Today saw the announcement of the 2017 budget - but what came of it for the UK’s housing crisis?
Theresa May had claimed to ‘personally’ take charge of the housing crisis, does the budget announced by her Government live up to this promise?
The housing headlines:
- Remove barriers to longer-term tenancies and encouraging landlords to offer this security for those who want it
- 28 million invested in ‘housing first’ pilots
- A Homelessness taskforce to halve homelessness by 2022 and end it by 2027
- Proposed 300, 000 new homes a year
- Stamp duty no longer to be paid by first time buyers on purchases up to £300,000 and between this and 500,000 will be charged for that over the threshold.
We all know we are increasingly in pursuit of convenience, speed, accessibility and simplicity, we see this in the technology we carry with us, for many nearing an extension of ourselves, in the way we order food, via Just Eat or Deliveroo, even in the way we date, swiping with the swish of a finger to find ‘the one’; we see this and we know that expectations for fast-paced answers for our fast-paced lives are high and rising.
We also, however, thankfully are seeing and demanding the need for a better society, for changes to be made to the unfair circumstances we often experience in today’s society.
In turn we are seeing today’s entrepreneurs offer up exciting and socially beneficial solutions to the issues and difficulties arising or developing
We’re taking a look at and admiring some other, fabulous apps who are really making their entrepreneurial mark, improving our society as it develops. We’re not talking charity here, we’re talking about those apps or platforms who are doing what they’re doing, with the hope, aim and intention of making a positive social change along the way!
Although we are clearly a little bias, this platform is breaking the one consistent complaint surrounding rental and letting in the UK, the sheer cost and complication of the whole affair is baffling for tenants and landlords alike. Paying fees for processing, admin and other things often unknown or explained, are less frequently tolerated and both parties are now straying and looking elsewhere. This has generated the evolution from the high street agent to the online, where these sites still operate with agents, a middleman which is where the costs increase.
The solution, to remove this middleman - Letproof.com
This is a very passionate and inspirational app, who have tapped into the app-loving generation and those who care where and how their products are made and their effects on the planet.
Orange harp introduces us to a pool of designers and retailers producing ‘well-made, long-lasting, and socially conscious’ products while ‘creating a fulfilling shopping experience’.
This app is Germany based, but with such a positive cause we felt we must give it a mention! The app has seen the need of those seeking asylum in their country and provides an introduction to all kinds of useful information to asylum seekers, including help with employment, learning the language and ‘answers to everyday practical questions’ to make settling into a new culture and country much simpler!
How often have you been sitting on a delayed train, late, missing your appointment and frustration growing that you’ve actually paid good money for this inconvenience? Well, now you can do something about it with a few clicks on your mobile. Traintrick is giving consumers the power to easily claim their refunds for these delayed journeys, processed by the Traintrick team!
This was founded by two sisters when the eldest found that her university experience often left her with seemingly useless leftover ingredients. The app takes the 3 ingredients you enter and gives you a meal or dish to make to use them up.
This app is not only positively encouraging cooking and resourcefulness among a new generation but also combatting the issue of food waste in the UK - brilliant!
We’re definitely feeling the cold creeping in now we’re in November, the heating is on and the scarves and gloves are now a frequent companion whenever we leave the house. So, before the cold really sets in, it’s time to get your property properly prepared for the coming winter months. If you’re a tenant, speak to your landlord if you notice anything that needs attention, and, if you’re a landlord, it’s important to keep on top of property maintenance all year round and winter prepping can avoid more serious (and often more costly) issues further down the line
At Letproof.com we’ve put together a little guide to get you started, no excuses! So, dump that 'it can wait' frame of mind and get winter proofing!
No one likes sorting out insurance, however... take the time this weekend, while you enjoy a cup of tea, to check your home insurance policy. What does it cover? If you need to claim, at least you'll be prepared and know what you’re able to claim on. It might also pay to check that if you aren’t covered for certain Winter emergencies as a tenant, that your landlord is so that neither of you gets caught out.
Exclude those drafts
Windows and doors with broken seals are letting in the draft, letting out the warm air inside, which you’re paying for, and can be easily fixed, so get checking.
