked woodwork – with 24 per cent saying that this had happened despite the tenancy agreement stating that pets were not permitted.

As well as tackling obvious cosmetic property problems, 54 per cent of landlords surveyed said that they had unexpectedly had to repair broken facilities and utilities, such as cookers, gas boilers and showers, which the existing tenants had failed to inform them of. This could often lead to costs up to the value of one month’s rent. 

The survey was conducted by services company Fantastic Services.


Rents will rise 3.0% next year as demand continues to outstrip supply

Average rents have risen for 10 months in a row according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors - and there's every sign that it will continue into 2016.

The insitution says on average rents across England and Wales will rise by around 3.0 per cent next year as there remains no likelihood of supply meeting demand.

"While new landlord instructions did post a marginal uptick for the third month in a row, they were still significantly outstripped by fresh demand" notes the RICS' latest monthly letting summary.

"Given the deficiency in supply, near-term rent expectations remain firm and continue to signal an increase in rents in all areas" it continues.

RICS' members forecast that the West Midlands will see the highest increase in rents in 2016 - a prediction of 4.0 per cent in the region on average.


Government confirms no ban on letting agent fees in England

The government has confirmed that it has no plan to ban letting agency fees in England.

Fees are already banned in Scotland and the government had been asked to respond to a probe into the ban’s effectiveness. The government’s response is that the evidence of any beneficial effect is “not strong enough.”

A statement from Brandon Lewis says: “My department acknowledges the [Communities and Local Government] committee's recommendation for further work to determine the likely outcome of such a ban and the approach to how this should be carried out.

“I believe that the current legislation strikes a fair balance between the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants. In the past over-regulation and excessive red tape drove many landlords out of the rental market. 

“My department therefore has no plans to further regulate the private rented sector by banning letting agent fees in England, as this would only reduce the numbers of properties available to rent which would not help tenants or landlords.”


Agents and landlords - get your free alarms….

Around 445,000 smoke alarms and 40,000 carbon monoxide alarms have now been issued to the 46 fire and rescue authorities in England in a bid to encourage agents and landlords to meet their safety obligations ahead of their October deadline.

Statistics show that tenants are at least four times more likely to die in a fire in a home where there is no working smoke alarm. 

From October, anyone renting out a propertywill need to ensure there is a smoke alarm on every floor of the home at the start of a tenancy as well as a carbon monoxide detector in rooms with a solid fuel appliance, which includes wood burners and open fires.

Failure to comply could result in penalties of up to £5,000.  

The free alarms are being distributed in different ways by different fire and rescue services. The Department of Communities and Local Government says that even if a landlord or agent cannot get a free alarm, a 10-year sealed alarm costs only around £15. 

Under the new measures, landlords will be under a duty to install and initially test alarms, but it remains the tenant’s responsibility to test them regularly.

Source: Let Agent Today

Letting agent tells landlords to set up companies

A letting agent is urging landlords to try to circumnavigate tax changes aimed at the buy to let sector by incorporating their businesses.

The summer Budget earlier this month announced that tax relief for the highest-income private landlords would be reduced from a current 40 per cent to 20 per cent by April 2020.

“Someone told me that we had a housing crisis in the UK, and I am not sure that anyone told George Osborne that before the Budget. To penalise landlords by cutting the tax breaks to 20 per cent is in my view a little short sighted” says David McKnight, managing director at Martin & Co Derby. 

“The suggestion that if you are a landlord, you must be rich is unfounded and in my view the vast majority of landlords are good folk just earning a living. Landlords who can afford to buy good housing and look after their tenants should have some form of incentive” he says. 

However, not everyone agrees that incorporation will benefit every landlord.

Last week we reported that accountancy firm Jeffreys Henry LLP cautioned that while some landlords may consider raising rent to compensate for the higher tax bill or selling altogether, longer term property investors should be more circumspect. 

Transferring existing property into a limited company may incur Capital Gains Tax and Stamp Duty Land Tax liability, the firm said. 

It suggested some existing landlords may be better off shifting rental income to spouses on lower tax bands before looking at limited companies.

Source: Letting Agent Today

Rogue landlord must pay almost £25,000

A landlord who put his tenants in danger has been forced to pay almost £25,000 in fines and costs.

Alan Lempriere was sentenced at Hammersmith magistrates’ court in London for offences dating back to 2013. 


Lempriere allegedly repeatedly ignored requests from Hammersmith & Fulham council officers to inspect his property. Eventually the council officer investigating the case had to take drastic action to gain entry by executing a warrant.


Lempriere, of Herne Hill in south London, was fined a total of £20,000 for operating a house of multiple occupation without a licence since 2009; not carrying out gas or electrical safety checks; not complying with the council’s requests for information about the property; not providing adequate smoke alarms or protected means of escaping from a fire; and not maintaining common areas affected by damp and mould.


He was also ordered to pay costs of more than £4,796 and a £120 victim surcharge.


“This unscrupulous landlord chose to put his tenants lives at risk rather than live up to his responsibilities. This result should serve as a stern warning to landlords that shirking their obligations is unacceptable, criminal, and that the council will target those involved to ensure residents who rent are able to live in safe and decent homes” says a council spokesman.


Landlord's suspended sentence and £24k bill

A London council has prosecuted a landlord who illegally evicted tenants after they complained about a foul smell and a fire hazard in their flat.

Kathryn Dow, 56, of Fulham, has been given a suspended prison term at City of London Magistrates’ Court.


The court heard that in January 2013 Dow let the top floor of her home to two tenants who paid a large deposit for a 19-month tenancy. However the court was told that when the tenants noticed an overwhelming smell in the hallway and one of the bedrooms in April, they suspected a dead animal under the floorboards.


Dow refused to investigate and declined their request to move a large cabinet which they considered a fire hazard because it blocked the hallway entrance.


Officers from Hammersmith & Fulham council were called to the three-storey home and after smelling the odour and sent Dow a letter giving her seven days to take action.


But by August she had cancelled two further meetings with council officials and in September the tenants returned home to find that Dow had removed their belongings and changed the locks, claiming there had been a carbon monoxide leak and she had booked the tenants into a hotel. 


But no such leak was found and it was later discovered the tenants’ belongings had been booked into a self-storage facility before the date of the claimed leak.


The tenants contacted the council where housing officers investigated their claim of a wrongful eviction, which led to the prosecution.


Just two days after the locks were changed, new tenants were moved in but within two weeks had moved out again, citing a strong smell of mould and unsanitary conditions for their family. 


Dow had denied illegally evicting the tenants but was found guilty and given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years. She was further ordered to pay £10,794 in costs and compensation.


In a separate civil claim against Dow, one of the original tenants was also awarded £13,970 damages towards their lost deposits, interest and court costs.


Rogue agent 'can repay only £3k of £50k owed'

A Suffolk letting agent who reportedly cheated his clients out of tens of thousands of pounds has been ordered to hand over his realisable assets of nearly £3,000.

It has been calculated that Roy Jackson owes some £49,544.57 to tenants and landlords who used his Ipswich business, Suffolk Lettings, but so far only £2,964.27 has been paid back from his assets. 


If he fails to pay the money by April 30 he must serve a further six weeks in jail in default, added to a 20 month sentence his is currently serving.


The judgment was made at a Proceeds of Crime hearing at Ipswich Crown Court, and reported by the Ipswich Star newspaper.


Jackson - who was falsely claiming ARLA membership - was imprisoned in November 2014 after a fraud which the prosecution originally valued at £68,000 before revising it to nearer £50,000.


He is alleged to have cheated 31 of his landlords out of money relating to about 50 properties.


Jackson, 40, was tracked down at Stansted Airport last year, allegedly preparing to fly to Ibiza. At the time of Jackson’s arrest he had found employment as a lettings manager at an agency in Finchley, north London.

Source: lettingagenttoday

Crooked letting agent escapes jail for fraud

A rogue letting agent has been ordered to pay over £16,000 and given a 12 month suspended prison sentence for defrauding landlords and tenants after a trading standards investigation.


Sanjit Alangh, 26, of Epping, pleaded guilty to 10 offences: nine were under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and one under the Companies Act 2006.


He was given a suspended prison sentence of six months for the CPUTR offences and another six months to run consecutively for the Companies Act offence. The sentence was suspended for two years. He was also ordered to do 120 hours unpaid work.


A judge at Chelmsford Crown Court ordered him to pay compensation of £11,005 to 11 victims and £5,000 towards the local council’s trading standards’ prosecution costs. Alangh was also disqualified from being a company director for five years. 


Alangh, who at the time was a director of The Rent Team Limited, an agency operating in Harlow, is accused of deliberately defrauding landlords by failing to pass on rental payments and tenants by failing to deal with their deposits as required by law.


Councillor Roger Walters of Essex County Council says anyone renting from a private landlord should “check your tenancy agreement for the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme that your deposit is meant to be registered with.”

Source: Letting Agent Today

Council opens own high street letting agency

The housing department of an east London local authority has made its high street debut with its own lettings agency in a bid to “work with private landlords hoping to let out their properties to handpicked tenants.”

The idea of encouraging private landlords to let to council tenants or those households on various council lists is not new, but Havering Council has taken the initiative further by opening the agency - called Liberty Housing - in one of the borough’s busiest shopping areas, Hornchurch town centre.


The council hopes that by encouraging more landlords to sign up to the scheme they can create more opportunities for local people struggling to access private rented accommodation. 


Havering council has worked with private landlords for the past decade to find homes for local people. The authority says that landlords joining its scheme will have no hidden service charges, payment of tenant deposits undertaken by the council, free gas checks, some free repairs, and will benefit from “a dedicated team of council housing officers who will manage the tenancies on a day-to-day basis.”

Havering council deputy leader Damian White says: “Liberty Housing is our way of giving potential landlords greater peace of mind when letting out their properties.”

Source: lettingagenttoday

2015 "to see 2.5% rent rise in central London"

This year’s average two per cent rise in rents in prime central London will be beaten in 20125 by a predicted 2.5 per cent rise according to one of PCL’s top letting agents.

