Entries Tagged as 'Landlord'

Alarm Bells For Landlords: new legislation just a week away


New regulations enforcing the provision of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in privately rented properties are now just one week away. After several months of speculation and debate, the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Act 2015 was finally passed by Parliament on the 14th of September – leaving landlords just two and a half weeks to ensure their properties meet the new requirements.

From the 1st of October 2015, landlords will be required to supply and fit at least one smoke alarm on every storey of their property which is used as living accommodation, even if that storey only includes a bathroom or lavatory. Carbon monoxide alarms must also be present in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance, such as a coal or wood burning fire. These alarms must be tested by the landlord at the start of each new tenancy to ensure they are still in working order.

As the legislation currently stands, Landlords are not obliged to fit carbon monoxide alarms in rooms with gas or oil appliances. We at Reside, however, have advised our landlords to supply CO alarms where gas appliances are present; whilst the legislation does not make this mandatory, it does state that ‘reputable landlords’ are expected to supply carbon monoxide alarms in these circumstances.

The Department for Communities’ guidelines make it very clear that no grace period will be permitted for landlords who have not acted to ensure their property is compliant, and hefty fines of up to £5,000 will be levied against those who do not take the necessary steps.

An explanatory handbook written by the Department for Communities explains exactly what landlords must do to ensure compliance, and can be found here.


The General Election & The Private Rented Sector

When the United Kingdom goes to the ballot box on the 7th of May, the electorate will cast their votes with a host of prominent issues in mind, but how will your choice of political party impact on Tenants and Landlords in England?

The key parties’ manifestos don’t make for the most thrilling reading, so we made a strong pot of coffee and scrutinised them for you.Conservatives

The Conservative Party‘s manifesto actually makes no explicit reference to the private rented sector, but focuses intently on helping more people onto the housing ladder by extending the Help to Buy scheme. Their Help to Buy ISA will aid renters trying to save up for a deposit, and they aim to build 200,000 ‘Starter Homes’ exclusively aimed at first-time buyers under 40.

As far as the lettings industry goes, the Conservatives are taking an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach. Over the past five years, the coalition has made minor adjustments to legislation to make letting agents’ fees more transparent and to increase living standards and security within privately rented properties, and they seem to feel that this has left the industry in a good position.

Labour Party 3

In this area, the Labour Party has taken a drastically different approach to their rivals. Ed Miliband is proposing a shake-up to the industry which will involve a ban on ‘unfair letting agent fees [which] will save renters over £600’. The Labour manifesto does not stipulate what constitutes ‘unfair’, but it is not clear whether this will be the blanket ban on fees that some had expected, such as the one implemented in Scotland in 2012.

Other Labour initiatives include legislating to make three-year tenancies the norm, and imposing a ceiling on ‘excessive rent rises’. As with the above policy, ‘excessive’ will presumably not be defined until after the election, but it is bound to be linked to inflation rates. Finally, Labour has pledged to ‘drive standards up’ by introducing a national register of private landlords, doubtless designed to weed out ‘rogue’ Landlords.Lib Dems

The Liberal Democrats‘ manifesto covers similar ground to that of Labour, in that it proposes standard ‘multi-year’ tenancies with rent increases linked to inflation. They also moot a ban on letting agent fees, although this would not be implemented until 2017 and would be on the condition that fees have not dropped to an ‘affordable level by the end of 2016’ following transparency requirements brought in by the coalition.

Nick Clegg has also pledged to introduce a new initiative called ‘Help to Rent’. With other parties placing sole emphasis on helping first-time buyers onto the property ladder, the Liberal Democrats would also aim to assist those struggling to save a deposit for a rented property. This would be aimed at first-time renters under 30, and would take the form of a government-backed tenancy deposit loan.


UKIP‘s manifesto is another that focuses solely on home ownership and does not set out any major changes for Tenants or Landlords. They wish to build more affordable housing aimed at first-time buyers, and aim to bring some of England’s ‘279,000 privately-owned long-term empty homes’ back into use through increasing taxation on properties that remain empty for more than 2 years.Green

The Green Party manifesto usurps Labour’s proposals and sets out its own plans for what would be a highly regulated private rented sector. Natalie Bennett’s party would introduce a ‘living rent’ tenancy which would include five-year fixed tenancy agreements, as well as ‘smart rent control’ that caps annual rent increases to the Consumer Price Index.

Local not-for-profit letting agencies would be set up, and fees for tenants would be abolished across all agencies. A mandatory license for Landlords would be established, and alterations would be made to make buy-to-let mortgages less attractive, including removing tax incentives such as mortgage interest relief.

