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Your Move Property Blog

Thoughts, Opinions & Analysis of the UK Property Market

Student letting: are landlords providing homes ‘fit for study’?

July 27, 2014 11:49 by YOUR MOVE

©Eric via Flickr  CC 

In an effort to improve the overall student letting experience, the National Union of Students (NUS) has just published the results of some fascinating research. Surprisingly, this is the first time such a report has been commissioned. ‘Homes fit for study’ tackles the myth that students don’t care about where they live and gives landlords and agents some very useful information about what students want and need. It also highlights where improvements could be made at every stage of the renting process.

While many could choose to live at home or in halls, 44% of full-time students go with the private rented sector (PRS). The top three things they consider when deciding whether to rent privately are: location and specifically how convenient it is for their campus, cost and how easy the process is going to be. Once they’ve decided to go with the PRS, they choose a property based firstly on price, then convenience of location and property condition. So, from your perspective as a landlord, if you get the location and price right, you should attract maximum interest. But in order to get the best tenants, who are prepared to pay the best price, you must make sure the condition is up to scratch.

One important issue raised, which is really useful for you to know as a landlord, is that around three quarters of students have complained about a property’s condition – mainly on damp-related issues and the fact that they found their home too cold. If you’re intending to rent to students, bear in mind many of them spend a lot of time studying in the property during the day. So if you can highlight how well insulated your property is and how cost effective it is to heat, that should be a real selling point.

On a similar point, we’ve always found that if you provide decent quality accommodation and keep it in good condition, tenants treat it well too and, despite what you hear, students are no different! So offer them a good standard of living and make sure their home is energy efficient, safe and secure. A good rule of thumb is to imagine if your own child was renting your property: could they afford it and would you be happy for them to live there?

The great news that came from this report is that most students were happy overall with their PRS accommodation and found it cost effective compared to bespoke student residences.

However, there were some insights which might be useful. When searching for a new home, 20% of those surveyed had felt pressurised into either signing their contract or paying a holding deposit before they’d seen the contract; around half either didn’t know whether they’d received a copy of the EPC or couldn’t recall receiving one; roughly half had to pay fees they reported they hadn’t known about and only just over half were sure that their deposit had been protected.

In an effort to improve the overall student letting experience, the National Union of Students (NUS) has just published the results of some fascinating research. Surprisingly, this is the first time such a report has been commissioned. ‘Homes fit for study’ tackles the myth that students don’t care about where they live and gives landlords and agents some very useful information about what students want and need. It also highlights where improvements could be made at every stage of the renting process.

This suggests that one thing we could all improve on is helping students properly understand what’s involved in the ‘pre-rental’ process and make sure we act not only legally but also ethically, to make sure they’re well informed from the start about all their obligations, rights and responsibilities.

Finally, when asked in the end what measures they thought would make the biggest difference to their experience of renting, the vast majority (66%) said they thought there should be a minimum condition standard, and for more services to ensure that agents and landlords fulfilled their responsibilities.

Valerie Bannister, National Property Director says “Students are more discerning about their choice of accommodation and we know that the key questions they ask are how previous students have found their experience with the agent and how quickly the agent or landlord then responds to repairs. The vast majority of students who are letting in the PRS generally involve their parents , and more often or not it is the “bank of mum and dad” who pay the security deposit, acting as Guarantor. This does mean expectations are significantly higher and parents are very keen to see a full return of the deposit at the end of the tenancy term.” 

Valerie’s top tips for landlords are:

• Ensure you have a gas safety certificate and say if there is a service repair agreement

• Make the energy performance certificate available to prospective tenants

• Protect the deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme

• Have someone on hand to organise or deal with repairs

• Secure a good quality inventory prior to move in, which includes meter readings

• Give the tenant essential numbers And most importantly, let through a registered ARLA agent like Your Move to ensure the property is let legally and you always have up to date, best advice

For further information about letting your property through Your Move and the three service types available to you. Call 0845 450 5507** email Landlords@YourMove.co.uk or visit your local Your Move branch.

