Content-Type: text/html RLA Newsletter January 2012

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RLA Newsletter Online

January 2012


New challenge by Lords to Welfare Reform Bill - (go to top)

A new battle on welfare reform is facing the Government in the Lords. Its outcome will affect families on housing benefit who are in private rental accommodation.

The Welfare Reform Bill, currently going through the Lords, is due to cap total benefits for working age households at £26,000 a year. The total benefits payment would include the present Local Housing Allowance, paid to housing benefit tenants in private rented accommodation.

But a number of peers fear this would disproportionately hit families with children in temporary and private rented accommodation.

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds has tabled an amendment which would exclude child benefit for the purposes of the cap.

It is expected to go before the Lords on January 23, and is likely to gain widespread support, including from Liberal Democrat peers who have previously rebelled against the Government.

Crossbench peer Lord Richard Best is supporting the amendment.

He said: “I don’t think it’s conceivable for families with children to be evicted and become destitute because a benefit cap means there’s nowhere they can afford to live.”

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More ‘accidental landlords’ enter the market - (go to top)

The number of homes coming on to the rental market because they cannot be sold is increasing, ARLA has reported.

During the third quarter of last year, nearly half (47%) of ARLA member agents surveyed reported a rise in the number of ‘unplanned’ lettings by home owners unable to sell their property, or who are holding off until a higher price is achievable.

The proportion rose from 40% at the beginning of last year.
The ‘unplanned lettings’ trend was particularly noticeable in the North-East and North-West, where higher proportions of respondents reported an increase in rental property coming on to the market because it cannot be sold (67% and 62% respectively).

More than 60% of members in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also noted an increase.

In contrast, the figure was lowest in central London (17%).

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Red Tape Challenge - (go to top)

Calling all landlords - your chance to have a say

The Government have published their ‘Red Tape Challenge’ on housing. Over 200 regulations are covered by the challenge and the aim is to remove some of these barriers to encourage growth and investment in the industry.

This gives private rented sector landlords the opportunity to tell the Government about all those rules that they find burdensome. Naturally, the RLA will be responding and to help us prepare our response we would appreciate your views on those regulations which affect you.

Please email your replies to the RLA at or write to us at Residential Landlords Association, 1 Roebuck Lane, Sale, Manchester M33 7SY.

We very much look forward to hearing from you.

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Landlords warned over properties at flood risk - (go to top)

Landlords are urged to heed new warnings about properties at risk of flooding and which could be both uninsurable and un-mortgageable within months.

The latest estimates, by property information firm SearchFlow, which handles search information for conveyancers, says that property worth £214bn could be left uninsured.
The effect of the Government’s ‘statement of principles’, by which it has insisted on the insurance industry to continue to insure properties at risk of flooding until June 30, 2013, could kick in any time after this June as householders attempt to renew their policies.

They could find their insurers will either up the premiums to prohibitive levels, or refuse to offer new policies at all.

A quarter of properties in the UK are at risk of flooding.
Uninsured properties could leave owners in breach of their mortgage contract, as well as making properties harder to sell or remortgage, and reducing their overall value. 

According to the campaign Know Your Flood Risk UK, which is attempting to get both home owners and estate agents to take the issue seriously, many UK insurers are already trying to rid themselves of properties at significant risk and some property owners have been unable to secure policies with excesses below £20,000.
Richard Hinton, business development director at SearchFlow, said: “Although buyers will be able to obtain flood insurance for the next few months, the long-term prospects of properties at risk of flooding are potentially bleak.
“Especially for buyers purchasing in high-risk flood areas, the possibility of very high premiums, significant reductions in value, less access to mortgage finance – even action taken by the mortgage lender due to breach of the mortgage agreement – is high.”

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RLA Development Courses - (go to top)

With over a decade of experience, the RLA trains hundreds of landlords and letting agents every year. In 2011 delegates gave RLA seminars an average rating of 4.42 out of 5, rapidly improving the profitability and management of their lettings.
Courses that are currently available for 2012 include Lettings for Landlords, The Complete Letting Agents Course, County Court Small Claims Proceedings and Property Inventory Course.

With venues located in Newcastle, Manchester, London, Bristol, Liverpool, Scunthorpe and Cardiff you can be sure that a course is being held, or will soon be held, convenient to you.

Click on any of the following links for course information, dates and venues:
Letting for Landlords Course
The Complete Letting Agents Course
County Court Small Claims Proceedings
Property Inventory Course

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The Video Inventory Agency



More Londoners squeezed out of private rental housing - (go to top)

Councils in London are being forced to place more people in emergency accommodation as tenants are squeezed out of private rented sector housing.

According to a snap survey of London boroughs by Inside Housing magazine, 15 boroughs have so far placed 6,322 households in emergency accommodation – usually bed and breakfasts or hostels – in 2011/12, compared with 7,461 in the whole of the previous financial year.

