Press Centre
Estate Agents & Letting Agents in Leeds

Here you will find the latest Hudson Moody Wass and property news.

Landlord licence revoked

A Hounslow landlord has been stripped of his HMO licences after letting out filthy bedsits which were potential death traps.

Hounslow Council revoked Ifthikar Uddin's licences for properties in Avonwick Drive and Fairfields Road on the grounds he was not a 'fit and proper' person to hold them.

The council also banned Uddin from acting as a managing agent for any house with multiple occupiers.

The sanctions were imposed in the summer but Uddin appealed. His appeal failed last month and the ruling has just been made public.

Hounslow Council leader Steve Curran said: "We will not tolerate rogue landlords in Hounslow. Where we have the evidence and power we will crack down hard on these parasites who are making profits from vulnerable people, often on sky high rents."

Uddin rented out bedsits in houses without holding an HMO licence, which is required for any house in the borough with three or more unrelated occupiers.

Properties he owned or managed were also found to have inadequate fire safety, dangerous boilers, electrical hazards, damp and mould.

In one property, the tenants had no control of the heating or hot water supply, which were controlled by their landlord living next door.

Council officers found 16 people living in one two-storey, four-bedroom house, and how one room was less than half the legal minimum size of 6.5sqm, with barely enough space for a bed.

Uddin was company secretary of Key Property (UK), in Bell Road, Hounslow, when the letting agency was fined £42,500 in September last year after being found guilty at Feltham Magistrates' Court of 15 housing offences.



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ARLA and RLA comment on Tenancies (Reform) Bill

Both the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and Residential Landlords Association (RLA) have aired their views about the Tenancies (Reform) Bill which has its second reading in Parliament tomorrow (Friday).

The RLA has produced a summary of the bill here

The detail is as bad as the RLA feared, with restrictions proposed on section 21 notices even where only a “hazard awareness notice” has been issued by a council. Landlords will also be prevented from serving a section 21 notice where an improvement notice has been served relating to category 1 or category 2 Hazards under the HHSRS rating system, or where a property requires emergency remedial action.

Tenants will also be able to challenge section 21 notices where they have complained to the landlord or council before the notice was issued, but the council is still deciding whether to even inspect the property in question.

Landlords will not be allowed to serve a section 21 notice in the first four months of a tenancy.

The RLA warns that if passed, the Bill is likely to lead to a race between tenants seeking to lodge complaints about a property and landlords seeking to serve section 21 notices as soon as possible, each bidding to protect their interests. The RLA says this is “a recipe for poor tenant-landlords relations.”

ARLA managing director David Cox said that while ARLA agrees that the issue of retaliatory eviction needs to be addressed, and that it was broadly supportive of the principles behind the Bill, it has concerns. 

“As they say however, the devil is in the detail and now that the Bill has been published we have concerns that it exposes landlords to frivolous and vexatious cases. For example, there is a risk that category 2 hazards could be created by tenants in arrears to avoid evictions. We are also concerned that in many blocks of flats and converted houses ‘common parts’ are not under the landlords control but are the freeholder’s responsibility. Therefore, it is not equitable for a landlord to be penalised for something that is outside their control. These clauses need further thought before we could welcome this Bill; as it stands, it will inevitably lead to unintended consequences.

“ARLA wants to see the issue of retaliatory eviction resolved once and for all, but we must ensure that any legislation designed to tackle this minority of rogue operators does not infringe or restrict the rights of professional landlords and agents or frustrate legitimate possession proceedings.”

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Paragon reports 82% increase in its buy-to-let lending in 2014

Paragon Mortgages’ parent company, The Paragon Group of Companies, has today released its full-year results for the year ended 30 September 2014 and revealed pre-tax profits of £122.2 million, an 18.1% increase on the previous year (2013: £103.5 million).

The past year has seen robust growth in Paragon Mortgages’ buy-to-let activity, with completions for the year increasing by 82.5% to £656.6 million (2013: £359.8 million). In addition the pipeline of new business at the end of September represents a strong platform for further growth at £414.8 million (2013: £231.9 million).

The credit quality of the £8.6 billion buy-to-let portfolio remains excellent, with arrears levels improving across the year to just 0.25% (2013: 0.35%), which is significantly below the CML’s market average of 0.69% in Q3 2014.

