renting-vs-buying

Renting vs Buying - What Are The Pros and Cons?

The decision as to whether to rent or buy is a perennial problem if ever there was one. For many of us, the process of moving out in itself symbolises the transition to adulthood. For many more, it is buying a home that really and truly means you’ve made it, and who eagerly await the moment they can jump onto the property ladder. However, simply buying a home isn’t always that straightforward.

House prices vs rent prices

For example, the price of the average UK home has risen in the past decade. In London, this equates to nearly a 70% rise in 10 years. Whilst for the first time in at least five years according to Rightmove, rents have dropped in Britain by the end of summer 2017. Outside of London, rents dropped by 0.2% in the months from June to September.

However, London itself still remains one of the most expensive cities in the world to rent in. In other words, either buying or renting is going to be of considerable cost and there are pros and cons to both. Let’s weigh them up.

The importance of freedom?

Both renting and buying provide you freedom. However, the way in which each option gives you this freedom differs entirely, with advantages and disadvantages to both. Here is a short summary:

Renting

If you're tired of living at home or with annoying parents or siblings, getting out and renting is a quick way to get a place and make it your own.

With renting, you are signed up to a fixed contract, meaning you have the option to leave fairly quickly when the minimum tenancy period expires without having to worry about a costly mortgage to pay for.

The option to move to another city or country entirely can be achieved fairly quickly as a result, so you have wide range of choices of places to live.

If your personal circumstances change, renting gives more flexibility. If you need to change jobs or anticipate that you will have less money than previously, you can look for somewhere cheaper to rent without being tied down to the responsibility of a mortgage.

Renting might give you the chance to live in an area you’ve always dreamed of, but couldn’t otherwise afford to live in if the only option was buying.

Not having to pay huge upfront costs for a house or flat (usually a month’s rent is required, but this is considerably less than a house deposit), means decisions to move can be made swiftly.

Buying

If you buy a house, then you have the freedom to make home improvements you would find difficult to make rent. Want to put up some shelves in your bedroom, paint each room in all the different colours of the rainbow, or even paint a mural dedicated to your love of cats? Well, you can do just that if you really wanted! Obviously, improvements are within reason, and perhaps not as extreme or silly as those previously listed, but not having to ask permission from a landlord for making alterations is a definite advantage.

Many landlords aren’t avid fans of tenants having pets in their properties and are extremely strict with rules regarding them. In the worst case scenario, if caught with a pet in the property this could lead to eviction. With buying, the choice is up to you! Buy a goat if you like! (or maybe not).

homeowners

Whilst it may take longer to save for a house deposit, it provides an investment for the future that renting doesn’t. It is often said that paying rent is like letting money going down the drain after all. The house could accumulate in value in later years enabling you greater freedom in the future if you should decide to sell, allowing extra money to spend on whatever you would like! This could be anything from a new bigger home, holidays or a more comfortable retirement.

The Guardian writes that house prices are strong at the moment, going up the fastest in the last 8 months of 2017. You always have lots of options as a homeowner to do improvements and increase the value of your property. Whether you use construction finance or just through your own savings, things like adding a nice garden can increase the value by 10%, a conservatory is another 10%, a loft conversion with two rooms is around 20% and a basement with as much as 30% - helping you really maximise the value of your home.

Can you afford to buy?

If you do decide to buy, it’s incredibly important that you work out if it's possible that you can afford it in the first place. It isn’t just the deposit that you will need to pay for, there are many costs incurred when buying a property that aren’t included when renting. Such as

  • Stamp duty
  • Removal costs
  • Maintenance if anything breaks down - such as boilers or a leaking roof.
  • Survey cost
  • Legal costs
  • Monthly bills - gas, electric, phone bills etc.
  • If interests rates increase, your mortgage repayments will rise too.
  • Estate agency costs
  • If you are moving in with a partner and separate, this could become very expensive.

First-time buyers have been given a lifeline with the new budget rulings with regards to stamp duty. If its your first mortgage, you won't pay any stamp duty on the first £300,000 of your property value, allowing you to make a huge saving and will help around 95% of new homebuyers.

What is the right decision for you?

Evidently, both buying and renting have their pros and cons, and these will likely depend on your needs at the time of making such a decision. For some, buying property isn’t in their interest, and nor will it ever be, whilst for others owning a property is their lifelong dream. Whichever you choose, deciding where you live is one of the most important decisions you will make, and you must think thoroughly all of the options available to you, as well as what is possible for you to realistically afford.


radiator-panels

How To Make a New Property More Energy Efficient

Halloween has passed, the clocks have gone back, and the wooly hats adorn our heads once more: winter has well and truly arrived (well, if you want to be slightly pedantic meteorological winter begins on 1st December, but let's forget about the technicalities).

What this in all likelihood means for us all is considerably more money spent on trying to keep warm throughout the season as the biting coldness kicks in.

However, are you one of the 40 percent who is worried about how you are going to afford heating this winter? The UK certainly doesn’t fare well in terms of energy efficiency  – we are ranked one of the lowest in Europe according to Eurostat data, and, to top it off we also have the oldest building stock in Europe too. This translates as meaning that over 19 million homes in the UK rank a grade worse than C on their energy efficiency, with those rating on grades F and G contributing to over 25,000 deaths in the UK as a result of extreme cold.