Caps on Local Housing Allowance for private tenants have been cited by councils as reasons for the increase.

The survey also revealed that councils are increasingly placing people outside their borough – and some outside London.

Councils have placed 2,108 households outside their borough in 2011/12, almost equalling the 2,230 figure for the whole of the previous year.

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Lenders lose out after buy-to-let firm collapses - (go to top)

Bank of Scotland and Northern Rock are together facing a shortfall of almost £15m on loans made to three buy-to-let property companies which have since gone into administration.

Between them, they own 305 buy-to-let properties in Lancashire and West Yorkshire. The properties, along the M65 corridor, had been bought since 2003 and let either to housing benefit tenants or back to their former owners on sale and rent-back schemes.

The Burnley-based businesses, Manorcliff, Manorcliff Properties and Wayford Investments, were all placed into administration last October. The firms are continuing to trade, with 95% of the properties still occupied.

The firms had all been owned, jointly or individually, by directors John Mulcahy and Michael Stone, and effectively traded as a single business.

According to a new report by joint administrators Bill Dawson and Matthew Smith of Deloitte, the group had expanded quickly as the property market boomed.

In October 2006, the firms agreed a £25m financing deal with Bank of Scotland, with mortgages on 274 of the properties. Some £20m was drawn down immediately to finance more property purchases.

A further 32 properties were mortgaged separately to Northern Rock, which is owed around £2.2m.

The administrators’ report says that the ensuing property crash sparked a significant decline in the value of the company's portfolio.

The administrators now say that they are only likely to recoup around £10m from the sale of the properties, leaving a shortfall of around £15m to the lenders.

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Nine in ten LHA landlords have had problems with rent - (go to top)

More than half of all landlords (59%) stipulate in their advertisements that they will not accept housing benefit tenants.

And almost nine out of ten (87%) landlords who so accept housing benefit tenants have had problems with rent not being paid on time, with one in ten (11%) saying they have had tenants who stopped paying their rent altogether.

The astonishing results emerge from a survey of over 1,000 UK landlords, conducted by flat and house share website Spareroom. 
The majority of buy-to-let landlords (86%) surveyed were against the change to the benefit system which now automatically pays Local Housing Allowance direct to the tenant.

The change came into force in 2008, and 51% of landlords who take housing benefit tenants said they had mainly experienced rent issues since then.
As part of the survey, landlords were asked why they would not rent out their property to housing benefit tenants. Almost one-third (30%) said non-benefit tenants were more reliable, while 47% said they did not want the hassle of dealing with payment problems.
According to the poll, problems caused by benefit tenants included late payments, not paying at all, issues arising from the suspension of benefit payments and damage to the property. More than half (58%) of respondents said they had experienced more than one of these problems.
Three-quarters (74%) of those landlords questioned said they would not take a tenant on housing benefit even if the tenant had a guarantor.
One-third (34%) of landlords surveyed currently have housing benefit tenants in one or more of their properties, and a further 45% said they had previously taken in this type of tenant.
Matt Hutchinson, director of Spareroom, said: “It’s clear from this survey that a shake-up of the current system of paying housing benefit to the tenant is desperately needed, and reverting back to the old structure, where landlords could receive rental payments directly from the council would be a step in the right direction.”

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Buy to let mortgage product of the month - (go to top)

5.88% 2 year fixed to 80% LTV
With a headline rate at 5.88% it’s not the cheapest in the market but this product works well for professional landlords for a number of reasons:

  • There is no limit to the number of properties you have in the background.
  • The flat lender arrangement fee of £1,999 rapidly drops away to below one per cent of the loan amount if you are looking at higher value properties.
  • There is no additional income requirement
  • You will only need to put up 20% as a deposit

Available on an interest-only or repayment basis, this product is suitable for vanilla buy to let purchases.
The headline details are:*

5.88% 2 year fixed rate buy to let mortgage

  • Reverting to lender's SVR + 0.75%
  • Lender's SVR currently 4.98%, variable
  • Overall cost for comparison 6.1% APR
  • Up to 80% LTV up to £400,000 loan
  • Lender arrangement fee £1,999
  • Early repayment charges apply
  • No minimum additional income requirement
  • No property cap
  • Broker fee of £250 for RLA members (other fee options available)
  • Free legal service for remortgages

For full details click here.

To talk through this product and other options call RLA Mortgages today on 0845 148 9071.


*Scheme: 5.88% fixed for 2 years then reverting to lender's Standard Variable Rate (currently 4.98%, variable) + 0.75% for the remaining term to give a current reversion rate of 5.73%. Free legal service for remortgages. Overall Cost for Comparison: 6.1% APR. Early Repayment Charge: 5% of the amount being repaid for the first year, then 4% until the end of year 2 from drawdown. Loan to Value: 80% loan to value up to £400,000 loan amount. Lender Arrangement Fee: £1,999 is due on completion. Broker Fee: A broker fee of £250 will apply to RLA members. (Other fee options available). Repayment Options: Interest only or Repayment. Rent to Interest Cover: The rental income must exceed 125% of the interest cost calculated at 5.88%. Minimum Income Required: No requirement.

