Tag Archives: Bank base rate

Bank of England quarterly inflation report summary Landlord News, Latest Articles

No need to panic about interest rate rises as we are still in a bad place, but an improving place economically.bank_of_england

Yes “Forward Guidance” is dead because the Bank of England got their unemployment prediction wrong, but we still don’t really know why.

Unemployment dropped to 7.1% from 7.7% in three months making redundant the figure of 7% unemployment being any kind of trigger for looking at the bank base rate. This drop is statistically unprecedented being 4 times more than any previous drop for the same level of growth!

However Forward guidance could be said to have been a success by giving confidence for the economy to grow with GDP increasing by 0.7% in the 4th quarter. Forward Guidance was largely understood to have a stabalising effect by the business industry even if it wasn’t by households and popular press.

The irony is that the growth was largely caused by household spending even though incomes are stagnant and not any productivity increase, although construction figures have recovered.

BofE Household spending

This growth in household spending on goods and services could be pent up demand from previous years de-leveraging household debt. Eg a new car purchase may have been put off since the credit crunch, but now it is getting older and more expensive to run people are now making those purchases. This type of growth is not sustainable in the long term and is why the Bank of England are cautious about the future recovery especially with heavy economic headwinds from European demand falling.

We are still buying more from abroad and with European growth stalling and hence demand for our goods and services so our trade deficit is actually worsening. It is the strength of the Pound, which although having a positive effect on keeping external inflation lower, is making our exports less attractive. This is the age old economic conundrum that what is good for one part of the economy is usually bad for another.BofE Tradedeficit



Looking forward The Bank of England believe there is still a lot of spare capacity in the labour market and that is what should be targeted to see a sustainable improvement in growth. What they mean is that on average workers are underemployed and could be more productive. During the recession output dropped by a far greater ratio than employment and especially considering the recent figures on unemployment there must be spare capacity for employees to be more productive.


It is this spare capacity that the Bank of England are going to be carefully monitoring and targeting for any future decisions on monetary policy. The Bank of England believe that the natural level for unemployment is around the 5% point and that we are unlikely to see too much wage lead inflation before this is reached.

BofE Labour Productivity ChartSo in summary the good news is that the main target figures of growth at 2% and inflation at 2% are on target, but productivity is slow and the trade deficit is increasing. Therefore there is no short term requirement to dampen a fragile recovery by increasing interest rates and if there is any need to do so in the medium term it would be by very gradual small amounts.

BofE GDPchart


Bank of England Inflation report and what it means for Interest Rates House Prices, Latest Articles

dont panicUnlike the press DON’T PANIC, the economic news is good but not that good in the Bank of England Inflation report.

Reports of imminent Bank Base Rate rises next year are wildly exaggerated and unhelpful to the economy. We had one piece of good news on unemployment and the FTSE 100 took a tumble.

Let’s just start with the facts as CPI inflation is now down to 2.2% from 2.9% in June. This means we are much closer to the medium term targeted inflation than we have been since December 2009. The disclaimer in my previous article about the ONS CPI inflation data was that it did not include the recent energy price increases. However, I have since found out that these increases are actually smaller than at the same time last year so should have no effect on year on year figures.

If you strip out four of the big contributors to inflation: Education, Food, Fuels and Lubricants, Electricity, Gas and other Fuels     you will see that the Core underlying inflation is actually below target at about 1.4%. See table below

Bank of England inflation report

Unfortunately it has been a consumption lead recovery in the UK rather than production as we are sucking in exports from Europe quicker than we are able to expand our export trade to places like China. Hence we are running a trade deficit and not expecting a robust recovery like in the USA, because our increase in export trade has not been dynamic enough.

This can be seen in where the recovery is happening in house prices. London which is lead by the service industry and consumption has had house prices rising by 10% where the National average is 4.3%. The North where manufacturing industry has traditionally been based is seeing little or no increase in house prices dependent on the area.

The figures that got the press in a spin was the decrease in unemployment rates, because the Bank of England had indicated that it would only look at raising the interest rate if unemployment dropped below 7%. However even if it was below 7% now the recovery is not robust enough to even consider raising rates and it is expected that there will only be a 60% chance of unemployment dropping below 7% by the end of 2015. see chart to the right and below:

BofE unemploymet chart

The productivity gap where we were seeing an increase in private employment, but a much lower level of increase in output has now started to close which is good news, but to really see a long term sustainable robust recovery it is business investment that needs to increase so we can compete with emerging low cost markets.