Adding a door sweep at the bottom of your door is another great way to ensure none of that outside chill is getting into the house and they aren’t generally expensive to buy either!
Are your boiler and your heating system in good working order? If the property is a rental property then it should be checked annually so you'll likely find it is ship shape, however, if you’re unsure when it was last checked, ask your landlord. The last thing you want is no heating and hot water in Winter!
This one is a bit of a bigger job to undertake, however, if you have the ability or resources to do so, getting up into your loft to check the insulation is a task worth completing.
Is there anything that requires attention on your roof or chimney? If there are any loose tiles or chimney cracks these will only get worse after a season of wind, rain and snow, so if you think it needs attention, get a quote or speak to your landlord. As we said, acting early can be less expensive than the alternative.
Are your radiators ready to go? If the heat isn’t distributed evenly across your radiator and the tops are cooler than the bottom, you might need to bleed them to bring them back to their most efficient.
You might also want to check if you have any insulation behind your radiators, you can actually produce a makeshift version yourself, using sheets of tinfoil!
Avoid burst pipes
This can be a common problem over the winter periods, so if you’re not sure if you have any insulation on your pipes, this is a prime example of a preventative measure. Pipe lagging can be relatively inexpensive too, so get it on your to-do list!
In addition, if we're forcast particularly cold weather, keep your heating on low to ensure they don't get the chance to freez.
A nice extra for Spring...
Get your garden in order, as late into winter as you feel you can manage.
Cutting back those leafy trees and bushes will help keep the exterior of your home or rental property tidier over Winter, less leafy debris to clear from the ground, drains and gutters! Plus, clearing those borders and flower beds of dead plants is a great way to prepare your garden for Spring planting (if that’s your thing)...
It’s home security month this month so we’re fully getting on board and sharing some safety and security pointers with you, our landlords and tenants.
Steps can and should be taken by both parties to ensure the rented home is safe and secure, so here’s a few places you could start...
Start with the obvious areas that could make your property vulnerable to break-ins:
Are your locks secure?
Are there any unsecure doors or windows?
Don’t hide keys under mats or plant pots etc
Do you have any outhouses or sheds that can be easily accessed?
Think about how an intruder could gain access to your property. Are there things in your garden or yard which could be easily used as a leg up to a window for example?
Do you have a gate or barrier to entry? And could this be more secure, either by reinforcing or replacing, or by adding a lock.
Other measures you might want to consider…
Security lights; security lights can be an alert to you that there is someone in or near your property or entrance, it also works to get the attention of passersby or neighbours. Security lights also work as a deterrent for the intruder.
Cameras, again visible cameras on a property are a deterrent to anyone wishing to wrongfully enter your property, however in the unfortunate event that this does happen, cameras can help to pursue the intruder.
Burglar alarms; alarms in the home can alert you in many different ways to the fact that there is an intruder in your home. In many cases the alarm itself will be enough to scare away the intruder, however whatever the situation, you and your neighbours will definitely be aware of it.
There’s an app for that...
In our world of rapid and constant technological advances, there are of course many number of ways that you can help to protect your home when you are elsewhere, remotely, from a mobile device. Of course, these are largely evolved versions of your traditional home security, but they can definitely be worth the upgrade!
Security cameras, (already mentioned) can now be combined with an app on your mobile or tablet, so you can keep an eye on your cameras in real time while you’re not there and can even respond to a knock at the door when you’re not at home; all keeping you in control of, or at least in the know, about what’s going on at home.
Apps like ‘Hive’ may be great inventions for energy saving and convenient living, however these can also be used to ensure safety in your home. With access to switches in the home, remotely while out and about, mean that any concerns about fire safety for instance can be lessened. Hive now also offers motion sensors for the home, easily linked up to the same app on your smartphone.
If you’ve found this useful and you’d like to know more, you can find lots of useful advice on the Home Security Month site!
