News and Updates

Everything you need to know about Right to Rent checks Posted by admin on July 20, 2017

“Right to Rent” law was introduced as part of the Immigration Act 2014 back in February 2016 and while most of Landlords and Tenants would have heard about it by now, it is still very important to reiterate the importance and implications of this act. The Immigration Act 2014 places restrictions on illegal immigrants accessing rented accommodation within England.

Who does the act affect and what does it mean?

The immigration status or ‘Right to Rent’ of all prospective occupants aged 18 and over must be proven by a tenant and confirmed by a landlord before a tenancy is offered. This means that all adults with tenancy agreements that started on or after 1st February 2016 for privately rented accommodation should have had their original ID (and visa if applicable) checked by their landlord/agent. Some landlords/agents may choose to apply these checks before this date. Please note that such checks should be carried out on all tenants, occupiers and lodgers.

What are the landlords’ responsibilities?

For the avoidance of doubt, landlords must:

  • Check all adult tenants who will live in the property as their only or main home
  • Ask tenants for the original documents that show they have the right to be in the UK
  • Check the original documents with the tenant present and ensure they are valid
  • Make and keep copies of the original documents and record the date the check was made
  • Conduct follow up checks at the appropriate date if the initial check indicates a time-limited Right to Rent
  • Make a report to the Home Office if follow up checks indicate that an occupier no longer has the Right to Rent

What documents are acceptable?

Acceptable documents that a tenant can show their landlord include:

  • A UK passport
  • An EU/EEA passport or identity card, permanent residence card
  • A travel document showing indefinite leave to remain
  • A visa if applicable
  • A Home Office immigration status document or a certificate of registration/naturalisation as a British citizen.

What are the consequences?

If an adult does not have the right to rent in the UK then a tenancy agreement should not be issued to them. If a tenancy is offered without conducting the process outlined above then a civil penalty of up to £3,000 can be imposed if a landlord is found to be renting a property/room to someone who is in the UK illegally.


Understanding malicious and accidental damage Posted by admin on July 5, 2017

Any damage to the property is unwelcome. But there are two main types of damage that we need to be aware of – malicious and accidental – and you need to be clear about which one is which so that you can ensure you have the right cover from your insurer.  

What is malicious damage?

Malicious damage is damage caused by either your tenant or their guests intentionally to the rented property. This covers anyone who is lawfully allowed to be on your property.

Malicious damage could include smashed windows, doors or furniture, arson in the property, and graffiti on property walls or furniture.

For malicious damage to be covered by an insurer you must be able to prove that the damage was caused with intent and that it’s been reported to the police. This means you’ll need to provide a crime reference number and the police station details.

What is accidental damage?

Accidents can happen. Accidental damage is unintentional and usually occurs suddenly, and can include physical damage and/or loss of function.

Accidental damage could include a ball being kicked through the window, a nail hammered through a water pipe, or falling through the ceiling when in the attic.

There are certain exclusions not usually covered by accidental damage, these include:

  • Fair wear and tear
  • Pet damage
  • Defective design or workmanship
  • Contents damage
  • Damage caused by building works

Can you claim from a deposit for damages in the property?

It is not only insurance cover that you need to be aware of when malicious or accidental damage occurs in a property.

If your property is not returned in the same condition as that at the beginning of the tenancy, and there is evidence of malicious or accidental damage, then you may be entitled to make deductions from the tenant’s deposit. These deductions should always be fair and reasonable and you must allow for fair wear and tear in the property which does not qualify for a deduction of the deposit.

When it comes to deposit releases – cleaning, damage and redecoration are the most common causes of dispute between a tenant and landlord.

Who is liable for the damage?

Even though malicious and accidental damage to your building has been caused by tenants it will fall to you, the landlord, to pay for any repairs. It is, therefore, vital you have comprehensive insurance cover because there is a very high chance that the damage may be exceed the a total amount of the deposit that you hold.


What a hung Parliament could mean for the Housing Market? Posted by admin on June 12, 2017

On the 8th June the UK was left with a hung Parliament, meaning that no single party managed to win the 326 seats needed to hold a majority in the House of Commons and have the right to form a government.

A hung Parliament I always the less likely outcome in a British election, but it is far from unusual. The 2010-2015 Cameron government existed in a hung parliament, as did the Callaghan government of the late 1970s.

However, stability depends on the main party finding a partner to sustain it in office. Without this, a governing party must run a minority government, scrabbling for votes on an issue-by-issue basis.

So, what this set up could mean for the Property Market?

A hung Parliament once again brings even more uncertainty to the market, and this is on top of the uncertainty caused by Brexit and the calling of the General Election earlier this year.

Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell was one of the casualties of the General Election, losing his Croydon Central seat to Labour. Now there is a need to appoint a new Housing Minister, thus creating further uncertainty around the subject of how soon the measures outlined in the Housing White Paper back in February will be put into place.

The good news is that all Political parties have put Housing high up on their political agenda.

Conservatives claiming that they would build 1million homes by 2020. With Liberal Democrats promising to build 300,000 new homes a year, Labour promising to build 100,000 council and housing association properties per year.

We have also seen a very strong support from the younger voters this year, meaning that the politicians would need to consider the needs of the younger generation more than ever before. And this could mean more help for the First Time Buyers.

Despite the current uncertainty, the housing market continues to be supported by strong fundamentals. The economy has performed better than expected in the months since the Brexit vote, employment levels remain high and interest rates are at record lows. And with the fact that we are still not building enough homes in the UK, the demand for property remains high, therefore this should prevent the property values from falling.