In Summary…

The Conservatives and UKIP seem content with the current condition of the lettings industry, and do not address private renters or landlords in their manifestos. The Liberal Democrats and Labour both outline alterations to the sector, with both parties agreeing on rent control, standard multi-year tenancies and regulation of agency fees. The most radical policies are those of the Green Party, whose plans would drastically change how renting works for tenants, landlords and agents.

On May the 7th, Britain’s political landscape may well change; it remains to be seen whether the private rented sector will also be affected.


Reside is OnTheMarket (.com)

18_Stacked_See_PropThe launch of OnTheMarket.com on January 26th heralded an important day for the property industry; it saw the arrival of the first genuine rival to the two established property portals, Rightmove and Zoopla.

OnTheMarket.com provides the consumer with a cleaner and fresher browsing experience, free from the advertisements, promoted properties and unnecessary information which burden other websites. It is designed to automatically adjust to all manner of screens, so whether you’re browsing on a smartphone, tablet or a PC, you will always be given the most optimised version of OnTheMarket.com. iPhone and iPad users can now also download the OnTheMarket app, which has a similarly user friendly interface.

Here at Reside, we are delighted and excited to announce that all of our properties are now displayed on OnTheMarket.com, as well as across Rightmove and our own website. We have already started to receive leads through OnTheMarket.com and feel that it is on the way to quickly establishing itself as an essential tool for property hunters.

Despite only being a few weeks old, you may already be familiar with OnTheMarket.com; a major advertising campaign has started across a variety of national television channels, as well as on the pages of the UK’s major daily newspapers. For those of you yet to see it, you can watch the advert below, which was filmed using a remarkable eight-propeller drone called The Octocopter!

Click here to view all of our properties on OnTheMarket.com, and to have a look around their new website. We think you’ll be seeing a lot more of it for years to come.


Landlords & Tenants Endorse Bath’s Modern Makeovers

An increasing number of contemporary new developments are being surreptitiously smuggled into Bath’s renowned Georgian architecture. Whilst a staggering 14% of buildings in Bath have listed status, well above the national average of 6%, developers have pinpointed certain areas of the city as ripe for a contemporary makeover – something that has gone down very well with both tenants and investors.

The latest addition to the city has seen Red Earth Developments rejuvenate twenty four studio, one and two bedroom apartments with allocated parking in the Lansdown area of Bath. Whilst these apartments do not reflect the traditional period splendour that one has come to expect from property in Bath, their modern and practical finishes have proved popular with tenants, especially with young professionals. At the time of writing, Reside has let six of these apartments for investment landlords, taking an average of just nine days to find each new tenant.

Reside has let apartments in several of Bath’s most recent developments such as Norfolk Court and Ladymead House, and a distinct pattern has emerged. For all the stunning architecture, high ceilings and period features that exist in Bath, there are a wealth of house hunters who are happy to eschew Georgian splendour. Some tenants, it seems, prefer contemporary comforts over classical cornices. Despite the differences between these two developments – one is a Bath Stone-clad new build with a stylish metallic upper tier, the other a Georgian building formerly used as sheltered accommodation for the elderly – they both boast stunning contemporary interiors with integrated appliances under warranty, granite work surfaces and wiring for satellite television and high-speed broadband. All of these factors make moving such an easy transition for new tenants, who have to act quickly to secure such a property. Our most recent Ladymead House apartment was bagged by a tenant before we could even begin to market it.

These new developments have also proved to be a popular way into the market for first time investors. Typically consisting of practical, stylish and high spec apartments, they are targeted towards the more affordable end of the investment property ladder, and come with long warranties which would provide any landlord, no matter how experienced, with peace of mind. At The Coachworks on London Road, Bath’s newest development, as little as £99,000 buys an investor an exclusive and modern apartment with instant access to the city centre. Based on our previous experiences with similar developments, such an apartment would come with strong tenant appeal and would be likely to let very quickly.

Bath is a city renowned worldwide for its stunning Georgian architecture, something for which many tenants specifically move to the city. For investors and certain tenants, however, contemporary and practical properties are becoming increasingly appealing.

If you are a landlord and wish to speak to us concerning your property, new or old, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Tenant Demand Set To Increase Into 2014… And Beyond

Walk into Reside during the winter months and you may see a member of staff huddled over a paperback. You would be forgiven for thinking that they were squeezing in a quick chapter of whatever blockbuster had been left for them under the tree on Christmas morning, but it is far more likely that they will be scrutinising Rightmove’s own festive treat: the Little Blue Book. Packed full of data gleaned from Rightmove during 2013, this tiny tome concisely summarises national property trends during the past 12 months. With the help of this and a brand new report on the private rental sector published by Knight Frank, this blog reviews 2013 and speculates whether 2014 will be a year of merriment or malcontent for Landlords.

