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LettingFocus

Unbiased buy to let, property investment and letting coaching, mentoring, advice and seminars for landlords from top selling property author and media commentator.

Housing Benefit and Shared Houses – More Pesky Government Meddling

Welcome to this weeks blog - a whole day early.
Well, the current government sure likes to meddle in the private rented sector - which, of course, keeps writers and consultants like me very busy indeed.
In the latest move, Housing and Planning Minister, John Healey MP has announced plans to tackle anti-social behaviour and property standards by requiring landlords to get planning permission before turning a property into an HMO or house in multiple occupation for the first time.
Also, they have announced plans to make it easier for local authorities to introduce licensing schemes.

Odd Move
The plans to require landlords to get planning permission before turning houses into HMOs, strikes me as rather odd because when the plans were first mooted they were rejected by a pretty broad lobby consisting of organisations as diverse as the National Union of Students and the British Property Federation.
The National Landlords Association said, “If the Government was really interested in dealing with anti-social behaviour and property standards in the small minority of places where they are an issue, they would have taken up the NLA's call for more targeted local management action by councils working with landlords in their areas.”
They went on to say that these measures could lead to “A 'nimbys charter', creating no-go areas for landlords, students, young professionals, low income families, migrant workers and a wide range of other groups who rely on private-sector shared housing.
I agree.

Not Enough Low Cost Housing
Surely, the government should "go back to the start" and look at why more people are living in shared houses.
And the answer is that as the population has grown faster than housing supply and there are just not enough houses for people to live in.
Doh!
And as we aren’t building enough low cost social housing, people who need a home are looking to the private rented sector to provide it.
“Simples!” as the Meerkat would say!

New LHA Arrears Guidelines
And of course, increasing numbers of tenants now get their private sector rent paid by housing benefits (or Local Housing Allowance as the new flavour is called.)
Still, there was one bit of good news on that front.
The government has just changed its Local Housing Allowance (LHA) guidance on rent arrears and payment to landlords.
Local authorities can now pay LHA direct to landlords when tenants are contractually 8-weeks in arrears, rather than waiting until 8 weeks have physically passed.
This change takes into account the situation when rent is due in advance.
So, it means most landlords (whose tenancy agreements require rent in advance) will only have to wait 4 weeks.

Housing Benefit and the Press
Of course, the likes of the more right leaning press (when they are not getting cross about inward migration and hook handed clerics) get themselves very worked up about the growing Housing Benefits bill.
Certainly from my experience the number of people of housing benefits has grown massively.
Indeed, in my patch it is hard to find any tenants whose rent is not paid via the Local Housing Allowance system.
This is all very different to 10 years ago.
Back then, 90% of my tenants were UK nationals with the remaining 10% from countries like Ireland and Aussie and the odd Frenchman and German. Nearly all were all paying their own rent (they were not on housing benefits)
Five years ago, mass inward migration really took hold and suddenly 90% of my tenants were new migrants from all points of the world. Again, all seemed to be working. None were on Housing Benefit.
Today, 90% of all the tenants I have applying for my latest property are overseas nationals with about 75% on Local Housing Allowance - for which it seems residency qualifications are minimal. Just don’t tell anyone at the Daily Mail!

Why Many Landlords Don’t Like Local Housing Allowance

Getting landlords to let to people on housing benefits is not easy (even if the payment in many areas is at least 10% above private sector rents).
Why, because quite a lot of landlords don’t like the fact that the monies are normally paid to tenants (not direct to landlords like in the old days unless they are in arrears as explained above) so there is the risk the tenants go and spend it on something else.
The Tories have pledged to reinstate tenants choice for immediate direct payments to landlords should they win the election.
As part of my consultancy work with housing associations and local government I work to help them get more landlords to let to people in receipt of LHA / Housing Benefit them.
As you can imagine, this consulting work is in demand.

MORE ABOUT LETTINGFOCUS AND WHAT WE DO

LettingFocus.com is the home of landlord information.

Hello, I’m David Lawrenson.
I have been a landlord and property investor myself for over 25 years and am author of “Successful Property Letting” – which has been the UK’s top selling commercially published property book for the last 3 years.
Our main business is at a corporate level for organisations - both public and private companies.
We provide consultancy for banks, local authorities, social housing providers and other organisations – helping them with their landlord facing or buy to let product strategies and services.

