Property Update – November 2021

CGT changes for landlords rejected by Treasury

The Treasury has scrapped proposals from a financial watchdog to increase capital gains tax rates and reduce the annual allowance.

The measure would have hit landlords in the pocket as capital gains tax (CGT) is charged on the gifting or sale of buy to let homes.

The recommendation came from the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS), which published two reports on CGT on the orders of Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

But on reading the reports, the Treasury sent a letter to the OTS confirming ministers would not implement the recommendations any time soon.

“These reforms would involve a number of wider policy trade-offs and so careful thought must be given to the impact that they would have on taxpayers, as well as any additional administrative burden on HMRC,” said Lucy Frazer, Financial Secretary to the Treasury. “The government will continue to keep the tax system under constant review to ensure it is simple and efficient.”

Landlords have a tax-free yearly allowance of £12,300 frozen at that level until 2025.

However, they pay enhanced CGT rates on residential property disposals other than their main home: 18 per cent at the basic rate and 28 per cent at the higher rate.

The Treasury has agreed to streamline how CGT is paid by setting up an online hub. Officials will also look at extending ‘no gain, no loss’ transfer rules between separating spouses.

In the same letter, Frazer also dismissed overhauling inheritance tax along the lines suggested in two recent OTS reports requested by the Chancellor.

Read the Treasury letter.

House building falls short of target

Hopes that more new homes were on the way to relieve the growing housing crisis took a bashing when the government released data showing demand is outstripping supply.

Figures from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities shows 216,490 new homes were added in England during 2020-21 – a fall of 11 per cent on the previous year.

New builds accounted for 194,060 homes. The rest came from a change of use or conversion.

Timothy Douglas, policy and campaigns manager at ARLA Propertymark, the trade body for letting agents, said: “The UK Government’s latest figures on net additional dwellings paint a deeply worrying picture as industry data tells us that demand is far outstripping supply in both the sales and lettings markets meaning there could not be a worse time for housing delivery to plummet.

“Despite the steady upwards trajectory of new delivery since 2012-13, the UK Government still had some way to go to deliver on their target of 300,000 new homes per year by the mid-2020s. Based on these statistics, it is unlikely they will achieve this.

“Due to the impact of the materials shortage for the construction sector, this also highlights real concern for the UK Government’s ability to meet its target.

See the latest data tables.

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London landlords fined £1m in a year

London councils have picked up more than £1 million in fines from rogue landlords over the past year.

Total recorded landlord fines in the capital reached £7.1 million at the start of November, according to Kamma, a data company monitoring the Mayor of London’s Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker.

Fines so far in 2021 are £1.076 million, averaging just under £90,000 a month.

The most active boroughs for enforcing housing laws are Camden, Newham and Southwark.

Kamma CEO Orla Shields said: “The lettings market is more regulated than ever before. Licensing schemes, fines and enforcement through Rent Repayment Orders are all increasing, so it’s vital Agents act to protect themselves, their landlords and of course their tenants.”

Letting agents and landlords face fines of up to £30,000 for breaking housing law, including failing to comply with tenant safety and licensing regulations.

Read more about the Kamma statistics and November’s UK rogue landlord action.

UK homes worth more than ever

House prices are still defying gravity with an 11.8 per cent rise, says the latest Office for National Statistics data.

Average home values in the UK have reached £270,000 – up £28,000 in a year to reach a new high.

Homes in England are worth even more, rising 11.5 per cent in 12 months to reach a record average value of £288,000.

London prices were in the doldrums for the tenth month in a row, posting an annual increase of 2.3 per cent. House prices rose the most in the North West – up 16.8 per cent in the year to the end of October.

Get the ONS house price report.

UK rents revive, but London lags

Rents are slowly moving upwards after months of flat-lining, says new data.

The Office for National Statistics figures for October reveals rents climbed 1.5 per cent after a slowdown driven by falling London rents dating back to November 2019.

Private rents rose 2.2 per cent across the country but excluding London, while tenants paid just 0.1 per cent extra in the capital – the lowest rate in England.

“This reflects a decrease in demand, such as remote working shifting housing preferences, meaning workers no longer need to be close to their offices. It also reflects an increase in supply, such as an excess supply of rental properties as short-term lets change to long-term lets,” says the ONS report.

Other data from tenant referencing firm Homelet suggests the average UK rent is £1,058 a month – up 8.6 per cent from last year.

Read the ONS and Homelet reports.

Property Investment UK: The Top Firms

Property investment is a lucrative business and an attractive proposition for many new investors across the UK. However, there is a kicker. You usually need extensive market knowledge and experience in property to be successful on your own. That’s why many turn to property investment firms. These firms use their expertise and contacts to help budding entrepreneurs invest correctly and safely.

Demand for new homes continues to grow, with the number of new households outgrowing the number of new homes in the UK every year since 2008. Despite Government initiatives, the supply shortage will continue to push prices up long-term and provide attractive returns on your investment. Before delving into the guide, it’s important to note that this isn’t financial advice. If you’re considering investing your own money, you should get in touch with a professional advisor to discuss your options.

What are the pros and cons of investing in property?

As with any financial investment, there are pros and cons to investing in property that you should consider. Even if you choose to go through a property investment company, it’s always helpful to do your own research and be up to date on the latest industry developments.

Property Investment Pros

  • Potential for long-term returns on your investment. It’s essential to understand market trends and how you can improve your property to gain profit.
  • If you choose the right location, property is typically a stable investment to make. Look for areas that have a proven history of price increases over several years.
  • A fantastic way of generating passive income. If you invest in a series of buy-to-lets or buy outright, you’ll receive passive rental income that will cover costs and leave a profit.
  • There are various tax benefits that you can gain from investing in property.

Property Investment Cons

  • Since you’re investing in property, you don’t have much liquidity. Your profits will be tied up with your investment for an extended period of time (sometimes years).
  • If you’re planning to invest in buy-to-let, you could encounter difficult tenants that damage your property and eat into your profits.
  • If you pick a terrible location to invest in, and the neighbourhood becomes undesirable, you could lose money on your investment.
  • Property maintenance isn’t cheap, especially if you buy a property that requires a lot of work.

calculating costs with pen and calculator

Property Investment Companies

A great way to circumvent those cons is to go through a property investment company. These are firms with experience in finding great, low-risk opportunities for investors. They are instrumental if you have other life commitments and don’t have enough time to do your own admin, research, and viewings.

To help guide you, here’s a list of some of the top property investment firms in the UK.

SevenCapital

SevenCapial is a privately-owned property investment company providing investment opportunities in residential and mixed-use developments in London, Birmingham and the South East of England. Its primary focus is to identify undervalued development opportunities and extract profit by implementing its own infrastructure plan. The company also puts emphasis on guiding you throughout the process. These include identifying locations, implementing a quality finish, the sales process, and aftercare.

The company’s portfolio stands at 7.8mn square feet as of November 2021, whilst its portfolio is valued at an excess of £2.10bn. SevenCapital has also been responsible for delivering over 6,760 residential units. If you’re interested, you can browse a selection of developments on the company site. As well as gaining insight to valuable data on expected price growth and yields.

Aspen Woolf

Established in 2005, Aspen Woolf has provided fantastic property investment services for over 15 years, with offices in London and the UAE. The company’s reach is global, with a focus on identifying profitable opportunities for all size investors. Flexibility is one of the company’s main selling points, with opportunities across student housing, commercial developments, residential, and portfolio diversification.

As of November 2021, the company’s portfolio includes various types of properties across cities in the UK. Its website provides valuable tools that can help calculate mortgages, stamp duty costs, and currency exchanges, and it has helpful guides on cities and property investing.

Pure Investor

A Manchester-based property investment company with a portfolio of clients from across the globe. The company’s investment opportunities include buy-to-lets, short term housing, rental properties, student accommodation, off-plan, and off-market investments. The company also actively looks to buy tenanted buy-to-let properties and student accommodation across the UK.

Pure Investors provides a fantastic after-sales service with regular updates on the progress and outlook of developments. If you’re interested, you can contact the company to discuss your investment capacity and the potential yield you can get from the projects on offer. Contacting Pure Investor is easy and can be done via Whatsapp.

model of builders working

Ashby Capital

Another London-based property investment firm with a reputation for providing fantastic long-term investment opportunities. Ashby Capital focuses on extracting added value and generating profit from buildings for clients across all verticals. The company’s property portfolio stands at £1.80bn as of November 2021, with 2.10mn sq ft in assets.

It was founded back in 2013 with an aim of identifying properties in locations that have a significant long-term outlook. Ashby Capital’s current portfolio comprises commercial and retail properties, making the company a great option if you’re not interested in residential investment. Although based in London, the company’s investment portfolio also includes developments in Scotland, Wales, and the Midlands in England.

Thirlmere Deacon

Thirlmere Deacon is a property investment company focusing on advisory and consultancy services for investors and developers. The company operates across a range of asset classes, including student housing, hotels, and buy-to-lets. It has helped clients by identifying investment opportunities across various cities in the UK and emerging areas in Spain, Morocco, Italy, and Brazil.

