20 Lease Extension Pointers

Calculator House, concept investment

 

  1. Whether you own a house or a flat, owning a leasehold means that you have a specified number of years to use the land subject to the conditions set out in a legal contract – the lease. There is usually a ground rent to pay and like any contract if the terms, known as covenants are breached, there are consequences.
  2. Before buying a leasehold ensure you check the length of the lease and ground rent, which are crucial to calculating the Premium for any lease extension. Historically, flat leases were usually for a term of at least 250 years with a peppercorn ground rent (essentially, no ground rent
  3. However, in more recent times freeholders have become shrewder, especially after the 2008 credit crunch. As the property bubble had burst, developers had to sell their developments for less than the price they had predicted they were going to achieve when the market was at its highest. Developers became creative on how to recover the money lost from the purchaser and this was typically done by granting a shorter lease of between 99 – 250 years and reserving a higher ground rents that increase periodically.
  4. There are 2 ways to extend your lease:
  5. Informal Route – Any leaseholder, whether or not they qualify for the statutory right to extend their lease can negotiate an open market deal.
  6. Under the informal lease extension process, the advantages include that you and the freeholder can negotiate the terms, the premium and any other associated costs and the whole process can be quicker as there is no control over timing, it can be instant if both parties are willing. A leaseholder has the option to just ‘top-up’ the lease term for a smaller premium if they are wanting to make the lease attractive to potential buyers.
  7. However, the disadvantages include that you are not protected by the safeguards provided by law around the calculation of the premium and any intermediate landlords interests and despite having spent time and money either party can withdraw from the process at any time until the contract is concluded. If an agreement cannot be reached there is no recourse to the Tribunal without triggering the statutory process.
  8. Statutory Route – Qualifying leaseholders have a legal right under the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 (as amended) (LRHUDA 1993) to extend their lease.
  9. The advantages include that that as the whole process can take around 6-9 months, the leaseholder has time to find fund and there are statutory safeguards to compel the freeholder to extend the lease, how the lease premium is calculated and the terms to be put in place. In addition, any charge over the existing lease is automatically transferred to the new lease under Section 58(4) LRHUDA 1993 and the freeholder’s costs are controlled under Section 33 and Section 60 LRHUDA 1993.
  10. The disadvantages include that from the service of the Tenants Notice, both parties are locked in to the process and there is no guarantee about the premium payable at the outset. This is why we recommend that a valuation is carried out before the service of the Tenants Notice so that you have a realistic idea of what the premium ought to be. If an agreement cannot be reached there is a recourse to the Tribunal.
  11. Statutory Right to Extend Your Lease LRHUDA 1993 provides qualifying leaseholders to extend the lease on the following terms:    lease-agreement
  • An additional 90-year term to the unexpired term. For example, if you have 50 years left to run on your lease, after the lease extension you will end up with a lease with an unexpired term of 140 years
  • A lease on exactly the same terms as that which you have at the moment (subject to minor up-dating) and
  • All for a “peppercorn rent” (i.e. nil rent for the remainder of the term). Generally speaking, to exercise the right under the 1993 Act you must have a lease originally granted for a term of more than 21 years and you must have held your lease for at least two years
  1. Essentially, the 3 criteria a leaseholder of a flat must meet are:
  • 100% of the property is owned (i.e. not a specific percentage as in staircasing schemes)
  • The lease was originally granted for a term of more than 21 years
  • The leaseholder has held the lease for at least 2 years.
  1. The Premium -The “premium” is the price payable to the landlord (and any intermediate landlords) for the new lease. We would highly recommend that you obtain specialist valuation (which we can undertake for you) to calculate the price. Be aware of lease extension calculators as they can be misleading.
  2. The premium is calculated under the criteria set out in Schedule 13, Part II LRHUDA 1993, and is the total of:
  • the reduction in the value of the landlord’s interest in the flat; that is, the difference between the value of his interest now with the present lease and the value of his interest after the grant of the new lease with the extra 90 years.
  • the landlord’s share of the marriage value;
  • compensation for loss arising from the grant of the new lease. The reduction in the value of the landlord’s interest is, effectively:
  • the loss of the income from the ground rent for the remainder of the original term (as the whole term of the new lease will be at peppercorn rent);
  • the loss due to the additional 90 years wait for the reversion (the surrender of the flat at the expiry of the term).
  1. The freeholders will usually also instruct their own valuer and you will normally be liable for their valuers costs also.

