Tag Archives: Budget

Tracker Rate Class Actions Updates Buy to Let News, Commercial Finance Broker Blog, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Mortgage News, Property Investment News, Property News

Over 1,000 people have registered an interest in the Class Action groups challenging the legality of the increases to tracker mortgage interest rate margins proposed/implemented by West Bromwich and Bank of Ireland. Many of the people who have registered are not affected at this time but are sufficiently concerned about the potential knock on effects to the attitudes of other lenders to make a donation to the Class Action Marketing Fund. We must spread the word to ensure that we win these cases in order to to discourage other mortgage lenders from following suit. Tracker Rate Class Actions Updates

Funds raised towards the legal fighting fund are being held in a solicitors client account which complies fully with The Law Society rules and is protected by client money protection insurance  and the solicitors compensation fund until they are billed.  The objective is to raise sufficient money to be in a position to fund group action court cases and associated legal expenses insurance. No court cases will begin until such time as sufficient funds are raised to protect and limit the liabilities of all participants to the amount of funds contributed up front. If Court cases are not required or are not affordable then any surplus funds held on account will be returned pro-rata to the members of each group.

Latest media coverage in which our campaigns are named/linked

BBC Website

BBC TV News Channel “Your Money” (10 minutes and 18 seconds into the programme)

The Telegraph


Guild of Residential Landlords

What Sam Saw Today – part One

What Sam Saw Today – part Two

House Selling Advice

Chesterfield Post

Tracker Rate Class Actions Updates

Existing supporters of the Class Action campaign are to be congratulated for their efforts to date.

If you wish to get involved please see the To-Do list below.

  • Complete the Class Action Expression of Interest Form – Link here You will then receive emails advising you what to do next.
  • Please make a donation to the marketing fund to help spread the word – Link here
  • Complain to your lenders and copy in the Financial Ombudsman Service – letter template here
  • email watchdog@bbc.co.uk
  • Write to your local MP – find your local MP via this link several MP’s have already referred this matter to the chancellor of the exchequer or the chairman of the treasury select committee. The more support the better so we need everybody to write.
  • Contact your local newspapers – use this Press Release as a base and add your personal story as the media love case studies with local interest
  • Post articles linking back to Property118 on websites/blogs and post links in Facebook Groups and other online forums

West Bromwich BS Class Action Update

The reasons we started this campaign are very simple:-

1) We believe the actions of West Brom are immoral

2) We believe the actions of West Brom are unlawful, i.e. they have no legal grounds to increase their tracker rate margins

3) We have no wish to subsidise other areas of the West Bromwich Building Society business model

4) We are fearful of other lenders following suit if West Brom are allowed to get away with this

On these grounds we have raised more than enough money to cover the initial legal work and the costs of obtaining Counsels opinion. In fact, after taking these costs out of the funds raised to date we are 27% towards our minimum target fund raising to commence litigation. Now I don’t know about you but if Counsels opinion is that we have a VERY strong case I would definitely consider paying a lot more than I’ve paid already to take this all the way. £240 a case is a tiny fraction of what we all stand to lose, not just in terms of this lender but possibly others too.

In a months time we will have Counsels opinion. These are the scenario’s I have considered.

1) Worst case scenario is that we will be advised that we do not have a case. If that happens, costs to date will be taken from the funds raised and we will all get a refund pro-rata.

2) We are advised that we have a good case but we do not have enough money in the pot to fight it. We will then have to set a closing date for the fund and have a vote amongst members on how much they are prepared to pay if necessary. I suggest a pledge of up to one years worth of savings because if we start trying to set amounts we could be going back and forth forever more if people decide they are are in at one level and out at another. If we still don’t have enough money pledged at the end of such an exercise then it’s possibly game over, i.e. contributions are refunded net of expenses to all named borrowers.

3) We have enough money in the pot and counsels opinion is that we should fight.

We will NOT settle on any basis.

In our opinion, we are more likely to raise the required funds on this basis.

We have a moral duty to do what is right for those who support the values upon which we started this campaign in the first place. Our promise to all who support these values is that we will not sell out on you at any price. We will continue to fight this injustice and we will fight any other lender who tries to follow suit.

Who’s with me?

West Bromwich Legal Action So Far

Tracker Rate Mortgage Class Actions UpdatesWe appointed solicitors to consider the actions of the West Bromwich BS tracker mortgage hike in interest rate margins at the beginning of October. Well over 100 affected borrowers have sent their papers and fees to the solicitor representing the group.

