Victor Michael

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The Tenant Fees Bill can soon be a reality for tenants in England. The Government also answered upon the HCLG Select Committee report on the draft Tenant Fees Bill.

The main changes the Tenant Fees Bill can be read here. The most important provisions in the document that are to affect tenants (and landlords) are:

  • Maximum security deposits: six weeks’ rent.
  • The upper limit for holding deposits can be of no more than one week’s rent.
  • The landlords can charge more than £50 for sharer charges only after they prove that the costs were greater than the amount mentioned.
  • Landlords will not be able to issue a Section 21 notice until they have repaid any unlawfully charged fees.
  • Letting agent transparency requirements will be included in The Consumer Rights Act 2015. This will also be applied to websites and portals that do lettings.

Moreover, the Trading Standards should help tenants to recover unlawfully charged fees via the First-tier Tribunal.

To sum up, there are only some limited extra-charges a landlord or an agent can charge the tenant with:

  • a change or early termination of a tenancy when requested by the tenant
  • utilities, communication services and Council Tax
  • payments arising from a default by the tenant such as replacing lost key

What is your opinion upon the bill? Does it help enough tenants? Are landlords and agents too restricted?

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Moving house can be a long and tedious process, but the day that you finally wake up and realise you’re moving into a new property can be incredibly exciting. A new house comes with new adventures, new possibilities and a new place to put down roots, but depending on your situation it can be weeks or months after buying a property before you finally get to move in.

 

Moving day can be quite complicated, and there is a lot to get done. Delays can only add to any potential stress, so it is important to make sure your move goes as smoothly as possible. Here are some tips to avoid any moving house delays:

 

Communication

 

You will speak to many different people while moving house, including estate agents, solicitors. surveyors, removal companies, and more. Filling out any paperwork quickly and replying to any enquiries can really speed up the process of moving.

 

Make sure you have copies of your ID, bank statements and any planning permission needed throughout the process, so you can be ready to hand anything over when needed. Keeping everyone updated throughout your move means any problems or concerns should be quickly fixed and the whole move should go smoothly.

 

Book in Advance

 

Ideally you should start arranging a removals van around four weeks before your moving day. Contact three or four companies and get a consultation with each. They will all provide you with quotes and you can decide which one works best for you.

 

Once you have that booked you can make any other arrangements you need, such as parking. If you are moving to a house that only has road-side parking, you will have to give notice to anyone it may affect, and let them know a removals van will be parking up for a few hours.

 

Avoid Exchanging and Completing on the Same Day

 

Although it may seem like an obvious option and a good thing to do, exchanging and completing on the same day can actually cause problems if you are part of a chain – it only takes one person to be unable to complete for the whole chain to break.

 

Try and leave a week or two between exchanging and completing, as this should give you enough time to resolve any potential complications that could come up. It’s good to have a bit of breathing space when moving house, as you never know what might happen.

 

Packing Preparation

 

One of the key things that will prevent delays on moving day is to have everything packed up and organised. The last thing you want is to be rushing around packing up some last minute items when you have a hundred other things to think about.

 

Start a month or so before you move, and keep everything as orderly as possible. Chuck out any clutter or take it to a charity shop, and pack a few boxes each night, carefully labelling them and wrapping anything delicate in bubble wrap. Having everything packed and ready to go will be a huge time saver when you get round to moving.

 

Arrange Child/Pet Care

 

Even though they are moving with you, children and pets can be quite distracting on moving day, and it can be quite an unsafe environment for them to be in with heavy boxes being carried back and forth to your new home.

Try and arrange for someone to look after them while you move, as this will allow you to concentrate fully on the task at hand and allow them to move into a new house afterwards with all their belongings in place. If you have older children you can find age appropriate tasks to enable them to help out with the move.

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Awards for the Victor Michael team at the 2018 ESTAS

Last night was a very important night for Victor Michael. The team at Victor Michael was awarded two gold awards at the Estate Agent of the Year Awards (ESTAS) 2018.

