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Council of Mortgage Lenders Give Reasons For Optimism In 2013

CML Give Reasons To Stay Positive About UK Property Market In 2013

CML Give Reasons To Stay Positive About UK Property Market In 2013

The UK Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) are more positive about the UK housing market and the wider economy than they were a year ago, despite economic headwinds and downside risks.

A key reason is that mortgage lenders currently face few funding pressures, in part reflecting the governments funding for lending scheme.

Property purchasing activity was more robust than expected in the last quarter of 2012, on the back of better mortgage availability and more realistic property pricing, and the CML expect this to continue over the coming months.

2013 started on a more positive note than a year ago, even though the UK economy has barely grown.

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The forces that brought about the financial turmoil and economic mess around the world are still present and the majority of developed nations are not going to be able to figure out a quick solution…and sometimes the proposed plans for economic recovery don’t look all that promising.

The media keep spreading doom and gloom with daily news reports and depressing financial statistics, but is it the real, true, honest picture?

The honest answer is…..NO!

Property investors have been forced to use creative strategies, since the property crash in 2007/8, in order to profit from property as banks stopped lending, investment mortgages were withdrawn and access to alternative finance dried up.

Investor attitudes were labelled as falsely positive by many sceptics but the determination remained and only those with a firm belief, sound finances and solid investment strategies continued to prosper.

However, a renewed optimism has swept the nation following an uplifting and inspirational summer of achievement, with Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, the European football championships, the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics taking place and the effort and determination to succeed demonstrated by Team GB and athletes from around the world.

There is renewed hope emerging from the shadow of the last 4 years and a sense of purpose has returned to the UK Buy-To-Let market.

In recent weeks there has been a dramatic change in attitude towards UK property investment, despite the Bank of England’s quantitive easing policy and the raft of Government welfare reforms, banks are beginning to lend again, (although they are being quite selective at present). There has been an increase in the number of Buy-To-Let mortgage products hitting the market and property investment in the UK is up!

Even speculative investors are attempting to get in on the action, without any real idea of what they are doing. They realise that there is profit in property and their intention is to replicate the strategies of successful investors as property bargains abound.

Why?

Because life goes on! 

If you want to stay ahead of the game be concerned about YOUR own economy:

  • How will you cover future wants and needs? You know; University education for the children, your own retirement and life in general!
  • Can you hedge your own greatest financial asset – your job – and be assured it will always be there?
  • Will your salary grow substantially over time?
  • Can owning property replace your current income?
  • Is financial freedom really your goal?

These are questions millions of ordinary people, not investing in property, are asking, but the institutional answers are not really that clear or reassuring. 

Savvy property investors have already planned their investment strategies and have allowed for contingencies and have an exit strategy in place BEFORE spending a single penny.

If the current economic state is going to become the new normal, it doesn’t matter for property investors who have invested in themselves and have learned to earn!

Successful property investors realise that the only economy to be concerned about is their own and they are the ones that will always come out on top. 

Investors are finding ways of protecting and even growing their incomes, assets and plans for the future despite the fragility of global economies, including developing properties into HMO’s (Houses of Multiple Occupation), aquiring expert knowledge on Government proposals for welfare reforms including how to get LHA and Housing beneft payments for tenants direct from local authorities and seeking educational courses or investment forums with successful property investors who run workshops to help property investors.

Many Local Authorities are struggling to crack down on rogue landlords because of a lack of public sector funding.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) surveyed a number of local authorities across the UK and uncovered an alarming number of failed prosecutions against bad landlords due to public sector cuts.

One local authority stated: “We generally have no budget to prosecute.”

Another local authority said that it had been unable to take anything through to the prosecution stage since 2009 because their legal department was so small.

A third council said that it had “practically disbanded its  private sector housing team”.

In other areas, one environmental health officer was expected to cover the large geographical area of 2 local authorities, following a restructure.