This inefficiency also generates an excess amount of carbon emissions, leading to an ever more volatile climate in the UK,and an increased chance of floods: with annual flood damages already amounting to over £1.1 billion pounds in 2016. Admittedly very depressing statistics, but there is hope on the horizon – the government released last month its Clean Growth Strategy, promising to insulate and overhaul millions of draughty homes in England and Wales which could save families up to £300 a year on energy bills.

It’s great news, however, it is is to be achieved with a deadline of 2032, so a little far off. But do not fear: in the meantime, here are a few simple ways to improve the energy efficiency in your home that will not only save you money, but also decrease your carbon footprint and therefore keep your environmentally friendly credentials in check.

Make more than lukewarm savings with a thermostat

Did you know that more than half of all money spent on fuel bills is towards heating and hot water (and more so than on those spent on appliances or electronics?). For example, heating water makes up about four percent of the UK’s total carbon dioxide emissions, with the average house using around 330 litres each day (that is nearly 32 full bathtubs a week!) Would you like to change this?

Investing in a programmable thermostat could help you do just that, saving you up to £100 a year in energy bills as a result. Thermostats such as this by Nest Learning even work with Amazon Alexa voice control, and comes with an app to let you see how much you use and why.

Or, if you already have a room thermostat, simply turning down the controls by just one degree can save around £80 a year.  Similarly, insulating your hot water cylinder with a fitted tank jacket can help you to make water savings and even more if you heat water electrically. This also saves you approximately 430 kg in carbon dioxide emissions through using less energy to heat and treat the water, so a unanimous thumbs-up.

Use Your Heating More Effectively

The majority of households simply don't make enough of their heating and radiators. There are some very simple ways to do this so that you get the most out of the heat that you are paying for. This includes:

  • Removing draughts
  • Using radiator panels
  • Positioning of radiators
  • Using sunlight more effectively

Those pesky draughts are what is bringing in the cold, typically around your windows and underneath your doors. Look at some simple ways of covering these up with carpets and rugs or even little sliders you can probably buy on amazon for a pound each.

Radiator panels are little sheets that you slide down the back of your radiator. Since most the heat from your radiator goes behind it, the panel essentially bounces this back into the room.

radiator-panels

The positioning of radiators is key since putting things on top of them like clothes, cupboards or shelves is simply blocking the heat from entering the room. So don't be scared to remove some furniture or items that are in the way.

The few hours of sunlight that we get in November and December can still heat you the room. It is just sun that comes through the window, so don't be scared to open your blinds and curtains during the day to let the heat in but then close them when it gets dark because this is going to be colder.

Save money with the flick of a switch

On average, lighting makes up about 10% of energy bills, but it’s one of the easiest ways to quickly improve energy efficiency in your home. For example, LEDs, such as these ones by Phillips last for around nine years, which is considerably more compared to incandescent bulbs, and certainly worth the investment. Taking this a step further,  if the average household replaced all bulbs with LEDs, it would cost about £100 and they’d save yearly about £35 on bills, so it is definitely worth considering making the switch if you are serious about considering making your home more energy efficient.

 

Solar Panels

Those funky looking things on your the side of your roof can save you some real money by using energy more efficiently. We're not going to sugar coat it, its definitely a long term game as solar panels cost around £5,000 to £7,000 to install (and less if you can get a government grant).

 

However, since this can contribute to powering your heating and electricity, the saving over a 20-year period ends up to be around £6,000 - which isn't bad. Plus, it can add value to your home and can be resold to the next owner of your property. If you have invested in farmland or have large roofs, this could be a great moving saving tool.

Why it is Important For Developers To Be Energy Efficient

If you have recently got the finance you needed from one of our development finance lenders and are working on the refurb of a new property, being energy efficient is important.

Not only do you save money running the place, you can pass on these savings to your tenants, which might make the place seem more appealing. Similarly, if you have kitted the place out with energy efficient lightbulbs, radiators, boilers and more, you can use this as an up-sell for a potential buyer and easily charge them more.

Furthermore, in this day and age of global warming, it is seen as the responsible thing to do, being 'green' and all and a lot of potential investors, buyers and tenants will respect you for making this decision in your fit out. So go on, don't be scared to be green!


property-location

Things To Consider Before Buying a House

As one of the most significant purchases of your life, there is much to consider before deciding to buy a house, whether as a first-time buyer, an experienced homeowner or property developer who has just secured a bridging loan.

Today, home ownership can be an advantageous option when compared to the rocketing costs of private renting. If you are ready to take that exciting step to end those monthly payments to your landlord and start the house hunt, then its time to consider these important points before hopping onto the housing ladder:

Costs of Moving

The main costs to include when moving are:

  • mortgage broker fees
  • monthly mortgage repayments (do you go standard, fixed or variable?)
  • hiring a moving company
  • buying new furniture, TVs and appliances
  • home and contents insurance

Financial security should be your number one priority in the case of buying a house. Consider the true costs of buying; how much can you actually afford? Think ahead, how long will it take you to save for your deposit? How much can you afford to repay each month? How long will it take you to pay off the mortgage? And of course, are you getting the best interest rates? If you can afford larger monthly repayments, you could have a shorter mortgage and end up paying less in interest in the long term.

