Whats Happening to the Gas Works Walls?

Last week, we had a really interesting chat in the office about the huge Gas Holders that can be seen from Alan Turing Way in Manchester. As locals, they have been part of the skyline of that area for our entire lives.

Built in 1869, these giants have towered over the local skyline for almost 150 years. They bring us back to a time where gas was stored locally in urban areas and distributed directly to homes and businesses on demand.

Although they were decommissioned in the 1990’s, the writer of this post is old enough to remember days before Eastlands, before Alan Turing Way and before the metrolink, your writer has childhood memories of guessing how full the holders would be as we passed on the orange GM bus, of hearing tales of the mystery gas workers who filled the membrane and how they filled it, and the apocalyptic stories of what happened if they exploded.

It was interesting that the younger members of the office had no idea about the use or purpose of the Gas Holders.

With the recent announcement that Manchester City Centre is Expanding to Eastlands questions are now, obviously being asked about the fate of the Gas Works.

So far, our feelings are they will not be dismantled or destroyed, but maybe repurposed to fit with the redevelopment of the area.

We shall wait and see.

Manchester City Centre Expansion

The Manchester Evening News has just announced a HUGE Development and expansion of Manchester City Centre. Council chiefs want to link Eastlands with the City Centre.
Over the coming years as the City Centre expands towards the East, this will make Beswick, Openshaw and Miles Platting virtually part of the city centre.
This means that house prices will increase dramatically with so many new homes and improved infrastructure.
Our main strength areas of Newton Heath and Moston will be getting closer to the city centre and again will increase demand for housing. This will be reflected in house prices and rents in the long term.
Manchester City centre is so full of apartment complex’s it will mean there will be increased demand for low cost housing in North Manchester. North Manchester provides the most cost effective housing for those on low incomes or where easy access is required to the city centre meaning there are many searching for accommodation employed in the service industry’s, professional trainees require accommodation as well as many professionals that want accommodation during the week travelling home at weekend.
There is still One Central Park that is meant to become one large Fusing of education, commerce, innovation and enterprise, this unique collaborative venture provides a comprehensive range of activities from vocational training, foundation degrees and postgraduate research to business creation and incubation. It’s a place where industry and academia meet to develop tomorrow’s products and services whilst also acting as a training hub for the skills sought by 21st century business. This site is still in its infancy and will be one of its largest parks of its kind in the near future. This again will mean an increased demand in local accommodation.
Manchester City centre is booming, the areas in the suburbs will benefit from the increase in infrastructure, housing, business and increased unemployment. Moston has a very mixed and diverse community and is regularly labelled as Manchesters Notting Hill.
Full Article here: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/city-centre-goes-east-plans-14007080

Investment Opportunity in Moston

https://edwardmellor.co.uk/property-for-sale/10065102.html

This property failed to sell at auction. Still available should fetch £620 PCM. Recent terraced nearby in same auction sold £75K on Hinde street. Great buy for an investor. Declutter paint carpets and gardens all need attention around 33000 spend required

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/house-prices/detail.html?country=england&locationIdentifier=STREET%5E2100325&searchLocation=Delside+Avenue&propertyType=3&radius=0.25&year=1&referrer=listChangeCriteria

We Signed The Manchester Renting Pledge

Brentwood Lettings are a Manchester Based Lettings and Property Management Agent. We are committed to upholding the highest standards for private rented tenants, Manchester City Council have added us to their list of approved and recommended landlords, you can see us on the Manchester City Council Website here

The Manchester Renting Pledge is a public agreement between ourselves, our tenants and Manchester City Council. The standards we pledge to uphold are:

    • I will protect the tenant’s deposit: through an approved deposit protection scheme.

All of our deposits are registered with TDS, you can find out more about TDS here

    • I will supply a written tenancy agreement: it will include the rent and other charges, how to pay, the length of the tenancy and how it can be ended, a list of the contents and their condition, and who pays bills and council tax.

All of our tenants are issued with an AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy) at the start of their tenancy, a full photographic inventory is supplied of the property before moving in and we support tenants further by registering utilities and services in their name to their new address. Over and above this, we provide every tenant with a welcome pack, giving them useful information about renting a home and how to solve the most common issues that tend to arise through the normal course of a tenancy.

  • I will provide a safe, comfortable, well-maintained home: it will have a gas safety certificate, annual gas checks, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and an energy performance certificate.