Zoe Rose, head of London lettings at Strutt & Parker, says the forecast increase is down to one thing - the stubbornly high property prices across the capital. 


“This slow but steady growth [in rents] will be underpinned by the simple fact that there are still so many people out there that can't afford to buy a home in London and these people will continue to rent. The threat of rising interest rates rising will also play an important contributing factor” she says.


Strutts claims to have 25 per cent less property available for rent in central London than it did at this time last year, although tenant registrations are up 63 per cent year on year and the agency describes its high end lettings market as “completely oversubscribed.” 


Rose says one consequence of the modest slowdown in prime central London’s sales market - prices are currently beginning to dip after a year of solid rises - is that owners will defer their plans to sell until the market improves after the general election. Some owners will therefore let their houses and apartments, improving supply.

Source: lettingagenttoday

Another council on landlord licensing path

Brent is the latest council to consider a licensing regime for landlords - and it has recruited Shelter to promote its case.

The north London council considers the idea next Tuesday. If agreed, from next January landlords would have to pay £350 to sign up to a compulsory five-year licensing scheme before they can rent out their properties; this is expected to apply to landlords operating in the Harlesden, Willesden Green and Wembley Central wards.


As with other councils that have advocated or introduced such schemes, the main argument is that licensing would improve conditions for tenants, alleviate overcrowding and help neighbours who, in Brent, have complained about allegedly anti-social activity connected with some privately-rented properties.


Shelter’s director of communications and campaigns has spoken out in favour of the idea, saying: “With a third of privately rented properties failing to meet the government’s own standards for decent homes, it’s really good to see that Brent Council is looking at ways to make living conditions better for the thousands of private renters across Brent.”

Source: LettingAgentToday

The Wilsons, buy-to-let gurus, selling up at last

The Wilsons, buy-to-let gurus, selling up at last

Britain’s best known and biggest buy-to-let landlords, Fergus and Judith Wilson, are selling their entire portfolio of some 950 homes in the south east of England, in a deal likely to net them an estimated £100m.

The Wilsons told The Guardian newspaper overnight that the value of their portfolio had now exceeded the value it had in the pre-downturn period of 2007. 


"We are selling up the whole lot! The market has recovered and passed the 2007 level. Who to? An intermediary is handling it. Is it China Money, Indian Money, Saudi Money? We will see. I am sure there will be much interest” Fergus Wilson told the paper. 


The Wilsons say existing tenants will be protected, with their rental contracts switched to the company or landlord that buys the portfolio. 


The homes owned by the couple are mostly in Ashford and Maidstone. Houses on the Park Farm estate in Ashford, where the Wilsons own scores of two- and three-bed properties, have jumped in value from a 2009 low of £150,000 to around £185,000, according to local estate agents Gould Harrison. 


The Guardian claims that rents have also jumped from around £725 for a two bedroom property six years ago to almost £1,000 now. 


The paper says that the couple did not disclose the price they are expecting to obtain, nor the mortgage debt attached to them. 


In 2010, he said the difference between his borrowing and the value of his properties was then “around £180m, although it was as high as £225m." 


The couple have sold some of their properties off in the past two years. 

Source: LettingAgenttoday

Agents "may not master immigration papers"

Many letting agents and landlords will not understand complex immigration documents “which even border officials have difficulties understanding” according to a leading property consultancy.

Under the Immigration Act, which will take effect from October, lettings agents , private landlords and even those taking in lodgers under the national ‘Rent-A-Room’ scheme will have to vet their tenants to ensure they are legally entitled to reside in the country.


There will be fines running into thousands of pounds for those failing to undertake the necessary checks or failing to prevent illegal immigrants from renting.


Now Simon Perkins, a partner at the Nottingham and Mansfield agency PWR Property Consultants, has become the first agent to say that although the new measure may help drive some rogue tenants and landlords out of the market, there will a significant cost for the industry. 


The new legislation will mean that both letting agents and landlords will need to ensure that all tenants have a so-called Right to Rent he says. As a result, extra checks on prospective tenants looking to rent a property will need to be made before they are allowed to move in. 


“There is huge concern against letting agents and landlords, that many will not be equipped to correctly interpret the complex documents that even border officials have difficulties understanding” he says. 


Industry bodies including RICS and the NLA have voiced their opposition to the scheme, with some suggesting that the government was wrong to ask landlords and agents to operate as an arm of the Border Control service.


A so-called ‘Impact Assessment’ statement issued by the government claims that at the moment “housing is an important enabler of illegal migration” which is why agents and landlords will be required to check residency status from October onwards. 


“The policy is also intended to tackle the exploitation of migrants by rogue landlords” claims the government.

Source: LettingAgentToday

Letting agents will have to publish fees in full, says Government

Letting agents will be required to publish full details of the fees they charge under plans announced by Government ministers on Tuesday.

The Government says the move ensures a fair deal for landlords and tenants, “closing off the opportunity for a small minority of rogue agents to impose unreasonable, hidden charges”. It added that the common sense approach avoids excessive state regulation which would push up rents for tenants.

Currently, the Advertising Standards Authority only requires letting agents to list compulsory charges to the tenant upfront in the process. Those letting agents who are found to have imposed hidden charges face little more than being “named and shamed” on the Advertising Standards Authority’s website.

But the Government wants to go further than this, and will require all letting agents to publish a full tariff of their fees – both on their websites and prominently in their offices. Anyone who does not comply with these new rules will face a fine – a much stricter penalty than currently exists.

This week’s plans add to the work the Government is already doing to offer stronger protections for landlords and tenants in the private rented sector, whilst avoiding excessive regulation which would force up rents and reduce choice.

Housing minister Kris Hopkins said: “The vast majority of letting agents provide a good service to tenants and landlords. But we are determined to tackle the minority of rogue agents who offer a poor service. Ensuring full transparency and banning hidden fees is the best approach, giving consumers the information they want and supporting good letting agents.

“Short-term gimmicks like trying to ban any fee to tenants means higher rents by the back door. Excessive state regulation and waging war on the private rented sector would also destroy investment in new housing, push up prices and make it far harder for people to find a flat or house to rent.”

Source: Letting Agent Today

Over 2m foreign landlords', say analysts

The number of foreign-based landlords with UK properties is now over two million.

UHY Hacker Young, a chartered accountancy practice, has compiled the figures based on information for 2011/12 - with a more recent financial year having just finished, the actual number now may be even higher.

The firm’s research shows a consistent growth in foreign-based landlords over the past decade, despite the downturn - or perhaps because of it is it meant buy to let properties were cheaper to buy:

2006/7: 1.46m

2007/8: 1.58m

2008/9: 1.70m

2009/10: 1.82m

2010/11: 1.93m

2011/12: 2.04m

However, the company says this consistent growth may come to a halt following the implementation of Capital Gains Tax on the sale of properties owned by foreign investors from April 2015.  

“The UK economy is one of the world’s most liquid and UK property is seen globally as a safe haven from the effects of a financial crash or from national governments’ interference in the assets of private individuals. That has driven fierce demand for prime property in London and the South East in particular,” explains Mark Giddens, Head of Private Client Services for UHY Hacker Young. 

From 2007 to 2012, tax taken by HMRC from foreign-based landlords with UK rental properties increased by 64 per cent from £230m to £379m.

Source: Letting Agent Today

Rogue letting agent finally repays students after five years

Clients of an Oxford letting agent who swindled money out of students have finally got their money back after a five-year fight.

It took the intervention of Oxfordshire County Council's Trading Standards team for letting agent Zulfiqar Hussain to repay the money.

Hussain admitted seven counts of engaging in an unfair commercial practice two years ago. The offences related to the operation of Charles Lawson Lettings in Cowley Road, Oxford.

He received a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after being prosecuted by Trading Standards. He was also ordered to pay back money he misappropriated.

Hussain paid back small amounts to the ten people he duped but had not settled the full amount. However further intervention from Trading Standards and other council colleagues made him reimburse the students in full, recovering more than £8,100.

One of those tricked in 2009 by Hussain was student Alice Codner, who with her friends had arranged to rent a house in East Avenue, Oxford from him, paying a deposit and a month's rent to secure it.

Upon return from a summer holiday they found that the property they thought they had rented from Hussain was in fact not in his care, leaving them only a week to find alternative accommodation before the new academic term began.

He has now paid back more than £3,200 in total to Codner and her three prospective housemates after Trading Standards officers applied for compensation orders.

The 24-year-old, now living in London, said: "We didn't have anywhere to live a week before the university term started when we found out what had happened and we were out of pocket – we couldn't believe it. It is hard enough to find student accommodation in Oxford and we were left with only a few days to find somewhere new.

"Luckily we found somewhere else to live but I never held much hope of getting all of the money back. I think there is an assumption that Oxford students have lots of money, but that is not the case and I think perhaps we were seen as an easy target."

Codner, who is training to become a primary school teacher, said: "Trading Standards took up the case and I agreed to give evidence in court, but Mr Hussain pleaded guilty, so we weren't required to go to court. He was ordered to pay the money back, but time passed and we did not get back all of the money owed.

"It was with disbelief when I found out that the Trading Standards officers had managed to retrieve the money Mr Hussain had misappropriated and it was wonderful to suddenly have £800 each back."

Trading Standards manager Richard Webb said: "We are delighted for those tricked by Mr Hussain who were due to give evidence against him to have got their cash back from him – what he did put people in an incredibly difficult situation by falsely saying they were renting a property from him, when in fact he had no right to do so.

"It must have been very distressing to return to a property you think you will be living in after parting with several thousand pounds to discover that not only do you not have a roof over your head but also that your money was gone.

"My staff and other council colleagues worked extremely hard to retrieve this money and prior to that, bring Mr Hussain to court, where he admitted his guilt. I hope this case and subsequent retrieval of monies misappropriated act as a strong warning to anybody thinking of doing a similar thing."

Source: Letting Agent Today

Landlord fined £12,000 for 14 offences

A landlord has been ordered to pay fines of £12,000 after pleading guilty to 14 offences including not being licensed as a private landlord.