The solicitor acting for the group has been asked NOT to commit chargeable time to respond to individual telephone calls and emails from affected borrowers, this is to preserve funds. All questions should be raised via the Property118 forums to prevent duplication of efforts.

Around £15,000 of the funds raised to date will be used to complete the following steps. The balance will be held towards a Court action fighting fund, the target for which is £100,000 plus.

  1. To seek counsels opinion on the legality of the actions of West Bromwich and to seek advice on the most direct legal options to pursue. The solicitor acting for the group has appointed one of the UK’s leading banking barristers at Stone Buildings London
  2. The solicitor acting will provide template letters for all paid up members to send to the solicitors who acted in the transaction. This letter will advise the solicitors to put their PI insurers on notice and also ask the solicitors to comment on why they did not offer advice on the clauses now being used by West Bromwich BS.
  3. A further template letter for affected borrowers to submit as a follow up to initial complaints to the Financial Ombudsman service will also be prepared by the solicitors acting for the group and will be based on counsels opinion. There is no rush to do this, we have up to six months, hence the decision to await Counsels opinion in respect of the best possible legal arguments to present.
  4. The solicitor acting on behalf of the group has already sent  a letter to Andrew Tyrie MP, Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee. A response is awaited.
  5. The solicitor acting on behalf of the group will submit formal complaints to the Financial Conduct Authority and the Financial Ombudsman Service once Counsels opinion has been received. A further complaint may be submitted to the Advertising Standards Authority dependent upon counsels advice.

Bank of Ireland Class Action Update

More pressure needs to be put on the Financial Conduct Authority to obtain their own independent advice as to the legality of the actions already implemented by the Bank of Ireland.  They received our barristers opinion, sent it to BoI who obtained comment from their QC and then decided to do nothing further. Our solicitor is of the opinion that the FCA response was a “whitewash” as they did not seek their own independent advice prior to making a decision. The more noise we can make about this the better as we need them to reconsider their position. Pressure is intensifying from the Treasury Select committee to lean on the FCA as more MP’s get embroiled in the debate following complaints from their constituents. Fundraising will recommence in due course, in the meantime, a QC working at the same chambers as the barrister we instructed has volunteered to review the opinion of our barrister and the responses from the FCA and the Bank of Ireland.

Fees applicable to the Bank of Ireland Class action are likely to be £240 per property, less any fees paid to date. We will advise you when the fundraising re-commences. Our objective is to significantly increase the numbers of interested parties before fund raising recommences. We are quietly confident that the promotional activities described in this update article will increase the numbers of interested participants.

The Financial Ombudsman Service are yet to make a decision based on the formal complaint regarding the actions of Bank of Ireland. It has been 7 months now since the FOS opened this case and their are still pontificating how to deal with it. If you believe this is an unacceptable delay the address to write to is The Financial Ombudsman Service, South Quay Plaza, 183 Marsh Wall, London E14 9SR.

In both cases

Preference remains to persuade a regulator to take the cases to Court as this will significantly reduce costs to affected borrowers.

Disclosure – in group legal action cases it is normal for both sides to be aware of each others legal arguments before a Court case commences. Therefore, there is no risk to debating legal points in open forum. There is, however, a positive upside in that it continues to provide media with new stories and people to contact for case studies. Exposure is what we need to build the group.

The Marketing Fund

The purpose of the marketing fund is to increase awareness of the campaign. This fund is held separately to the Class Action legal fighting fund which is held in a solicitors client account protected by client money protection insurance. The marketing fund is administered by Innovative Landlord Solutions LLP which is the owner of Property118.com.

Initiatives funded so far include sending letters to a database of mortgage brokers and financial advisers. The database was rented from Equifax and we chose to send letters as opposed to emails in order to guarantee delivery. We have also completed significant Search Engine Optimisation to make it easier for people surfing the internet to learn about our campaigns.

A Press Conference, open to paid up members of the Class action Group, and those who have contributed to the marketing fund, will be organised shortly after we have receive Counsels opinion on the West Brom case and the QC’s opinion in respect of our submission of the BoI case to the FCA, their response and the BoI’s QC’s response to the FCA. All responses are anticipated to be received towards the end of November with the Press Conference being held in London shortly thereafter. Surplus funds in the marketing fund, which are still continuing to flow in nicely, are being held towards this event. Funds raised since our first call for donations to a Marketing Fund on 3rd October are now approaching £4,000 of which £3,375 has been utilised to date.

