Monthly Archives: May 2012

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By Steve Roulstone


There have been several questions asked and answered in the press lately, covering several aspects of buying a property to rent. So I have decided to write down what we at Castle Estates consider to be the most important matters for consideration when buying a property for the rental market.

Parts 1 through 4.

I will be writing the Guide in four parts dealing with what to do from the start to completion. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, rather pointing you in the right direction. Other matters are bound to arise as you progress through financing, choosing an Agent, dealing with Insurance and then finding the property and making comparisons to decide which property is best value for money.

Part 1; Choosing your Finances, Insurance, Accountant and Agent.

Before you even arrange your first viewing of a property, it is a good idea to ensure firstly that you have the right finance to be able to purchase a rental home, especially with the current mortgage availability. Size of deposit will be crucial and by speaking with a mortgage broker (always better to ask your friends for a recommendation if you are unsure, you will be surprised just how many are also Landlords!) you will get a feel for exactly what calculations are needed to ensure the mortgage will be covered by the rent.


It is popular now to call Buildings Insurance for a rental property Landlords Insurance nowadays. It is not, it is Buildings Insurance, but you would still be better to speak to those who specialise in the rental market rather than mainstream Insurance providers, who always seem to offer Landlords Insurance as a premium. Some Mortgage Companies now insist on their own Insurance policies, ensure you are aware before committing to a mortgage what the cost is. It could make your mortgage less competitive! There is also proper Landlords Insurance to be considered. Your Agent will assist here, but Industry recognised meaning of Landlords Insurance is a policy that offers Guaranteed rent if the Tenant fails to pay the rent and Legal expenses to remove the Tenant as quickly as possible and of course, using Industry specialist experts to carry out the role!


Unfortunately, Income from your rental property is taxable. Therefore you should seek advice from an Accountant so that your income is properly accounted for at the end of each year. When this additional income is small, I know that some consider an Accountant to be a cost they could do without, but speaking from experience, I have never been disappointed by the savings they have been able to make, compared with the cost of ensuring you are legal with the Taxman. By law, we have to advice Income tax offices of every penny paid to Landlords each year.  Therefore if the taxman knows what has been earned from the property, it makes sense to ensure you have claimed against every bit of allowable expenditure you can. The best person to do that for you is an accountant!


Well I would suggest Castle Estates wouldn’t I! The legality surrounding this market means that we would suggest a professional Letting Agency to look after your property. In short, these are some of the reasons why; Ability to credit reference Tenants, Regular property visits, Time served arrears chasing systems, Knowledge of the industry and the law, Professional Inventories, Professional agreements and clauses and a network of Maintenance Contractors. What you need to do is choose one before you start. Make sure they are associated with a professional industry body and belong to such organisations as Safe Agent and The Property Ombudsman. After all, they will be able to advice you at every turn and all at no cost until such time as you yourself are earning from the property. (A genuine case of free advice)

By Steve Roulstone

Nowadays, especially with the profusion of property currently available in Staffordshire, it is becoming more popular for some Landlords to consider employing a second Agent to source a Tenant for them.  This is especially the case with Tenant find Landlords as the Tenant is easier processed if there is no Management scenario, which makes swopping between Agents much more difficult. We have just experienced such a scenario for a Managed property and the consequences are not ideal.

The Problem.

The house itself was the problem, not only was it a large four bed roomed detached house, but it sat right on the edge of a natural area of outstanding beauty that justified the expensive valuation. Understandable when the garden is surrounded by deer fencing and the road stops right outside your home! The problem being that property of this value has been as difficult to rent during the spring as it has been to sell! The Landlord spoke about his urgent need to rent and we chose a second Agent between us that we thought would best help his cause.


In effect when using this method we control and therefore retain Full Management. In this instance the second Agent found the Tenant, this of course does happen, but we take over as soon as the Tenant confirms their interest and we negotiated the referencing procedure through to check in. What confused the issue with this Tenant, was that we were dealing with the parents of the Lady concerned who held the same surname (the same surname we were provided with by the second Agent) they lived out of the area and were not the quickest when going through the procedure.


This meant that the process took about twice as long as it should have done, and after passing referencing, we raised the paperwork in the same way as always, confirming addresses, bank details, asking all relevant questions at the relevant times and carried on booking the check in and clearing payments prior to the date.

The Check in.