In April of 2017, the government announced their intention to ‘provide a fairer deal for renters by banning unfair letting agent fees and encouraging greater competition in the rental sector’ (Gov.uk). Creating a fairer rental sector is something that Letproof.com, an innovative letting platform where landlords and tenants come together to match directly without agents or the fees, has been working toward since their launch. The ban has brought to the surface a topic that many involved in the rental industry have felt strongly about for a long time, however, 5 months after the announcement, a date is yet to be given for this ban to come into effect.
Andrew Seymour, the CEO of Letproof.com, is passionate about providing a solution for the vast amount of tenants suffering overcharging agents and states that this tenant fees ban is a long time coming; ‘I feel the ban is long overdue as the prices being charged by agents were getting out of control. There was no consistent charging, it was merely down to agents' greed, charging higher rents and using desperate tenants who are trying to keep a roof over their heads as a guide to charge more’.
The prices paid by both tenants and landlords, to agents are unregulated and can easily, and frequently do, rise; Andrew suggests that tenants could have benefited before now ‘perhaps if any of the agents’ associations had policed a national rate, in line with most other industries, where you expect to be charged a small admin renewal fee'.
With worries that, in an effort to prevent financial losses, letting agents will transfer costs to Landlords who in turn may pass them back to tenants in the form of raised rents, could and should landlords still be looking for more cost-effective ways to let?
Any way in which the rental market is making steps towards a more transparent existence is strongly supported by Andrew Seymour and the Letproof.com team. He is as determined as ever to provide the platform he has developed to the masses, offering transparency, an escape from all hidden and excessive fees and simplicity for both parties, who can cultivate themselves more positive renting relationships!
Just as you’d protect your own home with comprehensive home insurance, landlords need cover for their rental properties. But what do landlords need to look for when getting insurance?
Although a rental property may be just another investment to a landlord, it is a home for the tenants living there, so it requires all of the covers that you’d put in place for your own home – in addition to industry-specific covers.
Award-winning Landlord Insurance provider Just Landlords has put together some top tips to help landlords get the cover their properties need:
Don’t forget your contents
Even if you don’t provide a fully furnished rental property to your tenants, there will still likely be some contents that you do offer, such as a washing machine (imagine if you tipped your property upside down – anything that fell would be classed as contents). It’s essential that these items are covered by your insurance so that you don’t miss out if any damage is caused to them.
If you do offer a fully furnished property, you may be surprised by how much everything is worth, which would cause a large dent in your pocket if anything was damaged or stolen. Always choose a policy that includes landlord contents.
Listen to other landlords
Other landlords or property investors will likely know a thing or two about protecting their properties, so speak to them to find out who they take out insurance with and what they think of the company.
If you don’t know any other landlords personally, you can always look online for reviews and recommendations from property investors. Trustpilot is a great place to start, as its star system allows you to compare one insurance provider to another.
Look for industry-specific covers
Unlike standard home insurance, landlord insurance should include covers for industry-specific perils that don’t affect normal homeowners. For instance, landlords will require cover against malicious damage, as well as cover against malicious damage by your tenants – this is an additional cover that landlords need if they wish to claim for any loss or damage caused by the tenant. The same goes for theft.
You don’t want to get caught out if your tenant does cause damage to the property on purpose, or steals something from your property, so always look for these essential covers when choosing a policy.
Check the Defaqto rating
Defaqto is an independent financial information business that helps consumers make informed decisions when it comes to companies offering financial services, such as insurance. With its star rating system (which ranges from 1 = the worst rating, to 5 = the best rating), you can easily compare policies from different providers.
Of course, it’s always best to go with a company that has a 5 Star Defaqto rating, such as Just Landlords, as they will be able to offer you the comprehensive cover that your rental properties need.
Watch out for sneaky add-ons
The last thing you want to do when looking for insurance is come to get a quote at a certain price and find that, if you do want extras that you think you’ll need, you have to pay more for them.
When looking at a landlord insurance policy, always make sure that it has all of the covers required for your property as standard, without finding that you need to pay for sneaky add-ons at the end – a good product will already have these included with the original price.
Looking out for each of these factors when choosing landlord insurance will ensure that you get the cover you need for your properties.