65% of students ‘live in squalor’ due to Landlord neglect

Student advice site Save the Student asked 2,095 students to reveal the realities of living in rented accommodation around the UK. The results are pretty grim.

  • Almost 50% of students say their accommodation suffers from damp
  • 42% left without any running water
  • 26% are lumbered with unwanted guests including rats, slugs and bed bugs
  • … yet 1 in 4 reported problems are never resolved by landlords
  • EXTRA: Halls of shame – ten instances when student accommodation totally sucked

The cliché of students living in squalor may be closer to the mark than you think: two-thirds of them are paying through the nose for ‘horror homes’ more suited to rats than renters, Save the Student has found.

The National Student Accommodation Survey 2017 reveals students around the UK pay an average deposit of just under £300 each to secure a place to live, with 80% coughing up for fees as well.

Many have to pay a month or whole term’s rent – that’s anything from £500 to thousands of pounds – in advance. This means that students are being asked to put down big money for accommodation even before their first loan instalment comes in at the start of the year, putting pressure on budgets (and the Bank of Mum and Dad).

Paying more rent and upfront costs DOESN’T guarantee students an easier ride, either. The majority (65%) experience serious housing issues, including rodents, bed bugs, damp, inappropriate landlord visits and security concerns.

Claudia, a 2nd-year student in Yorkshire, lives in university accommodation. She says:

“[My] bedroom would get extremely damp and I would have a build up of mould … I can only have my bed positioned against that damp wall since the room is too small to switch things around. I bought a small dehumidifier (one I could afford) and would clean up the wall regularly … I did call the university in the first semester. They just recommended to leave the window open (which I always do) and not to dry clothes on the radiator (which I don’t). Then they said they’ll send someone over to have a look at it but no one ever did.”

NHS advice states that “if you have damp and mould you’re more likely to have respiratory problems, respiratory infections, allergies or asthma” – yet Claudia is just one of hundreds of students going without help from their landlords.

3rd-year Bryony adds:

“I am asthmatic and it was [damp] in the bedroom. Landlord simply refused to get it looked at.”

In fact, although half of those who reported housing issues said they were sorted within a week, 22% said it took a month – and 25% said their problem was never resolved.

One 3rd-year student in the East Midlands comments:

“We struggled to lock our front door and they didn’t come until two days later. Our house was not secure and they just kept saying they would send someone out but they never turned up.”

Other complaints include a gas leak being repeatedly shrugged off by the landlord; noisy neighbours; and agents, maintenance staff or landlords walking into houses (and even bedrooms) without warning.

Jake Butler, Save the Student Editor, comments:

“People tend to think that living in substandard conditions is just part of being a student, but it’s time we realised it simply isn’t acceptable, especially when many students and their parents are shelling out plenty of money.

We hear from stressed out students with housing issues pretty much daily. Far too many landlords and even university accommodation providers will just shrug off major issues. And who can they turn to when that happens? There should be more obvious support available to students for matters like this.”

Halls of Shame

Ten times student accommodation totally sucked.

We asked students to name-and-shame the worst aspects of rented accommodation. Here’s what they told us in their own words:

  1. Slugs in our kitchen on our plates.
  2. The shower drains out to the back of the house … at some point a frog got wedged in the drain and died. So whenever you had a shower, the smell of sewage and death stunk out the bathroom. This got resolved after 3 visits from the landlord and a month of waiting.
  3. Landlord handing out our key to other estate agents without telling us so that we get unexpected visit from a complete stranger claiming to be working with landlord. When we asked landlord to tell us next time he made threats saying that he doesn’t need our permission to let strangers into our home and that if we don’t cooperate he won’t fix the broken pipes and damp in our house.
  4. Mould in bedrooms and shower areas, broken front door lock, a backyard that rats would avoid and general hell.
  5. Millipede infestation in the bathroom following a flood from exploding radiator which wasn’t fixed for over a month.
  6. No hot water for 5 days in the middle of winter. Also we had no shower for two weeks. Landlord was abysmal in sorting it.
  7. Being fined £45 after accommodation tried to take my rent out of my bank early and could not access it.
  8. 1 hour heating per day for 40 days, even after several emails, reports, calls and in-person visits. Ridiculous!! In the north east!! It was winter!!
  9. Not feeling safe when people could get into our accommodation without any ID or a fob. They came and smashed up our ceilings in the corridors and switched off all my electrics and water.
  10. Maggots in sofa.

