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Brexit – Let’s call the whole thing off!

The Brexit Mess was initially caused by David Cameron

David Cameron – The man that called The Referendum that led to Brexit

Yes, I admit it, I voted in 2016 to leave the EU. And now I bitterly regret being taken in by all the nonsense spoken by Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and the other jokers.

Reasons to be Cheerless – one, two, three

To be honest I voted leave for three main reasons. One, I was and still am, concerned about the way immigration into south east England is causing great problems – travel, housing, schools, hospitals, GPs, water resources and so on. Two, I loathed David Cameron. And Three – I never dreamed it would actually happen!

Of course, if the ridiculous Boris Johnson hadn’t actually run away after the Referendum result perhaps we wouldn’t have a woman who campaigned to remain, so pusillanimously trying to negotiate our exit. And maybe, just maybe things wouldn’t be quite so bad. But essentially it’s not really hopeless Theresa’s fault.

David Cameron is the primary architect of this mess

The primary culprit is David Cameron, who in order to fend off UKiP, recklessly promised a referendum that, due to inaccurate polls, he never believed he’d have to hold. This man is a bloody disgrace and the second worst PM this country has ever had – I think we all know who the worst one was (clue – he was elected in 1997).

Also culpable however is Nigel Farage – a man driven by an obsession for over 20 years that the EU is our main enemy. What he fails to understand is that our main enemies are not in Brussels but in The Kremlin. In fact I believe he was offered his own show on RT (Russia Today) in 2016 although he did decline the offer. But it shows that, completely inadvertently, Brexiteers are furthering The Kremlin’s policies.

So should we stay, or should we go?

So all us regular folk, who are usually not even consulted about such pressing questions as whether the power of vacuum cleaners should be regulated, were presented with this one oh so simple question: Do you want to remain in the EU, or do you want to leave the EU? That’s simple isn’t it?

Had YOU ever heard of The Customs Union? Honestly?

However, what The Referendum didn’t ask was, if you want to leave, do you still want to be part of the Customs Union and have access to the single market or not be part of the Customs Union but still have access to the Single Market and would you like a soft, hard or medium soft border for Ireland and what about services do you feel that we should perhaps retain control of services but at the same time be able to strike deals with a deranged nationalist with a bad hair-do in the USA and are you happy that Putin is also firmly behind Brexit and in any case are you happy that Jean Claude Junker is usually drunk and anyway what about the fishing quota?

Who’d ever heard of The Customs Union? And in all that pre-referendum debate did ANYONE ever mention the border with Northern Ireland?

Boris DIDN’T get what he wished for

Of course, like little me, I am sure the Great Boris also never believed the Leave side would actually win – which was why he threw his weight behind it. If Remain had won as expected and predicted (those bloody polls agin) he would then have been able to have mounted a campaign for the leadership against his arch rival, Cameron. Two posh boys slugging it out. When Leave surprisingly won he knew it would be very very difficult – which was why he ran away. My favourite description of Boris Johnson is, just because he appears to be a bungling buffoon, doesn’t mean he isn’t. And he mainly got where he did because he did well on ‘Have I Got News For You’ – they’ve got a lot to answer for!

I still hate the EU – it is an appalling corrupt, wasteful and over-bureaucratic organisation with a Mickey Mouse currency but I realise we are better in it and campaigning aggressively to change it than be outside it. After all, we are not part of the Euro or the Schengen Agreement and we should have been way tougher with them while remaining inside the club.

A New Referendum with Three Options

UPDATE December 9th 2018
Theresa May has just negotiated a ‘Deal’ (I though we had a good one – not in Schengen and with our own currency) so let’s have another Referendum before it’s too late, but with THREE options:
1. Do you want Theresa May’s Deal?
2. Do you want to leave the EU without a deal?
3. Do you simply want to remain in the EU?

I would vote for option 3! But I would demand that our leaders be very awkward and cheat a bit when necessary. After all, that’s what countries like France, Italy and Hungary do quite successfully!

James Stretten – Landlords and Letting

Can you afford to use price comparison sites?

Image shows the lavishness of comparison websites' spending on advertising which you pay for.

An irritating opera singer, men in hotpants, James Corden and some meerkats

Can you AFFORD to use Price Comparison websites?

Landlords and Letting offers all kinds of landlord insurance at great value prices. One way to help keep these insurance products very competitive is to NOT appear on so-called price comparison websites. And of course it must be said that not all insurance providers do appear on these sites.

