Browsing all articles from September, 2017

£5.3 million tax planning success

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This week we got approval for a £5.3 million bridging facility to allow a client to withdraw their partnership capital up to base cost from their property rental business pre-incorporation.

The facility will transfer to the company on incorporation but the partners will retain the cash.

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Universal Credit – What is all the fuss about?

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More and more over the last few weeks there have been articles discussing the Governments flag ship Universal credit system, this has been the most major shakeup in the Welfare Reform in 40 years. Currently there are two services; Universal Credit Live Service and Universal Credit Full Service.

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New Pre-action protocol for debt claims from 1st Oct

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The new protocol is designed to encourage debtor and creditor to communicate and resolve a payment plan before the need to go to court.

Click Here to download the full Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims

The following summary is from our partners at the Sheriffs Office:

New process for Creditors:

Creditors will be expected to have sent a clearly dated Letter of Claim by post

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Purpose built student accommodation in high demand

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Whilst there were concerns that Brexit would have a negative impact on the Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) market in the UK, new research has quashed this theory, with Savills reporting that over £2.1bn was transacted in the student housing sector after Brexit, compared to £1.9bn earlier in 2017. The same report noted a 17% increase in investment in student accommodation in the UK year on year.

This illustrates a growing popularity in investment in PBSA, with investors recognising that the asset class can often offer higher returns than traditional buy-to-let.

The numbers of overseas students in particular flocking to UK universities to take advantage of the world-class education on offer is monumental, and only on the rise. Research from Universities UK International showed that 91% of international higher education students across all levels were satisfied with their university experience in the UK – so it is no surprise that the UK has seen a rise of 2.2% in applications from overseas students outside of the EU.

A rise in the number of university students has resulted in the demand for PBSA far outstripping supply, equating to there being 3.5 students for every available room last year. Industry experts have noted that this demand is particularly high in certain cities, including Liverpool which last year saw a 20% increase in students from the previous year. With an estimated 60% of these students requiring accommodation, the need for more PBSA speaks for itself.

High demand has made PBSA an excellent venture for property investors, with it becoming apparent that the need for high-quality student rental accommodation is a necessity. As well as this, there has been a growth in rents, in turn improving rental yields in the sector. Commercial property and real estate consultant Cushman & Wakefield is anticipating average headline rental growth of 2.9% between 2016/17 and 2017/18 within PBSA, demonstrating buoyancy in the market.

Research from Knight Frank has shown that the average weekly rent of a room in a student accommodation block is £126 – a figure that illustrates the growing trend within the student sector for students paying a premium in order to secure a luxury room.

PBSA often offer students more than a traditional university hall would, with many blocks fitted with extra amenities such as gyms, private kitchens, en-suites and communal games rooms. International students in particular are snapping up these boutique rooms as an alternative to more traditional student lets.

The upsurge in demand for student property in the UK means that investment in PBSA offers an excellent way to diversify your portfolio, with high yields and low entry prices. If you’re interested in finding out more about how you can invest in student property, contact today and speak to one of our experienced student investment consultants.

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – Purpose built student accommodation in high demand | LandlordZONE.

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Live Universal Credit horror case study

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Today we have taken on the following case:

In March the landlord granted a Tenancy to a tenant who informed him she was on Universal Credit. Unsure of the new scheme and not swayed by the bad press the optimistic landlord decided to give it a go.

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The solution for huge rental demand in Newcastle City Centre

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With huge amounts of regeneration underway in Newcastle city centre, the capital of the North East is bolstering its reputation as one of the UK’s most attractive cities for renters, but the city is only just beginning to cater for it.

The city has been densely populated by students for a number of years, with impressive retention rates contributing high quantities of post-graduates and young professionals to the tenant mix.

Regeneration projects such as the £350m Science Central development are further adding to this pool by creating vast amounts of employment opportunities in the city and dramatically increasing the local economy.

Considering the city already boasts one of the highest ranked universities in the UK, plus another university claiming one of the country’s largest student bodies, the city centre struggles to accommodate for the increasing demand – there are still 2.8 students per PBSA bed (Savills).

With a noticeable shift away from students opting to live further away from the centre in favour of cheaper rents, and the city council aiming reduce the number of students in the suburbs for the benefit of the residents, planning has been granted for several built PBSA developments and tougher regulations on HMO licenses have been imposed.