Source: National Student Accommodation Survey 2017, savethestudent.org

About Save the Student (www.savethestudent.org): free, impartial money advice for students

Written by students and recent graduates, Save the Student aims to get you clued-up about cash and in less debt. Featuring the kind of straight-talking advice you won’t get at school, the site has everything you need to know about managing money without the migraines: student finance explained, banking & budgeting, insider info on careers and making extra cash, plus ways to save and scrimp without the stress.

Save the Student was founded in 2007 by Owen Burek during his first year at The University of Manchester. Created in response to the growing costs of higher education, the site is now the leading student money website in the UK, serving 2.5m visits a month.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/savethestudent

Twitter: https://twitter.com/savethestudent

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How will Article 50 affect London’s property market?

Mark Lawrinson, Regional Sales Director of Portico London estate agents, has spoken out about the possible effects of Brexit on the London housing market, saying, “I don’t think the triggering of Article 50 will affect the property market directly from yesterdays announcement. In one sense it removes the uncertainty surrounding when Britain’s withdrawal process from the EU will start, but in another way it will create economic uncertainty until we know what deal we will strike and therefore what Brexit actually means for our country.

Mark continues, “Brexit will no doubt mean a turbulent two years for the London and UK market as we begin to hear what negotiations and proposed deals are being put forward for our exit of Europe and the single market. I think we will see a continued slowdown or lethargic London market when it comes to sales volumes, and as we reported toward the end of last year, transaction volumes across London are already more than half of what they were before the 2008 crash.

London has a significant part to play in businesses who trade and operate across Europe and the world, and a buoyant property market relies on the UK’s economic health. If Brexit negotiations go well this could cause further price growth as the economy grows and we see the nation’s confidence lifted, but equally, if a good deal isn’t reached then the international companies who operate here or look to relocate here might change their minds, reducing the number of residents who live in the capital and again further reducing the transaction levels, which could ultimately lead to price decreases.”

It’s therefore important that you make property decisions based on your personal situation and what you want to do, rather than gambling on how the market will play out.

Robert Nichols, Portico’s Managing Director, makes an important point, stating, “Right now we may experience some uncertainty, but as the negotiations progress, we will regain some much needed stability into the housing market, as people realise that the effects of Brexit are not catastrophic and go on with their lives. We’ll hopefully see transaction levels increase as a result, which are currently dangerously low and affecting price growth across the capital.

He continues, “Yesterday’s events are likely to have a much more profound effect on foreign investment however, with the weakening pound expected to fuel demand from overseas buyers and investors.”

Many are also speculating that yesterday’s events will mean that the Bank of England will be hesitant to increase their interest rates, in spite of the recent inflation increase. This will it will remain cheaper than ever to borrow and get on to the property ladder.

Many are also speculating that today’s events will mean that the Bank of England will be hesitant to increase their interest rates, in spite of the recent inflation increase. This will it will remain cheaper than ever to borrow and get on to the property ladder.

Article kindly provided by Portico, who are a residential estate agent with offices throughout London, specialising in flats and properties to rent and for sale. For landlords, they offer a range of unique packages which include monthly fees, a rental guarantee, complimentary maintenance between tenancies and assistance with tax return. For property sellers, they offer a dedicated property concierge and a complimentary interior styling service.

Please call 020 7428 5310 if Portico can assist you and your property portfolio.

Discount Landlord launches key insurance scheme

Discount Landlord has recently launched a new key insurance scheme for both its landlord and home insurance brands. The broker has partnered with Keycare, the UK’s leading expert in the recovery of lost and stolen keys, to be its exclusive provider of key insurance.

The policy offers its landlord customers the chance to protect both their and their tenants’ keys for just £19.99 per annum.

Benefits of Keys2Let Insurance include:

  • Peace-of-mind cover for up to £1,500 for replacement of any lost or stolen keys, including call out charges and costs
  • Quick access to help and support via a 24-hour assistance line
  • A nationwide network of locksmiths delivering a quick, reliable, high-quality service
  • A white labelled branded key fob, which offers a £10 reward for finders. The branded fobs generate up to a 40% recovery rate for lost or stolen keys.

