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Homeowners beware of rogue tradesmen!

Category: Blog
Posted by: Administrator on 7 June 2013
Comments: 1

Rogue tradesmen cost the public a fortune each year. A recent study by Direct Line on this issue showed that every year over a million UK home owners spend a staggering £181 million on fixing inadequate work which was carried out by someone without the relevant training or qualifications. The study also reported that 16% of tradesmen were unwilling to return to the job to put right their work, with the result that 50% of affected property owners were left with no option but to hire additional help to complete to correct the work to an acceptable standard leaving them considerably out of pocket.

There are simple, sensible steps all home owners can make to ensure they do not become one of the 1.1 million homeowners affected each year. These figures may be alarming but let’s not forget there are many skilled and reputable tradesmen out there waiting for your quote request! Read our top tips on avoiding being caught out to save yourself money and a whole lot of stress…

Recommendations It can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to hiring a tradesman, there is a wealth of information online which can be very helpful but as a starting point why not ask around for personal recommendations? Talk to your family, friends and work colleagues and see if they have any recommendations for you to look into.

Obtain Quotes It is vital that you obtain written quotes from at least three separate companies for any work you intend to have carried out on your property. You will quickly get a feel for the companies you have approached and will be able to get a feel for pricing. If you are offered any form of no VAT cash deal avoid it. Even if the savings you stand to make are tempting remember that reputable tradesmen will rarely enter into this kind of work. By accepting you could be setting yourself up for a hefty financial fall in the long run.

References Once you have made your decision on which company to use request references from their recent jobs and be sure to follow them up. The majority of happy clients will be willing to provide a reference so if you are told there are none beware! If at all possible arrange to visit the completed job the reference has come from to see the work for yourself and to make sure the reference isn’t fake.

Paperwork Be sure once you have instructed a tradesman to carry out your work you request a contract and work specification; should the work not be carried out to the specification you were provided you will then have proof of what was promised from the start.

Communication Should you notice any problems during the course of the work speak with your tradesman as soon as possible to resolve the issue promptly, rather than waiting for the job to be completed.

Payment Under no circumstances should you make payment for work before it is carried out and completed to your satisfaction.

Your property is a valuable asset so ensure it is well looked after by using only reputable qualified tradesman to carry out any work. If you are dealing with gas or electricity be sure to check your tradesman has the relevant qualifications necessary for the job to be done safely.


 Written by Sarah Male, Urban Sales and Lettings

What can £1million buy me in the UK today?

Category: Blog
Posted by: Administrator on 8 May 2013
Comments: 0

What would you do with one million pounds? Buy a fancy new car? Go on the holiday of a lifetime? How about buy your dream house? What kind of property would a million pounds buy you today in the UK?

There is no one answer to this question as it all depends on where in the market you’re searching, it is  generally accepted that the country is cheaper to live in than the city, but how much more can you get for your money outside of the city centre?  And which parts of the United Kingdom offer the best value for money?


Kensington, West London, this area is well known for the royal residence of Kensington Palace, but what properties are available for the public to purchase? In this particular area of London £1million will buy you a spacious two bedroom flat with private parking, en-suite bathrooms and large drawing rooms. An advantage to living in the city is that you are always close by to a train / tube station and convenience stores however, property with central London postcodes will certainly cost more per square meter than anywhere else in the UK.


A million in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent could buy you a property significantly larger than in the city of London. In this small town in the south-east of England £1million would get you a six bedroom house with a large garden, swimming pool and typically three bathrooms. Kent is well known as being the garden of England, situated in the south-east it can be expensive as it is close to London and therefore popular with commuters however, you will find the deeper into the countryside you search the better value the property will become.


£1million in Dundee, Scotland will comfortably buy you a fourteen bedroom house on a large plot of land. Scotland has been named the cheapest place to live in the UK by Halifax House Price Index; in Dundee you could purchase a fourteen bedroom property, with four bathrooms, five reception rooms and an acre of land for just over half of the £1million price limit we are looking at for a two bed in London. With that in mind, Scotland with its historic buildings and beautiful scenery,  Offers great value for money but of course when it comes to property the old adage “location, location, location” holds firm; the more desirable an area is the more property will cost.



For a cool million in Cardiff, Wales you could buy yourself a stunning three story, eleven bedroom house; including en-suite bathrooms  in the majority if not all of the bedrooms, sizable gardens and private parking. Wales has some of the lowest living costs in the United Kingdom and the house prices although not as low as Scotland, certainly reflect this. The house prices in Wales vary greatly depending on the location of the property; you can purchase an eleven bedroom property for £750,000 in the city of Cardiff, just outside of Cardiff in the town of Fairwater a three bedroom property will be sold for an average of £875,000. When purchasing a property in Wales, the amount of land included should be taken into consideration as it can fluctuate vastly and will have a large impact on the value and desirability of the property. 


Written by Louise, UrbanSalesandLettings

Should letting agents be regulated?

