| Hello and a warm welcome to our September newsletter.
The schools are returning from the Summer holidays and the roads will undoubtedly become a little busier in the mornings. The football season has started and the nights are drawing in. I even saw Christmas decorations on sale last week!
However, at Lenwell Towers, despite staff taking well deserved holidays, our activity levels have remained high with tenant demand continuing to outstrip landlord supply. This is ensuring that the lettings market remains strong for landlords both in terms of being a good time to acquire additional property (as the sales market has an oversupply of property and capital values are reducing) and in gaining from strong rental values and good yields.
In this edition, Lucinda Newell looks critically at the first 100 days of the coalition Government and, in particular, at some of the announcements affecting housing.
Tenants beware - A new scam on the classifieds website Gumtree
A number of defrauded tenants have talked about a new wave of scams on the online classifieds website, Gumtree.
Unsuspecting potential tenants,usually from overseas, reply to advertisements on the website for rental accommodation in the UK.
After supposed satisfactory e-mails, tenants are asked to send money to the ‘landlord’. Having sent the money, when the tenants attempt to make contact with the ‘landlord’ or, indeed, collect keys to the property, the ‘landlord’ is uncontactable and the potential tenant has been defrauded.
In the latest scam, the ‘landlord’ often claims to be a member of the National Landlords Association (NLA), uses the NLA logo and has created fake stationary copying that produced by the bona fide, NLA Tenant Check service.
Richard Price, Director of Operations, NLA, commenting on the new scam, said:“Tenants, no matter where they are from, should not send payment to advertisers before they are certain that the advertiser is genuine. Overseas applicants needing to secure accommodation before they arrive in the UK would be well advised to first seek the help of the employer or university they are coming to. They will be knowledgeable of standard practices in the UK and often have lists of accredited landlords and local letting agents.”
Rob Wellstead, Managing Director of Lenwell said “This scam exposes the risk to potential tenants of seeking to rent directly from landlords. Lenwell are members of the Association of Residential Letting Agents and the Property Ombudsman Scheme. We also have ISO 9000 accreditation and all deposits are protected under The Dispute Service scheme. Landlords and tenants can deal with Lenwell confident in the knowledge that their interests will be protected at all times.”
More landlords planning to buy to let but raising finance remains an issue
The number of landlords planning to buy property to let has almost doubled. However, this may not be possible for many landlords due to banks still being reluctant to provide funding.
A quarterly survey conducted by Paragon Mortgages’ has shown that 21% of the landlords surveyed were planning to purchase buy to let properties in the third quarter of 2010. This is an increase from 11% in the first quarter and 12% in the second quarter of 2010.
With the huge demand for rental properties in the United Kingdom at the moment, it is essential that landlords are encouraged to increase their property portfolios. However, many landlords are struggling to take advantage of the lower property prices and flourishing rental market, as even though the market is currently very strong in the United Kingdom, lenders are still very strict and wary about giving landlords finance.
Many of the landlords that are willing to buy properties to let are struggling to raise the deposit to do so. According to the Paragon Mortgages’ survey of landlords, four out of ten landlords surveyed that have attempted to secure buy-to-let finance for purchasing or re-mortgage in the second quarter of 2010. Of these landlords, 52% have stated they found it much more difficult to secure finance compared to previous years.
The Lucinda Newell Column
To be seen pottering along the highways and byways of Luton in her Mini Clubman, her trusted Scottie Malcolm at her side, our super sleuthing property rental expert Ms Lucinda Newell is on the case on your behalf!
Well we’ve now had the first 100 days of the new coalition Government, a Government that was largely welcomed into office by those involved with the property market.
I thought it was therefore an appropriate time to take a look at what has happened in the world of property since the new Government came to office.
Perhaps through fears for the lifetime of the coalition or a desire to be seen to be making quick decisions, the combination of Grant Shapps and Eric Pickles have made a number of sweeping announcements on policy which are already having an impact on the housing market and look set to impact even more as the implications of their actions hit home (excuse the pun!).
One of their first decisions was to implement their manifesto promise and suspend Home Information Packs (HIPs), effectively putting the penultimate nail in the coffin of a well intentioned but poorly implemented flagship Labour housing policy.
The estate agency industry seemed to largely welcome this move although I always felt that there were far too many other factors, particularly the economy, job security and mortgage availability that affect the market more than HIPs ever would. Of course, the entire content of a HIP is still produced as part of buying and selling, it is merely the timing and who pays that has been changed.
What the abrupt removal of HIPs appears to have contributed to is a significant increase in the supply of properties for sale from “speculative sellers”. This is helping tip the balance between supply and demand and accelerating a downward trend in values. This could be good news for landlords who may wish to add more property to their portfolios.
Another early announcement by the new Government was that they were not going to introduce any further regulation of lettings agents who remain less regulated than the estate agency sector. As a landlord, I did not want to see more “red tape” but I am glad that my friends at Lenwell have chosen to operate to the highest standards through their professional memberships.
It is probably in the world of planning and new homes that the new Government’s desire for change will have an even greater impact.
They have announced a desire for local people to have more say in local planning. This sounds laudable but has, and will surely, only increase NIMBYism. I can imagine that if the residents of my village were asked “Would you like to see more housing built next door?” that “No thanks” would be the almost automatic and natural response.
Almost immediately after this announcement, and seemingly in an attempt to put a plaster on this wound of their own making, a further announcement was made that local planning authorities are to be “bribed” to grant planning consents. In fairness, I think the word used was “rewarded” but I think we all know what was meant.
Ending Labours central and regional house building targets has, according to the National Housing Federation already seen over 85,000 planned new homes scrapped by councils across the country. They also estimate that this could see new affordable home volumes drop by 65%.
This cannot be good news because, whilst it may create a further short term increase in demand for rental properties in the private sector due to shortage of supply, it must be better to have a more balanced housing market.
So the first 100 days have been a whirlwind of scrapping the old and seeking to bring in the new. It remains to be seen whether these rapid pronouncements and actions have a positive lasting impact and so I think, for the moment, that the jury remains out.
Come on Malcolm - Walkies!
I love to hear from my readers so let me know your thoughts - email me at
Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) have, since October 2008 been required to be provided on every new residential property tenancy.
An EPC provides a rating of the property showing its energy efficiency and its impact on the environment. The report also highlights areas where improvements can be made and their likely impact on the cost of energy usage at the property and the environmental impact. The ratings run between A and G (with A being the best and G the worst) and a scale of 0-100 is used. Currently the average UK residential property has a score of 46 which is an E rating.
The EPC and recommendation report must be made available free of charge by the landlord to a prospective tenant at the earliest opportunity and no later than:
An EPC is valid for ten years although a landlord may wish to commission a new EPC if any significant energy improvement works have been carried out on the property.
- When any written information about the building is provided in response to a request for information received from the prospective tenant
- When a viewing is conducted of the rental property
- If neither of those occur, before entering into a contract to let the property
Lenwell makes booking your Energy Performance Certificate easy with EasyEpc!
EasyEpc is a subsidiary of Lenwell and, unlike many other EPC providers use their own ‘in house’ staff to complete 90% of the work received. This ensures a fast and efficient service and enables Lenwell to quickly produce EPCs on behalf of clients on short notice.
EasyEpc are accredited with Elmhurst Energy Systems. Visit the easyepc website for more details.