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Tim Wragby

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  1. Dennis hi, There may be no need to pay for the services of a specialist eviction service and I would recommend you first discuss the situation with your agent who should be appropriately trained in dealing with such tenants - that is what you pay them for. Sadly it is not uncommon and difficult tenants are too frequent. At present, if you have reached the end of your 6 month initial tenancy agreement you would have two options (again your tenant should have already discussed this with you) that is to make arrangements to renew another fixed term period - which under the current circumstances may not be wise as you will be locking yourselves into an arrangement you may regret later or to leave matters unchanged and you agreement will become what is technically called a periodic tenancy (many call it a rolling tenancy) which continues on a month-to-month basis going forward. As you on an AST you have the legal right to ask your agent to "serve a Section 21 Notice" which is done on a prescribed way using a Form 6A and they will send/deliver this to your tenant. The specialist eviction people will do the same thing but it will be charged extra for but most agencies will sort this under their normal management fees. The S21 gives a tenant 2 months notice that you want to take back possession of the property but this date is not technically the date you can evict a tenant - it is the date that you can submit court papers to get an accelerated possession hearing. Your agent must also have complied with several legal requirements in paperwork that should have been given to your tenant at the start of the tenancy and possibly during it including: 1. Issuing the EPC * 2. Issuing the correct "How To Rent" booklet * 3. Issuing an in-date gas safety cert prior to moving them in (If supplied with gas appliances) ** 4. Registering the deposit with an approved scheme within 30 days of receipt and issuing correctly filled out Prescribed Information relating to the deposit as well as the specific schemes Ts & Cs 5. Ensuring the smoke alarms were tested on the day of move in/ tenancy start ** 6. Issuing a copy of a renewed gas cert within 28 days of completion of the work if it had been renewed in the intervening tenancy period. * should be done prior to tenancy but you can get away with issuing them with the notice if not done and if your agent does not operate a system where the tenant signs for receiving them then it would be wise to reissue as the tenant could say they had not received them and there is no way of proving them. ** Must be done otherwise the section notice could/would be refused by the court. The whole process can take up to 6 months to get to court depending on whereabouts in the country you are (London the worst and can take longer due to delays in the court system) but can also take as little as 6 weeks. As long as the paperwork is all correct a judge is compelled to give you authority to take possession but if the tenant has not physically left you need to employ either a High Court Enforcement Officer or a bailiff as you cannot do this yourself. Many/ most tenants will leave of their own volition within the 2 month notice period but the information you have given tends to indicate your tenant may not go quietly. Not paying December's rent is not uncommon as this type of tenant often feels they have some form of inalienable right to use that money to pay for Christmas rather than a roof over their head. This, combined with their attitude, could mean that they they are more savvy about their rights and may be harder to move without legal enforcement but it does not come cheap and could cost £700 - £1000 depending on cost of legal assistance and bailiffs etc. Two final things to bear in mind - your tenant may be suffering from some form of mental illness that effects their mood swings and it may be possible for your agent to catch them on a better day. Seek your agents advice who has experienced this situations and other difficult tenants and may not see the problem as seriously as you do. Bear in mind that evicting a tenant can cost lost rent revenue and void periods + any damage done by your tenant as well as the re-letting fees for a new start up and so if they do come back on track with their rent and develop an improved relationship with your agent it may be cost effective to stay with these tenants. However the omens are not promising so far I would suggest. The other thing that may be worth bearing in mind is to take out Rent protection and legal services cover - either within your building/contents insurance or as a separate policy. Many good agents offer a fee to do this as part of a combined policy the agency buys into on your behalf and you benefit from their bulk purchase. A typical policy offers @ £50,000 legal cover and varying amounts of unpaid rent (6 or 12 months/ unlimited) + 50 -75% rent on vacant possession for 2-3 months to carry out refurbishment and get re-let. This usually cost £175 - £200 pa but increasingly landlords take this for peace of mind and you let your insurance company sort all teh eviction process at no extra cost of time or stress to you. Good luck and I hope that it is not as bad as it initially sounds
