Thursday 29 October 2015

Want to know more about investing in property in Clapham and surrounds? Come along... to Wimbledon PIN Tues 3rd November

You will probably have been reading my blog for a little while now, and hopefully you've learned some new things. A tip here, a trick there. All good pointers for those starting out as investors or even seasoned professionals. Here's your opportunity to learn some more and meet some interesting people.

I've been asked a colleague investor to come and have a chat at the Wimbledon property Investor Network. Trevor Cutmore has been a property investor for years. Initially trained as a chef he later realised that property investment was more lucrative. A wise man. If you are reading this blog I would assume you are at the very least intrigued to hear more... Could full time property be for you? Perhaps not full-time but you are keen to learn more? Having a few hundred or even a few thousand pounds per month extra in passive income would be a lovely thing for everyone I'm sure.

I'm giving a detailed lettings update next week. Topics I'll be covering include:
  • BTL Tax Changes
  • Right to Rent Regulation
  • Deregulation Act 2015
  • Importance of education
  • Professional memberships

Who else will be there? People new to the game and seasoned investors alike. It will be a great opportunity to meet like-minded people and learn how to invest, where to invest and find the money to do it with - it doesn't have to be yours!

The best part of all it's free. If you have never attended a PIN meeting before just register online at using the voucher code xandermatthew and your night out meeting experienced professionals will be on the house. See you there on Tuesday November 3rd.

Remember - if you're looking at investments in Clapham, Brixton and surrounds then let me know! Happy to cast an eye over it and see if the deal stacks up. 

Monday 26 October 2015

More legislation you need to know about when renting your property in Clapham, Brixton and elsewhere!

October brings us many things. Cold mornings, grey skies and it brings us a little bit closer to Christmas. My local supermarket outdid themselves by bringing out the tins of Quality street on the last day of September. Fill your boots.

More pressingly though, some interesting bits of legislation have been brought in recently. You will know about some I trust, with my recent post on the Deregulation Act. I thought I'd elaborate on that some more, reason being a landlord asked me more specifically about the changes regarding prescribed information.

We're all familiar with prescribed information. This is given when a tenant's deposit is registered. However as of the first of this month you will need to supply a little bit more...

Point 39 of the Deregulation Act 2015 states that: The Secretary of State may by regulations require information about the rights and responsibilities of a landlord and a tenant under an assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling-house in England (or any related matters) to be given by a landlord under such a tenancy, or a person acting on behalf of such a landlord, to the tenant under such a tenancy.

So what is this "Prescribed Information" you speak of? Well a lot of you will be thinking it simply refers to the Deposit Protection PI. A standard document that we've all heard of at some stage. It comes attached to the certificate usually, most people don't even think twice.


It's not that. In this case reference is made to a "How to Rent" booklet published by the government. Click here and have a read. You're now legally responsible for serving this on the tenant. A lot of people have criticised its value, arguing that it's a merely a guide aimed at people looking to rent and should be made available earlier in the rental process, not just before signing a tenancy. Truth is that most agents and landlords will send a link through to this booklet prior to starting paperwork. It contains a few obvious things - obvious to you and me - but its existence in itself is anything but. The guide is helpful to those new to the country, supposedly an aid for immigrants that flood in through our private rental sector and perhaps don't know about repairing obligations and the such. The law is of course different from country to country. You would however be surprised at how busy Shelter is with those that are not new to the country. The guide does a good job at pointing out the major landlord obligations. Again something to help the tenants go to the right place when their "rogue" landlord is not complying. That can only be a good thing. It will hold bad landlords accountable and improve the housing stock. Naturally you are of course a good landlord and maintain your property well. This guide will help you because bad landlords with bad property will simply end up selling their properties because they can't be bothered to maintain them well and deal with the extra regulations. Enter stage right, savvy investor. Embrace the compliance and see your returns improve.

In any case, more changes you as a landlord should be aware of. Is your agent handling these things for you? Excellent. If not, time to hand over your management to someone in the know.

Looking at an investment property? Excellent news - run it by me and I'm happy to give you my opinion on figures: buying, resale, letting, you name it. Email me on

Tuesday 13 October 2015

£400,000 fine for non-compliance. Are you complying when you are letting your property in Clapham?