The current figures do not show that corporate investment is increasing, but it does appear that this is changing and may be reflected in future data. Companies may be using their current reserves before seeking borrowing to invest in productivity

The GDP figures shown in the chart below are predicted to improve with growth at about 2 -2.5% per year, but this is within target for GDP without putting pressure on inflation levels or interest rates.


Predicted future inflation rates inflation rates by  the Bank of England are pretty much spot on the targeted 2% level as seen below

BofE inflation







Overall the UK economy is in a much healthier position than it was a year ago, but stagnation in our main trading partners in Europe and lack of corporate investment and exports means we have little to worry about at the moment concerning an imminent boom and a need to increase interest rates before the end of 2015 or beyond on current projected figures.

CPI Inflation down – releasing more presure on Bank Base Rate Landlord News, Latest Articles

The Consumer Price Index CPI inflation figures for October show a year on year fall to 2.2% from 2.7% in September as released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This surprise fall means that the basket of goods and services measured under CPI which cost £100.00 in October last year would now cost £102.20. We are also now much closer to the Bank of England’s medium term target inflation rate of 2%, which inflation has been above since December 2009.

The Bank of England’s new forward guidance also indicated that it would not consider an increase in interest rates unless unemployment was also below 7%. We will know more when the Bank publishes it’s latest forecast tomorrow.

Although not directly related the European Central Bank also cut it’s rate from 0.5% to an all time low of 0.25% last week in an effort to alleviate fears of deflation (price falls) across Europe with inflation now running at 0.7% against a target of 2% as in the UK. A stalling European inflation rate will have some downward pressure on UK rates as they are our largest and closest trading partner.

The largest contributing sectors to the fall in CPI inflation came from transport (notably motor fuels) falling 1.5% and education (tuition fees) increasing by 8.2% down from 19.1% last year according to ONS figures. Falling transport prices may also have affected prices at supermarkets with food inflation falling from 4.8% to 4.3%.

However it is not all good news for inflation figures as the recent large price increases by energy suppliers has yet to take effect on, but economist are not predicting the Bank Base rate to be seriously reviewed even after the recent economic upturn until late 2015.

CPI Inflation


Contra proferentem mortgage conditions Advice, Buy to Let News, Cautionary Tales, Commercial Finance, Financial Advice, Landlord News, Landlords Stories, Latest Articles, Mortgage News, Property Investment News, Property Investment Strategies, Property News, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Unless you are a qualified contracts lawyer who has also studied Latin you will probably not have a clue as to how contra proferentem mortgage conditions affect you. I have spent the last two weeks getting my head around it as it was a key point in the barristers opinion for the Bank of Ireland Tracker Mortgage Class Action which has stalled due to all funds raised for that campaign having been exhausted. Therefore, for the benefit of everybody with a tracker mortgage who may be affected by a hike in their tracker mortgage margin at some point, and in particular to those affected by the decisions of West Bromwich Mortgage Company and the Bank of Ireland I offer this laymans interpretation and my thoughts on how we should progress.

Very simply, the contra proferentum law is created to enable judges to decide which conditions apply if contractual conditions are in conflict. In other words, if the contract has two or more conditions and they don’t all say the same thing one of the conditions will apply and the others will not.

The relevance of this is that West Bromwich and Bank of Ireland have conditions in their mortgage documentation and some conditions contradict others.

The law goes on to say that the judges interpretation of what the contract means will be the condition(s) which are in favour of the person to whom the contract was presented. To put it another way, if your mortgage conditions were presented by West Bromwich or Bank of Ireland the judge will rule against them because they wrote the contract and the most favourable of the conditions will be applied to you. 🙂

There are, of course, several more legal arguments our lawyers could throw at the enemy, however, in my opinion the contra preferentem argument is without any shadow of doubt our best shot

Other legal arguments will only suit some of our Class Action Group. For example, there appears to be no legal definitions of a sophisticated landlord but West Bromwich think it is anybody with more than three properties. Let’s say we win that battle and the Court decides it’s six – anybody with seven or more isn’t going be too happy are they? I will be one of them! Also, what good would that do for those affected by Bank of Ireland or by any other lender who tries this on? Remember, Bank of Ireland has a different criteria and is not using the sophisticated borrower argument. Other lenders will no doubt make up their own excuses too. What we need is a win which will affect ALL mortgage lenders.