The two gold prizes received by Victor Michael were for:

  • Best Estate Agents Group in London
  • Best Agent in London East

The ESTAS awards 2018 happened under the tagline “Because Service Matters” and it highlighted regional and nationally services like real estate agents, brokers, conveyancers, home-builders for the excellent standard of customer service they deliver throughout the year.

You can watch the moment of the announcement of the Gold Winner on our Facebook page.

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Buying a property for the first time can be a daunting process, but so long as you have the right knowledge and know the rules you have to follow, it’s a straightforward process. Below, we’ve consolidated the main things you need to prepare and consider, to make sure your home-buying journey goes as smoothly as possible.

1. Things to consider before the hunt begins

It’s definitely wise to find out how much mortgage lenders are willing to give to you before you start home hunting, so you know what price range you can be aiming for. Visit a few and they will give you a rough estimate, based on deposit size, income and other variables.

Explore a variety of different areas – not just with online research, such as crime rate, transport links and amenities, but by physically having a walk around local areas and getting a feel for them before you decide which works for you.

It’s also worth spending some time improving your credit report before you get to the home-hunting stage, as this will influence how much lenders are willing to give to you. Being on the electoral roll, having a credit card with safe spend amounts on it and steady, regular bill payments over the years will all improve your rating. The rating will also tell you what’s counting against you, so you can improve this before you get to buy your property.

2. Get your finances in order

Have you got all your finances in order? Costs you’ll need to consider are:

  • Deposit – this is usually 5% – 20% of the property price and the more you pay upfront, the better mortgage deal you can get.
  • Stamp duty – if you’re a first-time buyer, you will only pay stamp duty after the first £300,000 of your property on a property up to the value of £500,000.
  • Legal fees – ask friends or family for a trusted solicitor.
  • Service charges – if you’re moving into a leasehold development, make sure you can afford the annual service charges for maintenance of shared areas.
  • Survey cost – once you’ve picked a home and made an offer, you’ll pay for a survey to check there are no underlying issues you missed.
  • Removal costs – look into the level of removal help you need. If you have a lot of furniture and you need manpower, this can be quite expensive and something you haven’t accounted for in your budgeting.
  • Extras – it’s worth putting aside some funds for the cost of redecoration or furnishings you need immediately after moving into your new home.

3. Property particulars

Explore this blog of questions it’s important to ask when you’re viewing the property, but the most important one when you’re buying, is to ask how much lease is left on the property if it’s a leasehold. If it’s less than 75 years, you may struggle to get a mortgage. Other important questions to ask would be around the age of appliances, what work has been done on the property in recent years and what spaces are shared in a leasehold property and what the service charges are for these.

 

4. Mortgage time

You’ll need to get your paperwork in order next, so first stop is an approval in principle from your mortgage provider which lasts for 30 days. In this time, you must decide on a mortgage provider and can make an offer on a property.

When submitting paperwork for a mortgage, you’ll have to provide evidence of your income, and information about your outgoings, such as any debt, household bills and other costs, so that the mortgage provider can assess your situation and make sure you’re reliable before they agree to lend to you.

 

5. Offer, Exchange, Completion

Within a couple of days of submitting your claim for a mortgage, you will receive an offer which outlines the rules of your mortgage. You will then exchange paperwork with the home seller through your solicitor. Then, on the completion date you will officially take ownership of the property after you have made the payment to the seller.

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Busy roads, a bar in the lounge are among the things that turn buyers away.

 

It takes just 8 minutes for home-hunters to decide whether a new property is for them, according to a study.

After less than 10 minutes inside of a property, buyers know whether they should be giving an offer or getting back into the car.

 

6 out of 10 adults will make their decision not to buy before even putting their foot through the front door around just 4 minutes of standing outside the property. 15% of homeowners admitted they had already decided to buy without seeing inside of the house, while 18% have brought the first home they saw.

 

When viewing a property online, the average person takes around 8 minutes to choose whether they would like to view the property in person.

 

More than three quarters confessed to irritation at a property profile, and that it did not match up to the true state of the home advertised (Listings are crucial to a home selling quickly, they need to be accurate).

 

Obvious damp patches would put off 6 out of 10 Brits, while a house on a busy road or cracks in walls would send 40%.