Therefore, it was not until the actual check in that we discovered the person renting the property had never even visited the property before until that day and that even the forms were completed by the Tenants parents (Although signed correctly by the Tenant) The problem being, that even though the Referencing forms had been completed indicating no pets, when asked as part of our inventory procedure, the Tenant suddenly announced that they had a small dog!   

The reolution.

In the end, after confirming we would not proceed until clarification from the Landlord, the check in was delayed as we would not proceed and hand over keys without specific approval, the Tenancy commenced one day late and the Landlord ended up with a dog in his house, accepting a larger deposit rather than lose another month at least finding a replacement.

The Lesson.

It is a rule for our office never to accept a Tenant for a property until they have viewed the house concerned, accepting that sometimes, when people are abroad, differing arrangements need to be made. But at these times we do everything we can to avoid problems prior to the check-in. Needless to say, having looked at how this situation arose, we will ensure that we meet any and all Tenants if the same situation arises again if at all possible and there is no doubt this has been a lesson for us as well as a check on our systems.

Timely reminder.

A reminder because we would normally go through such questions when carrying out property viewings which are always carried out accompanied, giving us the chance to ensure we are fully aware of the Tenants circumstances. The problem arose because we assumed the second Agent had already done what we did when assessing the Tenant at the initial viewing and there is the lesson – never assume – you know the old saying, it can make an ASS out of U and ME!

By Steve Roulstone

Last week I spoke about the confusion surrounding the introduction of the new legislation surrounding the supply of EPC’s to potential Tenants and how they need to be displayed when advertising properties in both the media and standard window displays. This week we have achieved some clarity through this link to a Q&A paper supplied by the NFPP.

Display documents.

Thankfully, it confirms that window display do not need to have the EPC displayed, which would as a stated, have meant whole scale changes throughout. In fact the clarification does make sense and now every time we give the same property documents as displayed actually out upon request, a copy of the first page of the EPC will be attached. Internet documents have always been clear and a copy needs to be available via a link for every property displayed.

Remaining question.

One area still remains unanswered and this is mainly because the Trading Standards Office (TSO) have as yet failed to contact me to confirm how they view electronic window displays, such as a TV with a scrolling image. As the TSO are the agency charged with enforcing the regulations and the body who will issue fines for non compliance, they will be the body I will seek confirmation from, but hopefully common sense will again prevail and the term ‘window display’ will win over ‘electronic display’ when they confirm an answer as it is the difference between the two definitions that is causing the remaining confusion.

Remaining confusion.

However, one area of the new regulations is still causing confusion and that is whether an EPC in the new format is required even if the existing one is still within its ten year time frame. At present each EPC for a rented property does have a ten year life, but the new regulations ask for certain pieces of information, as displayed on page one of the new style certificates to be included, but this information is not on page one of the old style certificates.

Legal view.

 The legal view is that to comply with the legislation, a new certificate has to be supplied, otherwise how can we provide the information as needed on page one of the new style certificates. Bearing in mind the regulations actually confirms the data as listed on page 1 of the new certificates.

Industry view.

Surprisingly, the view of the industry (at least locally) is that a new certificate is NOT required, and that the old style, even though it does not include the data referred to on page 1, is sufficient. Surprisingly because one would assume they would take the line of least resistance and of course, increased revenue!

Still waiting.

Having now been waiting for over a week for TSO to phone me back, had a row with my legal advisor because he cannot see the commercial sense with which I will be putting my Company at a disadvantage if I only took his view locally and had to insist that my current EPC provider asks again specifically about the issue of providing the data as specified when he has already responded to my question, means I am winning no friends in trying to resolve the issue, but as it is my Company that would be fined if we get it wrong, I must be persistent. But the worst comment that has come out of this shambles and I firmly believe that it is a shambles, is that there is no definitive answer, and only the courts could provide one! Perhaps I should just ignore the law then unless my Company is successfully prosecuted? It just makes further nonsense all round!

By Steve Roulstone.

Over the last three weeks, different issues have arisen concerning Insurance, all of which are worthy of note but not to the stage where they warrant their own blog, but they are important enough in  my opinion to be explained especially as for Landlords who are trying to deal with Insurance when renting your home, they do cause both concern and confusion.