Facebook Marketing

We have done some research and we are able to contact in the region of 230,000 to 420,000 people via Facebook for a budget of £800. These will be friends of friends of people who have “Liked” the Property118 Facebook page. On the basis that people socialise with like minded people this could be an excellent target audience.

Details via this link >>> http://www.property118.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Facebook-Promo.png

The beauty of this type of advertising is that we can add credit to reach more people as and when we receive donations.

If you wish to donate to the the fund please see >>> http://www.property118.com/much-appreciated/ and send us an email to let us know that you wish the funds you have donated to be used to fund Facebook marketing. The email address to write to is mark@property118.com

All comments via the main discussion threads please.

Bank of Ireland

West Bromwich Building Society

If you haven’t already signed up please completed the form below.

Legal Advice – West Bromwich Building Society Class Action Advice, Landlord Action, Latest Articles, Legal, Property118 News

As you will be aware, we are actively looking for a suitable course of action to oppose the planned increase in the interest rate charged on your mortgage by West Bromwich Building Society (WBBS).

I would like to set out our plan below as to how we intend to take this forward:-

  1. We need to establish the exact conditions and legal arguments WBBS is using to justify the increase. The first thing we are doing is writing a letter on behalf of everyone who has contacted us to ask WBBS this question.  In particular, whilst we have seen a sample offer letter which of course makes no reference to the ability to increase the interest rate in the manner they are proposing to do, we have seen their terms and conditions which does include this term (however vague it may be).  We need to understand the basis under which WBBS believes those terms are incorporated into the mortgage contract.
  2. We also need a complete set of documentation which would include any promotional material you may have from WBBS, the completed application form, the key features document, the mortgage offer letter and any other document you have received on the grant of the mortgage.  We would also like to know how many investment properties you owned at the time you took out your mortgage.  This may be helpful in countering any arguments regarding your status as a consumer or professional borrower. If you have not retained copies of all of this documentation please send us copies of everything you have.
  3. Once we have this response from WBBS and a full set of documentation, we will instruct a barrister to provide us with a legal opinion on the merits of pursuing a legal action against WBBS to prevent them from imposing this increase.  There are a number of legal remedies available and we will identify the most suitable ones to pursue.  We are also considering the merits of providing a template claim form and particulars of claim to allow you a cost effective way of bringing a claim against WBBS in the small claims court.
  4. At the same time, we will prepare a template letter for you to send to your solicitor who acted for you on the loan.  At the time you took out your loan, your solicitor would have had a duty to report a term as significant as the one WBBS is relying upon to you and you may have a negligence claim against them.  The letter will ask them to put their insurers on notice with regards to the potential claim.  We will also provide you with  a template complaint form to lodge your complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service.
  5. Following receipt of the advice from the barrister we will start the appropriate action.

Obviously all of the above costs money.  Our budget for steps 1 – 4 above will be in the region of £15,000.  We will therefore be seeking a payment from you of £240 to cover steps 1 – 4.  Any excess funds received will be used to fund Step 5. If you have more than one loan from WBBS then this sum is payable per loan.

We will have a better idea of the cost of step 5 once we have received the barrister’s advice.  The cost to you will depend on how many people sign up – obviously the more there are, the less it will cost each of you. Legal Advice - West Bromwich Building Society Class Action

In order to move forward, please will you therefore do the following:-

  1. Send your documentation to (outlined in 2 above) to: West Bromwich Action Group, The Law Department, 7a Wellington Road, London NW10 5LJ
  2. Complete and return our instruction form (download here) together with copies of two pieces of identification for you.
  3. Pay the sum of £240 into our client account. Details as follows: Account Name: The Law Department Client Account,  Account Number: 06658997, Sort Code: 12 24 82. Alternatively, you may also send a cheque accompanying the papers referred to above. Cheques should be payable to The Law Department Client Account.

Upon receipt of all of the above, you will receive an acknowledgement from us and the template letters.  We will update the Property118 forum regularly with timelines as to when we expect to receive the advice from the barrister.



Justin Selig

The Law Department

7A Wellington Road London NW10 5LJ

The Law Department is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA number 441085).  The Principal is Justin Selig who is a solicitor regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. 


