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Landlords cutting the costs, cannabis farms, debt repayments mount, new-build savings on energy costs

UK property news is inevitably overshadowed somewhat by the campaigning for the General Election on the 4th of July. But life for the busy landlord and property investor of course goes on – and it’s as important as ever to keep abreast of the relevant news.

Here, then, is a brief peek behind some of the headlines.

Study – how landlords have cut costs in challenging times

A recent report reveals just how landlords have been rising to the challenge of these difficult financial times, said Landlord Today recently.

There were a number of areas in which landlords have tightened their belts over the previous year and a half to meet the rising costs of running a buy to let business:

  • 30% of those surveyed, for instance, said that they have renegotiated (with their current lenders) the terms of their buy to let mortgages;
  • 29% have decided to increase the rents charged on their let properties;
  • 25% have ditched any plans to invest in additional buy to let units;
  • 22% have remortgaged their properties with an alternative lender;
  • 15% have reduced their monthly mortgage repayments by paying off at least part of the outstanding mortgage balance with savings or other non-rental income; and
  • 15% sold some of their let properties to reduce their operating overheads.

Additionally, one in six landlords cut costs by reducing their reliance on letting agents and taking on more of the management functions themselves, while 8% said they had cut ties with letting agents altogether.

Police urge landlords to look out for cannabis farm tenants

One of the persistent risks faced by many a landlord is the illegal use of their let property as a cannabis farm. Indeed, so insidious is the threat that we have published a “Guide to Landlords and Cannabis Farms” designed to help you be aware of what to look out for.

Evidence of the persistence of such illegal activity was revealed by Nottinghamshire police on the 30th of May when they described the arrest, conviction, and imprisonment of a tenant resident in Mansfield.

The tenant, Aljon Kacaj, had set up a cannabis factory in the home he rented, and, in a raid, police seized more than 160 cannabis plants from the premises.

Kacaj was tried at Nottingham Crown Court, found guilty of producing cannabis, and sentenced to 20 months in prison.

A Nottinghamshire Police spokesperson said: “This was a large and sophisticated operation that will have cost a considerable amount of money to set up.

“It has also caused a very large amount of damage to the internal structure of the property which the owner will now have to rectify at their own expense.

“For that reason, I urge residential landlords to think very carefully about who they let their properties to and to ensure that all relevant background checks are completed.

“People should also be wary of red flags like people offering to pay a large amount of rent up front or in cash, because the cost of falling victim to this kind of criminality far outweighs any short-term financial gain”.

Surge in debt repayments as costs hit household budgets

A headline feature of the Nationwide Building Society’s recent household Spending Report reveals a surge in the repayment of debt – these repayments shot up by 25% in April as the number of repayment transactions rose by 14%. Borrowers repaid a total of £735 million in unsecured debt during the month.

As housing costs have risen – either through increased rents or mortgage interest repayments – households have offset these increases by reducing their spending on supermarket bills and utilities.

As consumers looked to spread the impact of their purchases, spending on purchases through mail-order catalogues went up by some 12%.

Altogether, Nationwide’s analysis showed increased expenditure on essential costs of 1% and non-essential costs of 2%.

New-build homeowners save £1,685 a year on energy bills

If you’re looking to cut the costs of your energy bills, it pays to live in a new-build home. That is the conclusion of research conducted by the House Builders Federation and reported by Zoopla recently.

The research showed that 85% of newly built houses scored an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of A or B. Fewer than 5% of older properties achieve such ratings.

The energy efficiency of a new-build home can typically be attributed to its double or triple glazing, cavity wall insulation, and modern appliances rated A+. Energy efficiency on this scale is built into the construction of new housing from the word go.

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