The pros and cons of using accelerated possession to evict a tenant

It is wise to look at the pros and cons of choosing the accelerated possession procedure when evicting tenants. It  can be a faster option but unfortunately cannot be used in all circumstances.

scales of justice
scales of justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landlords will need to serve notice correctly and then obtain a possession order from the court before they can proceed.

To use the accelerated possession procedure, the following must apply:

  • The tenant is on an assured shorthold tenancy
  • You have given the tenants at least 2 months written notice to quit under section 21 and they have not vacated by the date specified
  • The tenant moved into the property after 15th January 1989
  • If you took a deposit, it must have been put in one of the government deposit protection schemes
  • You are not claiming rent arrears

When you apply to court for accelerated possession, the court will send your tenants a copy of the application and they will have 14 days from the date of receipt to contest it.

A judge will review the application and decide whether or not to grant the possession order without it going to a hearing. Should the tenant challenge the application, the judge may well decide that a court hearing is needed. Once that has taken place, the judge will decide on the possession order.

Should a possession order be awarded, the judge will normally give the tenants up to  28 days to leave the property.

The pros

Accelerated possession  can be a faster way of recovering your property.

The court fee for standard possession and accelerated possession is currently £355.00.

The cons

As you cannot claim for rent arrears and  should you wish to try to recover any,  you will need to either use the standard possession procedure or make a separate court claim for the arrears. If your tenants are having financial difficulties you may find there is no chance of recouping any of the monies owed!

If your tenants are on a fixed term tenancy, you cannot evict them until the fixed term has ended.  On a periodic tenancy, the procedure can only be used after the first six months have passed. So the whole notice period could be longer than two months.

If you make any mistakes with either the section 21 notice or the application to the court, your application will probably be thrown out and you would either have to ask for a hearing or start the process all over again.

It has been known for judges to give tenants up to 6 weeks to leave a property in exceptionally difficult circumstances.

Enforcement

If tenants do not leave after the date provided on the possession order, you will then need to decide what action to  take to evict the tenants. You can either use the County Court bailiffs or request leave to use a High Court Enforcement Officer.

You can apply under section 42 of the County Courts Act 1984 for permission to transfer the possession order to the High Court for enforcement by an High Court Enforcement Officer. The best time to apply for permission is when making the initial application for the possession order.

County Court bailiffs will be cheaper however as the courts are very busy, you may find that you wait up to 6 weeks for an appointment for the eviction.

High Court Enforcement Officer’s are usually able to obtain a writ within a few days and carry out the eviction shortly after.

It is always unpleasant to evict tenants however you are running a business and not a charity. So whichever route of possession you decide upon, if you are unsure I would recommend seeking professional advice.

Until next time

 

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More Than Eighteen Babies Born for Every New Home Built in the Past Five Years in Tamworth

More than 18 babies have been born for every new home that has been built in Tamworth since 2012, deepening the Tamworth housing shortage.

This discovery is an important foundation for my concerns about the future of the Tamworth property market – when you consider the battle that todays twenty and thirty somethings face in order to buy their first home and get on the Tamworth property ladder. This is particularly ironic as these Tamworth youngsters’ are being born in an age when the number of new babies born to new homes was far lower.

This will mean the babies being born now, who will become the next generation’s first-time buyers will come up against even bigger competition from a greater number of their peers unless we move to long term fixes to the housing market, instead of the short term fixes that successive Governments have done since the 1980’s.

Looking at the most up to date data for the area covered by Tamworth Council, the numbers of properties-built versus the number of babies born together with the corresponding ratio of the two metrics …

 

It can be seen that in 2016, 7.68 babies had been born in Tamworth for every home that had been built in the five years to the end of 2016 (the most up to date data). Interestingly, that ratio nationally was 2.9 babies to every home built in the ‘50s and 2.4 in the ‘70s. I have seen the unaudited 2017 statistics and the picture isn’t any better! (I will share those when they are released later in the year).

Our children, and their children, will be placed in an unprecedented and unbelievably difficult position when wanting to buy their first home unless decisive action is taken. You see it doesn’t help that with life expectancy growing year on year, this too is also placing excessive pressure on homes to live in availability, with normal population growth nationally (the number of babies born less the number of people passing away) accumulative by two people for every one home that was built since the start of this decade.