Latif Rehman of Dudley in the West Midlands, also pleaded guilty to failing to ensure fire escapes were free from obstruction and fixtures, fittings and electrical appliances were safely maintained.

He was fined £6,000 for not being licensed and £400 each for the remaining 13 offences; he also had to £725 in costs and a £120 victim surcharge.

A spokesman for Dudley council says: “This prosecution should act as a reminder to all private landlords to ensure they are properly licensed and their properties kept in a good state. If landlords don’t manage properties properly they are putting peoples’ lives at risk and we will not hesitate to take these matters through the courts.”

Suspended sentence for landlord after tenant death

A landlord has been sentenced to six months in prison suspended for two years, ordered to serve 200 hours community service and pay almost £8,000 in costs after a fire in a HMO property led to the death of a tenant and injuries for two others.

Ashiq Mohammed Sadiq from Eastville in Bristol pleaded guilty to four charges; he was told by the judge that he was guilty of “substantial negligence.”

Bristol Crown Court heard that Mr Sadiq had breached the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 by failing to complete a fire risk assessment; he did not ensure that the premises were equipped with fire detectors and alarms; and he did not ensure that the exit route was adequately protected.

There was no self-closing fire door to the kitchen and combustible materials were stored against unprotected electrical wiring in the escape route.

Avon Fire & Rescue service says there was also a lack of fire protection between the ground floor - which had large amounts of combustible material - and the living accommodation above.

A record number of tenants in England and Wales were forcibly evicted from their homes last yea

Ministry of Justice figures showed that 37,739 private and public sector tenants had their homes repossessed by court bailiffs in 2013.

This is the largest such figure since this data first started to be recorded in 2000.

Rents outstripping earnings rises are being blamed for the numbers and with little sign of rents cooling it is likely there will be a substantial number of similar evictions this year

Inventory clerks warn over sub-letting

Rising rents and too few affordable homes have created an army of tenants living in sub-let rooms unknown to agents or landlords, claims the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks.

The AIIC claims research by Direct Line shows 3.3 million people are ‘unofficial tenants’ – equivalent to one in every 10 rental homes. Three quarters of these have been sub-letting for more than six months.  
“We recently came across a three-bedroomed flat which we visited mid-tenancy as the landlord was concerned about the tenants. It quickly became apparent that up to 30 people were living in the flat – co-workers sleeping in shifts - when only one couple were on the tenancy” says Pat Barber, the chair of the AIIC.
She says in that instance, there was so much damage to the property that it took £10,000 to rectify, with the landlord footing the bill. 
“This problem is growing. It’s vital landlords and agents visit properties regularly to check that the tenants listed on the agreement are the only residents. At the end of the tenancy, landlords always change the locks if the property has been sub-let” she says.

The AIIC warning comes just as Glasgow letting agency D J Alexander is telling its tenants not to succumb to the temptation of sub-letting their properties for the city’s Commonwealth Games this summer.

A city newspaper reports that some one-bedroom apartments were being advertised for rent at £1,500 per night during the Games. The firm says sub-letting like this would be a serious breach of lease conditions and put the tenant at risk of losing his or her deposit.

Source: LettingAgentToday
By: Graham Norwood

Immigration checks on tenants "could breach human rights"

Mandatory checks on prospective tenants’ immigration status could breach their human rights and spark an increase in racial discrimination and homelessness, a cross-party Parliamentary committee has warned.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has called for the vetting proposal not to be implemented until the equalities authorities are satisfied that sufficient safeguards are in place.

It said that the vetting proposal, contained in the Immigration Bill, could specifically breach Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment.

The committee warned that homelessness could also result from stopping some people entering the private rented sector based on their immigration status.

The committee expressed particular that migrant children could be made homeless or separated from their families.

In its report, the committee asked the Government to explain the safeguards to mitigate the impact of the vetting proposals on children. The committee also expressed its concerns over how rights of appeal could be exercised.

Dr Hywel Francis, chair of the committee, said: “Effective immigration control is recognised by human rights law as a legitimate aim which governments are entitled to pursue, and my committee accepts that the measures in this Bill are intended to pursue that aim.

“However, creating a ‘hostile environment’ for illegal immigrants carries risks that the measures will have unintended consequences and lead to breaches of human rights and unjustified discrimination in practice. My committee is especially concerned about the restrictions on accessing residential tenancies according to immigration status, as these may expose children, and other migrants who have no right to be in the UK but face genuine obstacles to leaving, to the risk of homelessness, and could be applied in a way which is racially discriminatory”

We likewise believe that the Bill’s significant limitation of appeal rights against immigration and asylum decisions, when considered alongside other proposals such as a residence test for legal aid and restrictions on judicial review, represent a serious threat to the practical ability to access the legal system to challenge unlawful decisions.”

Source: LAT (Letting Agent Today)



The recent Government announcement that it has set aside £3 million to tackle rogue landlords who place tenants in overcrowded or poorly maintained accommodation is an indication of the serious nature of the growing problem in the private rented sector, says The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC). Poor living conditions...

Novice landlords still pouring into buy-to-let, says lender

Novice landlords still pouring into buy-to-let, says lender

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Tenancy demand drops as more become first-time buyers

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Illegal immigrants to be banned from renting accommodation in UK

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No blanket ban on agents' fees, declares minister

No blanket ban on agents’ fees, declares minister

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One in five people to be a private tenant in just two years, claim

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Boris is told to introduce rent controls in London

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Tenants desert central London as purse strings tighten

Tenants desert central London as purse strings tighten 

Tenants are moving out of the centre of London to save money on rent, say agents Cluttons. Areas in the east of the city, such as Wapping, Limehouse and the Isle of Dogs, are attracting 41% more tenants, and to the south-west, Clapham, Battersea and Wandsworth are attracting 53% more tenants than at the start of the year...

Bill forcing landlords to check migrant status of tenants to be watered down

Bill forcing landlords to check migrant status of tenants to be watered down

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Landlords' new immigration duties come under fire

Landlords' new immigration duties come under fire

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Tenants staying put as property shortage continues, says ARLA

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Tenants are now staying in one property for 20 months, according to the latest research from the Association of Residential Letting Agents.   This figure is up year-on-year from an average of 19 months in the first quarter of last year, indicating that tenants are starting to take a longer-term view of renting a property...

Half of landlords not using agents, say researchers

Half of landlords not using agents, say researchers 

Half of landlords do not use agents, new research from an independent marketing consultancy has said. While other estimates put the proportion of private landlords using agents at 60%, the BDRC Continental Landlords Panel puts it at 50% – suggesting the possibility of significant more growth for agents...

Fresh rise in number of tenants in serious arrears

Fresh rise in number of tenants in serious arrears

The number of tenants in the most serious rent arrears is rising again despite an overall fall in arrears, a firm of receivers has warned. It says that the number of tenants most behind with their rent is now 20% above the long-term average, with court orders for possession creeping...

ETSOS Announces New Anti-Money Laundering Verification Services After Estate Agent Fined Nearly £12,000

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The OFT on the 25th of January 2013, have fined Leicester based IPS Estate Agents £11,844 for failing to comply with Anti-Money Laundering Regulations. IPS failed to comply with a number of requirements under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 including those relating to:- ·         Verifying the identity of customers ·         Keeping appropriate...

Budget boost for home ownership could affect private rented sector

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The Chancellor delivered new measures in the Budget aimed at boosting home ownership. Beneficiaries include the new homes, secondhand homes and mortgage markets, plus the ‘build to rent’ sector. The wide availability of 95% mortgages could have profound implications for the private rented sector, with more tenants encouraged from next January to...

Government's housing policies are 'schizophrenic', says lender

Government's housing policies are 'schizophrenic', says lender

Housing policies were blasted by a succession of speakers at a buy-to-let event in Westminster yesterday. Flagship schemes such as Funding for Lending, NewBuy and FirstBuy all came under fire. Valerie Bannister, national property director of Your Move and vice president of ARLA, also slammed the lack of general direction. She said: “Successive...

London rent rises slowed by poor employment in City

London rent rises slowed by poor employment in City

Rents in central London are likely to rise by just 1% this year, Knight Frank has forecast. The firm points to weak employment in the City, with specialist recruiter Morgan McKinley saying that the number of job vacancies in the financial sector is down 24% year on year. However, Knight Frank says...

Local councils take a swipe at 'extortionate' letting agent fees

Local councils take a swipe at 'extortionate' letting agent fees

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Rents up sharply after ban on fees in Scotland, says portal

Rents up sharply after ban on fees in Scotland, says portal

Rents in Scotland appear to have risen sharply following the ban on fees charged to tenants. The rise also follows Shelter’s campaign encouraging tenants to reclaim their fees, and the implementation of tenancy deposit protection, requiring agents to physically hand over both current and ongoing deposits to a banking scheme. According to...

Landlords hit out at 'inflexible' buy-to-let lenders

Landlords hit out at 'inflexible' buy-to-let lenders

The buy-to-let market looks set to expand further in the first half of this year, with 55% of landlords planning to increase their property portfolios over the next six months. But, according to research by specialist broker Mortgages for Business, landlords are highly critical of lenders. Over three-quarters of investors (76%) say...

Rents drop but buy-to-let investors still head for London

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Buy-to-let purchases in central London are increasing, despite declining rents. According to property agents Cluttons, average rental values have slipped by 2.3% in the last three months, taking average weekly rents to £996, the first time they have dipped below £1,000 since Q1 2011. Knight Frank agrees that rents have dropped, saying...

Bad mobile phone coverage means tenants reject properties

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Landlord in benefits trial says tenants have stopped paying rent

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Ministers are to press ahead with their plans to pay benefit tenants their rent money and trust them to hand it over to their landlords This is despite the fact that a social landlord taking part in a pilot has said that, three months into the test, it is already losing...

One in three landlords think tenancy deposit rules are 'hindrance'

One in three landlords think tenancy deposit rules are 'hindrance'

Nine out ten landlords are either satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of their tenants, according to a new survey carried out by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. More than half of these landlords (53%) were satisfied with the quality of their tenants, while more than a third (34.7%) were very...

