Q & A with Kate Faulkner from LBC Property Hour week 10, sponsored by Direct Line Landlord Insurance.

publication date: Mar 29, 2017
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

Each week from 9pm to 10pm I am lucky enough to co-host the Property Hour with Clive Bull on LBC, thanks to the great support from Direct Line Landlord Insurance. Joining us this week was Paul Shamplina, of Landlord Action.

You can download the podcast and watch the video, but if you prefer, read the Q&As below and use the extra links to help you get the answers to the questions you need.

Q – We are due to complete our first time buy in two weeks time and had previously been informed by the agent at time that it was a share in the freehold of a property. It has now come to light that is a wholly leasehold property with a lease of just 80 years and we are looking at who is liable to extend the lease and whether it is still a worthwhile purchase, any advice?

A – It is a good job that your legal company picked it up. Any lease that drops below 80 years means that you may only get a cash buyer or, at the very least, a limited market when you come to sell. You may also want to renegotiate price now this has come to light so do get a valuation. My advice is to speak to the leasehold advisory service and a surveyor if you haven’t used one already that is a member of ALEP.

Worried about leasehold extensions? Read our checklist on how to choose an expert to value you leasehold extension.

Q – How do I find a good letting agent? I own a property which is being rented out at the moment but I wasn't provided with much guidance by the agent.

A – The first thing is to do your due diligence on the agent, this is vital as they play a major role in a successful buy to let project. The key things to look for is whether they are members of NALS/ARLA/RICS, if they aren’t they may not have Client Money Protection should your rent go missing from their bank account and they may not even know lettings legals. Checkout reviews on all agents and do visit the agent office. They must too, by law, belong to a redress scheme. Most good agents will have big checklist to make sure you let property the property safely and legally. One question to ask them is whether they know about the housing health and safety rating system, if they don't, run away!

Need find a letting agent? Read our how to choose a letting agent checklist.

Q – I want to make an offer on a flat but it may be demolished in the future due to the southern rail access to Heathrow. I really like the flat, if I do buy it what will I get in return from compulsory purchase, what will the market value be?

A – Visit gov.uk and it will explain all the valuations for compulsory purchase. You should also consult a RICS qualified surveyor to secure an accurate valuation and talk to a legal company who have handled compulsory purchase orders in the past to advise if it is wise to go ahead.

What type of survey should you get? Read our choosing a surveyor and type of survey checklist.

Q – What is your opinion on using online agents?

A – There are several types of agents that operate online. There are those that just advertise the property and you do all the viewings and legwork yourself and there are those that are fully qualified agents who are members of ARLA/NALS or RICS but just don’t have offices – they still though provide all the services you would normally get from an agent with an office, apart from the office. You need to check if they are advertising on the major portals and also compare prices.

Looking for a letting agent? Read our how to choose a letting agent checklist and 12 steps to letting success.

Q - Why are inventories vital for landlords?

Paul Shamplina explains what an inventory is, why it's important, and the potential consequences of not having one.

Q – I bought a flat, lived in it, then let it out, it is now coming under a compulsory purchase order, I think the council are playing hard ball. They have offered market value plus 7.5%, but nothing else. I have read government leaflets which suggest they should be helping me find another property and also finding my tenants to find somewhere to live, any advice?

A – The experts to turn to at times like this who will give you independent advice are RICS surveyors who have compulsory purchase experience. They will be able to help you with the negotiations and provide any evidence required. If you really want the best deal, it’s something to turn to experts for.

Need to know more about compulsory purchase? Read - what happens when the government wants to acquire part of your land?

Q – We finished a tenancy in September and the landlord has yet to return the deposit. They made a claim but haven't actually done anything yet, we rejected the claim and they still haven't got back to us. The claim has gone to dispute with the Deposit Protection Service (DPS), what should I do?

A – Landlords have 14 days to respond, after that there are processes that the DPS will follow. If the landlord doesn't respond or provide any evidence for taking the deposit then the award usually goes to the tenant. Visit the DPS website to see the processes.

For on landlord deposit rules, read our landlord deposit protection checklist and for tenants, read our Tenancy Deposit Scheme checklist.

Q – My wife and I own two houses which we rent out, she is a house wife and I pay the higher tax band for my work, can I gift the houses to my wife so she holds the tax burden? We currently own the properties 50% each.

A – It is possible to change ownership from 50/50%, but to do this you need to have all of your assets and tax liabilities assessed as well as make sure you have the right legals in place such as trusts if you have children you want your investment properties to go to.

To help you secure the support and advice you need, Read our BTL tax checklist and contact Rita4Rent or Nicholsons.

Q – I've recently taken out a tenancy, when I moved in the landlord didn't do an inventory. Where do I stand if there is a dispute at the end of the tenancy?

A – If you are dealing directly with the landlord and they haven't done an inventory then they won't have any evidence if there is dispute so this actually works in your favour.

Preparing an inventory? Should you do it yourself or get someone in?

All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner, author of Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
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