Another day, another news article about a rogue landlord. They seem to be plentiful these days. Here's the latest one:

I'll save you clicking through. In a nutshell, Mr. Landlord chopped up a house into flats and rented them out, despite planners at the council telling him "no, no no." So they took him to court and he was fined £30,000 and his rents and proceeds of £382,000.


That's a fairly extreme example, and let's face it - this particular landlord was a bit audacious ignoring the planners and proceeding anyway. Some say he had it coming, or so the reporters want you to believe for journalistic effect.

Relevance to your letting? A lot really. It just goes to show that landlords are being fined and punished for non-compliance. We have seen a lot of legislation change over the years, I've listed below a few examples with their penalties for non-compliance

Year Legislation Penalties
2008 Housing Act 1988 (amended 2008) - Deposit Registration 3x deposit amount and Section 21 can't be used to evict tenants
2014 Immigration Act 2014 - Obligation for landlords to check immigration status of tenants Fine up to £3000
2015 Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 Fine up to £5000
2015 HSE revised Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) 'Legionnaires' disease Fine up to £20,000

So as you can see, a lot is happening in the lettings sector. This is just a pick of the bunch, there will be more of course. So as a landlord it's important to comply. In addition to these regulations there will be restrictions from your lender as to what type of tenant you can let to (an how many), if you have a leasehold property there will probably be more restrictions - you may not be able to change the interior walls of the property without consent, paint the windows a different colour and so forth - you may not even be able to let it at all without asking parental - ahem - freeholder consent.

Fall foul of these regulations and plead ignorance all you like, it won't be a valid defense. You will more than likely have given some thought to handling some elements of the letting process yourself. But truth be told, when there's fines of £20,000 at risk along with the fact that you can't ask tenants to leave if you don't handle the paperwork to the letter of the law, why risk not getting a good managing agent on board to look after your compliance. It's a good insurance policy to have.

Your agent should be a competent, ARLA and NAEA qualified and member agent. They will be up to speed with the latest legislation and therefore offer you good value. In addition they will be able to help you get the most from your investments. After all, you have property in order to benefit you financially. With a little boost from good advice you may just be able to retire that little bit earlier, or buy that next property which will yield you another £500-£1000pcm. If you like the sound of that why not drop me a line: and tell me what you would like to achieve. I help you get there.

Thursday 1 October 2015

How much does it cost to let a flat in Clapham or Brixton? Nothing, I'll treble your monthly income if you do it right.

I was speaking to a landlord just the other day about his investment. He called me up to ask me about my letting fees. Well in fact he phoned up the office and my colleague answered. She put him on hold and put him through to me, whispering in my ear "I know you shouldn't discuss fees but discuss value on the phone, can you show me how?" 

The gentleman explained to me how he was looking to buy a 1bed apartment on the William Bonney Estate. I commended him on finding something in such a brilliant location. Being the sleuth that I am I punched in the postcode into rightmove as I spoke. Up it came. An immaculate 1bed ground floor flat. Again I mentioned to him how easy it would be to let. "But," I said, "I wouldn't buy this, I think you can get a 3bed for the same money and get at least 50% more rent every month, with more chance of capital growth, better tenant demand and less voids."

He was amazed. A long conversation followed. He couldn't believe that a letting agent was telling him to buy a different flat. "Any agent would want me to buy this property quickly so that I instruct them to let it." He said. Not me. I look at investments all day long, and there's nothing better than helping landlords make a better investment. They get a higher yield and ultimately they are happier to come back to me because I've given them solid advice. They thank me for my advice and ultimately we all win. You see, I've been doing this for over a dozen years now. I know what is a good investment. I know what is not. I am local. Every day. I see demand shift from area to area. Flat to flat. I know what lets and what doesn't. And people come to me for knowledge, advice, expertise. Value that you don't get from high street branded (or bland) agents.

I recommended two other investments straight away that had come to market recently. They fit in with his criteria: he had a busy job and didn't want to get involved with loads of refurbishments; looking for something with minimal fuss to let and take advantage of a rising market. I trust he will be happy for me to advise on furnishings to get the best tenant in the shortest timescale for that type of property, too. He still doesn't know what I charge to let and manage. That's not important to him. Value is important. The fact that if he follows my guidance he would be netting £1000pcm from his investment and not £300pcm. So how much does it cost to let and manage through me? Nothing sir, I just doubled your capital growth over 5 years and gave you treble your cash flow on a monthly basis. After my fees. Using my services therefore makes money, it doesn't cost you money.

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