16 .           Statutory Lease Extension Process – The basic leasehold extension process is as follows:

–                Under LRHUDA 1993, a Section 42 Tenants Notice must be served upon the freeholder and upon any intermediate landlords.

–                Although there is no prescribed form, the tenants s,42 notice must include specific detail set out in legislation, including the details of the lease, the freeholder, the premium you wish to offer and any additional proposed terms or covenants. If the tenants s.42 notice does not contain all the relevant information then it will be invalid.

  • The tenants s.42 notice triggers a timetable set out in legislation for the parties to follow. In brief:

–               The Freeholder has just over 2 months to serve a counter notice to either propose new terms or accept or reject your proposed terms.

–               From the service of the counter notice the parties have 2 months to negotiate the terms of the new lease.

–               The date terms are agreed triggers the timetable for the conveyance and completion.

  1. Disputes & Missing FreeholdersIf a dispute arises in relation to the premium or terms, an application to the First-Tier Property Tribunal can be made within a set time limit to independently adjudicate the terms.

If the freeholder fails to serve a counter notice, or respond at all or is missing an application can be made to the County Court for a ‘Declaration’ or ‘Vesting Order’. These situations do not bar you form exercising your rights and our experts can assist you with this if such a situation arises.

  1. Transferring The Right To Extend The Lease – If you are considering buying a leasehold flat with a short lease, you should negotiate with the current owner to exercise their right to extend the lease and pay some of the costs. Under Section 43 of LRHUDA 1993, once the statutory right to extend has been exercised it can be transferred to the owner.
  2. Why You Should Extend Your Lease – Once there are 80 years or less remaining on the lease term, the value of the property drops and the value of the freehold increases. Therefore, the cost of extending your lease becomes more expensive.

In addition, your property may become less marketable as buyers will be vary of the problems and the high-street mortgage lenders will not be able to lend against it. Therefore, if you have a shorter leasehold, you should think about extending your lease as early as possible.

  1. Obtain Expert Advice – You really need to obtain advice from professionals who are experts in this complex area of valuation and law, although lease extension calculators are available online they cannot be relied upon and may leave you paying more than is necessary.

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At Davis Brown, we understand that every lease extension is different, and we have in depth knowledge of the process and technicalities in this specialist area of valuation to obtain positive results.

Important Questions To Ask Before Buying A Property

Handing over the house keys from one person to another.

Whether you are buying your first home, a holiday home or an investment property, there comes huge financial commitment, and for some, the largest financial investment of their life – stressful times! With such a large financial commitment, you want to make sure you have all the information at hand to guarantee you are purchasing a worth while investment. We here at Davis Brown are here to guide you in the right direction with twenty key questions to ask prior to placing an offer on a property:

What is the Tenure? – is the property Freehold or Leasehold?

What is included within the demise? – demise refers to the premises that has been transferred in the lease. Often a roof terrace may not be demised to the property and can in fact be communal. Make sure you get all the facts! In addition, you may find a storage unit/garage is demised to the property.  

What is the length of lease? – having a short lease can at first seem great as the purchase price would seem ‘cheap’ – don’t be fooled! To renew a lease can cost tens of thousands of pounds.

Lease agreement document with keys and pen

How much is the service charge? – this is a charge made for the maintenance on a property which has been leased. This can sometimes take a large chunk out of your rental returns and therefore it is worth making sure it is not too excessive.

Is there a sinking fund? – a sinking fund will cover repairs for the building. If there is no sinking fund, you might be digging deep into your pocket for any essential building repairs.

How much is the ground rent? – this is the rent paid under the terms of the lease by the owner of a building to the owner of the land on which it is built. This is usually a small charge; however, it is certainly worth taking note of the cost.

Is the vendor in a chain? – if the vendor is buying a property and that sale falls through, would this affect your purchase?

What works have been carried out? – you will get a feel whether the building has been well maintained if external decoration and roof works have been carried out recently. It is important to know when the roof was last replaced, and the external façade was last decorated.

Colorful English houses facades in a row, pastel pale colors in London

Are there any scheduled works within the building or surrounding area? – if so are these covered under the service charge and sinking fund?

