News & views from Q&A - When do I need to protect my tenant's deposit?

Posted by: Adam Male on 18 November 2015
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I am planning to hold the deposit for my property, at what stage of proceedings does this need to be protected?




A landlord, if you are planning to take a deposit you must ensure that the deposit is protected within 30 days of receiving the deposit from your tenant. This is a legal requirement under the Tenancy Deposit Protection legislation, which is set out in the Housing Act 2004, and is the same whether you as a landlord choose to hold the deposit, or whether you choose to have it help by a third party.

The information you must provide is:

  • The address of the rented property
  • How much of the deposit your tenant has paid
  • How the deposit is protected
  • The name and contact details of the tenancy deposit protection scheme and its dispute resolution service
  • Your (or your letting agency’s) name or contact details
  • The name and contact details of any third party that’s paid the deposit
  • Why you would keep some or all of the deposit
  • How to apply to get the deposit back
  • What to do if your tenant can’t get hold of you at the end of the tenancy
  • What to do if there’s a dispute over the deposit

It is important to remember that you officially receive a deposit when a cheque, cash or bank transfer is received by you, not when it is cleared in your bank account, so make sure you take this into account!

Calls for more information come flooding in as Storm Barney whips across the country

Posted by: Adam Male on 18 November 2015
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Storm Barney is staring to blow it's way across Britain, but ever since the terrible flooding that hit the country in 2013/2014, every sign of heavy rainfall is a red alert for residents of some towns. 

Recent data from the Environment Agency shows that around 2.4 million properties are at risk of flooding and in order to prevent any more families from suffering like so many did a few years ago, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) have called for transparent information about a property’s flood risk to be displayed on all information about any property when it is put up for sale.  

Current data is available on the Environment Agency website, although this is rarely communicated by many estate agents or sellers. In a survey of over 2000 adults by the ABI, nine out of ten people agreed that an up-front traffic light system, telling buyers whether the property is in a red ‘danger zone’ or a green ‘safe zone’ would be the best way to clearly inform people about the property that they are potentially looking to buy. 

in addition to clearer sales marketing, the ABI are campaigning to the government for a cross party consensus on long term solutions to manage national flood risk, and coordinate national and local strategies and defences. They are advising the government that £1 billion a year must be allocated to flood funding by 2025 in order to ensure that maintenance funding keeps pace with the demands of climate change. 


It may seem that flooding is a force of nature that you have no chance against, and if your property is in a flood zone, protection is in the hands of local flood defences. However, there are certain things you can do to make you home far more resilient against flooding. 

  • Lay ceramic tiles on the ground floor and using large rungs instead of fitted carpets – as soon as there is a suggestion of water ingress, you can take up the rug and move it to a safe location
  • If you can, consider moving your electrical sockets to waist-height instead of having them positioned low. In many new build properties this is common practise as it makes them accessible for people with limited movement. 
  • Consider a stainless steel kitchen instead of using chipboard carcasses. Many high-end modern properties now go for the industrial look, so a stainless steel kitchen could tick the boxes for practicality and style. Alternatively, consider free-standing units that can be emptied and moved, so they can be mover out of harm’s way should the need arise. 
  • Make sure that all vital parts of your heating systems are well about ground level. Consider installing your boiler on the first floor, for example, so should your ground floor face flooding, your expensive boiler is kept dry. 
  • If possible, look into replacing wooden framed windows and doors with UPVC – plastic will create a far tighter seal, and won’t be damaged if it’s exposed to standing water for long periods. 

If you are planning to rent a property that is in a flood zone, it is wise to equip tenants with a guide on what to do should the worst case scenario arise. 


Providing them with a ‘Flood Plan’ will not only help make their experience less traumatic, but will also potentially minimise damage to your property. 

  • Consider supplying your contact number, you do not legally have to do this but in this instance it would be wise to be aware of what is going on. 
  • Make sure your tenants know how to safely turn off the electricity and gas supply to the property
  • Consider contacting your tenants when flood warnings are issued to see if they need any assistance getting hold of sandbags Q&A - Should I start renovations whilst I'm marketing my property?

Posted by: Adam Male on 13 November 2015
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I would like to redo the kitchen in my rental property, but I am in the middle of marketing it for new tenants. If I spend money on upgrading the fixtures and fittings I will have to up the rent… I’ve got some viewings booked in this weekend, do I have to tell them what I’m planning?



It’s great that you want to update your property, but you must bear in mind that if you already have viewings booked you must make the potential tenants aware that the rent might potentially change.


A courtesy call before the viewing would be advisable, which would allow anyone who isn’t prepared to pay additional rent to cancel their viewing. Should this happen, you can simply change the advertised price of your property and attract new tenants who are prepared to pay a higher rent – a good kitchen is a huge selling point so you shouldn’t have a problem attracting viewers, as long as you are realistic with the pricing.



