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Maximising Profits From A Student Let


By Simon Thompson
 
     
Making as much profit as you can is the main objective of any student landlord. Profit is derived from a positive cash flow, which means you have more rent coming in than bills going out. Your student letting business may make a profit already, but you may still be able to make even more money by following some of our tips. Don't make the classic landlord mistake The classic landlord mistake is concentrating on the property and not the finances. Many investors buy a property, refurbish and let then move on to the next investment without considering tax-effective ownership, keeping good financial records and dealing with HM Revenue and Customs. Then, two or three years down the line, the tax man chases them for his share of the profits and they find the lack of record keeping leaves them open to paying more tax than they should, plus fines and penalties. Letting student property is a business and no business can run without up-to-the-minute information about cash flow, expenses and future tax liabilities. Thinking a property 'makes' £35,000 a year because that's how much rent comes in is bad financial management. Rent is cash flow – it's the money the property generates for paying the bills. The money the property makes is the profit at the end of the year after all the bills are paid. Three student landlords can each own and manage identical properties next door to each other on the same street and still make a vastly different profit while receiving the same rental income. That's because variables come in to play for each landlord – one might have a more expensive mortgage or maybe one is a little lax about rent collection and lets arrears build up. Here, we look at finding different ways to bring in more cash. Don't forget not all these tips will work for your student letting business because personal and local factors often limit what you can do. 11 Tips For Improving Profits A business has to remain competitive – that does not mean you can't charge more and become the Stella Artois of student lets, but if you do, you have to offer that little extra that your rivals don't. Letting to students is profitable because a property that might generate £10,000 a year from rental to a single tenant can return twice or even three times as much rent when let on a per room basis. The rewards are greater for landlords who take the plunge in to student letting, but it's not easy money. Student lets are more management intensive than ordinary buy to lets, have increased regulatory standards to meet and often need a greater investment in furnishings and equipment. Pushing up the rents Putting the rent up instantly increases cash flow and the money coming in to the business, and providing expenses and other outgoings stay the same, putting up the rent increases profits. Many landlords are scared of frightening students off by charging rents that nudge the upper limits for their accommodation. A successful landlord is hard-nosed and has to take the emotion out of the relationship with tenants. Soft negotiation, below market value rents and lax credit control lets the tenant take the upper hand in your business. That's what you are running – a business. Any money you give away to the tenant is money you have to find from somewhere else to pay the bills. The fact is too many students are chasing too few letting rooms in most university towns and cities. Offer good accommodation at a fair market price backed with top notch customer service and you will let your property without a problem. Review your rents at least once a year and make a modest increase at least in line with inflation to make sure your bills are not eroding your profits. Pushing down expenses A good businessman knows putting up prices increases cash flow, but pushing down expenses increases profits. You don't want to cut expenses to the bone, but shop around for good deals when insurance renewals and other contracts come up; get quotes from tradesmen rather than relying on a 'mate' and try to find competitive suppliers. It's also a good idea to have a 12-month maintenance plan tied to the financial year (April 6 one year until the following April 5). That way you can budget for the cost and can negotiate a price rather than pay through the nose for a last-minute call-out. Avoiding rental voids Marketing is a crucial part of a property business. A room in a student let is not earning money while it stands empty. Rental voids impact on profits and the pound in a landlord's pocket. Manage your tenants – take a prebooking for the following academic year from your tenants in time to list your property at the local university's house fair. This means you need to have an agreement in place around Christmas or the New Year with your current tenants, as the new intake are generally looking for accommodation during January. Joining a university or local council accreditation scheme will also reinforce your place in the market as students will have more confidence in your business. Manage the rents Students are great at spending money on stuff they don't need and not always as good at paying the bills. Make sure you impose credit control – • Screen your tenants as best you can before they move in • Set a regular date in the tenancy agreement for collecting the rent • Don't let rent arrears build up Just remember it's the landlord that goes short if a tenant fails to stump up the rent on time. The missing money has to come from somewhere – if it is out of cash-flow, then the money is not available to spend elsewhere or is borrowed at cost on overdraft. Refinance your mortgage Easier said than done in the current financial climate, but a good way of improving your personal finances is to remortgage to extract your initial investment back from the business. This is a double-whammy. On the one hand you can set off the mortgage interest as a business expense, while on the other you can put the cash back in your bank or spend the money however you want tax-free. Don't forget many landlords often do not claim interest on the money they borrowed against another property, like their home, as a business expense. The rules say your letting business can reclaim any interest on borrowing, whether they are secured against a business asset or not – this means the landlord's home or even interest on money spent on a credit card. Improve your student house This is not necessarily an instant solution. Improvements are capital costs that are dealt with via capital gains tax when you sell an investment property. The result of the improvement, like an extra couple of rooms in the loft or an extension generate more rent, which leads to improved cash flow and more profits providing expenses do not jump pro rata. One point to watch for is not over extending a property so the size and value makes the home difficult to