  2. James hi, EPC regulations are a fairly mis-understood area and to a degree the answer is - it depends... If you served your tenant with a copy of the EPC when they moved in and can prove you did so by them having signed as having received it then you do not need to get an EPC assessment done until you renew the tenancy agreement. Therefore, if you are on a periodic tenancy you could wait until they depart, but would not be able to re-advertise the property until you had a new certificate and so ssould end up with a void as your outgoing tenants could refuse access to the assessor and there would not be much you could do to enforce it. If you needed to serve notice and had no proof that they had received a copy of the EPC (which should have been made available to them on request for free at viewing and given at/around sign up) then you could fall foul of the courts hampering your ability to end the tenancy. If your tenancy is running normally I would personally see it as good practice to arrange to have an assessor carry out a new certification survey so that you are prepared for all eventualities. Losing a week's + rent due to a void that could have been avoided will be multiples of the cost of having it done when things are amicable in the tenancy and you cannot predict your tenant's future. If you end up serving notice that is then refused at court on grounds of the EPC is worse still. Avoiding it is false economy in my opinion The tenancy should have had an EPC with a rating of A - E as you should not have started it if it was F or G because of MEES (Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-private-rented-property-minimum-energy-efficiency-standard-landlord-guidance) which were valid from Apr 2018) stated that it would have been against the law to do so. From April 2020 any properties with a currently valid EPC of F or G it will be illegal to continue to rent the property to tenants so you will need to terminate the tenancy unless you can get the necessary work done with tenants in situ to bring up the standard to E or better, unless you get an exemption certificate which can be costly too
  3. The Zoopla valuation tool - as noted above - is very poor and is not reliable enough as a tool, in my opinion, to be used for a meaningful valuation. It is an algorithm that is too indiscriminate in the properties it includes, takes no account of equivalent size, condition and real location (ie a property 2 streets away can be massively different in price due to location of other factors such as proximity to negative factors or positive factors). Agents have access (and pay handsomely for it) to back room tools for creating meaningful comparables of near like for like as they can and a good agent will use local knowledge to create their best valuation range. Non-agents can use a useful tool www.mouseprice.com which has a limited free tool with an upgradeable pro site @ £28 per month - whether you can do a one-off one-two month contract length each time you want to activate searches when adding to your portfolio I do not know but it could be money well spent. If you do not choose this tool I would trawl local streets for similar looking properties, currently on the market and then look at devising your own algorithm of what you would offer based on condition and what you are going to have to spend to bring the property in question up to standard.
  4. The Labour Party have private landlords in sights and have also stated that they want to shake up council tax and make owners responsible for payment of a new property tax and not occupants and will include punitive rates on second or empty properties. This effectively means that if passed landlords and not tenants will pay the tax. A third declared policy is that they also want to place caps on rents A fourth is that they want to add to the no Sect 21 by ending Assured Short Hold tenancies and tenants will have the right to remain at the property and a landlord will not be able to end the tenancy except for Sect 8 grounds (This is also being consulted on by the current Government in a slightly different form) This is a toxic mix that has the potential to make it very difficult for landlords and could have dramatic consequences on the whole housing market. A Labour Government with the current team at the top will be likely to put the private rented sector into its most turbulent time ever and it is not easy to see anything good for landlords, tenants or banks
  5. Cunning plans to try and get round paying too much tax tend to fail unless you have proper advice from an appropriate and qualified expert which is worth paying for. Stamp Duty Land Tax is fraught with pitfalls and you will need to take appropriate advice however, I believe that if you purchase the second property you would be liable for the 3% surcharge on top of any other SDLT that is due on purchase price. This article may help https://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/knowledge/articles/2017/06/stamp-duty-land-tax-surcharge-for-married-couples/
  6. Sean, Renting a property should be no problem as long as you can prove you can pay and I would recommend using a properly accredited agent who operates under ARLA Propertymark or RICS regulations and they will normally be very happy to assist you to take on a rented property while you complete your renovations. As long as you can complete the appropriate referencing process they will be able to walk you through the process
