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Average rents up just 2% in private property letting sector

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/business-news/average-rents-up-just-2-in-private-property-letting-sector-16112959.html

Cost conscious renters are taking the steam out of the Belfast property letting market, according to a report by Citylets.

It found that average private rents in the city rose by only 2% over the last year and now stand at around £570 a month, a slowdown on previous years when landlords were achieving considerable uplifts in rent when contracts were renewed.

Would-be first-time buyers, unable to get on the property market, were said to be behind the increase in demand in the sector, Citylets analyst Dan Cookson, who compiled the report, said.

More expensive rental properties are finding it particularly hard to attract tenants.

Citylets said nearly half of all one bedroom properties are let within a month of being advertised while only 17% of four bedroom properties are secured in the same time.

"Like most people, tenants are starting to shop around to see if there's better value out there.

"Unfortunately, this means that those landlords seeking premium rents for larger, properties in the best areas are finding it tougher to secure a tenant quickly," Mr Cookson said.

According to the report, at the end of December, the average cost of a one bedroom property in the city was around £500 a month, going up to £520 for a popular two bedroom home.

Three and four bedroom properties cost around £590 and £700 respectively.

Barry Corscaden, managing director of PropertyLinkNI.com, agreed with the findings.

"We've also seen a healthy number of new properties coming on to the market over the last quarter, with a steady stream of tenants following suit," he said.

"However, 'value for money' and 'fuel economy' feature very strongly on tenant wish lists these days."

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Bank of England may put limit on mortgage ratios

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/borrowing/mortgages/9065031/Bank-of-England-may-put-limit-on-mortgage-ratios.html

Banks and building societies could be barred from offering loans if a buyer puts down only a small deposit.

Ahead of the credit crisis, buyers were offered mortgages worth more than the properties they were purchasing – or only a small amount less than the home's value.

When property prices fell, many were plunged into negative equity while other borrowers could not afford their mortgages.

Last night, Mr Osborne said the Financial Services Bill would give a new Bank of England committee powers to "alter the maximum loan-to-value ratios in mortgage lending to curb a sharp, unsustainable rise in house prices".

Mr Osborne told MPs: "This FPC should act symmetrically... Its job is not just to try to moderate a credit boom but to try to alleviate a credit bust.

"The precise tools we give to the FPC are yet to be determined. I freely accept that we are largely in un-chartered territory in policy making here or indeed anywhere in the world.

"But surely the experiment of making no attempt to moderate the credit cycle, let the bubbles grow and burst and then clean up afterwards, has been an unmitigated disaster and I think we would be failing if we didn't look for an alternative approach."

So Capital appreciation (or lack thereof) and reduced HB may need to be considered.

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Expert tips on how to become a buy-to-let landlord

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ianmcowie/100014731/expert-tips-on-how-to-become-a-buy-to-let-landlord/

Avoid excessive gearing or debt. Don’t put yourself in a situation where a void or empty period of even a month can hole your finances under the waterline.”

Lynn Hilton, head of lettings at Cluttons, added: “Always use an agent regulated by the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). This not only provides greater peace of mind for you that any fees will be justified and above board, it is also reassuring for tenants and provides a reputable middle man.”

ARLA members must subscribe to a professional code of practice and a complaints abitration procedure. If that sounds academic, just wait until tenants withold rent until repairs are completed or disappear with debts outstanding.

Edit - the UUJ quarterly report strays into this area with NIHE comments (worth a read), and commentary on the types and price bands of houses selling, as will the RICS reports previously and in due course. Also the examples of the L/Derry EA claiming he will sell 35 repos in 6 weeks for BTL and our very own realistic NIEA claiming sales of 20 or more seem to corroborate (pinch of salt for the first one, at least).

Anectdotals also seem to show some life at this level - but is it just investors/speculators shuffling cards?

Edited by Shotoflight
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I just can't see value in BTL even at reduced prices, especially for apartments.

For example an apartment near me for sale for 90K, that would rent for £550 a month.

Knowing what I know about the horrible costs associated with apartment ownership, I'd be looking for a rental yield of over 10%, closer to 15% actually.

A 10% rental yield would see me offering £66,000.

A 15% rental yield would need a price of... £44,000? Have I calculated that right?

