Monday 28 November 2016

This week in Old Town - The Clapham Property Meet!

 Click here to book your ticket

I trust you've read a blog post or two that have been coming through to your inbox and perhaps it's wet your appetite to invest in property yourself, or with a fellow professional.

Are you interested in learning more about property, investment and otherwise?

Do you want to be inspired by experienced investors that can help you get better results from the outset?
You would like to avoid expensive mistakes, you say?

Great! Come on down to the Clapham Property Meet on Wednesday evening and join my colleagues and me. We'll be discussing the ins and outs of property letting and how to maximise your returns.

The evening will be as follows:

6-7pm           Arrival and Networking
7-715pm Trevor and Jeroen welcome fellow investors and provide market update
7:15-7:45pm Jenny Fenton
7:45-8:15pm Trevor & Jeroen's individual slots
8:15-8:30pm Question Time!
8:30-8:40  Introduce yourself to your fellow investors
8:45pm Close and Networking

What's on offer?
• Legislation Updates
• Topical discussions such as tax changes and investment strategies
• Monthly Market review; what's in demand right now?
• Unbiased investment advice
• Relaxed social environment
• Professional investors speaking. Not talkers, but DOERS!

Event:  The Clapham Property Meet, (Monthly Networking Event)

When:  Wed 30th Nov, 6 pm til late
Where: The Jam Tree, 13-19 Old Town, Clapham, London, SW4 0JT
What:   Maximising your (HMO) rental investments and planning alternative exits
With:    Professional investors Jenny Fenton, Trevor Cutmore and Jeroen Hoppe

We are all in the room to help one another; the beauty of property investment is that there is no “one right way” to do it. There are a plethora of strategies and combinations of those as well. But one thing is certain. If you are looking to make your investments go further then you are coming to the right place. Just the other day I advised a client to carry out some building works in order to increase the square footage of his existing property, thus creating three extra bedrooms. This, combined with a light refurb is set to TRIPLE his overall rental income (he had also not been charging market rents). I trust he found this worthwhile and he’s now putting that plan into action. The Return on his investment would be 50% per annum and the best thing is that he is not putting a penny of his own money into this “investment on investment.”

If you are looking to enhance your property investment returns then come along on Wednesday the 30th at 6pm til late to the Jam Tree in Clapham for an inspiring talk by Jenny Fenton who is an investor, developer and HMO expert. She will be talking us through maximising the returns on your (HMO) rental properties (but naturally these things can be applied to Rent to Rent, Serviced accommodation, and of course straight forward buy to let.

To book your ticket(s) CLICK HERE!

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Tenant fees are banned. Bad news for your lettings in Clapham and surrounds?

Well here we are, another bold move by the government for "Generation Rent." It seems you can't go a day without a picture of some poor tenant on the news saying "I paid thousands to move in to a property." To everyone who doesn't understand the concept, let me put the record straight. It is perfectly normal to have to pay a deposit (normally 6 weeks' rent), a month's rent in advance and then a fee to the agent to sort out all the paperwork. So in London where the average rent is £1500ish this would break down as £2100 deposit, £1500 and then say £350 for the agent. Yes, it's thousands of pounds, but this wasn't all for the agent was it? No... only about the equivalent of week's rent was for the agent. As people are renting for 2 years on average nowadays I don't think that's a big cost.

Why this draconian measure then? <sarcasm> Well the government was clearly so pleased with the results achieved in Scotland. All the tenants are now praising the government for banning these fees, which have now been passed on the landlords, and on to the tenants through higher rent. They really enjoy paying more rent. </sarcasm> 

Well done, own goal! The group they are trying to help has just been sold an expensive finance deal to pay the agency fees monthly. Plus interest of course. Clap. Clap. Clap. Sadly Generation Rent genuinely thinks this is a victory. Any attack on evil landlords and their agent counterparts is, of course, a move they support. In fact Shelter commissioned a study, which was quoted in a newspaper (I use this term loosely) claiming that rents didn't go up much, if at all. The validity of this statement is on par with the credibility of the paper that published it, namely the Mirror, article here. Interestingly they quote that the fee ban in Scotland has made no difference to rents, yet fail to reference where the data is on which they base this statement. The research was commissioned by Shelter, so by default I would say the data is biased. Campbell Robb, Shelter's chief executive, said banning fees was a welcome move:  "Millions of renters in England have felt the financial strain of unfair letting agent fees for far too long, so we are delighted with the government's decision to ban them. We have long been campaigning on this issue and it is great to see that the government has taken note," It's a move I wholeheartedly disagree with. We live in a Western, capitalist society and nothing is free. Simple. If you don't want to pay an agency fee then don't move house. Agency fees are subject to the supply and demand in the market. If they are too expensive customers will go elsewhere, we don't need the government intervening with this.

I am not alone in thinking this is a terrible move for renters. David Cox, MD of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) has already warned that “…a ban on letting agent fees is a draconian measure, and will have a profoundly negative impact on the rental market." I think we can agree on the fact that the tenant will end up paying for this. You will see the BBC writes a more balanced article but one can't help but see the bigger picture here. It's simply a move to get sympathy from the "generation rent" and win some votes. Sadly this group largely consists of those that don't understand the bigger picture and the implication of such a move.