Rightmove’s report indicates that demand for rental property has increased dramatically during 2013, with this put down to potential home owners being ‘unable to clear post-2008 deposit hurdles’. However, whilst trends over the last three years have seen the supply of new rental properties to the market dwindle, 2013 has bucked this trend and for the first time in years the gap between supply and demand has diminished. New investors are being tempted to the market by improving returns and a recovery in the sales market, as evidenced by a 29% increase in buy-to-let loans during the third quarter of 2013 compared with the same period during 2012. With this in mind, it seems that 2013 has been a year of real growth for the rental market – both in supply and demand, but is this likely to continue into 2014?

New research carried out by Knight Frank suggests that the 4 million households who currently live in privately rented accommodation in the UK will increase by more than 25% by the end of 2016. Even as the housing market starts to recover and Help to Buy lends a hand to purchasers with smaller deposits, the report speculates that Help to Buy ‘is unlikely to reverse the direction of travel to the private rented sector’. Knight Frank cite a strong likelihood that the scheme may be scaled back, and also the slim chance that the full £12.5 billion in mortgage guarantees offered will be used. The report concludes that this, allied with an economy gaining momentum and creating more demand for employment and therefore rental properties in urban areas, will see the demand in rental properties continue to increase for the foreseeable future.

Knight Frank and Rightmove’s findings are borne out by our own results at Reside, where we have seen the total number of lets agreed per year increase by 53% between 2011 and 2013. We have already felt the impact of the rise in tenant demand this year, as January 2014 was our busiest start to the year ever with the number of viewings carried out during the month up by 39% compared to January 2013.

With tenant demand continuing to increase at the same time as a small resurgence in the housing market, it seems that there has never been a better time to invest in rental property. If you are considering joining the ever-increasing number of investment landlords in or around Bath, or simply wish to keep up with our lettings news, please do not hesitate to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Alternatively, our office contact details can be found on our Contact Us page.


1 In 4 Landlords Earn A Living From Rental Property

It seems that there has never been a better time to be a private landlord: tenant demand is up and predicted to rise even further; rents are increasing and yields are at their highest since the Landlords Panel research study began in 2006.

It is unsurprising therefore that more than one in four landlords are now making a living from letting their properties, according to recent research by BDRC Continental.

The research also found that a further 52% use rental properties to supplement their income, with 74% of those planning to use rental income to help fund their retirement.

Landlords stated that the opportunity to achieve a better return on property than investing in the stock market was a major factor in entering the buy-to-let market, along with the chance to make rental income their main source of income in the future.

It seems that optimism is in the air with 68% of landlords rating their capital gains and rental prospects as good or very good, compared with 60% in the third quarter of last year. This was found to be at the highest level since 2007.

John Heron, managing director of Paragon Mortgages, said: “Tenant demand for rental property remains strong, and with the mainstay of investment coming from private landlords, it is important for lenders to develop products that can underpin sustainable growth.”

Many of the landlords surveyed said they were looking to expand their portfolios, which is good news for buy-to-let mortgage providers and brokers. However it raises another issue when you consider that 63% agree ‘strongly’ that the buy-to-let market would benefit from greater competition. The industry cannot afford to have its key customers believing there’s too little competition in the market.

The research sounded a warning note for brokers and intermediaries: 21% of all landlords agree ‘strongly’ that they will approach a lender directly the next time they need funding.  And meanwhile some lenders are moving in the direction of providing a more holistic service to landlords – e.g. educating them on legal obligations, marketing and how to become more profitable.

With tenant demand almost certainly set to increase into 2014, it seems inevitable that even more landlords will be able to make a living from their rental properties in the future. If you are a landlord or are thinking about investing in rental property in Bath, we would be more than happy to discuss any questions you have about this topic either in person or via Facebook or Twitter.


First time landlords invest as tenant demand increases

Bath shutterstock_101583367

A recent study by major buy-to-let lender, Paragon Mortgages, found an increase in borrowing by first-time landlords as compared to the same time period last year.

Similarly, the percentage of business coming from landlords looking to grow their rental portfolios also increased.

John Heron, director of Paragon, said: “It would seem that an investment in property is increasingly attractive against a background of low returns on cash and volatility in global markets.”

