Monthly Archives: July 2010

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 By Samantha Knight

A bit of a dilemma?

As somebody who now runs a Company offering both Property Management and Consultancy services, I have been heavily involved in discussions with Landlords about the manner and timing for making a purchase and in todAys climate the question of when rather than if is becoming more relevent. Timing is never an easy to decision, but in a market whereby prices are gradually creeping back up, if you select the right area, buying ‘off plan’ right now could well be the best choice you ever made.

Lets keep it simple. 

Choose your property from the site plan with the added benefit in most cases of having input in the finish of tiles, flooring, kitchen units and layouts.  Secure your price now and pay only that fixed price when the property is built and ready for hand over.  Get in early enough on a development and you may well find yourself buying a property that upon completion has £1000’s of equity already in it.  Who could ask for a better deal than that?!

A long term property investment

 The risk will always be will the market rise or wont it?, but inevitably it will whether you make your £1000’s on completion now or in the years to come.  Finding new build sites may be the hard part, but with reports from the construction industry that development is back on the rise – it’s got to be worth a look.

 Seek advise from your letting agent on where best to buy to meet the current demand of the rental market- a national agent will always be able to offer the best unbias advice on the current hot spot locations across the UK.



By Mike Edwards

The Problem

There is a serious misunderstanding in some local authority/housing association housing departments when tenants approach them for advice if have been served a section 8 notice not for arrears possession under Ground 1.

This would usually happen on full Assured which are of course less common than Assured Shorthold but which carry the same mandatory possession rights for Landlords. Provided of course the legal paperwork is correct!!

The Misunderstanding

The problem understandably is that the section 21 notice used to terminate an Assured Shorthold on mandatory grounds is far more commonly used and recognised. But a section 8 notice using mandatory Ground 1 (previous or future occupancy by Landlord or spouse) is equally as powerful and also compels a Judge to grant a Possession Order.

This misinformation and confusion is happening a little more frequently as more Landlords quite legitimately use ATs to avoid the rigours of the TDP regime and the uncertain outcome of dispute resolution by scheme adjudicators. If difficulty is encountered take the following steps:-

The Solution

1.         If a section 8 notice is issued to a tenant draw their attention to the two sets of bullet point
             notes. The first in the group foot of page 1 make it clear that if ground 1 is quoted in section 3
            of the notice then it is a mandatory ground and the Judge must grant an order.

2.         The first bullet point then on page 2 immediately under the date in section 5 states how much
            notice is needed – again for ground 1 it is 2 months (as with a section 21 notice)

3.         In reality there is no difference between a s8 ground 1 notice and a s21 notice. Both are
            mandatory and provided the legal paperwork is in order the Judge MUST grant an Order (as
            stated in the notices)

Many local authorities, housing associations and even some solicitors who are not Landlord and Tenant law specialist misunderstand the mandatory power of a Ground 1 section 8 notice. So it is always good advice to use a solicitor who is either recommended or advertises as a specialist in this field. One would hope this would avoid the problem, or of course you could always use Professional Management!

By Steve Roulstone.

The Franchising path.

 Any business that fits as a Franchising model, needs to be one that follows a style of business and have methods of operation which can be easily copied across outlet to outlet. A method that can be taught uniformly and adjusted as required as trends change, well with the amount of government legislation that is involved in the rental market (as exampled by this link) we have a natural fit in my Industry. It is consistent methods that ensure that our Landlords get the correct interpretation of these legislative changes and by the needs and experiences of a group that operates and controls its methods through a central spine, best practise can be assured.

 The passion behind the reason.

 But information alone is not the answer, drive and commitment are also needed and I would argue that anybody whose income depends on their own business is not only going to be more committed in their role, but also show that commitment and indeed passion for the Company they represent far better than any employee and that is where the link with Franchising comes home and delivers, for people whose livelihood rests on the success of their Company are going to perform both more successfully and more diligently.

 Let me give you a lift!

 And having been a Franchisee for ten years, I know from practise, that they are far more supportive of others who are trying to achieve the same goal in life. I have worked in the privately owned sector and been told ‘I am not telling everybody else why we do so well, because I will no longer look as good if everybody did it!’ You never get that in Franchising, exactly the opposite, rather Franchisees are quieting up to pass on good news and good ideas, because they understand what everybody who does what they do are trying to achieve and only too happy to help!

 So who do I use?

 I believe the answer is simple, whatever services you require or want to buy, if it is a Franchise, you are liable to get a better service and probably a better product, because to those who run the Company, your business is simply more important!

By Steve Roulstone

House or Flat to Rent?