Almost all price comparison sites, whether they are comparing insurance, meals out or anything else, have to charge the companies that appear there a lot of money. This is simply because the sites themselves spend a large fortune advertising themselves in the most lavish of ways.

And who do you think ends up paying for this advertising? Yes, you guessed it!

Comparing The Meerkat and the Market

Take the ludicrous and massively over-the-top Compare The Meerkat campaign. Some overly creative and no doubt overly paid whizz in a Soho or Covent Garden ad agency obviously saw that ‘Compare The Market’ was very similar to ‘Compare The Meerkat’. So they must have thought ‘Let’s have a campaign based on meerkats and let’s call them Aleksandr and Sergei and they can have a Russian accent’ (Why?!)

The latest incredibly lavish productions show Aleksandr and Sergei encouraging people to go to the movies. You don’t want to go to the movies, you want the best buy! They even have a special website for you to view their gorgeous creations! If you have seen the ads, can you even begin to imagine how much this self-indulgent nonsense costs? It’s a price comparison site – not the latest Disney blockbuster!

Men in hot pants and and just one irritating opera singer

Then there are the ads showing an irritating opera singer flying through the air, or eating a cornetto or whatever and has the ubiquitous James Corden driving across America. I think we’ve all had enough of him haven’t we? And of course there are those awful excrutiating Moneysupermarket ads with inexplicably camp men walking about in hot pants or dancing with an equally camp Skeletor. All of these cost a fortune to make and indeed the TV time alone must be incredibly expensive.

You are probably the one paying for this nonsense!

And it all has to be paid for. And you will probably be the one paying for it because you can only be shown those companies who pay the price comparison sites to be listed and those companies have to cover this cost somehow. I cannot categorically state here that you will pay more by using the sites mentioned and I know that to some extent the economies of scale will play a part, but you can be sure that you are very unlikely to GET THE BEST DEAL by only shopping on price comparison websites. Simples!


Landlords and Letting – Affordable Landlord Insurances
NOT on price comparison sites.

After Brexit, George gets his P45 – time to reverse anti-landlord taxes?


In April this year, a raft of anti-landlord measures came into force – courtesy of George Osborne. There was the increased Stamp Duty hike of 3% on buy-to-let properties and the beginning of the phasing out of interest on buy-to-let mortgages as allowable business expenses for landlords. The latter, I believe, is currently being challenged in the courts.

Now George is gone and Brexit’s here

I for one was pleased that Mr Osborne was given his P45 by Theresa May in the tumultuous weeks that followed our decision to leave the EU. I think he had it coming but maybe that’s just me being spiteful!

Personally, I am pretty sure that although Osborne’s tax changes were sold as help for first time buyers, they were really aimed at giving The City a piece of the buy-to-let pie. This is because some of the legislation specifically excluded large scale investors and of course large financial institutions are not as dependent on borrowed money as are small-time landlords.

Uncertainty is now adversely affecting the property market

The RICS and other institutions are now reporting a significant slowing of the property market following the decision to begin leaving the EU. How long this uncertainty will last is anyone’s guess but it’s a given fact that uncertainty almost always affects markets badly. And since the negotiations are going to be long and complex this uncertainty probably won’t be short-lived. Add to this the fact that, assuming we do get a significant reduction in immigration, demand for housing will slacken. I personally would welcome this, even though it might hurt my pocket, because the UK really is becoming uncomfortably overcrowded and the quality of life really is being affected.

It’s time to reverse Osborne’s tax changes

The phasing out of mortgage expenses as an allowable business expense was an outrage and, whilst I agree with the extra 3% on second or additional homes, it is wholly unjustified to penalise people who buy property to let in this way, and for many it is their main livelihood.

The fact is that Brexit has naturally caused great uncertainty and that uncertainty has caused a slowing in the property market, so I think it would not only be right to reverse Osborne’s outrageous tax changes but it would also be financially prudent.

Malcolm James Stretten

Landlords and Letting – affordable landlord insurances


What do YOU think?
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The demonisation of the private landlord


Have you noticed that recently there seem to be lots of stories about rogue landlords, who fail to repair their property, harass their tenants and carry out ‘revenge evictions’?

This has been coupled with an increasing amount of legislation, aimed at forcing private landlords to jump through more and more legal hoops. Even since 2006 landlords have been forced to comply with government regulations on the handling of tenants’ security deposits. This was of course perfectly justifiable in that many unscrupulous landlords used to unfairly withhold deposits, citing non-existent damage to the property etc.