Steve Verrall, Director of Discount Landlord, comments: “Losing your keys can cause great anxiety and inconvenience, so the peace of mind that this cover offers is significant. We chose Keycare as the insurance provider because of their experience and knowledge working for the likes of Endsleigh and for their knowledge of insurance in the buy to let sector. They also have a reputation for exceptional claims and customer service.”

David Robertson, CEO of Keycare, adds: “Whether you are the person living at a property or a landlord, the inconvenience and anxiety of losing the keys to your property are immeasurable, but the cost alone is reason enough to see the value in key insurance. The average cost of a locksmith call out and replacement today is often more than £228, and given that nearly half (40 per cent) of us have lost our keys in the last five years, we know that customers value our product very highly. It’s a relatively low-cost way for insurers and brokers like Discount Insurance to improve customer loyalty and goodwill.”

For further information on this new product please contact:

Discount Landlord on 0800 294 4522

Average Londoner Earns Over £100 a Day from Airbnb

The average 2 bedroom London property rented through Airbnb generates £106 a day (excluding the cleaning fee), according to Portico estate agents who have recently launched a premium Airbnb management service.

Average Airbnb day rates range from the most expensive at £224 a day in Westminster to a reasonable £65 a day in Bexley.

The average 2 bedroom London property at £106 a day would produce a healthy monthly income of £2,226 on a 70% occupancy rate, which is the minimum occupancy the agents say they expect to achieve.

In fact, the agent states that some properties can achieve up to an 80% occupancy, plus they expect Airbnb listings to receive a booking within 1 week so Hosts can start earning immediately.

When compared to the average monthly rent for a two bedroom property in London on a long-term let (£1,777), there’s a huge £449 a month difference.

The below graphs show the estimated average Airbnb day rate for a 2 bedroom property per London borough, and the number of active hosts per borough.

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air bnb 2.jpg

 *Portico rental data January 2017 (based on two bedroom properties and a 70% occupancy rate).

Westminster is the borough with the highest number of active listings at 5,631, closely followed by centrally located Tower Hamlets with 5,076 listings, and trendy Hackney with 3,572 active listings.

Brent (£99) and Newham (£95) also stand out for having a lot of active users considering their Zone 3 locations. This can be put down to the fact that Brent’s most famous feature is the legendary Wembley Stadium; similarly, Newham is extremely popular with Airbnb guests who want to be close to the Excel Exhibition Centre.

Merton is also in high demand as it’s home to Wimbledon. Currently there are only 642 active listings in the area and the average Airbnb day rate for a two bedroom property sits at reasonable £95 a night, but we expect the number of hosts and prices to rise dramatically with seasonal demand.

Robert Nichols, Managing Director, Portico, says:

 “Londoners in their thousands are turning to Airbnb as a way to generate extra income. And despite the 90 day limit, even seasoned landlords are coming round to the fact that a combination of Airbnb and traditional tenancy will maximise their return on investment.

If your property becomes vacant in the quieter months, we recommend listing your property on Airbnb and synchronising your tenancy to start a long-term let in the summer or late summer when demand from tenants and therefore prices are highest.

Or, if your property is already on the market, why not earn on Airbnb until you let or sell it? Every day it’s sitting vacant is potentially losing you money, so it really does pay to get on board with Airbnb in short-term.”

Discover the Airbnb value of your property!

Landlords: Refreshing The Way You Rent – Letproof.com

The past year has not been filled with the best news for UK Landlords; there have been an abundance of hurdles thrown in the direction of the buy-to-let Landlord and costs only seem to be rising.

Let’s begin with the tax changes; Buy-to-let landlords were hit with the announcement last year that their tax relief was being ‘phased out’ to mean now paying tax on their ‘turnover, rather than the difference between rental income and mortgage interest’ and this was expected to slow the buy-to-let market. April 2016 then saw landlords suffer a 3% increase on stamp duty. And earlier this year the Autumn Statement landed some great news for tenants and potential renters; there will be no more estate agent fees charged to tenants. This was, however, bad news for Landlords as it meant a high likelihood of them now footing the bill for these fees. But landlords are finding certain ways to deal with these changes, registering as a LTD company to lower taxes is one solution being utilised.

