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”.

 

January 31, 2014

MKPLA Members Meeting 20/2/2014

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The next Members Only meeting of the Milton Keynes Private Landlords Association will be held at the David Lloyd Leisure Club at 7pm on 20th February 2014.  As well as hearing from our speakers, the evening will give members the opportunity to network and share experienced and challenges.  The ticket price includes light refreshments.

This months meeting will start with a short summary of the final consultation report from ORS on the proposed implementation of Additional and Selective Licensing.

This will be followed by the main presentation for the night which will focus on Fire Safety; the history of Legislation affecting the PRS, how to ensure best practice and some of the common pitfalls and misunderstandings.  Our speaker, Tony Bennett, was for many years a Team Leader for Bucks Fire and Rescue Service and had responsibility for assessing fire safety for MK Council. Since 2011 he has been working as a freelance consultant on both residential and commercial property. All landlords have a basic duty of care to their tenants so this is an extremely important area to understand.

Book your Tickets by clicking here

January 25, 2014

MK Council looking to buy houses for homeless families?

The BBC has reported on Milton Keynes proposals to buy more houses in order to fulfil its statutory obligations for housing homeless families. Suggested suitable areas for this project for are the Lakes Estate and Stantonbury. Read the full story by clicking on the link below.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-25757566

Regarding these proposals, the committee of MKPLA can confirm that, in meetings they have attended, the idea appears to have limited cross party support.  However, councillors are definitely looking for a workable solution to this crisis; which includes the possibility of working more effectively with the private rented sector.

October 25, 2013

Buckinghamshire Landlord Property Investment Show

https://bucks-landlord-expo.eventbrite.co.uk/

Above is a link to the booking page of the Buckinghamshire Landlord Property Investment Show.  This is running on Thursday, November 14, 2013 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM at Jurys Inn, Midsummer Boulevard, Milton Keynes MK9

Tickets are free and the organisers are promising to have key speakers from the industry who will cover topical industry news on legislation, vetting tenants, landlord services etc as well as a number of stalls and displays to browse.

 

June 17, 2013

NLA Milton Keynes Branch Meeting

Monday 24 June, 6pm for 6.30pm start to 8.30pm

Abbey Hill Golf Centre, Monks Way, Two Mile Ash, Milton Keynes, MK8 8AA
click here for a map

How to Avoid a Bad TenantPaul Shamplina, Co Founder, Landlord Action
Paul has appeared on BBC’s Inside Out and War at the Door, as well as ITV’s Tenants from Hell and will explain how to avoid bad tenants, how to ensure you find a good tenant and how to avoid large legal bills. He will share with you his experiences, including hair raising and hilarious tales of evictions.

NLA Mortgages – Andrew Rudkin, Regional Sales Manager, NLA Mortgages
Andrew will provide an overview of the buy-to-let market and the different markets to consider for those investors looking to start or expand their property portfolio and information on the best options for financing will also be available.

Discussion Period
Opportunity for attendees to share ideas, network, raise concerns, good practice and discuss future meeting topics.

UKALA: Good News for Landlords and Letting Agents – Caroline Kenny, Executive, UKALA, The UK Association of Letting Agents
The NLA is partnered with UKALA, which was re-launched last year with a comprehensive suite of membership benefits. Caroline will explain what’s special about UKALA from the landlord’s perspective and why, with demands for regulation growing ever-louder, letting agents should join this new-look association.

This meeting is FREE and open to all landlords and UKALA members. No need to book. 

June 4, 2013

The effect of the benefit cap on large families…

I just got off the phone to a lady from the Milton Keynes Council housing team.  We were discussing one of my tenants specifically and the likely effect of the benefit cap on large families in the area.

For those who are unaware, one of the changes to benefits legislation which the government has brought in is a benefit cap.  This is designed to ensure that people are not claiming so much money that they are better off on benefits than in work and was at least partially in response to media reports of very large families living in “millionaires mansions” at the tax payers expense.  It does not apply to families where at least one person is working more than 16 hours a week but of course it would affect very many part-time workers as well as those entirely dependent on benefits.

The cap is placed on ALL benefits which means that whilst benefits are continuing to be worked out based on need, size of family etc; there is a maximum amount per week which can be awarded regardless of this. For families this is £500 per week.

The DWP has identified those families within the borough who are likely to be affected and the Housing Team are extremely busy contacting them all and trying to assist them in working out a new budget.  As part of this process they are recommending that the rent paid should be no more than 30% of their income.