 

 




What to expect from a mortgage appointment

July 25, 2014 11:57 by YOUR MOVE

We are all finding it more difficult to get an appointment quickly and conveniently with our bank or building society to discuss obtaining a mortgage following the recent mortgage market review.

With our network of branches and our professional advisers we can offer a no waiting service so you can see an adviser without having to wait for weeks to obtain a suitable appointment time.

What is a mortgage appointment?

If you are thinking of buying a property the majority of people will need to obtain a mortgage to enable them to purchase a property.  An appointment with a Your Move adviser will enable you to see if you can obtain a mortgage by sitting down and speaking to one of our professional advisers who will give you a much better understanding of what you can borrow and what price of house you can buy based on your own situation.

How can I make the process smoother?

We would ask clients to be prepared for an appointment with an adviser by bringing along all their income details i.e.  3 months payslips (or 2 years accounts if self employed)  and details of any benefits they are entitled to.  Also bring in 3 months bank statements which will help when looking at a clients spending habits and what outgoings they may have.  In addition please bring up to date ID and also details of any changes that may be occurring in the future.

This all helps the appointment process.  A part of this fact finding exercise we will ask clients a lot of questions to determine their current financial position but also their future goals and  aspirations.

Buying a property is possibly one of the biggest financial outlays you are going to have so you need to ensure that you are obtaining the right advice for your own circumstances.

What to Expect:

Our advisers will look at the intermediary mortgage market.  This means we operate from a comprehensive range of providers to help ensure that we are obtaining the right mortgage for our clients.  Your Move do obtain many preferential rates from different providers that you will not be able to access yourself.  This means we may be able to save you money!

We not only help you obtain the right mortgage for buying your new home but we also help you through the whole buying process. 

Your initial appointment is free and will take approximately one and a half hours of your time.  We will explain to you about our service, ask you lots of questions and at the end of it you will have a much better understanding of how to buy a property and will know how much it is all going to cost you; from the costs in buying to the monthly outlays you will have for your mortgage and associated insurances.

What Happens Next?

Once you know you can obtain a mortgage then the fun starts.  It is now a case of helping you find the right property and guiding you through the buying process.  Our estate agents are on hand to help with this process at each stage and advise you on what you need to do and when you need to do it.  It’s all about find the perfect home and getting that home at the right price!

We will continue to work with you through the entire life of your mortgage and guiding you through the process of renegotiating your mortgage deal where appropriate, moving home and the associated insurances that come along with changes in your own circumstances eg. starting a family.

by Lorna Aird, Senior Financial Consultant Your Move  Falkirk

YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE

Our initial consultation is free. We will charge a fee between £349 and £699 on application. The amount we will charge is dependent on the amount of research and administration required.

07/14 EAF 5027




What is tax deductible for landlords?

July 24, 2014 09:05 by YOUR MOVE

Nobody wants to pay any more tax than necessary so, as a landlord generating a return from your Buy to Let investment, it’s worthwhile spending some time looking at whether you’re fully minimising your taxable profits. In order to do that, you need to know what allowances are available to you and which of your outgoings are tax deductible.

It’s a great help if you use an accountant who either invests in property themselves or already has other landlords as clients.

They tend to know the rules and allowances inside out and can make sure you’re claiming your full entitlement.

To start with, you can deduct your ‘operating costs’, i.e. the expenses you incur managing and administering the let – things such as utility bills, buildings and liability insurance, cleaning and gardening costs, our fees as your letting agent; and then any direct costs, such as stationery, business phone calls and even books you buy about Buy to Let. And one of the biggest benefits is being able to deduct the interest you pay on your Buy to Let mortgage.

Then there are additional allowances you could be entitled to – check with your accountant. Two you might already be aware of are: the energy saving allowance, where, until April 2015, you can claim up to £1,500 per property in insulation costs; and the wear and tear or renewals allowance for replacing and repairing goods in furnished properties.