Tenants in capital paying a third more rent than three years ago

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Tenants in London are now paying almost one third more in rent than three years ago, after a 6% rise in the last year. According to HomeLet, average rents in Greater London are now £1,240 per month. This means renting a home in the capital is 16% more expensive than in...

Agents and landlords urged not to turn away benefits tenants

Agents and landlords urged not to turn away benefits tenants

The boss of a lettings company that specialises in pensioners has urged agents and private landlords not to turn their backs on benefit tenants. Peter Girling, chairman of Girlings Retirement Rentals, said it was wrong to stigmatise social housing tenants. According to research from the National Housing Federation, there has been a...

'Private rents falling', claims new housing minister

'Private rents falling', claims new housing minister

Housing minister Mark Prisk has followed his party’s line by claiming that private rents have been going down. He told the Commons that rents have fallen in real terms, because they have risen less than the rate of inflation. His answer to a parliamentary question follows similar claims from his predecessor Grant...

. . . but new rental index contradicts prices

. . . but new rental index contradicts prices

A new national rental index has been launched, targeted at investors looking to get the highest yields on their property investments. The report publishers say it will allow investors to track rental pricing trends in different regions. They say it will also provide evidence to help make informed investment decisions and...

No sign of supply matching rental demand, says expert

No sign of supply matching rental demand, says expert

The private rental market in London is set for enormous change and growth. A new report from Cluttons says that with a growing proportion of London households living in private rental accommodation, tenants will find themselves renting for longer, often well into the family-rearing stages of their lives. The property firm says...

Landlord guilty of illegal eviction sent to prison

Landlord guilty of illegal eviction sent to prison

A landlord who threw a tenant out on the streets without his shoes when he failed to pay his rent has been jailed for unlawful eviction. Jay Allen, 30, forcibly evicted Chris Blades after he ran up £900 of arrears on the rental property in Sheffield. Allen had no court order and...

Pension fund to boost supply of private rental homes

Pension fund to boost supply of private rental homes

An historic deal has been struck between a local authority and a pension fund to get more new homes built – some for sale and the others for private rent. The deal between Manchester City Council and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, with the Homes and Communities Agency a co-signatory, is...

London Assembly launches probe into rental market

London Assembly launches probe into rental market

The body which acts as a watchdog for London, holding mayor Boris Johnson to account, has launched an investigation into the private rental market. The London Assembly wants to hear from tenants about their experiences. The housing and regeneration committee says it wants to identify improvements that should be made to the...

Charity warned to step back from anti-fees campaign

Charity warned to step back from anti-fees campaign

Shelter should step back and consider the damage it has done in Scotland before trying to bring its campaign on tenancy fees down south. The warning comes from Sue Hopson, Martin & Co’s brand standards director, speaking out yesterday afternoon. Martin & Co has 16 offices in Scotland, and while Hopson said...

Malicious damage by tenants 'a common problem', says insurer

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Malicious damage to their property is among the top three most common insurance claims by landlords. Most malicious damage is caused by tenants. A report by Total Landlord Insurance which analyses claims made over the past two years has revealed that those made for malicious damage amount to £700,000. Yet many landlords...

Tenants pay the price as buoyant market continues

Tenants pay the price as buoyant market continues

The average monthly rent per person in the UK is £706, or £8,472 a year, it has been claimed. The lowest monthly rent per person location is Swansea at £398.50, and the highest is London at £1,247.63 – even after a slight fall. The ‘per person’ rent figures, from specialist letting agents’...

London rents set to be over double amounts elsewhere

London rents set to be over double amounts elsewhere

Rents in July bounced up by 2.8% across the UK – while in Greater London they rose by 4.6% over the month before to stand at a record £1,260 per month. The cost of renting a home around the UK, excluding Greater London, now stands at £789 per month, meaning that...

Beds in sheds on the rise

Beds in sheds on the rise

Despite the fact that the government is setting up a task force to tackle ‘beds in sheds’ by acting against criminal landlords and removing illegal immigrants, there is a growing number of landlords converting garages and outbuildings and offering them to vulnerable prospective tenants, according to the Association of Independent...

Tenants unhappy with sky-high agents' fees, claims Upad

Tenants unhappy with sky-high agents' fees, claims Upad

Tenants across the UK have complained that they feel ripped off by letting agents, it has been claimed. Self-service online agent Upad conducted a survey, which was nationwide with a special emphasis on Scotland, where Shelter has an ongoing Reclaim Your Fees campaign. In Scotland, agents are not allowed to charge upfront...

Rental homes set to be subject to council tax as soon as they fall empty

Rental homes set to be subject to council tax as soon as they fall empty

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Rents rise again – but so do tenants' arrears

Rents rise again – but so do tenants' arrears

Rents rose for a third consecutive month in June, as tenants’ arrears grew. A total of 9.2% of rent was late or unpaid, according to the latest Buy-to-Let Index from LSL Property Services, which owns national chains Your Move and Reeds Rains. In total, it estimates that unpaid rent in June amounted...

Rogue landlord hit with record £330,000 penalty

Rogue landlord hit with record £330,000 penalty

A rogue landlord has been hit with what is believed to be the largest fine ever imposed on a landlord in Britain. Vispasp Sarkari, 50, of Harrow, north London, has been ordered to pay £328,515. He had built up a property empire worth at least £1.8m by illegally converting four houses into...

Adverts for tenants could be breaking discrimination laws

Adverts for tenants could be breaking discrimination laws

There is no suggestion that letting agents are breaking the law, but could landlords who advertise for their own tenants be guilty of discrimination if they specify race or even gender? Three years ago, agents in Lincoln were found to be breaching the Race Relations Act by specifically excluding migrants as...

The devil is in the detail

The devil is in the detail

Recent data from the Deposit Protection Service (DPS) shows that in the last 12 months there have been 6,056 adjudications over deposit disputes, with tenants proving the winners. Just 16 per cent were awarded solely to landlords, while 36 per cent were awarded solely to tenants, and in 48 per cent...

Third of tenants spend half take-home pay on rent

Third of tenants spend half take-home pay on rent

Around one in three tenants (30%) is spending over half their take-home pay on rent. The proportion rises to 32% in London and the East Midlands, to 33% in the South-West and Wales, and to 36% in the South-East. The overall average in the UK of rental spend is now 38%...

New report gives red light to ministers on rented sector

New report gives red light to ministers on rented sector

A damning report from three housing organisations has accused the Government of failing to deal with the country’s burgeoning housing crisis. The report has also sparked new arguments as to whether private rents are falling or going up. The paper, by the National Housing Federation, Shelter and Chartered Institute of Housing, said...

Tenants v Landlords

Tenants v Landlords

This is the first of several posts covering the subject of Tenants Vs Landlords; the data used for this is taken from LettingWeb’s site statistics. The private rented sector in the UK is continually growing; increasing property prices mean that purchasing property is out of many people’s capabilities, and therefore the...

Celebration and Recession Burglaries

Celebration and Recession Burglaries

UK Burglaries are predicted to be on the increase in 2012 due to the difficult financial situation and the unprecedented number of celebrations in the national calendar. The home insurance provider AXA has labelled 2012 a ‘year of risk’, because they predict a significant rise in home insurance claims this...

Angry agents 'open can of worms' as they hit out at portals' prices

Angry agents 'open can of worms' as they hit out at portals' prices

A number of NAEA members from the Surrey area have met to discuss the rapidly rising cost of listing their properties on the major portals. Chairman James Wyatt said that five times the normal audience attended after the meeting was held at just a few days’ notice, at agents’ own instigation....

Private landlords deserting housing benefit sector

Private landlords deserting housing benefit sector

More than half of landlords can no longer afford to rent to housing benefit tenants because of cuts to allowances, with seven in ten saying they will not have housing benefit tenants in three years’ time. The claim has come from the National Landlords Association after it surveyed its members. The survey...

Boiler needs emergency replacement? Landlords may be forced to do other work as well

Boiler needs emergency replacement? Landlords may be forced to do other work as well

Landlords wanting to replace broken boilers in their rental properties are set to be forced by law to install other, unrelated energy-efficient measures. Other work, for example glazing and extensions, could also be affected by government plans for ‘consequential improvements’ – meaning that one project could not be undertaken without the...

Human rights to be claimed by private tenant fighting eviction

Human rights to be claimed by private tenant fighting eviction

Landlords and agents operating in the private rented sector have been warned that they may be unable to evict tenants who fail to pay their rent or commit anti-social behaviour – because of their human rights. The warning, from the Residential Landlords Association, follows a ruling by the Supreme Court. While...

Rents in central London fall for six consecutive months

Rents in central London fall for six consecutive months

The rental market in central London is undergoing a ‘correction’, say agents. Cluttons says that rental falls are now saving central London tenants £572 a year. The agency says that prime central London rents fell by a further 0.6% in the first quarter of this year from £1,043 per week to £1,032. Rents...

Tenants clock up more arrears while evictions mount

Tenants clock up more arrears while evictions mount

Growing numbers of tenants are in serious arrears, a firm of receivers has reported, and the number of court eviction orders has gone up 9% in the last year. Templeton LPA, part of the LSL Property Services Group, says that the number of tenants who are over two months in arrears...

Tenancy demand still on the up, say landlords

Tenancy demand still on the up, say landlords

Almost half of the landlords (44%) surveyed in Paragon’s latest Private Rented Sector Trends survey, covering the first quarter of this year, said that tenant demand is continuing to grow. The results of the quarterly survey carried out by the specialist buy-to-let lender also revealed that just 7% of landlords thought...

Experian credit checks to include tenants' payment records

Experian credit checks to include tenants' payment records

Credit checking agency Experian is to add information about tenants and their rental payments into future credit checks. It means that landlords and letting agents will be able to access information about rental applicants’ ability to pay rent previously, whilst lenders will also be able to see the information when assessing...

London rents slip further as jobs market weakens

London rents slip further as jobs market weakens

Rents are continuing to stutter downwards in prime central London, says Knight Frank. They fell 0.2% in February, bringing rents back to where they were last June. The current round of rental price falls relates to weaker conditions in the central London employment market, said Liam Bailey, Knight Frank’s head of residential...