  7. Ian hi I am sorry to hear that your new tenancy appears to have gone badly wrong. It appears that you have two different sides to the story and it may be hard to unravel who really is telling the truth as just because the tenant says they told your agent does not necessarily mean that they did. Tracking back a bit, what checks did you do on the agent you chose to manage your property? Did you ask them about the way they reference check their applicants and how they go about filtering out applicants by their application process. Did you look at the contract that they sign with tenants so that you can check that business use is not permitted. If the contract states this your tenant would need an addendum to the contract specifically stating that they could run a barber's business from the premises. If this exists and you were not informed your agent is bang to rights. Where is your tenant's proof that they asked the question about the business request? I think that you also have the right to ask them for all the information that they gathered during the application and referencing process - which they should keep in their records. You need to see what information they were working from that was supplied by your tenant and also see what the referencing company unearthed about the applicant now your tenant. It is more likely that your tenant is lying and that they did not reveal their intention. If there is no record you can insist that the business activity is stopped and you may consider offering the tenant the opportunity to end the tenancy and quit early if you feel there is real risk of damage to your property. I would also check your agency terms of business contract and see if they are carrying out all the parts of their contractual agreement. If you feel that this is not the case you need to start a formal complaint process - which they should have published procedures for. If you are unable to get a reasonable response you should ask them which ombudsman organisation they work under as by law they are required to be part of an ombudsman organisation to which you can escalate your complaint to. You also need to decide what sort of redress you are looking for - are you looking for financial or practical? You are unlikely to get much compensation but you may be able to get your costs (or most likely some of your costs) back but unfortunately financial penalties are often weak but you may be able to get the agent struck off from trading. If you feel your agent really has lied or failed to keep their contractual agreement then you may have grounds to be able to pull out of the agreement but be careful how you go about this as they may have some nasty financial penalty clauses which the unscrupulous may try and hold you to even if they are in the wrong. It is possible that they will be happy to let you go to try and save themselves hassle but if this does not prove the case I would try using social media and visiting the agency to make others aware of the agency's transgressions but if you choose this route make sure you only state verifiable facts as you do not want to be on the receiving end of slander claims. With regard to your tenant you can also try and insist that your tenant adheres to the original agreement they signed and also that they return the decor to its original condition. If not then you may need to hold out until their fixed term period comes to an end and not renew it, hoping that further damage does not occur. You may need to be prepared to take on the agency for paying for any remedial work not done by the tenant and also ensure that any deposit taken is withheld and if necessary a dispute resolution is sought. As this is all fairly onerous and may need some expert assistance it may be worth seeking out a decent,qualified agent who can give some on the scene advice and assistance with taking the property on and getting the letting process back on track. Don't seek out the cheapest but find out what their skill levels are. You are better employing a decent agent who may charge a slightly higher fee but save you £££s by doing it right. RICS or ARLA Propertymark agencies have to adhere to industry standards and tend to be head and shoulders above the rest. If they are not part of these organsiations then you need to ask why and check that they are fully compliant and have good standards. I hope this gives a little bit of help and good luck?
  8. I am not a specialist in this matter but these two links may be of some use to your purposes. If you already own the property you may find that the local fire service's fire safety staff may be able to advise you but also if you have a block management company they should be carrying out the regular fire safety checks and assessments. Communal fire safety should also be the responsibility of the leaseholder to resolve if matters need addressing https://www.rla.org.uk/landlord/guides/guidance-on-fire-safety-in-individual-purpose-built-flats.shtml https://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/fire-safety-purpose-built-04b.pdf I hope this is of some use?
