Category Archives: Money

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 Confused.com 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.

Time to restrict the Pollsters?

Image of ballot box, Corbyn, Trump, May, Clinton, and Cameron

How the polls distorted recent elections

I think that the experience of the last few years clearly shows that it’s high time we addressed the problem of polling. I would go so far as to say that it is regularly distorting the democratic process.

Let’s take a look at a few recent prominent examples:

The 2015 UK General Election

David Cameron was facing a Labour Party lead by Ed Miliband (remember them?) with an ascendent SNP. The talk was that the Tories were unlikely to win and the best they could expect was a minority government. At this time UKIP were riding high and and were snapping at Cameron’s heals.

All the polls were pointing to a hung parliament at best. So, believing he’d never have to actually do it, David Cameron promised a Referendum on our membership of the EU to buy off UKIP.

And then he won. Having won, he was forced to honour that reckless pledge to hold a referendum.

The EU Referendum

The pollsters assured us that the vote would go fairly comfortably to remain. In fact even on poll night, Cameron and Osborne (remember him?) were very confident of victory and in the early hours were actually seen celebrating.

And then they lost and the vote was to leave the EU.

The 2016 US Presidential Election

The polls pointed to a win by Hilary Clinton. And then the idiot Trump became president. Admittedly it was a choice between Dumb and Dumber, but Dumber did clearly win.

The 2017 UK General Election

Buoyed up by the polls, Theresa May felt confident of victory over a Labour Party lead by Jeremy Corbyn and went ahead and called a general election. Being so confident she ran a very poor campaign that took her voters for granted, but as we know although she won, her majority was drastically reduced and she now heads a weak government incapable of negotiating toughly with the EU over Brexit.

The culpability of Pollsters

The pollsters constantly publish the results of their polls, right up to the actual vote itself. But as all scientists know, by measuring anything you are going to change that thing in some way. People hear the results and react accordingly. In any election, a significant proportion of the voters are somewhat apathetic and lukewarm at best. They hear that the result they favour is going to happen anyway and thus they don’t bother to go out and vote.

So, taking the above recent examples, Cameron recklessly promised a referendum, partly on the totally inaccurate polls – result: The EU Referendum.

Listening to the polls, many relaxed supporters of ‘Remain’ probably didn’t bother to vote – result: we voted to Leave.

Listening to the pollsters, in the 2016 Presidential Election many half-hearted Democratic supporters probably didn’t bother to vote (admittedly the US electoral system also played a part) – result: the idiot Trump became President.

Finally, listening to the polls, the Tories came up with policies that took their voters for granted – result: a weak and wounded government, unable to even properly negotiate with the likes of Jean Claude Juncker, the ex-president of an apology for a country that most people only ever associate with being a pop radio station.

So, to sum up, partly thanks to the pollsters we have an idiot in the White House, a ruined and weak government under Theresa May and Britain facing Brexit that’s being negotiated by a divided and weak Tory Party. 

Time to restrict the Pollsters

Over the past few years they have been proved wrong time and time again. So, I say let’s make it illegal to publish the results of any poll within one month of an election. 

 

Landlords and Letting – Affordable Landlord Insurance

 

Letting Agents – landlords should avoid them!

Landlords – how to save around £5500 letting your property

Letting agents charging outrageous fees to landlords

There has been a lot of discussion recently about how letting agents regularly rip off tenants – and they do. The government is belatedly introducing legislation to restrict their fees to tenants. But they also rip off landlords and whilst it’s difficult for tenants to avoid them, it’s much easier for landlords, as long as their property is local.

Given letting agents outrageous fees to landlords, it’s incredible they have the nerve to invent all the other charges they make to tenants – that’s why most tenants and landlords alike dislike them.

Letting Agents’ charges to landlords

Agents love to talk in terms of percentages because it enables them to disguise the iniquitous levels of charging they engage in. So let’s take a property that the rent is £1500 per calendar month. I have taken as an example the quoted fees of a well know high street agent, which do include landlord rent guarantee insurance.*

I am assuming the case of tenants who remain in the property for a total of two years…

These agents charge 7.5% plus VAT for Sole Letting Rights – this means that WHOEVER lets the property this agent gets their cash.