OTHER WORK

We also write for property websites and are regularly quoted by the media. In addition, we have written articles for numerous publications including The Independent, The Telegraph and quality landlord websites.

MENTORING

For private landlords, we also find some occasional spare time to help landlords and property investors make money in property by coaching them in ways that work, which are ethical and which involve minimal risk to the investor.
We pride ourselves on giving independent unbiased buy to let advice on either a one to one mentoring / coaching basis or through our occasional group seminars.
Unfortunately, in the UK today, property advice in the UK is still largely unregulated and what counts as “good advice” is too often more about making the promoter money than giving useful information to the investor.
With no links to property firms, developers or bridging loan providers we can advise on where and what type of property to buy for investment and when to buy it. We also show you how to manage tenants properly.

AT OUR WEBSITE LETTINGFOCUS.COM:

THE HOME PAGE OF THIS BLOG click here: Blog
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ONE TO ONE PRIVATE CONSULTANCY click here: Property Mentoring
NEXT SEMINAR AND NETWORKING EVENT for Landlords and Property Investors:
Next Property Investment Seminar and Networking Event
We have OFFERS on a range of services and products for landlords too; click here including landlords insurance, tenant referencing, tenancy agreements and more: Services and Products for Landlords
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Copyright of Blog: David Lawrenson 2009. This blog is updated roughly once a week usually on a Monday or Tuesday.

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Are HMO properties or multi let houses worth investing in asks of Letting Focus

I spent all of last weekend at the Property Investor Show in London, which has great fun and very interesting.
It was pleasing that record numbers of people came to hear me speak at the show and my own private seminar last night was well attended too.
These events all require (and then generate) a lot of work for me but they are fun to do - and it is nice to help people and meet bright clued up investors – which I’m pleased to say is the kind of people we always seem to attract.
And I also always learn a thing or two from the other speakers and from people who come to the stand and the seminars.
Anyway, today is a beautiful day and it is nice to be back and “ready to roll” at my own property investments.
Expanding my portfolio of properties and managing those that I have already got probably takes up 80% - 85% of my time with my speaking and consulting work, (including talking to journos), accounts only accounting for 15- 20%.
But in the run up to the two big property shows in London and the ones in Manchester and Brum, there is always a lot of work to do, which means my own work as a landlord investor has to take a back seat for a few weeks.
So, it is really good to back in the saddle and looking to buy more property for myself.
Unfortunately, the opportunities now being presented to me as an investor as a result of the falling property market has meant that my own seminars and networking evenings will now only take place just twice a year.
DO get in touch if you want to arrange a private one to one consulting session. I enjoy doing them and can always fit them in.
Anyway, I’m sure you would rather speak to someone whose primary business is actually BEING A PROPERTY INVESTOR rather than someone whose main source of business is from property education.
After all, anyone in search of education about property investment should validly ask the presenter, “If you are such a good investor then why do you spend all your time running these seminars.”
A fair question, I think!
For me the answer is that I actually get a bit bored of landlord work so from time to time, meeting people and networking is always good fun. It is just that right now I can’t afford to do too much of it.
The current property market is really exciting for me as I have not bought in the capital for 5 years (as prices have been too high) but there are signs that property is becoming more sensibly priced. So, I fully expect to make a few additions to my portfolio in 2009.