sell to anyone other than another student landlord. Keep good financial records Landlords need to keep detailed records that are cross-referenced by owner and property so you can: • Look at the financial performance of each property to see which ones make most profit or lose most money and why • Look at the profit and loss of each owner and produce accurate figures for their personal tax returns These records should be archived by tax year and kept for five years in case of any inquiry from HM Revenue and Customs. Keeping solid financial records means you can examine your costs to claim any tax reliefs that are available. This not only applies to day-to-day running costs, but other financial reliefs like capital allowances. For instance, if you own a car and business use makes up 30% of the mileage, you can claim 30% of the running costs of the car – plus capital allowances which are special reliefs for business that reduce the tax you pay. These reliefs are automatic and you do not have to jump through hoops to qualify for them, but you need to prove you have incurred the costs to claim them. Tax effective property ownership This is a simple tax reducer missed by so many couples who own property jointly. Take a married couple who own a student let that makes £15,000 a year profit. If they have equal shares in the property, the one who is a top rate taxpayer (40% or more) has £3,000 to pay HM Revenue and Customs while the other pays £1,500. Often the lower rate taxpayer does not work or has an income well short of the top rate threshold (£35,000 for 2011-12). If the shares are adjusted so the lower rate taxpayer takes more of the profit, the overall amount of tax due is reduced. Note, this only applies to married couples or civil partners as the transfer is capital gains tax exempt for them but not for anyone else. Take our couple above. Switch their shares of ownership from 50:50 to 80:20 in favour of the lower rate taxpayer and the tax liability comes down because the tax on the 80% share is charged at 20% on £12,000 (£2,400) and 40% on £3,000 (£1,200). Instead of paying £4,500 income tax jointly, they only pay £3,600 on the same profits. The strategy has the same effect on capital gains tax. Beware of the stamp duty tax trap, though. If the value of the transferred share exceeds £125,000 and is mortgaged, stamp duty may be payable on the transaction. Kitting out your student let Every property needs occasional maintenance and repairs. Remember your property is your business. You do not live there, so do not expect to finish the property like you would your own home, but think of the needs and wants of your tenants. There's a fine line between overspending and reducing your yield and profits and not spending enough that makes your property unmarketable. Many landlords with more than one property impose the same colour schemes across their portfolio. This way they can buy paint and soft furnishings, like curtains, in bulk and ask for a discount. Buy fittings and furniture for your market as well. Students might like a stylish, top of the range kitchen with granite work surfaces, but be realistic about your tenants and how they will treat your property. Rather than heading for cutting-edge design, you want sturdy, functional and robust furniture and fittings. Students are notorious for knocking things about and not considering the consequences of their clumsiness. If you are not sure what to buy to kit out your house, view a rival student let or go through some photos on web sites to see what other landlords are providing. Some landlords look at reducing their repairs when they buy – for instance flat roofs are notorious for requiring regular maintenance and bay windows are more expensive to double glaze than flat windows. Manage the property yourself Many landlords have no idea what they are letting themselves in for when they start letting to students. If you live a distance from your investment or work full time, you may well want to consider letting through an agent who will find the tenants, collect the rent and handle small repairs. This service costs money – about 15% plus VAT of the annual rent. If you have more than one property with a letting agent, negotiate a discount on the fees – most will come down to at least 12% if not more. Landlords who live close to their investments are often more hands on and manage their properties themselves. This can be labour intensive, especially if you have three or more properties because the problems will fly in thick and fast and sorting them out almost becomes a full time job. Market your features and benefits Look at how the big boys in the student lettings game, like private halls provider Unite, market their properties. The offer a student package rather than a room to let. The packages often include bills, contents insurance, broadband and wi-fi marketed as a single monthly payment. Also highlight your distance from campus, transport links and local facilities. Providing a hotline for dealing with problems and repairs also shows you are customer-conscious. What sort of return should you expect from a student let? If you trade in a void without any figures for comparison, you will never know whether your business can make more money or whether you are at the top of your game. Benchmarking is the process many businesses apply to measuring their performance against others in the same market. The problem is funding reliable data and statistics as comparisons for your property business. Several organisations publish student letting data – NatWest Bank and Lloyds TSB have annual student surveys, London commercial estate agent Frank Knight publishes stats for student lets in London and specialist landlord mortgage provider Paragon Mortgages has a letting index as well. The big corporates like Unite also publish useful data in the annual reports to shareholders. All of these publications can give provide good indicators of performance, like average rents, yields and occupancy, often broken down by region. Comparing these figures with your letting business can be useful, but remember they are often regional averages rather than precise statistics for individual properties. A good measure of profitability and performance is to work out the return on investment or 'yield' from a student let. To calculate yield: • Work the annual rent received • Work out the total annual expenses • Deduct expenses from profits to leave a net profit • Add up your cash investment in the property, which is your deposit plus annual expenses ( from the step above) • Divide the profit or loss by your cash investment • Multiply by 100 For example, you buy a student let for £350,000 and let the property for an annual rent of £22,000 and annual expenses of £8,000. Your cash deposit was £87,500. Net profit is £22,000 - £8,000 = £14,000 Cash investment is £87,500 + £8,000 = £95,500 Yield is £14,000 divided by £95,500 x 100 = 14.65%
 