If you’re interested in the company’s services, you can find a range of helpful tools and guides on locations, cities, holiday homes, and upcoming hotspots on the company’s website. It operates out of offices in London and Dubai.

North Property Group

A property specialist based in Leeds, offering end to end investment opportunities across various locations in the UK. The company has a selection of buy-to-let and off-plan investment opportunities, but it also operates a property lettings and sales service. The company claims to be the only property investment firm that will manage your investment process from start to finish. This makes it a fantastic option if you are an inexperienced investor and need support throughout.

CityRise

City Rise is a property company that offers investment opportunities in addition to management and sales services. It provides services to experienced investors and clients at the start of their investment journey. The firm also helps developers with pricing units, planning, marketing and offers investors properties in undervalued locations with excellent return potential.

You can become a CityRise Premium Buyer to get access to below market value pricing on properties, a 24/7 investor support chat, and priority on off-market developments. The company’s business model rewards long-term relationships. So, if you’re looking to invest long-term, it pays to stick with CityRise.

Fabrix

Fabrix is an exciting property investment company based in London that develops underutilised urban spaces. The company was founded in 2016. Since then, it has worked on various projects with a focus on blending the latest design and environmental practices. The company has a talent for repurposing abandoned buildings, resulting in less waste and CO2 emissions compared to traditional property development projects.

If you’re looking for a fresh take on property development with an environmentally conscious approach, Fabrix could be the right place for you.

cranes in the sky cityscape

TrackCapital

The company helps people find property investment opportunities across the UK. One of the selling points is that the company’s services are entirely free. It makes its money by taking a commission on any property you buy. The company’s business focuses on removing the stress and pressure from property investment regardless of the asset class. So, if you’re an inexperienced investor, TrackCapital could be a fantastic place to start your investment journey.

The company will also provide aid in finding supporting services, such as reputable legal services, currency exchange, and mortgages.

Sourced Capital

A fantastic peer-to-peer lending platform through which you can invest in property development projects directly. This ensures that your money is being utilised how you want. Borrowers are checked thoroughly and go through a strict vetting process before being granted a loan by Sourced Capital.

One of the company’s core aims is to make property investment accessible to everyone. So, you can invest from as little as £250 and receive up to 12% interest per annum on your investment. The company also allows you to invest with your ISA or pension. Sourced Capital is a great place to start if you have low starting capital or would first like to try property investing before committing a large chunk of your funds.

RWinvest

RWinvest has provided property investment services for over 17 years, with a portfolio of over 121 completed development projects in the UK. The company is partnered with some of the country’s best and most trusted property developers. Additionally, its buy-to-let opportunities are centred in the UK’s main hotspots. This ensures that your investment is safe and produces high returns long-term.

Due to its network of developers and excellent customer relations, the company can offer below-market prices that will get you more for your money. If you’d like to learn more, the company’s website provides fantastic guides on property investment and good areas to look at.

Residential Estates

Residential Estate has over 30 years of experience in property investment excellence, focusing on short and long term lettings. The company’s investment opportunities are predominantly in the student and residential segments. In addition to property investment, the company operates within lettings and sales. So, if you’re already a landlord and need a property investment company to manage your already existing portfolio, Residential Estates could be the right place for you.

One Touch

One Touch is a fantastic property investment company that’s equipped to handle new investors. After discussing your requirements with the company, an advisor will look through current opportunities to find one that meets your needs. One Touch will also guide you through the entire process. This includes providing information on potential yields and why an investment works for you.

What you should consider before investing in property

If you’re still confident you’d like to invest in the property market, there are a few factors you should consider before going ahead.

  • Ensure that the property investment company you plan to use is reputable and a full member of the property ombudsman. There are plenty of company’s out there without the right experience and qualifications, so ensure that you do your due diligence.
  • Get professional financial advice. Ensure that you talk through your finances with an advisor before making a decision. Property investment usually means that your money is tied up to a home for a couple of years, so make sure that you don’t need those funds in the short term.
  • It can be easy to make a bad investment in the property sector. Thus, if you’re planning to invest independently, ensure that you’ve done thorough research before buying a property. Using an investment company with years of experience will help you through the process and help identify opportunities worth investing in.
  • Additionally, ensure that you’re working with the right type of property investment company. An asset management firm will be equipped to provide investment advice on when to sell your property and how to extract the most rental income. On the other hand, a property broker will only provide you with a list of property investment opportunities and advise you on which ones fit your particular requirements.

The Market

The UK property market is a fantastic place to invest and make a profit, with the average UK property price expected to hit £323,718 by 2031, compared with £232,084 in 2020. However, as with any financial decision, you should tread carefully and get financial advice.

If you’re thinking of investing in property, or already have a portfolio, Oasis Living offers a range of services to help manage your property with ease. Get in touch today with our team or head to our website for more information.

Short Term Lets in London and Beyond: A Guide

Finding the right rental property is often a demanding and overwhelming task. The process is getting increasingly difficult due to the number of landlords and property owners switching to short term lets for extra flexibility. Remote working has also increased the number of so-called ‘digital nomads’ – people who mix work with travel to see the country/world. As a result, demand for short term lets is growing and showing no signs of slowing down.

What are short term lets?

Most rental agreements that we are familiar with last for periods of one year or more. Usually, landlords like to have a long term outlook to ensure that they get enough rental income to cover their mortgage payments. Any rental agreement signed for less than six months is considered a short term let. Although it can be for up to six months, more often than not, short term lets last from a couple of days to a month.

They are used mainly by holidaymakers and corporate workers staying somewhere long enough to need the amenities of a typical home. As previously mentioned, there is also an increasing demand from digital nomads who stay for short periods in different locations due to the flexibility provided by remote working.

What are the pros and cons?

As with anything in the property market, there’s many advantages and disadvantages to short term lets. So if you’re a landlord, it’s essential to understand these before deciding to switch over from long-term rentals.

Advantages

  • Short term lets provide a flexibility that can’t be had with a longer rental, as you can plan for periods where you need the property to be vacant.
  • Difficult tenants won’t stay for long. With long-term lets, it’s inevitable that you’ll encounter bad tenants. Eviction can be a long and, at times, costly process. With short term lets, however, you’re safe in knowing that difficult tenants aren’t staying for long.
  • You can charge higher rates. Short term lets are always more expensive per day than long-term rentals.
  • For tenants, short term lets are usually cheaper than booking a hotel.
  • If tenants are staying for an extended period, there could be room for price negotiations.

Disadvantages

  • Payments aren’t guaranteed, so there could be significant void periods when business isn’t flowing well. This can be the case for properties located in typical summer holiday spots. It will also mean that you’ll be liable to pay for extras such as internet and other bills.
  • Management is more complicated since you’ll be handling multiple guests instead of signing with just one over a longer period of time.
  • Maintenance costs are also higher since you’ll be dealing with a constant turnover of guests, increasing wear and tear.
  • 90-day rule London – New Government regulations state that properties in London are only authorised to be short let for up to 90 days a year. If the accumulated number of short let days surpasses that, you’ll need to get special permission or rent the property for periods of more than 90 days.

family

Companies that offer short term lets in London and beyond

You should ensure that you notify the estate agent or service provider that you’re seeking a short term tenancy. Not all companies and landlords offer this service, so going on viewings without knowing whether it’s an option could be a waste of time. Here’s a list of companies in London and the UK that offer short term lets.

Foxtons

Foxtons is a traditional estate agent that only operates within Greater London. The company’s short term lets service caters for those looking for accommodation for a couple of days to a few months. The company typically includes bills with the monthly cost and provides properties furnished to a high standard.

Marsh & Parsons

Like Foxtons, Marsh & Parsons is a London traditional estate agent. The company’s short term lets offer accommodation from four weeks up to six months. It also provides a corporate relocation service where it helps business clients rent and research areas before buying a property.

Oasis Living

Oasis Living is a market-disrupting proptech company that aims to simplify and improve the lettings experience in London. Our company offers a flexible booking service that allows you to rent accommodation for how long it suits your needs. Unlike a traditional estate agent, the process is entirely online and won’t cost as much in fees.

MagicStay

MagicStay is an accommodation portal that finds you short term lets in any city. The company provides tailored solutions for different types of travellers, including holidaymakers and professionals. So, if you’re looking beyond London, this is a fantastic option that could save you money instead of booking a hotel.

Hamptons

Hamptons is a traditional estate agency with a long history. Unlike the previous two agencies, though, it offers short term lets across the UK. The company handles the entire process on your behalf, including inventory management and searching for the right property.

Airbnb

Perhaps the most famous provider of short term lets is Airbnb. The company is responsible for revolutionising the market and popularising the rental of short term accommodation instead of booking hotels. Regardless of the location, Airbnb provides a wide selection of properties, each with its own selling point. If you’re looking for variety you will probably find what you’re looking for at Airbnb.