Head of policy at CIEH, David Kidney, said: “This survey confirms our worst fears that many councils are finding it increasingly difficult to conduct investigations due to cutbacks in government housing expenditure. This is impairing the ability of EHOs to tackle abuses in the private rented sector. As we have said, it makes no economic sense to cut back investment in housing. The equation is a simple one: poor housing leads to poor
health which needs to longer NHS queues, which end up putting a further squeeze on the nation’s resources. The Government’s obsession with cutting spending is putting some of the most vulnerable people at risk. We must have an informed, evidence-based discussion about housing in this country.”

 

The Financial Services Authority (FSA), are urging people seeking mortgage advice to ensure they obtain the correct type of mortgage product for their residential property purchase.

The FSA have said that Buy to Let Mortgage applications are rising, but a growing number of applications are fraudulent.

Would be homeowners and borrowers who, for whatever reason are unable to meet the strict lending criteria now demanded for a UK residential mortgage, are attempting to fraudulently use Buy To Let (BTL) mortgages as a means to purchase property, despite having no intention of being a landlord or ever renting the property out to tenants.

Buy to let mortgages are not regulated in the same way as residential mortgages and the borrowing criteria are more relaxed.

This means that buyers who fail to meet the income and credit check requirements of a residential mortgage can still get approval for a similar sized buy to let mortgage.

The FSA believe that intermediaries and financial advisors are involved in the fraudulent applications.

When asked about the rising levels of deception an FSA spokesman commented: “We are seeing anecdotal evidence of unregulated buy-to-let mortgages being used fraudulently as a replacement for regulated residential mortgage contracts, as borrowers and intermediaries seek to circumvent more stringent income and affordability checks.”

Rent arrears fall again in 2012

More UK Landlords Using Rent Guarantee Products

Private Rented Sector (PRS) rent arrears dropped in February with 9.3% of all rent late or unpaid at the end of the month, down from 10.7% in January.

With household bills increasing, UK unemployment still rising and the whole country still struggling to avoid a double dip recession as a result of the Eurozone crisis, together with the government’s welfare reforms and public sector belt tightening, there hasn’t been a great deal of optimism around, especially from landlords.

However, figures released by LSL property services show that UK landlords have a little less to worry about, with the amount of rent arrears and late payments falling again.

Either private sector landlords are having an excellent run of good fortune, having tenants who are able, paying the rent in full and on time, or they have become smarter and are now utilising the range of Rent Guarantee products that are currently on the market, to ensure they get paid and their monthly cashflow doesn’t suffer.

Being a landlord and letting a property in the UK means there will always the risk of the tenant not paying the rent, (rent default).

Even the best tenant referencing service cannot predict if a tenant will lose their job and fall on hard times and not be able to pay their rent.

How do landlords cover their expenditure if this happens?

In today’s struggling economic climate, many UK landlords are finding their tenants struggling with rising unemployment and increased bills. Often leading to the rent not being paid and the tenant facing eviction when the amount of rent arrears exceeds 8 weeks.

Recovering arrears can be difficult and costly for landlords, without any guarantee of success.

At Legal 4 Landlords, our Rent Guarantee Insurance will cover landlords against their tenant defaulting or failing to pay the rent.

Two Executives have been suspended at the UK’s largest tenant referencing firm, HomeLet, while an investigation into the selling of tenants’ insurance policies is under way.

The investigation follows a crackdown by the Financial Services Authority on the selling of contents insurance policies by HomeLet, which is one of the brands owned by insurance giant Barbon, (the company formed from the former insurance wing of the collapsed property services firm Erinaceous).

The probe revolves around a clause in lettings agents contracts, making it a mandatory requirement for tenants to take out tenants’ content insurance.

It is understood that the clause – which was apparently a long-standing one and not objected to by the FSA during earlier inspections – was originally inserted by agents on the advice of HomeLet.

HomeLet sells its policies to landlords and tenants through letting agents, and claims to sell one in five of all tenants’ references. It has a network of 3,000 lettings agents, all of whom have apparently been contacted and told to remove the clause.