However, there’s one development in particular that’s combating the problem, with a fresh solution that’s highly attractive to landlords, tenants and investors alike, plus it’s set to be the tallest development in the city to date:

Hadrian’s Tower, Rutherford Street, Newcastle

 Hadrian’s Tower is a 26 floor, 82 meter development bordering the highly-anticipated Science Central, ideally situated walking distance from the university campuses, in a key gateway location close to major road links and Newcastle Train Station, attracting all tenant types.

Comprising of 162 premium quality apartments for the private rental sector (PRS), Hadrian’s Tower will fill a big gap in the Newcastle property market, offering the opportunity for students, post-graduates and young professionals to live alone or with friends, without having to live in a studio apartment or ‘cluster accommodation’’, the typical set up in private student halls throughout the city.

Hadrian’s Tower Investment Highlights:

  • 5 years 7% Net contracted rental yield
  • 5% interest paid on deposit during build period
  • 25th floor ‘Sky Lounge’, exclusive cafe and 24/7 concierge
  • Direct from the developer

Please Click Here for further information

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No copy of agreement and tenant has dementia?

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I own a property which I purchased 11 years ago with an in-situ tenant who is under an old style Assured Tenancy (not an AST). Unfortunately the housing association I originally bought the house from claimed not to have a copy of the tenancy agreement and the tenant himself had lost his copy over the years (he has lived there since the early ’70s), so all we have is notifications of prior rent increases, but all parties seem to agree on this originally being an Assured Tenancy.

Anyway the rent has not been paid for the last 2 months.

It seems the sole tenant was in hospital so we gave him some leeway. Now we are informed by the tenant’s son that his father has dementia and has had to go into a residential care home and will not be returning to the property.

The son does not have power of attorney over his father’s affairs, indeed no one does. We wish to take back possession of the property, but how should we do this? The son has said he will sign a release but without power of attorney I am not sure this is legally binding.

1) Should we write to the son and ask him to get his father to sign a letter to terminate the tenancy? Not knowing the degree of dementia I am not sure this is possible.

2) As he is 2 months in arrears we could issue a Section 8 notice to evict the tenant. However this seems a bit of overkill seeing as he needs to leave himself and will probably slow down the process. Plus we do not want to cause the family additional stress.

Regarding the rent, his son says that his father is in debt to the bank and that he himself is having to pay towards his father’s care. It seems unlikely we can recover the outstanding rent and as it is an old style tenancy there is no deposit.

That said we would be prepared to forego the 2 months rent for a quick solution and return of the keys.

As an aside I assume we will not be responsible for any council tax until the tenancy agreement is terminated?

I believe this also is not currently being paid as the son seems to think they are no longer liable.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.



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How Much Should Landlords Spend on Renovating?

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Renting Standards:

Specialist residential property solicitor Amanda Sutcliffe of Bray & Bray looks at the importance of keeping a rental property in good condition.

Research conducted by Endsleigh Insurance and TrustMark claimed that over 75% of landlords spent between £200 and £1000 on property maintenance throughout 2015.

Since then, the supply of rented homes has been significantly boosted due to a buying frenzy before the increase in stamp duty in 2016.

With more rental properties on the market than ever before, renters can be choosier about where they rent.  This has caused rents to fall in some parts of the UK. However, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the result of tenants going after fewer rental properties could cause rental prices to rise faster than house prices throughout 2017, which could make tenants even more particular about which properties are worth their money.

What tenants now expect

According to research by Belvoir Property Management reported in House Beautiful, the top 3 things that tenants now expect from a rental home are:

  • A clean and contemporary home
  • Minimum wear and tear
  • Speed at resolving maintenance issues

Improving standards

Property Academy’s 2016 Landlord Survey shows that the most common primary concern as a landlord is that the tenant does not damage their property.  However, in Shelter’s Survey of Private Landlords (2016), 21% of landlords would somewhat agree with the statement ‘I sometimes struggle to keep my properties in a good state of repair’.

In many cases, the only way that a landlord finds out about repairs that need to be carried out is when a tenant lets them know or makes a complaint.

Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 sets out a landlord’s obligation to carry out basic repairs on a rented property, whether in a written tenancy agreement or through a spoken agreement with a tenant.  The types of things that a landlord is responsible for keeping in good repair include:

  • The structure and exterior of a home
  • Water pipes, tanks, sinks, toilets etc.
  • Gas pipes, boilers, fitted fires and radiators
  • Electrical wiring

Taking on the competition

Looking after the above factors will go some way to keeping existing tenants happy, but when it comes to attracting new tenants, or your first tenants for a buy to let property, setting your property apart from local competition is best done by giving tenants the best, most appealing place to call home.