Savills

Like Hamptons, Savills has a long history of providing housing in the UK. The company caters for all clients seeking temporary accommodation, from corporate to holidaymakers. The company offers short term lets across the country, typically including bills, internet, and cleaning services. Note that it only provides short term lets in London, Cambridge, Wilmslow, and the home counties.

Home to go

A short lets property search engine that matches clients with holiday homes in the UK, France, and Spain. The company’s services are mainly tailored for holidaymakers, and as such, there’s a wide selection of property types. You can choose from castles, farmhouses, or camping sites. The company’s site provides a customisable search engine that enables you to find precisely what you want without having to go through an estate agent.

Mulberry Cottages

Mulberry Cottages is a unique short lets provider in the UK, in that it only advertises cottages. If you’re looking for a country getaway, the company will provide you with cottages of all sizes across multiple locations, including seaside and forest.

Vrbo

Vrbo is another fantastic property search engine that provides holiday short lets across the UK. The company offers a wide selection of housing types and locations.

Rightmove

Rightmove is one of the UK’s most popular property search engines. Many don’t know that estate agencies and proptech companies also advertise short-term lets on the platform. Before deciding on a property, be sure to check what company is advertising the unit, as you might prefer an online approach as opposed to a traditional estate agency model.

HolidayLettings

Like Airbnb, HolidayLettings will showcase temporary accommodation anywhere in the world. They also have a useful platform that allows you to filter properties depending on your particular requirements. As the company name suggests, HolidayLettings mainly caters to holidaymakers, but you can also use it if you’re in between properties and need temporary accommodation.

Chestertons

Chestertons is another traditional estate agency in London with plenty of history and experience in offering properties across the city. It operates under a standard model where you’ll need to book viewings and speak to an estate agent. If you don’t have time to search for properties, you can leave your requirements with Chestertons, and they’ll put together a list of properties for you to see.

keys held by tenant

Should you opt for short term lets?

Whether you need a short term let or not will depend on your situation. If you’re relocating due to professional reasons, many companies will cover your relocation package. Typically, you’ll be put into short term accommodation until you find an area that you like.

Moving somewhere new

You could also opt for a short term let if you’re considering moving to a new city or area and would first like to try it. Although short term lets are generally more expensive than long term, you could save yourself money by confirming that you enjoy the area before committing to a long term contract.

Going on holiday

If you’re going on holiday for a considerable amount of time, you should also consider a short term let since you’ll have access to amenities that will enable you to cook from home and keep costs down.

In between properties

If you’ve recently sold your home, you can opt for a short term let whilst you wait to move into your new property. It could also be the case that you’re planning to do renovation works that will make your current residence uninhabitable.

If you’re interested in a short term let, regardless of the reason, you should approach one of the companies we’ve mentioned or any other provider offering short term lets and discuss your requirements. Note that short term lets will be more expensive but typically include bills, internet costs, and cleaning services.

mortgage

Can you short term let if you have a buy-to-let mortgage?

You should be able to short term rent your property if you have a buy-to-let mortgage, but be sure that you can cover the monthly payments if you go through a significant void period. On the other hand, if you have a residential mortgage, your lender will likely decline your request to let out the property short term. Residential mortgages aren’t designed for renting out the property, so you’d have to switch your mortgage to a buy-to-let.

Generally, if you’re moving away for a few years and intend to come back to the property in the future, most lenders will give you’ consent to let’. However, if you’re only moving down the road and plan to let your property short term, they’ll likely decline. To make sure, you should discuss your options with your lender and get professional advice.

What are the regulations on short term lets?

If you’re considering becoming a short term lets landlord, there are certain factors you need to consider before making a decision.

  • If you plan to sublet part of your property, you must notify the local council. Additionally, if you have a mortgage, you’ll also have to let your lender know.
  • As a short term lets landlord, you’re still liable to cover bills, so ensure that the price paid by clients can help cover monthly costs. This is mainly why short term lets are more expensive.
  • The property must meet fire safety regulations. You also need to take measures regarding fire doors and other safety equipment depending on how many people you’ll be letting the property to. If you’re unsure, get in touch with your local council and discuss your requirements.
  • You should also ensure that you are up to date with the regulations in the area of the UK you’re based-in. For example, Scotland has recently updated its short term lets laws, whilst places like London also have their own regulations.

moving and packing out of the home

Hire a property management company

Managing a short term let isn’t easy. It requires a lot more effort than a long term rental since you’ll be handling many tenants over the same period. So, if you don’t have time to handle the admin and work required, it’s essential that you delegate the work to a property management company. Preferably one that has experience providing short term let services.

Benefits of a property management company:

  • They’ll help you stay up to date with the latest laws and regulations. If you aren’t an experienced landlord, it can be easy to overlook specific requirements.
  • They’ll handle rent collection on your behalf and are better trained to handle missing payments.
  • They can save you money on repairs and maintenance with their in-house team.
  • They’ll do all the communication with tenants, saving you time and allowing you to focus on other work.
  • Especially for short term lets, a property management company will be better equipped to handle a significant turnover of tenants.

Typically, property managers will take between 5% to 15% of rent payments to cover the cost of services. Before deciding on a company, ensure that they cater for short term lets.

At Oasis, we make the process easy for you. Get in touch today for more info on our short-term let property management services. 

Rent Guarantor: Why do you need one?

If you’re an inexperienced renter or perhaps a student, you’ve likely been asked about rent guarantors for the first time when discussing your renting options with estate agents and landlords. It’s essential to understand what a rent guarantor is and its implications if you fail to make your rent payments. It’s also helpful to know your rights if you’re planning to be a rent guarantor on behalf of someone else.

What is a rent guarantor?

A guarantor is someone that signs as your backup if you fail to pay your rent. In that case, the landlord or property management company will ask the guarantor to cover the cost. There are various situations where you’ll need one, such as:

  • You have a poor credit history.
  • If you’re a student or it’s your first time renting.
  • You don’t have a job or proof of financial stability.
  • You’ve come from abroad and don’t have a financial history in the UK.

Tenants missing rent payments is one of the biggest worries for landlords. Many still have mortgages to pay on their property, so they can’t cover their monthly expenses without the rental income. So, if your situation matches any of the examples given above, there’s a good chance that you’ll be asked to provide a guarantor.

Who can be a rent guarantor?

Generally, anyone over 21 years of age, with financial stability and a good credit record. In most cases, people use a family member or loved one since it’s a big responsibility. Landlords, or the property management company, will usually conduct a check to ensure the guarantor has the means of covering the rent if you can’t.

In most cases, as long as the guarantor can pass a credit check, you’ll be approved, but there are certain situations where you’ll be asked to choose someone else. This can be the case if they’re retired, don’t live in the UK or don’t own property. Before agreeing to become a rent guarantor, ensure that you have the means of paying the rent if the tenant is unable to. If you refuse, the landlord will take legal action against you and potentially result in hefty fines.

What if you can’t get a rent guarantor?

contract

So, what if you can’t get a guarantor? Not everyone has a family member they can ask. You might even be from abroad, which in that case, landlords won’t accept a guarantor that lives overseas. Usually, you can circumvent this by passing a credit check or showing proof of funds to cover payments.

To do this, the property company or landlord will need salary confirmation from your workplace or a copy of recent bank statements. In some cases, if you’ve come from abroad, landlords will ask that you pay a few months upfront to build trust. If you’re concerned about covering the cost of a deposit, some local councils offer monetary help. You should get in touch and explain your situation.

Guarantor Service

If you’re still struggling to rent a property despite having enough funds to cover rent payments, you could consider a guarantor service in the UK. These are companies that will act as your guarantor when you sign a new tenancy agreement. Typically, these companies will cover the entire tenancy period so that you don’t have to pay costly upfront rent payments.

Note that some companies will still require you to co-sign with someone that will ensure that you uphold the agreement. Most will also request to see bank statements from the previous three months or proof of student status and finance if you’re a student. You’ll also have to pay a fee to secure the service, which will depend on what type of tenant you are and how much your rent will cost.

Here are some companies that provide rent guarantor services:

Rent Guarantor

As the name suggests, Rent Guarantor will act as your backup if you need to rent a property. The company caters for students, professionals, and people on benefits. They don’t charge up-front fees and only request payment once you’ve signed a tenancy agreement.

The company also has a useful quick quote calculator online that will give you a rough idea of how much you’ll be paying for the service. If you’re a student, you’ll need to prove your student status, and if you’re on benefits, you’ll have to provide proof of universal credit.

Housing hand

Housing hand provides a fantastic service for students and professionals that need a guarantor and are still looking for a property. The company offers a property finder service to match you with various properties and estate agents in the UK. It will also act as your guarantor when you sign the contract. Note that housing land doesn’t provide guarantor services to people on benefits.

The company charges an up-front fee of £75 and then a monthly fee after moving into the property. Housing hand also claims to have made 100% of payments on defaults and is the only guarantor service that allows you to pay monthly.