Many people are arguing that they didn’t receive the Mortgage Conditions from their lenders. Well sorry folks, maybe you did, maybe you didn’t, but I can assure you that you signed a piece of paper before your mortgage completed to say that you did. The Mortgage Deed I signed for my West Bromwich mortgage states “By signing this Mortgage you confirm the terms of the Standard Conditions of Offer, the Special Conditions and the Mortgage Conditions”.

There are many more arguments which I could play devils advocate with which have been raised on our forums. With a bit of thought I reckon I could win most of the arguments and I’m not even a qualified solicitor. I am, however, in the same boat as you so please don’t shoot the messenger. I’m also affected by these increases and I’m doing everything I can to make sure we win this fight. In my case that’s been 18 hour working days for the last three weeks and a lot more time on the Bank of Ireland case since it reared its ugly head earlier this year.

That’s why I would like Justin and the barrister to lead with what I believe is our best shot – contra proferentem mortgage conditions.

If we ask our lawyers to look into every legal argument we have presented on our forums we will run out of money before we get to first base. What I would prefer is that we fight the one universal truth which is that our mortgage terms are contra proferentem. If we lose and we still have some money left there’s nothing to stop us appealing on other grounds as well.

For the above reasons, do you agree that we should ask our legal advisers to focus on contra proferentem mortgage conditions?

There are lots of other things we can do as a group to be a thorn in the side of these lenders in the meantime. For example, I love the PR campaigns and lobbying we are sharing ideas on. We must continue to win the hearts and minds of the media and every centre of influence we can think of. I also applaud the tactics being used to make these lenders lives a misery, for example the Subject Access Requests. Perhaps the most important thing we can do whilst we wait for the legal bods to advise us is to spread the word. We need to get every borrower we can find with a tracker mortgage to sign up. There are also plenty of other landlord groups who can help us to do this and it’s in all of our interests to put as much pressure on them as possible to get involved and spread the word amongst their members.

Contra proferentum mortgage conditions as I see it

I owned a substantial number of buy to let properties at the time of my mortgage application and still do. The chances of me proving that I was not a sophisticated landlord are very slim but I do have an argument to suggest that property investment was not my line of business at the time I took the mortgage. All of my properties were professionally managed in order to allow me to focus on my career as a commercial finance broker. I did not consider myself to be a professional investor at the time I took out this mortgage, the purpose of investing into a property portfolio was to provide for my retirement. I don’t want Justin or the barrister to push that angle though, I think it’s a waste of money as everybody’s situation will be very different.

Neither my mortgage broker nor my solicitor were aware of the rights of West Bromwich Mortgage Company to increase the premium they charge on my tracker mortgage rate. I did read the Mortgage Conditions brochure at the time  and at the time I sincerely believed that section 5 of the Mortgage Conditions was not applicable. Note that I am also a qualified mortgage adviser and IFA. I believed that section 5 of the mortgage conditions booklet was only relevant to mortgages written on the building society’s standard variable rates, which do not track the Bank of England base rate. This was supported by the marketing materials being used by the West Bromwich to promote their tracker mortgages. Also, there was no mention of such a vital clause in either their KFI document or their offer letter. Clearly my solicitor was mislead too. I suspect everybody who was affected by the Bank of Ireland rate hike would also say the same thing.Contra proferentem mortgage conditions

So having established that I read the booklet and I signed to agree to all of their terms, including those in their Mortgage Condition booklet, what makes me believe West Bromwich are still in the wrong?

  1. Their website said, and to this day still continues to say “Tracker mortgages give you the certainty of knowing that the rate you pay will move in line with Bank Base Rates.”
  2. My offer letters states “After 30th June 2010 your loan reverts to a variable rate which is the same as the Bank of England Base Rate, currently 5%, with a premium of 1.99%, until the term end”

Logic tells me the above are in conflict with Section 5 of the Mortgage Conditions booklet which I signed and received. On the basis that West Bromwich produced the booklet, their website, and the Mortgage Deed I believe there is a clear case of conflicting conditions and ambiguity, hence the conditions they are relying upon are contra proferentem. On that basis, a judge MUST rule against West Bromwich as they are the originators of the documentation. It’s not like we are asking for the mortgages to be written off, all we want is the terms and conditions we believed we had signed up for.