Owning one’s home is a measure many Brits to aspire to. The only long-term measure that will help is the building of more new homes on a scale not seen since the 50’s and 60’s, which means we would need to aim to at least double the number of homes we build annually.

In the meantime, what does this mean for Tamworth landlords and homeowners? Well the demand for rental properties in Tamworth in the short term will remain high and until the rate of building grows substantially, this means rents will remain strong and correspondingly, property values will remain robust.

If you are thinking of getting into the property rental market and don’t know where to start, speak to us for impartial advice and guidance to get the best return on your investment. For more information about other potential investment properties that we could introduce you to, or to ask about our thoughts on your own investment choices, call us now on 01827 425195, you can always email me on  Lorraine@hallandthompson.co.uk

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Ask Lorraine – I am a Tamworth landlord with an EPC dilema!

You may find this article helpful   https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/energy-performance-certificates-for-the-construction-sale-and-let-of-dwellings

Ask Lorraine ; What Documents do I need for my Tamworth property before renting it out?

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Extra Funding Is Required for Affordable Homes in Tamworth

In my blog about the Tamworth Property Market I mostly only talk about two of the three main sectors of the local property market, the ‘private rented sector’ and the ‘owner occupier sector’. However, as I often stress when talking to my clients, one cannot forget the third sector, that being the ‘social housing sector’ (or council housing as some people call it).

In previous articles, I have spoken at length about the crisis in supply of property in Tamworth (i.e. not enough property is being built), but in this article I want to talk about the other crisis – that of affordability. It is not just about the pure number of houses being built but also the equilibrium of tenure (ownership vs rented) and therein, the affordability of housing, which needs to be considered carefully for an efficient and effectual housing market.

An efficient and effectual housing market is in everyone’s interests, including Tamworth homeowners and Tamworth landlords, so let me explain ..

An average of only 36 Affordable Homes per year have been built by Tamworth Borough Council in the last 9 years

The requirement for the provision of subsidised housing has been recognised since Victorian times. Even though private rents have not kept up with inflation since 2005 (meaning tenants are better off) it’s still a fact there are substantial numbers of low-income households in Tamworth devoid of the money to allow them a decent standard of housing.

Usually, property in the social housing sector has had rents set at around half the going market rate and affordable shared home ownership has been the main source of new affordable housing yet, irrespective of the tenure, the local authority is simply not coming up with the numbers required. If the local authority isn’t building or finding these affordable homes, these Tamworth tenants still need housing, and some tenants at the lower end of the market are falling foul of rogue landlords. Not good news for tenants and the vast majority of law abiding and decent Tamworth landlords who are tarnished by the actions of those few rogue landlords, especially as I believe everyone has the right to a safe and decent home.

Be it Tory’s, Labour, SNP, Lib Dems, Greens etc, everyone needs to put party politics aside and start building enough homes and ensure that housing is affordable. Even though 2017 was one of the best years for new home building in the last decade (217,000 home built in 2017) overall new home building has been in decline for many years from the heady days of the early 1970s, when an average of 350,000 new homes were being built a year.  As you can see from the graph, we simply aren’t building enough ‘affordable’ homes in the area. 

The blame cannot all be placed at the feet of the local authority as Council budgets nationally, according to Full-Fact, are 26% lower than they have been since 2010.

So, what does this mean for Tamworth homeowners? Well, an undersupply of affordable homes will artificially keep rents and property prices high. That might sound good in the short term, but a large proportion of my Tamworth landlords find their children are also priced out of the housing market. Also, whilst your Tamworth home might be slightly higher in value, due to this lack of supply of homes at the bottom end of the market, as most people move up the market when they do move, the one you want to buy will be priced even higher.

Problems at the lower end of the property market will affect the middle and upper parts. There is no getting away from the fact that the Tamworth housing market is all interlinked .. it’s not called the Property ‘Ladder’ for nothing!

