Buying is cheaper than renting in most U.S. cities

I am always interested in great property stories around the world and read an interesting article on CNN World about how it is now cheaper to buy than rent in most US cities ( http://money.cnn.com/2011/08/16/real_estate/buy_rent/ ) – if only that were the case in the UK.

Nick

New Landlord Emergency Cover Launched

Leading providers of let property cover, Total Landlord Insurance, have just added Total Landlord Emergency Cover to their portfolio of insurance products
designed specifically for landlords.
Total Landlord Emergency Cover is a cost-effective insurance product that provides immediate assistance in the event of a domestic emergency at a rental
property.
The policy provides cover 24 hours a day 365 days a year for call out charges, labour and repairs for emergencies such as the breakdown of the heating system, plumbing and drainage problems.
Broking Manager, Steve Barnes, said: “Domestic emergencies at landlord’s rental properties can be inconvenient and sometimes difficult to resolve. It is not just boilers that go wrong, plumbing, drains and lost keys can cause inconvenience for landlords. At just £70 per property we feel that this policy represents excellent value for money and provides reassurance for both landlords and tenants that emergency assistance is only a phone call away. Introductory discounts are also available for limited period”.
Total Landlord Insurance will also be extending their range of landlord focussed products to include Rent Guarantee insurance and Tenant Referencing soon.

Steve continued: “Our customers are at the heart of our business and we will be adding more products and services to our website to provide landlords with a one stop solution for their insurance needs”.

For more information on Total Landlord Emergency Cover go to www.totallandlordinsurance.co.uk or call on 0800 63 43 880.

Unpaid rent and filthy tenants – Latest Student Landlord Survey 2011

With student market nearly upon us, New Student Publications carried out an interesting straw survey on Student Landlord Problems

Different categories were addressed covering areas from unpaid rent to cleanliness issues.

Unpaid rent, filthy tenants and panicking about filling your properties for next year?

The results were astounding, with over 14% of landlords saying that their current biggest problem is just finding tenants to take their properties and fill in any gaps should someone drop out during a contract, with more than 2% feeling like they are struggling just to get viewings. One agent simply said “we have unlet properties remaining for July 2011, the situation is worse than in previous years” In a similar 2009 survey finding tenants was also the biggest problem raised by landlords.

Dirty Tenants

Landlords cited dirty tenants as their second biggest problem, with 16% left to pick up massive cleaning bills, or called out at 4am to change a lightbulb. The general consensus was “students don’t take care of the property or make any effort to keep the house clean.” 3.5% of agents thought that students demanded a much higher standard of accommodation than ever before, although it seems that tenants are unwilling to take out contracts for a full twelve months, with one landlord struggling to get even shorter terms “the majority of people contact me to rent for one or two months.”

Pressure From Pupose Built Halls

Many of the landlords surveyed said that they felt increased pressure from new purpose built student villages found in many city centres; more than 8% of those surveyed would eradicate those villages if we gave them one wish! 2% of landlords are afraid that their properties were not close enough to ‘hotspots’ and so would soon be abandoned in favour of more central locations.

Unpaid Rent

11% of businesses struggle with unpaid rent, while 2% note that this messes with their cash flow and although some are sympathetic to the issues caused by the Student Loans Company, most are fixed on the bigger picture; “a lot of time is spent chasing payment. Students seem to think that it is not always necessary for them to pay their rent.” This coupled with tenants excessively using all inclusive utilities means that businesses are less profitable. One landlord’s wish was simply that we could ‘undo the recession’ as 8 different landlords complained of increases to the cost of maintaining their properties to a decent standard.

Relax Regulations

Bogged down with HMO paperwork and expense? Over 18% of those surveyed would love to change or relax the regulations and the council powers to control them. One landlord stated; “there should be a national guide for HMO legislation.” Some landlords feel so strongly about HMO licensing that they named specific city councils or even actual councillors as their biggest fear for the future. 3 landlords said they had qualms about council schemes to shift populations from one area of a city to another, and how it would affect their business.