We MUST win a Court Case before even more lenders follow suit.

Housing Bubble fears – genuine or an overreaction? Latest Articles, Property News

There has been a great deal of commentary in the press the last couple of days raising fears of a housing bubble.

Rightmove increased its forecast for the year from 4% to 6% leading to headlines calling for government to do something about concerns of a debt fuelled crisis in the housing market.

Yes prices are rising, but we are seeing sustained recovery for the first time since the credit crisis outside the economic microcosm of London?

It is this recovery for most of the country, in areas where prices have fallen or been static for a long time and not just one area, that has surely seen the forecast rise recently.

Rightmove report asking prices in London are up 8.2% on a year ago with:

West Midlands up 6.8%

South East  up 5.6%

Wales up 3.8 %

East Anglia up 0.8%

The North 0%

Yorkshire and Humberside fell 1.3%.

Overall in the UK asking prices are 4.5% higher than this time last year and have increased on average by £16,000 so far in 2013.

So the questionare:-

  • are we right to be worried?
  • what factors are involved
  • and can we do anything about it?

First of all we need to consider what is really causing prices to rise. Is it demand lead where we are all earning more money, unemployment is down and mortgages are easier to obtain?

Alternatively is it the lack of supply in new housing that is putting the upward pressure on prices?

In terms of industry sector contribution to GDP (Gross Domestic product – the output of the economy) it is the building industry that suffered the worst during the recession and is taking the longest to recover.

In terms of scale, the supply side of new housing has suffered more than any recovery in the economy recently, so it may be this which is the biggest factor for the country as a whole. However, in London there have been many reports that foreign money, especially from Arab states and China, is being invested into the London housing market and could be an external factor fuelling demand lead increases that we can’t control.

At some point limiting factors such as purchasers income and the size of deposits required will come into play with income multipliers and maximum LTVs only able to sustain a certain level of house prices before demand slows back down. This is where regulation of lending could dampen an over heating market putting in place restrictions on lending criteria.

One of the biggest and most immediate fears of property investors is the Bank of England increasing the Bank Base Rate to curb any house price inflation. This is now less likely as the BofE are no longer just targeting inflation levels, but also have the wider remit of encouraging the growth of GDP. Therefore it is less likely that they would consider harming the recovery by increasing interest rates, and more likely that they would look to use regulation of lending to control this specific inflationary pressure.

The Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee will meet tomorrow, when it will reportedly discuss the issue of a housing bubble and what action it could take.

I certainly see no evidence that we need to panic yet, but it would be very interesting to get readers thoughts on this subject.Housing Bubble

Landlords Life Insurance Calculator Buy to Let News, Insurance, Landlord News, Landlords Insurance, Latest Articles, Property Investment Strategies, Property News

What is the minimum amount of Landlords Life Insurance we really ought to purchase?

I suspect the reason most property investors choose not to purchase Landlords Life Insurance is cost. For example, if you are 40+ years of age and your buy to let mortgages balances are £1 million plus the premiums can appear to be very scary if you ask for a quote for enough life insurance to repay all of your mortgages in the event of death.

For borrowers without family and/or business partners whose finances could be affected adversely by death during a mortgage term, the risk of having no Landlords Life Insurance is perhaps an acceptable one for them. However, for people who have borrowed jointly or would like to leave their properties to loved ones the risks are far higher.

In the event of the death of a borrower, even if it’s a joint mortgage, it is usually well within the rights of a mortgage lender to call in their loans. This is more likely to happen post credit crunch as several lenders have closed their doors to buy to let lending and want to recover as much money as possible. Lenders which are still actively in the market can now lend money at far higher profit margins so there is every incentive for them to call in their loans in the event of death too.

I am not a financial adviser and the following should not be construed as financial advice. It’s just my opinion as a landlord on what the minimum amount of Landlords Life Insurance should be purchased.