Category: Blog
Posted by: Administrator on 20 April 2013
Comments: 1

Recent proposals have been made by a number of groups within the lettings industry calling for legislation to be passed which greater regulates letting agents in the UK. At present the private rental sector in the UJK is rapidly growing as more people stay in rented accommodation for longer. It is now a £1 billion per annum business with around £14 billion per annum in clients’ money being handled. However unlike sales agents, letting agents are not presently required to belong to an ombudsman scheme.

The Property Ombudsman reports that around 60 percent of letting offices in the UK have voluntarily registered with the scheme, however Christopher Hamer argues that unless compulsory regulation is brought in, tenants and landlords alike may be at risk when dealing with one of the 40 percent who are not affiliated with a redress scheme. Christopher Hamer’s calls for regulation were also backed by trade associations such as The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) who recently published their proposal for regulation of the industry. RICS and the consumer group Which? have also put pressure on the UK’s government to bring in these measures.

The Property Ombudsman reported that in 2012 they received 15,782 complaints regarding letting agencies, a 12 percent increase from 2011. With the growing size of the lettings industry as the UK moves away from being a nation of home owners, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that landlords and tenants are protected.

These proposals follow in a month which also saw a ruling by The Advertising Standards Authority at the beginning of March when they ruled that letting advertisements are misleading if they do not contain details of compulsory administration charges.

Whilst letting agents must abide by consumer regulations such as the Unfair Trading Regulations and Unfair Terms in Consumer Regulations, industry experts feel that compulsory redress scheme registration will provide a consistency of redress for consumers and will also mean that rogue agents could be banned from operating by the Office of Fair Trading. In a currently largely unregulated industry this move could ensure that as the lettings business in the UK grows, the reputation of letting agents does not become tarnished by a minority of rogue agents who may act without redress.

Written by Sarah Male, Urban Sales and Lettings


Landlords beware of tenant sub let scams

Category: Blog
Posted by: Administrator on 20 April 2013
Comments: 0

Tenants sub letting their rental property without the knowledge or consent of the landlord is becoming an increasingly widespread issue.  Most landlords are not willing to give their tenants permission to sub let as gaining possession of the property becomes more complex should issues arise; as the majority of tenants are aware of this some are sub letting the property without seeking permission from the landlord at all.

The most common types of unauthorised sub lets are when the tenant lets out a room within the property to a lodger or takes in a tenant whilst they are on holiday. Many sub lets schemes by their nature attract undesirable tenants who are not referenced. It is vital that landlords understand the difference between a sub let scam and a one off innocent sub let mistake; such as a tenant letting their brother move in whilst they go travelling. In this situation if a profit is not being made by the tenant and no loss of rent has been incurred by the landlord normally a verbal conversation will suffice to resolve the problem.

As standard a tenancy agreement will include a clause prohibiting sub letting in any form without the permission of the landlord. Any tenant who has signed a tenancy agreement including such a clause who then decides to sub let the property without the full consent of the landlord is in breach of the tenancy agreement terms. If discovered, the landlord of the property is certainly within their rights to begin possession proceedings. However, this can be a costly and limited process,  cases where the landlord has suffered financial loss of the sub let tenants have been exploited the case will usually be treated severely and go to court.

It is essential that landlords ensure any tenant living at their property is fully referenced. A credit check is often just not enough to avoid sub let scams so opt for tenant referencing which is more comprehensive. An employment reference and most importantly previous landlord history should flag up any issues. After referencing has been satisfactorily completed landlords can opt to purchase a rent guarantee insurance policy which will normally cover the costs of legal expenses incurred in gaining possession of a rental property.

Tenants should also beware of these kind of scams as the consequences of sub letting without the landlords express permission can be hefty. A recent case in which a woman was found guilty of letting eleven properties and subsequently sub letting them to multiple tenants without the knowledge of the landlords highlights the severity of punishments, she was sentenced to four years in prison on fraud charges. As well as prison sentences financial penalties should also be considered; one example being a couple in Sussex who rented a property and sub let it to make a profit whilst living in their own home. They were charged, found guilty, sentenced to 4 months imprisonment and held liable for over £7000 in legal costs. A very high price to pay on the chance of making a quick profit!

 Written by Sarah Male, Urban Sales and Lettings


The HomeOwners Alliance

Category: Blog
Posted by: Administrator on 2 April 2013
Comments: 0

The HomeOwners Alliance: We’re on your side


Buying and selling a home can be stressful, time consuming and costly. That is why we recommend visiting the HomeOwners Alliance.


Recently recommended by the Sunday Times as a sign that things are on the up for homeowners in 2013, the HomeOwners Alliance is a member-led organisation campaigning to get a better deal for homeowners and providing a one stop shop of reputable services and free independent advice.


At you will find free independent advice on all the key stages of the home buying and selling process. Need a quick checklist of the things not to forget when viewing a property or what sort of survey to get? Need support on the legal process of buying and selling your home? Looking for tips to make your home more valuable? Want the basics about planning permission so you know you can do that extension? We’ve got it covered.


Members of the Homeowners Alliance also benefit from access to discounted property solicitors, a legal advice line and can Ask an Expert any question and get an answer within 48 hours. 


For free advice on all the critical stages of home buying and selling and access to reputable services, including on-line conveyancing quotes, a legal advice line, Ask an Expert and much more, visit their site at