The real costs of using a letting agent

  1. Letting fee for let only will be £1500 x 12 x 7.5% = £1350.00 plus VAT for the FIRST year, paid in advance.
  2. Let’s say you are stupid enough to use their ‘Full Management Service’. This involves collecting the rent – it just goes into their account before eventually going into yours. They deal with everyday calls from the tenants and make 6 monthly inspections etc. Add an EXTRA 6% plus VAT. So that’s £1500 x 12 x 6% = £1080.00 per annum extra plus VAT.
  3. Providing you with an Inventory – between £140 – £200. So, let’s say £170 on average.
  4. If the same tenants simply decide to stay on in the premises which involves the agent in doing VIRTUALLY NOTHING they will charge the landlord another 7.5% plus VAT – Yes ANOTHER fee, amounting to £1350.00 plus VAT

Let’s add up all the bold figures because they are indeed bold. That’s £1350.00 x 2 + £1080 x 2 + £170.00 = £5030 plus VAT where applicable.

So, you let a flat or house for £1500 pcm and end up paying the letting agent £5030.00 plus VAT, which is £6036.00! 

Even if you only elect for the let only service, over two years it would cost you £2700.00 plus VAT which is a massive £3240.00. And all this is paid up front at the beginning of each year.

Letting agents fleecing the tenants as well

So the letting agents get all this money from the landlord then they proceed to rip off the tenants for even more money!

They have various ingenious made up charges, such as ‘Administration Fees’, ‘Checking In Fees’, ‘Checking Out Fees’.

Then there’s the scandalous ‘Holding Fees’ to retain a property while referencing is carried out. It is reasonable to withhold them in the event that the tenants change their minds. But they also withhold these fees in the event that the references come back as unsatisfactory. These fees can be as much as £700 – £800. They probably hope they’ll come back as unsatisfactory.

Some letting agents charge tenants for ‘drawing up the Assured Shorthold Tenancy’ document’. This takes about 15 minutes to revise a template on their system.

And then there is referencing. Charging for this is justified, but for tenants in full-time employment with proof of previous address etc it COSTS around £10.00 per tenants. Many agents charge around £60 – £70 per tenant.

If you’re a landlord and you can, just let it yourself

As a landlord you can list your property on the main portals like Rightmove, Zoopla, Primelocation etc, using companies that will charge you around £60.00. You then ensure that you THOROUGHLY reference any prospective tenants rather than saying to yourself ‘Oh they seem such a nice couple’.

Don’t forget Landlord Rent Guarantee Insurance

Then you buy Landlord Rent Guarantee and Legal Expenses Insurance* – we do it for about £105.00 per property per year.  This insurance pays your rent in the event that the tenants stop paying for any reason and the legal team then go to work to evict the tenants as soon as possible. Strict tenant referencing is a requirement of this insurance. Let’s assume you charge the tenants for referencing, which is reasonable then your total outlay over two years will be about £170.00.

So it’s your choice. Pay a letting agent £3240.00 or £6036.00 including VAT or spend £170.00 letting it yourself. Some agents will charge even more than the amounts quoted above and some will negotiate for less but as the Americans say, I think it’s a no-brainer.

 

LandlordsandLetting – Affordable landlord insurances

10 years of anti-landlord legislation from Tony Blair to Theresa May

10 years of anti-landlord legislation. Why?

What a difference a decade makes!

At the time of writing (2017) over 100 new pieces of landlord legislation have been introduced since 2007 to make life more difficult for the small private residential landlord, whilst favouring major corporate ones like insurance companies. Why have there been 10 years of anti-landlord legislation?

It used to be The Bankers (and rightly) but increasingly since 2007, private residential landlords have been the target for a relentless onslaught of legislation by central and local government. I think that no other group in society has been attacked so relentlessly and unjustly and there is a reason for this.