If you are a first-time buyer, you could benefit from the Government’s Help to Buy Scheme and if you are under the age of 39, the newly available Lifetime ISA. The Government will add a 25% bonus on top of savings when used towards a deposit. Deposits, surveys, legal fees, insurance, stamp duty, valuation fees and removal costs are all essential factors that you should consider in the budgeting process as suggested by Money Saving Expert. Of course, having some spare cash in your pocket goes a long way when it comes to those unexpected moving in costs.

 

Choosing a Location

City or country? Commuting or walking? Fresh air or pollution? Is there 4G signal coverage or is it a phone signal black spot? Whether you are uprooting to the big smoke or escaping to a donkey farm on the edge of the Peak District, location is KEY in the search for your perfect home.

Think about what is important to you in the long term. If you work from home, great. For the most of us, your commute is an essential part of daily life, so consider the costs of petrol or train fares on a yearly basis. If the thought of being crammed against fellow commuters on the tube on a hot summer’s day makes you shudder, then you need to reconsider.

property-location

Spending a little more for a better location in return for a pleasant walk to work each day, might be the right choice for you. Do you mind being close to a noisy railway station so that you can dash out the front door, and still have time to grab a coffee en route to catch your train? Is the house underneath a busy flight path?

Check out Ofsted reports to get a gauge for the best schools in the area. Check how far away the nearest supermarket is, and does the local pub have your favourite beer on tap? Weighing up the pros and cons, however large or small can be a laborious task but, in the long run, you will thank yourself.

Viewing The Property

This is your chance to assess the nitty-gritty. Always view the property more than once and at different times of the day. Your estate agent is there to be quizzed, so prepare for each viewing by being armed with questions as advised by the Home Owners Alliance.

There’s likely to be some negative factors that the vendor or agent will be keeping from you, so it’s important to draw these out before you purchase. Ask how long the house has been on the market, or why the seller is moving?

Have there been any recent issues with the boiler and how energy efficient is the place? Have a scan of the windows and walls in each room to check for damp or cracks, you don’t want to end up having costly repairs later on. Especially something like asbestos which could make the property absolutely inhabitable - so getting this checked beforehand could save you a lot of time and hassle.

Does your furniture match the decor or will you have to redecorate? Can you actually envisage yourself living there for the foreseeable future? The answers to these questions will save you time and help you to avoid disappointment.

Will it Hold its Value?

As a keen property investor, you need to know whether or not this place will keep its value or be worth significantly more in the future. There are some areas that are certainly up and coming and likely to skyrocket in the next few years, such as Tottenham (following the rejuvenation of the stadium and area) and trendy-Shoreditch with Long and Waterson's development scheme.

A good developer is able to suss out a good deal on the market or at auction and see the potential return on their property after 1,2,3 or 5 years. Above all, you need to consider whether the work you are putting into any refurbishments or renovation will bring you a good margin. You certainly don't want to spend too much on a loft conversion, garage and bespoke kitchen only for the area to not maintain its value.

Is There Room For Improvement?

There are several smart ways to increase the value of your property and being able to spot that potential is key. For instance, seeing that there might be space for a basement, loft conversion or conservatory can easily increase the value of the home by 10% to 30%. Importantly, is there the opportunity to get planning permission to do these kinds of changes or will there be obstructions from the neighbours and local council?

As a property developer, you need to be able to see potential immediately. Other ways to boost value of a home include sprucing up the garden, adding some kerb appeal like doing up the windows, lighting and entrance.


kitchen-with-bar-stools

Tips For Building a Great Kitchen

Let's face it, the kitchen is the room where everyone lives. Our lives are focused around food, whether it is Mum preparing food in the kitchen whilst the kids are doing their homework, having dinner or the long breakfast and lunches on the weekend. The kitchen is where it happens. So if you are renovating your existing kitchen or building a new one from scratch, we give you some great trips to put in place.

Think Budget

Sure, we'd all love the world's greatest kitchen, both beautifully designed with all the latest tech and gear that comes with it. Whether it is pop-up TVs, hidden cupboards, power taps or the funky tap that changes hot and cold. But whilst The Mirror explains that even the most practical kitchen can increase your home's value by 4%, you still have to be conscious of budget and we will explain why.

The reality is that the cost of your kitchen needs to relate to the value of the home and those on the road. If your house is worth around £500,000 and so are all the others on the road, there is no point spending £100,000 on sprucing up a kitchen because your house value cannot rise by more than £100,000 - especially if all the neighbours' home similar in size. So you have to be practical in how much you spend and how this impacts the overall value of your home.

There is also no overall benefit of having the world's greatest kitchen but then a mediocre bathroom, living room or dining room - as it does not fit in with the rest of the house and future buyers will not dig it.

Making It Practical

Does It Also Become Your Dining Room?

A lot of households are also making their kitchens their dining rooms as a way to maximise space in the home. After all, a lot of dining rooms are only really for entertaining and are sometimes grand rooms that just end of getting covered in dust.

So if you're one of these modern households that want to make the kitchen the main dining area, it is worth smarting it up a bit and also allowing enough room for family and friends to join you around the table. This means that there is no point having a table with just 6 chairs around it but getting a table that can expand and fit 12 could be worthwhile.

Using Space Effectively

If you like to cook or you have kids that like to work and hang out in the kitchen, you can use space very effectively. For instance, case studies from leading designer The Wood Works shows the use of an island in the middle of the kitchen to store things and also clever bar stools for your children and their friends to hang out.

