Friday, 26 May 2017

First Assist Landlord 365 - A real alternative for hard pressed landlords

The general misconception of landlord is of uncaring money grubbing and self serving lot. You just have to look at how the media tend to portray us. Well we aren't all wealthy and for many landlords it is not even their main income. 

With the looming changes to the tax system and landlord licencing coming to a neighborhood near you its more important than ever to look a ways to save money

With over twelve years’ experience as landlords and developers we are fully aware of what faces landlords on a day to day basis. We believe that we can change the way things are done by allowing you the landlord to self-manage in a new way. You can pay less and get more with our unique service.

The First Assist Landlord 365 way helps all of our members increase profits and drive down the costs of maintaining rental property.

Our mission is to ensure you peace of mind, safe in the knowledge that we are taking care of business.

First Assist Landlord 365 will fill the gap and take the strain landlords experience when letting property.

Our team of professionals have an extensive knowledge of all aspects of the rental market and building trade. Our contractors have all been handpicked and fully vetted to ensure quality service at all stages.All our team understand and work within our core values of efficiency and value for money.

The First Assist team are here to support your needs and give you and your tenant the highest level of service through First Assists Landlord 365 dedicated property management solution.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Labour plans rent controls and standard three year tenancies

A Department for Housing would be created by a new Labour government, with rent caps, three year tenancies and yet more regulation all part of its plans for the PRS.

Labour’s election manifesto includes a raft of housing policies which could have disastrous impacts on the PRS.

The document pledges to:

  • Make three year tenancies in the private rented sector standard across the sector, with rent caps linked to inflation;
  • Give the Mayor of London new powers to provide additional security for tenants in the capital given the unique pressures tenants here face;
  • Introduce new legal minimum standards to ensure private rented homes are fit for human habitation with new measures to empower tenants to take action where their properties are not up to scratch;
  • Scrap the so called ‘bedroom tax’;
  • Reverse the decision to cut housing benefit payments for those aged 18 to 21;
  • Establish a new Department for Housing;
  • Insulate more homes with a consultation also on preventing ‘rabbit hutch’ homes;
  • Implement new minimum space standards for new housing developments; and
  • Draft a new national plan to address the problem of homelessness.

RLA Chairman Alan Ward said: “While we have long argued for housing to have a higher profile on the political agenda, a number of these policies could have a catastrophic effect on the PRS,  which is still coming to terms with tax changes that have forced some landlords out of the market altogether.

“Rent controls do not work and only serve reduce the supply and quality of homes to let. There is little evidence of demand for long tenancies and the PRS is already subject to strict regulations and standards – albeit ones that are not uniformly enforced.

“By introducing these policies Labour is in very real danger of crashing the sector – which will do nothing to help the families and vulnerable people renting homes that the party wants to support and protect.”

The draft proposals will be submitted to a meeting today of members of Labour’s National Executive Committee and representatives of organisations, such as the unions, affiliated to the Labour Party for consideration and agreement.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Could the Government’s attack on Small-Scale landlords backfire?

The Government’s attack on small-scale buy-to-let landlords, through a punitive tax regime and aggressive regulation, predicated on a policy of growing a new alternative rented housing provision through large-scale developers and institutional investors could itself be under threat.

The “Tescoisation” of what the Government has called the “Cottage Industry” of private renting could falter if, as appears to be the case, the uptake of the build-to-sell and build-to-rent schemes for affordable homes is well below target.

With over 90% of private rented housing being supplied by small-scale landlords; buy-to-letters with less than three properties, and small company landlords with limited portfolios, it would take a huge influx of large scale-development to make a dent in that.

A recent study (Understanding the Next Housing Crisis) carried out by researchers at the University of Reading and presented as a paper at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference (April 2017) concludes that Britain will never build enough houses to make property affordable for young people, stating: “The increases in housing supply required to improve affordability have to be very large and long-lasting: the step change would need to be much larger than has ever been experienced before on a permanent basis.”

To compound the Government’s problems, it seems that developers have been regularly reneging on promises to build cheaper homes alongside those being sold at full market rates. According to an investigation by campaigners, the Sunday Times reports that: developers are “quietly walking away from promises to build affordable homes.”