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Always the best of Friends as Britons head back to rent

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/constructionandproperty/9077482/Always-the-best-of-Friends-as-Britons-head-back-to-rent.html

More than half (54pc) of Britons think there will be more people renting their homes than there will be homeowners in 15 years' time, according to a survey by Grainger. More than two thirds (67pc) say long term renting is becoming increasingly common for Britons, as on the continent.

Grainger, in the main, agree. "There will be an increase in the private renting sector in the UK," says Andrew Cunningham, the company's chief executive. Home ownership peaked at about 70pc a few years ago, and is now around the mid-60s. That figure could "easily" go down to 60pc in the next seven years or so, he believes.

Until the supply of housing picks up significantly, relative high prices will remain a barrier to people entering the market. In fact, Grainger's new review of the rental market predicts that the average age of the first time buyer in the UK is heading towards the early 40s. That will put increased pressure on the rental sector and part-ownership tenures, such as shared equity and shared ownership.

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Daily Telegraph: Rising number of landlords making a loss on their buy-to-let property

http://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/newsblog/2012/02/blog-give-us-more-money-36049.php

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/investing/9086860/Rising-number-of-landlords-making-a-loss-on-their-buy-to-let-property.html

The latest findings from the BDRC Continental quarterly Landlords Panel research reveals the biggest rise in the number of portfolio landlords making a loss since the Landlords Panel began in 2006.

The research shows that in the fourth quarter of 2011, the number of ‘portfolio landlords’ – those with 20 or more properties – who reported making a loss rose from just 1pc in the third quarter of 2011, to 8pc in the last quarter of the year.

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Bank of England may put limit on mortgage ratios

..

When property prices fell, many were plunged into negative equity while other borrowers could not afford their mortgages.

..

Last night, Mr Osborne said the Financial Services Bill would give a new Bank of England committee powers to "alter the maximum loan-to-value ratios in mortgage lending to curb a sharp, unsustainable rise in house prices".

..

How does house price drops affect people paying their mortgage???

Banks, of course, like deposits. Mathematically they increase the buying power if you use some sort of salary multiple, it just means the deposit comes from the BoM&D. While they are a dis-incentive for the inept, after a while the partially able can save or generate the deposit.

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  • 2 weeks later...

UK

Private tenancy evictions up by 17%

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2012/mar/02/renting-property

Analysis of possession order claims by legal information specialist Sweet & Maxwell shows that 14,895 were launched in county courts by private landlords in 2011 compared to 12,686 in 2008. A possession order legally entitles a landlord to evict a tenant and regain possession of a property.

The firm says unemployment and rising rents are likely to have caused the increase in tenant evictions. Rents have risen by 8% since 2009, reaching a record high at the end of 2011, according to the LSL rental index.

Tenants who are unemployed can claim for housing benefit. But the government introduced lower limits which restricted the amount paid out to tenants signing up to new rental contracts in 2011 and renewing existing ones in 2012.

The limits have caused shortfalls between the amount of benefit paid to tenants and the rent charged by landlords, particularly in London and the south-east where rents are highest.

But while David Cameron has stated that the lower housing benefit limits will force landlords to reduce rental levels, rents in these areas have continued to rise as high levels of demand mean landlords can easily replace tenants in arrears.

Dovar said: "Higher demand for rental properties also means private landlords are less likely to have an overly sympathetic approach to tenants defaulting on their rent or who are behaving antisocially. They may have a stream of potential tenants waiting for properties to become free so they are less concerned about the property remaining empty if they evict existing tenants.

"Another factor is that fewer people now have access to mortgages and are consequently renting for longer. This has been pushing up demand since the start of the credit crunch – and landlords have been able to gain higher yields from their rental property."

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  • 3 weeks later...

Buy-to-let landlords are sitting on a 'tax timebomb’

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ianmcowie/100015852/buy-to-let-landlords-are-sitting-on-a-tax-timebomb/

Never mind how Budget 2012 might affect a relatively small number of millionaires using offshore companies to avoid Stamp Duty. Here and now, accountants say thousands of buy-to-let landlords are sitting on a “tax timebomb”.

Many will have to pay two years’ tax liabilities during the next six months, creating a cashflow crisis after years of lightly-taxed income and gains. The explanation of how this works is complex – but ignorance is no defence when HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) demands its share.

