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Property News 2009 (latest month at top, scroll down for earlier reports)

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The Money Centre about to close

Lloyds Banking Group, which now owns a monopoly over the buy-to-let mortgage market, have chosen to refuse to accept new business applications from The Money Centre. They have done this without providing us with an opportunity to meet the decision makers to review their rational or to appeal their decision. More Information here December 2009 Back to top

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Interest in overseas property soars

Primelocation’s International Search Index has revealed that in November, the number of searches for international property doubled, when compared to a year earlier. The website logged over one million foreign property searches, taking levels of interest back up to pre credit crisis days. More Information here December 2009 Back to top

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UK Rents have declined for the second consecutive month

The Negoiator has reported this according to the latest buy-to-let index from LSL Property Services.Rents fell by 0.6% in November, taking rents back to the levels seen at the end of August, reveals the group, which owns Your Move, Reeds Rains and Halifax. This follows four months of rapid rental inflation during the summer when rents rose at an annual pace of 13%. Half of the country’s regions saw declines, but rents fell fastest in the South East, down 3.3% in the month.

Only the Midlands and the East of England experienced increases in November. Landlords saw yields slip to 4.9% in November, a level last seen in November 2008, though they were 0.3% lower when adjusted for void periods. Nevertheless, investors who bought property a year ago have made a total return of 4.1%, which is the best annual total return on LSL’s record, which begins with property purchased in June 2007. The group’s index shows that in November, a typical rental property made £809 in capital gains and earned £665 in rental income, totalling £1,474.

Arrears worsened in November, with 525,000 tenants having not paid their rent on time, up from an unusually low 495,000 in October. Collectively, tenants owed £261m in overdue rent last month. December 2009 Back to top

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HomeLet Launch New Range of Landlord's Insurance

HomeLet, who have been supporting the lettings industry since the birth of buy-to-let, have used their knowledge and expertise to deliver their most comprehensive range of landlord's insurance products to date.After months of development and years in the making HomeLet have launched Landlord's Insurance+ More Information here December 2009 Back to top

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Holiday Homes Hit in UK pre-budget report from April 2010

The British Government's Pre-Budget presented on Wednesday 9th December 09 by the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) will affect the owners of holiday homes. Individuals and companies who rent out holiday homes like the ones advertised on jmlvillas.com the low cost villa advertising service are set to lose their tax breaks and pay the same rate of tax as if they were renting out property in the UK. More Information here December 2009 Back to top

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Insuring homes at risk from flooding

Following on from the recent severe flooding in the Lake District, there was an interesting article in a a UK newspaper on the 23rd November entitled "In need of cover insuring homes at risk".More than half a million homes have been built in areas regarded as being at serious risk of flooding and up to a million more could be constructed by 2020. More Information here November 2009 Back to top

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Letsense Reference Insurance to Close

Letsense which was launched by chief executive Peter Knowles and Brian Turney, former managing director of Letsure in October 2008, has put its 12 staff on notice.More Information here November 2009 Back to top

HomeLet to rescue LetSense agents

Tenant referencing and insurance firm, HomeLet, is offering assistance to agents linked to rival firm, LetSense, which is about to close.More Information here November 2009 Back to top

Simple Rent Guarantee insurance now being advertised on the jml-property-insurance website

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Late in October 2009 jml Property Insurance launched a specialist "Rent Guarantee" section on their website as more and more landlords are finding that some tenants cannot pay their rents. The recession and higher unemployment is not helping and so many landlords are considering taking out a Rent Guarantee Insurance policy More Information here November 2009 Back to top

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It is early November and the Irish Times has lost weight

The Irish Times 5th November 09 edition arrived yesterday. What has happened to the property supplement? Last week there were sevel pages with a lot of colour ads for estate agents, but this week.... There are eight pages only. It is very thin. Traditionally the paper's property section takes an August break and Christmas break, however it looks like the winddown to Christmas is very early this year. More Information here November 2009 Back to top

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HomeLet - Demand for insurance product for Tenant's contents insurance Doubles

Thanks to the launch of its new Tenants Contents Insurance + product and increased demand, HomeLet has managed to double the number of policies sold in just six months.What's more, since 2006 HomeLet has referenced over 1 million tenants, proving it is still the market-leading provider of specialist insurance products and services to the UK lettings industry. In September 2009 HomeLet sold over double the amount of tenants contents insurance policies when compared to January 2009, with an increase of 121 per cent. More Information here October 2009 Back to top

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ARLA's Response to statistics from NLA on rental arrears

In response to statistics from NLA on rental arrears (news item below) Ian Potter, operations manager of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), comments:“Latest figures from the NLA highlight that nearly three quarters of landlords have experienced rental arrears. Our research shows that 28% of landlords have seen an increase in the number of tenants struggling to meet rental payments – while this is down on the previous quarter (32%), it is still a worrying issue.More Information here October 2009 Back to top