Actual figures from the Homelet Rental Index claim that the Scots are suffering the biggest rent increases outside of the M25!! Article here. In a nutshell, rent increases within Greater London about 7.9%, rest of UK 4.9% and Scotland 7.7%! So there you have it. I believe this will be a great way for landlords to increase their rents and then some. Along with the Tenant Tax, which will come into effect tax year 2017-2018, this is certain to make rents rise by double digit figures in London come summer of 2019 compared to the year prior. I predict that once landlords start paying those Self-Assessment tax demands due by Jan 31st 2019 they will realise in cold hard cash what these taxes are costing and implement knee-jerk rent rises. The thing is it will be done en masse, so tenants will be hard up to find value for money in the summer of 2019 the busiest time of the year in terms of demand.

So what do I do now? Well sit tight and see how the bigger London agencies react to this news, I trust the rest of the country will follow. Will letting a property through an agency cost the landlord more? According to Shelter's report 10% of Scottish agents have found some kind of work-around, but as they are in the minority I doubt this is a "reputable" way to go. I will sit and watch to see the market does with great interest. What I do know is that the tenant will ending paying for it in the end...! Hopefully investors will see a ban on arrangement fees from mortgage companies and solicitor fees for conveyancing... Ah no, we are sensible and understand capitalism and that you can't get something for nothing (!)

I am a career property professional, helping landlord investors build profitable portfolios. If you  are interested in learning more about growing your investments wisely then do get in touch. I offer a range of investment options to help you grow your portfolio. It can be as hands-off or hands-on as you like. Get in touch on or come down to the Clapham Property Meet and learn more about getting the best returns in the London property market.

Monday 21 November 2016

Brrr! Cold in Clapham! Are you and your tenants prepared for a cold winter?

I trust you've felt the cold already, November has been a chilly one! Cold does bring some problems when it comes to maintenance, so be sure to cover yourself for the cold eventualities.

  1. Do you know your property? Always a bonus of course if you have lived in the property prior to renting it out; do you know how the heating controls work? Do you know what to do if a radiator doesn't work? Tenants often times don't especially if they are used to a different type of heating system (electric radiators don't need bleeding of course). Be sure that when you do get the call that they've tried all the obvious things, and speaking from experience YouTube is a saviour! What's that expression, a picture says 1000 words but a video...)??
  2. Condensation. A big bug bear of course. If the property is not properly heated and ventilated then condensation will build up and eventually lead to mould. Over the years I have found that tenants don't want to spend money on heating when they aren't home etc, and yes I can see the point in that, but a property simply does need to be heated to a certain extent to get rid of the condensation and dry out the air. Hot, dry air needs to be circulating. So be sure to advise them to open the curtains, letting in light (and heat), keep the internal doors open and get the heating nice and hot on a regular basis to dry out the moisture in the air. Not properly airing and heating the property can take its toll on paint work, wooden windows and in the bathroom can lead to that awful black mould on the silicone filler around the bath. All this will cost a lot more to redo than simply flicking the heating on. Point your tenants in the right direction to make a cost-effective switch of their utility tariffs through one of the energy price comparison sites (gocompare, confused, moneysupermarket, uswitch).
  3. Fire! With all the Christmas decorations and candles up and around it would be wise to test the smoke alarms, and whilst your at it your carbon monoxide detector. Don't be alarmed if you don't have one, the legal obligation for a CO detector is only there in rooms with a solid fuel burner (not gaseous fuel,'s a gas). Still not a bad idea to have one though!
  4. Don't get locked out. One of the most obvious problems I've ever come across in my property career is keys. When I don't have them I simply cannot get in. The same goes for many a landlord I've met - they don't keep a spare key. Think! Emergency repairs for instance; you'll need to get in, won't you? Viewings? Yep you'll need to get in too. Inspections? Access is also required. Make sure that you have a key in order to get you or your agent (or your tenant if they've locked themselves out) back in!
  5. Do simple repairs before they get worse. That leaky tap? Water will find its way down and dissolve the cupboard below. Slow leak? Will leave a patch on the ceiling of the room below. Make sure that you are on top of these things and above all else remind your tenants to tell you if things go wrong, no matter how small they may be. Small niggly things add up to bigger things, which ultimately may be the reason that the tenants move out, causing you voids and a big repair job as well as annoyed tenants (when they move in and the place is falling down around them). Having tenants that report repairs is worth gold, but make sure you prompt them. Remind them this isn't the 80s and you are a good landlord, you aren't going to evict them for telling you something needs doing!
I hope everyone has a trouble free winter! If you are interested in learning more about managing your investments wisely then do get in touch. I even offer a range of investment options such as portfolio building for high yield and maximum capital appreciation with hands-off management if that route interests you. Get in touch on or come down to the Clapham Property Meet and learn more about getting the best returns in the London property market.