It is understood that the FSA, which requires HomeLet to make sure the agents do not breach the regulator’s rules, has been concerned on two fronts: first, the possibility that making purchase of insurance a condition of tenancy could be an unfair term; and secondly, because the clause breached FSA and OFT guidelines which state that a tenant cannot be asked to buy their own contents insurance – although, confusingly, a tenant can be asked to buy insurance that covers their landlord’s possessions.

The HomeLet spokesperson said: “HomeLet is involved in a review process which may lead to policyholders with tenants contents policies being contacted about how such contracts were purchased. This is a thorough process to ensure it meets the company’s required standards. HomeLet continues to provide insurance products and services to existing and new customers. HomeLet is committed to best practice in the service it offers to landlords and tenants via agents.”

The next step in the investigation will be for HomeLet to contact tenants who were sold the HomeLet contents insurance. HomeLet says the tenants will be contacted ‘shortly’.

It is thought the FSA could have other lettings insurance firms in its sights.

Source: Estate Agent Today

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UK Buy-To-Let Mortgage numbers up 84,000 on 2010 figures

UK Buy-To-Let Booming Again!

2011 saw the number of UK residential properties bought using Buy To Let mortgages rise by 84,000 on 2010 figures.

Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) figures show that landlords advanced a total of 34,800 buy to mortgages in the last three months of 2011 alone, with a total value of more than £4 Billion (GBP).

Therefore buy to let mortgage lending now accounts for almost 13% of the total outstanding value of all residential mortgages in the UK.

CML Director General, Paul Smee said “Buy-to-let lending continues to perform well. Demand for rented property remains high, so the rationale for buy-to-let remains strong and there is little reason to foresee any change to this positive outlook for the UK private rental sector.”

With improvements in the general availability of Buy-To-Let mortgage products, better tenant referencing and the introduction of specialist insurance policies such as Rent Guarantee Insurance, landlords are likely to have a few less financial worries, so, the PRS Buy To Let mortgage figures are very likely to rise again this year.

There are currently more buy to let mortgage products available than at any time since the onset of the financial downturn in 2007 and specialist mortgage lenders recently referred to 2012 as being ‘a boom time for landlords’.

UK Government to argue the case for Welfare Reform in the House of Lords

Government to argue the case for Welfare Reform in the House of Lords

The coalition Government face another battle over welfare reforms, this time in the House of Lords.
The outcome will affect individuals and families in receipt of local housing allowance (LHA) or housing benefit, who are in private rented sector (PRS) properties.

The Welfare Reform Bill, currently going through the House of Lords, is set to cap total benefits for working age households at £26,000 a year.

The total payment would include the present Local Housing Allowance, paid to housing benefit tenants in private rented sector accommodation.

However, a number of peers fear this would disproportionately hit larger families with children in temporary and private rented sector housing.

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Right Reverend John Richard Packer, has tabled an amendment which would exclude child benefit for the purposes of the benefit cap.

Lord Richard Best who is also supporting the amendment said: “I don’t think it’s conceivable for families with children to be evicted and become destitute because a benefit cap means there’s nowhere they can afford to live.”

The amendment is expected to go before the Lords next week (January 23rd 2012), and is likely to gain support from many areas, including Liberal Democrat peers who have previously rebelled against the Government.

The UK government’s welfare reforms are bad news for both tenants and landlords. Struggling tenants already face mounting debts and real financial problems including the threat of eviction if they are unable to keep up with the rental payments and slip to more than 8 weeks in arrears.

This results in a double blow for landlords, not only do landlords have to suffer loss of income because the tenants have not paid the rent but also the further expense of court action to have the tenants evicted.

Tenant Evictions can be cost effectively handled by Legal 4 Landlords, who are the UK’s fastest growing eviction specialists who also offer a wide range of additional services for landlords including Rent Guarantee Insurance

No DSS for UK landlords

Landlords Don't Want Benefit Tenants

UK landlords have little confidence in the current Housing Benefit system and the majority would try to avoid accepting tenants in receipt of benefits due to the extra hassle and headaches that dealing with local authorities and local government departments cause.

Landlords claim that tenants who do not receive any form of welfare support are far more reliable when it comes to paying the rent on time and generally looking after the property.