During the past 12 months the Group also completed a total securitisation issuance of £929.7 million, after closing its fourth deal of the year in November.

John Heron, managing director of Paragon Mortgages, said: “Over the last 12 months we have seen strong growth in our buy-to-let business, with completions increasing by more than 80%. This has been made possible by the improved scale and cost of our funding which has allowed us to deliver more attractive products for the benefit of our landlord customers and the intermediary market.

“Paragon Mortgages continues to be a significant part of the Group and contributed £80.5 million to pre-tax profits – a 14.5% increase on the previous year. Looking ahead, we expect strong and increasing tenant demand to continue to drive high levels of growth for buy-to-let mortgages and Paragon will be at the centre of the development of innovative solutions and competitive pricing in this market.”


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Government “backs rip-off letting agents” say campaigners

Campaign group Generation Rent says the Government has voted to continue to allow private renters “to be charged extortionate fees by letting agents, get evicted for complaining about conditions in their home and have their money unprotected in the event a letting agent goes bust.”

Last night the House of Lords debated the Consumer Rights Bill as part of its Report Stage. Amendments to the Bill to require letting agents to insure rent money held on behalf of landlords, to ban letting agents charging fees to tenants, and to ban the eviction of tenants who have complaints upheld by the local authority were defeated by a vote of peers.

Amendment 44 on mandatory client protection, introduced by Labour’s Baroness Hayter, was defeated by 168 votes to 123. Amendment 44ZA on protection of tenants was defeated by 156 votes to 113.

The Government minister, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, introduced amendments that required letting agents to display their membership of a client money protection scheme and a redress scheme.

The issue of revenge evictions returns to the Commons on Friday when Sarah Teather MP’s Private Member’s Bill, the Tenancies (Reform) Bill, is debated. Last night private renters demonstrated in Westminster to put pressure on MPs to show up for the vote, which takes place outside the normal Parliamentary schedule.

Alex Hilton, Director of Generation Rent, said: “By voting down a ban on letting fees, the government has told the country’s nine million private renters that the profitability of letting agents is more important than their consumer rights. The government's answer is transparency, but that's no answer at all. Tenants don't get to choose the agent so they can't negotiate down fees.

“Revenge evictions can still be banned with a vote in the Commons on Friday, but renters need as many MPs as possible to show up to ensure that the Bill is passed.”

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‘Over 72% of lots sold at last month’s property auctions’ - EIG

The Essential Information Group (EIG) has released the results for all UK property auctions held in October.
Of 172 auctions held last month, 3,987 lots were offered 72.8% (2,904) of which were sold. 
According to EIG, a total of £542,278,962 was raised at property auction during October. 
The number of lots offered was slightly up on October 2013 (0.4%) and EIG says the 72.8% sale rate is consistent with the last few months’ activity, remaining comparative to the long-term average. 
The total raised at last month’s residential property auctions, £342,254,931, was 14.8% higher than the figure recorded this time last year.
Between August and October the most lots were offered and sold at residential property auctions in the North West totalling 1,117 and 755 respectively. However, the highest sales percentage in the same period was recorded in the South East Home Counties.
“Looking forward, we are fast approaching one of the busiest periods in the auction calendar and I hope to be able to report on a strong finish to the year,” wrote David Sandeman, EIG Managing Director, in his latest newsletter.
The full set of results can be viewed here

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Strettons to host free Property Expo at next auction

Strettons Chartered Surveyors has announced it will host its first Property Expo during its final national property auction of the year. 
The free event will feature a range of architects, building surveyors and residential and commercial property advisors with years of experience in property auctions giving advice on financing, legal issues and more.
Strettons says the event will cater for inexperienced auction attendees as well as developers and investors with expansive portfolios. 
The guests include: 
Barclays Bank
St James’ Place Wealth Management 
Auction Finance 
Greenfield Capital 
Sykes Anderson Perry Solicitors
Bowling & Co Solicitors 
Goodman Jones Accountants
BS Initiative Building Surveyors 
Strettons Insurance with NiG
Strettons New Homes
Strettons Professional
Smith & Newton Architects
Commenting on the launch of the event, Strettons’ auctioneer Philip Waterfield said: “We have decided to organise a Property Expo as an added extra dimension to our property auctions. The Expo not only gives people the chance to benefit from our expertise but also from the knowledge and services of a wide range of other professionals who can help people make their property ambitions a reality, whether purchasing property at auction or via other means.” 
In addition to the Expo, the Strettons team will also be hosting another “Behind the Scenes” seminar to explain property auctions in detail. 
“We hope that this [Behind the Scenes event] together with the Expo will provide people with everything they need to know about buying properties at auction under one roof,” Waterfield added.   
The company is aiming to finish the year strongly and build on its average of 80% success rate in 2014.   
The first Expo will take place at The Grand Connaught Rooms in London at 9am on December 9 prior to the national property auction which will commence at 11am. 