If you are thinking of getting into the property rental market and don’t know where to start, speak to us for impartial advice and guidance to get the best return on your investment. For more information about other potential investment properties that we could introduce you to, or to ask about our thoughts on your own investment choices, call us now on 01827 425195, you can always email me on  Lorraine@hallandthompson.co.uk

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Leaks and Flooding – Is my Tamworth Landlord responsible?

If you live in a flat you may occasionally have an issue with leaks and flooding from neighbouring flats. When this happens tenants tend to look to their landlord to rectify the situation, but it is not that straight forward.

It is a landlords duty to repair structural items such as walls, ceilings and plasterwork in a rental property should a leak occur. A landlord should accept responsibility once they are made aware of the damage. Once informed, the landlord must carry out all repairs in a timely period and to a reasonable standard.

Who is responsible for tenants belongings

Who is responsible for tenants belongings?

Tenant’s possessions may have been damaged due to a leak  and they may assume that the landlord is responsible for replacing these items, this is not necessarily so!

Where the damage has been caused by a leak or flooding from a third party’s flat then the tenant should pursue a claim against the third party.  If the tenant has contents insurance, the tenant is advised to make a claim on that policy and leave it to the insurance company to pursue the third party. Where no contents insurance exists, the tenant is advised to take court action against the third party to recover any money for the damage to their possessions.

A landlord may be liable for his tenants possessions if the leak or flooding has originated because the rented property is in a state of disrepair.

I would recommend that all tenants take out contents insurance if their budget allows them too.

If you are thinking of getting into the property rental market and don’t know where to start, speak to us for impartial advice and guidance to get the best return on your investment. For more information about other potential investment properties that we could introduce you to, or to ask about our thoughts on your own investment choices, call us now on 01827 425195, you can always email me on  Lorraine@hallandthompson.co.uk

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Tamworth Property Market – Asking Prices Up 10.5% in the Last 12 Months

 

The average asking price of property in Tamworth increased by 10.5% or £24,289 compared to a year ago, with particularly good demand from landlords and home-movers in the first few months of the year. This takes the current average asking price to £254,954, compared with £230,665 this time last year.

The rise in asking prices is being aggravated by buyers jumping into action looking to benefit from potential stamp duty savings (especially first-time buyers) or beat impending mortgage interest rate rises later in 2018. Of the numerous Tamworth buyers starting their property hunting in the usually active spring market this year, many face paying even more than ever for the property of their dreams, although as I mentioned a few weeks ago, there are more properties for sale in Tamworth compared to 12 months ago.

Looking at the different sectors of the Tamworth property market, splitting it down into property types, one can see what is happening to each sector of the market with regard to their average asking prices now compared to a year ago. Firstly, looking at the Pound note amounts …

Interestingly, when one looks at the percentages, the most upward average asking price pressure is in the terraced and semi-detached property type sectors, with both first-time-buyer and second-time-buyer properties at new Tamworth asking price highs.

Now, I must stress this growth in the asking prices of Tamworth property doesn’t mean the value of Tamworth property is going up by the same amount … nothing could be further from the truth.  Only time will tell if the current levels of Tamworth asking prices is a catch-up abnormality after a couple of months of restrained asking price rises in the first few months of 2018, or is it an initial sign that we are in for a better 2018 Tamworth Property market than all of us were expecting at the start of the year?

I believe these asking prices must be viewed with a pinch of salt, as it will be fascinating to see whether Tamworth properties actually sell at these higher asking prices. Just because house sellers (be they owner-occupiers or landlords liquidating their assets) are asking for more money it doesn’t mean buyers will be enthusiastic to part with their hard earned cash. Like my Mum and Dad used to say to me all those years ago, “You can ask … but you might not get”.

Also, Tamworth homeowners and landlords wanting to sell their property need to be aware of progressively strained buyer mortgage affordability and the more those sellers increase asking prices, the more buyers will hit their maximum on the amount they are able borrow on a mortgage.

However, those Tamworth buyers who need a mortgage (be they owner-occupier or landlord), will paradoxically benefit from lower mortgage payments before interest rates rise … maybe another reason for the uplift in the number first time buyers and landlords buying? Only time will tell!