Geoff Davies, a partner of UHY Hacker Young, explained: “Many buy-to-let landlords came into profit on their investments in the tax year that ended on April 5, 2011, after the interest rates they were paying were slashed during the recession.

“This means that landlords could have to pay as much as 24 months’ tax in just a six month period. Tax for the 2010/11 tax year was due by January 31, 2012, along with half of the tax for the current tax year, while the remaining half of the tax for the 2011/12 tax year will fall due on July 31, 2012.”

Baffling though the rules may seem; the painful fact is that HMRC expects its share of the buy-to-let boom; no matter how inconvenient its timing may seem. Thousands of landlords bought during the peak of the housing market between 2005 and 2007. Many did so with mortgages which charged low initial rates. Most have now risen to higher variable rates, along with tougher demands for capital repayments by credit-crunched lenders and regulators.

It looks like a perfect storm which could hit house prices and blow some buy-to-let portfolios down. Mr Davies said: “In some cases landlords with a portfolio of properties have been forced into selling simply to meet their tax obligations.”

Some novice buy-to-let landlords incorrectly assume that capital repayments on their mortgages are tax deductible. In fact, only the interest component of a buy-to-let mortgage can be offset against tax

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i was just thinking about this thread the other day

i have a friend who works abroad half of the year and spends half the year at home

earns big and spends nothing when abroad as is on boats

has his mortgage paid off on his house (10 miles outside belfast) and 25k burning a hole

he was asking me for advice

im sure this goes against the ethos of the board but i suggested being that he was young. why not keep his eye out for repossessions through agents or auctions for say a terraced house in student areas near university (bt7/bt9)

these homes will only ever be bought by landlords/parents of students because the people who rent them ( students ) will never be looking to be home owners.

with these properties one feels that they are in no way preventing young people from getting on the ladder

if you could get a 5 bed for 100k that rents for 800 a month you would be talking 9.6% yield before costs.

http://www.propertynews.com/Property/Belfast/UPS11217-2-264824/1-Sandymount-Street/192844105/Page1

the buying strategy is more one whereby over the course of the mortgage the tenants pay off the mortgage giving a property owned outright in later years. Its not one which relies on "capital appreciation" to work.

For example £100k. £25k down. Borrow £75k . Rent out for a number of years. Reach retirement in 30 years. Property is paid off. Rental income helps fund retirement.

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i was just thinking about this thread the other day

i have a friend who works abroad half of the year and spends half the year at home

earns big and spends nothing when abroad as is on boats

has his mortgage paid off on his house (10 miles outside belfast) and 25k burning a hole

he was asking me for advice

im sure this goes against the ethos of the board but i suggested being that he was young. why not keep his eye out for repossessions through agents or auctions for say a terraced house in student areas near university (bt7/bt9)

these homes will only ever be bought by landlords/parents of students because the people who rent them ( students ) will never be looking to be home owners.

with these properties one feels that they are in no way preventing young people from getting on the ladder

if you could get a 5 bed for 100k that rents for 800 a month you would be talking 9.6% yield before costs.

http://www.propertyn...192844105/Page1

the buying strategy is more one whereby over the course of the mortgage the tenants pay off the mortgage giving a property owned outright in later years. Its not one which relies on "capital appreciation" to work.

For example £100k. £25k down. Borrow £75k . Rent out for a number of years. Reach retirement in 30 years. Property is paid off. Rental income helps fund retirement.

Interesting proposition, however, my concerns in student letting is annual 3 month voids plus I imagine that annual maintenance costs will be potentially higher than a comparablle 'family' let in another area. Also need to factor in CGT, income tax plus insurance and any management or advertising fees.

I will follow this with interest.

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i was just thinking about this thread the other day

i have a friend who works abroad half of the year and spends half the year at home

earns big and spends nothing when abroad as is on boats

has his mortgage paid off on his house (10 miles outside belfast) and 25k burning a hole

he was asking me for advice

im sure this goes against the ethos of the board but i suggested being that he was young. why not keep his eye out for repossessions through agents or auctions for say a terraced house in student areas near university (bt7/bt9)

these homes will only ever be bought by landlords/parents of students because the people who rent them ( students ) will never be looking to be home owners.

with these properties one feels that they are in no way preventing young people from getting on the ladder

if you could get a 5 bed for 100k that rents for 800 a month you would be talking 9.6% yield before costs.

http://www.propertynews.com/Property/Belfast/UPS11217-2-264824/1-Sandymount-Street/192844105/Page1

the buying strategy is more one whereby over the course of the mortgage the tenants pay off the mortgage giving a property owned outright in later years. Its not one which relies on "capital appreciation" to work.

