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Buy-to-let remains ‘one of the most lucrative investments one can make’

Despite recent tax and regulatory changes, investment in buy-to-let has outperformed most other major asset classes over the past 10 years, when considering the annual gain in house prices along with the increase in rental yields, new research shows.

An investment in the buy-to-let sector a decade ago would have brought a 92% return today, according to the research from VeriSmart.

The combined letting inventory and property compliance specialist found that investing in the FTSE 100 would have brought the biggest return when considering the annual capital gain and the percentage yield with an increase of 119%, whilst the value of classic cars is up 94% during the same time period. A buy-to-let property is a very good ‘next best option’, when considering capital growth and the increase in rental returns.

The return offered by buy-to-let is significantly higher than the 60% return that investing in gold would have brought and a world away from the 16% increase in cash or the -4% drop in fine art.

It is also important to note that the growth in the property market has been by far the most reliable option with the FTSE 100, gold or cash providing a far more volatile option that is also open to a larger degree of impact from political and economic factors as well as influence from other foreign countries.

Jonathan Senior, founder of VeriSmart, insists that bricks and mortar remains one of the best and most stable investments available in the UK.

He commented: “Last week’s spring statement was a missed opportunity for the Government to backtrack on their previous attacks on the buy-to-let sector, attacks that have done little to solve the UK housing crisis and if anything, have caused further restrictions in the level of suitable stock while keeping rental prices buoyant as a result.

“However, the buy-to-let sector remains the backbone of the UK property market, helping to support aspirational homeowners as they work to overcome the sometimes impossible financial barriers of homeownership. The need for this support is clearly evident as it remains one of the most lucrative investments one can make.

“With little being done to address property supply or affordability on a meaningful scale, this is likely to continue going forward and despite the Government’s best efforts there will always be demand for a good, honest landlord providing above the board accommodation to those that need it.”

Article courtesy of Landlord Today | Sign up for Landlord Today newsletter | Get this news on YOUR site!

The most expensive landlord licence costs 21 times more than the cheapest

Landlord licensing schemes are being introduced across England, while they are mandatory in Scotland and Wales, as local authorities attempt to clampdown on rogue operators.

But while councils argue that selective licensing schemes are a key weapon in the battle to improve standards in the private rented sector, many landlords believe these schemes are simply a money-making exercise designed to boost council coffers, with new research showing that the most expensive landlord licence costs 21 times more than the cheapest.

Fresh analysis of licensing charges between local authorities show a large variance, with the cost of a new licence ranging from just £55 to £1,150.

The research from Direct Line for Business found that in Liverpool, the cost of a licence for a first property is £412, whereas in Salford just 30 miles away it is 51% higher at £625. The average landlord licence across the UK costs £591.

While in Scotland and Wales landlord licence schemes are mandatory, in England just one in six – 16% - of local authorities have a scheme in place.

It is estimated that 460,000 rental properties in England are now covered by a landlord licensing scheme.

Licencing schemes allow councils to establish if landlords are a ‘fit and proper’ person to be a landlord and can include regulations concerning the management, upkeep and safety measures of a property.

Those renting out a house for multiple occupation (HMO) need a mandatory licence. However, councils are increasingly introducing their own additional and selective schemes to raise revenue. 

In the London Borough of Newham, for example, the cost of an additional licensing scheme increased by 150% in just three years, from £500 in 2014/15 to £1,250 in 2017/18.

Local authorities are raising huge sums from additional landlord licensing schemes, with Liverpool City Council receiving over £4 million in a year covering over 42,000 properties. 

On average, each council with a scheme in place raised £144,629 from landlord licensing schemes in 2017.

Some argue that the worst criminal landlords will simply carry on staying under the radar. But local authorities across the UK recorded an average 5,069 licensing offences in 2017, an increase of 46% since 2016 (3,476 offences).

The average fine for a licensing offence in 2017 was £926.

Matt Boatwright, head of Direct Line for Business, said: “Our analysis shows landlord licensing is truly a postcode lottery, with a phenomenal range of costs for those that do have to sign up for a scheme. 

“Anyone planning on becoming a landlord, or who already has a property portfolio, should contact their local authority to see if they have a scheme in place.”

All landlords in Wales are required to register with Rent Smart Wales and since the start of 2017 there have been a total of 11,392 successful landlord licence registrations in Wales. 

