As 2017 draws to a close, my team and I have been reflecting on 2017’s property market. As with any market, there have been some peaks and troughs. We came to the conclusion that 2018 might be another tough year and if you are a Landlord or a Vendor, our motto for 2018 will be ‘dress to sell’.

To summarise the property market in 2017…

The year end lull of 2016 continued into early 2017. Buyers were reluctant to buy and vendors were reluctant to reduce asking prices. Who to blame/what to blame? Stamp duty, Brexit, changes to Landlord tax, BTL lending .  For those of you are interested this is great article to read: https://www.economist.com/news/britain/21730914-first-time-years-capital-performing-worse-rest-country-londons

Buyers were nervous, prices began to fall and we saw an increase in activity and offers. Despite a pretty turbulent start to 2017, the lettings market remained pretty steady which should make Landlords breathe a sigh of relief.

It became more apparent over the year, the flats that were well presented and dressed beautifully, were attracting more attention and achieving the best possible price we could achieve on the open market. We therefore took a look back through our Top 3 ‘best dressed’ properties of 2017.

If you are a vendor or a landlord and you are struggling to sell or rent your property, perhaps this should be something to consider?  Being Estate Agents in W1 , we offer services in residential sales, lettings and interior design.

F I T Z R O Y  S Q U A R E


(Interior Styling by EHG Home)

M O R T I M E R  S T R E E T


(Interior Styling by Davis Brown)

F I T Z R O Y  S T R E E T




The New 2018 EPC Regulations

Energy labels with home on white background. Vector illustration

For most people the carbon footprint of their rental property isn’t the top priority when looking into next year.  However, as of 1st April 2018, any rental property which doesn’t comply with the changes to the Energy Performance Certificate regulations could actually cost you money and your ability to let the property.  As this deadline approaches we consider the main issues.

The issues of EPCs have long been contentious issue within the property industry creating uncertainty among landlords and agents alike. Earlier this year the Dept. for Energy & Climate Change finally completed the 2018 EPC regulations, which set out the minimum level of energy efficiency for private rented property in England and Wales. This means that as of 1 April 2018 it will be unlawful to let or lease a property that has an EPC rating lower than E.

These new EPC requirements apply to both domestic (from one-room flats to detached houses) and non-domestic properties including factories and offices. The changes to the regulations will be based on CO2 emissions for commercial property and on fuel costs for domestic dwellings.

So what does this mean for Landlords? You could find it increasingly difficult to let a house/flat or renew a commercial lease when the EPC rating is below an E. Government data shows that between 2008 and 2015 35% of non-domestic buildings that went under an EPC survey achieved an E,F or G rating as did 26% of domestic properties surveyed within the same time frame. This suggests that a significant proportion of the UK rental market could be affected by these changes, unless changes are made to improve their EPC rating.

As so many properties will need changes making by April next year to comply, this could well affect rental prices in the market. The upgrade costs to make sure properties comply with the regulations could be expensive, potentially forcing landlords to increase rent to cover those costs. The new regulations are also likely to have a significant effect on market value where poor performing properties will decrease in value due to their inability to let them without carrying out works.

Enforcement of these regulations will fall to local Trading Standards Officers and will have powers to impose civil penalties determined by the property’s rateable value. If a let property is found to be in breach of the Regulations and a penalty is imposed, the lease between the landlord and the tenant remains valid and in force.
Where the breach is for less than three months, the fine will be the equivalent of 10 per cent of the rateable value of commercial properties, subject to a minimum penalty of £5,000 and a maximum of £50,000 and £2,000 for residential properties. Where the breach is for more than three months, the fine will be the equivalent of 20 per cent of the rateable value for commercial properties subject to a minimum penalty of £10,000 and a maximum of £150,000 and £4,000 for residential properties.

Penalties for a single offence may be cumulative, up to a maximum of £5,000. Further penalties may be awarded for non-compliance with the original penalty notice where a landlord continues to rent out a non-compliant property; however, penalties would be cumulative up to a maximum of £5,000. The landlord can be awarded a further penalty if they keep offending.

If you’re a landlord and are worried about the upcoming changes, the first step is to talk to experts who can advise you on your situation. A local energy assessor will be able to offer you tailored expert advice and give you an EPC if you need one.  Even if a property doesn’t meet the required standards, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be faced with a large repair bill for energy efficiency upgrades as some properties will be exempt.