All of our properties have a valid gas safety certificate, which is renewed annually, Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are provided and tested, an EPC is issued and if the property has water tanks that store water, we also provide a Legionella Risk Assessment.

  • I will give contact details and notice: including emergency numbers and 24 hours notice if I’m visiting.

We have an out of hours emergency line, and we inform all tenants of any visits 48 hours before the fact, in writing.

  • I will do repairs promptly: if there’s a risk to the tenant or the property, I will deal with it straight away, and will carry out urgent repairs within a few working days.

We have a full property maintenance and repair team in-house, emergency repairs are dealt with immediately and are our highest priority. Non urgent and non emergency repairs are sent for landlord approval and the dealt with at the earliest possible opportunity.

  • I will deal with antisocial behaviour and nuisance: if my tenant is troubled by other people’s behaviour, of if other people complain about my tenant, I will deal with it quickly.

We deal with all complaints and issues immediately and within the guidelines of the law. we work closely with the Police, Community Support Officers, Social Services and Support Workers to find resolutions to issues.

  • I will look after the outside: I will keep the exterior and outside areas of the building in good condition.

We frequently inspect the exterior of all of our managed properties, and do a full interior inspection every 6 months.

  • If I’m an agent I will be a member of a redress scheme.

We are members of the Property Ombudsman Redress Scheme, you can find our more about the Property Ombudsman Redress Scheme here

  • I will consider joining a professional organisation: such as the National Landlords Association, Residential Landlords Association, Association of Residential Lettings Agents, Association of Residential Managing Agents, Manchester Student Homes.

We are members of the NLA, the RLA and ARLA

Investing In The Third Most Valuable Property Market in the UK – Manchester

We often blog about the growing attention and value in the Manchester Property Market, as an independent letting agent, we have our finger on the pulse for all things property in Manchester and can advise you of the local trends and developments in the Manchester Property Market.

Recently The Manchester Evening News ran an article following a study by Hometrack, which set Manchester as the UK’s third most valuable Property Market in the UK. You can read the article here

Interestingly we ran an article earlier this year about the exact same thing, a question was posed to us by the son of one of our landlords, so we did some maths and some research here, you can read our article http://brentwoodlets.wpengine.com/13-8bn-the-value-of-the-north-manchester-property-market/ for further insights

Selective Licensing – Our experiences so far

Selective Licensing is currently active in North Manchester for 315 properties, this scheme has been in place since March 2017, and has required private landlords to pay Manchester City Council £750 per property to continue letting their properties – under threat of prosecution under Section 95 of the 2004 Housing Act

As one of North Manchester’s leading letting agents, we actively manage properties within this area and have had first hand experience of the process for Selective Licensing.

We are an ARLA registered agency, we are members of the RLA, NFOPP, the NLA and the Property Ombudsman Service. These are not just fancy letters, they all mean things for the way we operate and the standards to which we keep our properties, these associations in themselves regulate our activity, we hold nationally recognised qualifications in Property Lettings and Management and we closely follow latest legislation and regulations.

We do a good job.

Why then, when we pay all of our regulating bodies an annual fee to audit and monitor our activity are we paying Manchester City Council an additional £750/property to confirm what has already been proven beyond doubt by the highest authority in the Housing Market?

 

What Needed to Change?

Of the 315 properties targeted in Crumpsall, we manage or own around 40 of them so are well aware of the localised and wider issues affecting Crumpsall.

One of our regulatory bodies, the RLA, says this about selective licensing:

“An area may be designated for selective licensing either (i) if the area is (or is likely to be) an area of low housing demand or (ii) the area is experiencing a significant and persistent problem caused by anti social behaviour and some or all of the private sector landlords are failing to take action to combat the problem that it will be appropriate for them to take.”

From our experience, Housing Demand in Crumpsall is no lower than other areas in North Manchester, the entire city has high demand for housing, with a booming population and an ever expanding City Centre, affordable and accessible housing is at a high premium. Anti-social behaviour is somewhat out of our remit, we ensure the tenants renting our properties are of good standing, they keep their homes well and they can afford and do pay their rent on time, but anything above neighbour disputes of noise or rubbish, antisocial behaviour is wholly outside our sphere of influence as managing agents or as landlords. The third clause about Private Sector Landlords “failing to take action to combat the problem that it will be appropriate for them to take”, is a little vague, but as ARLA registered agents, we have rules and requirements in place for ensuring we are fit and proper persons to be managing the properties.