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Migrants push up rental demand, Government is told - (go to top)

Private rents are being pushed up by the number of migrants coming to the UK, the Government’s immigration advisers have said.

Migrants add 8% to the demand for housing, leading to an increase in housing costs, especially in London, the South and certain parts of Scotland, a report by the Migration Advisory Committee says.

The report says that more than 70% of households headed by skilled migrant workers initially rent, with only 20% owning and living in their own home.

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Landlords expect lettings boom to continue - (go to top)

Research by specialist buy-to-let lender Paragon Group has revealed that landlords are expecting tenant demand to continue to boom this year.

More than half (56%) of the landlords who took part in the lender’s latest quarterly survey said that they expect tenant demand to either grow or boom, compared with 45% who were asked the same question at the end of 2010.

Only 6% of those questioned thought that tenant demand would decline this year.

When asked whether they thought rental income would increase during the next 12 months, 45% of landlords surveyed said it will increase, whereas 53% said that it would remain stable – and only 2% said that it would decrease.

Two-thirds of landlords believe arrears levels will stay stable and 20% expect arrears to rise moderately.

Nigel Terrington, chief executive of Paragon Group, said: “It is no surprise that landlords are expecting a healthy level of tenant demand.

“With the success of 2011 to build on, I believe the private rented sector will continue to perform and provide a valuable tenure choice for even more people in 2012.

“This year will bring its own challenges, especially with the uncertainty in Europe and the wider financial markets affecting overall confidence levels. But I believe that the foundations that we laid as a sector in 2011 will allow lenders and landlords to continue to do business.”

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For-Sure Landlords Insurance - (go to top)

Know For Sure you’re covered. Any tenant, Any Property.

Getting the right landlords insurance is essential, covering all eventualities from theft to flooding, gives you a peace of mind. For-Sure uses several of the best underwriters, allowing you to compare the rates and cover in your policy, making sure you receive the best value for money.
We accept all tenants including DSS tenants, Students and Asylum Seekers, all property types and all portfolio sizes subject to terms and conditions.
Our buildings insurance also comes with a 28 day price match guarantee.

Our policies cover:

  • Accidental Damage
  • Loss of Rent
  • Property owner’s liability up to £5,000,000
  • Up to 90 days unoccupancy
  • ‘New for Old’ cover
  • Subsidence Cover
  • Trace and access for underground pipes and cables

Get a quote today and get a free month’s RLA membership!

For-Sure can also provide landlords with:

Rent Guarantee and Legal Protection
6 types of comprehensive Legal Expenses products that will cover the landlord’s costs of any disputes between themselves and their tenant(s), 4 of which covering rent guarantee insurance up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

Tenant Contents Insurance
This policy is available for all residential tenants (including students) living in flats, bed-sits, shared accommodation for properties of all sizes throughout the UK. Covers loss or damage as result of all standard perils including accidental damage cover against Landlords contents for which the tenant has been legally made responsible.

Owner Occupier Insurance
Competitive and flexible home insurance cover that matches your needs including buildings/contents/garden cover, legal liability, optional accidental damage cover and alternative accommodation.

Commercial Property Insurance
Commercial Property Insurance specifically designed for the commercial landlord, covering a comprehensive range of uses including offices, hairdressers/beauticians, restaurants, dental surgeries, car accessory stores, furniture stores, garden centres and commercial and residential combinations.

For more information on For-Sure Landlords Insurance visit or call 0207 8 714 417 to speak to our UK based insurance team.

Please note that the above information provides a summary only. For full policy terms and conditions, please see the policy wording document. Terms & Conditions should be fully read and understood prior to taking out the policy.
You must join by direct debit and submit full bank and billing details to the Residential Landlords Association Ltd to be eligible for the free trial. You must cancel subscription with 30 days of first day of trial to stop direct debit payment being taken. To cancel subscription please contact membership services at the Residential Landlords Association on 03330 142998.

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Landlord Property Management Software - (go to top)

  • FREE for RLA members, the RLA Landlords Property Manager software lets you:
  • store property and tenant details
  • manage tenancy information including tenancy start/end dates, rent and deposit amounts and frequencies
  • set important reminders
  • print out pre-completed documentation including the RLA tenancy agreement and welcome pack
  • quickly access various RLA services including the RLA Landlord Advice Team, members’ forums and credit check services

Download the FREE RLA LPM now

UPGRADE OFFER: Get £25 off Landlord Property Manager Professional

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