There are two TV adverts that at present need clarifying, the first being the advert for Direct Line, where they mention Landlords Insurance. The reason this causes confusion and I have already had several Landlords who now believe that what Direct Line offer is a new product that they must also take, is that as an Industry, Landlords Insurance means ‘Rent and Legal Expenses’ cover. What the advert is talking about is Buildings Insurance which is for Landlords, by no means a special product, as the Insurance Companies that specialise in the Industry have been around as long as the Industry has.

Landlord spy.

The second advert, also by Direct Line, flies so much in the face of the principals which are enshrined in the law surrounding renting of property, namely ‘Peaceable Occupation’ that it is laughable. This is the one with the Landlord with a pair of binoculars. Worst than suggesting that either a Landlord would do such a thing, or that such behaviour is reasonable, is that the Tenant is shown hiding as if guilty! It is of course supposed to be a spoof, but not one that this Letting Agent sees the funny side of!

Small Print.

More important than the above which are at the best misleading, are the two real time cases that have affected Landlords of our own concerning their own Buildings Insurance cover. The first is the small print surrounding what a particular Insurance Company included insisted upon as acceptable by way of requirements for any Tenant. It was the first time we had come across this and we discovered purely because a member of our staff was very thorough in checking the Landlords documents, but in short, they insisted upon minimum earnings and hours of work per week. This opens a whole new area of concern for all Landlords, but at least we can advice all we speak to of the risk!

Reaction Time.

Secondly was a flood suffered during the recent cold spell, not by frozen pipes but by the failure of a valve. The damage, which happened between Tenants when the property was empty, also affected next door, but the reaction time in getting the property surveyed and starting to both dry out and repair, was in our opinion, the worst we have ever seen. It is difficult to know how to avoid this happening again, but I certainly feel that when looking at the cheaper end of Insurance cover, before a policy is taken with, shall we say an unusual supplier? Then ensure you have at least one reference, because we feel this Landlord has lost at least two months’ rent, which is more than the original cost of the Insurance!


Well the only one that springs to mind is that Insurance is a field that is going to continue to supply topics of conversation. Given the current FSA regulations, it is also one that fewer people can enter in to conversation about professionally, as we are not allowed to recommend Insurance providers ourselves, despite our daily involvement ‘in the field’. This is supposed to protect customers and ensure nobody gains financially from such advice. Perhaps the reality is that this is a short term view and that Companies in our position can actually help! But in my experience what cannot be denied is that the adverts cause more confusion than clarity.

By Steve Roulstone

I recently wrote that a scheme being tried by a local Council in Staffordshire to encourage house sales was an excellent idea and one that if it worked be copied in other areas. At the time I wrote it I was aware that it may be difficult for some to understand why a Letting Agent should be happy to see house sales moving again when so many houses are entering the rental market purely because they cannot sell in this market?

Perfect answer!

Well one of our regular routine annual procedures has provided an answer as to why in a way far better than anything I could find to articulate my thoughts at the time of writing about the Council. The procedure is the annual rent review, which, because Landlords are able to increase rent once per year, we undertake in the spring because it is the most natural time for prices to increase in what is normally the time when the market shows its best increase through increased activity.

Hard task.

We do of course discuss each scenario with our Landlords so that they are both aware and happy with any proposed increase and I must confirm that it is good to see so many Landlords this year being realistic about both the market and the current Tenants capacity to pay any increase. But each eligible property has had to be reviewed carefully. As a rule, we would normally only recommend an increase that kept the rent below the current market price, an approach which rarely meets with anything but approval from our Landlords, but the numbers of available properties at present as meant that we need to have a very good picture of those very rates!

Large increase in numbers.

It is a fact that the number of properties coming to the market is still high and Tenants do have plenty of selection when looking for a home and are on average looking at far more properties than they would normally do (possibly twice as many if our viewing diary is anything to go by!) but this has of course had an effect on the achievable prices as more and more offers are made as Tenants try to catch a bargain. Of course we manage them in a way that reflects what we expect to happen so we are very aware of what rent we are liable to achieve still for our Landlords!

Less houses in this case will be better!

And this is the evidence that confirms my view of any scheme which encourages more movement in the housing market. There is also no doubt that we are seeing as many if not more Tenants as we would expect at this time of year, the problem for so many Landlords is that there are at least twice as many houses if not more on the market. It is easy therefore to see that should houses start to sell again; the rental market will also improve as what we consider normality would be resumed.

Competition will stay.

