All About Subsidence

Renovation of an old cracked brick wall - concept image with copy space


The definition of subsidence is ‘the gradual caving in or sinking of an area of land’.

How can you tell if subsidence is occurring?

Depending on circumstances, there is a varying degree of effects on buildings which are astride or close to a patch of land where subsidence is occurring. Typically you would find diagonal stepped cracking through external brickwork with the more prominent separation at the highest points of the cracks. Internal symptoms include cracks in plasterwork, rucking of wallpaper and doors/windows binding within their frames.

What causes subsidence?

Subsidence is most common where finer soils are present e.g. clay soils, which are prevalent in the south east of England but also extends as far north as Hull and as far west as Exeter in what is known as the ‘Clay Belt’. Water is the primary cause of subsidence on fine soils, usually caused by a close proximity tree which can draw moisture away from soil causing it to shrink or a leaked drain which can cause fine soils to wash away from beneath foundations. A rarer type of subsidence is due to the presence of old mines beneath buildings which can cause sudden collapse.

What is the difference between subsidence and settlement?

Settlement is the downward movement of the ground as a direct result of the weight of the building acting upon the ground. Subsidence however is unrelated to the weight of the building and can happen as a result of unpredictable factors.

How do you remedy the effect of subsidence?

As soon as you see symptoms of subsidence, an expert should be called to provide a diagnosis. Once the cause has been ascertained, typical remediation processes could involve repairing drains, cutting and removing trees, underpinning the building or demolition and rebuilding parts of the building.

Davis Brown Wraps Up London!


This November, Davis Brown is once again supporting Wrap Up London in its annual mission to help keep London warm this winter. We’ll be volunteering as the Fitzrovia collection point for all your unwanted coats so that they can start a new life with those most likely to struggle to keep warm during the winter months.

The coat collection for the local area will run direct from the Davis Brown office with any unwanted coats donated to homeless shelters, refugee centres, women’s refuges and other charities. If you live or work in the area and would like to donate a coat to a worthy cause, we’d love for you to pop in.

We will be welcoming coats of all shapes and sizes to help Wrap Up London reach its 2017 target of 22,000 donations. Collections will run from today, until Thursday 23rd November, Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm. Please bring your coats direct to Davis Brown – 1 Margaret Street, London, W1W 8RB. Thank you!

Importance of Tenancy Deposit Scheme


When applying for a private residential rental property, you should be financially prepared and place money aside in order to accommodate the deposit which you would be expected to transfer over to your agent or landlord (usually totaling 6 weeks rent), who in turn will place it within a government protected scheme. The Housing Act 2004 Part 6 introduced tenancy deposit schemes to cover the deposits paid by tenants who had assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) however tenancies that are not ASTs are not covered by this legislation, and cannot be covered by tenancy deposit schemes.

There are multiple approved schemes including custodial, insurance-based or both. In each case, the legislation makes it mandatory for a deposit taken for an AST to be protected by an approved scheme. The legislation also sets out certain criteria that must be followed by the landlord or agent, these include: registering the deposit within 30 days, providing the tenant details of the prescribed information & deposit scheme within 30 days and at the end of the tenancy return any agreed or determined amount of deposit within 10 days or agreement or determination.

Should either your agent or the landlord not fulfil his legal obligation of registering the deposit, there are penalties and restrictions that would apply, including: preventing the landlord from serving a Section 21 Notice to bring the tenancy to an end, if the tenant applies to the country court the court will require the deposit to be repaid to the tenant or protected under an approved scheme and the court must also order the landlord or agent to pay the tenant a penalty of between one & three times the amount of the deposit. Best make sure you register the deposit!!

It is not a legal requirement to have an inventory carried out prior to occupation, however it is certainly strongly recommended as it schedules the condition of the property and provides protection for both the landlord and the tenant to help resolve any disputes come the end of the tenancy.

The most commonly used schemes include The Deposit Protection Service (DPS), Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) & My Deposits.

Everything You Need To Know About Listed Buildings

Rydal Hall, English Lake District, UK, a historical listed building which is run by the Christian diocese of Carlisle to provide a retreat and conference centre.

What does ‘listed’ mean?

It means that the property is on a national register of buildings with architectural or historical importance. You can check if your property is listed at the following website

What does this mean for buyers?

It means the building is protected and the owners must ensure its upkeep and not make any unauthorised alterations without consent.

Which buildings get listed?

Anything built before 1700 that is still more or less in its original condition. Plus most properties built between 1700 and 1840, along with later structures (1840-1914) that either demonstrate technological advances or were designed by famous architects. And post-1945 buildings are now being added to the list, though only those of particular importance.

Does the building have to be a house?

In short no, all sorts of structures can be listed, a few unusual examples are a petrol station, skate park, pier and the old penguin enclosure at London Zoo!

What’s the difference between a Grade I listed and a Grade II listed house?

In England and Wales, a Grade I building is the most protected structure, being considered of ‘outstanding or national architectural or historical interest’. Very few buildings (2%) come into this category. Grade II starred status (4%) indicates a structure of more than just local interest and Grade II listing (94%) denotes the place is of ‘special architectural or historic interest’.

