Monthly Archives: November 2014

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By Judith Loeffler

Mortgage

 

That’s the big question many buy to let investors are facing at the moment. The answer to that question depends firstly on your perspective on when interest rates will rise: In January Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England (BoE) told the BBC that there is ‘no immediate need to increase interest rates’ as this would only come into consideration once the labour market picked up and unemployment rates reached around 7%.

Whilst any interest rises in 2014 are still deemed unlikely by the BoE, a steady decrease in unemployment towards the 7% mark seems to be on its way opening the way for interest rate changes potentially as early as 2015.

Secondly, it also depends on what the current mortgage deals look like – towards the end of September there have been interest rate cuts for buy to let borrowers by many of the big lenders: ‘The biggest rate cut came from Leeds Building Society which trimmed its two-year fixed from 3.49pc to 3.09pc for borrowers with a 40pc deposit. Virgin Money, Accord and Santander followed suit  with cuts to their fixed mortgage rates by around 0.1pc.’ Whilst these deals are often associated with hefty arrangement fees, the longer the fix lasts for, the more months these fees are spread across and hence the more attractive they might be.

As a simple example: getting a rate of 0.5 percentage points below your current rate on a mortgage of £150,000 will save £750 per year in interest; as long as the arrangement fee spread over the number of years it is fixed for is less than that you will be better off. As long as this is given, it feels like a good time for remortgaging to pre-empt an interest rate rise which, whilst opinions might differ about when this will happen, is bound to happen next year.

By Judith Loeffler

northernextension

 

The redevelopment process in Wandsworth just got another boost last week with the government agreeing to the £1bn Northern Line extension. A new branch will come off the Northern Line from Kennington with tube stops at Nine Elms and Battersea Station. The Nine Elms Station will be just off Wandsworth Road whilst Battersea Station will be at the revamped Battersea Power Station. Transport for London expects work to start early next year with services expected to run by 2020.

Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia is already getting ready for the next phase of improving transport links within Wandsworth: ‘We are pursuing two very good prospects for connecting Clapham Junction to the Underground network.’

In the same week Wandsworth Council has approved the regeneration plans of New Covent Garden Market, another £2bn project contributing to the transformation of Wandsworth. Apart from residential property the new development will include sports, retail and health facilities.

By Judith Loeffler

Eviction 2

Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather presented a Bill to Parliament in July 2014 aimed at banning retaliatory tenant evictions. The purpose of the Bill is to stop the practice of landlords serving notice on tenants as a result of continued repair demands by tenants that the landlords do not want to fulfil. ‘The Bill seeks to restrict a landlord’s right to use a Section 21 notice to regain possession of their property where a tenant has made a complaint about repair or housing conditions.’ explains the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).

Landlords would not be able to use a Section 21 notice within six months of a tenant making a relevant complaint about the condition of their property. The local council would decide whether the complaint should be considered.

Whilst the Bill is supported by housing campaigners like Shelter and the Mayor of London, the RLA has launched a campaign to outline the potential unintended consequences like tenants avoiding evictions due to rent arrears or anti social behaviour by claiming retaliatory evictions. The second reading debate is expected to happen end of November, the full briefing paper for MPs is hereThe outcome of this debate is likely to be a deciding factor whether the Bill will be passed prior to the General Election in May 2015.

By Judith Loeffler

Condensation

Condensation is caused by excess moisture in the air settling on cool surfaces. If not controlled, mould will develop. It is in your interest to bring this under control as any damage caused by it is highly likely to be a tenant’s responsibility. Here’s how to help preventing it:

 1. Heat your property adequately: If water droplets form on your windows your home is too cold.

  • Keep your heating on at a constant low temperature such as 16 or 17 degrees rather than heat your property at a high temperature intermittently.  Having the heating on for 3-4 hours a day during the coldest time of the year will not be sufficiently.
  • Check that all of the radiators in the property are heating up correctly; if they are not heating up correctly then you should bleed them to remove any trapped air. Simple instructions for this are here. If this does not help contact us as there may be an underlying issue with the radiator.
  • If water droplets have developed and drop onto sills or walls, wipe this off on a regular basis.

 2. Create sufficient ventilation

  • Always use the extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens. We also advise that doors to these rooms are closed during and just after use. If you don’t have extractors in these rooms then keep the window open for the same period of time. Let us know immediately if an extractor fan is not working properly
  • Always use extractor units in kitchen when cooking and / or producing moisture and clean extractor units in kitchen on regular basis incl exchanging of filter when needed to allow for optimum performance
  • Clean extractor fans in the bathroom on a regular basis (with a dry cloth) to avoid built up of dust etc as this reduced the efficiency of the fans
  • Open windows every day for at least a small period of time to increase ventilation in rooms and keep trickle vents open on windows where available.
  • Don’t block ventilators, air bricks and chimneys
  • Ventilate cupboards and wardrobes and avoid putting too many items in them as this stops the air circulating and can lead to mould

 3. Other preventative measures

  • Keep curtains & blinds open during the day to allow air circulation in the window area
  • Keep doors open throughout the property when you’re out during the day to allow maximum air circulation
  • Do not stack belongings / furniture right up to the wall / ceilings as this will decrease air flow allowing condensation to build up in these areas
  • Clean off any black mould with a solution of white (clear) vinegar and water. This will kill off the mould spores as vinegar is a very good natural cleaner and will stop mould building up.
  • If you do not have a dryer at your property, then make sure that the room that you are drying your clothes in has the window open and door closed. This will stop the moisture
  • If you have a condenser dryer at your property, it is important to empty out the condenser collector regularly. If this is not done then the moisture may be released back into the atmosphere.