Thursday, 25 February 2016

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION…

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION…
Three small words that can transform your property
investment decision, says Belvoir.  

As a new landlord or investor in the buy to let market, what would be your first priority – the type and purchase cost of the property, or the place in which it is situated?

There is no single, definitive answer to this commonly considered question, but in property circles the phrase ‘location, location, location’ is often referred to as the first three rules of property investment.

It’s the same for tenants too. Delia Thing who heads up the lettings team at the Belvoir Andover office on Bridge Street, says:  “When looking for the ideal place to invest in or to rent, it is worth remembering the adage ‘you can change the house, but you cannot change its location’.

“To find a property that will appeal to a tenant and provide a good level of rental income and/or capital growth it is extremely important to firstly define that appeal. There are many considerations to take into account and a good place to start is to look for towns, areas or streets that are currently in demand, and are likely to be increasingly popular in the future.

“Location is always a key driver, with proximity to work, schools, commuter routes, shops and public services amongst the many factors to be taken into account when choosing to market a property as a buy to let.

“In today’s market, there is an ever accelerating need for private rented property, with tenant demand often outstripping supply. To be absolutely sure as to whether a property would make a good rental investment it is worth consulting a lettings specialist such as Belvoir.

“Expert agents can identify local trends and spotlight properties that are the most popular for the type of tenant looking to rent and the best areas in which to find them.
They will know where property ‘hotspots’ are and which parts of a city or town are driving the market.”

Many buy to let investors choose to stay local in order to ‘keep an eye’ on their investment. It’s a strategy that works for thousands across the country, but there is no reason why a buy to let investment cannot work just as successfully hundreds of miles away - provided you make the right choice of professional lettings agent who can manage, maintain and keep a check on the property on your behalf.

“Within the Belvoir national network of over 160 offices there is a high proportion of landlords who own just one or two buy to let property investments, and many of these are in a different part of the country to where they are based.

“In cases like this an agent will have all the right up to date local knowledge and know properties and locations with the highest tenant demand. They will be able to advise on current, achievable rental levels and help avoid the pitfalls of investing in the wrong areas.”

Belvoir’s Andover’s advice for helping to decide the best location for a property investment include:

·        Only decide on where you want to invest after thorough research.

·      Do not make a decision based on the look of the property alone. Just because it appeals to you, it will not necessarily be a good rental investment.

·   Providing tenants with a quality, well maintained property for them to call home carries responsibilities. Only work with a local agent that you have checked out, trust and who has gained all the relevant professional industry accreditations.

·    Remember that big is not always best. A one or two bedroom unfurnished apartment can often yield a better return than larger, four bedroom furnished houses. It’s all down to location and the type of tenant you are targeting.

·        Overly high ‘yields’ – or returns on an investment - can sometimes indicate hidden issues and may not necessarily lead to a good investment.

·       Beware of “buying cheap and paying dear”.  If a property is located in a low quality area it can increasingly become run down – attracting the wrong type of tenant and achieving poor long term capital growth.

“Whilst there are many other things to consider when entering the buy to let market, ‘location, location, location’ must always be uppermost in the mind of a landlord investor,” adds Dee.

“Sometimes the difference between a good rental property and a not so good one can be down to which side of the street it is on, let alone its geographical location.

“If you want to avoid costly mistakes early on in the process, invest in good local, experienced advice. Initial consultations with our office are both free and carry no obligation to proceed.


“At Belvoir we can help to source suitable properties and steer people away from opportunities that, at first, may appear good on paper but may not prove to be the best decision over the longer term.”

If you are looking to invest in the buy to let market, please contact us to arrange an informal chat about your options, what is available and what to look for. Please call Delia Thing on 01264 366611

Belvoir Andover are the towns leading buy to let & investment specialist who have been the industry leader since 1997.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

New Legislation with regards Smoke Detectors & Carbon Monoxide Alarms

NEW RULING WILL STRENGTHEN FIRE SAFETY MEASURES IN RENTED HOMES

Nationwide lettings specialists, Belvoir, has updated its advice on fire safety for landlords  following a ruling which is expected to come into effect at the end of this year.

At the Local Government Association’s annual Fire Conference, staged earlier this month, Communities Minister Penny Mordaunt announced that the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in all private and social rented property is to be made compulsory.