Whatever your circumstance, there’s still time to prepare your property before the new changes take effect. If you’re still unsure, it is advised you receive an expert overview to make sure you are complying with the regulations, but with only a few months to go, it’s better to act sooner, rather than later.

Thank you Fitzrovia!


As Fitzrovia’s collection point for Wrap Up London again this year, Davis Brown are proud to say that we achieved a great result with bags and bags of coats and jackets collected for those in need of warmth this Winter.  We want to say a huge THANK YOU to all our fellow Fitzrovians (and further afield), who donated a coat to this extremely worthwhile cause – we love that there is such a community spirit in our neighbourhood, where everyone supports each other, this couldn’t have been achieved without this giving spirit!

2 of Davis Brown employees – Josh and John hot-footed it up to Kings Cross Safe Store last Friday evening to deliver the goods which were sorted with all the other donations and will be currently making their way to several homeless shelters, womens’ refuges and many other charities around London .    So once again, we are most grateful for your generosity and thank you for making this year’s Wrap Up London such a success.

Choosing a Party Wall Surveyor

Silhouette row of businessmen sitting in meeting room

You may be amazed to know that a Party Wall Surveyor does not need to have any formal qualifications.  The only stipulation in the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is that a party to the dispute may not act as his or her own party wall surveyor.  You can appoint your butcher, your baker or your candlestick maker.  In practice, it is as well to choose wisely.  Do not be tempted by the longest string of initials after a surveyors’ name.  Neither the cheapest nor the most expensive may be the best.  Do not respond to unsolicited enquiries from surveyors who have been monitoring planning websites.  Many of these get themselves appointed even before a notice is served under the Act so that recovery of their fees from neighbours carrying out the work, may prove difficult.  Avoid signing up to agreements under which you would be responsible as the adjoining owner for payment of your surveyor’s fee.  In most circumstances, these fees are payable by the party carrying out the work and it is for the surveyors to agree upon fees, their amount and who should pay them.  If your surveyor charges too much, you may find yourself left with the residue to pay yourself.

Choose your surveyor from a reputable source.  Professional regulatory bodies, such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Royal Institute of British Architects will have lists of practitioners in this field.  The curiously named Pyramus & Thisbe Club also has a website with listings. You may have a friend who has had a good or bad experience previously which may help to guide you.  Above all, speak to the person you intend to appoint, find out about their experience, their charges and how they would deal with matters on your behalf.  Remember the appointment of a Party Wall Surveyor, like buying a pet, is not just for Christmas and once appointed you cannot dismiss them.  They are with you until the whole matter has been concluded!

Section 20 Consultation or “you really ought to want to”

Low angle vie of scaffolding, white background with copy space, full frame horizontal composition

If you like Charlie Puth or Cliff Richard you will know that they both sing about how “ we don’t talk anymore…” .  Very appropriate words for block management and in particular Section 20 Consultation on qualifying works.

As a block manager acting for multiple clients, it is sometimes easy to feel exasperated about expenses on residential blocks particularly when they exceed the “Section 20” threshold.

For the uninitiated, Section 20 Consultation is the legally prescribed procedure that Landlords (or agents like us acting on their behalf) must follow when carrying out qualifying works.  Without delving into the deeper “legalese” surrounding this and speaking generally for the purposes of day to day block management, the process broadly applies to qualifying works of maintenance or repair which would exceed £250 (inclusive of VAT) for any of the leaseholders in a residential block with variable service charges.

You can read about it in some detail here on the Leasehold Advisory Service Website:


I’m a big believer that people should know what they are getting into when they purchase the leasehold interest for a flat or apartment in a residential block, but sadly leaseholders often aren’t well advised on their potential liability for costs in terms of their lease covenants.

The fact that such a regimented approach is required before qualifying works  can be undertaken, is evidence of how much conflict there has historically been in this particular area of block management.

Analysis Business Brainstorming Corporate Smart Concept

In some ways, Section 20 consultation is like a school uniform – it’s great – everyone does the same thing,  there is no doubt about the procedure and dare I say Landlords and Agents can be “punished” if they deviate!

The problem though is that because it has become such a formal process, consultation is often regarded as just another hoop to jump through before a managing agent can get on with the work.  It is easy to forget that you’re dealing with the common parts of a residential block and the “owners” of the flats.  The service charge costs or contributions to major works are often an unwelcome additional burden on them despite their necessity, and as a result it is not uncommon for the relationship between the landlord (or his agent) and the leaseholders to become hostile if communication is sacrificed in the process of following the rules and just making sure formal notices are served correctly.   Frankly, so much of what we do as managing agents is about perception.