Want to know where those Tamworth buy to let bargains are?  Follow my Tamworth Property Blog or drop me an email because irrespective of which agent you use, myself or any of the other excellent agents in Tamworth, many local landlords ask me my thoughts, opinion and advice on what (and not) to buy locally … and I wouldn’t want you to miss out on those thoughts … would you?

If you want to learn about the Tamworth Property Market , one source for information is the Tamworth Property Blog authored by yours truly at https://www.tamworthpropertyblog.co.uk

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Bad Tamworth tenants and the law

What would happen if you wandered in Marks and Spencers  helped yourself to some lunch and walked out without paying?

Do you think you would get away scot free without paying or would one of those beefy security guards feel your collar?

You may even end up in court with a criminal record, at the very least you would be made to pay for the goods!

Even rogue landlords face hefty fines and penalties and are put on the “rogues board”.

Well did you know that tenants who decide not to pay their rent often walk away without even so much as a slap on the wrist.

Take my friend Alice, a pleasant lady who always sees the good in people. Alice has a tenant – Miss X who decided she no longer wanted to pay her rent even though she’s on a very generous salary. Miss X even thought it was all perfectly civilised to carry on living in Alice’s apartment.

So Alice couldn’t report Miss X to the police unlike M & S, instead she had a long drawn out and expensive eviction process she had to go through. To make matters worse the beloved sofa and dining suite that were part of Alice’s mothers estate disappeared with Miss X.  Alice reported her complaint to the police, missing furniture and nearly nine months rent unpaid. The response from the police “sorry, nothing we can do, this is a civil matter and not a criminal offence”,

So if you steal even as much as a bag of crisps from M & S it’s a criminal offence whereas stealing thousands from a landlord it is only a civil matter.

Landlords have no option if they want to try and get the money owed to them, they have to take their ex-tenants to Small Claims Court. Even if they succeed in getting a County Court Judgment  against the tenant, there’s no guarantee the landlord will receive any money.

According to the National Landlords Association, the past year saw 35 per cent of landlords experience rent arrears – 29 per cent had their property damaged by tenants and 13 per cent experienced anti-social behaviour.

While all this is going on, landlords still have to carry on paying the mortgage and maintaining the property while the tenant lives rent free.

Organisations, renters and their sympathisers have little or no sympathy for the supposedly   “fat cat” landlord in this position,  but let’s look at the bigger picture.

For every non-paying tenant waiting for the bailiff to arrive before they vacate, there’s a good tenant complaining about the lack of rental properties or the cost of renting has risen. Many a wronged landlord finding themselves thousands out of pocket will look to recoup any losses once they have possession of the property. So the rent is increased for the next tenant.

If the Government is keen on protecting tenants from rogue landlords, why not protect landlords from bad tenants too?

To my mind, it’s only the same as shoplifting and should be the same crime – NOT A CIVIL MATTER.

Until next week

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Ask Lorraine – My Tamworth tenant has two dogs in the property, help!

Ask Lorraine – We have always stipulated that none of our tenants are allowed to keep pets in our properties. We are  not being unreasonable, my husband  has a pet allergy and suffers very badly with chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing whenever he comes in contact with them. We have always explained the reason for our no pets policy.

My husband called round to our latest tenants as they were  having an issue with the garage door. Imagine his response when he found the tenants had gone against our wishes and had two dogs in the property.

We now feel that we have lost all trust in our tenants and would like to know what are options are.

Thanks

B.W & S.W

Lorraines Answer – Landlords usually have a clause prohibiting pet ownership for  many reasons i.e potential damage to the property, noise, fleas, or even problems for future tenants if they have pet allergies.

Do you have a clause in your tenancy agreement prohibiting pet ownership at the property? If not then I would recommend that you include a clause for any future tenancies.

If you do have such a clause then the good news – you can give your tenants notice under section 8 clause 12 of the Housing Act 1988. This section covers a breach of the tenancy agreement.

No dogs or cats allowed
No dogs or cats allowed

Write to your tenants and ask them to remove the pets, ensure you refer to the clause in the tenancy agreement. I say write to your tenants as you should always document any correspondence with your tenants, if you have to take them to court you are able to supply any evidence requested by the courts.