How do you advertise on behalf of your Landlord, hopefully in a manner that keeps them happy and feeling that you are looking after their property, but does that mean we have to continue to advertise in traditional ways?

Houses to Rent or Flats to Rent?

Where do you look if you want to rent a property, my point is that so often it is a different source than where you would want to advertise if you have a property to rent! So Landlords and Tenants want to see their properties listed in different sources, Tenants will utilise the web for their search and Landlords so often want to see us present on such portals as Rightmove, but still want to see the property listed in the local papers and here is the dilemma.

Breaking News: Press turns to the Web!

Because I travel the country speaking to National Letting Agency offices, I have the opportunity to ask what local trends in the Residential Lettings market are and more and more where the income from advertising matters, local press are opening their own web sites, because we are all turning away from Paper advertising. The reason is simple, they are far too expensive even set against Rightmove charges (and I do not say that lightly!)

We only want to Rent the House or Rent the Flat, Honest!

And that is the whole point, we need to convince our Landlords that we only have their interest at heart, because if you are in an area where paper advertising still leads the way, we will still advertise in the papers. In the meantime we need to collect facts and figures to give the story behind the trends, and convince our Landlords that papers listings are no longer needed.

The answer is in your Landlord rights

But in doing the right thing our whole aim is blown apart, for it is my belief that our problem lies with where Landlords look for Agents to see who to contact and it is only in our listings of Flats to Rent and Houses to Rent that they find us, so I have just blown my own recommendation out of the water, because while Landlords still answer the question ‘Where did you find our name’ with the answer, ‘in the local paper’ the press will still get my money!!

By Steve Roulstone

My recommendation. I think it is time I explained why I became a Franchisee, the following is a Blog I posted as the result of a conversation with the Blog host of the Select Your Franchise site Nick Strong. It was my inspiration to this site and explains my reasons; at a stage where all those who consider Franchising have such questions to answer. So I repeat it here for information.

 Starting point.

 In 1999 I needed to take charge of my own future, Why? Because I was no longer confident that my future was secure with the Company I worked for.   The company had been taken over through acquisition and I no longer felt comfortable.  In fact I was completely outside of my comfort zone.

It was time for change!

So why choose Franchising? I now needed to research and quickly found that Franchise Companies were prepared to send me valuable information, not only on the Company concerned but also about the market they operated in. I now had an overview of markets that I was interested in and an immediate feel for how I could operate my own Company and fulfil my own needs for the future, quickly and efficiently.

The answer to the question I have posed

I chose Franchising because it was a way of working with people who understood what I was trying to achieve. I also liked the security of working with a tried and tested system in the industry of my choice.  I was trained by professionals and worked with other franchisees who had chosen the same route.

Why did I choose a Castle Estates franchise?

The principal always has been that Franchising offers entrepreneurial people specialised assistance, systems and training in a successful proven route.  After investigating many routes to market I found that Castle Estates offered the best way forward for me.

It is a fact that 90% of Franchisees become profitable within two years whereas four out of five people who start on their own, fail within the same period.  I can say with confidence that I am one of the happy 90%.  So much so that I have now bought the company!!!

By Steve Roulstone

That all important first impression.

Every Company providing services today and Letting Agents are no different, need to make a good impression from the start. This means when Tenants are looking for a property to rent they will make a decision about your Company, the moment they walk through your front door. This is human nature!

Landlords know as well.

 And Landlords know that Tenants (as the customer in the triangle) will make this judgement, so they are doing the same. So what do we need to do to look the part and give a good impression? Well I do not apologise for my recommendation here, because tried and tested methods are exactly what they say on the tin; tried and tested!

 Want to let your house?

 Then present the office in the same way! An office can be full of modern furniture and new technology, but unless it looks tidy and well presented, will it make a good first impression? I say no, simple rules of tidiness such as empty desks when staff are out and just like a well presented property at a viewing (did you see the link coming?) you will get that good impression. And I have not forgotten that what applies to the office applies to your staff as well, but let’s concentrate on the office today.

 Not magnolia again!

 Oh yes, the reason we letting Agents recommend neutral colours stands just as well in our offices, we do not need to make bold statements with challenging colours, or different colour schemes with furniture that does not match. Why? Because we need it to look good, in exactly the same way we look to market a property. So if you want to give the right impression, keep it clean, keep it tidy, and present it ‘neutral’.

 Old rules are good rules.

 We do not need to re-invent the wheel when making an office look professional, we just need to do our job. If we tell Landlords how their property should look to achieve a good Tenant, after all ‘The better the home looks the better the Tenant will appreciate the home’ then we should do the same and again, I believe this simple rule applies to both.