Is the agent or the seller aware of any new developments in the surrounding area? – demolition and extensive development will be noisy!

When was the last time boiler was serviced/changed?  

What is the rental value? – it is worthwhile knowing what the potential rental value would be should you ever decide to let the property. Calculation the yield will show you the rate of return on your investment.

What is the EPC rating? – the Energy Performance Certificate shows the energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient, to G (least efficient) and is valid for 10 years. If you are planning on renting the property, landlord would require a property with an EPC rating with an E or above.

Is there scope to extend? – with each extension comes an increased return (subject to current market). With room to extend, whether in the loft, an additional bedroom, garage conversion or another bathroom, having the room to extend maximises the potential growth of your investment.

Where is the nearest train/tube station & bus route? – properties that are located close to transport links come at a premium – but a worthwhile one! Properties that are located within proximity to transport links will always be an attraction should you decide to sell later down the line.

What schools are in the surrounding areas? – is the property set within a school catchment area? Properties that are historically increase in value over time as there will constantly be a demand for Real Estate within proximity to highly regarded schools.

What parking options are available? – permit Vs allocated off street!

No Parking Sign - Humorous

Who are my neighbours? – worth while making sure you don’t have an Air BnB next door!

Who are the managing agents?  – research who the managing agents are? Do they have a good reputation?

How close are the amenities? Having supermarkets, restaurants & cafés within a short commute would increase the rental price as these are all attractions to prospective tenants.

Inventions Over The Last 20 Years

1998 – MP3 Player

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1999 – Digital Video Recorders

2000 – Bluetooth – wireless technology for sending data.

2001 – Segway – a two wheeled self-balancing scooter.

2002 – Robot Vacuum

2003 – Skype – face to face conversations online have now become commonplace thanks to this accessible software.

2004 – Facebook – many social media sites came before it but this one has become the most popular in recent years.

2005 – GPS – the Global Positioning System was actually launched in 1973, however 2005 was the year when GPS become commercially viable and embedded into phone devices.

2006 – HDTV – clearer TV.

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2007 – Smartphone – Although smartphones have been developed since the early 1990s, the introduction of touchscreen smartphones lead to their massive increase in popularity.

2008 – The Large Hadron Collider – This was constructed over a period of 10 years and tests started in 2008.

2009 – Bladeless Fan – a fan with no blades.

2010 – Tablets – they’re like big smartphones.

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2011 – Curiosity Rover – launched by NASA to explore Mars.

2012 – Google Glass – smart glasses.

2013 – Cronut – a croissant/doughnut hybrid.

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2014 – Hoverboard – But only when placed above a conductive material.

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2015 – Self-Balancing Two-Wheeled Car

2016 – Self-Tying Shoes – Nike unveil self-tying shoes.

2017 – Self-Driving Truck – Tesla unveil plans to introduce self-driving trucks to the market.

20 Cars an Estate Agent should not be seen driving (in no particular order)

1. A Gee Wizz. People will laugh at you.
2. A Renault Twizy. People will laugh and point at you.
3. A 1960 Cadillac. And where would you park it

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4. A Bentley Continental. Not for you, the preserve of Premier League
footballers.
5. A Skoda S100. Think about your image.
6. An Aston Martin DB5. So you think you’re James Bond!

Aston Martin
7. A BMW i8. The wrong shade of ‘green’.
8. A Toyota Prius. They will think you are a mini cab driver.
9. A Smart ForFour. There is ugly and there is….
10. A VW Up! It’s all in the name.
11. A Ferrari 458 Italia. In your dreams and your envious clients’.

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12. A Hummer. No further comment required.
13. A Rolls Royce. Your fees must be extortionate.
14. A Lamborghini Hurican. The paint work options will make you dizzy.
15. A Jeep. It’s not a Range Rover!
16. A Morgan Plus 8. Just a little too flat cap and tweeds.
17. A Lotus 7. Just try getting a client into one of these.
18. A stretched limo. OK, plenty of room, but really!
19. A BMW M3. Yes, but you can’t always get what you want.
20. A 1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA. Sorry, this car has a reputation to
protect.

