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By Spencer Gordon, Feb 12 2016 11:40AM

First-time buyers will have spent on average nearly £53,000 on rent in their lifetime before they have saved enough to buy a home. And those starting to rent in 2016 are projected to pay more than £64,000 into landlords' pockets before they can afford to buy a property. That is according to the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) in its Cost of Renting report.

Arla, which compiled its report with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), said the average first-time buyer will have spent 16.4% of their total lifetime earnings on rent before stepping on to the property ladder. The generation after will spend even more.

High house prices, which the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said rose 7.7% to £288,000 on average in the year to November 2015 in the UK, are shutting many aspiring homeowners out of the market. First-time buyers are struggling to save a sufficient deposit, while those with savings may not get a mortgage large enough to buy a home, particularly in London and the south east of England.

That leaves many in the private rented sector, where rents have spiralled in recent years because of a shortage of housing supply and high demand.

In England, private rents rose 2.5% over the year to December 2015, said the ONS, while pay excluding bonuses increased by 1.9%, squeezing renters' finances. Private rents grew by 3.9% on average in London over the year to December 2015 but pay growth was flat for full-time workers in the city.

"The rising cost of rent in this country is a huge issue, and is preventing tenants from being able to save to buy a home," said David Cox, managing director of Arla. "Our Cost of Renting report reveals that tenants are already spending a significant proportion of their income on rent and therefore struggling to save any money. However, as house price affordability worsens and interest rates start rising, more pressure will be put on renting with weekly rent likely to rise, so home ownership will remain out of reach for many.

"Rents are becoming alarmingly unaffordable due to the lack of available housing; the north-south divide we're currently seeing in the UK is a clear illustration of this. The London rental market is competitive, with far more prospective tenants looking for properties than actual houses available. This is pushing up rents in the capital, which will continue to put pressure on surrounding areas, including the south east, as Londoners relocate to avoid high rent costs."

By Spencer Gordon, Jan 29 2016 02:16PM

According to a new report from the Cebr, 15% of landlords are sitting on £514m of unprotected deposits.

Despite government intervention to make it a legal requirement for landlords to protect renters’ deposits in one of the government backed schemes, new research carried out on behalf of financial comparison website money.co.uk by the Cebr (Centre for Economics and Business Research) reveals that 284,000 landlords have failed to do so. Research estimates that these landlords are sitting on £514 million of deposits that should be protected by an official third party service.

With approximately one in five (4.6 million) households in the UK now privately rented and the average protected deposit at £1,040, the total value of deposits paid by tenants and placed in protection schemes by landlords has now reached a whopping £3.2 billion. Despite the risk of fines for landlords who fail to protect their tenants’ deposits, 15% are still failing to do so running the risk of a £2,400 penalty. Landlords that flout the rules could together be earning up to £8.5 million a year in interest on unprotected money, while leaving themselves and their tenants with no third party protection when their agreement comes to an end.

What is deposit protection?

It is mandatory for all landlords to protect deposits for assured shorthold tenancies via a government backed tenancy deposit scheme. They must also give tenants prescribed information about where their deposit is protected, who they are renting from and how they raise a dispute. Different approved deposit schemes are used in England and Wales to Scotland and Northern Ireland but they all operate in a similar way. The schemes give landlords and tenants access to a free dispute resolution service if things go wrong when the tenant moves out, eliminating the need for court action in many cases.

The government imposed deposit protection schemes to stop landlords unfairly taking money out of deposits for things such as wear and tear or pre-existing damage when tenants move on. With this protection in place, an alternative dispute resolution scheme will step in and assess the case and make sure any money held back by the landlord is a fair deal for both the tenant and the landlord.

Hannah Maundrell, Editor in Chief money.co.uk comments: “Renting is a money minefield and with troubled times ahead for the buy to let market, the problems caused by ‘dodgy landlords’ are only likely to get worse. While many landlords are doing the right thing and protecting deposits in one of the official government backed schemes, a worrying amount of money is falling through the cracks and far too many tenants are being left vulnerable.

Renters must take control and ask landlords which protection scheme their money will be stashed in before signing on the dotted line. Existing tenants must ask for proof their money is protected if their landlord hasn’t given them the correct written documentation.

It’s not right that tenants are left responsible for taking their landlord to court if their deposit hasn’t been protected. The government needs to step in and take decisive action. Introducing a compulsory register listing every landlord that rents out property in England and Wales would be a start. This works for Scotland and Northern Ireland and it seems crazy this hasn’t been brought in across the UK. Add in tenants’ ratings and reviews to this too and you have both the beginnings of a solution that helps renters make an informed choice about who they’re handing over buckets of cash to; and the foundation for policing landlords that are currently going unchecked.