 
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Landlords will be deterred by three-year tenancies
 

Landlords will be deterred by three-year tenancies

The prospect of the Government introducing mandatory three-year tenancies will see 32% of landlords being put off from investing in new rental homes, a survey reveals.

The findings from Paragon reve

     
Posted by on 11/10/2018 17:07:41
Read More

     
Student landlords are forced into making deductions
 

Student landlords are forced into making deductions

Growing numbers of student landlords are having to deduct money from their tenants' deposits when the students leave their rental property at the end of their academic year, research reveals.

Accor

     
Posted by on 11/10/2018 16:56:05
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Tax break for landlords selling-up to tenants
 

Tax break for landlords selling-up to tenants

Landlords could be offered financial incentives by the government for selling their property to a long term tenant, media reports suggest.

It's been mooted that the upcoming Autumn Budget may offer a tax

     
Posted by on 11/10/2018 16:49:03
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Warning over HMO tenants facing eviction or rent rises
 

Warning over HMO tenants facing eviction or rent rises

A landlords' association is warning that thousands of tenants who live in shared houses are facing rent rises or eviction because of rule changes.

The warning comes from the National Landlords'

     
Posted by on 03/10/2018 10:06:00
Read More

     
No sign of mass BTL landlord exodus
 

No sign of mass BTL landlord exodus

Concerns that regulatory and tax changes could lead to an exodus of buy to let landlords from the sector may have been premature, say researchers.

The findings from Foundation Home Loans reveals that a year after

     
Posted by on 03/10/2018 10:01:22
Read More

     
Tenant gripes over landlords revealed
 

Tenant gripes over landlords revealed

Among the biggest gripes for tenants are landlords hitting them with 'out of the blue' rent rises along with being slow to repair faults, a survey has revealed.

Researchers from wallpaper firm Graham and Brown q

     
Posted by on 03/10/2018 09:45:49
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How much tenants will pay for furnished homes revealed
 

How much tenants will pay for furnished homes revealed

Landlords can charge tenants up to 21% more per month for renting a two bedroom furnished flat than they can for an unfurnished property, research has revealed.

The findings from OnTheMarket, a

     
Posted by on 26/09/2018 11:04:40
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Landlords call for Rent to Rent to be suspended
 

Landlords call for Rent to Rent to be suspended

Landlords are calling for the Government's Right to Rent scheme to be suspended as the Home Office reconvenes its stakeholder panel.