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Green shoots aren't stopping Rental Arrears says NLA

Research conducted by the National Landlords Association (NLA), the UK's leading representative body for private-residential landlords, reveals nearly three quarters of landlords have experienced rental arrears. Worryingly, 43 per cent of these occurred in the last 12 months More Information here October 2009 Back to top

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ARLA's Response to FSA Paper on Mortgage Lending

In response to the FSA's paper on Mortgage Lending, Ian Potter, operations manager of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), comments "The FSA appears to recognise the critical role that the buy to let market has to play in supporting the UK's housing needs in the years to come. Lending must be made available to landlords - of all sizes - as the private rental sector bears the burden of an increase in demand for housing and the lack of new stock coming onto market. .More Information here October 2009 Back to top

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Flat Living Magazine (flat-living.co.uk)

First issue has been published in October 2009 and it will appear quarterly . There appears to be a lot of information in the 32 page publication provided by ARMA (The Association of Residential Managing Agents).More Information here October 2009 Back to top

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Sherry FitzGerald the largest Estate Aents in Ireland reports a pretax loss of €15.5m

Ireland's long established estate agents group Sherry FitzGerald reports a pretax loss of €15.5m according to a report in the 19th October edition of the Irish Times. Sherry Fitzgerald is Ireland's largest estate agent. Marsh & Parsons is the London arm of the Sherry FitzGerald Group offering Residential Sales and Lettings in 14 central London locations More Information here October 2009 Back to top

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Lettings business grows in Glasgow with Letsure

Letsure have just launched a recruitment campaign to increase the number of staff at their credit search reference centre at Granite House, Stockwell Street, Glasgow. The company that was established in 1983 has been based in Glasgow for many years and as Lumley Holdings Group up until it became part of the Erinaceous Insurance Group in 2007 being part of the same group that owned it's major competitor HomeLet. More Information here October 2009 Back to top

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Halifax Estate Agents to be sold for £1

Lloyds Banking Group has reached an agreement in principle to sell its Halifax Estate Agencies to LSL for £1. The sale is expected to complete on January 15. The Halifax brand is not included in the sale and the Halifax estate agencies will be re-branded to either Your Move, Reeds Rains or Intercounty. There are 218 branches including 93 franchise operations involved in the £1 sale. There are 121 Halifax banking counters in the estate agent branches which will close early in the New Year. As a result, there will be about 360 job losses on the banking side. It is anticipated that about 1,050 estate agency staff will go with the sale to LSL. More Information here October 2009 Back to top

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Letting agent in Chester goes into liquidation

A letting agent in Chester has gone into liquidation after it emerged he owes almost £200,000 to a variety of creditors. Martin & Co franchisee Geoff Lavery owed nearly £100,000 to different landlords and tenants and another £86,000 to companies such as Rightmove and Homelet. Martin & Co could, and should, have acted sooner in the case of the Chester franchise, the National Approved Letting Scheme has suggested. This has been strongly denied by the company which will this week seek a High Court warrant for the arrest of its former franchisee. Martin & Co chief executive Ian Wilson said that it is a major issue in the lettings industry that agencies use rental money and tenants’ deposits as their own cashflow, and he said there was no effective regulation. More Information here October 2009 Back to top

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Major improvement project at the Port of Nice that could cause property prices to rise

Work has just started tjhis week on a three phase restoration project of the port in Nice, France that will make it more accesible to the main city, have underground parking and wider pavements.The  120 million budget programme should be completed in 2011. More Information here October 2009 Back to top

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Mandatory Tenancy Rental Deposit Protection coming to Scotland

Alex Neil Housing and Communities Minister has announced that a national scheme for safeguarding rent deposits is to be introduced in Scotland. The new scheme will reduce the number of wrongly withheld deposits, speed up deposit returns,ensure funds are available at the end of the tenancy when there is a dispute, ensure that the amount returned is determined in a fair way. More Information here September 2009 Back to top

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Demand in rental market returns for the first time since recession began

The residential rental market is beginning to stabilise with property oversupply decreasing across the UK and the number of new tenancies increasing, according to the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

Results from the latest ARLA survey of its members show that the historical decline in numbers of tenants, which led to a surplus of properties to rent, is coming to an end.

More Information here September 2009 Back to top

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Confusion reigns over private landlord registers - State of the Nations

As the Government considers mandatory registration of private-residential landlords there is no agreement between the four countries of the UK about the true value of such schemes.