The new ruling covers all rented properties in England and Wales.

In Scotland it is already a legal requirement to provide ‘hard wired’ smoke alarms on stair landings and in living rooms, along with heat detectors in kitchens area and carbon monoxide alarms wherever there is a gas appliance.

But whilst the largest majority of residential property landlords in England and Wales already fit fire and smoke alarms it does not apply ‘across the board’.

Greg Greatbatch, one of the owners at Belvoir, says:  “Many landlords, especially those new to the private rented sector, may not appreciate the detailed, and growing, levels of fire safety legislation governing rental properties.

“Fire safety considerations and compliance are a critical factor when putting a property up for rental and this has always been a complicated area, with different regulations for different types of properties in different parts of the UK.”

“Scotland has previously led the way in terms of tightened regulation, but this new ruling, making detectors and smoke alarms compulsory, is a major step forward and should provide clarity for the rest of the UK’s landlord population.”

“We advise all of our landlord clients to take professional advice on the fire risk assessment of their properties, because the stakes are too high to do it themselves.

“Every type of property has its own set of specific fire safety requirements – from bed-sits, through to new builds and much more demanding Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s).

“There is a statutory duty on all landlords of residential property to ensure that gas appliances, pipe work and flues are maintained in a safe condition, with annual inspections and proof of compliance via a Gas Safety certificate.

“But in addition to the actual fabric of the building there are also product safety requirements covering electrical equipment, plugs, sockets, furniture and furnishing materials,” adds Greg.

The new ruling on compulsory smoke and carbon monoxide alarms follows years of campaigning by the Chief Fire Officers Association, supported by the British Property Federation.

When it comes into force, around October of this year, it will put an obligation on landlords and their agents to ensure that working detectors are in place at the beginning of each tenancy. There will also be a requirement for tenants to regularly test the equipment and report any faults.

“All landlords have a duty of care to their tenants and if they fail to protect them from unacceptable fire risks, they can expect a robust response from fire officers or local housing authorities who will enforce the necessary regulations and prosecute offenders,” says Greg.

“If you are a novice landlord it is essential you seek out expert advice from the outset –from your local authority, professional fire safety advisers or from professional and experienced lettings agents such as Belvoir, since we work closely with all of our landlords to help them follow best practice and meet constantly changing legal requirements.”   


If you require any advice regarding letting your property or any other type of property marketing, please contact us on 01264 366611 or email us at: info@belvoirandover.com

Friday, 21 August 2015

Energy Performance Certificates - Updated Law

EPC Certificates (England & Wales)

It has become apparent that a change in law is forthcoming with regards to Energy Performance Certificates (EPC’s), we have outlined the following advice and action that Landlords will need to know in order to ensure their properties are compliant by the relevant dates.



EPC ratings indicate how energy efficient a property is, giving it a rating from A (very efficient) to G (inefficient). They also demonstrate the environmental impact of a property in terms of carbon emissions and how costly it will be to heat and light, both in monetary and CO terms.

From April 2018, it will be unlawful under the Energy Act 2011, to let a residential property on a New Tenancy Agreement with an EPC rating of F or G – the lowest two categories. This will include a tenancy renewal as this will constitute a new fixed term Tenancy Agreement. Obviously if it continues as periodic with no new Tenancy Agreement the landlord will not need to look at this during that period. This will not apply to any existing lettings until 2023 if there is no change of tenancy.

From April 2016, tenants living in F and G rated homes will be able to request that their landlord takes measures to improve the energy efficiency, with the landlord duty bound to respond within a month with a view to bringing the property up to the minimum E rating.

If Landlords wish to upgrade their properties, the first step is to instruct an approved EPC assessor to survey the property and establish the current rating. If the rating is less than an E, the assessor will be able to give advice on how to improve it. This could be as simple as installing energy saving light bulbs, draught proofing or making more comprehensive improvements, such as replacing an ageing boiler, putting in secondary glazing or upgrading heating controls, and installing systems which are likely to have an impact on improving overall energy efficiency. If the Landlords take action now it will mean they have time on their side to schedule the works and budget costs accordingly, with the ability to spread the outlay over the forthcoming years.

It is worth noting that if the property is 'Listed', then an EPC is not required.