On the subject of making it child-friendly, a careful consideration is how it works for kids of all ages. For instance, if you have small children, does the table and island have space for a child seat? Can they climb up the bar stool without your help? Does it provide them with some support or will they fall off? In addition, you want to be careful about any tables of boards having sharp edges that you or your children could potentially bump into, especially if they are at heigh level for your offspring.

Colour

The colour of your kitchen is a careful consideration. A lot of kitchens go with the subtle tones of white (to match white goods) or light tones of grey, beige or even wood. If you are doing up a property as part of a property development finance project, you want a look that is fitting with the rest of the house and not too overpowering. Similarly, what chair colours and accessories go with it is also something to discuss - with the pink chairs featured above working nicely.

Easy To Clean

The kitchen is where we prepare food and where our children spend a lot of time - designing things and doing arts and crafts. So creating a kitchen that is easy to clean is very important. Some like the metallic look, like a restaurant kitchen just because it is so easy to clean. But for some people, you need to consider what materials and surfaces are most practical. For instance, tiles can be tougher to clean as things get through the cracks whereas flat surfaces and marble are certainly a lot more convenient.

Flooring

Your flooring must be practical. Whilst some shades of limestone look amazing, they can be on the slippery side which makes it not well suited for children and having lots of guests.

On the topic of cleanliness, the flatter surfaces are easier to clean compared to tiles or carpet which is likely to get stained or have things fall in between the cracks.

The Appliances

Are you a big family with a big appetite? Especially with babies and toddlers, you need a fridge to hold all the foods and formulas. Do you go with a normal size fridge or with a mega fridge like you see on MTV Cribs? Depending on your space, you can opt for the fridge and freezer in one, or some people have their freezers in the garage or utility room.

Fewer and fewer people are putting microwaves in their kitchens these days - after all its like nuking your food and can't be healthy, right? The only reason people use microwaves is really for popcorn anyway. But how your diet and your family's food habits vary will determine whether or not you need one and if so, you have to make space for it. With some people putting them plugged into the corner of the room or having them fitted within the actual wall units.

Other things to discuss are whether you go for an old school gas hob or a new snazzy electric hob. They say that gas hobs are more effective for cooking up a storm whereas the electric hobs are much easier to clean - so you have to weigh it up.

Is there anything else you would add to your perfect kitchen? Comment below!


Architects

Important Things To Ask Your Architect

When working on a new-build, buy to let property or development, finding the right architect is crucial. Even more important is being able to ask the right questions so that there are no surprises on the cost or outcome of the project. When applying with our bridging lenders or development finance companies, it will certainly strengthen your case for a loan if you have a good team of architects on board and can show blueprints etc. In our guide below, we tackle the most key things to ask your architect.

Understanding Price

Determining the price for your property's design is essential. Common questions include:

  • Does it fit within your budget?
  • Is it worth adding an extra 20% for contingencies?
  • Does their price include VAT?
  • It is paid in one-lump sum, stages or upon completion?
  • What is included/excluded?

The reason for getting bridging finance is so that you can make a profit on the resale of the building or when renting it out to tenants. But overspending on design for architects in London could compromise your margins. When speaking to a firm of architects, the communication and fees need to be clear - the last thing you want is your architect or contractors walking out on you mid-built because of blurred lines.

One needs to determine what is included in the price such as the project manager - will they use their own or hire an external one? If you do need to source a PM, can they recommend someone good or will you have to find them yourself? If you do have a project manager, just how much time of theirs do you receive each day, week or month - and will it be sufficient?

A good question is asking if the company includes business insurance within their package. In the event that there is a structural default or they missed something crucial, you could be liable for any damages caused to the property, the neighbours or any builders on site. The insurance should cover things like contents, public liability and employers liability to make sure that all stakeholders are protected against any potential harm - and you will not be required to cover any potential injury claims or physical damages. So does this responsibility of insurance fall on you or the architect? This will need to be discussed.

The Timescales

Useful questions include:

  • When can they start?
  • How long does the design process take?
  • How many designs are included in the price?
  • How long should the build take?
  • How does planning permission play into the timeline?

Understanding the time it takes to carry out the development job is so key because you will also need to be paying for other things like builders and potentially rented accommodation whilst it is being built. It is common for build jobs to take longer than expected so if you are renting in the interim, it is worth having a longer contract to give you flexibility for any delays.

Making The Most of The Property

This is where you need an architect with a good eye, because having a vision and the ability to see potential and add extra things can make a huge difference. For instance, that vision to add a loft conversion, basement, grand staircase, wine cellar, driveway, front and rear garden can add significant value to your home. A basement can add 30% to your home, a loft conversion (extra bedroom and shower room) can add 20%, an extra driveway can be worth £50,000, conservatory is 10% and even solar panels can save you £300 per year. See our guide on how to increase the value of your home.

Of course, if you are refurbishing or renovating, you may not have the space for all these things but working them within the budget can be useful, especially if they make a bigger profit upon the sale of the property.

The Joys of Planning Permission

For any major development work, you will typically need the help of the local council to grant you permission to make amendments to the house. This is because they are conscious about it being an eye-sore for the neighbours and whether it restricts their personal space or sunlight. Fortunately, some things do not require planning if they do not change the outside of the house such as turning a garage into another family room. You can also add a conservatory to the side or end of your home provided that it is no bigger than 10 feet.