“With perceptions shifting in terms of the improved availability of buy-to-let finance too, the lending industry is in a good place to support the ambitions of both new and experienced landlords.”

Also of interest to new landlords are the increases in average monthly rental costs in England and Wales – up by 3.5% in the 12 months to May 2013, according to LSL Property Services’ buy-to-let index.

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services, said: “With wage growth so weak compared to inflation and house price growth, it looks like deposits will become less affordable – which will keep demand for rented accommodation high.”

He added that “private renting will become a more and more vital aspect of the economy.”

In line with these findings, we at Reside are seeing local demand for properties increasing significantly. July 2013 was our busiest month ever in terms of properties let, which were up 44% compared to July 2012 and 116% compared to July 2011. New properties added to our website also rose by 33% in July 2013 compared with last year.

Given also that rent arrears and voids are in decline, according to the National Landlords Association, this suggests that now is an excellent time for new landlords to consider investing in rental properties.


You spin me right round…

We’re always looking for new ways to show our landlords’ properties, and better ways to help our tenants decide which properties suit them. So when we came across BubblePix, producers of a brand new technology that creates 360° photographic images, we saw an exciting opportunity.

(photo credit: BubblePix)

The BubblePod creates 360° images that will give our prospective tenants an honest view of property interiors – before they decide to visit.

We’re proud to announce we’ve made a small investment in BubblePix and that inventor Tom Lawton has agreed that Reside will be pioneering this exciting technology.

There are two elements to the technology: the BubblePod and the BubblePix App.

The BubblePod is a clockwork turntable that grips your smartphone and smoothly, silently rotates it by 360º.

Meanwhile the BubblePix App on your phone captures the 360º image. Users can shoot and share images in less than a minute.

Reside has agreed to act as a test bed for the early production versions. This means we’ll be one of the first letting agencies to use these images to present our properties.

Once they go into production, this will create a fantastic tool for letting agents everywhere.

To find out more about the BubblePod, click here.


Reside welcomes transparency in Agency Fees

Last week, the property press feeds were all aflutter with news of a landmark ruling affecting how letting agents disclose their fees.

Property agent Your Move found itself falling foul of the Advertising Standards Agency for failing to disclose its fees. The ruling also echoed the findings of a recent Which? report that revealed many letting agents are neglecting to provide their fees to potential tenants upfront. Shockingly, the report also found that some agents were not providing details of their fees even when asked, or they gave incomplete information.

This behavior makes it difficult for consumers to weigh-up their options and compare overall costs across letting agents.

We at Reside have always believed in full disclosure of fees. Since our inception, we have provided complete terms & conditions at the first viewing of every property, with every potential tenant – whether this is requested or not.

For our landlords, we also provide a completely transparent service through our web-based system, Reside Remote. Reside Remote enables us to provide 24/7 access to statements, contractor invoices, maintenance logs and detailed tenancy information. There are absolutely no hidden charges. What’s more, unlike many of our competitors, we do not mark-up the fees from any of our contractors.

Reside Remote – our bespoke tool for landlords

The complete picture from the ASA’s verdict has yet to be fully realised, particularly in terms of how online adverts will be affected. For example, the property portal Rightmove is now one of the UK’s most popular online destinations full-stop, recently reporting revenues up by 23% to £119.4m.

But rest assured, the team here at Reside will be keeping an eye on this one and will report back as things develop…


South West rents continue to rise as demand outstrips supply

As the sales market becomes increasingly subdued, the cost of renting a home in the South West has continued to rise as many would-be buyers find themselves unable to take their first steps on the property ladder.

The latest survey carried out by the Royal Institution of Charterer Surveyors states that the cost of renting a residential property in the South West has risen by 2.6% in the last twelve months. The RICS survey goes on to explain that this rise in rents is underpinned by a fall in good quality new properties coming on to the market.

This is a trend that is supported by recent research by Rightmove, whose ‘Little Blue Book’ of property trends states that in the last twelve months alone, search activity for rental property on Rightmove rose by 40% while available stock to rent fell by 3%.

Evidence of the South West’s strong rental market is borne out by a new report published by Endsleigh in which the specialist letting agents’ insurer placed Bath as the fifth priciest town or city for tenants in the UK. According to Endsleigh, the average cost of renting a property in the city is £963 per month – more than £257 above the national average. The report goes on to show the average monthly rent across the UK rose for the third year running in 2011 to £706 – compared with £688 in 2010 and £663 in 2009.

RICS, Rightmove and Endsleigh all indicate that current property trends seem set to continue for the foreseeable future, making this a particularly profitable time for landlords to be letting and investing in property in the South West.