Rip Off service charges on leasehold flats Latest Articles

I own 2 leasehold flats in a block of 9, there is also a separate block of 9 housing association flats, and 11 houses (houses only contribute a small figure to the service charge)

My problem is that the yearly service charge is now just under £2,000 pa not including ground rent. I have flats else where and I’m paying approx £1,000 pa service charge on average so I’m getting increasingly frustrated by this £2,000 service charge. When I question the management company they just fob me off with excuses like oh the landscaping budget has gone up or the insurance has gone up blah blah blah!!!! I have had several rows with the management company about the quality of there works so the fact that I also think I’m being ripped off is very frustrating. Getting rid of them would be ideal but I do not have the knowledge, time or patience to contact and then get together with the other residents and form a RTM etc… Is there something a bit easier and quicker I can do to get this management company in check, I’ve heard about Leasehold valuation tribunals but is that the correct route for this problem and can anyone tell me how it works? Rip Off service charges on leasehold flats

Or is there a quick way of just just simply sacking them and getting another management company in, I always thought the management company was employed by the freeholder so would that be a job of the freeholder?

Thanks in advance


The National Audit Office criticise Universal Credit reforms Landlord News, Latest Articles

The National Audit Office has crticised Universal Credit welfare reforms as being badly managed, overambitious and poor value for money including £34 million written off on failed IT.

The spending watchdog said “risks were taken with the universal credit to hit targets, IT systems had limited functionality and an unfamiliar project management approach was used”.

These IT issues have delayed the introduction of Universal Credit although Ian Duncan Smith has confirmed the problems are now fixed and will be delivered within budget and timescales.

The National Audit Office said “At this early stage of the Universal Credit programme the department has not achieved value for money.”

“The department has delayed rolling out Universal Credit to claimants, has had weak control of the programme, and has been unable to assess the value of the systems it spent over £300 million to develop.”

“These problems represent a significant setback to Universal Credit and raise wider concerns about the department’s ability to deal with weak programme management, over-optimistic timescales, and a lack of openness about progress.”

The report said there was still potential for universal credit to bring about “considerable benefits” if the department put “realistic plans and strong discipline in place”.

Issues Found were:

  • Officials were “unable to explain” the reasoning behind the timescales or their feasibility
  • There were no “adequate measures” of progress
  • Computer systems lack the function to identify potentially fraudulent claims, relying instead on manual checks
  • £34m investment in IT systems has been written off
  • The Department for Work and Pensions lacked IT expertise and senior leadership
  • Delays to the roll out will reduce the expected benefits of reform

Expenditure on IT systems has accounted for more than 70% of the £425m spent to date but the report could not confirm if the infrastructure in place will support a national roll out.

Universal Credit has been hotly debated by readers in Property118 and widely condemned as a bad idea, by not making housing benefits directly payable to Landlords and in the trial areas used so far has resulted in a substantial increases in rent arrears.NAO


Rent arrears stats are improving says the NLA Latest Articles, NLA - National Landlords Association

According to the latest research from the National Landlords Association (NLA), incidences of arrears have fallen to their lowest level for over two years.

39 per cent of landlords have experienced instances of rental arrears in the last 12 months, down nine per cent year on year and back to levels previously seen in quarter one 2010.

Void periods in private-residential property have also fallen, down five per cent since last Quarter to 33 per cent, a low last seen in 2012.

At a regional level, voids are greatest in the North East of England where 60 per cent of landlords have experienced empty periods in the last three months and lowest in the South West of England where only 20 per cent of landlords have experienced voids over the same time frame.

The research results also established that seven in ten voids are unplanned. And landlords are covering the financial impact of voids using various means:

• 33 per cent of landlords cover the costs of a void period using rent from other properties

• 10 per cent of landlords cover the costs of a void period using their other income or salary

• Nine per cent of landlords cover the costs of a void period using funds from their savings

Carolyn Uphill, Chairman of the NLA, says:

“It is positive to see reductions in the instances of arrears and voids. This demonstrates that long term, enduring tenancies are on the rise as it is in every landlords’ business interest to maintain good, long lasting tenancies and avoid voids.

“However, it is worrying that void periods often come as a surprise to landlords. Whilst voids represent more of a problem in the North than in the South, where demand is far higher, it is imperative that empty properties are filled quickly, following any necessary maintenance and improvements.