If you would like to check if you have an EPC on your property or want to check the rating, you can do this online by entering the postcode hereONLINE EPC REGISTER

If you do not yet have a certificate for your property and would like to arrange to have one, please contact ann.osman@belvoirandover.com who will be able to arrange a certificate if needed or discuss the short falls with you. If the property is a 'F' or 'G' then we can formulate an action plan for your property.

If you have a property that is not fully managed by us but need advise on this, please email Ann in the first instance.

Please could you email us in all cases in the first instance to avoid a flood of calls into the office, Please bear with us whilst we answer all enquiries.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Landlords no longer able to offset all their mortgage interest?

It has come to our attention via the HMRC website that the new government will make changes that will come into place in 2017 will effect landlords who have mortgages or finance on their portfolio. The HMRC explain:

Restricting finance cost relief for individual landlords

Who is likely to be affected?
Individuals that receive rental income on residential property in the UK or elsewhere and incur finance costs (such as mortgage interest), excluding where the property meets all the criteria to be a furnished holiday letting.

General description of the measure

This measure will restrict relief for finance costs on residential properties to the basic rate of income tax. This will be introduced gradually from 6 April 2017.
Finance costs includes mortgage interest, interest on loans to buy furnishings and fees incurred when taking out or repaying mortgages or loans. No relief is available for capital repayments of a mortgage or loan.
Landlords will no longer be able to deduct all of their finance costs from their property income to arrive at their property profits. They will instead receive a basic rate reduction from their income tax liability for their finance costs.

Landlords will be able to obtain relief as follows:

  • in 2017-18 the deduction from property income (as is currently allowed) will be restricted to 75% of finance costs, with the remaining 25% being available as a basic rate tax reduction.
  • in 2018-19, 50% finance costs deduction and 50% given as a basic rate tax reduction.
  • in 2019-20, 25% finance costs deduction and 75% given as a basic rate tax reduction.
  • from 2020-21 all financing costs incurred by a landlord will be given as a basic rate tax reduction.

Policy objective
To make the tax system fairer, the government will restrict the amount of income tax relief landlords can get on residential property finance costs (such as mortgage interest) to the basic rate of tax. This will ensure that landlords with higher incomes no longer receive the most generous tax treatment. To give landlords time to adjust the Government will introduce this change gradually from April 2017 over 4 years.

Background to the measure
This measure was announced in Summer Budget 2015.

Detailed proposal

Operative date
This measure will have effect for finance costs incurred on or after 6 April 2017.

Current law
Current law on how to calculate the profits of a property business is included in Chapter 3 of Part 3 Income Tax (Trading and Other Income) Act 2005.

Proposed revisions
Legislation will be published in Summer Finance Bill 2015 to restrict deductions from property income for finance costs for residential properties for individuals and to introduce a tax reduction at the basic rate of income tax.
Deductions from property income will be restricted to:

  • 75% for 2017-18
  • 50% for 2018-19
  • 25% for 2019-20
  • 0% for 2020-21 and beyond

Individuals will be able to claim a basic rate tax reduction from their income tax liability on the portion of finance costs not deducted in calculating the profit. In practice this tax reduction will be calculated as 20% of the lower of:

  • the finance costs not deducted from income in the tax year (25% for 2017-18, 50% for 2018-19, 75% for 2019-20 and 100% thereafter),
  • the profits of the property business in the tax year, or,
  • the total income (excluding savings income and dividend income) that exceeds the personal allowance and blind person’s allowance in the tax year.

Any excess finance costs may be carried forward to following years if the tax reduction has been limited to 20% of the profits of the property business in the tax year.

Summary of impacts
For detailed information on this, please visit the HMRC website by clicking here

Other impacts
Other impacts have been considered and none have been identified.

Monitoring and evaluation
The measure will be monitored through information collected from tax returns.

If you have a property or a portfolio, please contact us as Andover's leading lettings specialist. Call us to find out what we can do for you on 01264 366611, email: lettings@belvoirandover.com or pop into our office on Bridge Street in Andover.

Monday, 22 June 2015

PAULA PRESENTS GOLD MEDAL AFTER BELVOIR’S AWARD WINNING RUN


World champion marathon runner, Paula Radcliffe, MBE has presented local property lettings specialist, Belvoir, with another long running Gold medal of its own – following its record sprint in the industry’s top award scheme.