 

There also personal turn offs such as: Ashtrays in rooms, overflowing bins and yellowed paintwork.

 

When viewing properties online 1 in 10 complained they can’t tell the colour of rooms from static pictures, and 52% find it difficult to tell how overlooked the property is. While 36% would want a clear view of the room layout.

 

Buying a new property is one of the biggest investments, we’d encourage clients to look past the dirty dishes and overgrown garden plants and focus more on the shape and size of the property.

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Knowing when to downsize is never as simple as it seems. Having to settle for a smaller space after years of living in a larger home takes some time to adapt to. Below we’ve listed 5 reasons why it might be time to downsize from your 4bed detached.

Space

You’ve got so much space you don’t know what to do with it all. The husband has put a snooker table in your daughter’s bedroom and turned your son’s room into a study. It seems for the entire world you have that mansion you’ve always wanted. But when you have a property that gathers more dust than it does value, it might be time to stick a for sale sign outside that door.

The Money

Linda down the road has just sold and made a nice little sum. Perhaps it’s time you made a little profit yourself. At times it might feel tempting to stay where you are – less hassle and all that. But the hassle of moving will be worth it when you have an extra £40,000 in the bank. A nice little top up to the retirement fund which leads us on to…

Retirement

Sometimes needs are a must and that pension pot might need filling up. Putting the house up for sale so that your retirement fund can reap the rewards may not be such a bad move.

High Costs

Because heating a whole house is pointless when you and your better half only use three or four rooms. A bigger house costs more to maintain and manage.

Health

Of course, one’s health can be a deciding factor when deciding whether to downsize or not. If the regular journey up and down stairs becomes is becoming strenuous, a bungalow may be more appropriate.

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Photo source: Wikimedia http://bit.ly/2jr4fFh

1.    Research the area.

Think about the area before you move in. Is it near a hospital? If so, can you hear ambulances all the time? Is it near a noisy pub? Check all the surroundings before you sign. It is up the tenant to do their own research and inspect the dwelling and surrounding area before they sign the agreement and move in.

2. Discuss pets early.

Bring up pets early in negotiations with your prospective landlord; if the landlord does not want pets at the address, then the tenant should look elsewhere. Having a pet in breach of a tenancy agreement that prohibits pets will generally lead to a possession action and eviction further down the line.

 

3. Check out the white goods.

Inspect the white goods (fridge, freezer, washing machine, cooker, microwave, dishwasher, etc), and report any defects as soon as you move in. If white goods are included in the inventory on the agreement, then the tenant should visually inspect them and get the landlord to confirm in writing that they all work satisfactorily. The tenant should seek clarification in writing as to whether the landlord agrees to repair or replace said items if they break down.

Responsibility will be determined purely by evidence of what has been agreed between the parties so it’s important to get these agreements in writing.

4. Don’t forget to check the water pressure too.

When you first inspect a property, run the taps and the shower.

If there’s a problem with the water pressure, you can negotiate with the landlord before signing the agreement. If the tenant does not comprehensively inspect the property before entering into the agreement, they may not be able to resolve these problems later.

5. Find out if your contract contains a release clause.

There are two things to look out for here:

A break clause means a “fixed-term tenancy” can be ended at 6 months. However, it’s important to check out the specific wording of the clause to see the conditions: “For example, that there are no existing rent arrears when the tenant wants to activate the clause.” A release clause runs along similar lines, but might involve the tenant “paying a fee to release themselves from the agreement at any time. It also usually means that the tenant has to find someone to replace them, as well as paying the fee.

6. Ask the landlord if they will repaint the walls before you move in.

If there are tasks you want the landlord to do before you move in (for example, painting the front door or steam-cleaning the carpets), then it’s a good idea to have them completed before you sign anything. The tenant can ask the landlord to do this [i.e. clean and repaint the house before you move in], but they can’t compel a landlord to do anything before a tenancy agreement is set up. The most important thing is to make sure everything is done before you sign the tenancy agreement and before you have made any payments.