Tories join in the landlord bashing

Labour politicians have always hated private landlords and have passed legislation to control rents and other aspects of letting ever since the 1960s. It’s in their DNA. But in recent years, the so-called Conservative Party has enthusiastically joined in the game. They have proclaimed that evil greedy private landlords are preventing ‘young first-time buyers’ from getting on the proverbial property ladder by snapping up available property.

But I suspect that these crocodile tears for dispossessed first-time buyers are really there to hide their true aim. And that is to corporatise the private rented sector. For years, City institutions have looked on enviously at the returns private landlords were achieving and have been upset that such investors have shied away from their rip-off pension funds. Add to this the derisory interest rates of recent years and you can see why so many people have felt that investing in buy-to-let was their only viable option.

Now, whilst I totally support legislation that genuinely tackles rogue landlords, the problem is that much of the new legislation and regulations actually hit the decent law-abiding landlord. Rogue landlords don’t give a damn about HMO rules and registration etc. And if they want to get a tenant out they don’t bother with Repossession Orders etc they just go round there and intimidate them until they leave.

List of 10 Years of Anti-Landlord Legislation

Here is a list (not in chronological order) of only the most prominent anti-landlord legislation of the past 10 years.

  • In 2007 the government introduced the law requiring landlords to deal with security deposits in a prescribed manner. Generally I believe this was good thing but it does add to the bureaucracy involved in starting a tenancy. And if you don’t comply it can lead to the landlord having to compensate the tenant with up to three times the deposit amount and also forfeit the right to issue a Section 21 Notice.
  • Recently the government made it a legal responsibility for all landlords to issue tenants with their How To Rent booklet.
  • Landlords also now have to check on a prospective tenant’s RIGHT to rent. The landlord is supposed to act as an unpaid immigration official and check that the tenant has the right to live in the UK. Saves on immigration officers though I suppose.
  • Since October 2015 all landlords have a statutory obligation from day one to supply and install working smoke an carbon monoxide alarms on every floor that may be used wholly or partly for accommodation. They have to demonstrate how to use them and then get the tenant to sign to say that they have been shown how to use them!
  • Any property of 3 or more floors and/or housing five or more people not living as one household is classed as an HMO (House of Multiple Occupation). And every HMO (unless you’re a rogue landlord of course) requires guess what? A Licence from the local authority.
  • And talking of licences and ways local authorities can prey on landlords, many local authorities now require EVERY let property to be licensed and of course that costs more money. They don’t actually DO anything except take the money off the landlord and eventually email him or her a certificate – a nice little earner indeed.
  • By Law, all tenants have to be supplied with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Who the hell reads those things anyway?
  • From April 1st 2016 Boy George introduced some draconian disincentives to landlords before he was finally sent packing by Mother Theresa. It is very complex but the first tax change was a gradual lessening of the allowable mortgage interest expenses on buy-to-let mortgages. This will eventually drive many landlords away from buy-to-let completely – depending on how heavily leveraged they are.
  • Osborne also introduce legislation that means that anyone buying a buy-to-let property has to pay 3% more Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) than if they were buying for owner occupation. However, if you – or should I say, a large company, buys six properties or more simultaneously then the SDLT is significantly LESS than even an owner occupier would pay. It’s classed as a ‘commercial purchase’ for tax purposes. Guess who that benefits?
  • He also made changes to WHEN a landlord has to pay capital gains tax on a property he or she sells. Originally you had until the next tax year but now I think it has to be paid within three months of completion. You will need to check on the precise period as I am not sure.

Complexity of Anti-Landlord Legislation

You see, the main reason that these 10 years of anti-landlord legislation favours corporate landlords is the fact that it is so labrythine! It’s so complex that even small professional landlords find it hard to navigate. However, if you are The Prudential or similar then you just employ a specialist landlord and tenant lawyer full-time – easy!

So how long before landlords decide enough’s enough?

The only reason that so many small private landlords are continuing is that there nowhere else for them to invest. Stocks and shares are doing well at the moment but they are risky. Pension schemes are notorious for ripping-off people and who is going to invest their money in a so-called safe bank and get 1% interest if they’re lucky?