Guarantid

Guarantid provides rent guarantor services for professionals, students, people on benefits, and international applicants. The company offers a fantastic price proposition, charging only three weeks rent for the service. You also won’t need anyone to co-sign the agreement with you. The company can act as your guarantor for up to 12 months. Once the period is over, you’ll need to sign a new agreement and go through the same checks again.

Payment can be made in full or in two installments, depending on your preference. If you’re employed or self-employed, your salary will need to be 22 times your monthly portion of the rent. Also, although the company can act as a guarantor for people on benefits, it won’t do so if it’s your only source of income. Benefits can’t make up more than 20% of your total income.

Universities

If you’re a student and you need a guarantor for student accommodation, you’ll find that many universities, such as LSE, provide a guarantor service. This is usually offered to international students but can also be arranged for UK students who don’t have someone to put down as a guarantor. You should get in contact with your university’s housing and accommodation team and enquire about the service.

If your university doesn’t provide this service to domestic students, you can always go through a traditional rent guarantor service.

What happens if you stop paying rent?

agreement

We’ve touched on who can be a guarantor, and now we’ll look into what happens if you miss a rent payment. Your landlord will likely understand a one-off occurrence. There are many reasons why you’d be late on one payment, but as long as you settle the arrears, you should be fine.

The problem comes when tenants miss multiple payments or stop paying rent altogether. In this case, the landlord will revert to your guarantor to make the payments. If the guarantor refuses to pay, the landlord will then take legal action. Note that this only applies if the guarantor can pay but is choosing not to. If the guarantor has no means to pay, getting your money would be more challenging, which is why a good guarantor check is essential.

How much does a rent guarantor have to pay?

The rent guarantor will be liable for the total rent cost plus any incurred interest. In some situations, if the contract stipulates it, the guarantor will also have to cover any damage done to the property that the tenant can’t or won’t pay. The guarantor will cover the rent until the rental period ends, so it’s a good idea to conduct credit checks to ensure the guarantor is financially capable. If the guarantor can’t or is unable to pay, the landlord can take legal action.

The guarantor can potentially seek to retrieve the losses they incurred from paying the rent directly from the tenant. This is usually more common with mortgage loan guarantors but can also be the case for rent guarantors. In this situation, the best course of action is to seek legal advice and discuss what options are available.

Are guarantors a legal requirement?

legal

No law forces landlords to request a guarantor when letting out a property; however, any sensible landlord will do so. Not having a guarantor will put you at risk of not receiving enough income to cover the cost of your mortgage. If the tenant can’t provide you with a guarantor, you should ask for payment upfront or suggest a rent guarantor service that they may use instead.

Don’t be tempted to accept a tenant without a guarantor to avoid the void. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Rent guarantee insurance

If you’re a landlord and are concerned about tenants defaulting on their rent payments, you should consider taking out rent guarantee insurance. As the recent pandemic highlighted, there can be times when even the most diligent tenants fail to pay rent due to losing their job or other personal reasons.

Getting insurance will protect you from this possibility, with companies covering you for a predetermined period (typically 15 months) and, in some cases, the cost of evicting tenants. The cost of rent guarantee insurance will depend on the property value and the coverage period. Also, note that you can’t take out a policy once the tenant has defaulted, so ensure that you consider this option beforehand.

What you should consider before agreeing to be a rent guarantor

As highlighted in this guide, there are risks to being a guarantor. If the person you are backing fails to make rent payments, it will fall on you to cover the costs. So there are certain things you should consider before agreeing to it:

  • Are you financially stable? If you have large overheads, can you also afford to cover rent payments for someone else?
  • Are you comfortable with being a guarantor, or do you feel pressured to do it?
  • Has the landlord or property management company done a proper guarantor check?

If you feel pressured to be a guarantor or that you wouldn’t be able to cover the rent payments, it’s best to not agree to it. Even if you trust the person you’re guaranteeing; there are many situations where they might be unable to pay the rent, leaving you liable. It could then lead to a lengthy court process and extra costs.

You also can’t remove yourself from being a guarantor during the tenancy process. If you feel like the landlord or property management company didn’t do enough checks, you could complain to the Property Ombudsman. If they find that the checks weren’t sufficient, you could be removed as a guarantor, and any money you’ve paid could be refunded plus interest.

What can landlords do if the guarantor refuses to pay?

If both the tenants and guarantor refuse to cover rent as stipulated in the rental agreement, there are a few steps you can take. To begin with, you or the property management company should attempt to settle the issue without going to court, as it’s quicker and cheaper. You might suggest that the tenants pay the missing months and find someone to rent a property to replace them in the tenancy agreement.

If you’re in a situation where a tenant refuses to both pay and leave the property, you should seek legal advice. At this point, your best option is to take legal action against the tenants and work towards eviction proceedings. Ensure that you have evidence that the tenants haven’t paid their rent in case they dispute the eviction notice. The cost of evicting a tenant will depend on the length of the process and whether you choose to go through county or high court. Also, the judge might delay the process at the tenant’s request if they state that they can cover rent and would like to remain in the property.

 

We hope this guide has been useful in covering everything you need to know, whether you’re a guarantor, landlord, or tenant looking to rent. At Oasis, we let and manage your property for you so you can avoid the hassle. Find out more on what we offer or get in touch with our team today.

How much does property management cost?

Many landlords manage their buy to let properties independently without any issues, but others prefer handing the job to a professional letting agent that offers property management services.

Using a letting agent for property management is convenient in lots of ways if:

  • Your time is at a premium.
  • You do not want to deal with your tenants directly.
  • You’re a new landlord unsure of how buy-to-let works.
  • You are managing a property from a distance.
  • You’re concerned about how licensing, property law, and housing regulations affect you.

What do letting agents do?

Letting agents are buy-to-let’s marmite – some landlords love them, while others loathe them.

But what do they do? Letting agent services break down into three categories:

  • Tenant finding – from marketing a buy to let to arranging viewings, drafting tenancy agreements and checking a new tenant in
  • Collecting rents – making sure tenants pay the rent and chasing arrears
  • Property management – handling repairs and maintenance, including renewing safety certificates.

Each service will come with a fee plus some extras for checking references and carrying out credit searches.

A full management package bundles the three services together often at a discount.

How much does property management cost?

How much property management costs depends on a few variables.

The size and location of the home to let make a difference. A plush London home in Mayfair will attract a larger price tag than a two-bed terrace house in the North East.

Letting agents usually quote their charges as a percentage of the property’s monthly rent.

If you are a new landlord and see a letting agent offering a 10 per cent plus VAT deal, the price is 10 per cent of the rent plus VAT each month.

Expect to pay letting agent fees of between 10 per cent and 20 per cent a month plus VAT.

If you only take the tenant finding service, the one-off fee is between one and two months’ rent plus VAT.

Most agents face fierce competition and are willing to negotiate a discount, especially if you have several properties to put under their management.

planning

How to choose a property manager

The essential service a letting agent or property manager offers is finding decent tenants.

Most landlords are happy with a responsible tenant who pays the rent on time.

Nowadays, landlords can choose from a host of online letting agents as well as their high street rivals.

Here are some things to bear in mind when picking a property manager:

  • Make sure the agent is registered with ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents), NALS (National Approved Lettings Scheme) or UKALA (UK Association of Accredited Letting Agents)
  • Confirm the agent follows Client Money Protection (CMP) rules
  • Do you know anyone who can recommend the agent?
  • Does the agent know your property and neighbourhood?
  • Phone or visit the agent to test customer service

Choose your agent from a shortlist of two or three firms regardless of cost, as they are likely to do a better job and cost you less in the long term.

Managing your buy to let

Deciding to manage a buy to let or shared home (house in multiple occupation or HMO) independently is a key financial decision for many landlords.

Assuming a tenant pays rent of £750 a month, a full property management package from an agent costs between £90 and £180 a month, including VAT.

By taking control of managing the property, the saving adds up to between £1,000 and £2,160 a year.

Managing a property comes with extra work – someone has to do the admin and arrange to carry out repairs and maintenance. In addition, the job comes with legal responsibilities. These include ensuring the house meets decent living and safety standards while complying with licensing and other regulations.

If this sounds daunting, you can always hire a professional letting agent or lawyer to do a specific job.

cost

How much does property management cost FAQ

Who pays for tenant references?

The Tenant Fees Act came into force on June 1, 2020, banning letting agents and landlords from charging renters up-front fees at the start of a tenancy. As a result, the cost of taking up references, making credit checks and other services associated with a new tenancy fall to the landlord.

If I self-manage, who deals with emergencies?

The most common insurance claim for buy to let properties is to repair water damage from leaks. If you self-manage homes, you are on-call 24/7 for sorting out emergencies. However, some insurance companies include emergency cover in their policies.

Do I have to register as a landlord?

England does not have a national landlord register or any requirement to join one. However, Scotland has a register, while Wales has one by default as all landlords must join the RentSmart scheme by law.