Estate Agents do of course still have and will continue to have the ability to speak to any owner of a property that is failing to be sold and will no doubt offer the rental option before the Traditional Letting Agent even gets the opportunity to speak to owners. So be it, it is a situation we have lived with for the last three years and we are still getting more than our share of the properties available.

Market share.

But what tells us this will not change even if house sales do make a dramatic recovery this year, is that the Private Rental market now accounts for over 20% of UK housing stock at current rising trends. (Figures will be confirmed next year) so we as Agents will learn to live with the increased competition, but I still see increasing sales as a good thing for Landlords and hopefully by the time we carry out our rent review next year, the new figure will be easier to calculate!

By Craig Smith

At last, a chance to update you all on the latest goings on in the letting world! This month seems to be going so quickly there is a lot to write about, so lets get on with it!

Increasing Number of Viewers Making Offers

With the slow down in the property market over the last few years a number of people are still struggling to sell their homes. This leads some to consider letting their property instead in order for them to move on with their lives but take care of the ‘unable to sell’ situation at the same time. Whether this is the case or whether an investment Landlord has a property coming empty, everyone is keen to get their property let sooner rather than later!

If you are in the market to purchase a property it is common practice to make an offer on the asking price to get a better deal. Today the situation is much the same in the rental market with many prospective tenants making offers on the asking price. Couple this with the huge supply of rental stock that is available at the moment and many Landlords find themselves without any rent increases.

Too Much Choice for Prospective Tenants!

The huge amount of choice that a prospective tenant has when looking for a property has increased the amount of viewings booked for a property. Instead of being able to find only 2 or 3 potential new homes and making a decision in a few days, tenants now have the possibility of a dozen that may be suitable. This, in turn, does lead to more people offering lower rents and trying to get more for their money (it makes sense!) but also increases the number of viewings that might be needed on a property before it is finally let!

In what seems like a distant memory of times gone by, a Landlord could expect perhaps 4 or 5 viewings on a property before it goes under offer. One property that we have been marketing has had over 20 viewings and has now been taken.

Rent Review Time

Increasing the rent is a tough decision at the moment and should be well thought about by any Landlord. We are currently advising our Landlords of properties that have been let for around 12-18 months if we consider a rent increase to be feasible. Given the choice, I’m sure 99% of Landlords would like an increase but putting the rent up too much could force the existing tenant to look around and see what else is available.

Look back at the first section of this post and if a tenant can make an offer on a property that is in the same price range they could just be tempted to move! By keeping the rent at the same rate a Landlord might lose perhaps £10 a month but this is still a lot better off than having a property sat empty for a month between tenancies!

Change of Deposit Legislation

Regular readers will remember my post from back in March regarding the change in Deposit Protection Rules. We’ve been busy organising the new Prescribed Information forms and have issued them to all of our tenants who need them. (By the way, if you are a tenant of ours who hasn’t got them back to us yet please don’t forget!)

If a Landlord hasn’t ensured that they have their paperwork up to date it could come back to bite them in the future. Any deposit taken for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement must now be registered with one of the approved deposit schemes. If the deposit has not been protected then the Landlord is unable to serve a Section 21 notice on the tenants to leave the property (and wouldn’t be able to do so until the deposit is registered) and could find themselves ordered by a court to repay up to 3 times the deposit amount to the tenant. This is regardless of any rent arrears or damages that a tenant may already have accrued!

What Next?

There are further changes on the horizon including the way in which Energy Performance Certificates need to be presented on property details. If anyone tells you that employing a managing agent for your property is a waste of money then just tell them to see how busy we are in looking after our Landlords!

By Steve Roulstone

Recent changes in the way in which EPC documents have to be displayed are quite frankly being made to look ridiculous by the way in which they are being translated. It is of course well known that there are always areas that need clarification when new legislation is introduced, but the plethora of new requirements being launched at our industry at present does beg the question, why is it so unclear how to introduce changes that, if we got them wrong, are subject to a financial penalty?

EPC Displays.

The clarity is supposed to be how and where the information shown on the EPC is displayed. There are three areas of concern, when a property is being viewed, when it is being advertised and when it is being displayed. The problem lies with the latter, but all affected areas have had to be clarified.

Property viewings.