First impressions count

Make it as easy as possible for anyone and everyone to see themselves living in your property.

Neutral, light colours are always appealing as they allow tenants to adopt any colour scheme they like – allowing them to personalise their space and bring any existing furniture with them where relevant.  Similarly, keep carpets clean and simple in style, but don’t go for colours that are too light or you run the risk of them easily staining and showing wear and tear.

Kitchens and bathrooms are where you’ll be judged for cleanliness the most, so if there are stains or hard-to-clean cookers, perhaps invest in a professional cleaner to give it a once over before you put the property on the market.  Similarly, spending a little bit of money on replacing old fixtures like taps and light shades will make a big difference to how contemporary your house looks.

Finally, dress your property as though you’re selling it.  If you’re selling as furnished, make sure that there are fresh or at least clean covers put on seating and take curtains down to be aired, if not washed or replaced.  If you’re selling unfurnished, then make sure that there’s nothing left lying around that doesn’t have a purpose, or which hasn’t been put there to make the property look like a nice place to live.

Something as simple as adding a vase of flowers on a table, or a hanging basket at the front of the house, shows prospective tenants that someone has taken pride in the property, which is not just appealing – it should also set a standard that they will hopefully wish to maintain themselves.

Going further than the basics

Adding features that refurbish a buy to let property but which are more expensive – such as a new kitchen or adding a conservatory –  might cost you in the short term, but according to The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, in the case of adding a new kitchen, the value of a home can increase by around 4%.  By adding to the value of the house, you’re adding to its appeal, so will usually find that your property becomes preferable to those of other local landlords – and potentially justifiably more expensive in terms of rental price.   Another benefit of refurbishments to buy to let properties is that they are tax deductible.

Costs in between tenants

A lick of paint may be all that some landlords need in between tenants.  Others will need to replace carpets, repair electrics or completely overhaul a kitchen to be able to offer their rental property as a contemporary home.

Unless you have huge maintenance bills from repairs that you weren’t previously aware of, basic cosmetic changes to your property shouldn’t cost you much money and are well worth the expenditure when your property is favoured by tenants over another in the same area at the same price.

If you aim to keep around £500 aside at all times in case a tenant vacates a property and leaves it in a poor state, this should at the very least, be a good buffer to help you make the property look like a great place to live as quickly and cost effectively as possible.

See also: How to Make your Home Desirable to Tenants

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – How Much Should Landlords Spend on Renovating? | LandlordZONE.

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Least Risk? S21 or S8

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We have a tenant finding it hard to find a property to move to. A developer let them move into a new house which is now for sold STC but the wave of Landlords selling is tightening supply so they can’t find anywhere.

They have an expired S21, but now owe three months rent too. The S21 may fail due to proof of service of the ‘How to rent’ booklet and EPC or the reliance of a Completion Certificate for the new Gas Boiler & Hob rather than a Gas Safety Cert at the outset.

Deposit is all protected etc. but I am now thinking of withdrawing the S21 and issuing Section 8.

Payments were erratic for a while during the tenancy, but since the S21 was served they ‘saved up’ for a new deposit and rent in advance using the developers’ rent.



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Labour commits to introducing rent controls

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In Jeremy Corbyn’s speech at the Labour party conference today in Brighton he committed the party to introducing rent controls if they got into power.

In his speech Corbyn said:”We will control rents, when the young generation’s housing costs are three times more than that of their grandparents. That is unsustainable.”

“Homes should be for the many not speculative investments for a few.”

“Rent controls exist in many cities across the world and I want our cities to have those powers too and tenants to have those protections”

No further details of how rent controls would work precisely were given in the speech. However, Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s general election co-ordinator, later said “if New York has them then London can have them.”

Gwynne indicated that rents have soared under an unregulated rental market and action is needed to bring the costs down which will be fleshed out in a Green Paper in due course.

On the availability of housing in general Corbyn went on to say: “We also need to tax undeveloped land held by developers and have the power to compulsorily purchase.

“When councils come forward with proposals for regeneration, we will put down two markers based on one simple principle – regeneration under a Labour government will be for the benefit of the local people, not private developers, not property speculators.

“First, people who live on an estate that’s redeveloped must get a home on the same site and the same terms as before. No social cleansing, no jacking up rents, no exorbitant ground rents. And second, councils will have to win a ballot of existing tenants and leaseholders before any redevelopment scheme can take place. Real regeneration, yes, but for the many not the few.”


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