Browsing all articles from March, 2022

Proptech firm Goodlord gets huge cash injection to grow business

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Property software provider Goodlord has raised £27 million to fund the expansion of its products and services for agents, landlords and tenants.

The online platform – which automates the tenancy process, manages references and offers deposit replacement insurance – also plans to make more strategic acquisitions. It bought reference provider Vouch and tenant-facing bill-splitting app acasa in 2021 after winning £10m of capital in 2020. This round of funding was led by Highland Europe and supported by Columbia Lake Partners alongside existing investors Finch Capital, Latitude, and Oxx.

Tech academy

The new money will be used to increase the size of the firm’s product and engineering teams, so it can continue to grow its products and services built in-house, and expand its offering and value to letting agents through more integrations. Goodlord also plans to use the cash to launch its own tech academy, training entry-level software developers.

Goodlord has already supported more than one million landlords and tenants via its software and services, and currently processes more than £1 billion in payments each year on behalf of several thousand letting agents.

End-to-end lettings

Goodlord CEO William Reeve (pictured right) says it’s on a mission to build the best rental experience in the world. He adds: “Thanks to the backing and expertise of Highland Europe and Columbia Lake Partners, we can now increase the pace of our product development, new integrations, and acquisitions, and double down on our vision to facilitate an end-to-end lettings solution, which includes everything from property management, inventories, and move-in services, to insurance solutions and CRMs.”

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – Proptech firm Goodlord gets huge cash injection to grow business | LandlordZONE.

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Union gets council on side to claim tenant campaign win

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Brent Council has signed up to a raft of commitments supporting renters that includes a push for borough-wide landlord licensing and rent controls.

Following campaigning by London Renters Union, Brent has vowed to ramp up enforcement action to make sure landlords carry out repairs and respect tenants’ rights, and are made to pay fines when they don’t. It will also take action against landlords that fail to provide warm, energy efficient homes, update its customer service charter and take action to support a number of union members in a dispute with their landlord.

Keeping promises

A public information campaign about renters’ rights and the London Renters Union will follow, while councillors will meet with union representatives regularly to prove they are keeping their promises.

A spokesman for London Renters Union says these changes could improve housing conditions for thousands of renters across Brent. “This is a huge victory for our members in Brent, who started organising just over a year ago and have been working tirelessly towards the recent negotiation with council leaders in recent months,” he says.  

Local elections

The union now hopes to win similar commitments in other boroughs across London and, ahead of the local elections in May, will hold events, protests, meetings and run street stalls, while promoting the issue through its social media campaign #SideWithRenters. It has labelled its work with Brent the first campaign win. The union spokesman adds: “We need councils to use their powers to hold landlords accountable when they break the rules, we need more social housing, we need councils to stop trying to force people out of their communities – and we need councils to join us in calling for rent controls.”

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – Union gets council on side to claim tenant campaign win | LandlordZONE.

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The Guardian newspaper appeals to tenants – have you joined a tenants’ union?

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The concept of the tenants’ union is not a new one, tenants getting together and staging rent strikes dates back to the 19th Century, and beyond, but the modern incarnation could in theory be more organised and widespread geographically, given the power of social media. But so far these groups are still disparate and disjointed.

A chequered history

One of the earliest instances of a British rent strike was the 19th century Great Dock Strike of 1889 when tenants withheld their rent in an ongoing battle against working conditions and precarious employment, with low pay.

This was followed in 1915 by the now famous Glasgow rent strike, organised by Mary Barbour, when tenants went on rent strike to protest the 25% rent increases proposed by private landlords. It led to the eventual introduction of rent controls during WW1, not removed for 85 years or so, enforced by the various 20th Century Rent Acts, right up until the introduction of the shorthold tenancy in 1988.

The depression years of the 1930s saw further rent strikes in Leeds and London, organised by a Leeds Tenant Federation and a similar one in the East End of London. 1958 saw tenants in St Pancras London set up the United Tenants’ Association (UTA), a body that organised rent strikes and marches.

Tensions rose again in the 1960s involving violent riots and demonstrations, while the period between 1968 to 1973 saw a number of rent strikes organised by private tenants, with varying degrees of success. Around 11,000 London households withheld rent, and over 80 rent strikes and tenant protests took place across the country. One Liverpool strike lasted for 14 months and some protesters were imprisoned. The upheaval created eventually led to the passing of more legislation controlling rent rises.

Various student rent strikes have followed from the 1960s up to the present day, with varying degrees of success, but so far there’s been little in the way of major organised private renters’ strikes since those early days.

To the present day

The organisation of tenants into unions, as one might expect, is pretty disjointed given the geographical distances involved, diverse renter populations and the lack of awareness of unions by most tenants. However, there are three tenants’ unions that stand out today, having gained some traction:

– ACORN in a UK wide direct action union which claims to help tenants in the private and social sectors demand repairs, challenge bad landlords and letting agent practice, and stop illegal evictions

– The Greater Manchester Tenants Union claims to represent renters in the private and social rented sectors on issues such as deposits and repairs. It campaigns on safety matters and affordable housing.

