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Estate Agents & Letting Agents in Leeds

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

Mortgages for Business announces rebrand

Independent UK mortgage broker Mortgages for Business has announced the official launch of its new website and corporate identity.

The new website offers improved navigation and functionality, and a cleaner design.

Clients can now access up-to-date information on current trends, including regularly updated blogs and videos, helping them to make informed property investment decisions.

The website now allows direct contact to individual members of staff in keeping with Mortgages for Business’ ethos of providing a personalised and transparent service.

David Whittaker, managing director of Mortgages for Business, said: “The new website and brand are more closely aligned with the company’s strategic vision for future growth and will enable us to refresh how we supply our clients with the very latest market information.

“We have a clear ethos on the way all clients should be treated when they organise a mortgage through us. Although our brand image has changed our brand values are still very much the same.

“In particular, the latest web tools will make communication easier, and ultimately our service for clients even faster and more bespoke.”

Mortgages for Business offers access to whole-of-market advice, specialising in buy-to-let, and complex residential and commercial mortgages. It also offers development and short-term finance opportunities.

 

 


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Leeds landlord fined just £750 for letting dangerous flats

A Leeds landlord has been fined a paltry £750 for letting flats with no heating, no hot water, toilets that didn’t flush, inadequate security, and a lack of fire safety precautions.
 
Kosvka Mijakovac of Chapeltown, was fined £750 and ordered to pay costs of £2,749 plus a £25 victim surcharge having pleaded guilty at Leeds Magistrates Court earlier this month under Section 43 of the Housing Act 2004.
 
The council served Emergency Prohibition Orders on Mijakovac’s three flats at Roundhay Grove, Harehills in December 2013.
 
Previous inspections showed that the flats were in a dangerous condition and in such a bad state of repair, officers were concerned that tenants would be at risk of injury or even death.
 
Existing tenants found alternative accommodation but despite being legally obliged to fix the flats before letting them again, Mijakovac allowed three families with young children to move in in January 2014 without any repairs being made.
 
Despite warnings that the flats should not be occupied due to the risks to the health and safety of the occupants, tenants continued to live at the flats until June 2014.
 
Mijakovac was prosecuted for three offences of allowing re-occupation of a property subject to an Emergency Prohibition Order.
 
Councillor Peter Gruen, executive member for neighbourhoods, planning and personnel said: “This is probably one of the worst cases of deliberate neglect that I have seen.
 
“Our officers are on hand to offer their wealth of experience to keep tenants safe and landlords on the right side of the law. The majority of landlords are more than happy to work with us to ensure this is the case.
 
“However, when standards fall this far below the expected and required level, we will not stand by while people put profit ahead of safety, common sense and the law.”
 


 


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How ethical are Britain’s landlords?

Contrary to popular stereotype, Britain's landlords are largely an ethical group according to research released today by Saga Home Insurance.

In a poll of UK adults, 77% of tenants rated their current landlord as "good" or "excellent", with just 8% giving a "poor" rating. Despite this, more than half of tenants (56%) said that their landlord should do more to help them.

The research also revealed the top complaints experienced by both landlords and tenants. Landlords were more likely to complain about late rent payments (37%), damage to the property (32%) and tenants who vacated the property with little or no notice (20%).

Tenants were most likely to complain about hard-to-reach landlords (23%) and poor quality tradesmen used for repairs (21%).

The research found that, worryingly, one in ten landlords don't pay the deposit in to a deposit protection scheme.

To coincide with the research, Saga Home Insurance has released a free “Guide to Being an Ethical Landlord” which offers insight on the benefits of being an ethical landlord, as well as advice on how to become one.

Sue Green, head of home insurance at Saga, said: "In the age of housing shortages and escalating rents, landlords have been getting some bad headlines, but the research shows the extent to which this portrayal is unfair. The vast majority of landlords are conscientious and ethical, although tenants do believe more can be done which is why we have released our guide with practical tips to help them improve their ethical credentials.