Alfa

20 Top Tips for Styling your Home to Sell

It’s the question every home owner asks us – ‘How long do you think it will take to sell?’.  We have been operating as Estate Agents in London for the last 20 years and we know what it takes to get a property under offer and fast! Apart the obvious of setting a realistic price, styling and presentation has become a big factor. So much so, we now offer an in-house styling service to our clients in order to present their home in the best possible light. We have shared our top 20 styling tips below:

1. First and foremost – declutter. This is probably the most important point and we cannot stress this one enough. No-one wants to see a messy home. Start by clearing worktops, surfaces and bookshelves.   Remember – less is more..

2. Do not store the clutter in the loft, unused room or garage – buyers and tenants want to see these spaces too.

3. Undertake any maintenance issues now. We’re talking about the mouldy mastic around baths and showers, cracked plaster and broken tiles and glass – not a pretty look! You want the buyer and tenant to see that the property has been well looked after

4. Decorate if necessary. This will instantly brighten the room. Try to use neutral colours and hues rather than strong or bold colours which won’t be to everyone’s taste

5. Get your Mr or Mrs Mopp on and clean, dust, hoover and scrub! Make sure grease and grime is removed from cookers and worktops. Ensure cupboard fronts and taps are gleaming and windows are sparkling.

6. Style and accessorise. Start by getting rid of any out-dated pieces of furniture and decorations.  A room always looks better with a few current items rather than lots of out-dated ones

7. Dress the bed. We like to use plain white sheets and inject colour with cushions and throws. Try H&M or Zara home for the latest trends which are reasonably priced. Plus you can take them with you when you move

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8. Hang mirrors to make a room feel larger than it is. We particularly like them above fireplaces and along narrow corridors

9. Replace family portraits with art or prints. We are loving the latest prints from Desenio

10. Add a coffee table book and a few magazines to the coffee table

11. Inject some life by adding flowers and plants.  A vase of freshly cut flowers on a coffee table can really look the part

12. Dress the dining table for dinner. If this is not practical, try to keep a bowl of lemons and limes in the middle of the table – great for a splash of colour. If you have a long table, we like to add 3 or 4 vases with pretty flowers

13. Plump up the sofa and add some cushions and a throw. New cushions are a perfect way to keep up with latest interior trends

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14. Turn on table lamps and floor lamps. If you have pendant lamps, you might want to consider updating the shade – check out Ikea and Habitat who have some lovely statement shades.

15. Upgrade bathroom and kitchen taps. We are in love with these brass (very en vogue this year) taps from Perrin and Rowe

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16. Add fluffy towels and some luxury hand wash in the bathroom.

17. Update curtains and blinds in neutral colours and hues.

18. Light a candle – the scented candles smell great and can be lit just before a viewing. A group of candles can make a great display on a coffee or dining table or fireplace.   Pick up fabulous scented candles from TK Maxx or Homesense

19. If you have outside space, pick up any weeds, mow the lawn and pressure hose away any green slim on paving stones and decking.

20. If all the above sounds like too much work for you, contact us and we will get our styling team to do it for you!

Davis Brown Celebrates 20 Years!

D B   2 0   B D A Y

Davis Brown is a name which combines the original practice of Davis & Co with William H Brown. However, the other constituent part of the firm was originally Batty Stevens and Good. Both firms were established in 1901 and merged with William H Brown in 1987.

Blank gold enamel pin black mock up, front and back side view, 3d rendering. Empty luxury hard lapel badge mockup. Golden clasp-pin design template. Matal square brooch for logo presentation.

After 11 years of corporate life as part of a larger organisation we returned to our roots of being a small independent property consulting practice 20 years ago. We pride ourselves in being an active player in the property profession throughout this time, not only in London, but also around the United Kingdom.

From our office in the heart of Fitzrovia, the team at Davis Brown includes a number of staff members who have been with us since the start, and many more have been a part of Davis Brown for over 10 years. Equally gratifying, are the number of clients and their families, with whom we have worked for generations.

