Piggybank News

September 25, 2014

Should you be joining a Property Redress scheme?

Most Landlords and Letting Agents will be aware that the government has made it compulsory for all Property Agents to join an authorised redress scheme by 1st October 2014.  There have been quite a few articles flying around explaining this obligation and the potential safety net it will offer to Landlords. Property Purchasers, Vendors and Tenants.  The aim is that anyone who feels they are not being treated fairly will have somewhere to go to voice their concerns, with a chance of compensation.

However, what may not have been quite so obvious is the breadth of the government’s definitions of Letting/Property Management/Estate Agent in this regard.  It’s a serious concern because those that don’t sign up risk being fined up to £5,000, via their local council trading standards office.

Essentially any person or business which accepts money in the course of their business for letting, managing or selling property is covered by this act.  So, for example, if you manage a property for a friend and take even “mates rates” fees then you are affected, there are in fact very few exclusions.  (If you would like a full list of definitions then click this link to the Property Redress Scheme website.)

There are 3 schemes currently approved – The Property Redress Scheme, the Property Ombudsman and Ombudsman Services Property.  Of these the Property Redress Scheme is perhaps the most flexible as, alongside Property/ Management/Lettings and Estate Agents, they are also open for other professionals working in the property industry including cleaners, gardeners and inventory clerks.

j0283695Piggy says “Private Landlords, Sourcing Agents and Property Managers are strongly advised to establish the status of their business in relation to this legislation and register with one of the approved schemes before the deadline of 1st October 2014 if required”.

 

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September 12, 2013

Download the MKPLA Presentation about Selective Licensing and what it could mean for you.

Thanks to everyone who attended the recent MKPLA Members Meeting; it was great to see so many people in the room!

We were almost at full capacity, which shows the level of concern felt by so many of us in light of the Council’s proposals to introduce Additional or Selective Licensing.

Committee Members Alex Caravello,  Nikki and Jim Parsler and Zaid Rashid,  jointly delivered a very eloquent presentation full of rather complicated material, and John Socha helped all attendees to understand the ‘hidden meaning’ behind many of the questions asked in Milton Keynes Council’s Licensing Consultation questionnaire.

For those of you who were unable to attend, you can download a PDF copy of the presentation here >> http://tinyurl.com/MKPLApresentation130815.
I hope this helps you to get to grips with the enormity of the problem that faces us all if this licensing proposal is introduced.

We discussed al length whether this proposal is already a ‘done deal’, or whether there is anything we can do to influence the outcome. We discussed several things we can all do to provide this influence, as follows…..

Promote public response to the Consultation

MKPLA is already involved in providing a ‘corporate response’ to the consultation. Our response will identify issues such as:

  • Cost to the Council budget of implementing licensing
  • Reduced inward investment by good landlords in an area that is seen to suffer from burdensome Council red tape and unnecessary costs
  • Restrictions placed by mortgage lenders and insurers in an area labelled by the Council as a ‘hotbed of anti-social behaviour’, low demand for housing, poor quality housing and poor management standards – mortgage availability will reduce and insurance premiums will rise
  • Downward pressure on property values, as a result of the above
  • Upward pressure on rents to cover the additional time spent dealing with the red tape and unnecessary costs

However, our response will only count as one response, regardless of how many members we have, or how many landlords and tenants we represent. It is therefore essential that you make your views heard and respond to the consultation. You can do this online, or by post by visiting the Council’s website at this shortcut >> http://tinyurl.com/mklicensing.

We don’t just need landlords to respond to the consultation; we need all MK residents, so please ask everyone you know (tenants, homeowners, friends, family, etc) to respond to the consultation.

We also need business owners and operators in MK to respond to the consultation, to ensure that MKC understand the potential impact on business of this proposal. If you have links with business networking groups, or work for a large organisation that can promote the consultation to its staff, please do get in touch.

Raise public awareness of the licensing proposals

Similarly to above, we need to get our message out to as wide an audience as possible. We need the general public to understand the potential implications of licensing, as experienced in other local authority areas. We need the public to understand that this could heavily impact on everyone, not just those who are landlords or tenants, but everyone that needs housing … which is everyone! If mortgage availability reduces, house prices drop, rents go up and insurance premiums rocket, we’re all going to be affected.