For example that hallway carpet and paintwork in the lobby of a small block with two or three flats can be an unwelcome expense if you demand leaseholder contributions just after the festive season when most people are recovering from traditional overindulgence and the stark reality of credit card repayments!   A managing agent may be acting within the prescribed set of rules, but will typically find they are “herding cats” in this situation.

By the same token, the scenario looks very different if the flat owners understand the necessity of the work, the procedures  you need to follow as a competent agent and the positive impact that well maintained common parts will have on the value of their investment.   You will often find that the leaseholders will initiate other works and work with you on overcoming obstacles as opposed to being reactive and defensive!  You really ought to want to speak to your leaseholders!

If this isn’t your experience, you need to be talking to us for your block management needs.

The difference between a Property Valuation and a Market Appraisal

As Chartered Surveyors and Estate Agents in central London, we are often asked by property owners for a valuation of their property; occasionally there is some confusion as to what consumers understand to be a valuation, so we wanted to put the record straight and let you know the score!  A valuation is normally a formal valuation undertaken by a qualified person (a Chartered Surveyor would comply) using what is known in the profession, as the Red Book. The Red Book is written by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and is now becoming globally accepted.


An appraisal is normally carried out by Estate Agents giving an indication of what the property could be achieved in the market place based on their assessment of the local market and transactions. An appraisal is therefore not a valuation and cannot be used for lending/funding purposes.

A formal valuation is carried out for a defined purpose, for example:

  • A Loan
  • Inheritance Tax Calculations
  • Capital Gains Tax Calculations
  • Accounts
  • Transfer of assets
  • Personal Pension Plans (SIPP)

It will have to comply with the standards and guidance of the Red Book. It is a detailed report under specified headings.


An appraisal is a short standard letter mainly used by Estate Agents for obtaining instructions to sell or let a property. If an Estate Agent is a registered RICS member, they will now need to follow the guidance set out in the new Blue Book, produced and published by the RICS. This provides industry standards for Estate Agents who are RICS accredited.

A valuer carrying out a formal valuation has Professional Indemnity Cover and therefore a fee will be paid. Normally there is no fee for a market appraisal.


At Davis Brown we have RICS registered valuers and a team of Residential and Commercial Agents. If would like to discuss a market appraisal or a Red Book Valuation, please contact us:

No. 1 Margaret Street, London, W1W 8RB

T (44) 020 7637 1066

E info@davis-brown.co.uk

W www.davis-brown.co.uk

What’s The Solution to London’s Housing Crisis?

Illustration and Painting

The housing crisis in this country is one of the biggest political issues and has been for some time. There has been plenty of blame directed at the property industry but I doubt that this is the cause of the problem.

A recent study by Savills’ research team highlighted that private renters across the UK are now paying in excess of £54 billion with approximately 50% being under the age of 35. This problem has been most extreme in London where a limited supply of housing has prevented younger buyers from getting on the property ladder.

The Government recently proposed an additional £2 billion for additional 25,000 affordable homes over the next 5 years, however many fear this is not enough to solve the problem. The Mayor of London however has stated that in excess of 50,000 homes need to be built a year, with 50% being affordable housing.

As the demand for housing has continued to increase, the price of development land has also risen dramatically. When demands for affordable housing increases, developers often struggle to make a profit. This often threatens the viability of a scheme, no matter the size of the project. The result of this could be that over the next few years the amount of development decreases.

So what is the solution, and how do we get more homes being built and reboot the market?

The first thing that could be done is replace Stamp Duty by an alternative form of tax, which many surveyors and estate agents in London have been calling for. Although it will not directly result in more homes being built it is likely to re-ignite the housing market and give people more flexibility to move, rather than being trapped in a home that is too small or in a lesser location.

Many people feel that it is time to completely update and reform Planning Policy. If we account for the speed at which London’s population is growing should the stringent Green Belt regulations be reconsidered? This is an unpopular view by many, especially for those living there, but one has to remember how little space remains in Central London for the development of affordable housing.

Currently planning applications can be both time consuming and an expensive process. Negotiation can take a long time and often results in projects falling through. If a complete overhaul of planning policy was introduced this could not only speed up the process developments but also be more finely tuned to provide the additional infrastructure and affordable housing, which has become necessary.

On 22nd November the autumn budget will be announced by the Chancellor. Could this be the time we start to see a genuine solution to boost the housing market and finding a way of solving the ‘Housing Crisis’?….

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.