Council officials, it would seem, are being “outgunned” by the financial and legal might of the large private developers who were granted permission by local councils for building schemes, on condition that affordable homes were included.

Some councils are said to be “giving-in” to demands to change the developer’s pledges, while in other cases property companies are said to be flouting legal agreements because of lax monitoring.
According to the Sunday Times article, in four developments involving one developer group (a London based Housing Association) council officials believe there has been a deliberate and unlawful scheme ongoing which is systematically selling or renting affordable homes at full market rates, though the housing association in question denies knowledge of any wrongdoing.

One dossier seen by the paper, submitted to the local government ombudsman, has identified 46 developments in London where it is claimed affordable homes may not have been provided as pledged.

The ombudsman ruled last December that there had been a failure in monitoring the delivery of affordable homes, including the rent levels changed. The allegations made in this dossier are the just latest setback in the Government’s provision of more affordable homes. A 2013 study showed that 60% of the biggest housing schemes fell well short of local affordable housing targets including projects in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Manchester and Sheffield.

Councils are given targets by central Government to build a given proportion of affordable homes, which are typically in the rage of 35%-40% of new-build housing. They should be rented at lower rates or...sold in shared ownership schemes, and it is usually a condition of planning permission for big developments that these affordable homes are provided.

Why is it that even though the Government offers loan guarantees and tax incentives for large scale developments for rent, there is still a lack of enthusiasm for large-scale institutionally backed developments in the UK?

One significant factor must be the historic importance in the UK of owner-occupation over private renting, but the main one appears to be that private rented sector (PRS) investment model relies more on long-term financial gain (capital appreciation as well as rental income) rather than short-term capital value creation from a quick sale of new-build owner-occupier properties. The PRS model creates greater risk for institutional investors who want certainty.

Some years ago, Mark Hafner of American PRS investor Greystar, speaking about the UK residential property market, said: “The answer is very simple and very obvious; the reason PRS hasn’t flourished in the UK to date is because the for-sale market is so robust. For virtually any piece of land you are going to achieve a higher return faster from a for-sale strategy than you are with rental.”

The issue then is one of investment returns; it is very important to institution investors in terms of risk. Changes in market rent rates, or a change of government, introducing new rental tenures or rent control, particularly with new-build PRS developments, which require a significant investment of capital up-front, are a significant risk factor for them.

How much of an impact large-scale institutional investment in the PRS will have on the small-scale buy-to-let investor remains to be seen, but it would seem that in one respect the economics of this go against the grain of Government thinking, and could well result in the end in a policy re-think at some point.

In the meantime it means that smaller landlords will have to adapt to the changes in their industry, treating these as normal business hazards, reducing costs and adapting to the new conditions as all businesses must. Buy-to-let investments, when managed properly, still offer far better returns than anything else available on the high street.

Tom Entwistle

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Landlord tax rises will see rents increase

Landlord and tenants set to suffer under new tax.

Tax rises for landlords being introduced today could see rents rise by 30% and stifle investment in properties to let, making it harder for renters to find suitable homes.
The warnings come from the country’s leading landlord body as the Government begins to restrict mortgage interest relief for landlords and tax their turnover rather than their profit.

Research by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has shown that two-thirds of member landlords feel they will need to increase rents to cope with the new tax burden.
The results also show that 58 per cent of members plan on cutting back investment in property.
Independent experts have argued that landlords will need to increase rents between 20 per cent and 30 per cent to cope with the extra cost of the tax hikes.

Ministers have argued that the move levels the playing field between landlords and homeowners, but the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies has said that the tax system: “is not, and was not, even before the recent changes, more generous to people buying to let.”

 RLA Chairman, Alan Ward said: “Today’s tax increases contradict everything the Government has said about needing a larger rented sector to give tenants more choice and more affordable housing.
“It is tenants who will be hit hardest by these punitive tax increases. Aside from likely paying more in rent, in many places they will face a growing shortage of affordable places to rent.
“We call on Ministers to undertake a major review of the impact of this policy and if all the predictions about its impact are right, to abolish the changes in the autumn budget.”