Local Authority Registration

However, things have progressed a lot from the Tenancy Deposit legislation. Many local authorities have for some time been forcing landlords to register with them. This is ostensibly to ensure that only ‘fit’ persons are allowed to be landlords and to ensure that adequate standards of repair are maintained. But really it’s mainly just another way for local authorities to grab a piece of the buy to let pie because there is alway a fee for this ‘service’.

Bank of England

The Bank of England has been clamping down on self-certified mortgages for buy to let landlords. Sensible stuff following the 2008 Credit Crunch you may rightly say, but it’s just one more thing…And don’t forget that this control on mortgages has no effect at all on very rich landlords and companies who don’t need mortgages.

Assured Shorthold Tenancies and Deregulation Act 2015

But the really onerous legislation was introduced this year, by The ‘Conservative Party’, with the Assured Shorthold Tenancies and Deregulation Act, a mouthful in more ways than one, which came into effect on October 1st.

Principal provisions of this Act are, for Tenancies that start on or after October 1st 2015:

• Landlords must supply a Gas appliance safety certificate
• Landlords must fit prescribed CO and Smoke Alarms in a prescribed way
• Landlords must supply a valid EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) – who the hell reads these!
• Tenants must be supplied with a copy of the Government booklet called ‘How To Rent’
• Additionally, landlords can only serve a Section 21 Eviction Notice after 4 months of the first tenancy
• The Section 21 must be in the new ‘prescribed’ form.
• There will be a six month limit to any Section 21 notice after service.
• If there is any outstanding local authority health and safety improvement notice, no Section 21 notice may be served for at least 6 months.

The judges join in

Recently, I read about a case on Tessa Shepperson’s excellent Landlord Law Blog. It detailed how a judge had decided that a tenant who has suffered a fall or similar in the communal parts of a block of flats has the absolute right to claim off the landlord – unless the landlord can show that he or she had ‘recently’ inspected the property and officially raised the matter with the block Management Company. This is even if the tenant HAD NOT REPORTED THE DEFECT TO THE LANDLORD! So, the implications of this idiot ruling would mean that a landlord would be required to check the property at least once a week – not too easy if the landlord lives abroad or a long way from the property.  And so it goes on…

Now, let’s also remember that all this landlord legislation has been introduced by a CONSERVATIVE government. And most of the anti-landlord rhetoric has been conducted partly during the time of the Coalition and also since the last election – by the CONSERVATIVES themselves.

Abolition of Mortgage Tax Relief for Buy To Let Mortgages

Finally, we come to Osborne’s piece de resistance – the gradual abolition of mortgage tax relief for buy to let landlords – fully effective by 2020. Brought in supposedly to ‘help first-time buyers’. But again the only landlords it’ll really hurt are heavily leveraged ones. The rich landlords or companies with 100s of properties and companies with access to masses of cash will not really be affected at all.


So the big question is WHY? Never mind the self-righteous cant about protecting helpless tenants or ‘looking after first time buyers’ – a group that’s patronised almost as much by politicians as ‘Hard Working Families’. I believe that it’s because The City of London has its greedy eyes set on the residential property market in most parts of England. What they can’t stand is that people with any spare capital rightly prefer to invest their cash direct into property rather than get ripped off by investment vehicles with their outrageous fund management charges. You will probably soon start to hear calls for ‘more responsible landlords’, ‘stable landlords’ and so on.

They are waiting for all the small-time landlords, driven out of business by Osborne’s iniquitous tax reforms to come to them and invest in rip-off Residential Investment Funds, where instead of getting up to 8% on their investment, people will end up with say 3% or so – and we know where the rest will go!

What’s more, many people have been fooled by Osborne’s new tax reforms, thinking that they are well intentioned and being pleased that they will hurt those ‘bloody awful landlords who are making life hell for tenants’. But, after all the changes I believe nothing will change for tenants. It is the iron Law of Supply and Demand, with too many people chasing too few properties, mainly because of uncontrolled immigration into an already overcrowded country.

Stop the demonisation!

I would urge all landlords to write to their MPs and protest at this so-called reform of the tax structure affecting buy-to-let mortgages. And although a small minority of landlords are indeed terrible and need to be tackled, let’s stop this continuing demonization of all private residential landlords. Many are simply ordinary folk who, finding they can only get 1% on their savings in the bank or ripped off by fund managers and their investment vehicles, decided to do the only thing they can – invest in buy to let.


Landlords and Letting – Insurance to protect landlords