I predict though that if interest rates do eventually move upward by even a relatively small amount it will cause a massive earthquake in the UK property market because there are many older reluctant landlords who would much rather get at least a modest return on their savings than endure these increasing attacks from government.

More than ever Landlord Rent Guarantee Insurance matters

Given the mounting anti-landlord legislation it makes more sense than ever to have Landlord Rent Guarantee and Legal Expenses Insurance. It costs just over £100 for 12 months cover per property from LandlordsandLetting – this covers up to five named tenants in that property.

 

LandlordsandLetting

Affordable landlord insurances

Theresa May to meet Arlene Phillips at No 10?

image of Theresa May dancing with Nick Timothy

Could Theresa and Nick be a hit on Strictly Come Dancing?

I was watching Sky News a couple of days ago and one of their reporters was doing a live report to camera outside No 10 Downing Street.  She actually announced that Theresa May was due to meet Arlene Phillips at No 10 on Tuesday.

Was this a mis-speak, as I assumed at the time…or was it actually true?

I know that Arlene Phillips is not the leader of the DUP, and is probably not a creationist or anti-gay in any way, but there were rumours last year of Arlene returning to Strictly Come Dancing.

Ed Balls does Gangnam Style

Here’s the thing. There’s quite a glittering record of failed politicians getting on Strictly.  The blonde Anne Widdecombe did it, although admittedly she showed she was no Ginger Rodgers. And we all know how ex-shadow Chancellor Ed Balls turned a political disaster of a career into a huge success on Strictly Come Dancing. I was particularly impressed with his Gangnam Style dance with his glamorous partner Katya Jones.

image of Arlene Phillips endorsing Charles Darwin

Arlene Phillips (NOT Arlene Foster)

Could Strictly save Theresa May and Nick Timothy?

So could Theresa be thinking the same way?  Will she follow in the nimble footsteps of Ed Balls? Could Strictly Come Dancing be her saviour too? She is going to need some pretty nimble political footwork to get herself out of the mess she’s got herself and us into, so maybe she could imitate Ed and also be a great success in sequins on the dance floor?

And of course, now her equally useless advisor, Nick Timothy has lost his job, maybe he could also join Strictly Come Dancing?

Evidence mounts

There are various other pieces of evidence that she may be planning an eventual move into ballroom dancing.  Politically she has always been very good at dancing on the head of a pin and she has done some very nifty about-turns in her career as Home Secretary and latterly PM. Her love of shoes is legendary – apparently she wore 17 different pairs during the campaign, whilst dowdy Corbyn only wore one pair.  And Theresa May certainly likes her clothes – surely one of our most stylish PMs?

Vote – not ANOTHER election!

So, should Theresa meet Arlene Phillips and give Strictly a go? Yes or No (this question is NOT suitable for the politicians amongst you). See our Poll below…

James Stretten

 

Landlords and Letting

Affordable Landlord Insurances

[yop_poll id=”3″]

What sort of Brexit do YOU want?

photo of Theresa May

Theresa May

photo of Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn

 

So, what sort of Brexit do YOU want? Do you want a Hard Brexit? Do you want a Soft Brexit? What about a Soft and Cuddly Brexit, or perhaps a Thin and Crispy Brexit?

A Warm and Soothing Brexit

We now have a situation where even prominent politicians are talking non-stop nonsense about what sort of Brexit we should have.  Usually on the left they seem to be demanding a Warm and Soothing Brexit – rather like a nice cup of Horlicks that Jeremy Corbyn would have to help him wind down after a hard day’s politicking about how he intends to spend other people’s money.

Any Answers Bleaters

Certainly if you listen to irrepressibly middle class middle-Englanders on Radio 4’s Any Answers, most of them seem to be calling for a Kind and Soothing Brexit where a Lovely European Brexit Omelette gets made without cracking anybody’s free-range eggs.  Wouldn’t it be luverly?