Before you start work on knocking your kitchen out, the other option is to contact the potential tenants who already have a viewing booked, and ask them if they would prefer a new kitchen and higher rent, or the current kitchen and the rent to remain the same – don’t forget, they booked the viewing on the basis of the fixtures and fittings that you already have. You may want to keep their viewings in the diary, and if you find a tenant that is happy with your property, and kitchen, as it is, then why change it? Undertaking significant renovation projects can be a lengthy and expensive task!  


Housing and Planning Bill

Posted by: Adam Male on 12 November 2015
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The Housing and Planning Bill was presented to parliament recently. This Bill could mean great thing for first time buyers, looking to get their hands on the most elusive of UK properties… an affordable starter home!

The government have proposed a new initiative aimed to ease the pressure on the stretched property market and assist first time buyers get their first foot on the property ladder. 

The proposal will place a legal duty on Local Councils to provide 200,000 starter homes on all reasonably sized developments, which will be offered to first-time buyers under the age of 40, at a 20% discount on current market prices.  

The proposed Bill was debated in parliament this week, with Ministers directing questions at a number of witnesses from a variety of regulatory bodies and housing charities. 

Many of the questions posed are political hot potatoes in the property market, and raise issues that many potential first time buyers are keen to know the answer to!


In the case of the new start home developments, Matthew Perrycock, Labour MP for Greenwich and Woolwich questioned whether new starter home developments will widen the pool of potential buyers.


Brian Berry, Federation of Master Builders, believes it will. He said ‘We know that 86% of people in this country aspire to owning their own home. We feel that this is another leg up for people, when prices are moving year on year.’’s view

Here at, we see starter homes flying off the shelves. No sooner do they go live, than the viewings flood in. Whilst there has been a definite slow-down in movement of ‘big-ticket’ properties, and we foresee investment purchases becoming less frequent in 2016 with the changes to buy-to-let mortgages, first time buyers are always going to want starter homes! When it comes to property, our homes are very much our castles, and as a rule, we as a nation are determined to do whatever it takes to have something to call our own.’



Helen Hayes, Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood questioned who would benefit from starter homes. 


Campbell Robb, Chief executive of Shelter revealed that analysis by the charity has shown that 60% of the country, even that on ‘middle incomes’ would be outpriced. It is expected that people in a ‘high-end income bracket’ will have access to the properties. There is a concern that there will still be a lack of genuinely affordable properties.’s view

With figures released this week by the Office of National Statistics revealing that the average monthly salary in the UK comes in at just over £1800 a month, and the average rent costs £751 a month (£960 in London), it is no surprise that Campbell Robb is concerned that only those on a higher than average income would be able to afford to get on the ladder. Even a reasonably priced starter home has deposits, fees, and additional costs to consider, so a potential buyer on a ‘middle income’ who is trying to buy a property whilst currently renting would face an uphill battle. The new starter homes being priced at 20% less than market value represents a significant saving, and could be the boost many people need. 



Affordability was the hot topic for Chris Philp, Conservative MP for Croydon South. He was keen to know if the panel agreed that the Bill aims to increase supply of affordable properties, but questioned whether this would have the desired effect of lowering the prices of both renting and buying?


Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis agreed that more properties on the market would indeed drive the overall price of rents and purchases down, but only if the properties are sold and let at the correct price in the first instance.’’s view

With very little property available on the market at the moment, there is a severe case of demand outstripping supply - resulting in a build-up of buyers fighting hard for very few properties, forcing the overall price up, and out of the range of many first-time buyers. Should more new properties become available, buyers will have more choice, and with less people fighting for the same property. However, with the interest rate set to remain at 0.5% throughout 2016, and the Bank of England pledging that rises will be small and graduated when they happen, it is an attractive time for first time buyers to take the plunge, so there is the danger that as quickly as houses are built, new mortgages will be approved, and the market will find itself flooded with new, eager house-hunters desperate to get their foot on the first rung of the ladder. 

The key for serious buyers will be to make sure that they have their deposit ready, where possible have a mortgage in principle ready, and be prepared to move fast- the market is not hanging around and the more attractive the buyers position, the better! 

The proposed changes are set to affect a huge section of the population, many of whom are working hard to get their first foot on the property ladder. Our ‘Rent vs Buy’ survey is asking tenants across the UK how they feel about the property market, and asking for honest feedback on whether they think they will ever get their first step on the ladder. 

If you’re currently renting, but would like to make the move to become a homeowner, let us know your thoughts by taking the survey here.

Buy-to-let lending at highest since 2007

Posted by: Adam Male on 12 November 2015
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Despite imminent changes to buy-to-let lending, tax changes and new legislation making rental rulings more complicated, a recent surge in buy-to-let lending has shown that UK landlords are not shying away from taking on new properties.  

According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, September saw 24,100 buy-to-let loans approved, accounting for 18% of all new mortgage lending, up from 17,700 in September 2014.

Property portal announced today that there is 45% fewer of homes for sale now than there was in November 2007. The shrinking of this national property portfolio may have contributed to the surge in investors wanting to secure their rental options. With this reduced level of property available to the market, more people are unable to get a foot on the ladder and instead are having to rent, leading to an increased demand for rental property – and the ability for landlords to demand a higher return on their investment.