Smells that can prevent your property from Selling/Letting Posted by admin on June 10, 2017

Our sense of smell has amazing powers. You cannot see it or hear it, yet it evokes the most incredible emotional response. Scents can stimulate positive emotions but they can create negatives ones as well. And when you are selling your home, smell may be the last thing to worry about on your list, but trust us a bad smell can turn away a potential buyer in a second!

 

Musty

There is no easier way to describe this kind of scent than ‘musty’, think about entering a property that might have been empty for a while, or one that has had trouble with damp. There is a distinct aroma in the air that gives it a feeling of being old and unloved. This could be the complete opposite of the truth, and what the eyes see could tell an entirely different tale to the first impression left by the musty smell, but no matter how wonderful the vision, it is the scent that will be remembered, and the scent that will evoke a different vision of the property for the potential buyer . Instead of seeing a well-presented property, they will see one with possible hidden issues and perhaps damp.

 

Cigarettes

Non-smokers will detect this instantly, the moment the front door is opened. It’s is like when you are looking to buy a used car; no matter how clean the car is and how beautiful it looks, if a non-smoker sits in a car that carries a whiff of cigarette smoke, they will not buy it. It is not always non-smokers that have a prejudice against cigarettes smells; many smokers also refuse to smoke inside their own property, as they know how difficult it can be to eradicate the scent from their home once it has taken hold. If you do smoke inside your property and you are looking to sell, it is time to stop, then, have your home deep-cleaned by a specialist, including carpets, upholstery and other accessories such as curtains and cushions, basically anything that a scent can take hold of and linger on.

 

Pets

Another smell you may not think your home carries is one left by a pet. Again, if you have a pet you will probably not even notice that your home has a slight odour, but buyers will. Your pet is part of your family, so how can you sell your home without upsetting your best friend? Make sure your pet is not in your home for viewings, as you could have potential buyers who are allergic, or even have a phobia. Hide all your pets’ belongings where possible, such as their bed, bowls and toys, as these are where certain smells can linger. Again, have your carpets and upholstery cleaned as this can help to eliminate any embedded scents.

 

Cooking

Whether you love to experiment in the kitchen or not, we all, at one time or another, will create a delicious meal that has a lingering scent. I am sure you have come downstairs the morning after eating a particularly fragrant food, and there is still a distinct hint of it hanging in the air. No one wants to arrive at a potential new home to be struck by the smell of last night’s dinner and drinks, you want to be met with a sense of cleanliness and freshness. However there is one cooking smell that is always a hit, and that is baking, so there are no rules about any lingering smells of fresh bread or cakes, other than maybe leave some out for your potential buyers to sample.

 

Air fresheners

Have you ever walked around a shop and had a sniff at the fragrant candles on display? Undoubtedly, some you will love and some you won’t. Artificial scents in candles, air fresheners or other home scents can often be so strong that they dominate the room. Not everyone will love the same aromas you do, and you want your home to do the selling and not turn your buyers off simply because of your choice of plug-in.

 

Make sure you don’t ignore the silent and invisible influencers, and leave your potential buyers running due to a bad first impression left by a smell.

 


Facts you probably did not know about River Thames Posted by admin on May 28, 2017

River Thames flows through the heart of our city, and it should not come as a surprise that we have a lot of appreciation for the city’s oldest landmark. With that in mind we have come up with 10 facts that you probably did not know about River Thames.

“The Dark One”

The name of The Thames comes from its Celtic name: Tamesa, meaning “the Dark One”. Quite an ominous name for such an iconic city landmark.

Hundreds of ways to get across

There are many ways to cross the river. There are 200 bridges, 17 tunnels, six ferry crossings and even a cable car that allows you to safely get from one side to the other. The next bridge to be added to this list will be a lovely cycle and pedestrian bridge at Nine Elms planned for the coming future.

Thames water is delicious

Two thirds of Thames water makes up our drinking water, believe it or not but a drop of water falling into the Thames will have been drunk by eight people before it reaches sea.

The Thames is thriving with underwater wildlife

There are approximately 120 species flourishing in the River Thames! Otters, river voles, eels and more, they all populate our surprisingly lush river.

The river used to freeze over

During “little ice age” between the 17th and 19th centuries, the Thames regularly froze over, there often used to be “frost fairs” and ice skating on the river. During Great Frost of 1683-1684, the river was frozen for two months with ice at a depth of 11 inches.

How long is the Thames?

People can’t agree on the source of the Thames, some say it’s at Thames Head in Goucestershire, the Ordnance Survey says Trewsbury, while others say Seven Sprints in Gloucestershire. In general, the river is agreed to be 346km long. If only we could agree on where it began!

The river stunk up the Houses of Parliament 

Before Sir Joseph Bazalgette built sewer system in 1865, people used to freely dump all sorts of waste into the Thames. The building of the sewer system was mostly prompted because of an event in 1858 called the Great Stink which was exactly what it sounds like it was, the river’s smell had reached such a peak that it ended up suspending the Houses of Parliament for several days! Thankfully these days are gone.

A polar bear

A touch of exotic fauna made its way to the river in 1252, back when King Henry III let his pet polar bear swim around in the Thames. The Times records expenses submitted at the Tower of London for a “muzzle and an iron chain to hold the bear when out of the water, and a long and strong cord to hold it when fishing in the Thames”.

London’s watery walk of fame

The Thames has set the stage for movies such as Indiana Jones and Last Crusade, Harry Potter’s broomstick chase in The Order of the Phoenix, Jack Sparrow’s thrilling opening escape scene in Pirates of the Caribbean, and a good old boat race with James Bond.

The river inspired the greatest artists

But movies aren’t the only works of art that owe themselves to the river. The misty air of the Thames was the core inspiration for the Wind in the Willows, and the great painter Monet painted the river three times.