Reeds Rains Property Blog

Property News from Reeds Rains

Rental Regional Review...

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England: Latest statistics from the English Housing Survey

At the end of February, the Government published its annual English Housing Survey and, for the year 2013 to 2014, the headline report had some encouraging data for landlords. The private rented sector remained larger than the social rented sector, even growing by 1% to 19% (4.4 million) of households in the country, while social housing held steady at 17% (3.9 million). And in terms of young adults renting, almost half (48%) of all households made up of 25-34 year olds rented privately, an increase of 3% on the previous year. That figure is more than double what it stood at a decade before. Over the same ten-year period, the number of households in this age group owning property fell from 59% to 36%. If this trend continues, albeit steadily, the demand for Private Rented Sector (PRS) accommodation will continue to increase accordingly. 

In terms of rents, the average in the PRS rose over the five years since 2008-9 from £153 to £176 per week, an increase of 15%. Given that inflation stands at roughly 3% per annum, this means that landlords have just managed to keep their rents rising in line accordingly. If you don’t do it already, now is the time to check whether your own rents have kept up with inflation and the local market. If they haven’t, it means the value of your profit is falling year on year, so you may need to review your investment and take steps to ensure it produces the returns you need.

Visit or call your local Reeds Rains branch to discuss whether we can help you do any more to maximise your rents from a market perspective. Call 0845 450 0865*, or email Landlords@ReedsRains.co.uk

Scotland: Tenant antisocial behavior 

Private landlords are responsible for any antisocial behaviour displayed by their tenants or guests in and around their property. That’s anything that results in others feeling alarmed, distressed or intimidated, all of which is subjective and therefore sometimes hard to tackle. To help you, Renting Scotland has released a new guide on how to minimise the chances of antisocial behaviour and what steps to take if it occurs.

Of course, if we are managing the property for you, we will look after any issues and try to resolve them before they become a major problem. If you do manage yourself, though, and receive a complaint from someone else in the property, a neighbour or the local authority, you need to talk to your tenant directly.

Explain what’s been reported, why it’s unacceptable and ask them to change their behaviour, then follow it all up in writing, so you have a clear record, should things escalate. Your tenant may not realise what they’ve done is considered antisocial and it could be easily rectified.

Importantly, then make sure you feed back to the complainant what you’ve done and how you and/or the tenant will attempt to rectify the problem moving forward. Often, the problem relates to noise so, for example, you may have agreed that they won’t play music or use a washing machine after 10pm.

If the behaviour continues, you can ask the council to apply for an antisocial behaviour order (ASBO) or take steps to evict the tenant. Provided you have established a good line of communication and have dealt fairly and clearly with the tenant, you should find it simply a matter of process for them to leave. But do remember that if, at any point, you feel threatened by them, you can always call the police.

For more information, visit www.rentingscotland.org/landlords-guide  

Wales

The market in Wales is currently pretty stable, with neither property prices nor rents rising, on average. At times like this, it is worth knowing what you can do to maximise your returns, through avoiding some costs and reducing others, ensuring your profits don’t drop.

The first thing to do is look at your expenditure. If you haven’t had a mortgage review in the past 12 months, contact your financial advisor or mortgage broker and ask them to see whether you could be on a better rate. Then look at your other monthly costs – utilities, services, etc. - and see if you can reduce any of those. To arrange an appointment with a Reeds Rains Mortgage Advisor, call 0845 450 0865*, email Landlords@ReedsRains.co.uk

The next thing you need to do might seem to contradict the last point, but make sure the property is well-maintained. When the market is stable, it’s an indication that supply and demand are balanced and therefore you need to work harder to get and keep the best tenants, as there’s no shortage of rental property for them to choose from. Do a thorough inspection (or we will happily come round and do this for you) and make sure you touch up paintwork, fix any little problems and generally ensure the property is looking good, inside and out. Your gas system and appliances should all be fine, thanks to the annual certification required, but if you haven’t had an electrical inspection for four or five years, have a ‘Part P’ registered electrician check the system is safe and certify that everything’s working properly.

Prevention is better and cheaper than a cure, and provided your on-going maintenance is thorough, you should be able to avoid having any unexpected bills in the near future. 

Northern Ireland

Research into the rental market in Northern Ireland for the first half of 2014 has just been published and the overall picture for landlords is good, with rents up by 2.6% on the previous 6-month period, demonstrating a healthy demand for private rented sector property.

The volume of rental transactions was down by more than 16% over the six-month period and by over 11% on the same period in 2013, which estate agents have suggested is because the sales market is improving and therefore some landlords are exiting the market. If this continues, it’s good news for you, as reducing rental stock will keep demand high.

