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Latest Comments

Total Number of Property118 Comments: 375


8:56 AM, 26th January 2019
About 8 months ago

Private landlords will be legally required to become members of a redress scheme

I agree with those who ask why there is no similar redress scheme for landlords against tenants. Stating we can always evict tenants or deduct from their deposits or seek private redress through the courts is not good enough: as we all know, deposits barely scratch the surface of the losses involved, the courts are hopelessly slow and predisposed to side with tenants, and the financial compensation mechanisms lack teeth and are easily evaded.

Tenants should be forced also to join a redress scheme, and be able to prove they are "fit and proper persons" for the responsibilities of paying rent and living in someone else's property and neighbourhood.... Read More


17:49 PM, 6th September 2018
About A year ago

Room to build?

I'm a small developer: you really, really need to talk with an architect or a planning consultant. So much depends on the local built environment - not just next door - and local planning policy too. Look at the planning records at your local council and choose an architect who has recently got a similar scheme through planning, or use word of mouth.

If a new-build is a no-go, it sounds like an extension would be viable, so at least you'd get a much bigger BTL out of the site, and some increased value.

As regards shuffling your Principal Private Residence CGT exemption around by moving between the existing and new houses: this can be a dangerous game! You need to be able to prove not just actual residence - all furniture moved, your existing PPR rented out, all bank and utility addresses changed, etc - for at least 6 months but preferably a year - but also motivation.

The tax officer, or tax tribunal if you get that far, will ask: "So, Mr Joe, why exactly did you need to move a few doors down the road from your old address to the semi, especially as you were just about to start building work on/near it? Why not just stay in comfort at your original home?" You are single so can't claim "relationship breakdown", so I think you will be on a sticky wicket. Better to move into the new property once it's built, and save yourself £1000s in Community Infrastructure Levy (if your council operates this) because you will qualify as a "self-builder". My council charges £365/m2, so CIL is a hefty burden on all small developers and goes a long way to explaining low local rates of new-build.... Read More


15:47 PM, 29th August 2018
About A year ago

No wonder we are short of builders in the UK!

You don't say why your relative wants particularly to work in construction. Does he have any specific talents or inclinations? "Construction" can mean many things, from small repair work to full new-build housing; there are many trades involved and professional roles like surveying or quantity surveying. Most builders I know started with some kind of trade before branching out into general building work, often working in league with the same team of subcontractors or "reliables" recorded in a little black book.
When these builders say they want one year's experience, what they really mean is: what can you do? why should I pay you a wage? This even applies to labourers, as there are good, average and useless versions of them: a labourer who can jump from task to task when asked; can guide in delivery vehicles safely; who knows the basics of site safety and can watch out for problem areas; and can make himself useful without being asked on tasks like sweeping up, buying site supplies, and looking after onsite materials storage and refuse management, is worth his weight in gold.
A couple of suggestions, short of signing up on a college course or apprenticeship:
1. the obvious way to get general experience is to use family and friends to make contact with a builder, and ask to labour on one of his or her sites, as a trainee and general dogsbody.
2. find a friendly builder or three in the local area, and ask them what they recommend a keen but inexperienced young person should do. This means ringing round or dropping by a site, or finding a friend, relative or neighbour who is looking for some quotes and tagging along to the meeting to ask questions. He needs to be prepared to face rejection!
3. Ditto if the builder isn't regularly at a local site, talk with whoever is the site manager. He will be a trusted lieutenant who has dealt with a multiplicity of people and problems on building site: he will have the power to hire people, fire them, and bollock them. If your relative can show that he is interested and keen and can use his common sense, he might find he's given a job on the spot, on a trial basis that may become permanent, at least for the lifetime of the site. For example, a Bulgarian builder I know got his first job on one of my sites, simply by turning up, looking around unobtrusively, and asking in his broken English if there was anything he could do to help out. We started with site cleaning and tidying-up, which no-one likes to do, and as the days went by, he proved himself invaluable, progressing to finding Bulgarian tradespeople he knew to do some carpentry when our booked person dropped out, finding a couple of labourers to help with installing some fencing, and so on. He didn't have an official trade, but he knew people who did, and proved to be a very effective mover and shaker who got things done. All his work in his first two years in the UK was found by just cycling or driving around and keeping his eyes open, and dropping onto smaller sites and asking if he could do anything. I wish more British people were that entrepreneurial! He found less joy at the big sites, as they are very procedural and usually have all their staffing needs worked out weeks in advance, although even this isn't always true.... Read More


16:53 PM, 29th June 2018
About A year ago

Review of Selective Licensing announced

Reply to the comment left by Annie Landlord at 27/06/2018 - 13:33
£50? You're being very optimistic about the likely costs. Look at how expensive it is just to obtain something as simple as a passport. The cost will be £300+, because they will expect landlords to pay for the IT system to set up the database, on top of ongoing staff costs, planned "improvements", and future expansion as once you go down this road, there is no end to it. The database will be tied into HMRC, we will be expected to submit accounts and pay income tax on a monthly basis, any expenditure will need to be justified with scanned and uploaded invoices: it will be remorseless.

But if you have to have a register of landlords, how about a national register of tenants too? Surely tenants need to take a training course and demonstrate they are "fit and proper" licensed persons too, to take on the responsibility of living in someone else's property? This would help reassure landlords, neighbours and co-tenants in houseshares/HMOs, and reassure insurance companies that the tenant doesn't have a prior conviction for arson . . .

However, I object to a criminal records check: there are millions of people with some kind of conviction, most of them minor, and once you start going down the road of requiring everyone to be registered for everything, there will be national ID cards and anyone who ever does anything remotely naughty will be tagged with that millstone for the rest of their life. A world of ever-proliferating and permanent data is being built, and alongside it, more and more surveillance, monitoring, identity-checking (and identity theft); I see few reasons why we should seek to encourage these trends, and plenty of reasons to resist them.... Read More


10:57 AM, 26th June 2018
About A year ago

ARLA - "Selective Licensing doesn't and has never worked"

Reply to the comment left by Paul Cunningham at 22/06/2018 - 22:17
I'm afraid the NLA is so anxious to legitimise itself and make sure it gets invited to meetings in Whitehall, it very rarely says anything critical of anyone. I left the NLA three years ago and joined the RLA, which is (relatively) much more pugnacious and a genuinely campaigning organisation. You just have to compare their respective bi-monthly magazines: the RLA one is frequently interesting, but the NLA one is about as opinionated as dishwater.

I think it's a mistake however not to be a member of the NLA or RLA: never mind the genuinely useful services they provide, it is important that there is at least some kind of organisation that speaks for landlords. We are already atomised and non-communicative enough, and so-called charities like Shelter should not be allowed to dominate the news agenda with their frequent falsehoods and outright lies.... Read More