Browsing all articles from February, 2022

TECH: Fed up hunting down reliable tradespeople, landlord launches his own search site

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Tired of ringing around trying to find tradespeople to fix leaky roofs or broken boilers, landlord Danny Neibert has launched his own online service offering a new way to find and instruct a range of different handymen.

Rezigo, which is due to launch tomorrow, offers property managers including landlords an letting agents and easy way to find local conveyancers, electricians, locksmiths, plumbers, cleaners, removals and storage services, waste clearance and maintenance providers.

Neiberg (main picture), who has been a residential landlord for 20-years, claims that Rezigo is a product of his and co-founder Simone Neiberg’s experience of landlording ‘pinch points’ which they have used to build a ‘sophisticated portal that lets users compare trade quotes, book jobs, pay suppliers, and leave ratings and reviews all in one place’.

They claim that hundreds of suppliers have already been signed up to use the service, which is about to go live.

The Neibergs say they searched unsuccessfully for technology that would help them source and manage all aspects of their property projects and, when they couldn’t find it, built their own tech.


It claims to be unique because landlords and letting agents can book appointments with a few clicks, and because it eliminates supplier ‘phone arounds’.

“We built a bespoke platform for my existing property business, which has evolved over the years in terms of functionality and complexity,” says Danny Neiberg.

“And so, equipped with a solid understanding of the stresses associated with the home services sector, we set out to create the ultimate prop-tech solution.”

“I’ve been absolutely floored by the reaction so far – from both suppliers and would-be customers.”

Read more about tradespeople.

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – TECH: Fed up hunting down reliable tradespeople, landlord launches his own search site | LandlordZONE.

View Full Article: TECH: Fed up hunting down reliable tradespeople, landlord launches his own search site


LATEST: Landlord wins review of selective licensing scheme for ‘value for money’

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External auditors are to investigate selective licensing in Nottingham following a complaint about whether it provides value for money.

One of the city’s landlords has made a formal objection about the scheme which charges them up to £890 every five years for each rental property. John Gregory, from auditor Grant Thornton, spoke to councillors at the last audit committee about the issues raised, reports Notts TV.

He said: “It concerns the value for money of the scheme and the way it was managed. How much it costs. How much it has brought in terms of fees paid by the landlords. Basically, whether it was a worthwhile exercise.”

Giles Inman (pictured), business development manager at landlord group EMPO, tells LandlordZONE that it supports the landlord’s challenge as there are no effective measures to property regulate the scheme.

“Other councils inspect properties prior to a licence being issued and afterwards, while Nottingham just say they’ll attempt to inspect 50% of the properties in the five-year period,” he explains.

“How can the council properly regulate it if they’re not doing those inspections? This should be about safeguarding and protecting tenants.”

Set up in August 2018, the scheme covers about 26,000 properties and comes to an end in July 2023. Nottingham Council is set to approach the government to apply for a renewal in October.

EMPO says it will consider forming a committee to draft a submission against the renewal once it has had a chance to look at the council’s own study into the scheme’s success.

Councillor Jane Lakey told the recent meeting that she wanted to know whether it was an efficient, well-run scheme before making a decision. She added: “On a wider context, I have actually looked for reports on the effectiveness of selective licensing and I am yet to find one.”

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – LATEST: Landlord wins review of selective licensing scheme for ‘value for money’ | LandlordZONE.

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Landlords report wave of ‘unfair’ HMO council tax revaluations that quadruple bills

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Councils are seeking to reclassify HMO properties as multiple single dwellings for council tax purposes to raise additional revenue, it has been reported.

penny mourduant mp

Conservative MP and former cabinet member Penny Mourdaunt has criticised the wave of revaluations in comments to The Telegraph newspaper, saying that: “This is a growing problem, and it is arbitrary. It is stopping homes from being built because developers’ business models become unviable.”

Many of the 500,000 HMO landlords in the UK offer rooms within their properties via a single monthly charge including rent, bills and council tax.

This is usually calculated and paid based on the property size but now councils are changing the way they interpret the rules and treating the HMO rooms as individual homes with separate council tax bills.

It is claimed that the revaluations mean that, in many cases, if landlords are forced to pass on the extra cost, tenants face a 20-25% rise in rent to cover the extra cost.

A rising number of landlords are now facing a tough decision over whether to foot the bill themselves or hike their rents to cover the shortfall.

