New View Residential are celebrating their recent acceptance as members of Social Enterprise UK. New View Director Victor Jameson said “This is great news for us. We believe we are the first letting agent of our kind and to be recognised by Social Enterprise UK is great step forward for us”.
New View Residential was set up in 2010 to provide high quality, ethical property management and letting. The business is charitably owned and structured to donate all profits to charitable purposes, half of them being donated to charities nominated by their landlords.
Social enterprises are businesses that trade to tackle social problems, improve communities, people’s life chances, or the environment. They make their money from selling goods and services in the open market, but they reinvest their profits back into the local community. Social Enterprise UK is the national body representing social enterprise organisations in this country.
Aisha Hunt, Community Fundraiser from the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity commented: “We benefit from New View’s profit distribution and wish them all the best. It’s great that as their profits grow so do their donations. I’m glad that they have received recognition from Social Enterprise UK for the work that they are doing in our community”.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has called for new regulations in the letting industry.
It has released a new report that analyses consumer protection issues in the sector. After assessing 4,000 complaints made by both tenants and landlords, the OFT found both groups were worried about fees and charges levied by agents, a poor level of service and the introduction of surprise charges once a contract had been signed.
The OFT has proposed a number of recommendations for both the government and the industry to try to overcome these problems. One of the suggestions is to make sure more information on issues such as fees is provided upfront. The organisation has also called for the introduction of initiatives that make it easier for people to assess an agent's quality, such as recognised logos.
It also recommends the government, letting industry, enforcers and consumer bodies agree to a new national strategy. Cavendish Elithorn, senior director of goods and consumer at the OFT, said: "Government, industry and enforcers working together can have a real impact and improve overall standards in the lettings market." (Source: http://www.rman.co.uk)
Victor Jameson of New View Residential commented "There are already adequate regulatory bodies within this industry, including The Property Ombudsman, ARLA and RICS. We fully support legislation that would require letting agents to join one or more of the bodies. We often see agencies offering cut-price deals and know that ther must be hidden charges or a poor quality of service. Full regulation would mean an even playing field for agents and better consumer protection for landlords and tenants."
The push into the private rented sector by major players is continuing apace, with MPs being told this week that growth will come from housing associations.
Sir Adrian Montague, giving evidence to the CLG committee inquiring into the private rented sector, said housing associations will be among ‘core contributors’ to the sector, along with developers building homes just for private renting.
He told MPs that individual landlords were too small to meet demand, and that institutional investment and large developments were needed.
James Moss, managing director of London agents Curzon Investment Property, said: “With growing consumer demand for private rented homes, and with institution-backed vehicles finally starting to unveil their plans, the industry could well be about to witness the emergence of a fully-fledged new sector.”
Meanwhile, Places for People, one of the largest property management, development and regeneration firms in the UK and which is landlord of 66,000 homes, has beefed up its presence in the private rental sector.
The Labour Party's frustrations over the current government's failure to deal with the issues in the Private Rented Sector were demonstrated during a House of Commons debate held on Wednesday 23 January. Both sides of the House made reference to ARLA's views.
The Shadow Housing Minister, Jack Dromey MP, had initiated the debate. He explained to the House that the nature of the PRS has changed because an increasing number of families are unable to buy their own home, and an increasing number of people are becoming landlords because of their circumstances rather than through choice. There are also problems with housing standards including poor energy efficiency. Many MP's reported problems with tenants in their constituencies being hit with unexpected charges by landlords and lettings agents.
There was broad cross party agreement about the problems, and there was also general agreement that one of the solutions could be to change the current culture of short term tenancies. It may be that institutional landlords could take a longer term view and therefore prefer longer tenancies. There was also a call for transparency and comparability around renewal fees.
Although the government and opposition agreed that they shared the goal of a more secure PRS, the debate underlined disagreement between the parties as to the best way to achieve that goal. Labour believes that legal changes are necessary and supports a national register of landlords which could assist local authorities with identifying rogue landlords. On the other hand the government has a concern around imposing more red tape and is fearful of driving landlords out of the market. Mark Prisk MP, Minister for Housing the Local Government, made reference to the legal protections already in place such as the Tenancy Deposit Schemes and Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.
The issues debated will be analysed by a Select Committee. Members are encouraged to read ARLA's evidence to that Committee which is available from the Campaigns area of the ARLA web site. This evidence was heavily informed by a member survey which took place in 2012.Source: www.arla.co.uk/news
The issue of reservation fees, or holding deposits, raised interest on this site last week.
Landlord and buy-to-let author David Lawrenson said that some agents were reluctant to take them, possibly out of concern that such fees could be seen as deposits requiring protection.
We asked Ben Beadle, head of member relations at the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, for the view of the TDS.