Belfast is still dominant and driving the market, with just over 40% of all rental transactions in Northern Ireland being undertaken in the city, and that figure shows a slight rise on the previous six-month period. In contrast, every council area outside Belfast recorded a fall in transactions. Outside the city, the next largest rental market is North Down, which stands some way ahead of the next four: Lisburn, Craigavon, Newtownabbey and Ards. The lowest rental transactions were recorded in Moyle, Strabane and Ballymoney, with the number of transactions in Ballymoney having fallen by more than half over the six months. 

In terms of property type, two and three-bedroom terraces and townhouses continue to have the largest market share (39%) across Northern Ireland, with apartments close behind at 31%. In Belfast city centre, these two types of accommodation together represent nine out of every ten rental transactions. 

YOUR PROPERTY MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE

Our initial mortgage consultation is free. We will charge a fee between £349 and £699 on application. The amount we will charge is dependent on the amount of research and administration required.

IN GENERAL BUY TO LET MORTGAGES ARE NOT REGULATED BY THE FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY.

Latest Deregulation Bill may make it harder to evict tenants

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Over the last few years there have been studies which have claimed that some landlords are evicting their tenants if they request improvements to the property. This is called ‘retaliatory’ or ‘revenge’ evictions.

To try to change the law to protect tenants from the unscrupulous landlords that evict tenants to avoid improving their property, Sarah Teather a Liberal Democrat MP, introduced a Private Members’ Bill: the ‘Tenancies (Reform) Bill’. 

The Bill wasn’t initially passed, but was reintroduced this month through the House of Lords using another Bill: the Deregulation Bill. Although this bill was actually aimed at reducing the burden of legislation on businesses, organisations and individuals, in this case it was used to incorporate changes which would make it more difficult to evict a tenant via retaliatory eviction.

This Bill has now been passed by the Lords and they are currently urging the Government to pass the Bill too, which is due for its forth reading in March 2015. The Bill needs to be passed by the House of Commons and then has to receive ‘Royal Assent’ before it becomes law.

How will the changes affect landlords?

Currently there are two ways of securing possession of your property. The method which is affected by this Bill is the issuing of a ‘Section 21’ notice. Landlords can serve a Section 21, requesting the tenant leaves without giving any reason. For example it might be your original home and you want to move back in or you want to sell the property. A Section 21 can only be enacted at the end of the tenancy contract period, for example after a fixed tenancy agreement of six months. You will need to abide by the period of notice (normally two months) within the contract.

The changes will protect the tenant from eviction if they have already complained about the property’s condition and, as the landlord, you haven’t provided a response within 14 days or the response you did provide was inadequate and/or the tenant has already lodged a formal complaint about its condition with the LA. As long as the complaint is valid, landlords will be prevented from serving a ‘Section 21’ eviction notice for six months after the Local Authority has sent a letter requesting the improvements.

What can Reeds Rains do to help you? 

From our perspective, the idea of evicting a tenant because they have fairly requested repairs or legally required improvements is unfair, so it is best to ensure the tenant has no reason to complain in the first place.

We will keep you up to speed on what’s happening with this legal change and let you know if it comes into force. If we fully manage your property, we would aim to make sure your property is let legally at the start of the tenancy and advise of any repairs are required if we re-let it for you. And, if we receive any complaints from the tenant, we will make sure we get back to them within the required number of days.

To keep up to date with the latest news and changes sign up to our mailing list here.

An invitation to join the Reeds Rains Landlord Event

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Refurbished branch - Reeds Rains Chorley

In response to increased activity in the local market and demand for its services, estate and letting agents Reeds Rains are hosting an event dedicated to landlords.

The event is for current and potential landlords who are looking for advice from industry professionals and will be held in a selection of their branches during March. 

Lee Gallagher is the lettings manager for Reeds Rains in Chorley who says: “We are passionate about lettings and are excited about welcoming landlords to our office. At the event, experts will be on hand to explain a range of topics we think will be of interest to landlords. For example, more information about rental value and yields, tips on the best places to buy, what we think tenants are looking for from renting as well the full range of services available from Reeds Rains.

 Lettings Manager - Lee Gallagher

We are also excited to showcase our updated office with its modern new furnishings and high tech LED displays to enhance the on-going display of properties.

The new office in Chorley also features eye catching custom made wallpaper featuring the striking Buckshaw sculpture, which reinforces Reeds Rains interest in its local area. Inside the office, the new Reeds Rains logo has also been designed to highlight its long standing position in the property market but also its forward thinking approach to residential sales and lettings and can been seen as a key feature within the office.

Custom made wallpaper -  Buckshaw sculpture - Reeds Rains Chorley 

This new office makes it the ideal setting for us to demonstrate our revolutionary new system which helps landlords to manage their properties more easily using the Landlord and Tenants Portal. This is an online system which allows landlords to check the circumstances of their let. Landlords have information readily available about rental payments, outstanding maintenance issues as well as an array of useful information that landlords themselves have requested.

