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I just love looking over and keeping up to date the 108 pieces of legislation that govern the rental of residential property in the UK”  

...No Docklands Landlord, ever

If you are one of the 4,901 Docklands landlord’s that manages your own property, would it surprise you to know that there are 108 separate pieces of legislation that govern the rental of private houses to tenants. Oh, and on top of the 108 pieces of law, there are further 300+ regulations in the mix. Whilst Docklands landlords may once have preferred to manage their Docklands buy-to-let properties themselves to boost their profits, many Docklands landlords are starting to see this as a false economy.

In the last four years, an additional 1,885 landlords in Docklands have converted from self-managed to having their property managed by a letting agent in Docklands, taking the total number of properties under management in Docklands to 7,666 (out of a total of 12,567 private rental properties in Docklands).

Now, don’t get me wrong, self-managing your Docklands rental property can be a very fulfilling experience, allowing you, as a Docklands landlord, to build a deep relationship with your tenant and your emergency 24 hour plumber, builder (happy to do small jobs at a drop of a hat), decorators, first name terms with their deposit provider, lawyer and EPC provider to name but a few. (Wow!)

Also, did you know if your tenants deposit isn’t registered, or doesn’t continue to be registered after the end the periodic tenancy upon renewal ... you could be fined up to three times your deposit? With the average rental deposit in Docklands being £2,328, each self-managed landlord in Docklands could be fined £6,984 per tenancy if the deposit isn’t currently registered. Therefore...

...if every deposit of every Docklands self-managed landlord’s property wasn’t registered, the total fines would amount to £34,229,492

Now of course, I am not suggesting for one minute all the self-managed landlords of Docklands haven’t registered their deposits, yet almost on a daily basis, I come across horror stories to that effect. Another two (but by no means all) hot issues that the Courts are cracking down on, are doing immigration ‘Right To Rent’ checks on all tenants (yes all tenants) and confirmation proving the tenant received the ‘How to Rent’ guide. If that second issue cannot be proved (a ‘sent’ email won’t suffice), the landlord cannot serve the section 21 Notice, meaning the tenant cannot be served notice to vacate the property.

To many, it’s really a case of DIY or getting a qualified professional in … as those additional Docklands landlords mentioned above have done since 2014. You might say, “Of course you are going to say all this – you are a Letting Agent”. Well the choice really comes down to your time and your knowledge. If a Docklands landlord is not equipped, or able, to devote time keeping up-to-date of legislation and law nor doesn’t want to be bothered 24/7/365 about a blown light bulb, dripping taps, have that confrontational conversation with their tenants about missing rental payments, or arbitrate arguments and disagreements between your tenant and the neighbours, it is perhaps better to pass this accountability/responsibility onto a letting agent.

One thing I would say is all letting agents aren’t the same. Would it surprise you to know that letting agents aren’t regulated?

Docklands landlords that do use a letting agent should not forget that passing over management to a letting agent doesn’t mean they can disregard legislation and they are still responsible for deposit/rent repayment legal directives, civil fines or action if the letting agent makes a mistake. Therefore, it’s important to pick a respectable letting agent from the start.

Nevertheless, for those Docklands landlords that see their job as a professional landlord and want to be intricately involved in the day to day administration of their rental properties, it can be worthy pursuit.

If you are a self-managed landlord in Docklands, and want to know if your paperwork is in order please feel free to drop me a line and I am more than happy to do an ‘MOT’ on it to ensure you are the right side of the law.

 

What is it to be British? Our stubbornness, long-suffering stoicism, our vexation at injustice, our obsession with football and rugby, we are weather obsessed external awkward noncommittal modest people whilst underneath seething like a volcano because someone jumped the queue….. and our No.1 obsession is with the property ladder.
This ‘love affair’ with owning our own home has been both good and bad for the UK as a whole; giving people financial freedom in their later years whilst also reducing the quantity (and quality) of housing provision whilst adding the extra pressure of a ‘them and us’ society. Strong words I know .. but let me explain more.
I honestly believe that most Governments since the end of the 1970’s, Conservative and Labour, have attempted to nourish our addiction to home ownership (to keep the housing market on track) with the Council House Right to Buy sell off in the 1980’s, tax relief of mortgages, relaxation of the mortgage rules in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s and most recently, the Help to Buy scheme.
But the Brits haven’t always had this obsession.
Roll the clock back 100 years and, in 1918, just under a quarter of all Brits owned their own homes and the other 77% rented. Go back 50 years to 1968, and only 46% of people owned their own home, the rest rented. This homeownership thing is quite a recent phenomenon.
According to my research, anyone looking to get a foot onto the property ladder as a first-time buyer in Docklands today, AS A SINGLE PERSON, would need to spend 11.3 times their earnings on a Docklands first time buyer property.
Using the numbers from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the average value of a first-time buyer property in Docklands today is £370,000, compared to £221,000 in 2007. If we divide those property values by the average annual earnings of first time buyers - in 2007, that was £28,764 pa and that has risen to £32,603 pa .. giving us the ratio of 11.3 to 1.
However, what must be remembered is that these are raw statistics from the ONS and don’t take into account other factors, like most people buy their first home as a couple. Also, mortgage rates are at an all-time low and who can remember mortgage rates of 15%+ in the 1990’s, meaning borrowing today is relatively cheap. Also, 95% Loan to Value first time buyer mortgages have been available since the end of 2009  (i.e. you only need to save a 5% deposit) and first time buyer rates of 2.19% fixed for 5 years can be obtained (correct at time of writing this article)… it is cheaper to buy than rent .. fact!
I believe there has been a mind-set change to owning a home. Home ownership was the goal of the youngsters in the latter half of the 20th century. Britain is changing to a more European model of homeownership, where people rent in early to mid-life, wait to inherit the money from their parents when in their 50’s and then buy.. thus continuing the circle - albeit in a different way to the last Century.