Worries Over Tuition Fee Increase

Landlords are worried about the tuition fee increase, with more than 14% saying that if they had one wish, they would fight the fees and leave the system as it stands, a worry which probably contributes to 13% of them saying that they feel the future of the market is uncertain, as some students may choose to stay at home to study. Competition from the university owned housing is a headache too, with 4% saying an increase in that sort of accommodation would be detrimental to their ability to let.

Problems With Advertising

Landlords raised the issue of advertising, when to do it and how the culture of marketing lets so early can damage the business, with nearly 5% of landlords thinking there should be a guideline that means property is marketed in January and not before. 4% thought university accommodation offices charged them too much for advertising, and 5% would like to see cheaper, and more effective advertising available to them.

Deposit Protection Unfair

Some landlords were concerned that the existing Deposit Protection Scheme did not offer them enough scope to reclaim money for damage to their properties. Eight separate landlords would like to see the entire system revised, with 1% of those surveyed listing it as their biggest problem. A case from the survey highlights the DPS’s flaws; “£1500 worth of damage but ex tenants refuse to give consent to DPS to pay the landlord.” And some feel that from a legal standpoint the law does not protect them, 3% of landlords would like to see more legislation to protect the financial interests of the landlord.

Worries Over The Potential Drop In Student Numbers

And what of the future of the student property market? More than half of those surveyed were very worried about the potential drop in student numbers next year, with one landlord summing up the problems this will create; “if student numbers drop because of the £9,000 a year course fees then we might see empty houses, lower rents or both.” A worry shared by 3% of those surveyed, who fear the contraction in the market will mean a forced reduction of rents, while other suggested offering shorter term contracts or starting to appeal to the housing benefit market was the only way to keep the business afloat.

No Problems At All

But this isn’t the full picture. Almost 9% of those surveyed have no major problems with the lettings market, their tenants or filling their properties. One landlord is more than happy with his tenants; “we enjoy our students. We pride ourselves in helping them learn how to care for and run the house. We regard them as ‘professionals-in-training’ and teach them what they should reasonably expect from a landlord and what they should reasonably do as a tenant.” One respondent would use a magic wand to change the public’s attitude towards students; “they tend to live in larger houses that are too big for modern families and therefore almost act as guardians for some of our most impressive architecture. They should be seen as a positive part of any community.”

 

Top 5 biggest fears for the future Number of responses Percentage
Fewer students in the future 101 54%
Student villages 15 8%
Legislation increasing workload 15 8%
Unpaid rent due to fees 10 5%
Universities moving into market 8 4%
Top 5 current biggest problems Number of responses Percentage
Bad tenants 51 13.6%
Uncertainty for the future 49 13.1%
Finding tenants 48 12%
Unpaid rent 41 11%
HMOs 17 4.5%

No Letting Go are working with a number of student letting agents and bodies around the UK to help protect both landlords and tenants from many of the issues arising from cleanliness and deposit protection. Better use of Inventory services, checking tenants in, property visits and managing the check out is critical to ensuring that potential problems are dealt with in advance and issues arising from check outs are dealt with quickly and efficiently. Contact No Letting Go on 0800 881 5366 or find your nearest office at www.nolettinggo.co.uk

Compiled by Emma Parker New Student – Student Housing Magazines – www.newstudent.co.uk

Landlords flock to purchase rental insurances

The uptake of HomeLet’s new tenant reference, Optimum, which guarantees to remove the tenant if they fail to pay the rent, is up 150 per cent on projected sales figures. With inflation and unemployment rising the popularity of this product has been attributed to growing concern of rental arrears.