To this end we desperately need your help to try to get this message into the papers, on the radio and TV. If you have any links with the press, a good working knowledge of social media campaigns, or work in media and public relations, please do get in touch.

Request information from Milton Keynes Council

We believe that MK Council considers Additional or Selective Licensing will be 100% self-funding and cost-neutral on the Council budget. However, the evidence gathered from other Local Authorities around the country that have implemented Additional or Selective Licensing tells us that this is not the case.

We need to be asking questions of MKC to find out whether they have adequately assessed the implications of licensing on other Council services, such as Environmental Health, Homelessness, Adult and Child Support Services, Anti-Social Behaviour, etc.

The Council has stated its understanding that the Housing Act 2004 makes it clear that, in order to bring in licensing there has to be a low demand for housing, but that doesn’t ring true with everyone’s experience of housing in Milton Keynes.

Additionally, in order to bring in licensing there has to be “evidence of a significant and persistent problem caused by anti-social behaviour … in the private sector.” However, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) figures for ASB in Milton Keynes identify a 29.46% reduction in ASB between December 2012 and February 2013, when compared with December 2011 to February 2012.

You therefore need to be asking these questions of the Council under the Freedom of Information Act, to make sure that, if they do introduce Additional or Selective licensing, it is done for all the right reasons, with all the relevant information to hand.

However, in order to ensure that the Council is not repeatedly asked the same questions, or asked questions to which they have already provided answers, we urge you to contact MKPLA with your questions so that we may assess them before you use the FOI Act procedure. Please direct your questions to foi@mkpla.org.uk.

Anything else!

Finally, if you have any good ideas on how we should tackle this threat, please do let us know. We have done an awful lot so far, but we as an organisation are still limited by our time, knowledge and experience, so please don’t assume we have all the answers! If you want to share, or discuss anything, please do get in touch.

March 11, 2013

MKPLA Meeting “What do you do about Bad Debt?”

The MKPLA is holding a members meeting on 21st March at the David Lloyd Leisure Club.  This months expert speaker is Gill Constant of Constant and Co, Civil and High Court Enforcement Agents.  Following on from last times excellent talk on possession procedures Gill will be discussing to what extent bad debts can be recovered.

Follow the link below for full details and to book your place.

http://mkplamarch13.eventbrite.com

 

February 4, 2013

5 Top Tips for a good start to 2013

Christmas and the New Year are now firmly behind us and hopefully you have also by now managed to get over the post holiday build up  of “stuff” that we always seem to be afflicted with.  Here’s a list of five ways to finish your New Year tidy up and prepare for a productively busy 2013.

1. Clean Out Your Email

If you are a hoarder, it’s time to clean out that inbox and start fresh. File away or archive emails that are important. Only leave emails in your inbox that require specific action. You may be surprised at what you find. There may even be opportunities you missed earlier in the year. Delete everything else. Be efficient and brutal about clearing out the tasks. If you didn’t look at it for more than three months, and you still can’t deal with the issue, then it’s probably not that important. If you are left with more than 35 emails in your inbox then it’s probably time to consider a personal assistant.

2. Sort Through Your Facebook Friends

Hint: If you don’t know who they are and how you met them then they aren’t really friends. One of the reasons you can’t keep up with the news-feed is that too many people are posting things you don’t care about. It was fun at first to connect with everyone. Now it’s just noise. Make Facebook a useful personal tool again by reducing your friend list to people who are truly important in your life. Leave the biz networking to LinkedIn and the news-sharing to Twitter. Then you can keep up and enjoy the personal sharing on Facebook. Yes, of course, someone may be upset that they were un-friended. But heck, they didn’t consider your feelings of annoyance every time they asked you to join Farmville.

3. Sort Out Your LinkedIn

Go through your list, look at the profiles and identify 10 specific people who can actually help you with your desired objectives. Send each of them a  New Year greeting and begin a conversation. Sort through your Groups and eliminate the ones that no longer support your interests. Reduce all your group digest mailings to once a week to unclutter your daily email.

4. Clean Your Desk

Even people who happily tolerate clutter will benefit from a freshly cleaned workspace. Every time I sort through the stacks on my desk I find papers/coupons/receipts that have long been dealt with or expired. Move as much paperwork to electronic filing as possible.  Electronic banking, faxes, and signatures can make paper almost disappear from your filing system if carefully planned and if you stop printing every important email. You’ll clear your view, your mind, and might even save a tree or two.