Can I manage an HMO myself?

You can manage your shared house (HMO), providing you pass your local authority’s fit and proper person test and follow a management code.

 

For more help on managing your property, reach out to our team.

Top 15 Proptech Companies That Aim To Change the Lettings Market

New Beginnings

The proptech sector saw some $23.75bn investment in 2020, despite a crippling pandemic that affected all industries. This is evidence that tech companies are making advances in various sectors, improving practices, and disrupting traditional models.

It’s no different in the property sector, which has plenty of room for new players to improve and provide solutions to outdated real estate models. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the top 15 proptech companies working to change the lettings market for the better.

 

Lavanda

Lavanda has been operating since 2015, using its own SaaS platform to provide solutions to the short-lets property market. Its business model and services enable landlords to gain access to demand for short-term rentals and offer solutions to hospitality operations.

The company promises to boost your net operating income (NOI) through flexible rentals. The company is particularly useful if you have an extensive portfolio of properties to manage and want to extract as much profit from void periods. Among its tools are data reports for easy monitoring, market analysis tools for maximising growth potential, and customisable operations automation.

As evidence of its operational excellence, the company was awarded Best Short-Term Rental Platform in 2018.

MoveBubble

MoveBubble was created to improve the renting experience for tenants in the UK. The company conducted extensive industry research to identify pain points and figure out solutions to improve those areas. Unlike traditional property portals, when applicants enquire about your property, they won’t be directed to an estate agent. Instead, the company’s app puts renters in direct contact with you. The system eliminates the need for an intermediary, which reduces costs and speeds up the rental process.

In addition, MoveBubble’s app is more rental friendly, with plenty of search options that allow renters to narrow down their search to the perfect property. That will enable you to advertise your home with all your requirements already listed, reducing any loss of time with applicants that aren’t suitable.

You’ll also be able to upload a video to the platform showcasing the property, improving the decision-making speed for tenants.

Rentify

 

If you’re looking to rent your property for the first time or have an extensive portfolio of rental properties, Rentify will automate the majority of the letting process for you. The company’s operational model focuses on maximising your yield and protecting you from common pitfalls. The company does this by paying for void periods, missed rental payments, and any maintenance on your property.

On the other hand, tenants looking to rent through Rentify gain access to various services, including cleaning and maintenance. The model is great for those with little experience, as you can hand over the keys to Rentify and receive a fixed yield in return.

HomeRenter

renting

HomeRenter operates more like a traditional estate agent but entirely online without any of the extra costs involved. The company’s service aims to improve the letting process for both tenants and landlords, allowing for direct communication between both parties. The firm describes its service as an AirBnB-style marketplace that provides better value.

Within five easy steps, you’ll be able to list your property across multiple letting platforms online and then communicate with potential tenants through the company’s own secure chat system. The company even offers the first listing for free, so take advantage of renting your first property.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to rent a property, you won’t face any of the hidden fees common with high street estate agents, and you can arrange viewings for when it suits you.

Appear Here

 

A new and exciting addition to the retail space rental market in the UK. Appear Here provides a tailored and flexible service that turns your idea into a reality. You can search through an array of commercial properties in the UK and find the perfect spot for your venture through the proptech company’s platform. Once you’ve detailed your idea, Appear Here contacts the landlord with your proposal.

Whether you’re looking to launch a pop-up or list your own property, Appear Here provides an online solution that takes care of legal payments and communication securely. The company attaches a professional to your case who will guide you throughout the process. As of November 2021, the company has worked with over 250,000 brands.

Once the landlords approve your idea, the company provides additional services, such as help finding staff and fitting the store to your requirements.

Vreasy

If you have a portfolio of holiday properties, Vreasy provides a one-stop online platform that will make it easier to manage your properties. The company’s central platform maximises your reach with connections to various sites, such as Airbnb and Booking.com. It provides an easy to view calendar that details your bookings, tasks, payments, and messages in one place.

The platform also provides valuable metric data on your rental properties and enables you to provide additional services to increase your income potential. Other features include staff management and various automation, such as guest reminders, welcome messages, and instructions.

Coadjute

engineering

A fantastic solution that improves the efficiency of the property market. The company’s intelligent network enables property software to connect and share information effortlessly. This means that estate agents, mortgage brokers, landlords, and lenders can share data efficiently and securely through digital means. This solution improves the speed of the property sales and letting process and reduces costs.

Goodlord

 

It’s not just the play on words that’s great about this company. Goodlord’s platform improves the tenancy period for both landlords and tenants. The company manages the tenancy process of over 1,000 brands, from sending the offer letter and collecting rent to handling tenant issues.

The platform cuts out the need for the amount of paperwork that’s usually expected from traditional high street estate agents. By allocating the tenancy process to Goodlord, you’ll improve the customer experience and letting process for all parties involved.

Goodlord also provides an array of built-in services with its online platform, including thorough reference checks, utility switching, and rent protection. You’ll also receive landlord leads, void management services and account management, all via Goodlord’s online platform.

Housemates

Booking student accommodation can be stressful. Competition is high, and the quality of properties can be hit or miss. Many students also find themselves paying hidden fees to high street estate agents who take advantage of students in large university towns. Housemates provides a solution to that problem. Tenants can find safe student accommodation through its online platform with no hidden fees and a quick process.

The proptech company only showcases properties from verified providers and is transparent regarding property information. The best part? The company’s service is entirely free, and bills are always included with the monthly cost, so you know exactly how much you’ll be paying. You can find rooms to rent or entire apartments if you already have a group of people to rent with.

Fixflo

company

Property management is vital to ensure that your rental business runs smoothly and that your tenants are happy with your service. Flixflo provides solutions to make property management more accessible, regardless of your portfolio type.

Its model has changed how the need for repairs and maintenance are reported by tenants, helping property managers improve their business. The company’s platform integrates as much property management software as you need and a central contact point that keeps all parties informed, eliminating the need for lengthy emails. In addition, its service helps landlords and property managers stay compliant with the latest laws and regulations.

Tenants use the company’s app to report a problem with a detailed description of the issue. If the case falls under the tenant’s responsibility, the platform will notify them of the best course of action to fix the problem. You can also track the progress of ongoing works and schedule any maintenance works that are due.

Rent Profile

Rent Profile aims to enable estate agents to process new tenants within as little as 20 minutes. The proptech company has a history of providing solutions for the letting market, such as the UK’s first completely digital landlord background check-in 2016. The company also offers a digital solution that speeds up the referencing process for landlords and estate agents.

Rent Profile has a comprehensive range of solutions for tenant onboarding, including holding deposits, providing terms, and checking references. The solutions significantly improve the setup time for new tenants and enable agents to focus on revenue generation. It also ensures that estate agents remain compliant during the tenancy process and avoid any legal trouble.

AskPorter

proptech

A fantastic proptech platform that utilises AI to improve customer service for renters and efficiency for landlords. The platform is broken down into three parts:

  • Digital assistant: 24/7 support through intelligent AI conversations that resolve issues.
  • Management platform: An AI-powered platform that improves property management, including e-signing, ID checks, and assignment of team tasks.
  • Insights: Receive updated reports, audit history, and compliance on one platform. You can also integrate any of your existing systems.

The best part is that the company provides the solution under a white label to then implement your own branding.

Halo

proptech

A new proptech start-up with a focus on helping stakeholders involved in the property letting process to maximise their yield. The company does this by matching tenants with the right property whilst minimising admin for estate agents to focus on generating more revenue.

The company wanted to expand and improve the traditional property management model by introducing an array of digital solutions and automation. Its platform is easy to use and can be integrated into any property management software. Communication is one of the critical areas of improvement for many estate agents in the UK.

If you’re looking to rent a property, the Halo’s platform allows you to manage the entire process from your phone. It takes minutes to apply, after which you can track your application, sign documents and make payments in the same place.

Flatflair

Flatflair offers landlords and tenants greater safety and lower moving costs through its digital No Deposit product. For the most part, property deposits aren’t sufficient coverage for landlords, whilst rental moving costs have hit an average of £2,043 in London. To help reduce that burden, Flatflair only charges a small check-in fee, with tenants covering any damage when they leave.

Tenants also only pay for damage caused by them, whilst landlords get up to 10 weeks protection, as opposed to the traditional five weeks with a standard deposit. In addition, landlords are paid for damages or missed rent within ten days of agreement. The company also handles various check-in/out tasks, such as reference and inventory checks.

Oasis Living

 

Last but by no means least! We’re a new proptech market disrupter with a fantastic outlook to improving property lettings and management practices. Oasis Living uses AI and innovative tech solutions to speed up the entire property letting process, with reduced void periods, a better viewing experience, and a more efficient property management service.

Renting a property in the UK can be a long and expensive process, with landlords bogged down with paperwork and endless offline steps. Through us, you can find tenants for your property with a fully digital process and the use of AI to manage viewings. We also provide top-tier photography and an excellent staging service to ensure your property looks its best.