“The NLA’s advice to landlords looking to minimise void periods is to talk openly with their tenants about their future plans. This will give the landlord some idea of when the property might next be empty and allow them to make any improvements and plan advertising activity in good time. It is also wise to budget for 11 months’ rent per year to avoid needing to find additional funds to cover outgoings if a void does arise.”

Buy to Let Property Sales – Partnering With Estate Agents Buy to Let News, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Letting, Lettings & Management, Property Development, Property For Sale, Property Investment News, Property Investment Strategies, Property News

Earlier this year we spotted an opportunity to set up a buy to let Estate Agency. However, due to lack of resource (time) very little has been done other than a dozen or so sales on behalf of developers, plus setting ourselves up with The Property Ombudsman Service and organising Professional Indemnity insurance to keep ourselves legal of course.Buy to Let Estate Agency

The reason we haven’t got around to growing the buy to let Estate Agency business is that our passion is facilitating the sharing of best practice amongst landlords and letting agents on the Property118 forum which I set up just over two years ago. Prior to that I was a commercial finance broker and I’ve been a landlord since 1989.

The opportunity is a very simple one. Nearly 200,000 landlords and associated professionals subscribe to our daily newsletters and engage on the Property118 forum. Some of these people are no doubt in the market to buy more property. It occurred to us that most properties are sold with vacant possession, however, for landlords that can be a bit of a nightmare as both the vendor and the purchaser both experience costly void periods.

Rightmove and the Zoopla Property Group portals are ideal to sell properties with vacant possession but if a landlord wants to sell or buy a tenanted property these portals are far from perfect as there’s no search facility for buy to let property. Furthermore, their interfaces are not geared up to show rental yields, returns on capital invested, costs of letting etc. At Property118 we have created a landlords calculator to work all of these things out

As we haven’t got time to source properties to sell, never mind to prepare sales particulars, do floor plans, arrange viewings and progress chase offers through to completion, our idea is to work on a split commission basis with other agents.

We will showcase properties on the Property118 forum and link to them in the daily Newsletters. Enquirers will be landlords who may well already own properties in the area, hence for agents who partner with us on this venture, all referrals will be good leads for future sales and letting opportunities as well as prospective purchasers of the property which is being marketed.

From the landlords perspective, they will be presented with properties which are already let and will have no void periods and perhaps most importantly, without any buyers premium attached to them. The sales particulars will include details of the tenancy including:-

  • rent currently being paid
  • profile of the tenant
  • time already in the property
  • management fees currently being charged
  • other expenses relating to the management/maintenance of the property

This information, together with an indicative financing quotation will enable us to calculate not only rental yields but the cash on cash equivalent annual returns after all costs including mortgage, insurance, lettings and management, a sensible maintenance budget and where appropriate any ground rents or service charges. This will enable investors to compare cashflow returns on their money to the returns they are currently receiving elsewhere on their investments. The potential for capital growth is obviously a primary reason for people to invest into property too of course.

We will not allow this activity to overwhelm what we do here at Property118, therefore, we will cherry pick the properties we want to promote based on those which we believe make sense to buy as investments.

It is unlikely that we will be in a position to accept instructions directly from landlords to sell their properties due to the lack of infrastructure to provide a sufficiently professional service, i.e. floor plans, viewings, for sale signs etc. Therefore, any such enquiries will be referred back to the agencies we end up partnering with. Landlords are, of course, also welcome to introduce us to any agencies they are already working with as we will not get tied into any exclusive contracts. Our independence is vitally important to us.

I would like to have a chat with any agents who see some mileage in this opportunity. I have some ideas on splitting commissions but I am very open minded at this stage as the project is very much in its infancy.

Mark Alexander - Your Property ConciergeIf you would like to chat please comment below, email me  – mark@property118.com or call me on 07834 754 223.


Mark Alexander – founder of Property118.com

Is landlord licensing a pointless exercise? Buy to Let News, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

Is landlord licencing a pointless exerciseIt’s time for me to share some controversial views on why I believe landlord licensing to be a pointless exercise I think.

Now don’t get me wrong, I hate the fact that a very small minority of bad landlords have earned our profession a bad reputation. However, it appears they might be a necessary evil too.

Allow me to explain. Continue reading Is landlord licensing a pointless exercise?