"Anyone who is a landlord should consider whether there might be more that they could do to make things easier for their tenants, which will be beneficial to all involved."

To download the free Guide to Being an Ethical Landlord, visit http://www.saga.co.uk/insurance/landlord-insurance/guide-to-being-an-ethical-landlord.aspx


 


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Medway landlord fined £20,000 for damp flat

Two Kent landlords have been fined £20,000 for leaving a flat so severely riddled with damp it posed a risk to tenants’ health.

Property owners Rattan Singh and Balbir Kaur of Henry Street, Chatham, left tenants living in damp conditions and without heating for more than two years.

Another of their flats in the same road, Dale Street, Chatham, was also without heating. Both properties were also lacking vital fire safety alarms.

Medway Council’s private sector housing team first raised informal concerns with the owners in December 2011, and requested improvements be made swiftly.

Despite follow up visits from the council’s “Rogue Landlord Unit”, Singh and Kaur failed to make the necessary improvements and were consequently issued with a formal legal notice in December 2013.

They made no attempt to carry out the work and appeared at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court on 6 November where they pleaded guilty to 19 offences including failing to comply with notices under the Housing Act 2004.

They were fined £20,000 and must pay £600 costs as well as a £150 victim surcharge.

The prosecution by the council’s private sector housing team was undertaken following a successful bid for government funding to specifically tackle rogue landlords in Medway. This was the first case for the authority’s Rogue Landlord Unit which is investigating a number of other cases.

Medway Council’s director for regeneration, community and culture Robin Cooper said: “Landlords must remember that the properties they are renting out must be safe and free of risks to the health of their tenants. The council will not accept tenants being placed in danger through the deliberate actions of their landlords or agents.

“We will always try to work with co-operative landlords and support them in running their businesses. This case shows that those who don’t comply will be followed up and if necessary, prosecuted.”


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New Era tenants’ battle takes a new turn

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has waded into a bitter row about the plight of a group of East London tenants while the Tory MP caught in the crossfire has bailed out.

Landlord Today reported last week  how MP Richard Benyon was part of a consortium which bought the New Era estate in Hoxton in March this year.

The consortium is controlled by Westbrook Partners, a US investment group. The Benyon Estate was awarded the contract to manage the estate and a stake of less than 10% in the property.

The flats in question were built by a charitable trust to provide affordable housing to local people. However the takeover by Westbrook means rents will rise to market rates – four times the rents tenants currently pay in some instances.

Media pressure and a campaign by residents led to Benyon Estates announcing it was to sell its stake in the estate back to the landlord, Hoxton Regeneration Limited.

A letter sent to residents from Benyon Estates said: “New Era residents have made it clear that they do not welcome our involvement in the future of the estate. They made it clear that they wanted us to pull out, and this is what we have reluctantly decided to do.

“With a stake of less than 10% we already had only limited influence over decision making and policy. Our withdrawal means that the future direction of the estate will now be wholly a matter for the landlord.”

Meanwhile Johnson has asked his deputy mayor for housing, Richard Blakeway to negotiate with Westbrook Partners over affordable rents for residents.

However, Johnson has no formal powers over the estate as it is private housing on private land.

Benyon’s exit from the row appears to have made things worse for residents. The weekend saw Hackney councillors hand-deliver letters to the estate explaining Westbrook’s stance on rents.

Initially Westbrook had agreed not to raise rents until 2016 – but the consortium has now announced it will no longer honour that agreement and that its plan is to refurbish the whole estate and then rent all the properties without secure tenancies at market rent levels, with no affordable housing.

Some residents appear to be on contracts with two-week notice periods – despite ASTs legally needing to give two months’ notice – leaving them in fear of being evicted before Christmas.

 


 


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Barclays extends ‘Great Escape’ package to landlords

Barclays is encouraging landlords sitting on a standard variable rate mortgage to move to a better rate, by extending the ‘Great Escape’ remortgage package to its existing buy-to-let range.