It's doing so after appeals from the Residential Landlords' Associat

     
Posted by on 26/09/2018 10:47:22
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New Section 21 rules cause landlord confusion
 

New Section 21 rules cause landlord confusion

New Section 21 rules are causing confusion among letting agents and landlords, says one law expert.

The new rules come into effect from October for tenancies created before October 2015.

Unde

     
Posted by on 26/09/2018 10:36:03
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The best university for buy to let locations revealed
 

The best university for buy to let locations revealed

With growing numbers of property investors looking to the student accommodation sector for its impressive returns, knowing where to invest can be an issue and a new survey may help.

Property webs

     
Posted by on 19/09/2018 14:33:39
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Rents continue to rise across the UK
 

Rents continue to rise across the UK

The latest data on rents being paid across the UK has delivered good news for landlords as rents have risen in all regions.

The findings from HomeLet highlight that the average rent is now £947 in the UK which is

     
Posted by on 19/09/2018 14:14:45
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Tenants Increasingly Opt To Rent Long-Term
 

Tenants increasingly opt to rent long-term

Growing numbers of tenants are adopting a long-term view when renting their home with more renters wanting to renew their current contracts, research reveals.

The findings from Hamptons International highli

     
Posted by on 19/09/2018 14:09:06
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Buy to let landlords split over futures
 

Buy to let landlords split over futures

Buy to let landlords in the UK are split over the future of the sector with 44% looking to sell up, a report reveals.

However, according to Octopus Choice they say that 56% of buy to let investors are looking

     
Posted by on 12/09/2018 10:27:21
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Landlords look forward to rent growth
 

Landlords look forward to rent growth

Around a quarter of landlords in the UK say they are expecting rents to rise over the next six months, a report reveals.

The research was carried out by buy to let consults BDRC who also found that 41% of landlo

     
Posted by on 12/09/2018 10:23:34
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Property investment still attractive to Brits
 

Property investment still attractive to Brits

A surprising number of Brits are looking to invest in property this year, a survey has revealed.

The findings from Sainsbury's Bank Mortgages also highlights that most landlords in the UK do not give up

     
Posted by on 12/09/2018 10:14:16
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Top agency says landlords are being forced to quit
 

Top agency says landlords are being forced to quit

One of the UK's leading letting agents says the government is forcing more landlords to quit the rental sector because of punitive tax policies and increasing legislation.

Belv

     
Posted by on 30/08/2018 13:43:33
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As landlords leave the BTL sector, rental demand increases
 

As landlords leave the BTL sector, rental demand increases

As landlords begin leaving the UK's buy to let sector, rental demand has hit its highest level this year, figures reveal.

According to Arla Propertymark, the number of prosp

     
Posted by on 30/08/2018 13:34:29
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Landlords' day jobs revealed
 

Landlords' day jobs revealed

The most common day jobs for landlords have been revealed by researchers with office admin roles taking top spot.

While many landlords will not have their property investment as

     
Posted by on 30/08/2018 13:32:59
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BTL Mortgage Brokers Say Business Will ‘Stabilise’
 

BTL mortgage brokers say business will ‘stabilise’

Most mortgage intermediaries are expecting levels of landlord business to stabilise over the next year, one index reveals.

Paragon's Financial Adviser Confidence Tracking Index found that 65% of bro

     
Posted by on 28/08/2018 09:51:08
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BTL Landlords Begin Leaving The Market
 

BTL landlords begin leaving the market

Growing numbers of landlords are leaving the UK's buy to let market after tougher borrowing conditions and tax changes have taken effect.

The warning comes from the One Savings Bank's sales director John Eastga

     
Posted by on 28/08/2018 09:36:42
Read More

     
Student Accommodation Is Tops For Yields
 

Student accommodation is tops for yields

For landlords facing dwindling profits, the best yields in any UK town or city is for those with a high student population, research reveals.

The findings from Totally Money highlight that in university citie

     
Posted by on 28/08/2018 09:33:22
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Locations where the UK's most vulnerable landlords reside are revealed
 

The UK's most vulnerable landlords are to be found in Chichester, research has revealed.