But applying for planning permission and getting it approved is a big deal - and if they don't approve it at first, you can resubmit it. So the question is whether your architects can help you with your application and tick all the specifications so that it will be in a better position for approval.

One common issue is if your property is located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) because there are greater restrictions for preserving the area. This can involve the style, look and presentation of the residence. For instance, Hampstead Garden Suburb in North London requires all homes to have a front hedge in their driveway or garden at a specific height, as requested by the council. So having an architect who understands and appreciates Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty can be very useful.

Suggesting Other Good Partners To Work With

In addition to good architects, you need good interior designs, builders, contractors, kitchen specialists, solicitors and more. It is worth asking your desired architects if they can recommend any other good people who they regularly work with. In fact, there may be a discount or deal on the cards if you do, due to a long term standing relationship.

In conclusion, finding the right architect can be vital to the success of your development project and something that lenders will also take on board when reviewing your application. To highlight the main points, it is essential to find out the fees required, timescales and having these in writing prior to going ahead. You want to limit any extra costs, downtime and reasons why the project won't go to plan - so being efficient and sometimes just asking the right questions can help you achieve this.

 


tenants-rights

What Are Your Rights as a Tenant?

As a tenant who is paying a landlord each month to live in a rented flat or home, you are entitled to certain rights and responsibilities. In some respects, you are the customer who can request things to be a certain way and can expect your accommodation to be a high level of standard. You also have the responsibility to be a good tenant and your behaviour and actions must also be according to the tenancy agreement that you signed.

People typically use bridging finance for the purposes of buy-to-let, so it is important to know what is expected of you as a landlord and how tenants should be acting too.

So, What Are Your Rights?

As a tenant you have the right to:

  • Live in a property that is safe and in a good state of repair.
  • When the tenancy ends, have your deposit returned to you. In some circumstances, have it protected!
  • Challenge high charges and rent increases.
  • Know your landlord and who he, she or they are.
  • Live in the property, undisturbed to other tenants or third parties.
  • Be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rent
  • Have a written agreement if you have a fixed-term tenancy of more that 3 years
  • See an energy performance certificate

If you have a tenancy agreement, it should be fair and comply with the law.

If you find that you do not know who your landlord is, be sure to write to the person, people or company you pay rent to. Your landlord can actually be fined if they do no give you this information within 21 days.

 

When You Start Your Tenancy Agreement

Once you start a tenancy, whether it be an assured or a short-term assured tenancy, your landlord will be expected by law to give you:

  • A copy of the “How to rent guide” if you live in England
  • A “tenant information pack” if you live in Scotland

Your Responsibilities

With your rights, come responsibilities when you are a tenant. You are required to give access to your landlord for him or her to be able to inspect the property or carry out any repairs that may need doing. In saying this, there are strict rules that state that your landlord cannot just walk in unannounced. He, she or they have to give you at least 24 hours notice before accessing the property that you are renting (see what are your rights as a landlord).

 You Must Always:

  • Pay the agreed rent, even if repairs are needed or you are in dispute with your landlord.
  • Pay other charges as agreed with your landlord, like, for example, paying council tax and any utility bills.
  • Take good care of the property you are renting, for example; do not damage the walls or carpets and think about turning off the water at the mains if you go away during cold weather.
  • Repair or pay for any damage caused directly by you or someone you are responsible for when it comes to your home (i.e a friend, family members or a child) - be conscious when having people over to stay, socialise or throwing parties.
  • You may only sublet a property if the tenancy agreement states you may, or if your landlord agrees regardless of whether a section on sub-letting features in you tenancy agreement. This could cause huge legal issues if your landlord finds out that you are renting the property to someone else without their permission.

Your landlord has the right to evict you and take legal action against you to do so. He, she or they may only do this with good reasons, such as you do you not meet your responsibilities, but cannot evict unless there is a clear reason or without good notice for you to find another residence.

Assured Tenants

An assured tenant will not usually have a resident landlord and the landlord will not provide any food or any services. If you are an assured tenant you will be paying rent for the accommodation which you occupy as your principal and only home.

Example of assured tenants include:

  • Individual living in a flat
  • Family living in a rented home

The following below are not assured tenants because they have a resident landlord and provide food and services:

  • A student let (student residence and accommodation)
  • A holiday let (hotel, villa, camp, park)
  • A company let
  • Business premises
  • A Crown tenancy
  • Private accommodation arranged by the local authority because you are homeless.

Rights of Assured Tenants

If you are an assured tenant, you have the right to remain in the rented property unless the landlord puts forward a good enough case in court as to why they have good reason to want to evict you. Examples of this may include if you are not paying the correct amount of rent and refuse to do so, you damage the property, or any of the terms of the tenancy are broken on your side. Common reasons are being responsible for loud noises or the landlord suspects that there are illegal dealings happening within the premises.

Meanwhile, as an assured tenant you have the right to get repairs done to the property without worrying about being evicted - but usually these will need to be approved by the landlord. Especially if you are looking to redo a bathroom, kitchen or add an extension - this is not something that should come out of your pocket completely and could impact the amount of rent that you pay. Alternatively, you could fit the bill of an extension but of course the landlord owns the property outright and will benefit when they sell it.