  9. Ady As far as I am aware SDLT is payable on purchase/ change of ownership and so change of use will not trigger your liability for SDLT - but contact HMRC if you cannot get what you need from their website information. Sorry can't advise on second question
  10. Douglas, Just out of interest, how did you go about referencing your tenants when they applied for the tenancy? Did you carry out the reference checks yourself or did you use a company? If you do use proper referencing companies there are several insurance packages you can take out for loss of rent and malicious damage etc. A good letting agent should be able to advise you on this but also the National Landlords Assoc (NLA) (& I would expect the RLA also) have a eferencing set up which both members and non-members can use. I would strongly advise you always reference check an applicant - even if you know them or are recommended to you as there are all sorts of skeletons that can come out and even the most respectable looking individuals can have a past you may want to be aware of
  11. Dani sorry to heat your story. I m not qualified to be able to give you financial advice but from where I see you I would be careful to jump back onto the property market too soon and find yourself very exposed. If you borrow to the max and have no plan B when faced with a large bill it would finish you off and that would be something none of us would want for you. . If you are only able to buy at the bottom of a housing market you are likely to be buying properties with both visible and invisible issues. Buying this type of property and in the areas where it is this cheap requires a bit more than Newbie experience would be my view. I was dealing with the landlord today who is suddenly faced with a £5000 bill for a new heating system as both the boiler and plumbing have become life expired. Unfortunately their circumstances are very difficult and they have a real challenge on their hands to comply with the law and not lose their property. L I have been thinking about your circumstances and how best I would advise you. I think I would recommend that you discipline yourself to save as hard as you can as family and circumstances permit and continue to build your knowledge base which can be relatively cheap to do on sites like this and to be an expert when you eventually jump in. Go to a Hub meetings where you can learn of others and maybe they may even permit you to observe from close to hand once I get to know you but don’t spend money until you need to and save to get a better size deposit. You must also remember that start-up costs include quite a lot of fees and increasingly landlords will have to go through more and more hoops to be qualified to be a landlord which is increasingly likely to occur I really hope you find a way into this as your heart is clearly there but I also wouldn’t want to hear that you had been burnt by good intentions and lack of capacity. If you go down my route and subsequently change your mind at least you have money to use elsewhere but if you buy in too soon & it goes badly wrong it would be much harder! Good luck
  12. Probably worth writing to the council concerned under the guise of seeking your arrears as you are aware that they were in receipt of Housing Benefits. This would alert the council to the situation without it being seen as a direct snitch. Not sure how much notice council's take of these matters a they probably see it as too difficult and a private matter between Tenant and Landlord rather than notification of fraudulent use of public funds which you or I would hope they would
  13. I would recommend taking some more formal advice from a properly qualified tax accountant who is FCA registered as getting tax advice wrong can have costly results. Rule of thumb though is that- if you have thought of a cunning plan to reduce tax liability then the tax man will have got there first and shut the door! Otherwise something like this will be a common practice. If you are thinking of setting yourself up as an agent you would have to do it properly and will now need to register to comply with a raft of recent legislation
  14. Great work guys App features works a treat and love the access from the phone so keep in contact from my phone
  15. My advice is look elsewhere. Your warning sign s should tell you a lot. Remember that you are buying in a neighbourhood that has a shared memory that is an elephant in the local room. It could easily be blighted for quite some time and may have significant trouble finding tenants. I have a property where an attack on an individual ended up as a murder conviction. Unfortunately I only found out after completion and agent went out of business ( for other reasons) 10 years on it still re-let very slowly and BMV The people living in the house will hear of the reputation of the house at the school gate, in the pub, newsagents etc and can feel easily spooked or at risk. I was involved with selling another repo of convicted paedophile - took months, sold for a song and been sold at least twice BMV (I understand) in last 8 or so years If agents are jumping ship this should indicate “a quick flip” is unlikely and your efforts to turn it could go down the pan. Sorry slightly different view - I’d rather you used your money wisely than lose it of hope of fast buck
  16. Sorry Lizzie Not sure how the mix up happened and I posted on wrong thread
  17. I agree wither above comment re the change to the EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) & I’ve not heard of a property slipping 2 places. However, there could be other routes that you could explore. If the windows are as rotten as you suggest then their security could be in question and a hazard under the Housing Health & Safety Rating System. (HHSRS). I would recommend contacting your local council stating the above as you would also be protected from retributive eviction by your landlord and there is every likelihood that your council could place an improvement notice on the windows. Your landlord will benefit if they improve the property as the capital value will improve