As part of our 20th anniversary celebrations we will be running a number of competitions. There will be prizes! We will also be hosting a special event in September and running a number of competitions – take part via our anniversary hashtag #DB20BDAY 

Watch this space…

DB-190 - Tony HDavid Moon

Tony How and David Moon. Founding Partners of Davis Brown

 

TERMS & CONDITIONS 

PHOTO COMPETITION

 

  1. Davis Brown, the promoter, will post an image on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Linked In of a building in London from 20 plus years.
  2. To participate in this competition, entries must like our image, and post a photograph of the same building using the hashtag #DB20BDay and tag Davis Brown. The image can be external or internal and it can be new or old.
  3. The participant can share their photo on any or all social media channels – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Linked In or you can email us at socialmedia@davis-brown.co.uk
  4. There will be several competitions with one winner every fortnight. The first competition will run from Friday 18th May up to and including Friday 1st June.
  5. The winning entry will be that is judged to be the most visually appealing and original. The winning entry will be judged by the team at Davis Brown. The winner will be notified within seven days of the closing date of the competition. Entries after this point will not be considered.
  6. The prizes consists of:
  • Two grand stand tickets to the Lords Twenty20 Game (Middlesex vs Sussex)
  • Chateau Batailley 1998, Grand Cru Classe Pauillac
  1. The prize as described is available on the date of publication. All prizes are non transferable and there are no cash alternatives. All prizes must be collected from the Davis Brown offices at 1 Margaret Street, London, W1W 8RB within one month of winning.
  2. The winner will have 72 hours to acknowledge their prize from the fate that they are announced as a winner. After this time we reserve the right select a new winner.
  3. This competition is open to everyone aged 18 years or over, except for employees of Davis Brown Limited, their families or anyone else associated with this competition.
  4. All information detailing how to enter this competition forms part of these terms and conditions. It is a condition of entry that all rules are accepted as final and that the competitor agrees to abide by these rules. The decision of the judges is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Submission of an entry will be taken to mean acceptance of these terms and conditions.
  5. All images submitted must be the work of the individual submitting them. It is the responsibility of each entrant to ensure that any images they submit have been taken with the permission of the subject and do not infringe the copyright of any third party or any laws. Entrants must warrant that the photograph they are submitting is their own work and that they own the copyright for it.
  6. You can enter as many times as you would like.
  7. Each entrant confirms that anyone depicted in an entry has given their permission for the inclusion of their image in the entry and the use of the entry including their image by the entrant and the Promoter.
  8. The entrant agrees to the Promoter editing, re-using, storing reproducing and communicating your entry in any medium
  9. To obtain details of the winner please email socialmedia@davis-brown.co.uk stating the name of the competition in the subject heading one month after the closing date.
  10. Any personal data relating to participants will be used solely in accordance with current UK data protection legislation and will not be used for marketing purposes without the individual’s prior consent.
  11. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or Linked In. You are providing your information to Davis Brown and not to Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. By participating in this promotion you agree to a complete release of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook from any claims.
  12. The promoter does not accept responsibility for entries that are lost, damaged or delayed. For example, as a result of a network, system development, computer or telecommunications failures or fault of any kind.
  13. Winners will be invited to participate in related publicity without further reward, e.g. be photographed for website and social media stories.
  14. The Promoter does not encourage excessive drinking – or any of the other portrayals of alcohol listed on the ASA website here.
  15. English law applies and the exclusive jurisdiction of the English Courts shall prevail.
  16. The Promoter is Davis Brown Ltd, 1 Margaret Street, London, W1W 8RB.

The Unexpected Costs of The Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Courtesy of our Party Wall surveyors at Davis Brown..

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Defrayed Costs

If your neighbour wishes to demolish and reconstruct the party fence wall on the basis that it is in a state of disrepair, you may be required to pay half of the cost of the new wall. The relevant sections of The Party Wall Act etc. 1996 for this example are 2(2)(b) and 11(5).

Enclosure Costs

If you wish to make use of a party wall previously constructed by the neighbour, you may have to pay 50% of the total cost of that section of wall which you are making use of. This would be based on the amount that it would cost to construct the wall today not when the wall was originally built. See section 11(11) of The Party Wall act etc. 1996.