For example £100k. £25k down. Borrow £75k . Rent out for a number of years. Reach retirement in 30 years. Property is paid off. Rental income helps fund retirement.

Holyland report says student housing needed elsewhere in Belfast

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-17476200

An older home owning population may rent rooms in their houses out to students and be encouraged financially and by legislation. Other legislation may curtail HMO's or be prohibitively expensive. It is hard to second guess the Govt and studying trends.

What would said costs be with 5 roomfuls of transient students, over 30 years

He may be home a bit more often to deal with things

30 years is a very long time - imagine all students learning online and by video conferencing in years to come.

But to be honest I don't have much of a clue or interest in this type of investment. It could turn out to be the best thing he ever did, and there are probably many who have done extremely well out of it over the years.

It's certainly worth considering as an option - and will probably also need a large slice of luck.

One other thing - what would the insurance costs be for this type of risk given the location, adverse publicity, nature of the tenants and their numbers - as well as the issue of actually getting the rent off them?

Edited by Shotoflight
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i was just thinking about this thread the other day

i have a friend who works abroad half of the year and spends half the year at home

earns big and spends nothing when abroad as is on boats

has his mortgage paid off on his house (10 miles outside belfast) and 25k burning a hole

he was asking me for advice

im sure this goes against the ethos of the board but i suggested being that he was young. why not keep his eye out for repossessions through agents or auctions for say a terraced house in student areas near university (bt7/bt9)

these homes will only ever be bought by landlords/parents of students because the people who rent them ( students ) will never be looking to be home owners.

with these properties one feels that they are in no way preventing young people from getting on the ladder

if you could get a 5 bed for 100k that rents for 800 a month you would be talking 9.6% yield before costs.

http://www.propertyn...192844105/Page1

the buying strategy is more one whereby over the course of the mortgage the tenants pay off the mortgage giving a property owned outright in later years. Its not one which relies on "capital appreciation" to work.

For example £100k. £25k down. Borrow £75k . Rent out for a number of years. Reach retirement in 30 years. Property is paid off. Rental income helps fund retirement.

I had been thinking about this - I have £100K burning a hole in my pocket (although I rent so I should probably just buy a place for myself).

A theoretical 10% yield would be eaten into considerably by:

- letting agents fees

- rates

- insurance/students smashing the place up every year

- structural repair - alot of those houses look like they will need money invested in them in the near future to keep them standing!

So it's not all black and white, but 100K on a 5 bed house, seems like a better investment than 100K on a 1 bed apartment where you're gonna get stung with management fees on top of the usual rates.

I guess I just don't know where else to put my money, which is why I'm even considering this in the first place.

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just to add

commercial property is something i know little/nothing about

however a friend of a friends dad is big into property and at the moment it is commercial not residential he is buying

the main advantages are viewed by them as long leased and the tenants are in charge of upkeep

vs

student lets where tenants change regularly and the properties are badly looked after

Edited by getdoon_weebobby
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  • 2 weeks later...

Rental property's gravy train needs derailing

The game of rent rises continues as estate agent figures show the value for let homes in Britain has soared 42% to £840bn

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/blog/2012/mar/27/rental-property-gravy-train-needs-derailing

A side-effect of the Bank of England's monetary policies over the last four years has been to protect property values. Some of that can be seen in figures from the estate agents Savills, which says the value of rented homes in Britain has soared by 42% to £840bn.

Everyone wants to rent properties for a living. It's easier than working and seems to bring in a guaranteed income.

The mania for buying and selling homes for magical profits was supposed to be a thing of the past. If the crash taught us anything, it was that flippin' flats after a quick makeover for big bucks was the nation's downfall. But here we are, supping from the property gravy train again.

Savills reckons 4.8m rented homes generated a total income last year of £48bn. By 2016, such is the dearth of house and flat building, the rent extracted by landlords will have soared to £70bn.