Read advice about council tax and landlords

The Telegraph cites one landlord told by the Valuation Office Agency that his HMO’s council tax bill would rise from £1,821 to £7,287, while another was reported to have filed for bankruptcy after his pair of 12-bedroom HMOs were re-classified.

The British Property Federation claims councils are targeting areas of their boroughs where HMOs are at their most dense in a bid to raise extra funds as central government funding dwindles year on year.

Read the Telegraph article (requires subscription).

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – Landlords report wave of ‘unfair’ HMO council tax revaluations that quadruple bills | LandlordZONE.

View Full Article: Landlords report wave of ‘unfair’ HMO council tax revaluations that quadruple bills


Pay by Direct Debit to automatically get the £150 council tax rebate

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Households across England are being urged to set up direct debits with their local council to receive a £150 council tax rebate to help families manage the costs of living inflation.

People who pay council tax by direct debit

View Full Article: Pay by Direct Debit to automatically get the £150 council tax rebate


Led by EPC assessor or retrofit specialist?

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EPCs give very brief ‘recommendations’ in order to increase your score and rating but……what maybe ‘recommended’ may not be right for your property. Are we then supposed to employ another specialist to look at the building in terms of seeing IF the recommendation chosen earlier WILL actually be compatible with it long term?

View Full Article: Led by EPC assessor or retrofit specialist?


EXCLUSIVE: Lettings firm goes bust leaving trail of 200 unprotected deposits and missing paperwork

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A long-established letting agent has gone bust, leaving more than 200 deposits unprotected and many landlords without tenancy agreements and gas and EPC certificates.

Pendley Estates in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, was a formerly reputable firm that had been trading since the 1980s, but suddenly closed its doors earlier this month.

One local letting agent says that out of 300 managed properties, only 90 had their deposits protected. He tells LandlordZONE: “We know this figure adds up to at least £325,000 but it’s definitely going to be more.”

He has also uncovered issues of rent going missing, while some landlords have found out there were no tenancy agreements, gas or EPC certificates.

He adds: “With those landlords I have taken on, they are going to write their tenants cheques for the deposit and start a new agreement which will close the hole.”

One landlord, who lost £1,100, is now going through an official deposit protection scheme, knowing he won’t get that money back.

“I’m cheesed off, but at least I’m no longer paying Pendley Estates any more commission,” he tells LandlordZONE. “I don’t think some people realise it’s down to the landlord to protect the deposit and I’ve made sure I’ve clarified the situation with my other properties.”

Administrator’s comments

A spokeswoman for the administrator Buchler Phillips Group tells LandlordZONE: “Once the company is in liquidation, steps will be taken to advise all stakeholders of the position as regard to funds held or deposited in their name.

“At present, we are unable to make any comments as to the recoverability of funds for landlords, tenants, or other creditors. We are aware that certain deposits may not have been protected – this matter will be urgently investigated once a liquidator has been appointed.”

Belvoir Watford is working with Buchler Philips to take over the management of Pendley Estates’ property portfolio. 

LandlordZONE has approached Pendley Estates for comment.

Read more about deposits and collapsed property firms.

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – EXCLUSIVE: Lettings firm goes bust leaving trail of 200 unprotected deposits and missing paperwork | LandlordZONE.

View Full Article: EXCLUSIVE: Lettings firm goes bust leaving trail of 200 unprotected deposits and missing paperwork


Are hydrogen boilers the future of heating in the UK?

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The UK government has committed to meeting internationally agreed carbon neutral targets and as natural gas (used in domestic boilers) is a major contributor to carbon emissions, a low carbon alternative such as hydrogen, used in existing equipment, is a likely replacement in the future.

Leading boiler manufacturers including Worcester Bosch, Viessmann and Baxi are currently working on prototype heating boilers that will run totally on hydrogen, with some promising results.

Boilers that can run on 20% hydrogen and natural gas are available from Worcester Bosch and Viessmann right now, but developing boilers that would operate on 100% hydrogen are a little way off for full production, and there are other obstacles to overcome.

When hydrogen is burned it produces only water vapour and no carbon dioxide, so the possibility of delivering it into homes via the existing gas network is a very appealing concept.

Hydrogen is easy to produce and abundant in the natural world, being a constituent part of water along with oxygen (H2O), though it does take a lot of energy to separate the two. Advocates of using the fuel argue that it would be an ideal replacement for natural gas as the existing national pipework infrastructure could be utilised, while the next generation of gas appliances would be clean and efficient.