The NLA have been working with the Department for Communities and Local Government (England), Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland and officials in the Welsh Assembly Government to help shape future policies concerning the private rented sector and ensure that landlords' views are represented. More Information here August 2009 Back to top

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Rentshield is consistently striving to exceed customer expectations

That is the message from Rentshield we received earlier this week in their update on what has been happening at Rentshield Direct a major UK Landlord and Tenant insurance provider and tenant referencing service for letting agents.Since their large investment on a web based system back in March 09they have learned many things. They have tried and tested numerous methods of ensuring that the service they are providing is not only efficient but that they surpass the standards agents have come to expect from a referencing agency.More here August 2009 Back to top.

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Cut price Canadian holiday home condos for sale

There are condominimumum suites in a Canadian development at Red Leaves,Muskoka, Ontario that is 2 hours north of Torronto had prices of $294,000 Cdn to over $700,000 Cdn. The last 84 suires are being offered from $1666,00 Cdn. The average price cut is abouut 35 per cent. Red Leaves developer Ken Fowler's company went into receivership a few months ago.August 2009 Back to top

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Students should look at their insurance needs now

Students will soon be moving into universities and colleges and one major study project they should not ignore the insurance on their personal belongings, if they are taking a gap year take backpacker insurance More here August 2009 Back to top.

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Response to Council of Mortgage Lenders buy-to-let statistics from ARLA

On the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) announcement on buy-to-let activity in the second quarter of 2009, Ian Potter, operations manager of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), comments: “This news from the Council of Mortgage Lenders, whilst not unexpected, is nonetheless confirmation that things are starting to pick up for buy-to-let investors. More here August 2009 Back to top.

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The National Association of Estate Agents on racial discrimination in Lettings agencies

Comments from Peter Bolton King, Chief Executive of National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) on racial discrimination in lettings agencies, following the BBC LookNorth Business undercover report: “NAEA is committed to setting the highest standards for lettings professionals, for the benefit of both the general public and the wider industry. More here August 2009 Back to top.

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Review of ARLA Agreement Magazine on Insurance

The August edition has been called "Insurance Special". Rental property insurance has become a major industry with the growth of the domestic rental market in the UK over the last few years. Many insurance providers offer a tenant referencing service these days and no landlord or tenant should not be with out the appropriate insurance. The magazine is geared for the members of ARLA and naturally the magazine is full of ads for insurance, letting agent software, rental furnishings and other related topics More here August 2009 Back to top.

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Gas Safety Register Confusion

Gas Safe Register appear to be advising on their helpline that a landlord is obliged to obtain a new gas safety certificate every time a tenancy is entered into, notwithstanding any current gas safety certificate that is in place. According to the Pain Smith Landlord and Tenant Blog this is not the position.More here July 2009 Back to top

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Ikea finally opens in Dublin, Ireland

The second Ikea store in Ireland opens for business on Monday 27th July. It is is the first in the Republic and at 31,800sq m is the largest store. Located at Ballymun in North Dublin just off the M50 motorway. There has been a five year wait, two years of which related to planning it finally opens. The M50 motorway had to be widened before the store could open for business. The Ikea Belfast store opened in December 2007. See also Ikea could face a long delay before it builds in Dublin, Ireland Property News 2007 and Visiting Ikea Dublin a few months after it opened - October 09 on jmlvillas Blog July 2009 Back to top

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Sheffield success story is crowned the NLA Property Woman 2009

The country’s leading property entrepreneurs gather together for the prestigious NLA Property Women Awards 2009. 11 regional winners, the NLA Green Property Woman and the NLA Young Property Woman were all revealed, but it was Shona Davison, a landlord from Sheffield who stole the show to claim the title of NLA Property Woman of the Year 2009 More here July 2009 Back to top

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Hôtel Negresco in Nice, France -The owner has bequeathed it to a foundation for animals and the poor

Mme Jeanne Augier the owner of the famous Hôtel Negresco on the Promenade des Anglais has agreed that the hotel will be handed over to a charity on her death. The hotel was built by a Romanian entrepreneur, Henri Negresco in 1913 and it was bought by Mme Augier's father in 1957. The 86 old owner wants the property to remain French owned and the Mesange-Augier-Negresco foundation will also take control of her property portfolio in Nice, Grasse and Paris.More here July 2009 Back to top

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French housing market moving again

According to a news report in the August 09 edition of "Living France" magazine after several slow months, there are certain factors that are coming in to stimulate the French property market. Le Crédit Lyonnais (LCL) has received a record number of mortgage applications in May - some 3,000 application from domestic and international buyers. Properties are now being offered for sale at much more realistic prices. The mortgage broker CAFPI forecasts that the price of luxury properties in France will remain stable in 2009.July 2009 Back to top

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You can now buy a second home for less than €100,000 in Italy