This for us was the easiest to deal with, as the EPC has to be available for all potential Tenants when a viewing takes place. As our staff carry I Pads with the EPC stored for every property being marketed, along with as much information as a Tenant may require, this was easy to deal with. All we needed to get clarified was that an electronic version, with a back up of the written version being supplied either in the post or by e-mail. It is.


This includes both the paper version of advertising as well as through the web. Again, after some suggestions that the EPC would have to be placed alongside each property advertised in the paper, it was confirmed that it does not need to be in this format. Good job really or this post would have had two targets for the ridiculous suggestion of the year!

Display advert.

Now for the area that has me looking to the skies in frustration! It is well known that property details are in by far the majority of Lettings or Estate Agent offices produced in A4 size, or something very close. This includes the window display and in our case as with many others on a rolling TV display. Well somebody has now decided that the front page of the EPC should be included on page one of the document displaying the property, if the document includes for a rented property a photograph and the price as well! Not much point in producing it if it does not!

New Style.

They also state that it has to be page one of the new style, but that the new style is not needed for those that have already been produced (They last ten years for a rental property) so firstly, how can we show the new style unless we pay for an updated version? If you visit the EPC report retrieval site to recover a report it is STILL shown in the old style?

 Ridiculous requirement!

But worst of all, is how can a form designed for A4 reproduction, with close on 50 lines of information be shown clearly ON an A4 sheet of paper and leave any room for anything else to be displayed on the same sheet of paper? Does this mean that all property display details are going to have to be re-produced in A3 to allow room? Are every single Estate and Letting Agent in the country going to have to change their display units costing £millions? This is (once again) an effect of the changes that has just never been thought through, the practical requirements and sheer ability to be able to comply with the need to show the EPC in the manner described is just impossible?


I just do not have one! I just hope that common sense prevails in the end and that a proper solution is found, in the meantime all Agents are left wondering what to do whilst being in danger of having a fine clapped on them for failing to display EPC details in the new format! Or do we just change all internal and window display units and spend a fortune changing them? Just in case!!

By Steve Roulstone

Just when you think you may find it difficult to think of something to find as a topic for the second Blog of the week, actually working day to day in a Lettings office comes up trumps. There is after all always something happening and something to write about but never surprising. The point is that it is nearly always a subject that has cropped up before, quite often from a different angle or from a differing view point, but very rarely is it a subject that is new to our experience, which means we are able to respond correctly and quickly.

When is a Guarantor not a Guarantor.

Today’s topic is one that usually only raises its head when another problem exists in the background, so when the conversation starts with the statement ‘I do not want to be a Guarantor any more’ The first question has to be why and then of course we have to advise the consequences, which, unless a replacement is already lined up, is that the Tenancy is still live and that they are still responsible as Guarantors.

Differing positions.

Of course there are many differing situations, this morning’s was the most common one, one partner has left the house and the Guarantor has found themselves looking after the child’s ex partner. This is usually the worst scenario, as we also have to inform the wounded parent that not only are they still liable, but also their child is still responsible for the rent and of course property  as well, until acceptable alternative arrangements are confirmed.

Best advice.

 Of course we do everything possible to make people aware of their liability before the agreement is entered in too, including a separate fact sheet for the Guarantor which is also signed separately to the agreement. The problem is who reads them? We also prefer the Guarantor to be present at the check-in, where the Tenant who has also been given a copy of the agreement to read prior to moving in, which is also ignored more often than not. The point being  that no matter how much we try and at least some do read the information, so it is worthwhile, a percentage of those that do not end up hearing exactly what they do not want to hear when the question is asked.


Well in real terms, i.e. as per the agreement, there is not a solution, rather the Tenants have to abide by notice, if the second party still wants to leave and therefore the Guarantee agreement still stands. However taking a practical stance, providing the Landlord does not loose rent then either a replacement can be found or an alternative Guarantor, but ONLY when either criteria is met and new documents signed is the original agreement replaced and not until. Of course if as stated the second person does not leave or no alternative Guarantor can be found, then there is no change!


So my original statement stands, because a Guarantor is the Guarantor for the duration of the agreement. Of course such problems, whilst being the bread and butter of such articles as mine, do not happen often and if 95% of Tenancies pass without a hitch, then the same percentage of Guarantors never have to make that phone call! 