Third Surveyor Submission

If there is a dispute between the two appointed surveyors, in order to settle the dispute they would have to make a referral to the third surveyor who will decide in favour of one surveyor or the other. If you are an Adjoining Owner and your appointed surveyor is unsuccessful in their referral to the third surveyor, you may be expected to pay the third surveyor’s fees for making the determination. See section 10 of The Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

Cutting Away Overspilled Concrete

A common example of this is where a basement has been constructed and the neighbour wishes to carry out work at a later date, the discovery of the over spilled concrete produced by your previous work could mean that you would have to pay to have the trespassing concrete cut out and removed. The act of cutting away the trespassing concrete is notifiable under section 2(2)(g) of The Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

Appealing an Award

If a party wall award is served upon you and you believe it is unreasonable, you may appeal the award to the county court within 14 days of the award being served. It is important to note that you can leave yourself at risk of paying a large cost in this scenario, as if an appeal to the court is overturned you may have to pay both incurred cost for your neighbour as well as the cost of the delayed works. It is advisable to seeks advice from an experienced party wall surveyor if you are considering making an appeal. See section 10(17) of The Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

“When you’re tired of London you’re tired of life”

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And how very true this quote is – even in modern times.  If you didn’t already know, it was Dr Samuel Johnson who spoke these wise words back in the eighteenth century.

Johnson was born in Lichfield in 1709 to bookseller parents, and from a young age he became very interested in the English language and literature.  He studied briefly at Pembroke College, Oxford, but this was short-lived as his parents were unable to pay the fees.  He ploughed on through with his fighting spirit and set up a school, which failed miserably, but not letting that get him down, he took one of his ex-students – David Garrick (who was to become star of the London stage) under his wing and they walked to London to seek fame and fortune.  Exciting times ensued…

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) on engraving from the 1800s. English author who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. Engraved by W.Holl and published in London by A.Frillarton & Co.

Johnson was a prolific writer and became well-known for his poems, biographies, essays, literary criticisms and more, in fact he is the second most quoted English man to date, with the most famous quote being the one I have already mentioned.  However, he really hit the big time when in 1746 he was commissioned to write the English Dictionary (anyone remember the Black Adder episode?!).  Following this he received a pension from George III in 1962, this allowed him to travel extensively and give talks on his favoured subject.  He was a social chap and gained many friends and fans along the way, and to this day he inspires many writers.

Dr. Johnsons House

Being Estate Agents in Fitzrovia, we at Davis Brown know only too well that London is full of fabulous snippets of history everywhere you turn; walking along the old streets of the City of London for example, you can really feel what life might have been like for city folk in bygone days.  For anyone who fancies being close by to some history, we currently have a rare opportunity to acquire a freehold Grade II Listed office building in the City of London which is adjacent to Dr Johnson House.  Dr Johnson House is a charming 300-year-old grade I listed building, and this is where he resided and wrote his great Dictionary of the English Language in the middle of the eighteenth century.  Tempted?….. If so, please call Georgina on 020 7637 1066 for more information.

Tips From A First Time Landlady

real estate rent concept - old key with tag

Being Estate & Letting Agents in W1, we deal with Landlords/ladies on a regular basis.  Our Director and Head of Residential Lettings in Fitzrovia, Emma How, caught up with one of Davis Brown’s newest Landladies who recently developed a flat and became a landlady for the first time. We were keen to get an insight in to her experience in both developing and letting her property for the first time and hope this provides some useful tips for those who are also just starting out.

What made you decide you wanted to develop a property?

I owned a garage called the Coach House which had a redundant room above it. It had no heating or electricity and for years I had wanted to develop it into a flat, however, this was a scary prospect as I’d had very little experience! I decided to jump in feet first, and decided if nothing else, it would be a learning experience!

How did you go about developing the Coach House?

I was recommended an architect who drew up plans and submitted them to the council. The building is Grade II listed so there were a few obstacles to satisfy the planners. I needed Planning Permission and Listed Building Consent.   I then sent the plans to four building contractors. I was amazed at the difference in price when all the quotes came in. I decided to go with the middle quote as I had a good feeling about the team and felt they would listen to my suggestions and we could work well together.

Portrait woman hands presenting small model of house, isolated grey wall background. Real estate, mortgage, home ownership concept. Safety, strong family idea. Insurance, protection

What bit did you enjoy the most?

The fun part of the project was choosing kitchens, bathrooms, tiles and time management with the builders. I wanted to rent the flat on an unfurnished basis so I chose some pretty neutral tones so it was a completely blank canvas for future tenants.

What was the biggest thing you learnt?

Nothing goes to plan and costs can quickly increase!   We had to dig down much further than we anticipated as the local planners would not pass this stage of the project off before we could move on.   The original quote moved quite a lot as I up graded the heating system to make it more efficient and I spent more on the kitchen than planned as this is one of the most important rooms in house.  Make sure you choose a building team you can trust and listen to them.