Breaking News – Universal Credit Reforms May be Unachieveble Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

Universal Credit Reforms May be Unachieveble

“Computer says no”

We are hearing reports coming in suggesting that David Cameron’s “Major Projects Authority” may have given Universal Credit reforms a Red Light warning.

The Major Projects Authority was founded in 2010 with a mandate from David Cameron to turn around the Civil Service’s record of delivering projects. Continue reading Breaking News – Universal Credit Reforms May be Unachieveble

Landlord News on the BBC One Show at 7pm Tonight Buy to Let News, Landlord Action, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

LANDLORD NEWS – private landlord speaks out on housing benefit nightmare tonight on BBC’s The One Show 

A landlord from Bracknell, Berkshire, has spoken out about her nightmare ordeal after her housing benefit tenant failed to pass on the payments. This issue has been widely reported and discussed within the buy-to-let industry but now a landlord has come out publicly to talk about it. The non-payments left Mrs Trivedy and her self-employed partner in an extremely difficult financial position. As a result of the welfare reforms and implementation of Universal Credit thousands of ordinary landlords fear that they will see more of this kind of problem. It is expected to affect the whole country and BBC1 are covering the issue on The One Show tonight, Thursday 2nd May at 7pm. They will feature Mrs Trivedy and Landlord Action, the problem tenant specialists, who she went to for help.

After meeting her current partner, Mrs Trivedy decided to sell her four bedroom house in Bracknell from a previous relationship so that they could buy somewhere together. After failing to sell the property quickly enough, she took the decision to let it out, which for three and half years provided the perfect solution. When her previous tenants moved out and an acquaintance from her daughter’s school, with five children of her own, expressed an interest in the property, it seemed like the perfect solution. The prospective tenants explained that they had fallen on tough times but that the £1,200 housing benefit they were due to start receiving would cover the rent. They agreed to set up a direct debit straight to Mrs Trivedy’s account.

From the moment the family moved in (December 2011), the payments were not consistent and with the housing benefit being paid in arrears every two weeks, there was already a shortfall of £20 per month which the tenants were supposed to make up. Four months ago, the payments stopped altogether. On communication with the tenants, Mrs Trivedy was told to liaise with the local housing allowance office, to no avail. After attempting to speak to the tenants at the property to discuss the issues and try to work out a payment schedule, the tenants called the police to file a harassment case. Mrs Trivedy has since received abusive text messages from the tenants via her mobile phone.  In desperation, Mrs Trivedy called on the help of Landlord Action who have since issued a Section 8 possession notice, the process of which was filmed by The One Show.

Landlord News on the BBC One Show at 7pm TonightMrs Trivedy says “The tenants are now approximately £4,400 in arrears and that sum is mounting all the time. As a result, we are struggling to pay the mortgage on the house. My partner is self-employed so income is irregular and despite taking as much overtime at work as I can, we are living off next to nothing just to get by. What’s more, the house is a complete wreck after the tenants brought dogs into the property which subsequently had puppies. It will cost us thousands to get it back to a liveable state.”

Paul Shamplina, Founder of Landlord Action, says “The majority of social tenants do pass on housing benefit, but the cuts made in the welfare reforms are going to put many under increased financial pressure. Our experience in dealing with cases such as this is that most tenants would prefer to have their payments made directly to the landlord so that they can budget more effectively. Not enough has been done to protect landlords. Over the last few years we have seen a rise in these problems and  now with the new Universal Tax Credits monthly payments, our concern is that more and more landlords will see problems and many will turn their back on the social sector.”

More advice on evicting tenants HERE

Universal Credit will be paid direct to landlords but …. Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

Universal Credit will be paid direct to landlords but ....The Residential Landlords Associated revealed yesterday the housing benefit element of Universal Credit may well be paid directly to landlords after all. However, a lot of questions remain unanswered.

According to the RLA “automatic direct payments to landlords will now be allowed in the pathfinder areas. The policy change was tucked away on the last page of an obscure circular published by the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) yesterday.” Continue reading Universal Credit will be paid direct to landlords but ….

Why do landlords buy furniture packs? Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property Investment Strategies, Property News

Landlords Furniture PacksI’m often asked whether I think it’s a good idea to let properties on a furnished or unfurnished basis. A friend of mine recently said that he was surprised I had not written an article about this and, in particular, about furniture packs.