You have the right to stay in your home as long as you keep to the terms of the tenancy and other rights you have include:

  • the right to have the accommodation kept in a reasonable state of repair by the landlord
  • the right of your spouse, civil partner, or other partner to take over the tenancy on your death (‘the right of succession’)
  • the right not to be treated fairly, and not discriminated against because of your disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.

Rights of Short Term Assured Tenants

As an assured tenant with a short term agreement, you have the right to stay put in your property until the fixed term as stated in your contract ends. This again is unless you landlord find he, she or they are able to convince a court of the reasons for your eviction before the fixed term ends. The reasons will be for the same reasons as listed above, rent disagreements, damage etc.

You may stay on after the ending of the fixed term, even if you do not renew your agreement, until your landlord gives you notice at the end of the term – this is his, her or their responsibility.

As an assured short-term tenant, just like a stranded assured tenant, you have the right to get repairs done without the fear of being evicted for it. Your right are also the same as an assured tenant without a short term loan as listed above.

Rights of Protected Tenants

Protected tenants are rarely seen since the Housing Act 1988 but the system offers security, no residential landlord, a fair rent and no services provided like food or washing. This is the strongest form of a tenant agreement, you are granted 'tenure' which means you pay rent but they still occupy the land.

Some examples include senior living in accommodation where there is security but they have their own home and can make food and put on the wash like a regular guest.

As a protected tenant you have rights which are the following :

  • Security of tenure (the land they occupy). Your landlord can repossess the accommodation in certain specified circumstances.
  • The right to have the rent fixed by the rent officer.
  • The right to have rent increased only in particular circumstances.
  • The right to have the accommodation kept in a reasonable state or repair - see under heading Repairs.
  • The right of your spouse, civil partner, other partner or another family member to take over the tenancy on your death
  • The right not to be treated equally and not face discrimination or prejudice because of your disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.

long-and-waterson

New Scheme Launched in Shoreditch

The Izaki Group are pleased to announce the launch of a new property scheme in Shoreditch, East London. The scheme consisting of 119 luxury loft-style apartments will be opening in Spring 2018 and has been developed by  Long and Waterson, a company that has taken its name from the site’s location as it is positioned on the intersection of Long Street and Waterson Street in the E2 area.

The Design

For someone looking for flats in Shoreditch, the architecture of these apartments offers an eclectic New York penthouse vibe, fitting with the trendy Shoreditch area. The properties include large, steel-framed windows to create an artistic appearance that would be fitting with The Big Apple. The two buildings will be connected by a courtyard and raised podium inspired by NYC's high line linear park. The cost of the luxury apartments ranges from £695,00 for 1 bedroom and up to £1.35 million for a 3 bedroom.

Amenities of the building include a 24-hour concierge service, cinema room, gym, sauna, spa and treatment therapy rooms. The property scheme is aimed at the affluent and professional workers in the East London area of the legal, tech and business district. This includes the new residents of Amazon's new 15-storey office that opened in the summer of 2017, which will be home to 5,000 employees. (Source: The Telegraph)

long-and-waterson

 

Whilst this scheme has not been financed through Octagon Capital, this is the type of project that very well could be. Bridging finance is commonly used by property developers involved in buy to let schemes. With the opportunity to borrow up to £25 million, the finance obtained can be used for refurbishments, architects, interiors and other costs such as building costs and stamp duty.

Once the project has been completely renovated, the developer has the option to pay off the bridging loan via the revenue generated through the sale, or through another investment. Commonly, because the property is rented out to tenants, the customer will refinance the loan under different terms, proving a gradual and successful way to pay off the debt.


landlord-rights

What Are Your Rights as a Landlord

With the rental sector enjoying a boom in industry, more and more people are interested in becoming a landlord or are simply curious to what it entails to be a landlord! Specifically, bridging finance is commonly used by buy-to-let investors and property developers who are looking to use the money to purchase a property, develop it and rent it out to tenants (both residential and commercial).

Overall, a lot of the responsibilities in a rental/tenancy agreement lie with the tenant or tenants, and people seem to know the rights of tenants more than they do with the rights of a landlord.

If you are wanting advice on how to evict a tenant and generally want to know about your rights with eviction, click here and here.

What Are Your Rights?

Payment of Rent:

  • You should always have a tenancy agreement in place, such as a assured shorthold tenancy agreement. This will initially set out the amount for rent payable by the tenant to you, and when it will be paid.
  • It is best to get your tenants to pay the rent to you by standing order, this way you are pretty much guaranteed to get your rent payments each month. Furthermore, you will have evidence of which payments you do receive, and more importantly, the payments you do not receive.
  • If you find that you have a tenant or tenants that do not pay you for a set period, and there is no solution forthcoming, then you as the landlord have the ultimate right to serve the tenant or tenants an eviction notice. However, you must be sure to follow a procedure when doing this as explained a bit later on. You can also legally attempt to reclaim any unpaid rent, since it is legally yours.
  • Check the terms and conditions laid out by the letting agent before signing an agreement.

Raising the Rent

  • You may, at certain points in the tenancy, put up the rent. This will depend on the specifics of the tenancy agreement at hand. You may have to wait for a full fixed term to end before you can make the increase.
  • You cannot simply just charge what you want though. The rent has to justifiable, and as do the reasons for upping the rent prices. The rent also has to be similar in comparison to other properties rent prices in the area. Otherwise, you tenant will be entitled to complain and then you will be forced to restore the price of the rent back to an acceptable enough level, or back to what it was before.