Rent Smart Wales has generated over £1.54m in revenue from successful applications since the start of 2017.  If a landlord does not register, is unlicensed or uses an unlicensed agent, they can be issued with a fixed penalty.

Since the start of 2017, there have also been 1,625 licences granted to agents, those who let or manage a rental property in Wales. These registrations generated £211,321 in revenue. 

It is a criminal offence to rent out a property without registering with a local council in Scotland, with fines of up to £50,000. 

Landlords renting out properties in Scotland are also required to sign onto the Landlord Registration central online system. Since the start of 2017, there have been over 22,000 new landlords registered and over 46,000 successful renewals. Everyone carrying out letting agency work also must apply to join the Scottish Letting Agent Register.

Boatwright added: “It is vital that landlords comply with all appropriate legislation and take steps to protect themselves and their investment, including appropriate landlord insurance.”

Whatever the cost of licensing, it fails to provide any assurance about the quality of accommodation, according to David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).

He said: “The RLA’s own analysis shows that there is no clear link between a council having a licensing scheme in place and levels of enforcement against criminal landlords.

“The fundamental problem with all schemes is that it is only the good landlords who come forward to be licensed. They completely fail to identify the crooks. They just mean landlords, and therefore tenants, having to pay more. Instead, councils need to be more creative in how they identify landlords by better using the powers they have to collect data using council tax returns and accessing information from deposit schemes.”

Article courtesy of Landlord Today | Sign up for Landlord Today newsletter | Get this news on YOUR site!

Tenants can sue landlords for damp homes under new laws introduced today

Tenants now have the right to sue their landlords for cold or damp homes under new laws that have come into force today.

If a landlord does not carry out necessary repairs or maintenance, the tenant will be able to take them to court where a judge can issue an injunction forcing the work to be carried out, under the government’s new Homes (Fitness for Human Habitations) Act 2018.

With changes applicable in England only, landlords must ensure their properties meet the law’s habitable standards. Failure to do so means they may face the possibility of being taken to court by their own renters.

Around 5.8 million renters in the UK experience damp and condensation issues, and 2 million believe they have developed an illness as a result of their living conditions, according to new research by Rentokil Property Care.

The study found that despite one third of tenants - 33% - contacting their landlord to help them rectify these issues, in more than half - 51% - of those cases, no help was given.

The investigation revealed that while many landlords do assist occupants, it takes an average of 84 days to rectify the problem.

Rentokil Property Care says that less than one in five - 17% - of tenants in England are aware that they can force through changes to their homes and ensure they are fit for habitation via the Homes Act from today.

The study of renters found that 44% of rented properties had no extractor fan in the bathroom, and a further 31% said the bathroom had no window either. It is these sorts of issues that can have a direct impact on the growth of mould and proliferation of damp.

But tenants must take responsibility for their living environment, according to Nicholas Donnithorne, UK technical manager at Rentokil Property Care.

He said: “An average family of four can produce up to 24 pints [14 litres] of water vapour in just 24 hours, and all that moisture has to go somewhere. When the air cools, condensation forms on cold surfaces at what is known as the ‘Dew Point’.”

The research by Rentokil Property Care revealed that 20% of UK renters do not use the trickle vents in their double glazing, and over one third - 36% - of tenants admitted to wearing more clothes instead of turning the central heating on, so that they save money.

Letting fresh air in and heating a property properly is crucial when thinking about the prevention of mould growth on cold wall surfaces and stopping damp from becoming a problem.  

Drying clothes in unsuitable areas may also be impacting the experience renters have with condensation, damp and mould. Results have indicated that around 30% of tenants regularly dry their clothes on radiators, with 11% admitting they do this all the time.

Some 12% of renters also dry their clothes in the bathroom, an area where a lot of moisture already exists. If ventilation is not present, the water vapour released from the drying clothes can condense on cold surfaces and lead to mould growth.

Donnithorne added: “It’s important the homes people live in have adequate ventilation and heating facilities that enable the occupiers to take control of the amount of moisture they produce. Occupants must also better understand that their behaviour may be affecting the formation of condensation and damp.

“Simple lifestyle changes such as drying clothes outside or leaving the window ajar could go a long way in helping to reduce issues and prevent mould growth.”

Article courtesy of Landlord Today | Sign up for Landlord Today newsletter | Get this news on YOUR site!