  18. You are not as restricted as a standard rental property but you are also not as protected. You may find these sites useful https://www.gov.uk/rent-room-in-your-home https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/rent-a-room-scheme-how-it-works-and-tax-rules Take good advice on the agreement that you sign and it may be worth the cost of obtaining proper references being done by your lodger so that you have a bit about the background to them. It is always harder sharing your own space than letting someone have a whole property for their sole use as your lodger will have access to your own belongings and a lot of your space. Renting to family or friends can be awkward if they are short of loot one month and seek your good nature for a deferral or non-payment and it you need to set clear boundaries of what is and is not permitted. However, they too will want to feel at home and at ease so make it too draconian and you may not get the lodger Good luck
  19. Not sure how many people are aware that there is going to be a significant change in the law where agents and/or landlords will not be able to tenants any additional fees for starting a tenancy other than: 1 - The rent; 2 - A deposit of max 5 weeks rent & 3 A holding deposit of 1 weeks rent which is only non-refundable under certain conditions. Outside of this it will be against the law to charge anything else and the bill is pretty watertight from what I can see and the penalties draconian. This will inevitably lead to agencies charging landlords more as they can no longer cover some of the move-in/set up costs to tenants. Some agencies have a significant proportion of their income generated from charges to tenants at present and it is also likely that agents will go to the wall as a result. Go it alone landlords will also not be able to charge additional fees either nor will you be able to charge an increased rent to start with and then reduce it as you would then be liable to have to refund all of the additional rent from the higher fee and may face a fine on top. See https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2017-2019/0152/18152.pdf for the latest version of the bill I could find - there may have been 1 or 2 amendments in the final reading stages in the Lords. This has gone through largely un-noticed by the media because of the hoo-ha on Brexit right now but is going to be a big deal. Another reason for a likely shrinkage in letting agents is that they are almost certainly going to have to comply with offering tenants & landlords financial protection for funds lodged with the agent through a Client Money Protection (CMP) scheme. Many small agents do not have the financial accounting set up that would pass the test for them to join one of these schemes and is likely to cull the sector further. It will be better for the clients but if you are tempted to go for the cheap and cheerful agent these two changes are likely to change things in a big way
  20. Sam hi I wouldn't touch an electric boiler system with a barge pole it is likely to reduce your EPC rating as I have seen on 3 properties that I've seen before and after rates. You would be better to go for an LPG combi with a tank in the garden (if possible) rather than these. Look at your EPC that you inherited and see what it was rated at and what you have refurbed with. Most improvements are made (outside of A rated gas boilers) are changed by improving insulation and windows and it is possible that your refurb will have done a lot of this already. If your able to share your old EPC + what you have done this could give more of a clue to what may still be required. It is also worth noting that the algorithms for calculating the U rating of solid walls were changed at end of last year and so your EPC rates could have changed upwards as a result of this. I would also point out that just scraping over the E band boundary is only going to buy you 5 years grace because current legislation has the boundaries changing upwards to D then C in 2025 and 2030 respectively and it is probable that the second date will be brought forward to 2028(if it has not done so already)
  21. Paul, I completely agree that trying to self manage a property 100 miles away is a challenge at times and anywhere abroad is even worse and the more time zones different the worse it becomes! I would strongly recommend choosing a good agent and therefore cheapest fees should be low on your priority and one who is going to do the job right is far more important as you are too far away to be able to resolve any problems and to travel over is too costly to justify. Cheap fees mean that there are corners being cut somewhere as there is a lot of work involved in managing property now. There are so many legal changes at present going through parliament - Homes Fit For Human Habitation Bill - went to the House of Lords last week and will have a big impact on the lower order properties and new rules on 5 yearly electrical safety checks and new laws on CO alarms are also expected in the early part of next year. Keeping up in this country is bad enough... With regard to choosing a good agent I would recommend that you choose one who is: A member of either ARLA Propertymark or RICS as they have fairly stringent requirements for agent membership and at least some of their staff must be trained to prescribed legal standards They are fully registered with a client money protection scheme so that you are covered if they run off with your funds They are used to dealing with clients abroad and fully understands the requirements of HMRC and Non-Resident Landlords (NRL) - I hope that you are already registered with the HMRC on this count. If they are up to speed with this they will also discuss with you how they are going to achieve proper ID and anti-money laundering checks on you for them to check you out too. As noted above all fees should be fully available on the company's