News & views from Urban.co.uk

Rightmove announces busiest ever month with 21m more visitors logging on

Posted by: Adam Male on 5 February 2016
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Historically, it is expected that the housing market picks up after Christmas, but it seems the festive period provoked a real surge in house-hunters!

Popular portal Rightmove reported its busiest ever month in January, with 21 million more property-shoppers logging on this year that in January 2015!

According to data for the site, there were over 127 million unique visitors last month, bursting through the previous record set in August 2015 of 118 million. 

There’s no sign of a slow-down in the market anytime soon, and with 1.7 BILLION page views on Rightmove alone last month, if you’re looking to sell or let your property, now is definitely the time to get your listing live! 

Contact the team at Urban.co.uk on 0800 689 9955 or info@urban.co.uk to see how we can help get your property inform of the millions of Rightmove browsers! 

 

Boris Boiler Bonus boosts London landlords

Posted by: Adam Male on 5 February 2016
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It may be hard to believe, following the series of swipes issues by the government towards landlords recently, but Mayor of London Boris Johnson has just issued a slight olive branch!

Boris has just announced the capital’s first boiler replacement scheme - The London Boiler Cashback Scheme, which will provide 6,500 of the capital’s home owners and accredited private landlords with £400 cashback when they replace an old, inefficient boiler.

In just two years’ time - April 2018 - it will be illegal to rent out a property with an F or G Energy Performance Certificate rating under a new tenancy agreement, so the opportunity to improve your rating and receive some cash-back from the government will be music to the ears of many London landlords!

The scheme is first-come-first-serve, so if you are a London landlord considering replacing your existing boiler, you’re urged to act quickly!

In order to meet the rules of the scheme, the following criteria must be met:

  • The current boiler must be 70% or less efficient, in working order and the main boiler used to heat the property. Most gas, LPG, solid fuel or oil fuelled boilers with an EPC rating of G or below will fall under the 70% efficiency rating. 
  • The replacement boiler must be an A-rated gas boiler (at least 90% energy efficient), or a renewable/low carbon heating technology. 
  • The new boiler must be installed by a Gas Safe registered installer, a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certified installer or equivalent, or a member of a competent persons’ scheme (such as OFTEC or HETAS).

In order to apply to the scheme, you must be accredited with the Mayor’s London Rental Standard, and you can apply for cashback on more than one property.

For more information on the scheme, and to check if you’re eligible, click here

But what if you are not a London-based landlord, or are not one of the lucky 6,500 who are chosen to receive a Boris Boiler Bonus? Don’t worry, there are other types of scheme available!

If your tenant is receiving a combination of income-related benefits, they could be eligible for the boiler to be replaced via a government grant.

Your tenant must receive one of the following:

  • Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (and their income is £16,010 or less)
  • Working Tax Credit (and their income is £16,010 or less)
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit (and they earned £1,250 or less after tax in any assessment period in the last 12 months)

If your existing boiler is over eight years old, or over five years old and faulty, a non-repayable grant could be supplied by one of the ‘Big Six’ energy suppliers (British Gas, EDF, EON, nPower, Scottish Power, SSE)

For more information, visit here

If your property is in Scotland, you may be eligible to apply for a Resource Efficient Scotland SME Loan of £1,000 to £100,000.

You must be registered as a private landlord to apply, but the loan is interest free, and is repayable over four years.

You are able to apply for the loan in order to install a new biomass boiler to provide low cost heat, but also to maximise your property’s green potential, with changes such as:

  • Upgrading to energy efficient lighting to lower energy bills
  • Upgrading to energy efficient heating systems to lower energy bills
  • Insulating premises to reduce heating costs
  • Installing solar PV to generate cheap, green electricity from sunlight
  • Upgrading glazing to reduce heating costs
  • Optimising voltage to reduce energy costs

More information is available here.

 

 

Urban.co.uk Q&A: How often can I carry out checks on my HMO?

Posted by: Adam Male on 4 February 2016
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Q

I'm not sure my tenants are taking good care of my property. How often is too often to inspect my HMO?

 

A

If you are concerned that your tenants are causing damage to your property, it is understandable that you want to check on them as often as possible. However, constantly visits isn’t likely to instil a very welcoming or trusting relationship between you and your tenants, and could actually contravene on the terms of your tenancy agreement!

By law, every tenancy agreement has to contain a clause called the 'covenant of quiet enjoyment'. This allows your tenant to live in your property undisturbed, and means that you as a landlord are not able to do anything that will adversely affect their occupation of the property.

Constant visits – whether you believe it is justified for the sake of the property’s upkeep or not – could be seen as a breach of this section of the tenancy agreement. It is illegal and could land you with a criminal charge. 

It is still wise to carry out a check of your property on a monthly basis, and make sure you have these checks written into your tenancy agreement from the start. These regular checks give you an opportunity to not only do a sweep of the property and make sure that your tenants are keeping the property in order, but also allows you to carry out regular maintenance checks, such as testing all smoke alarms, giving any appliances a once-over and check that everything is in good and safe working order. 

It’s also wise to catch up with your tenants and make sure that they are happy with how the property is being managed and that they don’t have any concerns. 

 

Average UK house prices reach £212,000 according to Halifax

Posted by: Adam Male on 4 February 2016
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The average price of a property in the UK has increased to £212,430.

This whopping figure, taken from data supplied by Halifax, the nation’s largest mortgage supplier, is representative of property prices across the UK.

According to Halifax, house price growth in the UK increased to 9.7% in the year to January, up from 9.5% a month earlier.

Martin Ellis, Halifax’s housing economist puts the hike in prices down to ‘the imbalance between supply and demand’ and expects to see the trend continue over the coming months to ‘exert significant upward pressure on house prices.’

Mr Ellis voices concerns that the increasing prices will raise further affordability issues, and warns that as price increases continue to exceed wage growth, housing demand will eventually curb.

Ask Adrian Vlog: What Right to Rent documents do I need to check for a non-UK tenant?

Posted by: Adam Male on 1 February 2016
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Today's the day Right to Rent goes live across England, and there's still plenty of confusion about letting's newest legislation.

Make sure you are fully briefed on how to handle any tenants from overseas with our informative vlog, presented by property specialist Adrian McClinton, of Rix and Kay Solicitors.

If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to contact the Urban.co.uk team on righttorent@urban.co.uk or 0800 689 9955