Simon Williams

Registered with
Monday 11th July 2016

Latest Comments

Total Number of Property118 Comments: 46

Simon Williams

12:04 PM, 17th December 2018
About a month ago

HMO - Camden Council sending letters to the mortgage provider?

From recollection, Councils consider themselves bound by the legislation to inform "interested persons" of their intention to grant an HMO licence and so it is certainly normal in Cambridge where I have 2 HMOs, for the council to write to the lenders. However, I have the old-style big HMOs, so are already on specialist HMO mortgages.

I agree that with licensing now being extended to a much wider group of HMOs, this must cause problems. This really is something that the Council for Mortgage Lenders should be advising its members about and if you are with the RLA or NLA, you should advise them to talk to the lenders to help resolve this confusion. The basic definition of an HMO is any property with shared facilities with more than 2 households, so a three bedroom flat with 3 sharers is (and always was) an HMO but whereas before it did not usually need licensing, it is now increasingly common for licensing to be needed and so gets on the lender's radar screen.

If your mortgage T's and C's don't exclude sharers, then you should be ok - though often they will require all tenants to be on one tenancy contract.

I can imagine all sorts of hassle here explaining that your property hasn't changed at all - just the law on licensing. Sadly this is a sign of the times... who would be a landlord in 2018?... Read More

Simon Williams

10:50 AM, 3rd December 2018
About 2 months ago

National Landlords Alliance

Shelter's huge budget gives them a profile that other homeless charities can't hope to match and therefore it must, to some extent, unintentionally squeeze those other charities out.

So, I think it is legitimate to draw attention to the fact that they provide no accommodation for the homeless in marked contrast to a charity like St Mungo's that provide thousands of emergency beds every night to rough sleepers and are desperate for donations.

It's not wrong for Shelter to decide only to be a campaigning and advisory organisation - it's just that I can't help thinking that when the good people of Tunbridge Wells or wherever buy their M and S sandwich with the Shelter logo on it, that they probably think they are donating to a charity more along the lines of St Mungos. Instead, their money funds campaigns that take a decidedly political view of the housing problem, with an obvious ideological slant against the PRS. If the good people of Tunbridge Wells knew that, some might prefer to send their donations elsewhere.

The CEO of Shelter will say that the leading cause of homelessness is evictions in the PRS. We landlords know that is a essentially a political opinion because it deliberately conflates outcomes with underlying causes.

By contrast, this is what St Mungo's say about homelessness:

"Many of the people we see have mental or physical health problems, or have issues with drug or alcohol use. Sometimes people face a complex mix of these factors, on top of more difficult family backgrounds than most.

Many people who become homeless had traumatic experiences during childhood. Sometimes it was sexual or physical abuse, other times it was an unstable environment, such as moving between foster homes. For some people, these experiences put them at risk from an early age. In fact, some people we work with say that their early experiences led them to become dependent on drugs or alcohol while still in their teens.

Research that we carried out in 2013 showed that 43% of people who slept rough for the first time had problems with alcohol or drug use. For some people that was a contributing factor to them becoming homeless; for others, it was a symptom of trying to cope with other problems that they faced.

Poor mental health is widespread among people who are homeless or sleeping rough. Over 40% of people we work with have a mental health issue. Many, however, may never have had access to adequate treatment or support."

So there you have it - a leading cause of homelessness is a toxic mix of mental health, past abuse and alcohol and drug dependency. Not surprisingly therefore, St Mungo's majors on mental health as well as providing real accommodation.

What a pity that when the good people of Tunbridge Wells select their sandwiches at M and S this Christmas, they won't be able to choose a sandwich with the St Mungo's label on it.... Read More

Simon Williams

10:06 AM, 21st November 2018
About 2 months ago

Security of tenure in the PRS is not a cause of increasing homelessness

This tells us what we already knew, but good to hear it confirmed by academics (and the media do so love to quote academics). Having said that, since this puts landlords' decisions in a broadly favourable light, i.e. they use section 21 invariably for valid reasons, you can be sure the Guardian, Independent and BBC won't be rushing out to highlight this report's findings any time soon.... Read More

Simon Williams

9:43 AM, 8th October 2018
About 4 months ago

Potential Budget CGT relief and profit split for selling to long term tenants?

Total rubbish policy so far as landlords are concerned. The benefits in lower CGT will be shared 50/50 with tenants, but the costs of the policy (more taxes on landlords in other areas) will be 100% borne by landlords. Overall, if implemented as per think tank suggestion, this is just another tax grab on landlords.
Also, the benefit will fall on very few properties as there will need to be the happy coincidence that (a) your property is saleable to a first time buyer (i.e. not an HMO or larger property (b) you and your tenant can actually agree a price (always difficult in a private sale) (c) the tenant can actually raise a mortgage and afford to buy it (d) you actually want to sell it.
If gov decides to go ahead with this, I hope they won't patronise us with some drivel about it being a "reward" for "good landlords"... Read More

Simon Williams

10:16 AM, 5th October 2018
About 4 months ago

Extra Stamp Duty for non-residents likely to slow housebuilding

A long time ago now I had a side-line assisting Chinese nationals (some pretty wealthy) to buy property in London. I can't think of a single buyer who purchased with intent to leave the property empty. Invariably the purchasers fell into three camps: 1. Purchase to rent out (most common); 2. Purchase for son or daughter to live in while studying at UK University; 3. Purchase to use a base for when coming to London on business trips and family holidays (usually as prelude to applying for a tier 1 investor visa).

If you tax the overseas market out of existence, fewer developments will get off the ground because overseas investors were the early-birds providing crucial seed finance/cash flow for developers. You'll also get fewer overseas students studying in London and fewer wealthy people wanting to forge links and do business in the UK.

As we face the massive challenges of Brexit and the need to open up to the world, the last thing we need is to be scaring of overseas investment of any kind. Another stupid policy from this government.... Read More