If the pets are not removed, you will need to take the next step to seek possession of the property.  You can find form 3 plus lots of information on Eviction under section 8 clause 12 here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/as…

Should you not wish to get involved yourselves in the possession paperwork, then a solicitor or letting agent would be able to help.

Until next week.

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Investing in Retirement Homes in Tamworth – Pros and Cons of

With banks offering minimal returns on your savings, are there savvier ways to invest your money?

For those approaching retirement age, have you considered  investing in a retirement home for your retirement income.

Lots of social activities

Lots of social activities

Benefits of investing in retirement homes

Retirement homes or villages tend to be situated in chocolate box villages or towns which are popular with an older folk, such as Devon.  Here residents can enjoy a slower pace of life with their picturesque surroundings.

More and more people are discovering the benefits of downsizing, after all that big rambling house is no longer required and it’s  too much to maintain.

You may not feel ready to move into a retirement village  yourself, however you may welcome the additional income. So, even if you decide moving into a retirement home is not for you, now or in the future, the rental yield would be most welcome.

Recent research shows that half of all people over the age of 75 live alone, and one in ten of those aged 65 or over say they feel lonely. Half of all older people consider the TV to be their only form of company.

Loneliness can have a impact on one’s health – research has shown that lonely people are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who interact with other people.

Retirement homes regularly hold bingo evenings, coffee mornings, day trips to local excursions, they have Wellness Spa & Gym centres, a restaurant and a library. This gives residents the opportunity to socialise with each other as much or as little as they wish, folk are never lonely in a retirement home.

With the UK’s ageing population, there will always be a demand for residential homes/villages. For those of us who are not quite ready to sell up the family home and move into a retirement village, good rental returns are guaranteed. Leases can be flexible  so that they can be passed on to other family members should anything happen to the investor.

The cons of investing in retirement homes

As care homes are limited to the over 55s, there is a smaller pool of potential residents, however with the UK currently having a large elderly population, occupancy levels should be  relatively good.

Charges will be payable as there will be management  company overseeing the daily running of the care home, so this will reduce the rental yield. However, if the property is purely an investment opportunity it could be a completely hands off investment.

So whether you consider a retirement home for yourself or as an investment, why not look into the facts and figures.

As always any thoughts are always welcome, lorraine@hallandthompson.co.uk

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How to be a good Tamworth Landlord

How to be a good Landlord!

Putting processes in place can help to make property management a lot easier, here are some tricks of the trade:

 Communicating with tenants:

  • Writing is always better than phone
  • Do whatever is easiest for them –  text, Facebook or even   WhatsApp
  • You don’t have to give out your phone number, as long as you are contactable  – You can Skype
  • Set out ground rules at the start of the tenancy about when you’re contactable, and stick to them! Once you deviate from this your tenants will always expect you to answer them, whatever the time of day.

 

 

 

 

Chasing up rent :-

  • Ideally use standing order or direct debit – you’ll know it’s set up properly
  • Diarise rent date and contact the tenant on the same day if the rent doesn’t materialise
  • Have a process –  e.g. text day 1, text day 2, call day 3, final warning day 4
  • Don’t fall for those sob stories, you are running a business!

Dealing with emergencies :-

  • What is an “Emergency” you need to set ground rules
  • Instruct tenants about what to do in an emergency.  You may not always be the best person to call first.
  • Perhaps consider landlord emergency cover

Dealing with routine maintenance :-

  • Build up trades contacts and ensure you treat them well
  • Save a visit by seeing if it’s something the tenant can easily fix  e.g. washing machine filter or  unblock the  sink
  • Communicate clearly about damp and condensation – explain the difference, send yearly leaflets “how to guide”
  • Use routine inspections to look for early signs of repairs that will need doing.
  • Ensure you also check for early signs of repair works on the external of the property

Inspections :-

  • Quick check of each room
  • Check smoke alarms
  • Visually inspect electrics
  • Look for condensation
  • Look for early signs of repairs that will be needed

Be proactive and stop issues from happening in the first place, remember the saying “work smart, not hard”.

Until next time

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