HOUSES IN MULTIPLE OCCUPATION or HMOs
One thing you get from going to the property shows is a shift in mood and emphasis on certain sorts of investments. (It’s a shame that few property journalists bother to leave their desks and go as they would be better informed for the experience if they did.)
At the show last weekend I detected an increasing number of people asking me about HMOs or Houses in Multiple Occupation
One or two new players are now on the scene advocating that you invest in these shared houses – hence the interest, I guess.
What do I think?
Well, it all depends.
A House in Multiple Occupation can certainly be a good investment and they can outperform more standard lets. There are areas where you can get a higher net rent by renting out each room separately (or you could of course put all the tenants on one agreement.)
But there are downsides, which as someone who has ran an HMO over many years, I feel well qualified to highlight. These are:
First, the management of a large shared house is without doubt more demanding for a number of reasons, principally because turnover of tenants will be higher. One eternal problem is that you will always struggle to know who is actually living in your property.
Second, there are quite a few rules and regulations to cope with and getting a licence (if that applies in your area or if the property is more than 2 storeys and 5 or more tenants) can be very expensive.
Third, mortgage finance will be more costly and harder to obtain.
Fourth, your wear and tear costs will be higher than under a standard let.
Fifth, many letting agents are not interested in letting individual rooms (if that is the way you want to manage it) so you may have to do this on your own.
So, look at multi let properties carefully and consider the increased costs and management time that you will spend on them.
ABOUT LETTINGFOCUS.COM and DAVID LAWRENSON
I’m David Lawrenson of property experts’ lettingfocus.com.
I’m the author of “Successful Property Letting - How to Make Money in Buy to Let” which for the last 3 years has been the UK’s top selling property title - buy the UK's top selling landlord book.
It is fully up to date with all the recent changes to tenancy deposit schemes, HMOs, licensing, capital gains taxes and it has new sections on buying property below market value.
I’m an expert property journalist, property speaker and a well known buy to let blogger
I contribute to newspapers and a host of property websites, write a number of columns in the press and I provide general property investment advice
I also work as a consultant helping banks, building societies, housing associations and web portals with their buy to let and property products and services and am a regular speaker at property shows.
You can read more of my blog & find details of my networking, advice, property training programme at my website.What’s unique about lettingfocus.com is that we offer you help as an independent landlords' mentor because unlike most people in the buy to let and property “advice” business we are not linked to a property company, a developer, an agent or bridging loan financier and do not receive commissions from any of these sources.Copyright: David Lawrenson 2008. This blog is updated once a week.
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Landlords are not selling because of reduced Capital Gains Tax CGT says Lawrenson of LettingFocus.com

The doomsayers and those who would love to see the demise of buy to let said that the new tax year would see lots of landlords selling their investments.
Well sorry folks, as I predicted we now have new evidence that this does not appear to be happening.
In fact, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has just found that just two per cent of landlords are playing to sell property when current tenancy agreements expire. This is down from the 4.6 per cent of landlords planning to sell in the three months to the end of January, and the 6.5 per cent in the three months prior to this.
There had been fears the restructuring of capital gains tax could see most landlords face a rush to the exit. However, this is clearly not the case.
"Fears landlords would take advantage of the more favourable capital gains tax regime to bail out of the buy-to-let market appear misplaced," commented Simon Rubinsohn, Rics chief economist.
He went on to add, "Significantly, with the reduction in loan-to-value (LTV) ratios by lenders leaving first-time buyers struggling to access the housing market, rents are now rising sharply and the expectation is that this trend will continue. The incentive to cash in on the lower tax rate is being outweighed by attractive yields."
I cannot say I am surprised.

WHAT JOINT AND SEVERAL LIABILITY MEANS
Here is my tip of the week.
If you let to people who are unrelated and on a single tenancy agreement, it is best if you must make clear to them what joint and several liability means. To make it crystal clear, I send this email to all my tenants.
“Please note in case of any doubt, and as explained on your tenancy agreement that you are both jointly and severally liable for the whole rent. This means the tenancy is made with both of you as one party and with me as the other party.
It therefore means that you must usually BOTH give notice of your wish to terminate the tenancy at the same time and give me the due notice in writing.
Of course, when one of you leaves, the other could stay on but only if they notify me in writing of that fact and be prepared to pay the full rent on their own.
Also, jointly and severally liable, means that each of you is liable for the whole rent and in full for all moneys owing as a result of this tenancy agreement”
That usually does the trick but it is amazing how often tenants, especially student tenants fail to understand or check the meanings of terms like these when they sign an agreement.
ABOUT LETTINGFOCUS.COM and DAVID LAWRENSON
I’m David Lawrenson from property consultants lettingfocus.com.
I’m the author of “Successful Property Letting - How to Make Money in Buy to Let” the UK’s top selling property title buy the book
It is fully up to date with all the recent changes to tenancy deposit schemes, HMOs, licensing, capital gains taxes and it has new sections on buying below market value. I’m an expert property public speaker and a well known property investment blogger and I contribute to newspapers and a host of property websites, write a property investment blog, a number of columns in the press and I run a landlords help service.
I also work as a consultant helping banks, building societies, housing associations and web portals with their buy to let and property products and services and am a regular speaker at property shows.
You can read more of my blog & find details of my networking, advice, property investors networking programme at my website.What’s unique about lettingfocus.com is that we offer independent property mentoring because unlike most people in the buy to let and property “advice” business we are not linked to a property company, a developer, an agent or bridging loan financier and do not receive commissions from any of these sources.If a property investment is lousy – We’ll tell you straight and we will tell you all about buy to let and property investment - the good and the bad and we won’t make silly promises that you’ll become a millionaire overnight.
Copyright: David Lawrenson 2008. This blog is updated once a week. Permission must be sought before using the material in the blog.