In addition, our team handles all property management services for just 5% per month on your behalf. The service ensures that your property complies with the latest laws and regulations and includes 24/7 customer service, an intelligent console that allows you to keep tabs on your property details, and free maintenance call-outs.

Our company’s operational model works to find you the perfect tenant, whilst the use of tech lowers costs compared to traditional high street estate agents and increases your yield with lower void times.

Get in Touch

We hope you’ve enjoyed our rundown of the Top 15 Proptech companies making strides in the sector! For more tips, or to simply get in touch with our team, contact us here.

Islington: An Explorer Guide

The London Borough of Islington

The second smallest borough in London, Islington is home to an array of shops, galleries, and snazzy food places. If you’re a foodie, a visit to Upper Street (nicknamed Supper Street) is the place to go (we discovered a vegan Chinese)! Forming part of the top 10 most expensive boroughs, houses in the area cost an average of £700,000, with rent for a three-bedroom property costing an average of £634 a week. Here are some of the top spots discovered by our team.

The Estorick collection

sculpture in an art gallery

With the entrance of this gallery tucked away in the corner of the street, the Estorick collection is easy to miss if it’s not something you’re looking for. With three floors of Italian artworks and sculptures, currently featuring works from the futurist and metaphysical art movements, it’s the perfect place to explore without the busyness of London’s mainstream galleries. The creaky staircase and small gallery rooms makes it seem like a relic of the past (it is in fact a Grade II listed Georgian townhouse). You can also browse their selection of books and postcards in the gift shop or stop by for a bite in the café. Regular admissions are £7.50 while student admissions are free!

No 20 Arts

artwork in Islington gallery

A gallery that opened in 2017, No.20 Arts is another space that’s easy to miss. Located on 20 Cross Street, it is home to contemporary works from recent art school graduates in London. Available for buyers to view (and contemplate which ones to purchase on the comfy bean bags) you’ll find a range of unconventional works from various artists, such as British-born Pakistani Khushna Sulaman-Butt and Katya Granova, an artist and curator from St Petersburg, Russia. The current exhibition is titled ‘Yield’ and is available to view until the 4th December!

Tofu Vegan

chinese vegan food in islington

The classic takeout staple of ‘Chinese food’ and a vegan diet isn’t something you usually hear in the same sentence, but Tofu Vegan is known for its appetizing vegan dishes that means you don’t have to miss out when your friends order Chinese. We tried their Wontons and, vegan or not, they were delicious! With a range of classics such as mushroom dumplings and chow mein, we guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Saltworks

salt works shop in upper street islington

Chinese food isn’t the only glorious scent on Upper Street, and a walk past this shop might have you wondering in. A perfumery based in Kent with over 60 fragrances, Saltworks features a variety of scents, candles, gift hampers, other winter essentials, and a clothing line by Alchemy. You’ll even find a bespoke range of chutneys, cards and jewellery!

After Noah

after noah shop in upper street islington

Want to buy anything and everything that came after Noah? Yes, we’re talking about the guy who worked with the animals in two’s. A shop that sells everything that came after the religious figure (a cool way of saying that they sell, basically everything), After Noah is one of the cosiest finds we’ve come across. Featuring a range of goods – from cards, soft toys, and even a basement full of furniture, this family-run business is the perfect shop to find Christmas gifts. After some vintage furniture? After Noah is the place to browse.

FARA charity shop

fara charity shop

This charity shop features a wide range of clothing, from everyday pieces, vintage wear, to those sparkly outlandish pieces that life only calls for on one occasion before they go back into the cupboard forever! With fitting rooms available so you can be sure of your purchases, you can grab some real bargains! We discovered Ralph Lauren Navy trousers for only £10, as well as a Hobbs 100% Cashmere jumper. While some pieces do highlight potential clothing defects (usually stated on the labels) we’re sure you’ll find some real gems hidden in here.

Camden passage

katsute Japanese dessert in camden passage

A well-known street in Islington, this cosy nook is home to a variety of independent businesses, from a Japanese Gallery, Bird and Blend tea (where you can try some of their flavours!), and Frequency Coffee – café by day and cocktail bar by night. We tried the hot chocolate matcha at Katsute 100, a Japanese café known for its desserts and matcha-infused drinks. We also recommend the freshly made brownies and scone truffle at Paul A Young’s finest chocolate’s, also the creators of a vegan ganache (yes, a ganache without the dairy cream!). If you’re looking to go for a day out, or simply fulfill your Christmas shopping, Camden Passage won’t fail to surprise you. ­­

Find out more…

Want to find more places to explore? Check out some of our other area guides here!

Property Management: Top Tips for Landlords

Whether you’re a new landlord or a seasoned professional with a portfolio of properties, it’s essential that you implement good property management to maximise your yield and reduce headaches. To help guide you through the process, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide with the best tips to follow and common pitfalls to avoid as a landlord.

What are your property management obligations?

Before we go into the top tips, it’s essential to establish your obligations as a landlord in the UK. It’s not as easy as signing a contract and forgetting about your rental property. There are specific rules and regulations you must abide by that ensure your tenants’ safety and quality of living.

Your responsibilities include:

● Repairing and fixing structural damage, heating and hot water issues, and sanitaryware damage.
● Ensuring that gas and electrical appliances are safe to use.
● That the furniture supplied to tenants meets fire safety regulations.
● Ensuring that the property is in a livable condition.
● Meet safety standards (fire alarm, carbon monoxide detectors, and gas safety)

If you fail to uphold these obligations, your tenants could file complaints against you and even take legal action. To avoid this, it’s always a good idea to stay on top of these issues, as it will improve the relationship with your tenants and increase the chance that they will treat the property respectfully.

If you’d like professional advice on your obligations, you should contact a solicitor specialising in housing law or a property management company, who can talk you through your responsibilities.

Property Management Tips for Landlords

To ensure that you have a good experience as a landlord, here are some top tips to make your life easier and ensure that your property stays in good condition.

Tenant Selection

Landlord is signing his property management contract

The quality of your tenants can directly impact your experience as a landlord. It might be tempting to accept the first applicants that make an offer; however, it’s always better to wait for the right tenants and lose out on a couple of rent payments than have a year of stress with the wrong tenants.

Here are some steps you should take:

● Request and verify references – You should always check references with previous landlords. You’ll get an idea of what type of tenants they are and whether they fit your requirements.
● Check documentation – If you’re using an estate agent or property management company, they’ll do this for you, but if you’re doing it yourself, ensure that you check the legitimacy of the tenants’ documentation.
● Financial check – You should request to see a work contract or a letter from the employer confirming salaries. Otherwise, you should see recent bank statements to ensure the tenants can cover the rental cost. If you’re working with an estate agent, ask if they run credit checks.
● Right to rent check – You are legally required to check the immigration status of any potential tenant before they move into the property.

It’s imperative to note that you must comply with the latest laws and regulations as a landlord. As a result, you cannot discriminate when choosing tenants, including criteria such as age, disability, race, religion, or gender. In general, you should be educated and knowledgeable about all the legal requirements for landlords and tenants so that you can avoid legal action.

Conduct Inspections

As a landlord, you have the right to conduct inspections of your property to ensure the tenants are complying with the tenancy agreement. During the inspection, it’s vital that you check:

● The structural condition of the property, inside and out.
● Maintenance issues that need repair.
● Signs of any illegal activity that breaches the tenancy agreement.
● That the property is still in a habitable condition.

If anything, inspections give you peace of mind and a chance to meet your tenants and hear their difficulties. Communicating in this way will help build a good relationship, especially if there are issues that you can fix. You are also entitled to take photographs as evidence if you encounter anything that breaches the tenancy agreement.

Note that you must follow current regulations that state landlords must provide at least 24h notice before any visit. If you don’t provide notice, the tenants are fully entitled to deny entry. If possible, it’s a good idea to arrange a time that’s suitable for your tenants. In terms of inspections, once a quarter is plenty to ensure the property is still in good condition. More than that is likely to result in problems and upset tenants.

Hire a Property Management Company

builder

If you don’t have time to oversee admin and management, you should consider delegating the task to a professional property management company. They will conduct all the checks we’ve previously mentioned in this guide and handle all communication on your behalf with tenants.

If you’re wondering whether it’s worth the investment, here are a few reasons why:

● A property management company will conduct better applicant checks. They’ve got extensive experience in the field and know what to look for.
● Professional companies know the latest rules and regulations and will ensure that you’re complying with them.
● You’ll receive advice on what to do when uncertain situations arise.
● Many tenants like landlords that employ property management companies as issues get sorted quicker.
● It will save you the time and hassle of dealing with tenants face to face when there’s a problem.
● A company will handle rent collection on your behalf and be better trained to deal with late/missed payments.

How much does a property management company cost?

Property management firms will charge you a percentage of the monthly rent paid by tenants. Typically, it can be anything between 8% to 15%, depending on the company you choose. Note that even if you go with a company that offers an ‘all-inclusive service, chances are there’ll still be extra payments to be made.