Can you make alterations to a listed building?

Not without getting Listed Building Consent from the local conservation officer, who is usually employed by the local council. When buying a Listed building you have to make sure the previous owners didn’t carry out any unauthorised work. If they have undertaken unauthorised works and you purchase the property the new buyer will have to remedy the works.

Can any changes or extensions be made?

Yes, but only with the approval of the conservation officer, who will probably insist on the use of bricks, tiles or other materials that match the original. Some listed homeowners view this official as an enemy, but on the whole, it’s best to view the conservation officer as a friend and ally, rather than an obstacle. After all, they have the power to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Does anyone else get a say?

Yes, your local authority has to notify English Heritage of all planning applications for Grade I or Grade II starred properties. Sometimes, applications regarding Grade II homes are also referred to English Heritage as well.

Can you fight a refusal?

Yes, but it will involve a local inquiry called by the Secretary of State.

What about insurance?

As the house must be repaired using traditional methods and materials, the policy will be more expensive than for a modern house.

Why the British Fascination with all things Scandinavian?

map of Sweden through magnifying glass
map of Sweden through magnifying glass

Scandinavia seems to have been incorporated into every corner of British life.  It’s on our TVs, in our wardrobes, on our plates and very much a firm fixture in our homes by way of furniture.  Classic Scandi designs such as Eero Saarinen’s Tulip chair & Arne Jacobsen’s Egg are just as popular today as they were when first produced in the 50s and 60s.  So why is it that our love affair with Scandinavian furniture has stood the test of time?  The Nordic nations have an air of “coolness” about them, and this transfers to their designs, including clothing, architecture and indeed their furniture.  The Nordic nations have a real talent for functional, attractive, simple and affordable furniture and this makes for an appealing package.  The quiet, understated aesthetics have for decades been popular and were first taken on by designers and architects and the popularity soon spread – unsurprisingly, to the wider public.  Large brands such as Ikea have – since 1987 in the UK – been feeding the masses affordable pieces, and with new young Nordic designers on the rise we should expect it to be sticking around for the foreseeable.  We’ve even go so far as to adopt the Danish word “hygge”(pronounced “hoo-ga”) translating into English as “cosiness” , but it’s much more than that, it’s encompasses all things Danish and homely, often described as “the warm glow of candlelight” – I mean, who wouldn’t want a bit of hygge in their life?!

Why to use a Professional when negotiating a commercial lease

Commercial Lease agreement with money on a table.

We now have endless information and resources, at our fingertips which we can access day to day. By not instructing a professional for their advice, many people see this as a way of saving time and cutting costs.  Sadly this often has negative consequences as cutting out any professional advice makes people liable to the ‘free’ – often dubious information, which is available online. Much of the available information provided is not reliably checked and very often misses vital information. This often results in what should have been a relatively simple task turning into a much more time-consuming and unnecessarily expensive project. Property agents and surveyors in London are all too familiar with people getting into trouble after thinking they could do it on a ‘do-it-yourself’ basis.

When negotiating commercial leases, it is common for many people to ‘save money’ by cutting out the middle-man and not instructing an agent. People often think they have negotiated a good deal, however it is very common for them not to have accounted for other clauses within the lease. This can cost them significantly more than what was originally budgeted for; examples include large dilapidation costs at the end of the term, or significant rental increases with limited flexibility to surrender the lease.

Lease renewals and rent reviews can become a messy affair. Both landlords and tenants have been caught out by excessive costs if negotiations have failed. This can result in paying for a 3rd party surveyor or even going to court. If suitable advice had been taken at the beginning much of this would have been avoided, and the best deal for both parties could be reached.

As so much information is now accessible many tasks are thought to be easy enough to solve on your own. When managing property there are numerous things that can catch you out, I would suggest it is worth speaking to someone before you take the first step!



This season is all about geometric tiles, velvety textures and houseplants. Below we share some of our favourite inspirations & tips and how to put them together in your home.




 Square and rectangular tiles are a thing of the past, this season is all about mosaics in an array of shapes, colours and sizes. The great thing about these geometric tiles is that they can work in both modern and traditional settings, and despite being on-trend, styles like these don’t date since they also have a timeless appeal.

Shop the look: Geometric Black Hexagon Mosaic, £10.70 per tile,  



 If you decide to go for one of the season’s hottest trends, we advise that you go for colours that are warm and welcoming such as burnt oranges, deep cranberry, soft chestnut and pastel pinks. And if you don’t want to invest in a sofa or an armchair, then why not opt for some plain velvet cushions or a throw?

Shop the look: Frame, An armchair in Blush Cotton Velvet, £599, 



 Houseplants are here to stay – hooray! So why not decorate every corner of your home this autumn with gorgeous greenery. Our absolute favourites are the banana plant and the coffee plant.

Shop the look: Yucca Plant, £24.95,

The World of Surveys!


Feet sticking out from under a pile of papers.