Damage and Neglect to the Property

  • Unfortunately for your property, damage caused by those occupying the property and their visitors is not uncommon. The damage can easily be by accident, but in some cases it is on purpose. Either way, there will always be tenants who do cause damage to your property and belongings, if the property Is furnished. As a landlord, you may chose to pay for repairs as part of the agreement, this is quite normal – but have the right to evict if you believe major damage was done on purpose.
  • Your tenants have a very high level of responsibility to keep the house or flat clean, in good condition and smoke-free (unless your agreement states otherwise). They are also expected to complete the basic maintenance like changing the lightbulbs and using the heating system responsibly. While being a landlord comes with the responsibility of carrying out most repairs, you do have the right to charge tenants for repairs if you see it fit.
  •  Tenants are obliged to stay within the terms of the tenancy agreement. This includes matters regarding as the keeping of pets – if damage or maintenance is required because of this, again you can take a deduction from the tenant's damage deposit or ask them to pay for the cost of repair altogether, since they have violated the contract.
  • However, the exception to all of this is for 'fair wear and tear' such as to carpets or other furnishings – you can't charge the tenant for these since they are bound to be damaged in some way, shape or form.
  • If you ever propose to charge a tenant for something of this nature, be sure that you have proof that the damage was caused while the property was occupied by those you are charging. You'll want to take photos to refer to and should properly cost the level of damage caused, complete with quotes to back you up if the tenant chooses to dispute the figure.
  • If any damage is considered beyond the 'fair wear and tear' rule and the tenant will not either repair it themselves or pay for the cost of repair, you have the right to serve an eviction notice and retain the sum of money from their damage deposit to cover the cost of the damage and repairing this damage.
  • Your last resort may be to go through a legal process to ask the tenant to repair the damage at their expense, but that may not be a viable option as costs could escalate. There are those who specialise in tenant eviction services that could help you through the process of doing so.

Gaining Access to Your Property

  • It is actually illegal for you as a landlord and owner to enter your own property without agreement from your tenant prior to asking for access. Landlords do have rights to what is dubbed 'reasonable' access to carry out any repairs for which they are responsible for, but you will always need to get permission from the tenant with at least 24 hours' notice. If you don't follow this process, which can be a simple mistake since it is actually your property, you could be prosecuted for 'harassment'.

As a round up, here’s a quick reminder of what you do NOT have the rights to do as a landlord:

  • Visit your tenants without prior warning or good reason, such as an inspection or to carry out duties of repairs, for example.
  • You cannot make your tenants leave immediately, or physically force the out of the property and ‘help’ them move out. You must be careful not to make an illegal eviction, this can lead to serious legal action.
  • It is a criminal offence to harass your tenants at all, this includes turning up to the property impromptu.

 


noisy-neighbours

How To Report Noisy Neighbours

Nowadays, it is unfortunate that encountering noisy neighbours is not all that uncommon. You could complaining about noisy neighbours due to loud music being played, parties  until the early hours in the garden or inside the house you are attached or directly next door too or pets making extreme levels of noise, especially does barking for hours upon hours.

Noise from neighbours includes:

  • Loud music/TV
  • Loud talking
  • Machinery
  • Pets
  • Construction work

If you are finding that your home-life and relaxing time is being effected by any noisy neighbours, please take a look at our tips below.

Personal, face-to-face contact

To start off, you may not want to jump straight into reporting your neighbours to the local authorities without direct discussion that may potentially resolve the problem. Reporting them without any communication may cause unnecessary tension between yourself and your neighbours, creating an unpleasant home environment.

It may surprise you that your neighbour is actually unaware of the noise  and therefore, disturbance they are causing. They may be unaware that you can hear them so clearly or that it is having a negative effect on you, especially if you are a little quieter than them.

The subject of ‘I think you are a noisy neighbour’ and potentially, ‘all the other people on the same street agree that you are a noisy neighbour’ can be a hard subject to bring up. So, we advise that you approach the situation in a calm, polite manner, whilst remaining firm and unapologetic. Avoided approaching them when in a heated moment as this is likely to cause arguments and create standoffish atmosphere. It is not advisable to phrase it is as a personal attack, or an attack in anyway at all. This will probably lead to them not listening to you properly, but rather being defensive and possibly retaliating.

It is important that if you feel in anyway unsafe approaching them alone, do not do it. However, avoid a whole gang of you going – this will make it feel like an attack and extremely intimidating for the person you are approaching about the noise.

Other personal contact

If you are not confident enough to approach them in person, or it just hasn’t worked, try writing them a letter. Include in the letter that you understand that they are probably unaware of any disturbance caused by them, and you are not claiming it is deliberate or out of spite. But you must explain the situation clearly and why and how it is effecting you and possibly the surrounding neighbours.  Make sure you end the letter by thanking them for understanding and not being awkward about. If they do make the effort to comply,  please do recognise it – and show your recognition by sending over a small gesture, like a thank you card.

Contacting the local council

Alternatively, if they do not make an effort to change or for some reason it gets worse, you may be forced to contact the local authorities. In the UK, you can report any noisy neighbours to your council through a tool on Gov.uk

Your own local council will have a specific office to deal with noise disturbances in the area. In a lot of cases, is office is located within the remit of the environmental health department, or in larger cities they may have a dedicated noise pollution team. The local police station in your area may also have a dedicated team that works to help and act as the mediator if you and your neighbor are unable to come to an amicable agreement or solution.