Usually, the cost of a property management company is worth it, considering that they can save you money in the long run. They’ll be able to:

● Find better quality tenants.
● Fix issues for less with their in-house team.
● You’ll have more time to focus on your day job instead of handling the property admin and management tasks.
● They conduct better financial checks to ensure that the tenants can afford to rent your property.

What to look for in a property management company?

It’s essential that you don’t just go with the first company that makes you an offer. If you’re renting your property through an estate agent, they’ll likely have their own property management division. Typically, you can land yourself a deal if you keep all your property dealing within the same company, so it might be worth considering your estate agent. If you’re going for an independent company, here’s what you should look for:

● A property manager that has experience dealing with your type of property.
● They should have a thorough and professional applicant screening process.
● They’re reputable and recommended by clients online.
● They’re transparent about fees and services.
● What services do they include with their ‘all-inclusive package?

Choosing the wrong property management company that doesn’t have a track record of dealing with issues quickly and efficiently could result in more headaches. Also, ensure that the company is part of the Association of Residential Managing Agents, the sector regulator.

Be Organised

papers

If you choose to manage your property yourself, you should know that there’s a lot of admin and extra work involved with being a landlord. Unfortunately, you can’t just sit at home and take in the profit from your rental property. These additional tasks can get out of hand if you fail to stay on top, resulting in unnecessary stress and sometimes loss of income.

Here are some valuable tips on good organisational practices for landlords:

● Keep tabs on rent payments – Ensure that you know exactly how much is coming in each month from your rental properties and whether it’s late. If you have multiple properties, it can be easy to overlook a missed payment. There are fantastic digital tools you can use that allow you to keep track of everything.

● Stay on top of your tax payments – As you know, you’ll be liable to pay tax on your rental income if you surpass the tax-free minimum allowance. You should go through the UK Government guide on taxation for landlords.

● Inspections – Arrange inspections well in advance to minimise disturbance for your tenants as a way to maintain a healthy relationship between both parties.

● Resolve issues – Ensure that you sort out any problems as quickly as possible. If you don’t, the number of issues could escalate and lead to tenants reporting you or taking legal action if the property becomes uninhabitable.

The best way to avoid all this extra work is to delegate to a property management company. As evidenced above, a professional property manager will do all the leg work for you at a small cost. It’s always better to have peace of mind.

Professional Lease Agreement

contract

A lease agreement is your protection as a landlord from tenants potentially damaging your property or missing rent payments. It also stipulates your rights as the landlord and those of the tenants.

The key is to make the document as thorough as possible. Ensure that your details and those of every tenant living in the property are included. If anyone moves into your property, ensure that their names are added. Here’s some vital information that your contract should include:

● The tenancy term dates (when it started and when it finishes).
● Length of the notice period.
● The rental cost.
● If any, what bills are included in the rental cost?
● What services are provided by the landlord, such as gardening, cleaning, or maintenance?
● The property address.
● Who’s in charge of minor repair issues.

If you feel like you can’t write the tenancy agreement on your own, you can always employ the help of a property management company, estate agent, or online service. You should also ensure that you’re familiar with the different tenancy types and that the contract is for the correct type of tenancy agreement you have.

Property management pitfalls

There’s plenty of mistakes you can make as a landlord, especially if you’re a new one. Having a good understanding of what can go wrong and knowing how to avoid it will save you time and money in the long run.

Property Condition

You should ensure that the property you intend to rent out is in good condition. That includes furniture and appliances that work. It might seem like a good idea to install used, cheap stuff in the property, but chances are they will break and cause problems down the road.

Of course, if you plan to rent to students, you have more flexibility in this regard. You don’t have to install the newest, latest furniture and appliances, but ensure that it’s in good working order for a better living experience.

Inventory Check

Ensure that you conduct a thorough inventory check before and after tenants leave your property. This will work in your favour if there is a dispute over damage caused to the property. It will also ensure that you know what belongs and what doesn’t.
Landlord insurance

Landlord insurance isn’t a legal requirement, but it’s a great safety net if something happens to your property. If you have a buy-to-let mortgage, you’ll likely be required to take out insurance. Ensure that you talk through the details with the insurance provider, as some only cover fire or flood damage.

Construction and maintenance

When something needs fixing or replacing in a rental property, many landlords opt for the cheapest labour they can find – family and friends. It’s not a good idea to DIY issues in your rental property unless you’re a qualified professional. Most of the time, the problem comes back a few weeks after you patched it. Paying for skilled plumbers, construction workers, and carpenters will cost more but it will ensure you only do it once.

 

Need help to manage your property? Get in touch today.

Unoccupied Home Cover Explained For Landlords

Unoccupied home cover is something you need to find out about if you have a grand design to refurbish a home you rent out or the property is standing empty for more than a few days.

Lots of rented homes are empty, sometimes for weeks or months at a time.

Homes are also left for many reasons, including waiting for a sale to go through, inheritance, or because mum or dad have moved on to a care home.

Buy to let homes are vacant sometimes for several weeks between tenancies, while tenants have the same calls on their time as the rest of us, which may mean they have to live away for a few weeks.

Ask a tenant to let you know if they are likely to be away for at least 30 days.

Whatever the reason, most home insurance policies don’t provide cover if you leave a property empty for a month or more. Instead, many invoke special terms if you leave a home unoccupied, like draining down the water system over the winter.

For peace of mind, you should check your landlord insurance policies if you plan to leave the place empty for a month or more.

What is unoccupied home cover?

As a responsible landlord, you probably already have buildings insurance.

If you leave the house for 30 days or more, some insurers believe the risk of fire, flood, a break-in or vandalism increases.

According to The Crime Prevention website, 60 per cent of burglaries occur when no one is home, increasing the risk of a break-in during tenant voids or other absences.

Official government data reckons 635,000 homes are empty across the UK, and 270,000 of these have stood empty for more than six months. The figures also show that one in seven homeowners leave a property empty for more than a month at a time.

Although buildings cover protects against the cost of repairing or rebuilding a destroyed or damaged home, the cover automatically reduces if you stay away from home for an extended time.

Many policies have a special clause covering for squatters taking over the property.

Claims for loss or damage due to theft, malicious damage and flooding are typically excluded unless you tell them you are absent for more than 30 days and sometimes agree to some extra precautions, such as a friend or neighbour regularly popping in to check the property.

The insurer might ask you for an extra payment to keep cover in place while you are away to account for the extra risk.

home

Properties that need unoccupied home cover

It’s easy to overlook when you should tell your insurer that a home will stand empty for 30 days or more, so here’s a list of some properties that qualify:

  • Your home
  • Buy to let property and houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)
  • Holiday lets
  • Second homes

Holiday lets and second homes need specialist insurance policies as they stand empty for long periods at a time.

Arranging unoccupied home cover

Get in touch with your home insurer as soon as you know you will be away from home for a month or more.

They will want to know the dates you are likely to be absent and that you have left the property secure.

You might want to consider a security upgrade by investing in decent locks and smart CCTV equipment inside and out of the house. Don’t forget to drain down the water and check any smoke or burglar alarms work as expected.

Some insurers will keep your cover running while you are away, while others may want an extra payment or impose new terms.

Landlord insurance generally protects voids, but how long a home is empty may vary bewteen 30 and 60 days between policies. A few policies reduce the number of days the home can stand empty during winter.

One pitfall to watch for is if a rented home is empty for renovation. Insurers will want to know the building is secure if work is carried out on windows, an extension or roof.

You don’t have to arrange the cover with your existing insurer. Specialist companies advertising on the internet will offer tailored plans if your current insurer can’t.

Making an unoccupied insurance claim

Claiming unoccupied home cover is no different than claiming against any other policy.

Simply call your insurer to start the process. Have to hand your policy details and a note of the dates the property was empty to ease the claim.

Unoccupied Home Cover FAQ

What is an unoccupied home?

For insurance purposes, an unoccupied home is one where no one has lived for at least 30 days in a row.

Does my landlord insurance include occupied home cover?

Landlord building insurance does not generally include unoccupied home cover. Landlords need to speak to their insurer to arrange the extra cover.

Does it cost extra?

Unoccupied home cover costs more than standard insurance because providers argue the property is at greater risk from flood, fire and burglary.

Does it cover contents in a buy to let?

Unoccupied home cover relates to the building, not the contents. Landlords with contents cover for furnished lets may need to arrange extra cover for their possessions as well.

Where can I shop for unoccupied home cover?

Start with your current insurer. Compare the deal with quotes from online comparison sites, brokers and specialist companies. Like any insurance, shop around for the best cover at the cheapest price.

 

Need more information? Visit our website or contact our team today.

HMRC cryptocurrency: Property Edition

Using cryptocurrency to invest in the property market feels very much like the future is here. There’s a lot of information, and for the most part, we don’t really know exactly where it’s going. The industry is still fresh and exciting, a little like the wild west of currency.