There is a need for change in the way buy-to-let landlords are able approach letting their properties. Cutting out any unnecessary fees and costs is becoming vital to ensure profits. Letproof.com has been built on this premise; to improve the experience for landlords and tenants, because while all of this signifies hard times, the market is still there for buy-to-let landlords. The demand for rental properties is high, partially as a result of a slight decrease in those investing in buy-to-let. However it is also largely due to the fact that renting is proving to be increasingly popular. Populations are rising and the trends and attitudes toward renting have changed. Renting has become a popular lifestyle choice, and popularity is predicted to continue.Happy friends meeting at cafe with laptop

The market is also looking up for buy-to-let investors, the build-to-let scheme offers fresh encouragement to rent and a whole new area of investment opportunities. London Rental yields are predicted to rise in the New Year. Despite seeing a significant decrease over the past 2 years, 2017 will experience the benefit of fewer buy-to-let landlords entering the arena this year and a high demand for rental properties continuing.

A change is needed in attitude and practice. Letproof.com is offering an alternative to the traditional practice of letting properties via an agent. Letproof.com is a platform enabling landlords and tenants to connect directly, without the middlemen. A new concept that gives both parties more control over their letting experience, fewer costs and offers support and flexibility.   The platform is free for tenants and starts from only 10p a day for landlords. By signing up, tenants are free to search for their perfect home, and via the direct messaging feature, can contact landlords about their favourite properties.letproof-logo

In changing times in the rental market, Letproof.com may be one way to ensure lower costs and more control over your buy-to-let investments.

For more information on Letproof visit their website http://www.letproof.com

 

Tax Changes and the Buy-to-Let Landlords

Over the next three years the amount of tax owed by many buy-to-let landlords will double or even triple as a direct result of the changes that are being phased in from April 2017. Landlords who have been enjoying four-figure net annual profits could sadly end up facing large losses – and it is thought that if interest rates rise, then this will make the situation even worse.

As a Landlord in the United Kingdom today, you can’t help but feel slightly battered by the Government and rather than being praised for helping to provide accommodation when there is clearly a shortage in the UK of decent housing, Landlords are being hit hard with tax changes and law changes.

If the Government keep demonising Landlords, we feel that more Landlords will have no choice but to sell up and invest their money else where and seeing as though the Government can not keep up with the demand for housing, it seems ludicrous that they insist on battering the Landlords, who are indeed only trying to help.

To read the article from the Guardian in full click here.

10 THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND BEFORE BUYING PROPERTY POST BREXIT

Don’t let the Brexit doom and gloom discourage you, Mark Lawrinson, Regional Director of Portico London estate agents has revealed the key factors you need to consider to make a sound property investment this year:

1)      Keep an eye out for big infrastructure projects
Even in a weak or unstable market, areas undergoing infrastructure investment are likely to still experience growth in terms of both rental yield and capital gains. Look at areas being transformed along both the Night Tube and Crossrail line to identify long-term investment prospects. For example – Forest Gate, Farringdon and Whitechapel are areas geared up for regeneration and a rise in property prices thanks to Crossrail.

2)      Look at the high street as an indicator of an area
The high street is a great indictor of the demographic of an area, and whether the area is in decline or has growth potential. Some of the factors you should consider include – have there been many changes recently? Are shops closing down with no sign of opening or are they closing with new names moving in? Is money being spent by the council to smarten it up?

3)      Are there good schools in the area?
Another great barometer to judge prospects of an area is the schools in the vicinity. You may not be thinking of starting a family yet and if you’re an investor schools probably aren’t on your list, but London’s population is growing fast and good schools are becoming harder and harder to come by. Therefore, having one in your area is a big bonus. People both rent and buy in these catchments to get their children into a good school, getting you a good return on your investment.

4)      A house should be a home
If buying a property to live in, remember it’s a home first and foremost – and an investment second. If you plan to live in the property long-term then you should be shielded from bumps in the market. As the market in London has shown time and time again, it’s super resilient, so what may happen in the next two years could be insignificant to you if you are still there for 10.

5)      Shop around for mortgage deals
To make a sound investment decision, you need a broker who has access to the entire market. Some brokers operate on a panel and hence may say they are getting you the best deal – but remember that is only the best deal from their panel. With lending criteria changing daily, it’s advisable to shop around. That rings true even for investors who have used the same lender or broker for years!