With housebuilding at its lowest since the 1920s, the number of homes coming on the market cannot keep up with a growing population, a mini-baby boom, the changing needs of an ageing population and the ongoing complications of family break-ups.

Everyone seems to want to reinvent the recent past and a spiv culture that meant there was a killing to be made buying and selling ordinary homes. What we need is more executive homes in tidy little cul-de-sacs that look like Brookside Close houses with the addition of a garage or two. These can be tacked on the sides of existing towns, preferably in the home counties, within shouting distance of London, where people need to work but cannot afford to live.

The same scenario can be found dominating the thinking of property firms around cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle, where there is pressure to relax rules on greenfield building to satisfy demand.

The government's NewBuy scheme, which subsidises the mortgages on new homes, coupled with a relaxation of planning laws, is supposed to hurry along these developments. However, NewBuy only encourages hard-pressed families to bid up the cost of the few newly built homes already on the market, to the benefit of housebuilders (which contribute millions to Tory party coffers).

Local councils are in effect out of the housebuilding equation, while social landlords are seeing their budgets cut. With the public and semi-public sectors shackled, the private lobby calls the shots. This leaves the government with two problems: how to get the money to build and renovate more homes, and where to build new homes.

Money could come from private sources such as pension funds. My problem with the private sector, pension funds included, is that it just wants to join the game of driving prices and rents higher. The new homes that developers have in mind are only in "safe" areas that will command extraordinarily high rents to compensate for paying the huge purchase cost of land with planning permission and the extortionate sums demanded by investors.

Surely there is a case for resisting the temptation to simply kickstart the same old property game? The government needs to examine ditching property transaction taxes altogether in favour of taxing land on an annual basis. A land tax is the only way to bring the industry to heel and end the spiv culture that brings a boom and bust every generation. It is much the same solution for banks. They need to be made boring and people-friendly. At the moment, the only winners are landowners and landlords.

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  • 1 month later...

NI tenant deposit scheme progress 'before summer'

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-18207128

Plans for a new scheme to prevent landlords from keeping hold of tenants' deposits without good reason will be laid before Stormont shortly. The Department of Social Development (DSD) has confirmed to the BBC that draft legislation will be introduced before the summer.

Similar schemes have been in place in England and Wales for a number of years and Scotland is bringing one in. The move has been welcomed by Citizens Advice and the Housing Rights Service. In a statement, the DSD said draft legislation was "nearing completion" for a scheme in which tenants' deposits are protected by being paid into a scheme by their landlord.

"At the end of a tenancy, the deposit can be repaid immediately but where there is any kind of dispute over the amount due the scheme will provide independent dispute resolution at no charge," the statement said.

The department said it was one of a number of initiatives which were being introduced to improve standards in the private rented sector. It said work was ongoing to establish a register of landlords in Northern Ireland. The DSD also confirmed that local councils will be "given new powers to fine and/or prosecute private landlords who do not protect tenant's deposits in line with the law".

Sarah Corrigan, from the Housing Rights Service, said the issue of withheld deposits was one of the main reasons that tenants contacted their advice line.

She told BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme that her organisation would "welcome any kind of scheme that is both going to support landlords and also protect tenants".

However, Declan Boyle from the Landlords Association said the scheme was unnecessary and could be "bureaucratic" and "cumbersome". Mr Boyle said most tenants and landlords enjoyed good working relationships but added that tenants who disputed the retention of their deposit could pursue the matter in the small claims court.

He said that sometimes "a tenant might think there is no reason - and there is a reason - and that's where the magistrate in the small claims court, he or she can adjudicate on that issue."

Paul Callaghan, of the Citizens Advice Bureau, told Talkback that many tenants on low incomes struggled financially when their deposits were withheld, especially those in reciept of housing benefit.

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Declan was talking about this in the assembly minutes i posted a while back. I think he actually means small claims court. Obviously this costs the tenant money where as a DPS costs nothing to the tenant. Why should i spend my money pursuing a landlord though the courts at my own expense to dispute them taking MY money.

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Declan was talking about this in the assembly minutes i posted a while back. I think he actually means small claims court. Obviously this costs the tenant money where as a DPS costs nothing to the tenant. Why should i spend my money pursuing a landlord though the courts at my own expense to dispute them taking MY money.

Sorry - meant to include this - which to me was the most important bit:

The department said it was one of a number of initiatives which were being introduced to improve standards in the private rented sector.

