The latest news

The latest news




Landlords: Updates To Navigate Through The Lettings Market


In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the government has created emergency legislation, advice, and guidance to support the housing market. But what does this mean for the lettings market? With the many updates and changes, it can be difficult to pinpoint what changes and support affect you as a landlord. To cut through the noise, we have put together the latest Government measures to help you navigate the market during this difficult time.

No new evictions
If a tenant is struggling to pay their rent due to the impact of Coronavirus, the government has brought in emergency legislation that includes a ban on any new eviction in both the private and social rented sector. It is hoped that this will take the pressure of millions of tenants up and down the country who may be unfit to work or may have sadly lost their jobs due to the impact that Coronavirus had has across the nation. The legislation states that new proceedings to evict tenants will not be able to begin for at least a three-month period. After this, it is advised that landlords and tenants develop their own rent repayment plans that consider the tenants individual circumstances. The Government asks that landlords show compassion to their tenants during this time and allow them to stay in their homes where possible.

Three-month mortgage payment holiday
In line with the ban of new evictions, the Government has introduced a three-month mortgage payment holiday for buy-to-let landlords, and homeowners struggling for funds to pay their mortgage. Obtaining a mortgage payment holiday requires you to contact your lender, who will consider your circumstances on an individual basis, so it is important that you are open and transparent about your situation as soon as possible. You should continue to pay your mortgage until you have reached an agreement with your lender. The housing secretary, Robert Jenrick MP, said “The government is clear. No renter who has lost their income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord be facing unmanageable debts”. So as long as you contact your lender in good time, this should take a lot of pressure off landlords and homeowners.

What about unmortgaged rental property?
For landlords with a portfolio of homes that they own outright and offer for rent, there are currently no measures in place [as of 25/03/2020].

Recording tenants who are self-isolating
If a tenant in your property is currently self-isolating due to exposure to symptoms of COVID-19, or they themselves are experiencing symptoms, you should record this along with all conversations that you have with the tenant. If you have an upcoming visit to the property scheduled, such as a property maintenance or inspection visit, you should not put your staff or contractors at risk. You should cancel the visit until the tenant is over the illness and no longer has to self-isolate. Your record of communication with the tenant should evidence that you took reasonable steps to show that you intended to visit the property and that you used advice from Public Health England to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by rearranging the visit.



Tips To Help You Cope Self Isolating

 
With millions of us now advised to self-isolate and practice social distancing to prevent further spread of Covid-19, we all must make adjustments. It might sound simple at first, to just stay indoors and end social meetings, but it can present various challenges such as anxiety, loneliness, and stress. There are coping mechanisms that we can incorporate into our daily routines to help combat any challenges we may face during this time. Continue below for some helpful ideas to support you in self-isolation.

1. Remember you’re not alone
It’s so important to remind yourself that we are all in this together. The whole country has been asked to quarantine so we are all going through similar thoughts and feelings; and everybody has their own personal circumstances to muddle through. Take some comfort in being a part of one big community doing your own part in battling through this pandemic.

2. Have conversations with people
The power of talking to someone is immense. Just because we can’t physically go and socialise doesn’t mean that we must stop socializing altogether. Make a conscious effort to pick up your phone and call family, friends, and work colleagues. You should try to do this daily. You could even create a new daily routine, such as having a morning coffee with a family member virtually. If you have the facility to do this over a video call, then even better!

3. Use social media
Similar to point number 2, use social media to communicate with your friends, family and work colleagues. This will help you to maintain your strong connections and relationships with people and help you to feel more supported, avoiding feelings of loneliness.

4. Plan your time
It can be very easy to lose all the structure from your days which can often leave us feeling unmotivated to do anything. By planning your time, you can recreate a routine into your daily life so that you feel more active and your body can release those positive hormones. Doing activities in the home can give you a sense of fulfillment and allow you to do things that you previously did not have the time to do. If you have children, planning a routine or schedule can also be helpful for them adjusting to being at home instead of school.

5. Use your support network
In stressful times, it can be easy to shy away from reaching out to people. But it is crucial that you do so. If there is something that you need and are unable to get for yourself, such as groceries, contact family or friends to ask if they can get these for you. They can leave them on your doorstep for you to collect so that you can maintain the government isolation rules.

6. Focus on the facts
There are so many articles about Coronavirus online, as well as ongoing news updates on TV; it can be a bit overwhelming at times. Within all this information is a lot of speculation; especially on social media. Try to stick to the respected health advice websites when looking for updates, such as the NHS, Public Health England, and Gov.uk. If you do start to feel overwhelmed, try to limit your news intake to just once a day.

7. Don’t ignore how you’re feeling
Don’t be hard on yourself if you feel stressed or worried. It is normal for those feelings to come and go at times. One way to manage your feelings is to write things down in a diary as a way of acknowledging how you feel. Reach out to someone to talk about how you feel, or to take your mind off it completely. You can also use activities that you enjoy in the house so that you feel in control and enjoy your time.



Questions Surrounding Savings Schemes

There are so many different saving schemes out there, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which is best for you. A saving scheme is typically a program that is designed to influence saving in a manageable way, commonly offering an interest percentage, depending on who you go with. A popular ISA was the help to buy but this is no longer available. Don’t worry, there are so many other options. For example, a good alternative is a lifetime ISA.

Where do I look?
Shop around, don’t settle for convenience. The bank down the road might not have the best interest rate! One bank might offer 0.1% whilst another 1%. Without comparing rates, you might be shortchanging yourself.

Don’t restrict yourself to brick and mortar banks. Often online banks offer higher rates because they don’t have branches and cost less to operate. In some cases, this results in passing some of the savings into better interest rates.

What are the benefits of a lifetime ISA?
A huge benefit is that this ISA offers a bonus of up to £1000 a year. For every £4 you pay into your account, you will get £1 from the government, which is a 25% bonus! Even if you can only save £500, you will still receive £125.

How do I choose one?
Set a savings goal. This will determine which scheme is best for you. Don’t be unrealistic with your monthly goals, look at your outgoings and make a sensible judgement. Don’t leave yourself struggling and feeling negative towards the process.

Look for schemes with no monthly fees. Some banks add small fees if the minimum amount hasn’t been deposited that month. Why risk the chance of wasting money when it could be saved instead?

Be mindful of hidden withdrawal fees when looking around. Even though the point of the scheme is to save, anything might happen, resulting in needing access to that money sooner. With a few saving schemes out there, they come with withdrawal fees, so if you prematurely take out your money, they can end up deducting the interest you have acquired. So just be careful and do some investigating before you commit to anywhere.

How much do I decide to save each month?
Save whatever works for you. This magic number all depends what you are saving for, and the urgency in which you need it. The average wage for someone in their late 20’s is £26,778, which roughly works out at around £21,216 after tax. It is recommended that 20% of your monthly paycheck is to be saved, in this case that would be £353.60. Of course, this isn’t realistic for everyone, but it is a good figure to try and work towards. Don’t beat yourself up about this though, it might take a couple of months to test and trial which amount is good for you so be patient with it.

Saving schemes are typically the best saving option for most people. It is good to open one as soon as possible if you are planning on saving for your first home in order to get the most out of the interest rates on offer. Just be sure to do your research and don’t settle for the easy option! Happy saving everybody!