Commenting on the news HomeLet MD, John Boyle explained, “Naturally we’re pleased with the uptake of our new ‘Optimum’ reference, we developed this product specifically to counter the concerns of both our letting agent customers and their landlords. With rents remaining high conditions are particularly hard for tenants at the moment. The latest statistics make for grim reading; inflation is way up on the Bank of England’s targets and unemployment is continuing to creep upwards. These and other factors sadly mean that 2011 will be a tough year for many tenants’ which is obviously a major concern for landlords, who are also facing these difficult conditions.”

According to the latest Residential Lettings Survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors strong tenant demand resulted in rents rising rapidly in the three months to the end of January. Figures released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders show that number of new mortgages lent to house buyers slumped by 29 per cent in January when compared to December. With lending likely to remain low throughout the year, demand for rented property is likely to push rents up further in 2011.

Matt Billingham, Owner, Billingham Cooke Estate Agents said, “Demand for high quality rented property is only going to increase in 2011. In many areas across the country tenants are already bracing themselves for an expected increase in rents. For many a rise in rents whilst inflation is so high will only increase the pressure on their budgets and many landlords are starting to realise that a service, which provides an element of cover should a tenant fail to pay the rent, is essential.”

Commenting on Optimum, Sara Bailey, Manager, Aquarius Homes said, “More landlords are asking for a service that also offers to protect their investment income. We’ve seen a number of traditionally safe tenants who’ve passed their references with flying colours fall on hard times, especially with the cuts in the public sector. This is a real concern for landlords, especially reluctant landlords or those with highly geared investments.”

John Boyle concluded, “Following the credit crunch, housing agency Threshold reported an increase in threatened or actual cases of illegal eviction. Evicting a tenant can be a difficult, costly and emotional process, and landlords shouldn’t take matters in to their own hands.

“When they’re covered by Optimum, through their local letting agent, our in-house Legal and Claims department take care of everything whilst ensuring that tenants are treated fairly and that every letter of the law is followed when obtaining vacant possession of a property. We also offer a range of products that provide missed rental payments as well as legal cover.”

Source: Property Drum Newsletter

Use of New Technology in Inventories could cost landlords £’s

An interesting story below on Landlordzone from the AIIC supports No Letting Go’s policy of detail first, technology second. Read on……

The use of technology in inventories could end up costing landlords far more than they bargained for, according to The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC).

The perception of inventories by some lettings agents is that inventories can be very long, time-consuming and somewhat of a laborious process, resulting in several landlords and management companies opting for the use of technology in inventories, believing it will save them time and money.

The use of technology in inventories claims to help landlords and management companies to complete inventories in a matter of minutes, with the ability to add large quantities of photographs which can provide evidence in tenancy dispute claims.

In reality, whilst some systems are considerably better than others, most technology, including digital photography, does not allow for the inclusion of sufficient detail to provide indisputable evidence of original condition at the start of a tenancy.

For this reason in many tenancy dispute cases according to The AIIC, the adjudicators have thrown out technology-based inventories, as they cannot deliver the level of detail required which means that the landlord can lose hundreds of pounds in lost cases.

Pat Barber, Chair of The AIIC, comments: “Inventory reports should contain a full description of a property and its contents with details on every bit of damage and its exact location at the start of a tenancy. As an inventory is a binding legal document that provides a complete record of the condition and contents of a property, it is only effective if it is accurate.

“Without an accurate and properly detailed inventory, a landlord has no evidence to prove that the property has been damaged in any way during the tenancy and therefore will find it almost impossible to withhold any deposit money from the tenants.

The AIIC is committed to excellence and professionalism in the property inventory process and works hard to ensure that all landlords, tenants and letting agents understand the importance and benefits of professionally completed property inventories.

The aim of the AIIC is to ensure that every landlord, tenant and agent in the UK is aware of the importance of the inventory process and the benefits of employing an independent, professional inventory clerk.

Nick Lyons commented on the above article saying “No Letting Go believe technology is critical to improve the speed of the inventory, aid in management of paperwork and to help reduce costs, but not at the expense of the detail of an inventory”