7. Conduct a thorough inventory.

When going through the property’s inventory, make sure you point out any defects and take a note of the state of the items (by taking photos of broken bannisters, for example). Give a copy of the amended inventory to the landlord, keeping a copy for yourself. If your landlord has not prepared an inventory, you can prepare your own, and then ask your landlord to sign it. If not, make sure you have taken photographs, and ask an independent witness to sign the document.

8. Find out how much money will need to be paid in advance.

There is no “normal” amount of rent to pay in advance. Generally, landlords will ask for one month’s rent in advance, although it can be more. When it comes to the deposit, the amount is also at the landlord’s discretion. Usually landlords ask for the equivalent to one month’s rent as a deposit, but some ask for more (or less) than that; six weeks’ rent is also common.

9. Check if you will need a guarantor.

Even if you have a steady job, you might still need a guarantor. There is no set income threshold that will exempt you from needing a guarantor. A lot of landlords insist on guarantors before any tenancy can be agreed, particularly if they feel that the tenant is on a low income. The decision on insisting on a guarantor is down to the landlord’s perception of the risk of the tenant having difficulties paying the rent.

 

10. Challenge any terms and conditions you’re not happy with.

Sometimes you can challenge terms and conditions you’re not happy with, but this must be done before you sign the tenancy agreement. This can also apply to the landlord’s repair obligations (fixing a broken cupboard door, for example). Many repair obligations are legal requirements, but the landlord might agree to additional repairs under the tenancy agreement, if the landlord will not change the disputed term or condition, the tenant should not enter into the tenancy.

 

11. Find out where your deposit will be held.

Landlords are required by law to protect tenants’ deposits in a deposit protection scheme.

This means that any deposits taken (or carried over) on new tenancies have to be protected in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days. The timing is important, failure to protect the deposit within the set time limits means that the tenant can potentially take action by applying to court for an order. The order can force the landlord to either return the deposit or protect it in a scheme, and can also fine the landlord up to three times the amount of the deposit, to be paid to the tenant.

12. Understand how rent increases work.

If the tenancy is within a written fixed-term (one year, etc), then the rent cannot be lawfully increased without the agreement of the tenant.

If the tenancy is a periodic assured shorthold tenancy (one which runs from month to month, for example), the rent can only be legally increased by one of three methods:

1) The landlord proposes a rent increase and the tenant agrees to pay it.

2) The written tenancy agreement allows for a rent increase by a clearly defined formula (such as the rent being increased by 5% every 12 months).

3) The landlord uses a statutory procedure to increase the rent. In this case the tenant should seek advice from Citizens Advice. A tenant can contest a rent increase done this way by appealing to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber).

13. Understand what an estate agent is allowed to charge you for.

In England and Wales, an agency is also allowed to charge a client for extra services it provides, but only if the client requests these services or agrees to the agency supplying them. For example, an agency may negotiate the terms of a tenancy agreement with a prospective landlord, draw up the agreement, and compile an inventory. The agency can ask the client to pay for this, whether or not the client finally takes up the tenancy.

  1. Ask for everything in writing.

There is no legal requirement for an inventory or survey, or even for a written tenancy agreement, so it is important tenants request these things if they are not provided. The landlord is legally required to provide a gas safety certificate, and the landlord (or agent) has to provide in writing the name, address, and contact details of the landlord on request.

 

15. Read the tenancy agreement thoroughly!

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Internet automation is a great thing, most of the time. But, at Victor Michael we understand the value of having the best people and the best knowledge possible, so that we can do the very best job when it comes to selling your home. With that in mind, here are just a few of the things that make Victor Michael different from the purely online only competitors out there.

 

We know the areas we’re selling in.

This is the single biggest thing to factor in when selling your home, because it affects everything else. Ultimately, without the best possible knowledge and experience of the area, it’s impossible to have an easy time selling your home. So, Victor Michael balance having a national database of statistics and clients with also having more local knowledge than you can shake a stick at. Our estate agents come with years of experience and local knowledge which we further develop and enhance. They’re then trained to a nationally consistent standard and pushed to know more and more about the areas they’re selling in. Our agents know not only what other properties in your area have sold for, they also know what can be done to maximise your home’s value. And, although some online agents claim to be in touch with ‘local experts’ there’s no way to know that you’re dealing with the best people possible. Often, with online agents, you never meet the person or people looking after your account, there isn’t the option to go in and speak in person. We know how reassuring it is when there is someone who can offer you a cup of tea and a word of advice.