Was the problem the landlords, was the problem the demand for property or was the problem Anti-Social Behaviour?

 

Whats the Point?

Every property that we manage in Crumpsall has passed its Licensing Check to date, we had some disputes; at one inspection, that we didn’t attend with the council, they reported we were not eligible for a license for that property because there were no smoke alarms in the property. Immediately we called the tenant, popped round, and as they opened the door, we saw the downstairs smoke alarm in the hallway and within a minute we had checked and verified both smoke alarms in the property were correctly installed and working. When we queried the council, they admitted they had got the property “mixed up with another one”.

At £750 per property and potentially a landlords livelyhood at stake, is this really the kind of mix up that we want to be seeing by Manchester City Council?

Since 2015, If we let a house to someone without smoke alarms, we would be liable for recourse from: ARLA, NLA, RLA, NFOPP, Property Ombudsman and a £5000 civil penalty from the Government. We would be fined, our memberships stripped and we would not be able to operate as an agent.

Whilst its very positive that Manchester City Council are concerned and actively ensuring the safety of its residents, Licensing only applies to the private rented residential sector. Housing Associations/Local Authority housing is exempt, Owner Occupiers are exempt, Student Halls are exempt, live in landlords are exempt and care homes are exempt. So actually, the only properties that are liable are those which are privately rented.

 

Fit & Proper Persons

Selective Licensing essentially is a 5 year certificate to say that you can rent out one particular property. You are checked to be a “Fit and Proper Person”- essentially this is like a Landlords DBS Check, they look for:

  • any criminal convictions to do with violence, drugs, sexual offences or fraud
  • whether we have broken any laws to do with housing or being a landlord
  • whether we have been found guilty of unlawful discrimination
  • whether we have previously managed House(s) in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and broken any approved code of practice.

and they do this for every single property. Just like the ill thought out DBS checks, its a repetition of work and a waste of resources- checking this 40 times in as many days, will not produce any different results, but will keep someone busy and generate £30k of income for the council.

Why are Manchester City Council choosing to line their own pockets at the expense of landlords, agents and ultimately private rented tenants?

 

Do we agree with Selective Licensing?

Yes and no.

We recognise, accept and embrace the need to raise housing standards across the city. We absolutely agree that the rogue landlords and those providing housing that is not fit for habitation need to be cracked down on and dragged to standard.

But, we do not agree that reputable landlords, agents and those working well within the law should be further penalised to make up for the failings of others. Especially when Selective Licensing has been a scheme run in the past and was proven beyond reasonable doubt that it was at best ineffective and a major contributing factor to increasing rental rates in an area.

 

How Could it Improve?

The same scheme has, this week, been rolled out in areas of Rusholme and Moss Side, although Crumpsall was a “pilot”, it seems no changes have been made to the way the system runs and no lessons learned from implementing the initial wave of Licenses.

As the regulations and controls for rogue landlords are already in place by governing bodies, why hasn’t Manchester City Council considered teaming up with reputable and regulated agents, offered an affordable and mutually cooperative package for Licensing to ensure standards are raised and upheld by agents, and Landlords who self manage then have the option to be Licensed and monitored by the council OR use an already licensed agent who then takes liability for maintaining standards.

With over 60% of Manchester Private Rented sector Landlords already using an agent, this would give the landlords choice, the local agents an opportunity to lead the raising of standards, save the council resources AND ultimately prevent the entire burden of the cost of licensing ultimately landing on the tenants lap.

Right now, the way this scheme works, will do nothing to help tenants with affordability.

 

 

 

 

New Addition to Our Team

Due to our ongoing success and continued growth, we are pleased to introduce you to the newest/not newest member of our team.

Meet Sharron Mooks.

Sharron has been involved with Brentwood Lettings for the past 4 years. She designed, developed and continues to maintain our website, she writes all of our blog posts, newsletters and mailings, she supports our online and digital growth and brings to the team a lifetime of sales, marketing and business development experience.

Sharron has an interesting background which suits her perfectly to working with Brentwood Lettings. She has been involved in the Manchester Property Market for the past 26 years, both residential and commercial. She brings to the team a wealth of property management, facilities management and portfolio growth experience. In her professional life she has been a champion for small business growth and development, building and leading teams to success on an international level.

Sharron will be a full time member of our team for the next 12 months and is very interested in speaking with those looking at investing in Manchester Property, Commercial Landlords looking for alternative management and anyone wishing to increase their rental yields.