The nationwide Belvoir franchise, which offers its multi award winning property management service from a local office at Bridge Street in Andover was named ‘Best Franchise Lettings Agency of 2015’ – for the fourth year running – in the UK’s Letting Agency of the Year Awards. It also scooped the same award in 2010, making it a five times winner overall.


Greg Greatbatch, who co owns Belvoir Andover  said: “ I am sure this is an unprecedented run of success in what is widely recognised as the toughest award scheme in our industry.

“My staff and I are thrilled and extremely proud with the achievement – and it is a reflection of the hard work that goes into maintaining the highest of standards of service provided for our local landlord, tenant and buy to let property investor clients.” 

Run in association with the Sunday Times and Times, and sponsored by Zoopla, this year’s awards were staged at the Lancaster London Hotel.

In citing Belvoir as the Gold winner, a distinguished judging panel of leading property experts, said: “Belvoir is perpetually successful in this category, due in part to its continual investment in its audit team, which keeps standards consistently high, but also because of the outstanding support and training given to franchise owners which helps them to grow successful businesses.”
    

Belvoir, which has over 160 offices in its UK network, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and Co owner Phil Pinkney, said: “This is a huge tribute to the Belvoir Andover team, who uphold all the exacting standards and brand values of our business and I offer them my warmest congratulations.

“These awards are the longest running in the industry and were set up to recognise and reward best practice in our industry. This year the judging and scrutiny of all entrants was more robust than ever and we are incredibly proud to have been honoured once more for the service we provide.

Phil added: “We know that all local landlords and tenants in our area have a wide range of choices, so we go all out to provide them with a fully rounded property management service designed to exceed their expectations and provide them with the very highest level of customer service and care.


“I would like to thank all of our staff, clients and suppliers for their continued support of our business and for helping us to set a new record by winning this prestigious national honour, yet again.” 

If you are looking for award winning lettings & landlord services in Andover, Ludgershall, Whitchurch, Tidworth or the surrounding areas, please contact us to see what we do differently to all the rest.

Tel. 01264 366611
Email: info@belvoirandover.com

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

New Property Tax Law That Affects Non UK Residents

If you buy UK residential property but are a tax-resident outside of the UK, you need to be aware of a new tax that came into effect on 6 April 2015: non-resident CGT (NRCGT).



The NRCGT charge is applied at different rates according to whether the seller is a non-resident closely-held company, fund, individual, personal representative or trustee. It applies to gains made in the period from 6 April 2015 to the disposal date of the property, so a small amount of tax is likely to be payable on property sales made in 2015/16.

However, when such a sale is made a NRCGT return must be submitted to HMRC within 30 days of the conveyance of the property, and this must be done online. The return must be made whether there is any NRCGT to pay or not, where there is a loss on the disposal, and even where the taxpayer is due to report the disposal on their own personal or corporate self-assessment tax return.

Where the vendor is not registered for UK income tax, corporation tax or the annual tax on enveloped dwellings (ATED), the NRCGT charge must be paid within 30 days of the conveyance date. This payment can only be made once the NRCGT return has been submitted and HMRC have replied with a reference number to use when making the payment. There are penalties for failing to file the NRCGT return on time, and failing to pay the tax on time.

If the taxpayer is registered for UK Self-Assessment they can opt to pay the NRCGT due at the same time as the tax due for their normal personal or corporate tax.

Conveyancing solicitors need to be aware of the very tight tax reporting and payment deadlines. Property developers need to warn non-resident customers that they will be liable to tax on any gain made when they sell the residential property and that gain includes any discount in the price achieved by buying "off-plan".

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

CHOOSE AN AGENT – OR GO IT ALONE?

It’s an important first decision for all new buy to let landlords    

Public interest in buy to let property investment has never been higher.

Tumbling mortgage rates, a shortage of housing stock, increased tenant demand, all boosted by the recent liberation of some people’s pensions savings, are continuing to tempt more and more investors into the sector as a way of protecting their financial future.

According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, private residential buy to let mortgage funding has increased by 11 per cent year on year with nearly 16,000 loans, representing £2.2 billion, issued at the start of 2015.

However, Belvoir, one of the UK’s largest property letting and management specialists, says that new landlords should take a long look before they leap into this booming market – and fully consider the pro’s and cons of either ‘going it alone’, or employing an agent to advise on what can be a daunting process for novice investors.

