Overall, it feels like a very positive time to become a landlord. Average rates of growth over the short to medium term are anticipated to be somewhere between 3 and 5% according to Halifax, and could go further in a city such as Oxford, Bristol or some area of London; there is a growing number of tenants looking to rent properties; and the stock market continues to feel an uncertain bet for sound investment.
But whilst there are many positive aspects of becoming a buy to let investor at this time, caution should still be employed.
Simply, do not proceed with viewing properties until you have met with your local Andrews expert so that you clearly understand the types of property being sought by tenants in your area. Also, ensure that you’ve got a clear view of how the financial side of such an investment will stack up and preferably have your finances in place ready to proceed once you have found your ideal property.
Finally, you should also be aware of how recent legislative changes could impact on your investment.
The Queen’s Speech last month outlined a move to shift responsibility to landlords and lettings agents for checking the immigration status of any prospective tenant to ensure that they have the ‘Right to Rent’. This will entail identity checks and a credit check alone simply won’t do. Of course, a letting agent such as Andrews can conduct this on your behalf, but don’t assume that they will as this could leave you exposed to a costly fine of up to £3000.
Looking ahead meanwhile, from October 2015 all landlords will be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their rented properties. You must ensure that there is at least one smoke alarm per floor, as well as Carbon Monoxide alarms present in any rooms containing a solid fuel burning appliance - failure to do so could result in a penalty of £5000.
So whilst the buy to let market is looking very positive for property investors at this moment in time, we’d always urge you to do your homework to save incurring any costly fines.
Landlords will be legally obliged to carry out compulsory checks on their tenant's immigration status under a new "right to rent" process beginning February 1, 2016. The scheme, which has been attacked by the opposition as a return to the "no dogs, no Irish, no blacks" signs seen in boarding house windows 50 years ago, is part of the government's attempts to "create a hostile environment for illegal migrants". With plans to roll the scheme out nationwide in February, and hefty fines for landlords who fail to participate, here are five things you need to know about "right to rent".
1 - Many landlords are carrying out the checks already and they're quick and easy, according to those in charge of implementation.
Immigration minister, James Brokenshire, was quick to respond to the policy's critics, saying:
"Right to rent checks are quick and simple, and many responsible landlords already do them as a matter of routine.
We are providing landlords in England with all the advice and support they need before the checks go live on 1 February 2016. Right to rent is about deterring those who are illegally resident from remaining in the UK. Those with a legitimate right to be here will be able to prove this easily and will not be adversely affected."
2 - Or will they . . . ? Already concerns are being raised about those with foreign sounding names being discriminated against, once the new rules come into effect. A "mystery shopper" exercise carried out as part of an official evaluation into the process discovered that in several instances the mystery shoppers from ethnic minorities were asked to provide much more information than potential white tenants and those with more anglicised names. Homeless shelter Crisis has also expressed serious apprehension that the more complicated procedures may make it harder for homeless people to find a place to live.
3 - Right to rent is actually already in effect in some areas, so if you own tenanted property in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley or Wolverhampton, you need to act quickly to make sure you've performed the checks on your tenants, as per the legislation. Landlords can be fined up to £3,000 for renting a property to a tenant who isn't legally allowed to be in the UK, so it's important to get moving.
4 - So how do you actually make a check? In order to comply with "right to rent" tenant checks you need to:
a - Check which adults will be living at your property, and make sure that it's their main home. If it's their main home, the majority of their belongings should be there, and you would expect them to have registered with the local doctor and have recorded your property as their primary residence on the electoral register.
b - Ask to see the original documents that allow the tenant to live in the UK. Copies are not sufficient. It goes without saying that you should check them thoroughly, and ensure that the dates on the documents haven't expired, the photos match the tenants and that they don't look damaged or tampered with.
c - Make your own copies of these documents and keep them safe. You should also record the date that you make the check. As with all things in the property world, effective record-keeping will save you a lot of time and heartache down the road.
5 - Some types of property will be excluded under the scheme. For a comprehensive list see gov.uk/check-tenant-right-to-rent-documents The types of residential tenancy agreements that are exempt from the scheme are still being finalised but so far include:
a - Accommodation involving social housing
b - Social housing
c - Student housing
The decision to implement the scheme follows the official evaluation of the pilot scheme carried out in the West Midlands, which concluded that, despite the issues about discrimination that were raised, there were "no major differences" between the final outcome between white potential tenants and those of other ethnicities in their search to find somewhere to live.
Those in any doubt as to what they need to do to comply should check gov.uk/check-tenant-right-to-rent-documents
This quarter we have submitted an entry for funding. It is for Whitemoor Lakes, a not-for-profit residential centre that caters for children from across the UK. The key objective is for children to embrace the outdoors in a safe environment.