That said, it’s not just renters that stand to benefit from deposits being protected; after all landlords need a safeguard against renters that misbehave too. I can’t understand why any landlord wouldn’t do this; it doesn’t have to cost too much to place money with a tenancy deposit scheme and could save so much hassle later on.”

If you have any questions on tenants deposits, whether you are a landlord or a tenant, then please feel free to contact ourselves at Spencer Gordon Lettings 01704 460160.

By Spencer Gordon, Oct 23 2015 10:12AM

Churchtown is a tranquil, historic village on the northern fringe of Southport and dates back to the Domesday Book. It's a designated conservation area with pretty thatched roof cottages that you'll notice as soon as you arrive. Once here, you can browse through the village's specialist shops and stop for a bite in its charming cafes and pubs. Join one of the Churchtown and Botanic Garden Walks to learn all about the village in times gone by as well as a chance to visit Churchtown's beautiful Botanic Gardens.

Birkdale village is home to several restaurants and bars as well as a number of independent retailers, including a bridal shop, fusion art photographer and the Birkdale Cheese Centre. The village is just a five minute drive from Southport town centre.

Banks is a large coastal village in North Meols, that lies four miles north-east of Southport. Banks is the largest of the villages in the parish of North Meols and is primarily an agricultural community, due to the excellent soil. It’s famous for its world-class tomatoes, salads and vegetables.

Marshside, formerly known as Marsh Side, was historically populated by fisherman and shrimpers. It is protected from the sea by a sea bank of household rubbish built in the 1960s, with the coastal road built on top. The enclosed marsh is now the RSPB Marshside Nature Reserve, part of the Ribble Regional Park Nature Reserve, one of the largest breeding grounds of wading birds in the UK and internationally recognised.

Ainsdale is an area of Southport in the borough of Sefton, Merseyside, England, situated three miles south of the centre of Southport. It makes up the southern edge of the town, bordering Formby. The village and roads leading to the beach are popular areas, with some new modern developments around the station.

Hillside is a residential suburb of the seaside town of Southport, Merseyside. The village is very closely connected with the village of Birkdale which is also classed as an upmarket suburb of Southport. Birkdale is a much older suburb featuring large Victorian houses, where Hillside is a more modern residential suburb.

By Spencer Gordon, Oct 1 2015 11:50AM

According to new research conducted almost 50% of tenants have experienced property maintenance issues with their landlords.

Maintenance is one of the more complex issues to define, particularly for tenants and is one of the main reasons for deposit disputes between landlords and tenants at the end of a tenancy.

Research from tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme mydeposits shows that while only 2% of deposits require formal dispute resolution to resolve disputes, property maintenance accounts for 42% of these cases. The most commonly disputed issues are cleaning, damage to the property and/or general redecoration costs.

Suzy Hershman, Head of Adjudication for mydeposits commented: “The research from mydeposits is further evidence that tenants and landlords should maintain regular communication via their letting agent throughout the tenancy as well as at the end. This is best practice to ensure that any maintenance issues can be rectified quickly as and when they occur which should help to avoid a dispute over deposit deductions at the end of the tenancy.

It also highlights the importance of understanding the concept of fair wear and tear and being reasonable on what proportion of any deterioration to a property is either the landlord or tenant’s responsibility.

Our advice for tenants planning to vacate their homes in the near future would be to ask their letting agent to visit and inspect the property prior to the tenancy end date. This will highlight any issues that need sorting and provide the tenant with adequate time to rectify them, avoiding the need for a dispute.”

By Spencer Gordon, Sep 2 2015 09:41AM

A survey of 500 landlords suggest the vast majority want to avoid contact with tenants and instead want letting agents to handle property management and complaints.

The results of the survey, conducted last month, show that over 85 per cent of landlords don’t want to deal directly with tenants and almost 90 per cent are unhappy about tenants calling or emailing them directly with problems.

“Many landlords work either full or part-time and need the support of an agent to help them with managing the relationship with the tenant” The report concluded.

“We know from our research that 66 per cent of landlords find managing their properties more stressful than their full, or part time jobs, and dealing with tenant complaints is a top cause of stress.

"Landlords are under a huge amount of pressure with mounting legislative and tax changes. Agents can be a big help for landlords, offering a range of services that help reduce their workload and ensure they are fully compliant with legislation”

Spencer Gordon Estate Agents Southport


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