All in all we hope the event provides useful and we look forward to welcoming landlords new and existing to find out for themselves what great services Reeds Rains can offer.”

The landlord event will be held in the the following locations and the details are below:

Preston
Thursday 5th March5.00pm - 7.00pm
Address - Reeds Rains Preston, 80 Fishergate, Preston, PR1 2UH
Telephone - 01772 561666

St Helens
Thursday 5th March5.00pm - 7.00pm
Address - Reeds Rains St Helens, 15 - 17 Barrow Street, St Helens, WA10 1RX
Telephone - 01744 733633 

Pemberton
Wednesday 11th March: 5.00pm - 7.00pm
Address - Reeds Rains Pemberton, 798 Ormskirk Road, Pemberton, Wigan, WN5 8AX
Telephone - 01942 216381 

Hanley
Thursday 12th March:  5.00pm - 7.00pm 
Address - Reeds Rains Hanley, 17 Piccadilly, Hanley, Stoke On Trent, ST1 1EN 
Telephone - 01782 204244

Bamber Bridge
Thursday 12th March:  5.00pm - 7.00pm
Address - Reeds Rains Bamber Bridge, Unit 5 185 Station Road, Bamber Bridge, Preston, PR5 6LA
Telephone - 01772 336183

Chorley
Thursday 12th March:  5.00pm - 7.00pm
Address - Reeds Rains Chorley 24 High Street, Chorley, PR7 1DW
Telephone - 01257 267626

Blackpool
Saturday 14th March: 5.00pm - 7.00pm
Address - Reeds Rains Blackpool, 69 Whitegate Drive, Blackpool, FY3 9DA
Telephone - 01253 304060

Liverpool
Thursday 19th March: 5.00pm - 7.00pm
Address - Reeds Rains Liverpool, 24B North John Street, Liverpool, L2 9RP
Telephone - 0151 227 2027 

Wolverhampton
Thursday 19th March: 5.00pm - 7.00pm
Address - Reeds Rains Wolverhampton, 4 Waterloo House, Wolverhampton, WV1 4BL
Telephone01902 428888
 

 Calls may be recorded and/or monitored for training and/or data protection purposes.

Rental Regional Review

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England:

What impact will election policies have on letting a property?  

Things are definitely hotting up in the Private Rental Market in England. Shelter and Generation Rent are just two organisations calling for tougher policies that could dramatically impact both landlords and tenants. The main request is for rent controls to limit by how much rents can be increased from one year to the next and, in some cases, even maximum amounts of rents that can be charged in certain areas. There are also calls for all landlords to be licensed and for letting agents to be regulated, which would mean increased costs for all those letting property.

From our perspective, we know that rents are pretty good value for tenants and, although increasing, they aren’t rising ahead of inflation, so rent controls or limits aren’t really required. That’s backed up by our research, which shows that rents are typically ‘naturally capped’ by what people earn. However, we are supportive of licensing landlords and robust regulation of letting agents, both of which would mean tenants could be sure of working with approved professionals.

House Prices

Our latest House price index shows that prices in January 2015 versus 2014 were up year on year by 7.5%, with the North and Yorkshire seeing the biggest boost, mostly due to an increase in first time buyers. Adrian Gill, director of Reeds Rains estate agents, comments that this annual growth “is the smallest yearly improvement witnessed for 10 months” and that “average property values haven’t taken any steps forward from where they stood in November”.

Interestingly, it’s London which is leading this slowdown, having seen some big rises over the last 18 months, while in other areas, such as the North, sales were up by 7% and in Yorkshire and Humberside by 4.1% with flats and terraces changing hands due to low mortgage rates attracting new, first time buyers.

From a buy to let perspective, our index shows rents are higher year on year in eight out of ten regions across England & Wales. The best performer was the East of England, which saw rises of +7.6%, followed by the East Midlands at +6.2% and in London rents grew by +4.1%, while in Yorkshire & the Humber there was a +3.4% annual increase. And, just as house prices vary from one region to another, so do rents, which we saw falling in the North East by -2.1% and the South West by -1%.

For more information on the latest House price and Buy to Let Index, visit http://www.lslps.co.uk/

Wales: 

It’s a busy year for new rules and regulations in Wales this year! 

Firstly, a minor change. From the start of this year, for all new tenancies, you will need to provide Welsh Water and Dee Valley Water with your tenants’ details to help them chase up any water bill arrears. For existing tenancies, it’s from 21st January 2015. 

But some much bigger changes are also being implemented, thanks to the passing of last year’s Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

If we manage your property for you, we’ll take care of everything and keep you up to date, but if you’re managing a property yourself, you need to understand what these changes are and what they mean for you, so that you can take the necessary action.