Unless you buy properties to let as holiday homes, short term lets, student lets or own modern city centre apartments targeting overseas business visitors or short term contractors the thought of letting a property furnished, let alone buying furniture packs, may well be an alien concept to you. Continue reading Why do landlords buy furniture packs?

The 2013 buy to let goldrush Buy to Let News, Buy to Let Property Hotspots, Commercial Finance, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property For Sale, Property Market News, Property News, Property Sales & Sourcing, Property Sourcing

The 2013 buy to let goldrushI have had a ‘gut feeling’ that the property market would turn in 2013 for at least four years, however, until now I have not been able to provide any real justification as to why I believe the 2013 buy to let gold rush will occur.

A recent comment on our forum got me thinking about this again. It said something along the lines of …

“do you think property values will rise when the governments incentives to help fund deposits for first time buyers kicks in next year? I’m seriously thinking about bringing my plans forward and buying now in advance of the next property gold rush” Continue reading The 2013 buy to let goldrush

The 2013 Budget and how it affects Landlords and property Investors Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

Budget 2013The 2013 Budget is hoped to boost the housing market and construction industry. Yesterday Chancellor George Osborne announced new plans to help people buy their first homes homes with the Help To Buy Scheme and an extension of the previous NewBuy Guarantee scheme to include older houses as well as new-builds.

For three years from the start of 2014 the government will support £130bn of first time buyer mortgages by guaranteeing 15% of the loan leaving borrowers at risk of losing only their 5% deposit and lenders liable for only 80% of the purchase price.

Lenders taking part should therefore be happier to accept smaller deposits as security for loans, but it is still a relatively small proportion of the total mortgage market worth £1.2 trillion, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).

The theory is that giving more people the ability to purchase a home will increase demand for property resulting in an increase in price and promoting an increase in supply (more construction) to fill the demand. It is very simple Supply and Demand economics that will work, but it is the amount that it works by that is the question.

Of all the sectors that contribute to the UK’s GDP it is the construction industry that has been most badly affected helping to drag us back into a double dip recession and a stagnating economy, so it makes sense for the government to try and stimulate demand for construction.

The Housing Market is also a very important barometer for confidence in the economy and when people feel confident they spend money and invest in business which includes Landlords.

Any kind of confidence boost in the housing market has got to be a good thing for Landlords and property investors in the long run. If the value of property strengthens then lenders will feel more confident to lend on better rates and Loan to Values. Landlords may eventually be able to remortgage again after the death of the remortgage market for the last four years. We will no longer be stuck locked into existing lenders and at the mercy of their desire to either get rid of Buy to Let mortgages or fleece Landlords for greater profit margins as the Bank of Ireland are trying to do.

A competitive Buy to Let market is essential for the long term planning of Landlords taking control back from the banks and into the hands of investors once again.

However we cannot get too excited as it all depends on the degree by which government support works that is all important, and with the revision of GDP growth forecasts halved it would indicate that there is a long road to recovery to travel yet.

A winning plan for property for The Budget 2013? Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

A winning plan for property for The Budget 2013Naomi Heaton, CEO of London Central Portfolio Limited has shared her four point plan which she’s asked Chancellor George Obsourne to consider for the forthcoming Budget. 

With days to go until the 2013 Budget, time is running out for Osborne to make a real difference in his Budget mandate. Naomi says her plan could help the Conservatives get back in favour, whilst providing some much needed Viagra to both the UK economy and the housing market. Listen closely George; it is time for the Government to do something positive! Continue reading A winning plan for property for The Budget 2013?

Universal Credit trial increases arrears by a factor of seven! Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

Universal-CreditA Universal Credit trial of a first group of tenants in Torfaen South Wales has resulted in an increase in arrears from £20,000 to £140,000 in just seven months from July to January.

Chief executive Duncan Forbes of Bron Afon Community Housing  who have 950 tenants receiving direct payment of their housing benefit said the rise in arrears was ” significant”.

“That was a group of people who had a good track record of payment and pretty low level of arrears, thrust into a position where they are now in significant arrears.”

“At the same time we’ve increased our staff levels by about double what we would normally put into income recovery. We’ve been very successful up to now in getting the number of evictions right down, but we can see that inevitably steadily rising. The difficulty for us is that if there’s no long-term solution to paying that rent we can’t sustain business as a landlord.”