If I were to die tomorrow my wife would have two or three choices:-

1) Sell the property portfolio and pay off the loans

2) Refinance

3) Do nothing and force the mortgage lender to call in the loans, eventually reposes the properties and sell them. This would cost a lot more than options 1) and 2) above.  The reason is that substantial fees and penalties would be incurred and the mortgage lenders primary incentive would be to recover as much money as possible. Now I know that mortgage lenders have a duty to sell the properties for as much as possible, however, is that really what you think happens?

In my case, I want my wife to continue to receive rental income as I genuinely believe that property is the best form of investment. Therefore options 1) and 3) are out of the window for me.

On that basis, refinancing is her only viable option. However, to get a decent deal and retain the same level of cashflow she will need to be borrowing around 50% LTV. This is because it will cost her a lot of money to refinance and the interest rates she will be paying are far higher these days than when I arranged my tracker mortgages at bank base rate plus 1% to 2%.

I have concluded that the minimum amount of Landlords Life Insurance I should buy is the difference between my outstanding loans and the amount those loan balances would need to be to get 50% lending. As a simple example, if I were to own one property worth £100,000 with an £85,000 mortgage, I reckon I would need to purchase £35,000 of life insurance to enable my wife to be able to pay £35,000 off the mortgage and take a new mortgage for £50,000 (which is likely to have a higher interest rate) in order to maintain the status quo in cashflow terms. Now that’s very much a rough estimate as everybody’s circumstances are different but I hope you will find it a useful rule of thumb. The other reason I think the minimum amount of Landlords Life Insurance should be enough to reduce loans to 50% LTV is because at that level of lending, most mortgage lenders would be falling over themselves to offer decent interest rates, pretty much regardless of any market conditions I can realistically imagine.

To help you to work out the minimum amount of landlords life insurance you would need based on the strategy I have outlined above I have created a very simple calculator, see below …….

Class Action Litigation BOI + Bristol and West Mortgages Advice, Buy to Let News, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Legal, Property Investment News, Property Market News, Property News

Class Action Litigation BOI and Bristol and West Mortgages Increase DifferentialAs you have probably heard, Bank of Ireland (BOI) and Bristol and West have advised borrowers who took tracker rate mortgages with them prior to 31st October 2004 that they are increasing their margin to 4.49% over bank base rate.

Many landlords are concerned that if Bank of Ireland are allowed to get away with these changes other mortgage lenders will follow their lead. Continue reading Class Action Litigation BOI + Bristol and West Mortgages

Negative Interest Rates a possibility? Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

Bank of England Logo

Paul Tucker the deputy Bank of England governor has told the Treasury Committee that negative interest rates should be considered.

A negative interest rate on bank reserves held at the Bank of England would theoretically encourage an increase in lending to stimulate the economy as banks would be charged for keeping money at the Bank of England rather than lending it out. Continue reading Negative Interest Rates a possibility?

My tenants have flooded my property but who’s problem is it? Buy to Let News, Cautionary Tales, Landlord News, Landlords Insurance, Landlords Stories, Latest Articles, Lettings & Management, Property Investment News, Property Investment Strategies, Property Maintenance, Property News

I received a phone call a month or so ago to saying that my tenants have flooded my property and wanted me to pay to get the damage fixed. I suspect your response would have been the same as mine. Obviously I asked what had happened and they said they didn’t know. Apparently my tenants had been away and left relatives in the property when the problem occurred. I asked if anything was leaking and it wasn’t, nothing was blocked either. The scale of the damage was quite bad, the problem was a flood in the bathroom which had effected downstairs walls and ceilings. I didn’t need Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple to solve this mystery, their guests had obviously let the bath overflow.

Obviously I refused to pay for the damage and I told the tenants to claim on their insurance. They don’t have any. Not my problem I say, you’d better work out what you are going to do about it. I heard nothing more so I left it. Life is never that simple though is it! This morning I received a phone call from my tenants sister …………

Continue reading My tenants have flooded my property but who’s problem is it?

Principality will consider Holiday Homes on BuyToLet Buy to Let News, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

The Principality Building Society will consider lending on holiday homes using their standard buy to let product range and criteria.

This little know niche which is unusually for lenders was brought to my attention by one of our consultants James Scoular after helping a Property118 reader secure an offer letter on her holiday home. Sure enough after investigation I found it hidden away in their three page mortgage lending criteria guide. Continue reading Principality will consider Holiday Homes on BuyToLet

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