Mortgage Survey

This type of survey is typically conducted on a property prior to purchase. A mortgage survey involves inspecting the property in order to determine how much it is worth and to note any major works which are necessary. The primary purpose of a mortgage survey is to provide enough information to the mortgage lender so that they can determine whether the property is safe to lend on and up to what amount. The survey will take into account comparable prices in the locality as well as the minimum reinstatement value, which is the minimum cost to re-build the property in the event that it is destroyed. Mortgage advisers are best suited to new build properties or properties which have previously had a more in depth type of survey carried out.

HomeBuyer Survey

Much like a mortgage survey, a HomeBuyer Survey includes a valuation, re-build valuation, a description of the property and identifies visible defects, however this type of survey also includes a more in depth survey which aims to identify less obvious and sometimes hidden defects of a property. A HomeBuyer survey is typically recommended when purchasing a property which is less than 100 years old and doesn’t have any unusual or abnormal features.

Building Survey (Formerly Full Structural Survey)

This is the most detailed type of survey available and covers all aspects of a property in great depth. Building surveys tend to be best suited for old, unusual, listed, timber framed etc. properties. A Building Survey is also recommended if you are planning to carry out major works to your property.  The survey will check every element of the property and provide advice on repairs, estimated timings, costs and will advise what could happen in the event that defective elements are left untreated. A Building Survey is a lot more comprehensive and provides a more in depth analysis of the property’s condition than a HomeBuyer report, it is important to note however that a Building Survey does not typically include mortgage valuations.


Food grocery shopping in the shape of the sterling pound symbol

Residential property has soared in value over the last 20 years, outstripping most other everyday items by vast amounts.

Given the time period, everyone knows property values has risen quickly but because it has become almost normal for property prices to increase you would be forgiven for not realising quite how much prices have grown. We have considered how much everyday items would cost now if they has risen in line with house and flat prices in different areas of London in 2016. The results in some cases are shocking!

Oval has seen house prices increase by 938% over the past 20 years, this would e the equivalent of paying £10.38 for one avocado!

Marylebone has seen similar increases which would see 350g of extra mature cheddar selling for £36.33!

In Camden basmati rice would cost £17.96 for a 2kg bag!

Heinz 570g squeezy tomato ketchup in Dalston which has increased by 676% would be in the region of £15.50!

Kensingtons prices have risen by 733% which would translate into a Hellmans 430ml squeezy Mayonnaise costing £21.72.

In Chelsea a regular 800g farmhouse loaf of white bread would set you back £10.41. This is based on the prices having risen 733%.

With house prices in Westminster having dramatically risen by 670 per cent, a pack of 74 nappies would cost £73.15 or £9.65 for a loaf of granary bread.

House prices have risen by 744% in Bayswater over the last two decades, meaning you’d be paying £10.89 for teabags.

In Kensal Green, house prices have gone up by 748% over the last two decades which would mean, you would be paying £7.55 for six medium free range eggs.

A bottle of standard supermarket wine would cost you over £50 in the West End where house prices have risen by 819 %.

Toilet paper would set you back £61.65 for 16 rolls in Bryanston & Dorset Square in Westminster.

These prices really put into perspective how much property prices have outstripped the rate of inflation. No wonder many first time buyers are struggling to get on the housing ladder. With prices creeping up all the time even the uncertainty of Brexit has only had a minimal effect.

It does bear the question where the tipping point is and how much further can the price of property in London increase?

Ref:  Esra Gurkan Mail Online

The Importance of Using a Property Professional


Energy labels with home on white background. Vector illustration


From Health & Safety to Money Laundering, AST Tenancy Agreement to Gas safety certificates – did you know there are over 150 pieces of legislation when it comes to residential lettings by professional letting agents can lead to a hefty fine should they not be carried out or even a jail sentence!

Money Laundering can be defined as ‘concealing the origins of money obtained from criminal activities, in order for it to appear that is has come from a legitimate source’. Regulation 5 of the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 requires customer due diligence and thorough background checks on all parties. This includes verifying and identifying the customer on the basis of documents, data or information. If ARLA Propertymark Estate Agents fall foul of the regulations, they could face a fine of up to 5million Euros so best ensure they are carried out!

There are several types of contracts depending on the on the nature of the deal, that are used when letting of a property – Assured Tenancy, Assured Shorthold Tenancies, Deeds or Licence are just some examples. The most commonly used is Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST). This is used when the annual rent doesn’t exceed £100k per annum, the property is for a private individual, the duration of the tenancy is no less than six months and no more than three years (or a deed would have to be written) – to name some of the several requirements. Special clauses can be requested by either party to be included within the AST Agreement, however both parties must ensure that no unfair terms are proposed. Should terms be agreed prior to signing of the contract, a clause will be added to the contract or alternatively should it be agreed thereafter an addendum will be drafted and signed by all parties. The AST Agreement is a legally binding document and therefore one must ensure that there are no errors otherwise it could come back to bite you in the court of law!

An EPC Certificate must, by law, be carried out every 10 years, along with a Gas Safety Certificate (should it apply) every year  although it is high recommended to be carried out more frequently – and both must be provided to the tenant prior to the contract start date. Should a landlord or agent fail to provide either document, they can be hit with a fine for several thousands of pound or even a jail sentence. My professional advice, don’t forget!