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Houses in Multiple Occupation Rules in Relation to 2-storey Houses?

Suppose a landlord has a 2 storey, 3-bedroomed house, not covered by mandatory licensing (as it’s less than 3 storeys) and assume also that the local authority has not extended licensing locally to smaller HMOs.
In this scenario is there anything to stop a landlord putting in six or more tenants in such a property and staying outside the HMO regulations? If so, what regulations would then apply to prevent this?
This is a tough question which even I did not know the answer too and I’m grateful to the guys at the Residential Landlords Association at http://www.rla.org.uk/ for supplying the answer.
The RLA experts say that the property would, of course, be an HMO (assuming the tenants are not members of the same family). However it would not nned a license as it is only three storeys.

'Elf and Safety
But a landlord trying to stuff it full of tenants would be stopped by other rules. The legislation applying would be: the HMO Management Regulations, the Housing Health & Safety Rating system coupled with Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004 which provide local authorities with the powers to deal with any hazards at the property, the Housing Act 1985 Part X which deals with minimum room sizes and the Housing Act 2004 which deals with the prevention of overcrowding in HMOs.
So there you have it!
If you want to find out more, ask us.

CHECK OUT OUR SITE LETTINGFOCUS.COM:

THE HOME PAGE OF THIS BLOG click here: Blog
THE HOME PAGE OF OUR MAIN SITE click here: LettingFocus Home Page
ONE TO ONE PRIVATE CONSULTING click here: Property Mentoring
NEXT SEMINAR AND NETWORKING EVENT for Landlords and Property Investors:
Next Property Investing Seminar and Networking Event
We have GREAT OFFERS on a range of services and products for landlords too; click here including landlords insurance, tenant referencing, tenancy agreements and more: Services and Products for Landlords
For general info on our SEMINARS AND CONSULTING click here: Property Seminars, Networking Evenings and Consulting

TO READ PAST CLIENT TESTIMONIALS – both commercial and private click here: Testimonials
BUY “SUCCESSFUL PROPERTY LETTING” click here: Buy the Book at Amazon

ABOUT US

LettingFocus.com are the experts on landlord issues and I’m David Lawrenson. I have been a landlord and property investor myself for over 25 years and am author of “Successful Property Letting” – which has been the UK’s top selling property and buy to let book for the last 3 years.
We help landlords and property investors make money in property by coaching them in ways that work, which are ethical and which involve minimal risk.
At LettingFocus we pride ourselves on giving independent unbiased buy to let advice for property buyers and landlords both on a one to one mentoring and coaching basis as well as through occasional group seminars.
With no link to property firms, developers or bridging loan providers, at LettingFocus, we can advise on where and what type of property to buy for investment, when to buy and how to buy property at a low price. We also show you how to manage tenants properly and in ways that take up as little of your time as possible.
We also do consultancy and writing for companies such as banks, local authorities, property websites and social housing providers – helping them with their landlord or buy to let facing strategy.

To JOIN our Free QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER simply send an email to [email protected] - Please note we WILL NOT send spam or sell our mailing list to advertisers!
IF YOU HAVE A SITE WHY NOT LINK TO THIS BLOG OR OUR WEBSITE?
SELLING STUFF TO LANDLORDS – YOU COULD BE A PARTNER ON OUR AFFILIATE PROGRAMME. PLEASE GET IN TOUCH!

TO VIEW RELATED POSTS select a “Category” at the bottom of this page.
WANT TO ADD A COMMENT OR VIEW OLD COMMENTS?

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