– The London Renters Union is a campaigning union which takes action to win homes for people in need. It claims to help with issues such as stolen deposits, disrepair and eviction threats.

The Guardian appeal

The newspaper claims that the average UK rent has jumped by 8.6% in the past year, surpassing £1,000, they say, according to figures published this month, “while the cost of living crisis has meant many are struggling to heat their homes.”

Meanwhile, says the newspaper, “the number of no-fault evictions in England has been returning towards pre-pandemic levels, official figures published last November showed, despite government promises to ban the practice. There were 3,280 households in England put at risk of homelessness because of no-fault eviction notices between April and June 2021.”

The pandemic did focus students’ attention on rents they were paying, especially when not using their accommodation, so this period saw the largest wave of student rent strikes in four decades, as young people pushed back against hall lockdowns and paying for minimal in-person teaching.

The appeal:

“We want to hear from people who have joined a renters’ union in recent years. Why did you join? Did the pandemic impact your decision? Have you taken part in a rent strike, and if so, how did it go?” says The Guardian.

The newspaper is requesting contact by telephone or via a WhatsApp group following which one of their journalists will be in contact before publication.

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – The Guardian newspaper appeals to tenants – have you joined a tenants’ union? | LandlordZONE.

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Detached property prices have performed best through the pandemic

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The latest Nationwide House Price Index shows UK house price growth surged to its highest level since 2004. Annual house price growth in March increased to 14.3%, from 12.6% in February with Wales remaining the strongest performing region and London the weakest.

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LATEST: Greenwich agrees £2.6m selective licensing scheme after Covid delay

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The London borough of Greenwich has re-started its planned roll-out of selective licensing across three of its key areas – Woolwich, Plumstead and Shooters Hill.

Expected to go live at the beginning of July following its Cabinet committee decision, this means nearly a fifth of PRS properties within the borough will have to be licenced within the borough, which already operates an HMO licensing scheme.

The scheme is expected to raise £2.6 million in revenue from landlords within the areas from approximately 4,500 properties.

During the delayed consultation, which was restarted in September 2020, 72% of the landlords and letting agents who contributed were against the scheme.

Greenwich council had hoped to bring in the measure – which will see all private landlords licence their properties within these areas – in 2020 but the plans were shelved during the pandemic after the government requested that new applications be set aside ‘due to pressure on the private rented sector’.

The plans have now been voted through by councillors and the fees for the five-year long scheme will be £312 for early bird applicants rising to £780.

Government approval

This scheme will not require approval by the Secretary of State as the threshold of 20% of private rented property covered by the scheme has not been exceeded.

During the meeting, it was claimed that the areas covered, which include a patchwork of residential streets near the centre of Woolwich, are both a hotspot of poorly-operated private rented accommodation but also blighted by anti-social behaviour.

But the meeting also heard that some HMO landlords had avoided licensing by returning properties to single-family use and that the selective licensing scheme would prevent this happening.

The neighbouring council of Lewisham is consulting on a scheme that would see an almost borough-wide selective licensing scheme introduced.


©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – LATEST: Greenwich agrees £2.6m selective licensing scheme after Covid delay | LandlordZONE.

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NRLA: End ‘absurd’ housing benefits system that leaves tenants struggling to pay rent

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Landlords have called on the government to end its ‘absurd’ housing benefits system whereby a majority of renters in receipt of Universal Credit have an average gap of £100 between their housing payments and the rent they pay.

The NRLA says 56% of renters in receipt of housing support via Universal Credit are in this situation, while the figure for those with two children rises to 60%.

The figure also varies wildly depending on the region from 40% in London to nearly 70% in Wales.

It is claimed that this situation will lead to landlords, many of whom are already wary of tenants in receipt of benefits, avoiding this category of renter and the pool of PRS properties available to them shrinking.

LHA trap

The problem is linked to the Local Housing Allowance system which is used to calculate the amount tenants can receive to support housing costs as part of a Universal Credit payment.

In response to the pandemic the Government lifted it in April 2020 so that it covered the bottom 30 per cent of private rents in any given area. In April last year the rate was frozen in cash terms.

As a result of this, housing benefit support is no longer linked to current rents which, given yesterday’s official data showing 53% of tenants are unable to absorb a financial shock, means landlords face tenants who are more likely to build up rent arrears during the current cost of living crisis.

nrla ben beadle new pic

“It is simply absurd that housing benefit support fails to reflect the reality of rents as they currently stand,” says Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the NRLA (pictured).

“The Chancellor needs to listen and respond to the concerns of both renters and landlords and unfreeze housing benefits as a matter of urgency.”

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – NRLA: End ‘absurd’ housing benefits system that leaves tenants struggling to pay rent | LandlordZONE.

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‘Why must PRS landlords do electrical checks when social homes are ‘exempt’

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The government has been slammed for its double standards by compelling private landlords to carry out electrical safety checks in high-rise blocks every five years, while social landlords don’t face the same obligations.

Lord Foster of Bath attacked the current inequality during a debate on the Building Safety Bill, which is set to receive Royal Assent soon.

He told the House of Lords the disparity was strange because the government wanted equality between social and private landlords.