Tenants at breaking point as rent rises go on

Tenants at breaking point as rent rises go on

The number of tenants who expect rents to go up in the next 12 months is at a record high. This morning, Rightmove said that 63% of tenants, in a giant poll of 5,567 people who are currently renting or expecting to do so, expect rent rises. This is the highest it...

How to prevent condensation in rented accommodation and whose fault is it?

How to prevent condensation in rented accommodation and whose fault is it?

Winters biggest problem is condensation – Nick Lyons of No Letting Go Inventory Management looks at the problems of determining the fault at the end of a tenancy and how to prevent it occurring. Over the many years of dealing in rented properties, handling property visits and check outs one of...

Half of landlords now taking out rental guarantee insurance

Half of landlords now taking out rental guarantee insurance

Insurance firm Let Alliance has reported a big increase in the sales of rent guarantee policies during the last six months. The increase in demand for rent guarantee protection has resulted in Let Alliance providing cover in 49% of the total reference transactions completed. This is an increase of 39% during...

Met Police warn about rise in lettings fraudsters

Met Police warn about rise in lettings fraudsters

The Metropolitan Police have issued a warning that fraudsters are stealing the personal details of landlords whose properties are managed by letting agents. The fraudsters then email other letting agents in a bid to con them into believing they own the property. Through several emails, the fraudsters build up a relationship with...

Guilty letting agent ordered to pay over £300,000 or go to jail

Guilty letting agent ordered to pay over £300,000 or go to jail

A letting agent in one of the most notorious cases of recent times will have to pay over £300,000 after swindling tenants and landlords. Zulfiqar Hussain, 44, operated Charles Lawson Lettings in Cowley Road, East Oxford, and conned clients – many of whom were students – out of thousands of pounds between...

Deposit scheme publishes new guide for landlords and agents

Deposit scheme publishes new guide for landlords and agents

Tenancy deposit scheme mydeposits has released an online checklist for landlords and letting agents to help them in any dispute with their tenant over the return of the deposit. The checklist gives guidance to landlords and agents on what to do before, during and at the end of the tenancy to...

Agents alerted over fake ID tenant scam

Agents alerted over fake ID tenant scam

Agents and landlords are being warned about a scam, whereby phoney tenants take out tenancies in blocks of flats where post is delivered and left in communal areas. The fake tenant then goes through the occupants’ post, stealing their IDs and using their credit cards and banks to buy expensive goods. The...

Asking rents nudge downwards for a second month

Asking rents nudge downwards for a second month

Asking price rents fell for a second successive month in December, according to the latest buy-to-let index from LSL Property Services. But LSL said the lull was almost certainly purely seasonal, with rent rises due to accelerate again. LSL, which owns national chains Your Move and Reeds Rains, said that last...

Managing agent standards raised in Parliament

Managing agent standards raised in Parliament

The subject of standards among managing agents of leasehold blocks of flats has been discussed in the Lords. Baroness Gardner asked whether the Government would be introducing regulations or a code. Lord Best, who chairs the council of the Property Ombudsman scheme, which listens to complaints against managing agents, asked whether the...

Website full of damning reviews of letting agents

Website full of damning reviews of letting agents

With agency review sites a big talking point at the moment, we were intrigued to come across the online UK Letting Agents Directory. Here, at its lettings reviews centre, users “can read unbiased reviews about local firms” to help them make their choice, or write their own reviews. Consumers apparently need little...

Million people resort to payday loans to pay rent or mortgage

Million people resort to payday loans to pay rent or mortgage

Almost one million people have had to take out a payday loan at 4,000% within the last year to pay their rent or mortgage. In total, seven million borrowers and tenants are relying on some form of credit to pay their housing costs. As well as payday loans, struggling borrowers and tenants...

London rents surge 80% higher than rest of UK

London rents surge 80% higher than rest of UK

The cost of renting a home in London is on average 80% more expensive than the rest of the UK – the largest difference ever. In November, rents in London increased to an average of £1,177 per month, says HomeLet’s latest report, whereas the average cost of renting a home outside...

Ken Livingstone declares all-out war on lettings agents

Ken Livingstone declares all-out war on lettings agents

Controversy has been ignited after Labour’s mayoral hopeful Ken Livingstone declared all-out war on letting agents in London. If elected in May, he will establish a London-wide, not-for-profit lettings agency, paid for by the public purse, and to be run by the Mayor’s office. Although a handful of much smaller local...

Cleaning remains a big problem for landlord and agents

Cleaning remains a big problem for landlord and agents

According to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC), landlords and agents are increasingly faced with dirty properties at the check-out stage, which has led to cleaning accounting for 40 per cent of deposit disputes. Many tenants fail to leave their property in the same condition at check-out and are often...

Most new affordable homes will be built for rent

Most new affordable homes will be built for rent

Questions have been raised in Parliament about the private rented sector, with strong concerns raised about rent levels and the revelation that most of the new affordable homes to be built by April 2015 will be for rent. The question of regulating letting agents was also raised – and, unusually, the...

Government places private rented sector at 'top of agenda'

Government places private rented sector at 'top of agenda'

The Government has put housing to the top of the agenda – and with it, the private rented sector. The claim was made by civil servant Terrie Alafat, director of housing growth and affordable housing at Communities and Local Government. Speaking at the National Landlords Association’s annual national conference, held in Manchester...

Damage to property during the winter months

Damage to property during the winter months

As we head towards Christmas and potentially severe weather in the New Year, AIIC (The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks) is urging agents and landlords to be vigilant about checking their properties to ensure that tenants are safe from fire and that they avoid water damage. The risk of property damage...

Is rental market working? No say most

Is rental market working? No say most

Is the rental market working? An overwhelming majority – 94.8% when we last looked – say no. The Guardian has been running a poll – Is the Rental Market Working? – which was open for voting until the end of yesterday. The results look interesting, although the Guardian failed to ask some...

Lettings agency pair helped themselves to clients' money

Lettings agency pair helped themselves to clients' money

A father and son who ran a lettings agency which closed down suddenly after they pocketed thousands of pounds of client money, have pleaded guilty to theft and fraud. David Carr, 58, and Peter Carr, 27, took more than £15,000 by keeping cash paid in to Town and Country Estates in...

How should the Landlord deal with Abandonment??

How should the Landlord deal with Abandonment??

What is the best way to deal with a tenant you think has abandoned the property? The only legal way to repossess property, under the Protection from Eviction Act, is to obtain a court order for possession. Any other method for repossession is always risky, as unlike a section 21 notice it...

Paragon was right to call in £6.9m buy-to-let loans, says High Court

Paragon was right to call in £6.9m buy-to-let loans, says High Court

Buy-to-let lender Paragon Mortgages has been cleared in the High Court of wrongfully calling in £6.9m worth of buy-to-let loans from a husband and wife investor couple. Robert and Frances McEwan-Peters had built up an enormous buy-to-let portfolio. The High Court heard that Paragon viewed it as being in ‘terminal trouble’, but...

Private rents unaffordable in over half of England, says Shelter

Private rents unaffordable in over half of England, says Shelter

Average rents in the private sector have become unaffordable for working families in 55% of local authority areas in England. Shelter says that in most such areas, typical rents are over one-third of take-home pay and 38% of families with children are having to cut down on food in order to...

Poor energy efficient properties could still be banned from rental market within five years

Poor energy efficient properties could still be banned from rental market within five years

Parliament has rejected a call to ban rental properties with an EPC rating below E from 2016. But the Government has not completely ruled it out if insufficient progress is made by landlords to improve the energy efficiency of their properties. Currently, it is sticking to its timetable of 2018, when...

Short term lettings market develops the jitters

Short term lettings market develops the jitters

The lucrative short-term letting market is having an attack of the jitters after a BBC investigation revealed a postcode lottery in London. It means that some Londoners hoping to rent out their homes during the Olympics could be breaking the law and risking fines. Altogether, 27 London councils allow people to rent...

Letting agent given suspended sentence after deposits frauds

Letting agent given suspended sentence after deposits frauds

A disgraced businessman who diverted tenants’ deposits to fund other financial ventures has been given a suspended jail sentence and ordered to carry out unpaid community work. 
Brandon Weston, the former boss of Premier Places Lettings in Worcester and Redditch, should have ensured the cash was put into a ring-fenced client...

Arrears soar as tenants get to grips with record rents

Arrears soar as tenants get to grips with record rents

Rents rose by their fastest rate in a year in August, bouncing up 1.2%, whilst tenants arrears grew by 19.5%. The findings are in this morning’s new buy-to-let report from LSL, which owns national chains Your Move and Reeds Rains. It says that 10.7% of all UK rent was unpaid or late...

Student tenants jostle to find accommodation

Student tenants jostle to find accommodation

A student lettings agent in Liverpool says that this month looks as though it will be an all-time record breaker. City Residential said the main driving factor behind exceptionally high levels of activity is the arrival of around 20,000 students desperately searching for accommodation. It said that with the increased student fees...

TDS publishes new guidance notes on disputes

TDS publishes new guidance notes on disputes

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme has published a new set of case studies on its site, illustrating how adjudicators approach a deposit dispute when landlords and tenants cannot reach an amicable agreement between themselves. It is part of a continuing campaign by the TDS to make deposit resolution open and easy to...

More housing benefit tenants renting privately

More housing benefit tenants renting privately

Soaring tenant demand in the private sector is coming from people on benefit. The latest RICS quarterly rental survey, covering the quarter to the end of July, says that 13% of all new lets were to housing benefit tenants. The statistic is up from 8% the previous quarter and is the...

Lettings without headaches

Lettings without headaches

Simon at ARPM: ‘lettings without the headaches’ when setting up my lettings business one of the top tips I was given, was stick to your knitting – if you do something you know, love and understand it will increase your chances of success. Most agents at some point will want to...

Government Caps Payments

Government Caps Payments

Research, carried out by BDRC Continental’s Landlords Panel, has been published today that has revealed that 15% of private landlords are going to stop offering Local Housing Allowance (LHA) tenancies. This has come as a result of the government’s cap on payments. The research has indicated that changes to LHA payments,...