He said: “Reservation fees or holding deposits are not considered to be deposits under the Housing Act 2004 (as amended). The money that is being taken is not being taken as security for an obligation arising under a tenancy.
“Instead, the money is being taken to show the tenant’s real interest in the property and as a compensation for the landlord if a tenancy is not, in fact, entered into.
“The reservation fee will become a deposit once a binding tenancy agreement has been entered into, and the reservation fee is ‘converted’ into the tenancy deposit itself. This will often arise where the tenant has entered into a tenancy and paid their deposit but is not yet able to move into the property.
“The best example of this is with students who ‘top up’ their reservation fee, roll it over into the tenancy deposit, and sign a tenancy agreement several months before actually moving in.
“Deposit holders should ensure that they register the tenancy deposit and serve Prescribed Information within 30 days of receiving the [balance of] the deposit.
“The key point is that the ‘clock’ for doing this starts ticking once the deposit has been taken as a part of a tenancy which has been entered into even though occupation has yet to begin.”
London mayor Boris Johnson has announced plans for a major new voluntary accreditation scheme for landlords and agents, the ‘London Rental Standard’.
The proposals, which do not include rent controls but do suggest that all letting agents become members of an ombudsman scheme and offer client money protection, are now out for consultation, with a launch due next year. The scheme will be carefully watched by other authorities across the UK.
In London, the aim is to increase the number of accredited landlords and letting agents to 100,000 by 2016. Eventually, tenants would have access to a register to check whether a landlord or agent is accredited.
Approximately one quarter of all Londoners – equating to 800,000 households – live in private rented accommodation, with the proportion predicted to grow to 30% by 2025.
Johnson has steered away from any form of mandatory licensing, saying that the private rented sector has not yet exhausted its capacity for self-regulation.
The document details 12 core commitments, including minimum expectations around protection of deposits, provision of contact details, emergency and urgent repairs response times, property conditions, complaints handling, fee transparency, as well as courses for landlords and letting agents offering training and development.
Although 68% of Londoners say they are either satisfied or very satisfied with their landlord, the Mayor said he wants to establish a set of universal standards that tenants should expect from any accreditation scheme.
The Telepgraph recently reported this piece on a house hunter who was looking for a room to rent, she was shocked when the landlord handed her a list of 31 house rules:
The instructions included fines of £100 for using additional heaters in bedrooms and £15 if a tenant left dishes in the sink.
The rules even stipulated that tenants were not allowed to shower for more than 15 minutes and visitors needed to be approved two weeks in advance.
Full Article at: wwww.telegraph.co.uk
A stable income and a boost to insufficient pension provision are the two top priorities of buy-to-let investors wishing to make a new investment over the next 12 months.
Buy-to-let firm Assetz says in its annual Buy to Let Investor Survey that confidence in the UK market is robust, with three-quarters of investors stating that they intend to buy additional investment properties over the coming year, as low savings rates and poor returns on the stock market limit income.
Only 5% felt that now is not a good time to invest in residential property, the main reasons being the belief that prices have further to fall, difficulties in securing mortgage finance, and concerns over the financial security of tenants.
Investors are taking a long-term view, with 65% stating that rental income for retirement is their main motivation, followed by long-term capital growth (27%). Just 8% cited short-term capital growth as their reason for investing.
A large proportion are buying either outright with cash or with a very small mortgage, meaning they are not facing the usual hurdle of securing finance, faced by homebuyers. Over half (55%) stated they will be using a low loan-to-value mortgage or buying outright, with 23% refinancing their home or an existing buy-to-let and 22% using a high LTV loan.
Most of those surveyed (68%) said they are currently achieving gross rental yields of more than 6%, with almost a fifth achieving 9% yields or higher.
According to the latest RICS Residential Lettings Market Survey, average rents at the national level increased by 4.3% over the past year and are expected to increase by 2% and 3.9% over the next 6 and 12 months respectively. Surveyors estimate that average gross yields currently stand at 5.2%.
- Tenant demand grows and new instructions stabilise
- Past rents and rental expectations continue to rise
- Rents expected to increase the most in London
The rental sector is witnessing a boom in inexperienced landlords snapping up buy-to-let properties in the hope of protecting their financial assets from plummeting savings rates.
However, chairman of the Residential Landlords Association Alan Ward explained these people are putting themselves at risk of being left tens of thousands of pounds out of pocket.
"We are finding that many of the people coming in are not prepared for the costs or for the legalities and responsibilities of owning a buy-to-let property," he told This is Money.
Mr Ward explained how many first-time landlords are failing to consider what they would do if they suddenly found their rental property was empty and they had to cover the mortgage or pay out for emergency repairs.
The expert acknowledged that some individuals "can do well" from a buy-to-let investment, but it is important they carry out thorough research of the market and plan for all eventualities.
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