An easy and inexpensive switchover for home owners

From a user perspective burning hydrogen in their boilers would mean they don’t notice any difference, and the only modification needed would be to the boiler itself, not the expensive equipment needed to heat a property with heat pumps and solar.

One school of experts say that there’s no reason why repurposing the gas network and burning hydrogen in domestic heating boilers cannot be achieved, while others argue that there are engineering risks and uncertainties associated with swapping and using the existing gas network, burning hydrogen as a domestic heating fuel.

Whatever way you look at it, low carbon heating methods will in future become an essential means of achieving emissions targets and these will include technologies such as heat pumps, solar, biomass and hydrogen boilers. We’re already headed down that path.

Existing residential boilers have already received substantial legislation, including the banning of the older type of non-condensing boilers. All new boilers must be at least 90% efficient, and there is to be a complete ban on gas boilers installed in all new build properties from 2025 and new natural gas boilers will no longer be for sale by 2035.

Ongoing trials

In Northumberland hydrogen boilers from Baxi Heating and Worcester Bosch were installed in 2020 into the first UK homes to demonstrate the technology’s efficiency. These prototypes were trialled in specially built demonstration houses. Hundreds of tests have been completed to research and demonstrate the safety and efficacy of converting homes and gas networks to hydrogen.

The Northumberland trials aim to demonstrate how the existing gas networks can be easily repurposed to safely carry 100% hydrogen.

Homes fuelled entirely with hydrogen heating were part of a pilot scheme officially started in July 2021. Two semi-detached homes based at Northern Gas Networks’ innovation site in Gateshead were powered entirely by hydrogen boilers for demonstration purposes, developed by Baxi Heating and Worcester Bosch. Hobs, cookers and fires are hydrogen-powered, and these are being interchanged so that different manufacturers can test and showcase their prototype devices and get consumer feedback.

Following this study, a hydrogen heating trial has begun in Wales which will test a hydrogen hybrid heating system. This system combines a Worcester Bosch hydrogen boiler alongside an air source heat pump, which will be managed using a smart electronic control system. It will automatically switch between the heat pump and the hydrogen boiler.

The National Grid in partnership with organisations such as OFGEM, SGN and the Scottish Government are trialling hydrogen use on the grid to help prepare for the UK’s low carbon future. The pilot project involves over 300 homes in Scotland fitted with hydrogen boilers, cookers and appliances, to be fed with hydrogen gas at no extra cost by the end of 2022. It is being anticipated that eventually 1,000 homes could be included in the four-year trial.

Viable alternative

Given that most UK homes currently use gas boilers for heating, the economic viability of replacing all of them with solar and/or heat pumps is not considered achievable by many experts. If hydrogen ready boilers can be made available, along with sufficient supplies of the gas through the existing network, then it is though this would be the most viable alternative solution.

Pros and cons

Whilst hydrogen has some challenges to overcome, for example because it the lightest element, it is prone to leaking, it is highly inflammable and has no taste or smell without inserting additives. It takes as much energy to produce it as if gives off, therefore unless it is “green hydrogen” (produced by renewables like wind turbines or solar, off peak) it’s not all that eco-friendly. Blue hydrogen gas is produced by burning natural gas.

There remain many barriers to the universal adoption of low carbon domestic heating of any stripe. Although technological developments look promising and manufactures are taking up the challenge, at the present rate of travel, according to the Environmental Audit Committee, it will take hundreds of years to achieve it.

In addition, the Committee on Climate Change has estimated that the cost of switching every UK home to a low-carbon heating system, of one form or another, would cost an average of £26,000.

So, hydrogen fuel offers one potential solution if the barriers can be overcome, because it uses the current gas infrastructure, a system that’s connected to 8 out of ever 10 homes. Therefore, if the barriers to hydrogen’s use can be overcome, if it can be produced cheaply in sufficient quantities – as the oil moguls would hope – then it could be a real winner. Only time will tell which set of experts’ arguments prove correct, the protagonists or the detractors.

UK government launches plan for a world-leading hydrogen economy

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – Are hydrogen boilers the future of heating in the UK? | LandlordZONE.

View Full Article: Are hydrogen boilers the future of heating in the UK?


Scots landlords dismayed as possession grounds kept ‘discretionary’ until September

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The Scottish Government’s announcement that all grounds for possession will remain discretionary until at least 30th September has been met with dismay by agents and landlords.