6)      Choose a good solicitor
This may sound obvious but cheap solicitors will inevitably cost you more. This is probably one of the single biggest purchases of your life so paying for the right advice is crucial. With a market that’s changing daily, avoiding delays with the right legal aid could be the difference between concluding the transaction or not.

7)      Choose the right estate agent
In a tough market it’s more important than ever to choose a local agent who knows their area inside out, and who will get you the best result both as a buyer or seller. An agent who just instructs and advertises your property and waits for the calls will struggle in tougher markets. A proactive agent who knows their buyers can match the right person to your home, and uses past experience to price your house right. With a ‘no-sale, no-fee’ policy, high street agents now have as much a vested interest in the transaction as both the seller and buyer. Find out how much your property is currently worth with Portico’s Instant Valuation tool.

8)      Create a two-year plan and a five-year plan
Most investors would take a two-year fix on mortgages but with the lending criteria getting tighter for investors, some of the better deals in terms of loan to value can be found at a five-year fix. No one knows what will happen to the property market in the next two years, so plan for what will happen if circumstances go out of your control. For example – if you plan to exit or re-mortgage at that stage you also need to plan for what it will mean if you can’t do either of those.

9)      Look for ways to add value to your property
From basic redecoration to new kitchens and even structural work such as loft extensions, adding value to your property will make your home a better investment. If you see your family growing or want a capital growth not market-dependant then you need to look at innovative ways to add value to your property.

10)  Be clear on your requirements
We all want a sprawling staircase in the house and a swimming pool in the backyard, but you need to be realistic with your actual needs. The big ‘C’ (compromise!) is a word most try and avoid but is something we all need to make. The sooner you are able to accept you will need to make a compromise and understand what those compromises are the easier your search will be.

landlord-blogger

Diversity makes it difficult to reach Landlords

Browsing through our latest copy of the Landlord & Buy-to-Let Magazine (yes the hard copy that comes in the post!) we came across an article on page 2 that sparked an interest for us.

One of the opening paragraph’s states that “Landlords are such a diverse group of people that it is almost impossible to reach them all to communicate new rules and regulations” 

Rightly so Landlords are an incredibly diverse group of people but they are not a group of people that are that difficult to get hold of to communicate new rules and regulations.

Most Landlords (with the exception of some rogue landlords) will have informed the local authority in the area in which their property is located that the property is owned by a landlord but the tenant is liable for the council tax.  How difficult would it be for every local authority to collate a list of all property that is owned by a landlord but rented to someone else and communicate this to the necessary sectors with regard to law changes and regulations.

Surely it is not a case that us landlords are so diverse that we are difficult to get hold of, but that it is the lack of communication that goes on between regulatory boards and local authorities. Take for example the HMRC… they seem to be able to communicate (more often than not) with employers, local authorities, child benefit departments, National Insurance Departments etc to be able to know if there are any discrepancies, SO.. why can’t this be the case for sharing information connected to Landlords.

Equally the HMRC know whether or not we have received income from a buy to let property in our tax returns (providing you have declared everything you should have), so yet again… there is another avenue for getting information across.

In the article Kate Faulkner from Designs on Property talks about collaboration in the Private Rented Sector, which in our opinion also boils down to communication. If more letting agents, legal companies, landlord organisations, local authorities and the HMRC etc worked together as one big team then the information Landlords need would stand a greater chance of getting through.

So hat’s off to Kate for opening up the debate on collaboration. There must be a better way for ALL landlords to get the information they need and by running information websites the way we do, we are helping in our own little way to make sure landlords keep up to date.

For more information please click here

 

 

 

 

landlord-blogger

Top 10 places to buy-to-let in London, according to Portico Estate Agents

Over the past 5 years, all 32 London boroughs (and particularly those in central London) have experienced substantial property price growth, fuelled by a combination of record levels of overseas investment and historically low interest rates.

Whilst it is true that the recent reduction in the availability of interest-only mortgages and increases in stamp duty for the most expensive properties may mean that this trend will not be sustained indefinitely, it is certainly the case that, at the moment at least, central London property prices are at an all time high.

However, whilst property prices have increased substantially, rental prices have broadly continued to track earnings growth. As a result, rental prices have not increased at the same rate as property prices and yields have steadily declined in central areas for at least the past five years that we have been tracking them.

– See more at: https://www.portico.com/yields