Landlords – don`t get it wrong...say the property experts at Belvoir Lettings

Landlords – don`t get it wrong...say the property experts at Belvoir Lettings

Five top tips to help you get it right! 1.) Beware of the... wrong property “It’s essential that you invest in the right property,” says proprietor of Belvoir Kettering Harpreet Garcha. “The wrong property can easily stay vacant for extended periods and, even when let, may only achieve a low rental return....

Are YOU using the right tenancy agreement for YOUR property?

Are YOU using the right tenancy agreement for YOUR property?

Not all tenancies are the same. So it follows that not all tenancy agreements should be the same. Tenancy agreements are after all the documents which govern how the tenancy is to work (outside of the things controlled by law). The tenancy agreement you use should therefore reflect the type of...

Tenant ran up £10,000 debt on landlord's credit card

Tenant ran up £10,000 debt on landlord's credit card

A tenant who did not pay rent and stole his landlord’s credit card to run up debt of more than £10,000, had an expensive Jaguar with a personalised numberplate on the drive of his rental property. Michael Wild, 47, was only found out after the landlord went to court to try...

First-time tenants struggling to get on the rental ladder

First-time tenants struggling to get on the rental ladder

First-time tenants are struggling to get on to the rental ladder, and are routinely having to go to the Bank of Mum and Dad for their deposits, as rents rose for the sixth month in a row in July. The new record-breaking high in rents has been recorded in the latest...

Landlord's house wrecked as he battled to evict tenants

Landlord's house wrecked as he battled to evict tenants

A landlord who fought for months to evict his ‘tenants from hell’ found that when they eventually moved out, they had left such a trail of ruin that police have classified it as criminal damage. The case underlines the currently long and unwieldy process of gaining possession. Landlord Glenn Schofield had gone...

Police alert after conmen fleece tenants of thousands

Police alert after conmen fleece tenants of thousands

City of London police have issued a fraud alert after two men set up a fake lettings agency and fleeced unsuspecting tenants of £24,000 in deposits. The pair, named as Tawfikur Tahman and Shofiqul Islam, advertised a one-bedroom flat for rent on Gumtree. Prospective tenants were then told it had been let...

More landlords planning to add to portfolios

More landlords planning to add to portfolios

Landlords are poised to buy up more properties as rental demand continues to swell, according to joint research from ARLA and the Residential Landlords Association. Landlords most likely to expand their portfolios are in central London, where one-third plan to add more properties over the next year. According to a survey of...

Ban on letting energy-poor properties could be in just five years

Ban on letting energy-poor properties could be in just five years

Landlords face having to upgrade their properties to a minimum energy standard within five years – or have them banned from the market. Around 30 organisations have called for a minimum energy efficiency standard to be legally required of all private rented homes in 2016, and are demanding that a new...

Tenants struggle as rents rise

Tenants struggle as rents rise

A growing number of London tenants are struggling to get through their reference checks because they do not met the salary requirements being demanded as rents soar. Most credit referencing companies now insist that a prospective tenant earns around 30 times the monthly rent, or two-and-a-half to three times the annual...

Concern over carbon deaths in rental properties

Concern over carbon deaths in rental properties

A coroner has called for a change in health and safety legislation after a tenant died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a newly built block of flats where all the boilers had gas safety certificates. Maria Ighodalo, 27, was a social housing tenant of London & Quadrant. She died on November...

It's a love-in for tenants and landlords

It's a love-in for tenants and landlords

An overwhelming majority of landlords have a good relationship with their tenants, according to the National Landlords Association. In a survey of 662 NLA members, it found 61% of landlords have “very good” relations with their tenants, while a further 34% describe their dealings as “good”. Just 3% say their relationship is...

Council draws up plans to bulk buy private rental properties

Council draws up plans to bulk buy private rental properties

A local council is considering buying up large swathes of private rental accommodation in a bid to crack down on unscrupulous landlords and offer longer, more secure tenancies. It would then become the landlord itself of these properties, hoping to see rising capital values and good rental income. If the plans comes...

Tenants who are too scared to complain to their landlords

Tenants who are too scared to complain to their landlords

In the wake of the Landlords from Hell TV investigation, Citizens Advice has compiled tips for private tenants whose homes are in need of repair. The programme showed how some landlords are accommodating people in overcrowded, damp and dilapidated homes. Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice chief executive, said: “Last year Citizens Advice bureaux...

Landlords in London are twice as confident

Landlords in London are twice as confident

Landlords with properties in London have expressed strong optimism, with the huge majority expecting to see rents rise, and no anticipation of price falls. They are almost twice as optimistic as landlords with properties outside London A total of 91.3% of London landlords believe that residential property prices in the capital will...

Plans to criminalise squatters opposed by landlords and charities

Plans to criminalise squatters opposed by landlords and charities

Justice Minister, Crispin Blunt has proposed in a consultation paper that squatters who are persistent could be sent to prison. The proposed plans would also remove ‘squatters rights’ that make it harder for landlords to regain their property when squatters move in. Blunt said “Far too many people have to endure...

Shortage of rental property undermining market, says ARLA

Shortage of rental property undermining market, says ARLA

ARLA has warned that an undersupply of good quality property is straining the UK rental market to the limit, with supply failing to match demand. One agent, Philip Keddie, of Sunshine Rentals in Devon, said: “In certain parts of our area, we have hardly any new properties to offer to a...

Average rents break through the £700 barrier

Average rents break through the £700 barrier

Rents hit another record high in June, surging beyond the £700 per month barrier for the first time, says a new report out today. The latest Buy-to-Let Index from LSL Property Services, which owns national chains Your Move and Reeds Rains, says that in June, the average asking price rent in...

Students the best bet for highest yields, says Paragon

Students the best bet for highest yields, says Paragon

Students and young singles generate the highest yields for landlords, buy-to-let mortgage specialist lender Paragon has revealed. Paragon used independent research to find that students generated an average yield of 6.45%, while young singles generate 6.22%. Retired people are also high up the table (6.16%), followed by white collar / professional workers...

Landlords up in arms after letting agent shuts

Landlords up in arms after letting agent shuts

A notice has appeared on the window of an agent that suddenly closed down saying that the company is under investigation for criminal fraud and asking for information. The notice reads: “Warning to all tenants and landlords with Hot Homes UK. This company is currently under investigation for criminal fraud.” It asks...

Can Landlords help to break the cleaning dispute cycle?

Can Landlords help to break the cleaning dispute cycle?

With cleaning disputes at the forefront of a reported 46% of all deposit disputes handled by the TDS during 2009-2010, and mydeposits also reporting cleaning to be a major initiator of Alternative Dispute Resolution, can Landlords help to break this cycle? Kate Maddison from the Live Letting Exchange explores this...

Number of new tenants surge 20% in a month

Number of new tenants surge 20% in a month

The number of new tenants’ registering for rental accommodation through the Countrywide agency chain increased by 20% in May, compared with April. It was also a 28% increase compared to May 2010. While the sales side of Countrywide showed a 10% decrease in sales agreed in May, the number of properties available...

Tenant evictions up by 9% in a year

Tenant evictions up by 9% in a year

The number of court orders to evict tenants is up 9% in the last year, and look set to rise further. The number of tenants in severe rental arrears is up by 13%. However, the impact of tenants’ arrears has yet to filter through to landlords, with total buy-to-let mortgage arrears...

Managing agents are failing to monitor safety in blocks of flats

Managing agents are failing to monitor safety in blocks of flats

Millions of people, including tenants and leasehold owners, are at risk because many blocks of flats have not had basic health and safety inspections, some of which are required by law. According to data from block management firm Urban Owners, a significant majority of managing agents at blocks are failing to...

Buy-to-let mortgages being obtained for ordinary buyers

Buy-to-let mortgages being obtained for ordinary buyers

The Financial Services Authority has claimed that buy-to-let mortgages are being procured by mortgage brokers for ordinary residential buyers who would not pass the more stringent checking procedures required for ordinary residential mortgages. Ordinary residential mortgages are regulated by the FSA but buy-to-let mortgages are not. Writing in the current FSA newsletter,...

Landlord fined £4,000 over HMO

Landlord fined £4,000 over HMO

A Bristol firm has been fined £4,000 because it did not have a licence for an HMO. Digs (Bristol), which describes itself as a private group of student landlords, manages properties with more than 1,000 rooms in the city. On top of the fine, it was also ordered to pay costs totalling...

Shapps to force landlords to upgrade properties by law

Shapps to force landlords to upgrade properties by law

Housing minister Grant Shapps has announced that the Localism Bill will be amended to include a requirement for private rental properties to meet higher standards. Shapps made the revelation during a question and answer session at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s conference and exhibition in Harrogate. He said: “I will not let...

Renting more expensive than buying in four out of five towns

Renting more expensive than buying in four out of five towns

Renting a home in Britain is currently 9.7% more expensive than owning, on average. It is cheaper to buy instead of rent in four out of five of the 50 largest towns and cities across the country. New research from Zoopla looks at the current asking prices and rents of two-bedroom flats...

Landlords given more time to make EPC changes

Landlords given more time to make EPC changes

The Government has at the last minute abandoned attempts to introduce changes to EPC rules on July 1. A senior official at Communities and Local Government said yesterday that they had run out of time. It is understood that the Regulatory Policy Committee, which scrutinises new regulations, has failed to give clearance. The...

Asking price rents rise to new records

Asking price rents rise to new records

Asking price rents reached a new record high in May after four successive months of rises, according to the latest Buy-to-Let Index from LSL Property Services, which owns national estate agency and lettings chains Your Move and Reeds Rains. In May, the average rent in England and Wales rose by 0.5%...

Rents rise beyond affordability levels for some tenants

Rents rise beyond affordability levels for some tenants

Increased tenant demand and low supply pushed rents higher in the three months to April, says the latest RICS Residential Lettings Survey. Although rents increased across Great Britain, it was London and the South-East where there were the most notable increases. Comments from surveyors reveal that rents in some areas have now...