If you work this out at the top income level of £500 per week this means that affordable rent can only be a maximum of £650pcm compared to the current 4 bedroom LHA rate in Milton Keynes of £950pcm and the 3 bedroom rate of £750pcm.  (ie such families will only be able to afford an average 2 bedroom house)  I presume that this scenario is playing out in a similar way across the country.

Is anyone else concerned by this?

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 25, 2013

2013 Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has published its new LHA rates – available to view by clicking here – which come into effect on the 1st April 2013.

LHA rates were frozen for a 12-month period from 1st April 2012 until 31st March 2013. Future upratings, whilst still based on market rents, are limited to the rate of the September Consumer Price Index (CPI).  The new rates will apply to all claims made from 1st April but existing claims will not be affected until the date of their annual review.

The rates are based on data supplied by landlords and agents. More than half a million rents are included every month which makes them the most accurate record of the private rented sector. The table below shows how national rents changed between June 2011 and June 2012.  As the September CPI was 2.2% (slightly below the current fairly steady rate of 2.7%) this means that LHA levels in some areas will drop even further behind average local market rents.

REGION

AVERAGE CHANGE

Yorkshire & The Humber

9.37%

London

4.63%

South West

3.19%

East Midlands

2.27%

South East

2.14%

West Midlands

2.04%

England

1.76%

North West

0.47%

East

0.17%

North East

-1.38%

To avoid potential public confusion, the April 2013 LHA rates will not appear on www.gov.uk (LHA-Direct) until March 2013.In the interests of transparency, the website publication presents a table of the weekly April 2013 LHA rates and a series of downloadable documents including tables which illustrate the four steps of determining the rates.

To view the new rates visit: www.voa.gov.uk/LHAApril2013.

 

February 18, 2013

Riding the Property Cycle – the secret to making money in property investment

We are all familiar with seasonal cycles. From a very young age we learn that night follows day, spring follows winter,  harvest follows planting and so on… before the whole cycle starts over.  This very basic understanding of how cycles work can help with your investment decisions. You need to know when to plant the seeds (i.e. invest your money) at the right time so that it will grow and you can gather a rich harvest.

This may sound a bit simplistic but you really don’t need to be an expert stock broker to understand how the property investment cycle works. It is easy to look for clues that will tell you when a market has hit or passed the bottom in terms of prices. This is the point where a property market is beginning to grow and therefore where you should invest to get the best long-term return. Look at the signals all around you and this will help guide your investment decisions.

What makes property investment so interesting is that not all countries are at the same stage in their cycle.  In the EU most are heading into winter and prices are tumbling or at best remain static because few people are buying.  According to property investment company Colordarcy the 5 worst performing  investment areas of 2012 are all EU countries – Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Slovenia and the Netherlands. On the other hand if we travel to the United States, all indications are that after a long winter they are now in the spring (or at a stage where the market is growing). Property in Miami for instance has increased in value by 20% over 2012.

So what of the UK market?

The Nationwide House Price Index has recorded only slight variations in house prices since the start of 2011.  They showed a slight dip in prices overall in 2012 but in the final quarter of the year prices were actually up 0.5%.  The most significant changes have been the continuing increase in the north/south divide and the relative depression of the Irish, Welsh and Scottish housing markets.   This would seem to indicate (in England at least) a market resting at the lowest point of its cycle, poised for Spring growth. When combined with predictions that Bank of England base rates are unlikely to rise until 2017, strong rental demand and rent levels generally on the increase; it would seem that 2013 is a good time for  investors with a medium to long term view to investigate the UK  Buy to Let market.

Full Nationwide report can be downloaded here – House Prices Q4_2012

February 11, 2013

Over a million more face losing their home

Shelter have recently published the results of a YouGov survey conducted on their behalf.

They found that 1.4 million people in Britain are falling behind with their rent or mortgage payments. This represents an increase of 44% over the past year, to 7.8 million people.

Other worrying findings by the researchers were that:

  • almost a million people used a payday loan to help pay their rent or mortgage this year
  • 2.8 million people used an unauthorised overdraft to help pay their rent or mortgage (with 10% of these doing so every month).

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s Chief Executive, said “Payday loans may seem like a quick fix, but the huge interest charges mean things can quickly spiral out of control. It’s vital that anyone who’s having difficulty paying their rent or mortgage gets advice now.”

Full results –  http://yougov.co.uk/news/2012/01/17/roof-over-your-head/

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