You can call our office to speak with Sharron, or contact her via Twitter and Linkedin

 

 

 

Are Your Agents Fee’s Misleading?

As of 27 May 2015, it became a legal requirement under the Consumer Rights Act for all agents to show their fees as VAT inclusive. This measure, I believe has been introduced to once again clamp down on those rogue agents out there who are hiding their fee’s and misleading their landlords.

I get a real bee in my bonnet about lettings agents fee’s. You may have read my previous posts on hidden fee’s, price hiking and unfair fee’s. I’m now on my hobby horse about misleading fee’s.

I think my anger around fee’s stems from a basic human quality of honesty and trust. The way I work and the way I run my business is in a very open, upfront and honest way. I can do this because i’m a small independant. I manage less than 1000 properties and the book stops at me. I don’t have shareholders to please and pay, I don’t have a board to answer to and I do what I do because I’m a landlord, a business owner and an employer. I’m not a tycoon, I’m not a millionaire and I don’t wear a suit.

I have been running Brentwood Lettings for almost 20 years, and I pride myself on the quality ad the value of service my agency offers to our landlords. We don’t, and have never, advertise prices exclusive of VAT, we don’t add commissions to our contractors rates, we don’t double dip fee’s from both the tenant and the landlord and we don’t overstate our costs.

It would be bad practise for me to point fingers directly at my local competition, but I know all of the above are happening on my doorstep, to landlords within my catchment area and they are happening week in week out and have been happening for years.

If I could get all the landlords in Manchester together in one room and have the opportunity to say one thing to them, just one thing, I wouldn’t self promote, I wouldn’t sell, I wouldn’t even tell them who I was, i’d simply ask “Why are you letting your agent rip you off?” and offer them my phone number.

 

We publish all of our fee’s so nobody is left in the dark and nobody is left wondering about charges.

Click Here to Download our fees for Let Only Services

Click here to Download Our Fees For Property Management

 

 

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Why Harpurhey is popular with property investors

The district of Harpurhey is situated approximately three miles from the centre of Manchester. With a population of around 18,000, Harpurhey is a vibrant and popular area with plenty of local amenities. This makes it a favourite among renters who want to be close to the city centre but can’t afford high-end property prices. Despite its somewhat variable reputation, Harpurhey has an active property rental market and offers some great prospects for landlords and agents.

Neighbouring districts of Harpurhey include the popular residential areas of Cheetham Hill, Monsall and Moston. The areas of the Shiredale Estate, Barnes Green, the Kingsbridge Estate and the Baywood Estate are all classed as being part of Harpurhey.

Road and public transport links

Located to the north east of Manchester city centre, the area enjoys excellent public transport links with the city and the surrounding areas. The A664 (known locally as Rochdale Road) runs through the Harpurhey area, offering good road links to Manchester city centre, to the south west, and to the M60 to the north east. The circular M60 motorway provides easy access to the region’s other motorways and major roads, ensuring reasonable commute times to many of the towns and cities of the north west.

Harpurhey does not have a railway station, but enjoys excellent bus links. Many major routes pass through the area, offering quick and frequent journeys into the city centre. Bus services also operate to Oldham and Salford, in addition to many other areas of Greater Manchester. Harpurhey is also convenient for Manchester’s Metrolink tram network; while there is no tram station in Harpurhey itself, those at Central Park North and Monsall are within easy reach.

Local amenities

North City Library, situated on Harpurhey’s Rochdale Road, is a local landmark and hub of the community. Sharing the building with the local sixth form college, the library features state of the art solar panels on its roof and is built in an impressively contemporary style. As well as offering all the usual lending and internet access services, the library is home to a number of local groups and societies who use the building to host meet-ups and events.

The North City Family and Fitness Centre is a sizable leisure centre located near to the local shops and daily market. With a 25-metre swimming pool and a number of other fitness and leisure facilities, the centre is popular with residents of all ages. The gym and health suite offer state of the art fitness facilities, as well as steam rooms, saunas and a spa area. The centre hosts a number of regular fitness classes for all ages and abilities.

Harpurhey has a popular shopping precinct with a number of high street chain stores, discount retailers and supermarkets, including Asda, Iceland and Lidl. Harpurhey Market operates on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and is completely under cover, making it a popular shopping destination all year round. Stalls include a wide variety of food retailers, as well as clothes, homewares and electronic goods.