By Steve Roulstone


It may not be news to some, but to me the two year anniversary of my Blog page (This is the 200th Post) marks the changes that both the industry and my Company have gone through during this time. It started as a way of promoting the name of the group at a time when I was both a Franchise holder and Franchisee of the Castle Estates Group. The Anniversary marks a time when the Franchise group has ceased trading and my own Franchise has become an independent Letting Agency, as have all of the National Castle Offices across the country.


Changes in trade.


On the face of it, such a statement of fact may seem to be a statement of failure, as the group no longer offers Franchising at all. But rather it is a statement about the industry itself, which no longer in my humble opinion suits the Franchising model, in the same way that Estate Agency never has either. The reason is simple, because of the housing sales collapse, nearly every Estate Agents in town has added lettings to their business model and one can hardly blame them, as there is no doubt this saved many Companies from closing during the last three years.


Changes in Law.


This period has also seen many changes in law as Governments continue to try to put their control on a sector which they obviously felt was not giving Tenants a fair deal. Regular readers will know that I look on our industry as two sectors, the non professional and the professional. Legislation has enveloped all. The only pity is that our professional bodies were not strong enough to convince the Government that they could self Police and until legislation enforces all Agencies to join a professional body this will not change.


Changes in rules of the game.


Not all legislation has been to do with how the industry treats its clients however and of course there have been many changes involving procedure, which ultimately DO effect how clients are treated, but are more to do with how we carry out our business than the principals used in doing so. Most of these changes have only just taken effect through the Localism Act, such as new regulations surrounding Tenants Deposit and the manner in which the Energy Performance Certificate is dealt with. No doubt we will continue to see more, although without being Political, it tends to be the socialists that encourage control of our every move rather than the current incumbents.


Trading as a Letting Agent.


So back to the day job! Well that has been the result of the major change during the time this blog has been running and in fact I am pleased to state that this Blog has been one of the more consistent factors in my daily work. It is a task I both enjoy and feel offers a real service to our client base, both Landlord and Tenant. Certain posts now find themselves repeated in our local papers so the presence of the Blog has more to do with the day to day running of an agency now without the National link. This is a fact that is confirmed in its content matter as more local issues are discussed than National on a weekly basis.


 Next two years.


Well I hope for more of the same. There is certainly never a shortage of topics as everything surrounding the Industry is discussed on a weekly basis. From viewings to agreements, buying property and preparation for the market, Informing both Tenants and Landlords, discussing professionalism and how to deal with problems, we have covered it all and hopefully will continue to do the same, no matter what changes are introduced.


By Steve Roulstone


An unusual link has been formed in the launch of a new scheme to assist first time buyers in the Staffordshire Moorlands. Leek United Building Society has put together a scheme with Staffordshire Moorlands District Council to offer 95% mortgages to those who cannot afford the usual 25% deposit currently required by most mortgages but can afford the monthly re-payments.


Target audience.


The scheme is targeted at first time buyers who either live or work in the Staffordshire Moorlands catchment area. Presumably for the property being purchased to be acceptable, the house will need to be within the Moorlands catchment area. This can only be looked upon as a good idea by Staffordshire Moorlands Council, who will presumably attract more Council Tax payers for the region and at the same time removing pressure on the Council’s social housing needs.




The idea is that the Council will approve purchasers providing they meet with the rules of the scheme and then act as Guarantor for the payment of the monthly mortgage.  Also fees chargeable appear to be very transparent from the start, so those looking to sign up should be able to budget all costs applicable prior to applying. The role of the third party (Sector Treasury Services Ltd) listed as part of the agreement is not made clear, but I would presume that they are able to assist in the 5% deposit required.




The scheme is only available for a short period until the end of August 2012, but hopefully it will be a success and it is certainly one that I shall be keeping an eye on. If it does prove successful, hopefully other Councils will also be keen to look at the implications and results as it would seem to me to be an innovative way of dealing with the perennial problem for first time buyers, especially with the current mortgages that are available.


Market effect.


I also feel that it is an idea which will have little effect on the rental market, which you will forgive me for considering. Yes there may be some reduction in Tenants, but at a time when the market needs any kind of encouragement it can get, especially in an area like the Moorlands who rely on the more traditional industries which are probably affected more by the current financial uncertainty than most it is good to see people thinking outside of the box. Time will of course tell, but I for one applaud the positive move. Hopefully when tested there will be enough people willing and able to fulfil the criteria set out by those concerned in this laudable initiative.