The launch of the buy-to-let ‘Great Escape’ package will be of particular value to landlords currently on a standard variable rate who believe that switching to a better rate would not be to their benefit due to the costs involved.

With no application fee, free legal work and valuation and £400 cashback to cover the cost of their existing lender’s exit fee, landlords can now switch to Barclays without being out of pocket.

The new competitive package offers two-year fixed rate deals at 3.65% (60% LTV) and 4.15% (75% LTV).

In addition, the “Switch and Save” £200 cashback has been extended and is now available across all buy-to-let mortgages.

Andy Gray, managing director of mortgages for Barclays, said: “With market speculation that the base rate will remain the same for some time, landlords who may feel trapped on their existing standard variable rate, can take advantage of lower rates today without many of the up-front costs sometimes associated with remortgaging a buy-to-let property.
 
“Our new buy-to-let ‘Great Escape’ deals are aimed at landlords who might worry it would cost them too much to move to better rates elsewhere. They come with no application fee, free legal work and valuation and £400 cashback to cover the cost of the exit fee for leaving their current lender.

“We estimate there are almost 200,000 landlords who could save £4,440 per year by switching from their existing lender’s SVR to our two-year ‘Great Escape’ at 3.65% (60% LTV). We hope that the buy-to-let ‘Great Escape’ improvements announced today will help stimulate the re-mortgage market further.”


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RLA: “Labour putting populism ahead of evidence based policy”

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has accused Labour leader Ed Miliband of launching “a populist tirade” against landlords that bears little resemblance to facts.

Speaking at his re-launch event in London last week, the Labour Leader spoke once again of tenants living in fear and having to face unpredictable rent rises.

But the RLA is warning that many of Labour’s proposals bear little resemblance to reality. In particular:

  • Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that rents are falling in real terms.
  • The English Housing Survey shows that just 7% of tenancies are ended by a landlord, the vast majority of which are because tenants aren’t paying rent or committing anti-social behaviour.
  • 84% of private sector tenants are now satisfied with their housing according to the English Housing Survey compared to 81% in the social sector.
  • The average length of residence for tenants in private rented housing is 3.8 years and the English Housing Survey notes that “in general, those who had lived in their home for longer paid less rent.”

RLA chairman Alan Ward said: “Once again Labour are playing to people’s fears and engaging in the politics of cheap populism rather than reality.

“The RLA would be the first to admit that there are many challenges facing the sector, but the debate needs to be based on sound evidence. Sadly Ed Miliband has departed from the facts.”


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Young workers say they pay more than 40% of their salary on rent

Young people across the UK have told the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Generation Rent that they face unaffordable housing costs, insecurity of tenure and exploitation by private landlords.

More than 2,300 young people responded to a request to share their housing experiences via a web questionnaire.

Half of respondents were renting (50%), a quarter had bought their own home (26%) and just under a quarter were living in someone else’s home (23%) – most commonly their parents.

Of those respondents renting and in work, the average rent-to-salary ratio (the proportion of a person’s pay taken up by their rent) is 41%, which for single earner households is well above the 33% household income threshold for affordable housing recommended by Shelter. 53% of renter respondents said that they paid more than the 33% affordability threshold.

Nearly a third of respondents who rent (31%) had a rent increase in the last year, rising to 46% in London.

The high cost of housing has forced many respondents to live with their parents or in a relative or friend’s home. Of those living in another person’s home, 44% said they would like to rent but could not afford to.

The average mortgage-to-salary payment ratio (the proportion of a person’s pay taken up by their mortgage) for home-owning respondents was 38%, slightly lower than the average rent-to-salary ratio found by the questionnaire.
It suggests that for those able to raise a deposit, low interest rates are currently making mortgages cheaper than rents for many young people.

However, more than half of the home-owning respondents (59%) had needed financial help from family or friends to buy their home. 64% said that the prospect of interest rate rises worries them.