It said work was ongoing to establish a register of landlords in Northern Ireland.

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UK

Tenants face more debt problems, charity says

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18248619

People who rent their homes are increasingly likely to be in arrears, a debt charity has said.

The Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) says it received just over 10,000 requests for help with rent arrears last year, a 27% rise on 2010.

The charity blamed this increase on the fact that rents have been rising while earnings have stagnated.

The average client with a rent problem was £760 in arrears, with the arrears of private tenants standing at £924.

Delroy Corinaldi of CCCS said: "A very large number of people are struggling to keep up with their rent payments - and with rents near record highs, the problem is getting worse, not better."

Some 12% of CCCS clients last year who rented their homes had problems paying their rent.

That was up from a 10% figure the year before.

The CCCS said housing association tenants who were struggling with their rents had average arrears of £705, while those behind with the rent on their council accommodation had average arrears of £622.

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  • 1 month later...

Welfare reform - NIHE - HB changes April 2013

http://www.nihe.gov.uk/index/benefits/housingbenefit/welfare_reform.htm

Who will be affected?

If the proposals go ahead, from the 1st April 2013 size criteria would be introduced for new and existing working-age Housing Benefit claimants - that’s anyone aged up to 61 years at April 2013 - living in a Housing Executive or housing association home. Tenants who are pensioners will not be affected by this change. Tenants who do not receive Housing Benefit would not be affected.

In summary, the new system would allow one bedroom for each person or couple living as part of the household, with the following exceptions:

A child under the age of 16 would be expected to share with one other child of the same gender;

A child under 10 years would be expected to share with one other child under 10, regardless of gender;

A bedroom for a non-resident carer will be allowed in the calculation of necessary bedrooms where that carer provides necessary overnight care for the claimant or their partner.

Foster children do not count as part of a foster carer’s household, so no bedrooms are allocated for them under the size criteria.

What difference would tenants see in their Housing Benefit?

Tenants would see their Housing Benefit payment reduced by 14% of their rent for under-occupation by one bedroom and by 25% for under-occupation by two or more bedrooms. Based on the current average rent of £58.76, a tenant who receives full housing benefit but who is under-occupying by one bedroom would see their Housing Benefit reduced by about £8.25 a week. A tenant who is under-occupying by two or more bedrooms would see a reduction of about £14.70 per week. If your Housing Benefit is cut you will have to pay your landlord the difference between your Housing Benefit and your rent.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Cap private rent and build more council homes

The government's response to the housing crisis has been to attack exploited tenants, rather than deal with abusive landlords

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/19/cap-private-rent-build-council-housing

Ed Miliband's decision that the next Labour government will clean up the abuses that mar the private rented sector will be welcomed by hundreds of thousands of tenants whose lives have been made intolerable by the minority of landlords who eagerly exploit the current housing crisis. During the mayoral election, Newham's mayor, Sir Robin Wales, took me on a rooftop tour to point out the vast number of big sheds illegally built in back gardens and used to house large families, with only the most rudimentary sanitation.

Margaret Thatcher's ban on building council housing has left half a million households to rot on London councils' waiting lists, while the city's population has increased by 1.5 million in 25 years. This has vastly increased the demand for private rented homes, and the average two-bed flat now costs 60% of average take-home pay, making it impossible for most tenants to get a mortgage. This is not just a problem for the poor. I've met many people earning up to £70,000 a year who say they can't afford to buy.

Letting agencies have been able to exploit this crisis by charging a fee of up to 11% of the rent merely for recommending a desperate tenant to a landlord. This is not a one-off fee: it is imposed while the tenancy lasts. I worked with the Association of Landlords, which supported my plans to establish a lettings agency at City Hall to allow good landlords to bypass these rapacious lettings agents.

The housing crisis leaves tenants in a vulnerable position, facing not just high rents and fees, but often crooked landlords who won't carry out essential repairs or return deposits. This is the inevitable consequence of Thatcher's decision to cut local authorities' powers to regulate private landlords, and to use the money saved through not building council houses to subsidise private rents through housing benefit.