website as it is illegal not to A fully managed agency contract should include inspection visits and also arranging contractor fees, gas checks etc - they should not double charge their contractors as well as you for a job either without disclosing their cut as this is fraud - I would try and avoid any who do as you can never be sure where else they are taking additional rates. I would ask them to explain their process of referencing prospective tenants and check that they report how they carry out the essential Home Office Right To Rent checks (R2R). If they are not using a proper referencing company to check people &/or not fully familiar with the nuts and bolts of R2R ,I would go elsewhere. There will be a ban on taking fees from tenants early next year too so rates could go up - but again an agent needs to be up front on this and give an indication on what their plans are. It is still uncertain when it will happen & how agents are going to absorb the lost revenue but look at the website to see what tenants are being charged at present as this will give an indication of what money they are going to try and find and inevitably some will be charged to landlords in bigger fees (which you as landlord will have to pass on in rent increases to some level) 10% + VAT will not be a high fee from next year. Look at their website and see what properties they are advertising and how well they are doing it. Are there good quality photos and descriptions, do they go the extra mile in selling landlords properties to tenants - are there clear photos, floor plans, EPC graphs etc - wouldyou want to view one of their other properties on the way they market themselves? Find out how many properties they manage and try and get an approx figure of how many move ins a month they do + average tenure - it will give you a feel of what income they generate by looking at their fees Find out how many staff they have and if they are trained to industry standards - a good agent will be happy to say that x number are ARLA /RICS qualified and the staff member to property ratio that they have. Hopefully this is a pointer for you - I too have no knowledge of the area so could not advise on the good, the bad and the ugly. Good luck
  22. Tamsin I agree with Rachel that releasing equity from one property to buy another BTL is very common - I have done it twice. However, I would strongly recommend that you discuss the whole thing in open so that if you still have a mortgage on your existing property you tell them what you are doing and you would have to tell your new mortgage provider where you deposit is sourced anyway. If your existing provider thinks they are lending for improvements and find you've used it elsewhere they may take a dim view of this and could - at worst - call in your mortgage and give you a real headache. Good luck with your venture - if you've done your sums it should be workable - don't forget to factor in the additional 3% LTSD (Land Tax Stamp Duty) which adds considerably to start up costs
  23. Rebel Hi - I hope that by now the work is either completed or nearing completion. Unfortunately with regard to revised agreement I do not think that there is anything that you can do as it was an agreement that was made by both parties. Your agent should have advised you of the ramifications and it was an unfortunate set of circumstances and it is unlikely that they would have had something like that happen before or even again I think that you should try to look at it from a different viewpoint - I don't think that you have realistically lost out from rent because if the tenants pulled out prior to moving in you would not have been able to put any other tenants in until it was fixed and then there would likely have been a void after being fixed before new tenants are found, referenced and moved in. i would get your agent to ensure that your tenants are ready to pay the rent as soon as the work is sorted so that there is the least possible delay. The other hopeful good news is that your tenants are paying the council tax and utility standing charges and the house is being used so hopefully not deteriorating as empty properties do. I hope that you are able to recover as much of the costs as possible from your insurers - it is possible that you may be able to include the lost rent - although unlikely - but if you don't ask....
  24. Hi GT Driver It's not their house and so you could be precious over the issue but if they have done a reasonable job it has not really damaged the property and has clearly made your tenant feel more secure. If they have caused expensive damage to the door then that is a different matter but you would not be able to charge them new for old and so would have to factor in the age of the existing door and probably make a nominal charge about it and if they are good tenants who otherwise pay the rent and look after your asset will your capital value have been altered? probably not! I take a fairly liberal view with my own tenants who some are keen to do various jobs round the house to maintain it and make it their own - 10 years on there is no sign of them moving and the mortgages are almost sorted - paid for by them. I have now massed @35 years of rent time and currently have total 2 months void time so this has worked for me. They have asked for anything big but putting up a shelf etc and redecorating at their expense has been positive but they have gained that trust over time. I've not had minor maintenance to fork out on and so rent rises have been minimal - I have happy tenants and there is a happy landlord too. Properties I manage in my day job are very different and I need to be far more rigid until I get a landlord's permission but it all comes down to the individual - if you have a carpet fitter, plumber, electrician as a tenant they can be very good tenants and save a landlord £££s - there is often an agreement to pay for the parts and the job gets done for free or real mate's rates
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