The centre is the preferred residential for schools:
• It enables children to participate in exciting and challenging activities in a safe and secure environment
• It allows children to get the enjoyment, special moments and personal gain from experiencing real activity
• Just as importantly, it builds self confidence and improved self esteem
• Pupils learn to accept and respect peoples differences (which can help change attitudes and values)
• It builds trusts and team spirit
Whitemoor Lakes helps develop children into responsible young adults. This is a real gem in the community for developing children for the future.
Your Vote Counts!
I am seeking votes so Whitemoor Lakes can build a climbing frame to be used on the grounds of the centre. The climbing frame is designed to cater 10 children and will include swing seats, a climbing wall, a sand pit and many more features.
The climbing frame will be used for children that are not of an age that can take advantage of the larger outdoor apparatus so this would enable them to participate and experience the outdoors as much as their older peers.
How To Vote!
To vote, simply go to:
• All we ask is to vote and share the news with all friends, family and colleagues.
• The more votes, the greater chance of securing the £5,000 funds for Whitemoor Lakes
• All votes must be registered by TUESDAY 30TH JUNE
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT
A report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) for financial comparison website money.co.uk says that these landlords are sitting on £514 million of deposits that should be protected by an official third party service.
With 4.6 million households privately rented and the average protected deposit at £1,040, the total value of deposits paid by tenants and placed in protection schemes by landlords has now reached £3.2 billion, the report claims.
Despite the risk of fines for landlords who fail to protect their tenants’ deposits, 15% are still failing to do so running the risk of a £2,400 penalty and the report adds that landlords that flout the rules could together be earning up to £8.5 million a year in interest on unprotected money, while leaving themselves and their tenants with no third party protection when their agreement comes to an end.
The government imposed deposit protection schemes to stop landlords unfairly taking money out of deposits for things such as wear and tear or pre-existing damage when tenants move on.
With this protection in place, an alternative dispute resolution scheme will step in and assess the case and make sure any money held back by the landlord is a fair deal for both the tenant and the landlord.
However, compliance with these rules are not being monitored effectively and the onus to report and take action against the landlord lies with the tenant, the report also explains.
‘While many landlords are doing the right thing and protecting deposits in one of the official government backed schemes, a worrying amount of money is falling through the cracks and far too many tenants are being left vulnerable,’ said Hannah Maundrell, editor in chief of money.co.uk.
‘It’s not right that tenants are left responsible for taking their landlord to court if their deposit hasn’t been protected. The government needs to step in and take decisive action. Introducing a compulsory register listing every landlord that rents out property in England and Wales would be a start. This works for Scotland and Northern Ireland and it seems crazy this hasn’t been brought in across the UK,’ she explained.
‘Add in tenants’ ratings and reviews to this too and you have both the beginnings of a solution that helps renters make an informed choice about who they’re handing over buckets of cash to; and the foundation for policing landlords that are currently going unchecked,’ she added.
Maundrell also pointed out that it is not just renters that stand to benefit from deposits being protected. ‘Landlords need a safeguard against renters that misbehave too. I can’t understand why any landlord wouldn’t do this. It doesn’t have to cost anything to place money with a tenancy deposit scheme and could save so much hassle later on,’ she added.
Indeed, the survey by insurance provider Endsleigh found that they would be happy to pay an additional £149.52 a year, on average, if their landlords let them personalise the property.
With two million private landlords, letting out five million homes in the UK, it calculates that there is potentially an extra £530 million in revenue out there for landlords who explicitly say they are happy for tenants to decorate.
The poll found that 43% would be happy to pay more rent and only 29% of those surveyed said that they have the freedom to decorate their property as they wish. It also revealed that with 25% living in a rental property for more than three years, and one in five saying they would be ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ to avoid inviting relatives round their home if they were embarrassed about the décor, it’s understandable that tenants want to decorate their homes.
The top desire was to be able to paint the walls with a colour of their choice with 19% wishing to do this, 17% want to be able to hang pictures or mirrors with screws and 10% want to hand wallpaper of their choice.
The research also found that 9% want to be able to use blu-tack to hang things on the wall and 9% want to hang a television on the wall.
Many are reluctant to ask with just 28% of tenants seeking permission from their landlord for permission to decorate but of those that do, 76 % of those tenants’ landlords agree to the request, despite it being against the tenancy agreement.
Eden Estates are proud to announce that the company is now a members of The Property Ombudsman.
We are the official letting agents of the Four Petals development in Tettenhall, with fourteen beautiful two bedroom apartments on offer, starting at £550.00pcm. The whole of the development is fully managed by Eden Estates.
A development of four bedroom bungalows in Tettenhall are being planned. More information will be posted soon.