As a general rule of thumb, you can deduct any costs you legitimately incur in the business of renting out a property as a Buy to Let investment.

What you cannot deduct – at least not until you sell the property – is the cost of any improvements you make that increase the property’s capital value.

For example, you could deduct the cost of installing smoke detectors and fitting fire doors, because those are things that fall under your health & safety responsibilities as a landlord, but you couldn’t claim the cost of extending the kitchen. While you might argue that you’re simply making the accommodation more comfortable for your tenants, adding square footage to a property is most definitely considered a capital improvement.

And it’s not just what you do, but also the level to which you do it. If you fix faulty guttering, replace a broken downpipe or repair a blown double-glazing panel, that’s necessary maintenance, in order to keep the property safe and in good order for the tenants. However, if you choose to update all the guttering and fascias or replace basic double-glazed windows with high-quality wooden sealed units, those things can’t be claimed until you sell.

As and when you do sell, you should be able to deduct the cost of improvements from any capital gains, minimising that tax bill.

Tax is a complex matter and the difference between a capital improvement and maintenance is not always black and white, so it really is important that you have a well-informed and experienced property accountant. Staying on the right side of HMRC, while running your business as profitably as possible, is always what you should be aiming for as a Buy to Let landlord.

As a general rule of thumb, you can deduct any costs you legitimately incur in the business of renting out a property as a Buy to Let investment.

 

 




June 2014 House Price Index

July 23, 2014 16:20 by Your Move Press Office

 

 

House prices see highest annual rise in four years, but rate of growth slowing 

• Average house prices climb £23,443 or 9.6% in the past year – 5.2% excluding London and South East
• On a monthly basis, growth cools to 0.7% in June – dropping to 0.1% without London and South East
• London house prices up 15.6% annually, but prices falling in Westminster and the City
• First-time buyers strengthen recovery nationwide, with new peak prices set in South East and East Anglia

 Commentary

David Newnes, Director of Your Move estate agents, owned by LSL Property Services plc, comments: “Average house prices in England and Wales have climbed 9.6% in the year to June, the highest annual rise in house prices experienced since July 2010. Twelve months of solid house price increases have driven up average property values by a total of £23,443, setting a new record high of £268,637. But if you exclude London and the South East from the picture, average house prices across England and Wales have risen a far more sustainable 5.2% over the last year. There are also new signs that growth is beginning to slow as we move into summer, and following the changes brought about by the Mortgage Market Review implemented at the end of April. The 0.7% monthly change witnessed in June – amounting to £1,900 – is below the average 0.8% increase per month recorded over the last year, as house price inflation starts to moderate. And if you remove London and the South East from the equation, house prices are up only 0.1% in the month to June.

Read the full Index 




Landlord Legislation - Redress Scheme

July 23, 2014 13:56 by YOUR MOVE

The Government recently announced that all letting and property management agents will have to join an approved ‘redress scheme’ later this year.

While the majority of agents – including Your Move – already belong to an ombudsman, a startling 40% (3,000 agents) currently do not.

They will now have to join either The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services Property or The Property Redress Scheme.

This gives all tenants and landlords the opportunity to complain to an independent third party if they feel they haven’t received a good service from their agent. It’s completely free of charge and if the complaint is upheld, compensation may be awarded.

Your Move was one of the founding members of The Property Ombudsman, so has already been part of this scheme for many years.

We hope this legislation will improve things for the tenants and landlords who use an agent that is not currently a member, but it’s going to take a while for thousands of letting agents to join and get used to the system.

As such, we always recommend landlords and tenants use agents that are members of ARLA or NALS, as both are members of an existing property ombudsman, are independently audited and offer what we consider to be essential insurance cover that protects all rents received by any branch.




YOUR MOVE Blog

YOUR MOVE is a multi-award winning estate and letting agent with branches across England and Scotland

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