The findings from Gatehouse Bank show that landlords in the city are facing 269 days, on average, without a tenant in their property.

The study set out to find wh

     
Posted by on 14/08/2018 15:21:19
Read More

     
ls media turning landlords away from private rental housing?
 

Research has revealed that growing numbers of landlords are becoming increasingly unhappy with the negative portrayal of landlords on TV.

Despite providing homes for millions of tenants, two in three landlords say they have been demonised by TV shows which is for

     
Posted by on 14/08/2018 15:07:58
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Landlords urge ambition for Government energy efficiency targets
 

The government needs to be more ambitious in pushing its energy efficiency agenda for the UK's rental housing, landlords say.

All new and renewed private sector tenancies since April have required that the rental property has an Energy Performance Certificate rat

     
Posted by on 14/08/2018 14:41:43
Read More

     
What Students Seek
 

Our friends at Glide Student, glide.co.uk know what makes students tick. In the best tradition of successful student businesses, Glide was set up by James Villarreal who was a student himself at the time.

As the business has evolved they have st

     
Posted by on 01/08/2018 16:45:27
Read More

     
Rents Set To Rocket By 15%
 

Rents set to rocket by 15%

Because landlords are being squeezed by the government and many are deciding to sell up, rents could rocket over the next five years by 15%, one organisation is warning.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) sa

     
Posted by on 31/07/2018 17:04:47
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Finance Firm Reports 30% Rise In Company Landlords
 

Finance firm reports 30% rise in company landlords

There has been a big rise in the number of company landlords incorporating their portfolios between the first and second quarters of this year, a finance firm says.

Thistle Finance, a specialist pac

     
Posted by on 31/07/2018 16:50:10
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Landlords Face A 'Serious Issue' With Rent Arrears
 

Landlords face a 'serious issue' with rent arrears

Landlords are facing a ‘serious and real issue’ if rents continue to rise and tenants fall behind with rent payments, one organisation warns.

Estate agency RentalStep says landlords should begin tak

     
Posted by on 31/07/2018 16:47:48
Read More

     
The Best Buy To Let Hotspots Revealed
 

The best buy to let hotspots revealed

The best places for buy to let investors to focus their attention have been revealed as Luton and Colchester by one BTL index.

The analysis by LendInvest looks at 105 postcode areas to determine which of

     
Posted by on 26/07/2018 10:26:27
Read More

     
Drop In But-to-let Investors Hits London's House Prices
 

Drop in BTL investors hits London's house prices

A collapse in the number of buy to let investors in London is being blamed for falling house prices.

The Land Registry’s index for house prices reveals that London has seen its l

     
Posted by on 25/07/2018 17:12:44
Read More

     
Five Year Mandatory Electrical Checks For Landlords
 

Five year mandatory electrical checks for landlords

It will become mandatory for electrical checks to be carried out every five years for all landlords in the private rental sector, it has been revealed.

This is just one of the comp

     
Posted by on 25/07/2018 11:38:11
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More UK students than ever are applying for university
 

Despite rising fees, there has been a substantial rise in university applications across Britain, meaning that more young people than ever are heading off to university.

The main findings of increased applications point to a definite increase and were taken and d

     
Posted by on 20/07/2018 10:31:17
Read More

     
From cradle to grave: are millennials set to rent for the rest of their life?
 

With more and young people not expecting to get themselves onto the property ladder until their 30s, it looks like more millennials are heading down the route of renting, with many set to continue in the renting sphere for many years.

Home

     
Posted by on 10/07/2018 10:13:54
Read More

     
With university costing thousands, are maintenance student loans unrealistic?
 

A recent study by Accommodation for Students has revealed that two thirds of students have more than one form of income, meaning that thousands of students around the country are now working jobs on top of their degree just to support themselves.

     
Posted by on 09/07/2018 14:24:46
Read More

     
Studying Abroad: Why it is so popular?
 

According to a report by Accommodation for Students, there are 207 million higher education students worldwide, a figure that has more than doubled since 2010.