Your local council will also advise you to keep a small diary type of thing to record any disturbances. You should keep record of when the disturbance took place, how long you were experiencing the disturbance for  and what the disturbance was at any particular time.

Try and keep it as factual as possible. Try a format similar too: Unable to sleep until around 4am, sounds like they had people round until the early hours with loud music – have to get up at 7 for work. Avoid writing down any irrelevant information, like that you are angry or the way you were feeling in general, this will then just turn into what sounds like a personal, everyday journal.

You can even record the noises and the activity using a recording device, a mobile phone or a video digital camera. But it is very important to note that under no circumstances should you publish these recordings or videos, they should only been used as evidence to present to the local council. So do not put it on Facebook, or Twitter or any other social media outlets, ever!

The local council do have the ultimate power to issue official warnings or an ‘abatement notice’. The abatement notice aims to forbid the nuisance from happening altogether  or just to restrict it to certain times of the day. If your neighbour fails to adhere to this notice it is actually a criminal offence, leaving them open to a fine. In some areas of the country, councils have the right to get out on the spot fines. Councils are obliged to take action under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Getting the police involved

If a noise disturbance happens to play out at night, usually when it happens between the hours of 11pm and 7am, your local police will usually be the ones to take action. They will normally sent a community support officer to take responsibility for taking action on any noise complaints. They will usually be able to intervene to get the music turned down or off, or even help t mediate towards an agreement.

If a noisy neighbour is persistently disturbing the area, it can be seen as anti-social behaviour. If they are in rented accommodation they may be at risk of losing their home, as the landlord may evict them. This applies whether they are in local authority or social housing, or privately rented accommodation.

All of this information provided her applies to all forms of anti-social behaviour, other than violent and threatening behaviour. If there is violent or threatening behaviour report them directly and to the police every time.

For more information, watch this useful video below from an experienced property lawyer:


security-for-property

Getting Security For Your Property

Property security is crucial for properties of all nature; both residential and commercial, public and private. Ensuring sufficient measures are implemented provides property owners with the peace of mind that their property is protected from vandals, intruders, trespassers and squatters. However, there are a wide range of potential measures that can be put into place for the security of properties and it can be difficult to choose from these.

The most common types of security tends to be separated into 2 distinct categories: electronic security such as alarms and Closed-Circuit Television cameras (CCTV) and physical security such as fencing and barrier security. Physical security can also include manned security including security guards, site marshals and guard dogs (source: Secure Site). There are advantages to using each type of security with each incurring different costs.

Because of the plethora of options around, it is crucial to understand some of the most common types of each category of security so your property, be it large or small, an office or a pub is suitably and adequately secured when it is vacant. It may be the case that you are in the process of building a new property, having just secured construction finance and you do not want the building site to be unprotected. There are a lot of potentially valuable items and assets on building sites that are appealing to burglars and trespassers.

Electronic Security

This category refers to any electronically powered form of security, of which there are many. Some of the most common types of electronic security are CCTV systems, alarms and lighting; all of which are powerful deterrents and preventers of unwanted visitors, vandals and trespassers.

CCTV Systems – These systems range from basic arrangements where there are just a few cameras that record, not needing to be checked until such time their footage is required to more complex systems that utilise motion detection technology and infrared night vision capabilities. Furthermore, CCTV cameras can be overt (visible to all) or covert [hidden]. The beauty of CCTV is that there are options for residential and commercial properties as well as for building sites. They are an effective way to secure prosecutions as any trespassers or potential burglars are caught on film to be handed to the relevant authorities.

Alarm Systems – Alarm systems are one of the most effective deterrents any site or property owner can utilise. Using motion detection; upon being set, any motion in the areas covered by the alarm sensors will set off the alarm, drawing attention to the site in question. Moreover, many alarm systems are monitored by alarm monitoring companies, sometimes alongside CCTV which allows them to alert the local police to any intruders. Just the site of an alarm box displayed on a property or site perimeter is a strong deterrent to burglars and intruders who tend to steer clear of properties and sites covered by alarm systems.

Physical Security

The most effective and cost-efficient methods of physical security tend to be barrier-related security which forms a physical barrier between any potential intruders and the site or property. Alternatively, for higher value properties and sites as well as those that are suited to it, having security guard, often with guard dogs is one of the strongest deterrents available.

Barrier Security – There are many types of fencing, hoarding and barriers that can be put in place to make intrusion and trespassing extremely difficult. For example, in the case of derelict or empty properties, a popular solution that isn’t too expensive is boarding up all windows and doors with steel or ply-wood panelling. Additionally, for sites where fly tipping, travellers and vehicular trespass are all possible, concrete bollards and hoarding can be implemented, making it impossible for the offending parties to enter without authorisation.

Manned Security – This is one of the most effective methods to protect a site or property; manned security will entail at least one security officer or marshal who will usually be trained to the minimum Home Office Standards (holding an SIA licence) being present on site. They may perform mobile patrols or them may man a static post such as the entrance or other vulnerable point of the site. Sometimes, and depending on the exact arrangement with the security provider, guard dogs may be provided to add an additional level of security.