More landlords turn down tenants on benefit

More landlords turn down tenants on benefit

More than half of private landlords are planning to cut down on letting to tenants on housing benefits. The finding is in a survey by the National Landlords Association and comes as the Welfare Reform Bill reaches its report stage in the House of Commons. A key part of the Welfare Reform...

Housing market at tipping point as buyers prefer to rent

Housing market at tipping point as buyers prefer to rent

The housing market appears to be at a tipping point, with sales faltering and potential buyers thin on the ground – whilst rentals flourish. Two new surveys both tell the same story. According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the traditional spring bounce has failed to materialise. Its latest report, published this...

Landlords warned over periodic tenancies

Landlords warned over periodic tenancies

Landlords should beware of the pitfalls of periodic tenancies. The warning has come from Benham and Reeves Residential Lettings, one of London’s largest independent lettings agents. It is advising landlords to do their homework when deciding on a tenancy agreement. According to director Marc von Grundherr, the periodic tenancy, which follows on automatically...

Lender unveils new mortgages for smaller landlords

Lender unveils new mortgages for smaller landlords

Mortgage Trust, which has bounced back into the buy-to-let lending market, has launched six new products with rates starting at 4.3%. It has also launched some rapid remortgage products starting at 3.99%. The six new products are exclusively available via brokers, and cannot be obtained direct. Mortgage Trust acccepts online applications only and...

ARLA appeals to ministers to deal with rogue letting agents

ARLA appeals to ministers to deal with rogue letting agents

ARLA has once again appealed to the Government to exercise more control over both landlords and agents in the private rented sector. It said in particular that unlicensed agents pose a ‘real threat’ to the sector. ARLA’s own licensing scheme is voluntary, and applies only to its own members, while letting agents...

Landlords warned tenants could claim human rights to stop eviction

Landlords warned tenants could claim human rights to stop eviction

Social housing providers must show that decisions to evict tenants are necessary and proportionate, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has said. Its advice will send shivers up the spine of the private rented sector, which is expecting a trial case to be brought at some point by a tenant who...

Half of tenants expect rents to rise

Half of tenants expect rents to rise

Half of tenants are expecting rents to rise over the next year, with one in seven expecting the hike to be more than 10%. According to a new report by Rightmove, out this morning, their fears are justified. The site says that its rental listings are down by nearly a quarter on...

A generation gives up on buying a house

A generation gives up on buying a house

Britain is home to a generation of renters who are giving up on buying their own home, says a report out today. They expect their mortgage applications to fail, so don't even bother to apply. If attitudes become reality, the shape of Britain’s housing market will be fundamentally changed within a...

Regional student accommodation does best for investors

Regional student accommodation does best for investors

Regional student letting accommodation is the best-performing property investment asset in the UK, says a new report by Knight Frank. It says that regional student accommodation outperformed all other property assets. It puts total returns for regional student accommodation at 14.65% last year and names Kingston, Brighton, Edinburgh and Durham among the...

Rents at record highs – but capital losses in sight

Rents at record highs – but capital losses in sight

Rents regained their record highs last month, according to LSL, owners of the Your Move and Reeds Rains chains. The company said rents rose by 0.8% during April as annual rent inflation increased to 4.4%. The average rent stood at £692 per month, the same as last November, but 4.4% higher than...

One in two landlords now have tenants in arrears

One in two landlords now have tenants in arrears

More than half of landlords have experienced late rent payments in the past year, and cuts to housing benefit are expected to put further pressure on tenants.

 Research by the National Landlords Association has found that 52% of landlords have reported rent arrears in the past 12 months.

 The survey of nearly...

Rental homes with poor energy rating to be banned from market

Rental homes with poor energy rating to be banned from market

Homes with a poor energy rating will be banned from the rental market in five years’ time, the Government has announced. Reactions have been mixed. Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne this week announced plans to introduce regulations to ensure that all landlords face minimum energy efficiency standards under the...

Calls grow for shake-up of 'archaic' eviction process

Calls grow for shake-up of 'archaic' eviction process

A radical shake-up of the ‘archaic’ county court eviction process is needed to help landlords and agents get rid of problem tenants, according to a lettings industry specialist. Sim Sekhon, director of Legal 4 Landlords, is calling on both HM Court Service (HMCS) and the Government to reform the way tenant...

Landlords ignore health and safety rules

Landlords ignore health and safety rules

Many landlords are still unaware of even basic health and safety rules when leaving their properties for rental, according to The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC). For example, one in ten rented properties have items such as soft furnishings, bedding and furniture that do not have the required fire &...

Henry Pryor Blog

Henry Pryor Blog

The latest report from HM Land Registry piles yet more statistics on to our collective knowledge of the housing market in England and Wales. In their own recent report, Lloyds noted the sharp rise in the sales of million-pound properties across the UK (54% higher last year than in 2009) and the...

Landlord to pay court £30,000 after renting out dangerous home

Landlord to pay court £30,000 after renting out dangerous home

A landlord who rented out a dangerous and sub-standard house has been ordered to pay £30,000 in prosecution costs within 12 weeks. He was also sentenced to six months’ jail, suspended for 12 months and given 200 hours of community service. Steven James Boote, 41, of Nuneaton, was prosecuted for failing to...

Shapps will not ease regulation burden on landlords

Shapps will not ease regulation burden on landlords 

Housing minister Grant Shapps has no plans to simplify legislation for private landlords. Replying to a parliamentary question asked by Adrian Sanders, Tory MP for Torbay, on whether he would reduce the regulatory burden, Shapps said: “The Government believe that, in regulating the private rented sector, it is important to strike...

Top Tips for Buy to Let Properties

Top Tips for Buy to Let Properties 

If you are looking at buying, or already own a buy to let property, then there are many things to consider. Purchasing a house and finding a tenant are not the only issues, there are other matters to be taken into consideration when letting a property; such as the kinds...

Fantastic modern furnished 2 bedroom flat, with local amenities and transport on door step

Let My Roof would like to present a furnished 2 bedroom first floor flat situated in the heart of Clapham Common.
The property benefits from 2 decent sized double bedrooms, a spacious lounge area, newly fitted modern kitchen with integrated appliances and a newly decorated and tiled modern bathroom with integrated shower.

-Wooden flooring and carpet throughout
-Modern and newly fitted integrated kitchen
-Modern and new fully tiled bathroom
-Gas Central Heating
-Double Glazing
-Standard White Goods
-Modern decor throughout and use of soft neutral colours
-Including a flat screen wall mounted TV

The flat is walking distance within minutes of Clapham Common London Underground station (literally opposite) on the Northern Line and a few stops away from the Victoria Line (Stockwell). There is a great network of buses and a cycle path straight in to London City.

The flat is surrounded by local amenities all within footsteps; such as local bars, restaurants, banks, supermarkets and gymnasium/leisure facilities. Opposite the flat there is Clapham Common which also provides a series of events and views throughout the year. 

Video coming soon...

1 bedroom furnished flat in Earlsfield

A one bedroom first floor furnished flat situated in the quiet streets of Earlsfield, walking distance from the station. Spacious, clean, well decorated with a very clinical feel and good natural light.

The flat features a spacious lounge, kitchen/diner with standard white goods and 4 hob gas cooker, oven/grill, a special featured modern tiled bathroom/shower with partitioned WC and offers a good sized bedroom. The property also benefits from double glazing, gas central heating, carpet and laminate flooring throughout.

The local area to this property is supported with Earlsfield Railway station which is only 5 mins walk around the corner and can take you straight in to Central London; a variety of local amenities and Garratt Green / Garratt Park. 

2 bedroom furnished apartment in Bloomsbury

A new property come in to the market situated in the secure complex known as Witley Court on Coram Street; this is a highly sought after location as it is in Bloomsbury, minutes walking distance to Russell Square station, local amenities and many educational faculties.

Situated on the ground floor, this apartment comes furnished and benefits from 2 double rooms, a separate kitchen and spacious bathroom. The only utility to pay for is electricity; as the water and heating is paid for by the rates. Council tax is subject to status.  £325pw

Brand new refurb coming soon in Crawley

A completely refurbished (furnished/unfurnished) 2 double bedroom property with an extra room that can be used as a study, nursery, dressing room or even a third bedroom. - Nearly ready..

The apartment is located within the popular location of Milton Mount and overlooking Worth Park and situated next to the Gardens. The property is conveniently located for local amenities, schools, National Rail and a little further away leisure centre. It is ideal for accessing the M23 and Gatwick Aiport within 10 mins.

The property has been entirely refurbished with a neutral colour decor throughout including new carpets and fresh paint on the walls; the bathroom and kitchen have also been refurbished and therefore brand new.

The flat is situated on the 4th floor and benefits from a secure entry phone system and secure key entry including lift access. There is double glazing throughout; if you have a vehicle, you can also take advantage of the off street parking.

The two bedrooms are of equal size and spacious enough for a double bed and other furnishings; the third spare room could be used for anything else as suggested; including a single bedroom. The lounge/diner is very spacious and has a full floor to ceiling window to maximise from the natural light which overlooks the gardens. The kitchen is tiled and equipped with integrated appliances such as a 4 hob gas cooker/oven/grill/hood, fridge/freezer and a washing machine. The bathroom is fully tiled and equipped with bath/shower wash basin and WC.

This property would suit a small family, a couple or even a single professional; however ideal for any Gatwick Airport staff as its within 10 minutes distance. Viewing is strongly suggested as this property may go quickly.

-Three Bridges Station 0.9 miles
-Crawley 2.0 miles
-Gatwick Airport 2.0 miles

*Internal photos coming soon as the whole property is being refurbished, everything will be new!

For more current photos and video tour please visit:

New Apartment in SW9 Brixton/Clapham North

Let My roof would like to present an immaculate and modern semi furnished top floor apartment (third floor). This property is situated on the highly desired location of Ferndale Road in Clapham North/Brixton SW9.

The property is surrounded by all local amenities within minutes walking distance together with great transport links; including Brixton Rail and Underground (Victoria Line) as well as Clapham North Underground (Northern Line).