When did you instruct a Lettings Agent?

I knew nothing about the Landlord/Tenant business and I therefore had to be guided through the procedures and processes that are required of me as a Landlady. I asked a handful of Agents to see the flat 2-3 weeks before completion.

I chose Davis Brown who guided me through every step of way and gave me the confidence to deal with any problems that might occur.  There is so much to understand and to deal with and it was so important to be able to speak to a company that knew all the ropes as I was completely out of my comfort zone.

What did you learn?

Again, Davis Brown were a huge help here and helped me learn all the ropes of being a Landlady.  All the appliances were new and needed to be registered and guaranteed in my name in case they broke down.  A six-week deposit needed to be taken and registered formally with a deposit scheme. The gas safety certificate needs to be checked yearly. The list goes on…

I really understood the importance of an inventory report prepared with photographs, and I asked the tenants to sign so we were both covered in case of damage.

On their arrival, I had to test the fire alarms to show the tenants they were all working sufficiently and once again, I got a signature from the tenants.

As a personal touch, I gave the new tenants a welcome guide with information such as where the bins are kept, rubbish collection and what access they had.

I learnt very quickly that the relationship between tenant and landlady has to be completely transparent and both parties know they are responsible for the property – me maintaining it to the correct standard and the tenants respecting the space.

Once all the paper work was done – everyone knew exactly where they stood, this makes for a smooth relationship between landlady and tenant, and I am most grateful that Davis Brown were here to guide me through it all!   I am now looking forward to my next project with the confidence I have gained to take me forward.

What Does The Future Hold For Our High Streets?

Salisbury, UK - September 4th 2016: Tourists and shoppers are walking through Salisbury City centre on a Sunday afternoon. Some are sitting down enjoying refreshments and food at tables in the street.

 

Over the course of 2017 we saw the closure of a number main high street chains, most notably BHS. This has continued into 2018 with the recent closure of Toys r Us and Maplin, whilst other big names are reporting that it will be a financially difficult year ahead.

Many of these retailers reported a severe drop in sales over the Christmas period, and the most significant cause of this is thought to be movement off the high street to shopping online. This, along with increased additional costs such as business rates, particularly in central London, has made it difficult for many stores to make a profit.

London, UK - September 13, 2014: view down Carnaby Street with shoppers in London, UK. It is an iconic fashion street in the Soho district famous in the 1960s for mods and hippies.

One of the first signs that the internet was taking services away from the high street was the drop in the number of banks, travel agents and similar services, which originally dominated local high streets. As the amount of on-line shopping continues to increase, the scaremongers out there are already shouting that this is the end of the beloved high street and we will just be left with rows of vacant shop fronts and no activity.

The alternative is that we will see a change in type of retailer, which will evolve further away from the traditional shop. The first part of this high street evolution is already apparent as the number of coffee shops, hairdressers and beauty salons, restaurants and gyms is increasing. This indicates that the high street moving away from being a location to do your weekly shopping and becoming more of an activity based, leisure destination.

Davis Brown Commercial Agents have been marketing several retail units on Kentish Town Road, which is becoming an increasingly popular location. The variety of interest has been broad ranging from restaurants to gym use, whereas interest has not been as high for a more traditional shop use. One new arrival to Kentish Town is Gail’s Bakery, which indicates that the area is becoming increasingly fashionable. It was vital that Gail’s attained planning permission for part A3 (restaurant) use, allowing them to attract more customers into the store. This is now not uncommon as the high street is now starting to attract a different type of shopper.

As larger retail units, often old banking premises, become vacant many have been considered opportunities for setting up fitness centres, health spas and such like. Historically, this has not been the case, but maybe this is the direction many high streets will take in the future?

The BHS flagship store on Oxford Street closed last year, leaving 36,000 square feet of vacant retail space! Plans are now for it to be converted into the biggest food hall in London. This is to include 25 restaurants, 4 bars, numerous food stalls, event space and even a demo kitchen! Could this be a glimpse into the future of how revitalisation of the high street will cater to a new generation whose hard-earned cash is better spent on activities and time with friends rather than on material goods (which are now often cheaper and easier to purchase online)?