5. Set Your Top 5 Priorities for Q1

Start the year with clear purpose. Take a few hours to identify the five priorities that will advance your journey this year. Write out your top five initiatives for the next three months and post them on the wall by your desk. Take a picture and make it the home screen on your smart phone. Post them on your mirror and by your computer monitor.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised how quickly these items will get accomplished. As Napoleon Hill said, ” What the mind of man can see and believe, it can achieve.”

 

December 19, 2012

A Politically Correct Christmas Message :)

Filed under: Business Advice,Business Utilities,Domestic Utilities,Hot tips,Property — nspresources @ 9:05 am
Tags:

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you All!

October 3, 2012

Lloyds TSB Commercial – Economic presentation

For those of you that didn’t manage to attend theMilton Keynes Property Forum 2012 on 28 September 2012 arranged by Lloyds TSB Commercial, I would like to circulate the economic presentation given by David Page, Lloyds TSB’s Senior Chief Senior Economist.  Interesting reading!


 

July 24, 2012

3 Top Tips for Negotiation

These  tips were initially written for Property Investors but they are just as true for other business negotiations.

1. Set your rules.

Many people likely have a set of rules or values that they just won’t compromise. If you find negotiations breaking your rules and going against your values, it may not be worth negotiating.

2. Ask.

Don’t be afraid to aim high but do not make any ultimatums.  If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

3. Be willing to compromise.

Expect to make compromises and plan what terms you are willing to compromise on. Even if the first offer is better than you’d hoped for, do not take it. Take time to “think about it” or make a minor change back.  If you accept the first offer they might not feel good about the deal they made with you.  Everyone wants to negotiate and feel they got a good deal.

With thanks to:
“Top 10 Negotiation Techniques for Buyers and Sellers: Tips for Negotiating Real Estate”, By Wendy Patton

July 10, 2012

Tax relief from using your home as an office.

Many landlords and small businesses run from a home office but fail to claim business expenses for things like phone and broadband, energy bills, council tax, repairs and maintenance.  They may be worried about triggering a capital gains tax bill when they move house or that they will be asked to seek planning consent for using a domestic premises for commercial purposes.

However, HM Revenue & Customs guidance suggests that this is a perfectly valid expense to claim provided the rules are followed.  Claims of under £200 should not attract any questions at all but for claims above this level you may be asked to provide supporting evidence such as bills and receipts.

Rather than claiming for a specific room set aside for business we have been advised that it is best to work out the average number of hours each week that several rooms are used for business – maybe three hours a day for the spare bedroom as an office and a couple of hours for business meetings in the living room.  Work out what proportion of the week this is and what proportion of your property size is involved.  This will give you a percentage of your bills which can reasonably be claimed as business related expenditure. Put the total into your tax return as ‘Other expenses’ and deduct the amount from profits to cut the tax paid.

(Piggy says “Never forget to check your tax return with a properly qualified person to ensure that you are claiming any reliefs you are entitled to correctly.”)

February 21, 2012

3 Top Tips for Negotiation

Tired of endless back-and-forth disagreements with your customer?

Here are a few negotiation tips that can help:

1. Set your rules.

Many people likely have a set of rules or values that they just won’t compromise. If you find negotiations breaking your rules and going against your values, it may not be worth negotiating.

2. Ask.

Don’t be afraid to aim high but do not make any ultimatums. Usually these types of offers are out of place. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

3. Be willing to compromise.
Expect to make compromises and plan what terms you are willing to compromise on. Even if the first offer is better than you’d hoped for, do not take it. Take time to “think about it” or make a minor change back.  If you accept the first offer they might not feel good about the deal they made with you. Everyone wants to negotiate and feel they got a good deal.

With thanks to:
“Top 10 Negotiation Techniques for Buyers and Sellers: Tips for Negotiating Real Estate”, By Wendy Patton

December 28, 2011

How to protect your cashflow.

Practical Finance tips for tough times.

Business Link are a free service which offer help and advice to companies across the UK.  They have  published their guide to doing business in tough times; featuring practical ways to tackle the challenges and opportunities of the current climate.

Click here for their top tips for protecting your cashflow.

(Piggy says “Cashflow is king for small businesses of any description but remember that it has as much to do with your expenses as it has to do with your income!”)

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