Although temporary changes to notice periods introduced at the start of the pandemic will now return to pre-pandemic terms, the continuation of discretionary grounds for possession gives the government time to introduce permanent changes in the shape of the Recovery and Reform Bill, according to Propertymark policy manager Daryl Mcintosh.

He says that nearly 77% of respondents opposed such a move when it was consulted on last year, and that in a recent consultation there was no evidence to support the removal of mandatory grounds for possession.

Mcintosh warns that if the Bill is introduced, it has the devastating potential to push huge numbers of landlords already facing increasing regulatory pressure out of the market.

Wilful disregard

He adds that the move shows a wilful and continued disregard of the value of the private rented sector.

“Continuing to enforce restrictive legislation on private landlords at a time when the rest of society is returning to pre-pandemic ways of living and working is unacceptable, and the long-term outcomes of such intervention are likely to prove extremely damaging for the sector.”

John Blackwood (pictured), the Scottish Association of Landlords chief executive, says although he’s delighted that unreasonable notice periods are no longer required, the government fails to recognise that allowing all grounds to remain discretionary undermines the confidence of landlords and risks a further reduction in the availability of PRS properties.

He tells LandlordZONE: “At a time when we are experiencing a shortage of property to rent in Scotland, the government needs to rethink its anti-landlord rhetoric and encourage more investment in homes for rent.”

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – Scots landlords dismayed as possession grounds kept ‘discretionary’ until September | LandlordZONE.

View Full Article: Scots landlords dismayed as possession grounds kept ‘discretionary’ until September


Your HMO Success Blueprint

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Would you like to make more money from your property investing? Most people invest in single let properties, which unfortunately don’t make much money.

However, smart investors make at least £1000 profit per month from each property using HMOs.

View Full Article: Your HMO Success Blueprint


PROFILE: The young City trader who returned home to be a landlord

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Ross McColl is not your average portfolio landlord. He is 36 years old and with his brother runs one of the South East’s largest PRS property operations which includes some 300 properties, a lettings agency and an in-house property management team.

Trading under the Link Property name, McColl and his brother took over the operation from their mother ten years ago, subsequently growing it into a large operator within the Medway region.

McColl initially worked in the city as trader for Citibank but the allure of taking on his mother’s business proved too strong, albeit after finishing a Masters in Finance course.

Despite the challenges of running a large portfolio, you’ll hear few complaints from young CEO, with only the looming challenges of the government’s EPC upgrade scheme really irking him (read more about his comments on this here).

His mother now divides her time between Guernsey and Tenerife but McColl is busy growing the business including buying more houses – which tend to be Victorian stock at the cheaper end of the market in his quest for yield – as well as launching and growing a burgeoning temporary accommodation business.

“We have been lucky because some of our houses are in Swale, which covers the area around Sittingbourne and the Isle of Sheppey, that we bought there ten years ago for £60,000 or £70,000 and that are now worth 200,000,” he says.

“My mum bought a wide range of properties from one-beds to detached houses with 20 acres, although we’ve sold off some of the latter because the big properties tend not to make any money – 3% if you’re lucky.

“We’ve tried to focus our portfolio an hour from where Link Property is based [in Thanet] not only because of the economies of scale but also because, due to our infrastructure being in Medway, we can get anywhere quickly.

“I know other people spread themselves thinner across the UK and get agencies in to help, but because we have our own in-house team we can bring our costs down – and that means we can match the higher net returns that people buying property up north can bring in but keep our portfolio local.”

Temporary growth

McColl spotted the opportunity within the temporary accommodation sector six years and has set about expanding this as councils have sought to place vulnerable tenants such as those leaving prison and people evicted from PRS properties.

“During the pandemic the client group was very challenging as they were all anti-social tenants and similar. That’s because no one was being evicted for rent arrears following the eviction ban, plus we couldn’t do weekly or two-weekly property inspections,” he says.

“On the other hand, we were able to stay open during that time because were were signed off as key workers.”

“The temporary accommodation business is growing really fast – and continues to grow in the SE corridor as landlords avoid riskier tenants and these people turn to temporary accommodation, so it’s boomed in past few years – but it’s not for the faint hearted.”

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – PROFILE: The young City trader who returned home to be a landlord | LandlordZONE.

View Full Article: PROFILE: The young City trader who returned home to be a landlord




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