Hard or Soft Brexit? – it’s all nonsense

On the right we often hear demands for a Hard Brexit or maybe even a Vindictive and Vicious one.  Or even a Sod Off Johnny Foreigner Brexit.

But it’s all puerile nonsense!  The reality is less exciting.

We are going into a NEGOTIATION.  And in a negotiation each side seeks to get the best deal they can wring out of the other side.  All I can say is that I’d love to sell my car to one of these people bleating about ‘Soft Brexit’.  They say that under no circumstances should we go into the negotiations saying things like ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’. I know that’s a phrase made famous by that massive Looser May, but I still think it’s the right thing to SAY.

Selling a used car to the ‘Soft Brexiteers’

So I would advertise my car for way over its market value for say £14000.  These kinds of people would turn up, start kicking the tyres and, having told me ‘a bad deal IS better than no deal’, would offer me £10500.  I’d say NO, I want £14000.  They’d then perhaps offer £12900 and I’d still say NO, I want £14000.  And eventually I’d get £14000.

A great deal for me but a shitty one for them!

Landlords and Letting
Affordable Landlord Insurances

 

Is there a future for traditional estate agency?

view of traditional estate agents for sale and to let boards

I was prompted to write this after receiving something in my email inbox about how traditional estate agencies are suffering in the current Brexit market.

Estate Agencies on the High Street

Once upon a time, if you were looking to sell, buy or rent a property you would either check out the ads in the local paper and/or wander down the local high street and have a chat with people in the local estate agencies. People do still do this, but a huge and increasing number now simply go online, usually heading straight for the main portals like Rightmove, Primelocation and Zoopla, or maybe the agents’ own websites.

Nowadays, there are agents set up to exploit this new world, such as Purplebricks.com who just charge vendors a fairly low fixed fee to market their property. Of course this does save vendors a huge amount but only if the property actually sells, because of course, traditional agents’ fees are dependent on the sale actually completing.

Agents’ high commission

But it is true that with astronomical property prices (in some parts of the UK) the traditional agent’s 1.25% fee actually can translate into a huge amount of cash. It’s not uncommon in London and the South East for quite ordinary properties to sell for £700,000 or more. At only 1.25 % this means that vendors are having to give the agent £8750.00 PLUS 20% VAT. And for agents who are charging 1.5% it amounts to a staggering £10.500 plus VAT!

The High Street Estate Agency – who still needs it?

However, estate agents will rightly point to the huge expense of maintaining a high street presence and having to spend money on expensive newspaper advertising. But are either of these really necessary anymore? How many people actually bother to visit a high street agent with all the problems of city centre parking etc? And do purchasers really pay much attention to the local paper even? Not only are printed ads often out of date but sadly, local papers, like so much other printed media are in serious decline.

Perhaps the future lies in much more ‘stripped-down’ a la carte estate agencies, where they do not maintain high street offices but work out of ordinary offices not in city centres. Furthermore they would not advertise unless the client wishes to pay for it and rely almost entirely on web interaction. This would mean that fees could be much less and still allow the agents to make decent profits.

Landlords and letting property

As for lettings agencies, I think much the same applies. In fact, as a landlord unless you live far away from your rental investment, it really does not make sense to use an agent at all. You can now use companies who will let you access the main property portals for a very small fee. However, if you do not use a letting agent , obtaining Landlord Rental Guarantee and Legal Expenses Insurance together with thorough referencing is even more important – but still much cheaper than using an agent.

I am sure that, except for selling, renting and buying the most prestigious and up-market properties, the future is in this much more ‘stripped-down’ letting or sales agency.

 

Landlords and Letting – Affordable Landlord Insurance

Will you be forced to repay rent to your tenants?

view to let and for sale signs, typical of signs landlords would look for

Yet more anti-landlord legislation starts to become operative this April (2017). This one is unimaginatively called The Housing & Planning Act 2016.

How does it affect landlords? Will YOU be forced to repay rent to your tenants?