If the government tells landlords that it is happy to make up the gap between what a tenant can afford and what landlords want, it is not surprising that rents have soared beyond people's ability to pay. David Cameron's response to this crisis has been to attack the exploited tenants rather than deal with the abusive landlords. Instead of putting a cap on rents, he is cutting housing benefit, thus forcing tens of thousands to move from areas where they have family and roots.

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Housing boost plans under government scrutiny

Ministers study report into lending publicly owned land to developers and relaxing laws on social housing build schemes

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jul/20/housing-boost-plans-government-scrutiny-report

The British Property Federation, representing developers, has likened this potential revolution in private rental developments to the boom in privately owned student accommodation blocks, which has gone from nothing to a £20bn industry in two decades.

"If the review could unleash a couple of billion a year to help build homes … that would make a useful contribution to housing supply and those needing to rent," said Liz Peace, the federation's chief executive.

Some experts believe total spending could reach £40bn in a decade if the UK matches the levels of institutional investment in this sector of other parts of western Europe and the US.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government, which oversees housing, said: "The private rented sector plays an essential role in the housing market, offering flexibility and choice to people, and supporting economic growth and access to jobs. To boost supply and choice, we want to encourage greater institutional investment into the sector, and in due course we will be publishing our response to the Montague review."

The Montague report will follow two reports this week into boosting private rented housing, and a third from Labour on reducing rents and improving standards in the sector.

The Resolution Foundation, a thinktank supporting low- to middle-income households, makes similar recommendations to those thought to be favoured by Montague, but prefers a bigger role for housing associations to build private rented homes, in order to avoid a conflict with the continuing need for social housing.

"There are 11 million people in the low- to middle-income group: for a lot of those people ownership isn't on the cards for the medium term," said Vidhya Alakeson of the foundation. "This is an opportunity to create a different product that's better quality because it's professionally managed, [and] offers a longer-term home for people raising children in the rented sector."

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UK experiment - worth a read for interested parties

Licences to weed out rogue landlords

If successful, a pilot scheme requiring all private rented homes to be registered could be coming to your town, reports Chiara Cavaglieri

http://www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/licences-to-weed-out-rogue-landlords-7964036.html

Licences will be required for each property rented out privately and landlords must start applying for these now, currently at a reduced rate of £150, but rising to £500 from 1 January. The licences last for five years, but Newham Council has the power to limit this for properties where they think work needs to be done. So, landlords who fail to meet certain standards may only be granted a short-term licence and will be monitored to ensure they make improvements before they can re-apply. Furthermore, if they fail to apply for a licence they could face fines of up to £20,000 and rent repayment orders of up to 12 months' rental income.

Newham landlords will need to demonstrate they are a "fit and proper" person when applying for a licence, which means having a UK address, having satisfactory financial arrangements in place for each property and undergoing a Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) check.

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Rents are rising but house prices have stalled, so is buy-to-let still a road to riches?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/mortgageshome/article-2175462/Rents-rising-house-prices-stalled-buy-let-road-riches.html

A supposed dream combination of falling house prices, high rents and low interest rates is tempting many people into buy-to-let.

But property experts warn that investing in a home to let is not a one-way ticket to riches.

Cheaper house prices and rising rents mean better income returns, but the potential for further house price falls could hit investors unless they are genuinely in for the long-term.

In fact, at a time of falling and stagnant house prices and high mortgage rates for those with lesser deposits, you may be better off taking less risk with your money and putting it in a savings account.

We take a look at whether buy-to-let is still worth investing in.

Is now a good time for landlords to buy property?

A weak housing market can allow cash-rich landlords to snap up a bargain property – as long as they do their research carefully.

Prices in London increased by 7.7 per cent in the twelve months to April, but prices fell 3.9 per cent in Yorkshire and The Humber, 2.0 per cent in Wales and 1.2 per cent in the West Midlands, according to the Land Registry.

While buy-to-let is a long-term investment, remember that prices in many areas could fall further.

Kate Faulkner, at property advice service, Designs on Property says: ‘Just because something is cheap does not mean it’s good value.

‘You may see a two-bedroom house in Sunderland on for £60,000 and think you’re getting a bargain. In fact, other buyers may be getting something similar for £35,000 or £40,000.

‘Novice landlords looking to buy in areas where prices are falling should probably wait at least three years before going into buy-to-let. An unwise purchase could lead to your capital being eroded, making it impossible to remortgage.

Edited by Shotoflight
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