This means the demand for privately rented accommodation will, in the long term, only continue to grow. If you would like to know more about where the hot spots are for that growth in Docklands, then one place would be my property blog http://www.docklandspropertyblog.com or if you want to drop me an email or telephone call, feel free to pick my brain on the best places to buy (and not to buy) in Docklands to ensure your rental investment gets you want you want. The choice is yours!

The number of residential property transactions in Tower Hamlets will be 37.5 per cent lower in 2018, compared to 2017.
According to my research, the seasonally adjusted statistics for our local authority area suggest with the number of properties already sold in 2018, and the number of properties currently under offer or sold subject to contract (allowing for property sales to fall through before exchange of contracts) we, as an area, will end the year 37.46 per cent lower compared to 2017.
So why are transaction numbers so important to Docklands homeowners, Docklands landlords and potential first-time buyers?
Many economists and property market commentators believe transaction numbers give a more precise and truthful indicator of the health of the property market than just house values. In the six years before the Credit Crunch in 2007/8, the average number of completed property transactions in the local area (the local authority covered by Tower Hamlets) stood at 4,940 per year .. yet in the three years following the Credit Crunch, on average, only 3,365 homes were changing hands per year in the area.
Roll the clock forward to more recent times and last year, in 2017, 3,542 homes changed hands (i.e. transacted and sold) in the area, not all that far off the local authority’s 23 year overall average of 4,199 homes per year.
 
In the past, a reduction in the number of properties selling has often been believed to be the first signal of a down turn in the housing market as a whole. Although, the down turn of the credit crunch years (2007/2008) was more a free-fall than a subtle down turn. Look at the graph and the ‘so-called’ halcyon days of the 2000 to 2006 property market were a roller coaster when it came to the number of transactions. House prices were rising in the six/seven years before the credit crunch (2000 to 2006), albeit, the rate of growth of Docklands house prices did slow in late 2005 and 2006 (which does fit in nicely with the graph).
In other articles, I have mentioned the change in the number of houses for sale today compared to last year and further back. Although, the market has seen in recent months (i.e. the short term) an increase in the number of properties for sale, fundamentally, in the medium term, there has been an underlying trend in the reduction of properties coming onto the market for sale in Docklands (and nationally) and this has been one of the main drives behind the lack of properties selling .. Docklands people aren’t moving as much as they were 30 years ago meaning fewer houses are selling each year.
However, this short-term increase in properties for sale hasn’t been even across the board. In certain sectors of the Docklands property market, there is a glut of properties on the market at the moment and so prices and values are dropping on those types as sellers compete for the limited amount of buyers… yet, there are other sectors of the Docklands property market where there is a dearth, a shortage of property, and buyers are fighting tooth and nail with silly offers to try and secure the sale. This means, there are some bargains for you Docklands buy to let landlords. If you look hard enough, you could spot the same trends I have seen in Docklands and find the individual property micro markets that fall into that first sector (with its glut).
So, if you want the inside track on the Docklands property market, whether you are a landlord of ours or another agent, I am more than happy to guide you in the right direction if you drop me a line or an email (contacts details are easily found on this page – and I don’t bite or do hard sell – promise!).
So, to conclude, I believe we will finish on 2,215 housing transactions by the end of the year in the area .. some way off last year’s figure and the long-term 23-year average. Looking at the short term future, now it’s true some (not all) but some potential purchasers of property in Docklands may be exhibiting more caution because of concerns that the Bank of England will continue to put up interest rates– to which I reply – yes of course they will when they are only ultra-low at 0.75%. Anyway, that is the reason why 90%+ of new mortgages over the last nine months have been on a fixed rate. Also, if they do go up a few percentage points – they are nothing compared to the 12%, 14%, even 15% mortgage rates many of my landlords saw in the early 1990’s.