Phil Pinkney, Director of Belvoir Andover which is part of a national network of over 160 offices, says: “Deciding to manage a property yourself or paying for an agent to do it on your behalf is a big decision.

“Even after taking all the essential first steps, such as researching the local market, identifying the right kind of property, checking its condition, its likely appeal to a particular tenant group and its potential yield or ‘return’ on investment, there is still a lot to consider.

“Landlords need to carefully assess their available time, skills and abilities, so as to ensure the safeguarding of a property and the people who will live in it, and importantly, make the whole process as stress free as possible.”

“Renting out a property for the first time can feel daunting because of the amount of legislation, health and safety considerations and overall commitment to the on-going maintenance and security of your investment.

“Professional agents, recognised and accredited by the UK’s industry bodies, not only have in place a wide range of client protection mechanisms, but a thorough understanding of your local market, technical knowledge of the sector and up to date information on trends and statistics to help you make informed decisions”.

“Fees charged reflect the depth of knowledge, expertise and up to date training required to keep on top of a constantly changing property landscape. When considering the cost of employing an agent you should always be aware of the cost of NOT employing one should things start to go wrong.”



Belvoir says there are three principal points to consider:


  • Being a ‘do-it -yourself’ landlord means having the time and patience needed to care for your property and its tenants. Would you be able to deal with any issue at a moment’s notice, to the satisfaction of all concerned?
  • Do you have the manual and organisational skills to maintain the property to the required standard, or would you need to employ someone to do this for you?
  • Are you confident about handling all the legalities?  Changes to Landlord and Tenant law are frequent and often complicated. Again, this demands time, research, a thorough understanding and great attention to detail.
  • All well-established, reputable agents will offer a range of services to suit the particular circumstances of a landlord client. Landlords may require all of them or just specific ones, following a detailed assessment of the need.
  • They can help find, and then screen and reference, suitable tenants. This is an important first step and is often overlooked by ‘DIY’ landlords.
  • A thorough knowledge of local property prices, achievable rent levels and investment ‘yields’ will help new landlords to set a realistic, fair and competitive rent for their property.
  • An agent’s full inventory check at the start of a tenancy provides a valuable record of the property’s internal ‘assets’ – appliances, furnishings etc. – that can be checked against when the tenant leaves.
  • In addition to the legal ‘basics’ of understanding tenancy agreements and deposit legislation, professional agents such as Belvoir are required to have comprehensive, up to date knowledge of rules on gas and electrical safety, energy performance ratings, fire regulations, legal furnishing standards and landlord/tenant insurance matters – to name just a few.
  • If property maintenance forms part of your management agreement, an agent will provide round the clock protection in the event of a burst pipe, broken appliance, weather damage or any other problem. They will provide a professional assessment of the cause and or liability for repair and fix the problem on your behalf.
  • All landlords have a legal obligation under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to ensure that their property is safe and that repairs are carried out to the correct standard, so quality of workmanship is essential. A professional agent will ensure compliance with these regulations.
  • If problems arise during a tenancy – for example slow or non payment of rent – the agent will pursue this on a landlord’s behalf and take any appropriate steps to manage the issue.

                 Established for 20 years and multi-times winner of the UK property industry’s top awards, Belvoir offers the following advice on the advantages of using a letting agent to guide you through the lettings process:  

“When a considerable amount of your own money is put into a buy to let investment, it is critical to understand the advantages, the restrictions and indeed some of the pitfalls involved”.

“It is inevitable that many new landlords’ circumstances and expectations can vary, so we provide an initial free, no obligation meeting to fully explain how we can make the  management of your property work, not just for you, but for anyone who chooses to call it their home.”

“Above all, a successful landlord/agency relationship is built on trust, transparency and recognised high standards of professionalism and respect for landlord and tenant clients alike.”

Belvoir is a founder member of the ‘SAFE AGENT’ Kite mark scheme, supported by the independent National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS). This promotes client money protection and provides consumers with a clear message on those agents with whom they should do business.

The company also follows The Property Ombudsman Code of Practice for Letting Agents. Belvoir Andover, established in 1997

If you are interested in entering the residential buy to let market, why not give Phil a call on 01264 366611 or email phil.pinkney@belvoirandover.com.