If you are found guilty by a tribunal of any of the following offences you can be ordered to pay back up to 12 months’ rent…

  • Failing to comply with an Improvement Notice under section 30 of The Housing Act 2004.
  • Failing to comply with a Prohibition Order under section 32 of The Housing Act 2004.
  • Any breach of a banning order made under section 21 of the Housing & Planning Act 2016 (this act)
  • If you use violence to gain entry to a property under section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977.
  • If you illegally evict or harass the occupiers of a property under section 1 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

Making an example of transgressing landlords

The above applies whether you are receiving rent direct from a tenant or wholly or partly from the local authority. The act also states that tribunals need to take deterrence into account when fining landlords and urges making examples of transgressors to dissuade others.

Either your tenant(s) or the local authority can apply for Rent Repayment Orders.

These powers come into effect on 6th April 2017.

The main points of the new laws are…

• Civil penalties of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution for certain specified offences.
• Extension of rent repayment orders of up to 12 MONTHS’ rent, to cover illegal eviction, a breach of a banning order and certain other specified offences (coming into force on 6 April 2017);
• There’ll be a database of rogue landlords and property agents who have been convicted of certain offences or received multiple civil penalties (scheduled to come into force on 1 October 2017);
• Banning orders for the most serious and prolific offenders (scheduled to come into force on 1 October 2017).

The full dreary details are here.

Landlords and Letting – Affordable Landlord Insurance

 

Landlord Taxes – Is this REALLY a Conservative Government?

image of George Osborne as Boy George

Boy George and landlord taxes

When Boy George was Chancellor under the Cameron government, he introduced a whole new raft of landlord taxes aimed at ‘helping first-time buyers get on the property ladder’. But did he really want to help them? The PR theme was that demand from landlords was making it difficult for first-time-buyers to enter the property market. And as usual it had a nice ring to it.

However, I would assert, as I have before, that George was more interested in letting the City have a bigger piece of the Buy To Let Pie as the new rules did not hit large corporate bodies in the same way as small private landlords – Prudential has bought into it in a big way.

Mother Theresa dismisses Boy George

Then we all breathed a sigh of relief when Boy George was sent packing by Mother Theresa and welcomed the somewhat less boyish Phillip Hammond, assuming he would actually start acting like a Conservative chancellor. Well it seems we rejoiced too soon, because so far he still seems keen on more landlord taxes and is continuing with the policies of scrapping of tax relief for interest on buy-to let mortgages and the increased Stamp Duty for buy to let properties.

They now talk about ‘level playing fields’ – don’t politicians love metaphors? They say that mortgage tax relief for landlords gives them an unfair advantage over first-time buyers. They forget that the incredibly low interest rate environment and mass immigration has meant that buying to let is just about the only game in town that’s left for individual investors. Also, they forget that when you sell a buy-to-let property, unlike permanent private residence, you have top pay a shed-load, or rather a house-load of Capital Gains Tax. But then again, the MPs Expenses’ Scandal showed they knew only too well about the importance of flipping a property to avoid CGT.

No Opposition at All

The thing is that Mother Theresa and her chums are no longer faced with any opposition at all. Jeremy Corbyn has managed to effectively reduce Labour to a student debating society in which Diane Abbott seems to be an all purpose minister for just about anything and probably even handles any small plumbing emergencies at Labour HQ. By claiming he was present at many events he wasn’t and knew people he didn’t, Paul Nuttall managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory for UKIP in the Stoke by-election. And the Liberal Democrats…well they’re still very Liberal and Democratic and that’s about it.

So, the Conservatives realise that Landlords represent a very small section of their natural constituency, have become folk villains, have nowhere else to turn and as such their wishes can be safely ignored.  They are now going for the ‘middle-ground’ to further increase their majority by tempting soft Labour voters away from Jeremy.

Residential Landlords Association

As I write this, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) have mounted a last ditch attempt before The Budget to persuade Chancellor Phillip Hammond to scrap Boy George’s tax changes that stop landlords being able to offset mortgage interest against income from buy to let properties.

Let’s wish the RLA luck.

 

Landlords and Letting – Affordable Landlord Insurance