Before delving into the topic head-on, we’ll provide a helpful introduction to cryptocurrency itself and how it works. If you’re already familiar with the basic concepts, we advise that you move ahead to the main part of the article. You should also note this is not financial advice. The best course of action before investing your own money is to contact a professional financial advisor.

What is cryptocurrency?

Just like the cash in your pocket, crypto is a digital currency that can be used to buy goods and services. The same as you would with your money at the local supermarket, only cryptocurrency exists somewhere in the digital universe. You can even trade cryptocurrency for profit.

Unlike traditional currency, however, crypto utilises strong cryptography for security and is decentralised. This means that it isn’t regulated by central banks and doesn’t use a traditional bank for wealth transfers. You also can’t withdraw it into physical cash from an ATM or bank branch. However, you can trade crypto in return for traditional currencies.

So, why would you use it?

After all, what’s wrong with the cash in your wallet? Well, fervent supporters of crypto could list you a million reasons why it might be better. Generally, it boils down to the fact that cryptocurrencies operate on a decentralised system; they are more private and secure and offer cheaper and quicker transactions.

The vast majority of people that hold crypto-assets do so for profit. Cryptocurrencies are famously volatile! This means an experienced investor could potentially take advantage of the market’s fluctuating nature to see some serious returns on investment. But given the high volatility, it’s also an easy place to lose a lot of money.

What about taxes?

Well, as we all know, taxes are one of life’s certainties, and it’s no different for cryptocurrencies. Some countries do provide breaks, such as Portugal and Germany. In these countries, crypto trading and transactions are tax-free. But in the UK, any gains made on crypto-assets will be taxed. So ensure that you’re complying with Government regulations.

Using cryptocurrency to invest in property

Now that you have a better understanding of cryptocurrency, we can delve into how it can be beneficial in the property market. People often seek advice on whether to invest their money into crypto or property separately, but the two can be used effectively together.

If you find the right buyer or seller, you could, in theory, conduct an entire property transaction with cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. You wouldn’t even have to use physical contracts since the whole process would be secured through blockchain technology. Paperwork is one of the most significant downsides to investing in property. Eliminating that step could save you time and money.

What are the benefits?

There’s an array of advantages to using cryptocurrency in the property market. For first time buyers, for example, investing in crypto can provide a quicker route to a deposit than the traditional way of saving money each month into an ISA or a low-risk fund.

Perhaps the most important advantage is the ease of use. If you’re a property investor or someone that’s previously bought a house, you’ll know that the market has to deal with never-ending bureaucracy. It can be a long process of contracts and chains, and it always feels like a waiting game. With crypto, on the other hand, the process of buying and selling property can be much quicker. Even selling abroad, you won’t have to worry about waiting; the transaction can be completed in a matter of seconds.

Let’s also not forget that paying a deposit or buying a property outright with crypto can be cheaper, as there are no processing fees, unlike going through a traditional bank.

Is it safe to invest in property with cryptocurrencies?

It’s natural if you’re inexperienced in crypto and wonder whether it’s all just a fad or even safe to use. However, the fact is that cryptocurrencies are incredibly safe for property investors most of the time. It’s near impossible to clone crypto, making it unlikely that someone will commit fraud. The transactions are also conducted through blockchain, allowing both parties to see the origin of the funds and when contracts start and end.

There are, of course, certain things you need to consider before deciding to go ahead and use crypto to buy property. We go into detail about some of the disadvantages below.

Are there downsides?

Unfortunately, given the extreme volatility of the cryptocurrency world, many lenders and conveyancers in the UK aren’t interested in accepting the currency as a means to buy property. It’s mainly due to the fact that crypto is, for the most part, unregulated in the UK, with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) only overseeing it for money laundering purposes. Therefore, without thorough research, it can be easy to fall prey to a scam.

If a mortgage lender does allow payment by cryptocurrency, they will investigate how you obtained the amount and how it grew over time. This is to avoid people using cryptocurrencies that falsely jump up in value overnight, such as the Squid Game rug pull scam. Prices jumped from $0.01 to over $2,800 in under a week but have since plummeted by 99.9%.

The good news is that many major lenders in the UK do allow you to use funds from cryptocurrency. However you must first exchange them into fiat currency and hold the funds in a UK bank account. This can be a great way to use gains made on crypto investments to put you on the property ladder or invest in a development.

HMRC cryptocurrency: Do the same tax laws apply?

As we touched on before, taxes still apply to cryptocurrency gains in the UK. HMRC cryptocurrency has plenty of information on the regulations and should be thoroughly checked by anyone thinking of using crypto to buy property.

To give you an insight, here is an overview of what you’ll be paying:

Stamp Duty: As with buying a property with cash, you’ll be liable to pay stamp duty. This is a tax levied on all property purchases in the UK, and the amount you pay depends on the value of the property and what type of buyer you are.

For crypto buyers, however, there is an extra caveat to consider. The amount of stamp duty to be paid will be based on the currency’s value in sterling at the time of completing the property purchase. This means that any gap between exchange and completion will leave you in the dark as to how much stamp duty you’re paying.

Note that you would have to pay stamp duty to HMRC in cash, as they don’t currently accept cryptocurrencies. Although there’s an excellent level of privacy with crypto, HMRC can gain access to data that shows who holds crypto-assets in the UK through placing requests to UK digital currency exchange bases.

How does HMRC view buying property through blockchain?

For the most part, HMRC doesn’t share an opinion on using blockchain and crypto to buy property. As long as the right amount of taxes are paid, you should have no problem. The department has even notified people with crypto-assets that they need to ensure that they’re paying the right amount of tax.

On the other hand, HMLR (Her Majesty’s Land Registry), the department of the UK Government responsible for property and land ownership, has openly discussed the benefits of using blockchain in property transactions. To this end, HMLR created a research project under the name of Digital Street to oversee all blockchain developments.

The department states that it wants to be the market leader for registry speed. So, it has developed a prototype that automatically registers a digital property transfer on the Land Registry. This type of innovation can be the starting point of a blockchain revolution. One that will help streamline the property buying process in the UK and speed up procedures for everyone.

Can landlords accept rent in cryptocurrency?

It’s perfectly legal to use cryptocurrency to pay rent, if you can find an estate agent that allows it. Until recently, many companies were allowing it as a marketing tool, but the level of uptake wasn’t very high.

A high profile case of this is the UK fintech Revolut. Known as a market disruptor, the company recently decided to use cryptocurrency to pay for its office space in Dallas, Texas. The rent is paid to the popular company WeWork who agreed to receive payment in crypto.

There are, of course, certain things you should consider before deciding to pay for rent with digital currency. The market volatility could leave you exposed if there’s a sudden market swing before your rent is due. Most landlords might also stipulate clauses in the contract that could lead to extra fees. So, ensure that you check contracts thoroughly before agreeing to anything.

Can blockchain technology help change the property market?

Blockchain technology has already made waves in various sectors and industries. It’s only natural that it will start making its way into the property market. The question is when rather than if. As with any market-disrupting innovation, blockchain use will take time. Market players need to adjust to new processes and analyse how blockchain might affect the industry. There could be further regulations to be put in place, as well as job cuts.

Property transactions are still done the old fashioned way, face-to-face with lots of handshaking and smiling. The issue is that this creates a lot of bureaucracy and long waiting periods due to the number of parties involved. Blockchain would first eliminate the need for many intermediaries, such as banks, brokers, and solicitors. The cost of investing in property would automatically drop, not to mention the speed of transactions.

There are also various start-ups developing tools to make transactions more manageable. This means there’s market competition, and the standard of tools will improve over time. The blockchain start-up Coadjuste, for example, recently launched a distributed ledger technology (DLT) network that enables the sharing of data on property sales.

Will the use of cryptocurrency in property become more popular?

45% of new investors between 18 and 29 years of age put their money in cryptocurrencies in June 2021, highlighting a genuine interest from young people in the segment. However, it’s likely that the use of digital currencies to buy and invest in property will depend on how common it becomes in everyday life.

When a major shift is likely to occur would be anyone’s guess. So, for the foreseeable future, cash will still remain the primary way of buying and selling property in the UK. For the widespread acceptance of crypto, lenders would first need to see the digital currency market settle and become more predictable. The currency volatility would make it impossible to correctly work-out interest rates and borrowing amounts.

The UK Government would also likely need to implement more regulations and provide additional information on how the segment works. Especially for those with little knowledge of crypto, such as tax with HMRC cryptocurrency and how it would work with rental income and stamp duty.

One positive is the way blockchain technology is revolutionising industries and sectors. This change could further support the notion of the property market undergoing a digital transformation in the near future. As for the tech-savvy and well-researched investors out there, being an early user of crypto in the property market will provide a fantastic opportunity. Not only to improve the speed of transactions, but get more privacy, and reduce bureaucracy.

As with any financial decision, it’s important to get advice from a professional advisor before making a decision. It can save you money and headaches in the long run.

 

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