He told peers: “The social housing charter states unequivocally, ‘Safety measures in the social sector should be in line with the legal protections afforded to private sector tenants.

“Responses to the social housing Green Paper showed overwhelming support for consistency in safety measures across social and private rented housing’.”

Five-year checks

Lord Bath introduced an amendment proposing mandatory five-year checks, which he said social housing landlords supported.

He added: “Some 87% of leaseholders support the introduction of mandatory electrical safety checks. The same survey found that 91% of leaseholders were more concerned for their safety and that of their tenants as a result of what they saw in the tragic fire at Grenfell.”

Read more about landlords' electrical safety check obligations.
lord greenhalgh

However, Home Office Minister Lord Greenhalgh (pictured) said the amendment would add an additional objective for the building safety regulator around property protection.

He added: “I am concerned that adding additional objectives for it at this early stage in its life could distract it and hinder its success. Instead, we should include this issue in the first statutory review of how well the regulator is working.”

The government has vowed that no leaseholder living in medium or high-rise buildings will have to pay a penny for the removal of cladding, but it has repeated that only buy-to-let landlords with one other property should be included in statutory protections for leaseholders.

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – ‘Why must PRS landlords do electrical checks when social homes are ‘exempt’ | LandlordZONE.

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Company linked to high profile investor put into liquidation owing £1.5m

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A high-profile property investor hailed as a rent-to-rent success story has put his company StayBC Ltd into liquidation, owing creditors nearly £1.5 million.

Newport-based Ben Brand charted his rapid rise on social media, describing his introduction to the property sector after attending a training course in 2019 where he learnt how to set up his own serviced accommodation company, admitting that prior to that, he had had no property or business experience.

StayBC Ltd promised to source property investment opportunities for clients to increase their wealth.

Last April, he had 160 serviced accommodation units, employed 60 staff and was managing three hotels.

By August, he talked about making £500,000 a month in sales, operating across South Wales and South West England and employing more than 140 staff.

He revealed that his deal sourcing business was generating £50,000 in monthly sales, specialising in finding rent-to-rent and purchase opportunities for investors.

Name change

Earlier this month, he set up Oaktree Investing Ltd, after changing its name from StayBC Sourcing Ltd. He has also been promoting another company – Stay Developed.

Companies House information shows that £450,000 is owed by StayBC to his own sourcing company StayBC Sourcing while more than £1 million is owed to a group that includes HMRC plus 130 investors and small businesses.

Brand also recently set up an investment club to attract those wanting to grow and build a serviced accommodation company.

It promises: “Our mission is to help people create lives of wealth, happiness and freedom by teaching them how to create and scale their own Serviced Accommodation businesses. Here, we will train, coach and mentor you on your journey.”

Due to his high profile, Brand was regularly featured on podcasts, speaking about his business model. This week, he was still posting on his Facebook page, ‘Benthebrand’, about new opportunities for investors in apartment blocks.

LandlordZONE has attempted to contact Brand for a comment.

Pic credit: YouTube.

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – Company linked to high profile investor put into liquidation owing £1.5m | LandlordZONE.

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OFFICIAL: 53% of renters’ finances so weak they can’t pay £850 ‘unexpected bill’

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More than half (53%) of renters could not afford an unexpected, but necessary, expense of £850 compared with 1 in 10 (13%) adults who own their property outright, new research published today finds.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) studied the impact of the increased cost of living during the last five months and found that those renting their homes, adults on the lowest incomes or those with no formal qualifications were most likely to be unable to afford this unexpected expense.

Parents of dependent children, divorcees or those separated, disabled people, and those living outside London, the South East and South West were also likely to be more affected.

The ONS data uses the affordability of an unexpected expense as a measure of financial vulnerability and helps identify households that may not be able to absorb a cost of living increase.

Rent arrears

The findings are likely to worry landlords, many of whom have been affected by rent arrears during the pandemic, while last week’s Budget offered little consolation for struggling renters who are now also being hit by spiralling energy bills.

The National Residential Landlords Association says although average rents across the country have been increasing by less than inflation, the squeeze is compounded for renters reliant on Universal Credit.

Policy director Chris Norris (pictured) adds that more than half now have a gap between what they receive in housing benefits and what they have to pay in rent.

“Ministers should be doing more to support the most vulnerable tenants by unfreezing housing benefit rates so that they may better reflect the cost of quality homes,” he tells LandlordZONE.

More than 8 in 10 (83%) adults reported an increase in their cost of living in March compared with around 6 in 10 (62%) last November, according to the ONS, mainly due to the rising cost of food shopping (90%), gas or electricity bills (79%) and the price of fuel (71%).

Read the ONS research in full.

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – OFFICIAL: 53% of renters’ finances so weak they can’t pay £850 ‘unexpected bill’ | LandlordZONE.

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Government grants for corporate landlords to insall EV charge points

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The government scheme for EV chargepoint grants gives financial support to buy and install electric vehicle (EV) chargepoints at residential or commercial properties in the UK: Click here for the full details.

The grant amount is per chargepoint socket installed and provides up to 75% of the cost towards the purchase and installation of a chargepoint socket

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