By Nick strong MD Select Your Franchise

In spite of the economic downturn the * lettings franchise market in the UK has grown and remains strong.

According to Steve Roulstone, Managing Director of Castle Estates, “the market is robust even in recession as the interest payments charged to landlords by lenders reduces significantly as in recession making the market both attractive and viable for landlords.  It is also harder for first time buyers to enter the housing market at the moment which fuels the need and demand for well presented letting stock.”

UK properties are valued well for market entry for new and existing landlords which helps fuel business and sector growth.

The number of new franchisees is growing in the * UK lettings franchise market.  Castle Estates has seen a significant uplift of enquiries during late spring and early summer of 2010.

This is great news for people wishing to build their future prosperity via the housing market. 

The Castle Estates franchise system is well positioned to help new franchisee owners advance in the UK lettings franchise marketplace.  With over 30 years of know how the Castle Estates system offers one of the most mature and robust franchise models available to franchise buyers in the UK today.

Steve Roulstone recently acquired the Castle Estates franchise.  As a successful franchisee Steve saw the potential of the brand and system to grow even stronger by building on the existing proven system by working with new franchise owners in towns across the country.
Steve is working closely with Nick Strong, Managing Director of  Select Your Franchise UK Ltd, to build the brand and help new franchise owners successfully enter the Castle Estates system.

Nick said, “I am delighted to be working with Steve.  I have been impressed by his focus on ethics and quality.  He is totally focused on the win-win philosophy that make the relationship between franchise brand and system owner and local franchise owner such a rewarding experience for both parties.”

By Steve Roulstone

 There has been a lot of confusion caused by the Housing Act of 2004, where HMO property is concerned as introduced in April 2006 surrounding licensed buildings, but the changes are actually simpler than they first appear.

 To license or not to license?

 This is the real question for Landlords and the real crux behind the changes. It is also where a clear definition of what represents a House of Multiple Occupation. Conversely, it is also this area that has given rise to the biggest area of confusion amongst Landlords and the mistaken belief that if there house does not match these criteria, that HMO regulations can be ignored.

 Two families and the Council decide.

What all Landlords need to be aware of and appreciate is that any property that has more than two families living at the property (More than two families represented who are not co-habiting) as their permanent address, then as far as the Council are concerned, it is an HMO! Maybe not one that needs a license, but as far as safety is concerned and this can mean Fire doors and surrounds, Fire walls and escape windows, then the Council will in all probability order that such safety measures are installed for the safety of the Tenants.

The Council decides, or not!

And here is the next problem facing all Landlords. Not all Councils take the same view or level of safety when considering identical styles of property! Prior to its introduction I spoke to and worked with my Council, who independently of other areas, decided to take a review of all property that they believed was operating as an HMO through there register of student homes in the Town. This gave me both an insight and early approach to both the knowledge needed and ensuring my Landlords, existing and new, were well informed.

Confident letting.

 So what my advice to all Landlords is, if you are renting to more than two family units, then your local Council will definitely consider it to be a House of Multiple Occupation. Unless it requires licensing by number of stories or people residing, then you could be forced to take appropriate changes to the safety of the building as your Council sees fit, so take advice first and speak to the Council before you find out the hard way!

Steve Roulstone

By Steve Roulstone

No matter what industry you want to review, whether it be Business to Business, Business to Public, retail, office, or home based or a man with a van style Franchise, when considering your future in Franchising, you need to be well informed.

The initial Package.

The difficulty for Franchisors, especially if the industry concerned is a complex one like my Company, Castle Estates with varied and many areas of legislation as well as being an industry that provides different levels and styles of service, is the initial package of information sent to Prospective Franchisees, can only give a brush stroke image and never the full picture.

Grasping the message.

All Franchisors make every effort to provide quality literature, especially those who are members of the BFA but if we try to give too much information, then it is very difficult for the Franchisee to take it all on board from the written word. The answer has to be to offer an open day where the story can be told using a structured approach, giving the prospect the opportunity to ask those all important questions.

Franchise Opportunities

This is why so many organisations involved with Franchising both offer or recommend a visit to the respective Head Office and a few hours to understand method, purpose, Industry, path, and so much more. So when you get asked to attend an Open Day, do not be concerned, it means that the Company providing the Franchise wants to ensure that before you make that all important Franchise Investment, you have all the information you need. In my Industry the term Location, Location, Location, is well known, but I want to be sure that anybody who contacts Castle Estates, is in a position to receive Information, Information , Information as well!