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Graham Penny Auctions aiming to end the year on a high

Graham Penny Auctions Nottingham is aiming to end 2014 as the most successful auction house in the city, it has confirmed. 
The firm has just released the catalogue for its final sale of 2014, which so far consists of 36 lots. 
Guide prices range from £35,000 to over £600,000, with a two storey church and three bedroom renovated bungalow two of the lots attracting the most interest among potential buyers.  
“2014 has seen us cement our position as not only the most successful auction house in Nottingham but also in the East Midlands,” said Vejay Pal, senior valuer at the firm.
So far this year Graham Penny Auctions has raised over £56.6m in sales, achieving a 78% success rate.
The firm has also announced its auction calendar for 2015 which will include seven Nottingham auctions starting on February 6. 
The December auction will take place on Friday 5th at Nottingham racecourse. 
The catalogue for next month’s event can be viewed here and the 2015 calendar can be viewed here

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24 apartment investment to go under Sutton Kersh hammer

A residential investment in Liverpool’s China Town will be sold at Sutton Kersh’s next auction on December 11. 
Grenville Court, on Hardy Street, is made up for 24 two and three bedroom apartments arranged into four separate blocks.
The development currently produces an annual income of almost £150,000 and has been guided at £1.4 million. 
Another lot attracting high levels of interest is a fully let Grade II listed building on Union Street, also on Merseyside. 
The lot, which has been given a guide price of £175,000, generates an annual income of £22,120, according to Sutton Kersh. 
The firm is also offering a hotel at next month’s event. The Gateway Hotel, situated in Bootle, has been guided at just £200,000. 
The freehold mixed use property comprises a ground floor public house and 19 bedrooms, which combined produce gross income of over £100,000 per annum. 
The event – Sutton Kersh’s final sale this year – will take place at the Liverpool Marriott Hotel and has so far attracted a total of 68 lots. 
The full catalogue can be viewed here.    

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Savills announces 137 lot catalogue for December auction

Savills has released the catalogue for its December sale in the capital, which contains137 lots.  
The lots on offer come from a wide cross section of sellers, including Local Authorities, Housing Associations, Public Bodies, Utilities, LLP Receivers, Public and Private Property Companies, Executors, Trustees and Mortgagees.
At the top end of the scale is lot 64, a part vacant freehold building in Reading. The building consists of five shops with offices above. 
Savills says planning permission has been granted to change the three floors of offices into flats and the auctioneer has set a guide price of £4.1 million.
The property with the lowest guide price is lot 130, an investment freehold ground rent in Teddington. The lot, which has been given a guide price of £4,500, is a detached property currently arranged as four flats.
The event will take place on Monday 8 December, from 9.30am until 6.30pm, at The Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London W1K 6JP.
The full catalogue can be viewed here

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Landlord pleads guilty to fire safety breaches

A Morecambe landlord has pleaded guilty to two fire safety offences at a block of flats.

Eli Zohar was prosecuted by Lancashire Fire and Rescue after failing to comply with an enforcement notice which related to the adequacy of the premises’ fire precautions and his failure to maintain the emergency lighting.

Zohar was initially charged with six breaches but agreed to plead guilty to two offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 at Preston Magistrates Court.

Zohar will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court in December.

A Lancashire Fire and Rescue spokesman said: “Mr Zohar is a landlord of a large number of properties in the Morecambe area, and has a duty to ensure that his tenants are provided a safe environment.

“In our constant drive to make Lancashire safer, fire safety enforcement teams are actively seeking out such premises.

“We would hope the outcome of this case sends a clear message fire safety is a priority issue that should always be addressed before tenants or guests are accommodated.”

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