As well as the high cost of housing, respondents highlighted problems of housing tenure insecurity and landlord exploitation. 10% of private renting respondents said they have been threatened with eviction, and 39% said a landlord had refused to repay their deposit or made unreasonable deductions.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Many young people today are having a much tougher time than their parents ever did. Secure well-paid jobs are hard to find, and without help from family few can get a start on the home ownership ladder.

“The message from the many young workers who told us about their housing experiences is that it’s unaffordable and insecure. This is yet another indication that the assumption that each generation will be a bit better off than the last has now come to an end.”

Alex Hilton, director of Generation Rent, said: “Each week, the average young worker hands over two days of their wages to their landlord, leaving them with very little money to spend or save. As the number of renters grows, politicians must end this ballooning exploitation or face the anger of a generation.”


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Surrey landlord fined £39,000 for ignoring improvement notice

A landlord of a property in Whyteleafe, Surrey, has been fined £39,000 for not complying with an improvement notice issued by the council.

Gary Henderson-Thynne appeared at Redhill Magistrates’ Court on 11 November and was fined £39,000 as well as being ordered to pay back £1,658 for work carried out by the council, as well as legal costs of £510 and £120 to the victim support scheme.

In February 2013, the council received a complaint about the condition of the property in Godstone Road, Whyteleafe. The property was surveyed by an Environmental Health Officer who confirmed there was damp, mould and disrepair at the property.

Letters were sent to the landlord Henderson-Thynne and because he failed to comply with the council’s requests, an improvement notice was issued. This identified various issues including loose and broken garden steps, ill-fitting windows and doors, a leaking roof, damp and mould, a faulty heating system, inadequate insulation, structural defects and poor electrics.

Emergency work was carried out by the council to prevent structural collapse and to get rid of damp. Parts of the building were not allowed to be used by the tenants. Despite further efforts to persuade the owner to carry out works, no substantive improvements were made. As a result the council decided to prosecute the owner for non-compliance with the improvement notice.

Councillor Simon Ainsworth, chairman of the housing committee, said: “We are pleased with the outcome of the case as it sends a clear message to landlords who do not maintain their properties. Despite being given a lot of time to resolve the problems at the property, Mr Henderson-Thynne has still not complied with the notice.”


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A third of tenants claim to have paid for repairs

A third of renters claim they have fixed something in their rented home themselves rather than asking their landlord to do it.

This is one of the findings from research conducted by AA Home Membership. It says the average cost of a repair arranged by a tenant was £63.20 with one in six paying more than £100.

A blocked drain or faulty shower topped the list of household mishaps – each experienced by one in five tenants. One in six paid to fix faulty wiring or a broken lock or key. One in seven has had a damaged carpet replaced or leaky pipe repaired while one in 14 shelled out for a boiler repair.

Half of those who fixed something said it was because it was ‘quicker and easier to do it themselves’. A quarter said they caused the fault and felt responsible for repairing it, while one in eight said their landlord refused to help. Another 6% said they had a clumsy landlord who tried to fix the problem but made it worse.

The AA says the majority of tenants were visited by their landlord the same day, though almost a third had to wait more than a week for them to help out.

Helen Brooker, head of AA Home Membership, said: “Not being responsible for repairs is often seen as a perk of renting. Some landlords may accuse tenants of not taking care of properties but our research shows they seem to be more conscientious than they’re often given credit for.

“The relationship between landlords and tenants can be rather fragile and fallouts over repairs are quite common. Having clear guidelines about who is responsible for particular issues could be helpful, as could having reasonable expectations as to how landlords will deal with household repairs.

“Some of the repairs that tenants told us they’d undertaken might have been quite simple and cheap to fix. But some things – relating to gas and electrical problems for example, should only be carried out by properly qualified professionals. It could be useful for landlords to leave details of somebody the tenant could contact in their absence, such as a trusted tradesperson.”


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