The findings of a survey of over 1,000 UK landlords by flat and house share website Spareroom discovered that:

• 86% of Buy-To-Let landlords surveyed were against the welfare reform of the UK benefit system which since 2008 has automatically paid Local Housing Allowance (LHA) directly to the tenant, except under exceptional circumstances.
• 87% of UK landlords who accept tenants in receipt of Housing Benefit have had problems with the rent not being paid on time.
• 59% of landlords questioned state No DSS when advertising property to let

UK landlords were also asked why they would refuse DSS tenants,

• 11% of landlords have had benefit tenants who have stopped paying the rent.
• 30% believe working tenants are more reliable
• 47% did not want payment problems
(including late payments, no payment at all, issues arising from the suspension of benefit payments and/or damage to the property).
• 34% of landlords currently have LHA tenants in one or more properties
• 45% have previously taken in LHA tenants.
• 58% had previously experienced multiple problems with benefit tenants.
• 74% would refuse LHA tenants even if the tenant had a working, homeowner as a guarantor.

Director of Spareroom, Matt Hutchinson, said: “It’s clear from this survey that a shake-up of the current system of paying housing benefit to the tenant is desperately needed, and reverting back to the old structure, where landlords could receive rental payments directly from the council would be a step in the right direction.”

Legal 4 Landlords spokesman Sim Sekhon agreed; “The current LHA benefit system requires an overhaul as it causes many financial problems for landlords. Unless the tenants are in arrears and the local authority has agreed to make direct payments, the landlord has no guarantee of receiving the full rental payment from the tenant every month, unless they have Rent Guarantee Insurance.

Don't become a rogue landlord

Don't cut corners when renting out property

The downturn in UK property valuations has lead many existing homeowners, some of whom are desperate to sell up, to consider alternative ways to cash in on their current property, without having to sell it below their expected valuations.

A fairly noticeable proportion of these vendors are choosing to become first-time landlords, rather than settling for a below market offer.

The prospect of more reluctant or accidental landlords entering the private rental sector (PRS) is not such welcome news for the UK rental property market. Ill advised or inexperienced landlords often make mistakes or cut corners in order to preserve cash flow or increase rental yield.

Any bad business practices can be perceived by some to be the actions of a rogue landlord, prompting Legal 4 Landlords to issue some general guidance advice for new, first-time and inexperienced landlords

All landlords need to comply with the current UK regulations and the following points are highlighted as essential:

• All prospective tenants should be thoroughly referenced and credit checked by a reputable agent, to ensure financial ability to pay the rent and gain an insight into the suitability and character of the tenant.
• Provide a proper Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement (AST) signed by both Landlord and the tenant, outlining the length of the tenancy, amount of rent, date rent is due, and details of which government deposit protection scheme is to be used.
• At the start of the tenancy walk round with the tenant and conduct a detailed inventory describing the condition of all the fixtures and fittings of the property in detail, along with the furnishings.
• Gas appliances must be checked annually by a registered Gas Safe engineer and the landlord must provide the tenant with a copy of the Gas Safety Certificate (CP12).
• The landlord should take out comprehensive Buy-To-Let or Landlord insurance to protect their property asset.
• All repairs should be fixed promptly and only use reputable tradesmen that you know and trust to tend to the property, this is extremely important if emergency repairs must be done at short notice.
• If using a lettings or property management agent remember to conduct Due Diligence on them thoroughly and make sure as a landlord that you are happy with their terms and conditions before appointing them.

There are currently a record number of people searching for suitable rental properties in the UK, meaning that would-be landlords should have no problem finding a willing tenant, providing their properties are fit to rent.

New and first-time landlords should note that letting a property can be stressful and time consuming, as well as a very financially and personally rewarding experience, and is an effective way of providing an additional income.

Prospective landlords will need to remember they are effectively starting a business that centres on property and must remember to treat it as such.

Legal 4 Landlords are the UK’s fastest growing Tenant Eviction specialists who also offer a wide range of useful services for landlords including Tenant Referencing, Landlord and Tenant Insurance policies and Rent Guarantee insurance.

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