However contrary to the evidence and all popular opinion in the PRS  the Welfare reform minister Lord Freud is still supporting Universal Credit and said: “We’ve always been clear that Universal Credit will be simple and easy for claimants to access and we will ensure that vulnerable people get the support they need to make a claim and budget their finances. Millions of people will be better off on the new benefit.”

Torfaen is one of six areas The Department of Work and Pensions is running demonstration projects and it will be interesting to see if the results give any cause for the government to U-turn or delay the introduction of Universal Credit in the autumn.

Are Rent Guarantees Worth Buying? Guest Articles, Insurance, Landlord News, Landlords Insurance, Latest Articles, Letting, Lettings & Management, Property News

Rent GuaranteeIncreasing rents, a difficult economy and job losses mean a growing number of tenants are struggling to pay their rent. When rental income is relied upon to cover a buy-to-let mortgage, arrears can be a very real risk and it doesn’t look like the economy is going to improve significantly any time soon.

As rents typically increase towards the summer months, we could see tenant’s budgets being squeezed, leading to some unwanted arrears. The question is, if you’re a buy to let landlord, how can you protect yourself against every landlord’s worst nightmare: a tenant who can’t, or won’t, pay the rent? Continue reading Are Rent Guarantees Worth Buying?

LCP analysis of official Land Registry data just released Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property Investment News, Property News

 LCP London Central Portfolio  
  • Prices in England and Wales rise marginally by 2.27% across the year, bringing the average price to £238,293
  • Prices in Prime London Central (PLC) rose 14.1% to finish 2012 at £1,359,739
  • The number of sales of London’s super prime properties (£10m+) increased 10 fold
  • The number of sales in England and Wales between £2m and £5m increased a staggering 71%
  • The most expensive sale in PLC in Q4 was a house in Farm Street, Mayfair at £28,134,500
  • High value sales in Q4 were also registered in London Central’s most prestigious developments -One Hyde Park, 199 Knightsbridge and The Lancasters

Naomi Heaton, CEO of London Central Portfolio comments:- Continue reading LCP analysis of official Land Registry data just released

Stamp Duty set to triple for 10% of UK home buyers Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

Stamp Duty set to triple for 10% of UK home buyersAround 80,000 people in England and Wales, 10% of the market, could find themselves paying three times more Stamp Duty this year as the average property price looks set to breach the £250,000 mark.

For these buyers, Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) will jump up from 1% to 3%, a massive increase from £2,500 to £7,500. The Government will need to urgently re-evaluate the 1% Stamp Duty ceiling which has remained unchanged for over 15 years whilst the average price of a house has increased three fold from £79,242 to £249,958. Continue reading Stamp Duty set to triple for 10% of UK home buyers

Is rent hiking a good business model? Don't Shoot The Messenger, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

Is rent hiking a good business modelIt’s been a while since I wrote anything in my ‘Don’t shoot the messenger’ series. Mainly because I kept getting shot ha-ha.

But I have a tough skin.

This article is an open letter to all you P118 landlords but probably more the London crew, because it is about rent increases and London is a different animal to the rest of the UK. I see properties for rent in different parts of Britain where the rents seem reasonable.

London is off the scale though. Continue reading Is rent hiking a good business model?

London Central Portfolio Ltd report Empty Homes Crisis Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

Central London Landlords are not the villains as thousands are owned and unused by poorest boroughs in an empty homes crises.

“The lights are out in London” seems to be politicians’ pet mantra. It was used by Lib-Dem MP Simon Hughes in his motion to make parts of the capital ‘off-limits’ to wealthy people purchasing second homes and ‘leaving them sitting empty’. It was used as a catalyst for the Stamp Duty rises for high end property in the last budget. And most recently, it was used by Camden Council in their efforts to increase council tax on empty homes. Continue reading London Central Portfolio Ltd report Empty Homes Crisis

Agents paying landlords 6 months rent up front to secure new business Landlord News, Latest Articles, Lettings & Management, Property Investment Strategies, Property News

Since running an article about rent in advance earlier this week I have received a number of telephone calls asking me to clarify whether this really is a lettings product/service which genuinely pays landlords 6 months rent up front despite charging rent to tenants monthly.

Many of the people who asked me about this are surprising when I tell the that the answer to their question is YES!

6 months rent up front

I thought I’d save myself some time explaining how it works over and over again on the telephone by writing a personal of the scheme. NOTE: Advanced Rent is not our scheme. Continue reading Agents paying landlords 6 months rent up front to secure new business

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