Of

     
Posted by on 09/07/2018 11:21:06
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Only 32% of students think their degree is good value for money
 

The annual AFS Student Lifestyle Survey explores key characteristics of students’ life at university including course satisfaction, finances, social life and eating habits. In 2018, the survey also included questions about equal opportunities, diversity an

     
Posted by on 12/06/2018 17:29:15
Read More

     
Landlords offload 4,000 BTL properties a month
 

Spiralling landlord costs has led to nearly 4,000 buy to let properties being sold every month last year, official figures reveal.

It's the first drop in the number of rental homes being available in the UK for 18 years.

The figures are contained in a Ministry

     
Posted by on 12/06/2018 10:22:11
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Buy to let is set for 'massive surge'
 

Despite the gloom over the UK's buy to let sector, landlords are being encouraged that the market will surge over the next seven years.

Research from estate agency Hamptons International says that despite anti-landlord legislation increasing rec

     
Posted by on 31/05/2018 09:27:43
Read More

     
AFS Website Update
 

We have continued to make further enhancements to www.accommodationforstudents.com over the last few months, resulting in significant improvements to the user experience and ultimately,

     
Posted by on 21/05/2018 16:19:33
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The Glide guide to maintaining a positive relationship with student tenants.
 
The first step to developing a good relationship with your student tenant is understanding what they are looking for from the accommodation. For a number of years, Glide have surveyed landlords and students and used these results to enhance our understanding
     
Posted by on 21/05/2018 15:01:55
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Landlord and Letting Agent Survey 2018
 

Since 2013, AFS have regularly conducted the Landlord and Agent Letting Survey trying to achieve a complete picture of how landlords and letting agents view the student. accommodation market. In early 2018 we conducted a further survey among our registered

     
Posted by on 21/05/2018 12:59:23
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Labour pledges a ‘living rent' for tenants
 

The Labour Party is pledging to introduce a ‘living rent’ for tenants that will be at one third of the area's local average income.

This will make the homes dearer than renting social housing but cheaper than renting from a private landlord.

T

     
Posted by on 14/05/2018 16:26:17
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Tenants attracted ‘by cost and not location’ of property
 

Landlords are being urged to forget the old adage of ‘Location, location, location’ and instead focus on rent costs.

According to Dlighted, the most important factor for tenants who are choosing a rental property is not where it is located

     
Posted by on 10/05/2018 11:41:54
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The best areas for rent growth revealed
 

For those landlords wondering where the best and worst areas in England for rental growth are, then a new survey has revealed all.

Landbay says that the average rental property grew by 0.64% in England in the 12 months to April.

With rents fall

     
Posted by on 09/05/2018 14:18:59
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The latest Buy to Let hotspots revealed
 

The best buy to let property investment hotspots in the UK have been revealed and it appears that the Midlands offers the best opportunities.

According to LendInvest, the property finance experts, the Mid

     
Posted by on 18/04/2018 16:42:44
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Rent to Right scheme slammed by Government inspector
 

The flagship government Right to Rent scheme which compels a landlord to check the immigration status of their potential tenants has been criticised by a government inspector.

David Bolt, the Borders and Immigration’s independent chief inspector,

     
Posted by on 12/04/2018 10:29:03
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Rental deposits could be capped at five weeks' rent
 

The government says that rental deposits being charged to tenants should be capped at five weeks’ of rent.

The Housing, Communities and Local Government committee has been struggling to find an acceptable level for deposits that are demanded from

     
Posted by on 09/04/2018 10:47:18
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Record low rates for buy to let five-year mortgages
 

The rate for an average five year fixed buy to let mortgage has fallen to 3.43%, a figure not seen since last October, data reveals.

The Moneyfacts website says this drop in rates is down to lenders wanting to attract potential borrowers who are consid

     
Posted by on 22/03/2018 13:23:08
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The north is 'best to invest' in property
 

The Northwest of England is offering buy to let landlords the best opportunities of increasing yields, says one vital specialist.

Sequre Property Investment says that the latest index from Hometrack highlights that the UK’s house price inflation

     
Posted by on 22/03/2018 11:22:46
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Northern Powerhouse highlighted as a global property investment hotspot
 

The future potential of the Northern Powerhouse has been highlighted as a global property investment hotspot for property investors.

Property investment firm IP Global has carried out research by analysing the world's leading property investment market

     
Posted by on 22/03/2018 11:13:16
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