We can all speculate (and I appreciate the irony of that as I write this article) but all I say to any Docklands landlords, Docklands homeowners or Docklands first time buyers is act according to your own life cycle, budget on a modest increase in interest rates in the coming few years (yet protect yourself by fixing it), consider your own circumstances and finally, what you can afford.

There is no escaping the fact that over the last couple of decades, the rise in the number buy to let properties in Docklands has been nothing short of extraordinary.  Many in the “left leaning” press have spoken of a broken nation, the fact many youngsters are unable to buy their first home with the rise of a new cohort of younger renters, whom have been daubed ‘Generation Rent’ as landlords hoover up all the properties for their buy to let property empires. Government has been blamed in the past for giving landlords an unfair advantage with the tax system. It is also true many of my fellow professionals have done nothing to avail themselves in glory, with some suspect, if not on some rare occasions, downright dubious practices.
Yet has the denigration and unfair criticism of some Docklands landlords gone too far?
It was only a few weeks ago, I read an article in a newspaper of one landlord who had decided to sell their modest buy to let portfolio for a combination of reasons, one of which being the new tax rules on buy to let that were introduced last year. The comments section of the newspaper and the associated social media posts were pure hate, and certainly not deserved.
Like all aspects in life, there are always good (and bad) landlords, just like there are good (and bad) letting agents ... and so it should be said, there are good tenants and in equal measure bad tenants. Bad letting agents and bad landlords should be routed out … but not at the expense of the vast majority whom are good and decent.
But are the 4,914 Docklands (or E14 to be precise) portfolio buy to let landlords at fault?
The Tories allowed people to buy their own Council house in the 1980’s, taking them out of the collective pot of social rented houses for future generations to rent them. Landlords have been vilified by many, as it has been suggested by some they have an unhealthy and ravenous avarice to make cash and profit at the expense of poor renters, unable to buy their first home. Yet, looking beyond the headline grabbing press, this is in fact ‘fake news’. There are seven reasons that have created the perfect storm for private renting to explode in the 2000’s.
To start with, the Housing Acts of 1988 and 1996 gave buy to let landlords the right to remove tenants after six months, without the need for fault. The 1996 Act, and its changes, meant banks and building societies could start to lend on buy to let properties, knowing if the mortgage payments weren’t kept up to date, the property could be repossessed without the issue of sitting tenants being in the property for many years (even decades!) ... meaning in 1997, buy to let mortgages were born… and this, my blog reading friends, is where the problem started.
Secondly, in the early 2000’s, those same building societies and banks were relaxing their lending criteria, with self-certification (i.e. you did not need to prove your income), mortgages 8 times their annual salary, and very helpful interest only mortgage deals helped to keep repayments inexpensive.
Thirdly, the totally inadequate building of Council Houses (aka Local Authority Housing) in the last two decades and (so I’m not accused of Tory bashing) - can you believe Labour only built 6,510 Council Houses in the WHOLE OF THE UK between 1997 and 2010? Giving the Tories their due, they have built 20,840 Council Houses since they came to power in 2010 (although still woefully low when compared the number of Council Houses built in the 1960’s and 1970’s when we were building on average 142,000 Council Houses per year nationally). This meant people who would have normally rented from the Council, had no Council House to rent (because they had been bought), so they rented privately.
And then 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th … 
·         Less of private home building (again look at the graph) over the last two decades.
·         A loss of conviction in personal pensions meaning people were looking for a better place to invest their savings for retirement.
·         Ultra-low interest rates for the last nine years since the Credit Crunch meaning borrowing was cheap.
·         A massive increase in EU migration from 2004, when we had eight Eastern European countries join the EU. That brought 1.4m people to the UK for work from those countries – and they needed somewhere to live.
Thus, we got the perfect storm conditions for an eruption in the Docklands Private Rented Sector.
Commercially speaking, purchasing a Docklands property has been undoubtedly the best thing anyone could have done with their hard-earned savings since 1998, where property values in Docklands have risen by 367.5%...
…and basing it on the average rental in Docklands, earned £462,024 in rent.
Yet, the younger generation have lost out, as they are now incapable to get on the property (especially in Central London).
The Government have over the last few years started to redress the imbalance, increasing taxes for landlords, together with the Banks being tighter on their lending criteria meaning the heady days of the Noughties are long gone for Docklands landlords. In the past 20 years, anything but everything made money in property and it was easy as falling off a log to make money in buy to let in Docklands – but not anymore.
Being a letting agent has evolved from being a glorified rent collector to a trusted advisor giving specific portfolio strategy planning on each landlord’s buy to let portfolios. I had a couple of instances recently of a couple of portfolio landlords, one from Belvedere who wanted income in retirement from his buy to let’s and the other from Welling, who wanted to pass on a decent chunk of cash to his grandchildren to enable them to buy their own home in 15/20 years’ time.
Both of these landlord’s portfolios were woefully going to miss the targets and expectations both landlords had with their portfolios, so over the last six/nine months, we have sold a few of their properties, refinanced and purchased other types of Docklands property to enable them to hit their future goals (because some properties in Docklands are better for income and some are better for capital growth) ... And that my blog reading friends is what  ‘portfolio strategy planning’ is! 