 

We don’t leave you to do the viewings.

At Victor Michael we liaise with you the entire time, and this is crucial with viewings, because we know how frustrating viewings can be, and not just for the time it takes you to prepare your house. With online agencies, not only might you have to organise and attend all of the viewings, but there’s also no way to figure out who is truly interested in your property. Because potential buyers deal with us directly, we’re able to make sure that only highly interested parties come to see your property and take up your time. Above and beyond all of this, we accompany every viewing to your home. This way, you can rest assured that your home is being displayed by experienced salespeople, who know how to market your home to its highest potential.

 

We won’t make you do the legwork!

We know that selling your home can be a stressful time, it’s a big move to make, and it’s not just the practical side you have to deal with — there are a lot of emotions too. Whether it’s help with negotiating your offer or dealing with solicitors, Victor Michael are here to make your sale as smooth as possible throughout the process. So we’ll take charge of communications with the buyers and even offer advice when working with your solicitor, something online agencies don’t always do. Having us do some of the negotiating takes out a lot of the stress involved when selling your home.

 

 We will get you the best price for your home.

There is no real motivation for online agents to get you the best possible price for your home. Though many claim to get 99% of the asking price, research suggests that some of the most popular agents only secure the initial asking price for between just 30 and 50 percent of sellers. Part of this ties back to the very first point we made, online agencies simply don’t have the experience of the local area you need and deserve. Without a deep understanding of the local area, it’s almost impossible to give you an accurate valuation of your home, which you need to get the best price later on.

 

These are just some of the things that set Victor Michael apart from online agencies, and trusting anyone with your property is a big step, we know that. So if you have any other questions, if you’re not quite convinced, just drop into your local Victor Michael branch today and ask us — we’ll always be happy to help.

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We’re not going to lie and pretend that selling a home doesn’t come with certain filing requirements. However, if you’re well prepared and allow plenty of time to get your affairs in order, you’ll avoid any last-minute panic. Follow our guide to discover more about what documents you need to move home and make the house-selling process that much easier.

 

Property title deeds

If you don’t have the property title deeds for your home, don’t worry too much. However, you will need to produce the deeds to prove that you do own the home you’re selling. You’ll be able to obtain these from the solicitor you used when originally applying for a mortgage or buying your existing property, or failing that, you can contact the Land Registry.

 

Energy Performance Certificate

All domestic and commercial buildings must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and it needs to be available to potential buyers as soon as you put your house up for sale. It is a useful document, which gives information about how energy efficient a property is, according to a rating of between A (very efficient) and G (inefficient). Only accredited Domestic Energy Assessors can produce valid EPCs.

 

What if my property is leasehold?

If your property is leasehold, you will need to provide a copy of the lease and complete a seller’s leasehold information form. Don’t forget that if you pay a management fee for services and maintenance you will also need to send off for a Management Information Pack. Your solicitor should be able to obtain this on your behalf.

 

Fittings and contents

Sometimes referred to as the Schedule of Fixtures and Fittings, the Fittings and Contents Form (TA10) specifies what the seller is including in the sale of the home and what will be removed.
In addition, anyone selling a property is required to fill out a Property Information Form (TA6). This is a questionnaire which gathers information about, for instance, planning consent and building regulations.

 

Anything else?

When dealing with a solicitor you will always need to provide proof of identity, so make sure you have a passport and recent utility bill to hand. You should also collect details of your existing mortgage, along with your account information and the amount outstanding.

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February ended with a rise in property prices, as the data reveals. We were interested in finding out which of the regions were best seen by buyers…

From the prices table, we can see the leaders that peaked the charts:

North West

East Midlands

South West

Wales

South East and London have had prices raise by 2.5%, as this article on Property Reporter states.

It leaves the average value of a home in England & Wales at £299,556, up £1,512 compared to one month earlier, and £1,700 compared to a year ago.

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