Wednesday 9 November 2016

Is this the Trump card for investors in Clapham?

Wow what a year it's been. We've had so many changes on the playing field (property market), stamp duty, increased taxation, more regulations, Brexit, and now.... TRUMP! But what will the last change mean for homeowners and investors in South London?

Let's go over a few factors which will influence the housing market, be it purchasing or rental demand:

Immigration - Trump has been rather outspoken on his immigration views; practically wanting to stop Muslim immigrants at the border and deport Mexicans en masse. Result, lower demand in the lower end of the market, but increasing domestic wages.

Inflation - This will go up if imports are reduced and Americans are forced to spend more on goods produced locally rather than manufactured for less in the Far East.

Taxes - Trump promises to cut taxes in general, especially for corporations, thus increasing rewards for entrepreneurs domestically.

Markets always react to change. Normally investors head for cover, which is no different today. Gold prices are up, and the Dollar price is down today vs the Pound, but Wall street is reported to be surprisingly calm.  No knee jerks really. This is probably also due to the fact that Trump won't take office for another two months.

In a recent interview with City A.M. some big investors warned that "knee-jerk reactions won't get us anywhere." Sounds like Brexit all over again! But what does this have to do with the UK? Well, the housing market is only a small part of the country's macro economy. Ultimately the housing market is linked with investor confidence. When the public is confident and we are in an environment of political stability, prices continue to rise (however inflation going up will be a good thing for homeowners, their house prices will be linked to inflation to an extent).

I am confident that despite there being change in recent times, the USA and the UK are still in a politically stable environment. Civil unrest isn't on the cards, is it? Yes there will be changes, but if there's one thing that Trump does have, it's business acumen. My statement will be debateable I'm sure, but as mentioned I don't think that "unrest" is a way to describe the US/UK climate, be it political or economical.

I am a career property property professional and I have built portfolios for many clients. If you are interested in investing your money in the London property market then I can help you get the best returns so that you needn't worry about risking your capital. I offer a range of investment options such as portfolio building for high yield and maximum capital appreciation with hands-off management (armchair investing) or opportunities to invest your money into refurbishment projects for relatively quick returns on your capital. If you are interested in working with me do get in touch on or come down to the Clapham Property Meet and learn more about investing in the London property market.

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Is the end is nigh for bad landlords in Clapham!?

For those of you who managed to make it down to the Clapham Property Meet and heard my eviction talk you will know that there is plenty of regulation to comply with when renting out your property. Get caught out and it could spell disaster. Literally! If you do spell things wrong on a notice then it could mean the invalidity of an important move-out date that you sought, and/or whether a judge will throw out your request for possession, if it does get that far.

But what does all this regulation really mean for renters and landlords in Clapham? Well for starters it will increase barriers to entry. More regulation (or red tape as some people refer to this as) means that it is more difficult for the average man to just start letting out their property. They are made to comply with a myriad of safety checks, and should they not comply the penalties are severe. 

This is a good thing! The private rental sector has improved vastly over the last 50 years, what with the Protection From Eviction Act, Housing Act, and so on and so forth. There isn't a day that goes by without a newspaper reporting on yet another "beds in sheds" case where a landlord lets a property in an overcrowded state or doesn't comply with the various safety protocols that are in place for both single lets and houses in multiple occupation.

There is less and less room for bad landlords these days; one will have to comply and rent their property in a professional manner in order to get the best returns and rent to respectable tenants. Tenants that cut corners are a risk for the landlord I'm sure that you will agree. 

Legislation may not be completely obvious. It is very easy to find a tenant due to the vast demand of rental properties in London, but it is more difficult to comply with legislation and at the same time maximising your investment. Regulation costs money after all - the vast majority of professional tenants don't mind paying that little bit extra to a professional agent or landlord in order to "buy this safety" as it were. There are, of course, still landlords that cut corners, knowingly or unknowingly. For example from 2018 landlords will not be allowed to let out properties that have a Rating of E or better as I mentioned in a post some time ago:

More legislation that is not immediately obvious is the serving of the government "How to Rent" booklet. A lot of landlords are being caught out with this, because any tenancy that started after October 2015 will be subject to this legislation: if the booklet was not given to the tenant then the service of a Section 21 notice (notice for a landlord to end the tenancy) will not be valid. Can this be done retrospectively? Yes it can, but you can't serve a S21 notice until 6 months down the line.

Some say that "what you don't know won't hurt you" but I think ignorance is not bliss when it comes to renting out a property worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. It is a big risk not to be able to get possession just by not serving a pdf from the internet. Aforementioned are only some of the hidden rules of renting. I am a career property property professional and I have built portfolios for many clients. If you are interested in investing your money in the London property market then I can help you get the best returns whilst complying with all the relevant legislation so that you needn't worry about risking your capital. I offer a range of investment options such as portfolio building for high yield and maximum capital appreciation with hands-off management (armchair investing) or opportunities to invest your money into refurbishment projects for relatively quick returns on your capital. If you are interested in working with me do get in touch on or come down to the Clapham Property Meet and learn more about investing in the London property market.

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