The apartment benefits from secure entry phone system, double glazing throughout, a spacious double bedroom with a built in wardrobe and further space for more furnishings. The bathroom is well spaced and includes a bath/shower, wash basin and WC.

The lounge is very pleasant with plenty of natural light with an adjoining dining/kitchen area. The kitchen is fully equipped with an integrated fridge/freezer, ceramic 4 hob cooker/oven/grill/extractor hood and a washing machine; therefore all the essential white goods. The dining area is great and very convenient for entertaining also.

The whole apartment is modern, has a great feel and atmosphere; there are only six apartments within the block and all neighbours are very pleasant.

This property would be suited for a single professional or couple. Viewing is strongly suggest as this property may go quickly.

Video Tour:

How to measure customer satistaction

It's always a question we ask ourselves; and that is... How exactly can we measure customer satisfaction.   If we achieve our goals everytime, if we go beyond the call of duty everytime and if both Landlords and Tenants and happy... the question remains.

The answer may not be quite obvious, so long as we maintain our current standards; there will never be an opportunity or reason to measure our customer satisfaction.  

Let My Roof at your service.

Fantastic new 2 bed apartment

Let My Roof would like to present an immaculate 2 bedroom apartment situated minutes away from Purley Railway Station (in easy reach of London Bridge/East Croydon/Gatwick) and all other high street local amenities.

One bedroom has an en-suite bathroom with shower, WC and wash basin. There is also a main bathroom with bath, shower, wash basin an WC.

The property benefits from off street parking, secure phone entry system, double glazing, gas central heating, fully fitted and integrated kitchen equipped with all standard white goods. inc dishwasher, fridge/freezer, washing machine, 6 hob gas cooker and extractor hood.

There are 2 large double bedrooms, a very spacious lounge, open plan kitchen/diner and new carpets throughout. This apartment also benefits from a fantastic private patio garden great for the summer, entertaining, open outside space and BBQs.

Residential Properties in Central London

It's amazing what price some of the properties are in London; let alone the City Centre. Near the more affluent parts of London, we have seen some properties that vary from £675pw to £1200pw and even more in other areas.


Let My Roof has recently attracted an international audience.  With clients from all the way from US and France who have just settled in; talking to people from Italy, viewings for clients in Netherlands, Sweden... and other countries.

Happy New Year

Let My Roof would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year and all the best for 01/01/11

Overseas Clients

It has been great finding tenants for properties within the UK, however it puts a different angle on things when dealing with overseas clients.  It's always a pleasure to deal with and satisfy the needs; as it is always a job well done and another happy customer.  Let My Roof at your service...

Seasons Greetings

Let My Roof would like to wish everybody a very Merry Christmas, enjoy the celebrations and get ready for the new year. Let My Roof at your service.

Properties to go...

Even in this weather, snow blizzards and -10 degrees; we still battle through and are showing our clients properties.  Although it is quieter than usual due to the adverse weather conditions; transport is limited... and we still reach our destinantions on time.

However Let My Roof does give up or give in; at your service.

Amazing Studio

Fantastic studio apartment... Only £325pw

Let My Roof would like to present a very spacious studio apartment in the heart of London situated in the highly sought after location of University Street; just off Tottenham Court Road and minutes away from Euston, Goodge Street and Warren Street Stations.

This property benefits from laminated flooring throughout, a fully fitted kitchen with standard white goods, inc washer dryer, cooker, fridge/freezer and microwave. A very spacious common area with plenty of storage facility, i.e. cupboards and wardrobes, the bathroom which is separate, has a WC, wash basin and bath with overhead shower.

The studio is situated on the third floor with lift access, quiet hallways, 24 Hrs security, concierge, phone entry system and surrounding local amenities. There is no gas or heating charges... Only electricity and council tax (subject to status).

Time to Blog...

So who has been busy, caught up in looking for properties... or even stuck in this winter snow...  I must say, it has been the coldest we have ever experienced.

Good times though, even through the thickest of snows, we have been able to reach clients and carry out appointments.

Properties in London Central, SW London and parts of Surrey; Let My Roof at your service. 

Properties everywhere

Let My Roof has properties in Purley, Morden, New Malden, City of London and Colliers Wood

Purley apartment - amazing value

Let My Roof would like to present an immaculate part furnished 3 bedroom apartment located within the highly sought after development known as Ashley Heights; situated minutes from Purley Railway station.

The apartment comes with allocated off street parking and is surrounded by local amenities such as 24Hr Supermarket, Banks, Restaurants, Leisure Centre and transport links.

The apartment benefits from 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms with shower facility, spacious lounge area, open plan kitchen/dining area, standard white goods i.e. cooker, fridge/freezer, washer/dryer and dish washer. Other features include double glazing, central heating, allocated off street parking, modern features throughout and a secure entry system.


2 bed flat in Morden

Let My Roof would like to present a 2 bed flat coming on to the market soon.

Located minutes walking distance from Morden Town Centre situated on London Road between Morden South Rail and Morden Underground. The flat is on the first floor based in the popular development known as The Holt.

The property benefits from one double bedroom and one single bedroom with fully fitted wardrobe, living room, kitchenette, separate WC and bathroom with overhead shower; the property has allocated off street parking, communal garden, balcony access, gas central heating and standard white goods.


Barbican Studio

This studio is awesome and could not have been let to a better tenant... Glad to have met you ;o)  ...and the Landlord is happy also.

Studio Flat in Barbican...

Studio Flat in Barbican walking distance to the station; I think it's really good.  Have a look if it's still available in the Properties To Let section of the website.

5 Bedroom £850pw near Goodge St station

An amazing 5 bedroom furnished apartment available... for only £850pw... bargain!!!

5 bedrooms

5 bedrooms on Charlotte Street going for a steal... want to know my week exclusive price... get in touch to find out!  It's less than £900pw

Tube strike today... still made it to my appointments

Even though it was a strike by the London Underground, Let My Roof was not defeated... still got to all my appointments on time and clients went away happy, only to request another viewing tomorrow and securing if not one property... two of them. 

Let My Roof, at your service...

London City...

London City properties are in... all around Euston, Russell Square, Holborn and Kings X... and so many students are interested but just don't know what the reality is... they want a palace and next to nothing... Zone 1 is not like that...

Out with the old and in woth the new...

All Bloomsbury properties have gone and new ones have come in:

New Cavendish Street - 1 double bedroom apartment

Charlotte Street - 2 double bedrooms

Hampstead Road, London NW1 - 4 bedroom


Check out the To Let page

Bloomsbury Flats are coming

3 bedroom flats £450pcm inc bills, internet (council tax subject to status of tenant).

What a week

The afternoon always knows what the morning never suspected...

Bargain in Battersea

2 bedroom apartment in Battersea from £1300pcm... Brand new!

2 bedroom furnished apartments in Battersea - Brand New

Brand new 2 bedroom furnished modern apartment in Battersea, walking distance to Clapham Junction Station.  Surrounded by local amenities, just off Battersea Park Road.  Perfect for shares, professionals or small family.

The property benefits from:

- Gas Central Heating
- Double Glazing
- Laminated Flooring throughout the apartment
- Open plan lounge which is very spacious
- Fully fitted integrated kitchen
- Fridge/Freezer and Washing Machine
- Very spacious bedrooms
- Good quality bedroom furniture
- Luxury high grade furniture and fittings
- Fully tiled bathroom

Ready to move in now!  Must be seen, you will not be disappointed.

From £1395pcm

New Property in Island Gardens, Isle of Dogs

3 Bedroom maisonette for £345, with very spacious rooms...

Shocked at how other estate agents can treat their clients

I was shocked to learn yesterday evening that the tenants I referred to SW Estates in Norbury SW16 were being moved out by the Landlord after they just spent all weekend movning in... SW Estates told there had been some complications... which was an understatement.

Viva Espana

They finally done it... and what a great game it was; last half of extra time, ended with a great goal...!


Netherlands 0 : Spain 1

4 Bedroom in Tooting

4 Bedroom house in Tooting will go like a hotcake at £1750

7 / 7

A thought and prayer to go out to those who lost loved ones and lives on 7th July almost 5 years ago.

3 or 4 bedroom wanted in London

Need a 3 or 4  bedroom house in SW London or surrounding counties before the 10th July 2010 if you know of anyone

So they tried

But maybe not hard enough, we were robbed one... but still didn't have what it takes.  Let's not let it get us down.

Sunday Appts

Can you imagine doing viewings on a Sunday, that's how good we are

Let My Roof Channel is Live

Let My Roof Channel is live on you tube with tours of properties.  Check out the first tour of a property in Streatham Vale. 

A new week

Let's see what is in store... more viewings for Morden, Streatham Vale and Wimbledon

To Let and Facebook...

So, who is up to what on the weekend... don't forget, there a 3 properties To Let each in Wimbledon, Morden and Streatham Vale... also join the Facebook group Let My Roof

Join Let My Roof on Facebook

Have you joined the 'Let My Roof' group on Facebook yet, c'mon... don't be shy; lend your support and invite your friends also 

Have you joined the Let My Roof group on Facebook yet...?  If not, join up and invite your friends to join also; let's become popular ;o)

Need more properties and Landlords in SW London, there is an incentive for referrals up to £100 which can't be bad...

3 bedroom furnished property available in wimbledon. Only £375pw

Check out and donate generously.  Thank you

Let My Roof Ltd is officially a member of the Ombudsman for Letting!!!  Awesome...

Insurance has been organised

It hurt, however had to be done... Public Liabilty, Professional Indemnity and Legal Cover all sorted; now the application for Ombudsman for Lettings can be submitted.  A cost that I should receover very soon, fingers crossed.

Nearly there

Nearly there now... just getting closer now to completion, just a few more things to do and I should be done.  Looking at sometime next week to kick off and go live.

£100 Incentive...

Just added the new incentive for referrals... you could earn up to £100 per referral... not bad I don't think!  Terms and condtions apply. 

Long weekend

Yes, it's the long weekend, but not for me... I am still working at it trying to finish the site...  I will however take some time off this evening ;o)

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