If you think you need ‘portfolio strategy planning’, whether you are a landlord of ours or not (because the Welling landlord wasn’t)  ... drop me line or give the office a call. Thank you for reading.
Whether you are a Docklands landlord looking to liquidate your buy to let investment or a homeowner looking to sell your home, finding a buyer and selling your property can take an annoyingly long time. It is a step-by-step process that can take months and months. In fact, one of the worst parts of the house selling process is the not knowing how long you might be stuck at each step. At the moment, looking at every estate agent in Docklands, independent research shows it is taking on average 92 days from the property coming on the market for it to be sold subject to contract.
But trust me ... that is just the start of a long journey on the house selling/buying process. The journey is a long one and therefore, in this article, I want to take you through the standard itinerary for each step of the house selling procedure in Docklands.
Step 1 – Find a Buyer
You need to instruct an estate agent (of course we can help you with that) who will talk through a marketing strategy and pricing strategy to enable you to find a buyer that fits your circumstances. 92 days might be the average in Docklands, yet as I have said many times, the Docklands property market is like a fly’s eye, split up into lots of little micro markets.
Looking at that independent research, (which only focused on Docklands or E14 to be precise), it was interesting to see how the different price bands (i.e. different micro markets) are currently performing, when it comes down to the average number of days it takes to find a buyer for a property in Docklands.
Asking Price (Docklands)
Average Time to Find a Buyer in Docklands (days)
Under £100,000
11
£100,000 to £200,000
59
£200,000 to £300,000
207
£300,000 to £400,000
78
£400,000 to £500,000
133
£500,000 to £1,000,000
81
Over £1,000,000
114



Interestingly, I thought I would see which price band had the highest proportion of properties sold (stc)... again – fascinating!
So, now you have a buyer ... what next?
There are a variety of distinctive issues at play when selling your property in Docklands, together with the involvement of a wide and varied range of professionals who get involved in that process. That means there is are enormous differences in how long it takes from one property to another. Moving forward to the next steps, these are the average lengths of time it takes for each step to give you some idea of what to expect.
Step 2  - Sort Solicitors (and Mortgage)
Again, something we can point you in the right direction to, but it will take a good few weeks for your buyer to apply and sort their mortgage and for your solicitors to prepare the legal paper work to send to the buyer.
Step 3 – Legal Work and Survey
Once you buyer’s solicitor receives the paperwork from your solicitor, then your buyer’s solicitor applies for local searches from the local authority (to ensure no motorways etc., are going to be built in the back garden!).  These Searches can take a number of weeks to be returned to the buyer solicitors from the council, from which questions will be raised by the buyer’s solicitor to your solicitor (trust me – you don’t see a tenth of the work that goes on behind closed doors to get the sale through to completion). Meanwhile, the surveyor will check the property to ensure it is worth the money and structurally sound. Overall, this step can take between 3 and 6 weeks (sometimes more!).
Step 4 – Exchange of Contracts
Assuming all the mortgage, survey and legal work comes back ok, both the buyer and solicitor sign contracts, the solicitors then perform “Exchange of Contracts”. When contracts are exchanged, this is the first time both buyer and seller are tied in. Before then, they can walk away ... and you are probably 4 or 5 months down the line from having put up the for sale board – this isn’t a quick process! BUT hold on ... we aren’t there yet!
Step 5 – Completion
Between a week and up to six weeks after exchange of contracts, the buyer solicitor sends the purchase money to the seller’s solicitor, and once that arrives, the keys will be given to the buyer … phew!
To conclude, all in all, you are looking at a good four, five even six months from putting the for-sale board up to moving out.


If you are thinking of selling your Docklands home or if you are a Docklands landlord, hoping to sell your buy to let property (with tenants in), either way, if you want a chat to ensure you get a decent price with minimal fuss ... drop me a message or pick up the phone.
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