Parks and green spaces

Harpurhey’s Queen’s Park is popular with families, thanks to its play area and frequent outdoor events. Originally developed over 150 years ago, the park was one of Great Britain’s earliest municipal parks. Hendham Hall originally stood in the park, but was demolished in the late 19th century. In addition to children’s play areas, paths and trails, the park has rose gardens and often hosts nature hunts for local schools.

Located to the east of Harpurhey, Moston Vale is another popular outdoor spot in the area. After being notoriously run down for many years, recent regeneration projects have transformed Moston Vale into a green oasis. Primarily used as a pedestrian access route, Moston Vale has been planted with wildflowers and had new fences installed to make it a really pleasant part of the area.

Harpurhey property news

Harpurhey offers a variety of options for the private buyer or property investor, with prices more affordable than other areas of the city centre, offering strong return on investment. Prices for traditional, two-bedroom red brick terraced houses start at around £70,000, with many available for under £100,000. There are also a number of newer properties in Harpurhey, with the modern Kingsbridge Road development extremely popular with families. Offering sizable gardens, excellent parking and modern fixtures and fittings, the new-build homes make an excellent rental opportunity for investors looking for properties that do not require any modernisation and which are easy to let.

Buy-to-let investors – is Landlord Ltd. the answer?

As far as buy-to-let landlords are concerned, April 2017 is not so much a red-letter date as a red ink one. That’s the date when a series of tax changes start to come into force which are going to decrease their profits and increase their tax liability.

Until now, landlords have been able to subtract mortgage interest from rental income, before calculating how much tax they owe. Not after April. Changes will be phased in from April onwards which by 2020, will result in landlords paying tax on the entire rental income their property earns. If the fat-cat landlord ever really existed, they are certainly a thing of the past.

Needless to say, given the world-beating complexity of the UK tax regime, the changes aren’t that simple. The landlord will be due a tax credit of 20% of the total interest they pay, but the entire rent will be taxable. Higher rate tax payers will be much harder hit because the rent will be taxable at the higher rate. And of course, a landlord who is paying 45% tax, will be worse off still.

The people at MoneySupermarket.com have been busy crunching the numbers and they reckon that if you are a higher-rate taxpayer and the mortgage interest is 75% or more of your income from the property, the tax changes will eliminate your return on the investment. For someone paying the additional rate of tax, this will happen when the interest is at 68% of the rent.

If you are a small landlord with just one property, you may be breathing a sigh of relief, if you are on the basic rate of tax. But wait a moment. Since your taxable income will go up as a result of the changes, you may well become a higher rate tax payer.

Is there any way to protect yourself from the changes?

Companies which own property and let it out are not affected by the rental tax changes. They can carry on paying corporation tax on the profits and paying dividends and salaries to the company directors. But before landlords rush to become limited companies, they need to be aware of the many tax complications and possible pitfalls in taking this step. They certainly need to take professional advice.

The company needs to be set up properly to buy the property, and this has to be achieved with the correct paperwork. So don’t necessarily assume the cheapest set-up that you find is the best choice. It is better to get an accountant to do this for you.
And although companies aren’t affected by the tax changes on rents and interest, they are affected by the stamp duty changes which mean that there’s 3% extra stamp duty payable by any person or company buying a second property when they already own one.

As for transferring properties you already own into a company, there are a host of tax complications.

Buy to let investments still competitive

The fact is that many people, not just those on very low incomes or on benefits, need to rent property and in Manchester lettings agents are as busy as ever. Tenants need landlords to provide a stable and active property rental market.

Professional landlords, holding large portfolios of property can probably look after themselves but the small landlord with one or two properties is going to be more adversely affected. One of the effects may be that the average age of landlords rises, as people in work are not going to want to be pushed into higher tax bands by the income from a rental property. They may wait until they retire to move into buy-to-let.

For retired people looking for additional income, even though the tax benefits of buy-to-let have been greatly reduced, given the woeful returns on savings, the income from owning rental properties looks very attractive and there is always the possibility of increases in property values.

Furthermore, mortgages for buy-to-let are becoming increasingly available for older people. For many retired people with lower outgoings and perhaps no mortgage left on their own home, the affordability criteria for these mortgages are not stumbling blocks to anything like the same degree as they are for younger borrowers.

The Chancellor has done his worst, but buy-to-let is still with us and while interest rates on savings are below 1%, landlords are unlikely to give up on their investments.

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