In summary:

  • You will need to register yourself as a landlord at a cost of £50, plus £10 for each property
  • If Reeds Rains manages your property, we’ll look after everything else for you as we will abide by the new legislation on your behalf
  • If you manage the properties yourself, then you will need to secure a licence to do so, abide by a new code of conduct and attend a training programme. The cost will be several hundred pounds. 

With these new rules, it my be worth considering whether to continue to manage your property yourself, or whether it makes more sense for us to look after it, to help you stay on the right side of the law.

Do contact us on 0845 450 0865* or email Landlords@ReedsRains.co.uk for more help and advice on these changes and, don’t worry, we’ll always make sure you’re kept up to date!

House Prices

Good news for Wales from our latest House Price Index shows over the last three months it is the Region which recorded the highest rise in house prices in October, when prices rose by nearly 1% in just one month. However, this price growth hasn’t kept up the momentum and over the last few months, dropped back to almost no change at all year on year.

From a sales perspective, in the last quarter of 2014 they stagnated at 10,500 homes in Wales – the same number of sales as 2013. Although this does disguise differences with the types of property people are buying. Flat sales were up by 15% Q4 2014 versus 2013, while detached properties sales were on a par and there was a fall in the number of semi and terraced property sold. 

From a rental perspective, rents in the region are on average £566 per month which is a slight fall versus rents in the previous month, but up 2% year on year, so keeping up with inflation, just. On average, yields have remained the same year on year.

For more information on what’s happening in the Welsh market, visit http://www.lslps.co.uk/   

Northern Ireland 

All landlords letting property in Northern Ireland need to register themselves by 25th February 2015. If you haven’t already done so, make it a priority as you could be fined up to £2,500 for non-compliance. The Landlord Registration Scheme is aimed at helping make sure landlords are kept abreast of new legislation and ensuring they look after tenants. If you manage your property yourself, make sure you clearly display the Landlord Registration logo and your personal registration number to show tenants (and the local authority) that you’re complying with the law. For more information on landlord registration, do email, call or pop in to your local Your Move office and we’ll be happy to help with any queries you may have about letting.

Tenant demand is still high in the Region despite the fact that first time buyers can purchase a property in the area, on average, for just £90,254. In places such as Carrickfergus, a two bedroom house can be bought for just £22,500!

In a general Landlord Survey we carried out, most landlords are not expecting to raise rents this year, with just four in ten landlords expecting to increase rents to help cover inflationary costs and paying for maintenance the second most important reason to increase rents.  

For more information from the survey, visit http://www.lslps.co.uk/documents/landlord_survey_Q3_2014.pdf

For more information call 0845 450 0865* or email landlords@ReedsRains.co.uk . Reeds Rains, winners of the Gold award for Best Property Management and Silver award for the Best Large Lettings Agency at The Sunday Times and The Times awards 2014.

Did you enjoy this content? If you would like to receive more content like this then join the Reeds Rains mailing list here.

Top tips on how best to rent out your property

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Lee Gallagher - Lettings Manager Reeds Rains Chorley

Research from Reeds Rains estate agents has found that 31.7% of tenants prefer renting because it offers more flexibility (*) and statistics show that a property listing has approximately 20 seconds to impress individuals looking for a new home indicating that first impressions matter the most. (**) But what can landlords do to help make sure that a tenant falls in love with their property at first sight?

Lettings Manager Lee Gallagher from Reeds Rains in Chorley explains: “We are finding an increasing number of people approach us for advice about becoming landlords – and what they can do to increase the chances of securing a tenant.

Good furnishings attract tenants along with cleanliness and the quality of the interior. For example, properties need to feel loved with clean walls and carpets. For landlords to make the best impression we would advise their properties need to be freshly painted and clean. And remember, that your individual tastes might not appeal to all tenants so keep colours neutral and decoration simple. A property which feels loved will attract greater care from tenants and are more likely to look after it.

Your individual taste may not appeal to all tenants

Landlords also have to consider that tenants are renting a property for longer periods and will have high expectations for the long term home. Low maintenance gardens, central heating and double glazing are all important features. 

From the Reeds Rains survey, nearly 23% of tenants have been saving for 1-5 years towards a deposit on their house which can be a challenge for them. In some cases, we are finding they are having to make a changes to their lifestyle. Tenants are cutting back on holidays and the frequency of going out and more and more people are relying on help from their parents to raise a deposit so choosing the right property is important.

At Reeds Rains we pride ourselves on always acting in the best interests of our tenants and landlords and provide a personalised service which allows you to access all the information you need.”

If you would like to find out how Reeds Rains can help you as a landlord or tenant, contact Chorley. lettings@reedsrains.co.uk or call them on 01257 267626. (***)

 

(*) The Reeds Rains First Time Buyer Survey January 2015

(**) http://myrealestatevoice.com.au/news-info/article-display/love-at-first-sight-why-it-matters-for-property-sellers,48
(***) Calls may be recorded for monitoring purposes

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