The August 09 edition of "Italy" magazine reports on a silver lining to the current economic crisis. Whereas not so long ago it was difficult to find a second home (unless it was remote or a wreck for under €100,000. However with vendors pricing property more competitively the magazine has sourced three delightful homes ranging from a two bedroom cottage 15 minutes from the beach at Scano di Montifeffo in Sardinia for €80,000 and a one bedroom townhouse in Gualdo Tadino, Umbria for €97,000 for further information see the August edition of Italy magazine page 69 £3.75.July 2009 Back to top

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Ryanair to charge £5 to check in on line from October 09

From October 1st the low cost carrier will be charging every customer £5 to check in on line when it introduces its new web check-in and bag-drop system.. Passengers can check-in online from 15 days to four hours before a flight If passengers forget or are unable, they will be charged £40 to be checked in at the airport. The airline will also charge £100 to change the name on a booking online, or £150 over the phone.July 2009 Back to top

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Summer is here and Seaside property prices have rocketed 115% since 2001, according to new research from Halifax

This is higher than the 96% average increase in house prices across England and Wales. The Halifax Estate Agents Seaside Town Review, out today [July 4], tracks housing affordability in 96 seaside towns across England and Wales. It reveals that 90% of these have seen prices increase by over 100% since 2001. Houses in Pwllheli, North-West Wales, have increased the most, with the average house price up from £70,970 to £217,253.

This is followed by property in Rock in Cornwall, where prices have increased 200% from £102,825 to £308,073, and Maryport in Cumbria, with prices up 177% from 41,096 to £113,641. Property in Whitehaven was most affordable in the first quarter of the year, according to the research, which classifies property as affordable if the average house price in the town is lower than the price someone on average earnings can pay. The top 10 least affordable seaside locations to live in the first quarter were in the South West, with Sandbanks in Dorset topping the list, followed by St Mawes, Rock and Fowey. Source The Negotiator July 2009 Back to top

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NAEA Survey shows demand is outstripping supply - four house hunters for every property in the UK

Demand is outstripping supply across the UK housing market, with estate agents registering four house hunters to every available property. The monthly market survey of the National Association of Estate Agents found that the average branch had 299 house hunters on its books in May - up from 265 the previous month and 247 in May 2008.The average branch had 69 properties on its books. For the second month running estate agents also reported a successful selling period. The average branch sold 10 properties, a 30 per cent increase on the same time last year and double that sold on average in August 2008. Gary Smith, President of the NAEA, said: "This is really good news for the housing market and the UK economy in general.

"NAEA members are showing that there are buyers a-plenty out there. More often than not these are also potential sellers who are at the beginning of the process - so there is bound to be a lag which creates a shortage of properties in the short term. With mortgage interest rates at historically low levels and prices now far more realistic than in previous years, home ownership in the UK seems to be set to lead the way out of the recession." Source NAEA July 2009 Back to top

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LSL reveals 560,000 tenants in arrears

According to new research from LSL Property Services. This is equivalent to 11.6% of all rent due, according to the research, which is based on 18,000 rental properties and tenancies from around the UK. Around 133,000 tenants faced potential eviction for arrears at the end of May, equivalent to one in 25 renters. A whopping 557,170 tenants had not paid their rent at the end of last month, with one in seven of these over two months late with their payments. Tenants in England and Wales were collectively behind with their rent by £254m. June 2009 Back to top

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Rise in US Home sales in May 09

US home sales were up 2.4 per cent in May, but prices were still depressed, the National Association of Realtors has reported. May’s increase was the first back-to-back monthly gain since September 2005.A NAR practitioner survey in May showed first-time buyers accounted for 29 percent of transactions, and that the number of buyers looking at homes is nearly 10 percentage points higher than a year ago.June 2009 Back to top

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Landlords in Ireland warned about Drug Factories

A report in The Irish Times on the 22nd June has stated that Landlords who own houses in rural area have been urged by Gardai (Irish police) to ensure they are not being used as drug factories.

The warning comes following a Vietnamese last week was convicted of turning a rented house into a cannabis growing factory. The report said that Son Van Hoaing aged 57 admitted cultivating cannabis plants at Lissacull, Castlerea, Co Roscommon in August 2008.

Gardai found 180 plants inside the house and cannabis herb worth about €124,000. Gardai are now fearing similar factories have been set up around the State. A Garda spokesperson said "The people who rent these houses make sure the rent is paid on time and do nothing in the community which might attract attention". As in Britain, landlords should inspect their properties regularly and if they are employing a managing agent instruct them to carry out routine inspections.

When checking a property be on the lookout for:

  • Rooms being locked and access barred - ensure you inspect these and if you are suspicious if you are being told someone is asleep in a room still request to see it.
  • Lights being left on all day and night and curtains and blinds drawn
  • Strong smells of de-odourisers or air fresheners to disguise the smell of drug production.
  • Possible rewiring " High humidity in the property
  • Look in sheds and outhouses and garages and the attic area

See also: Landlords: could your property be housing a cannabis factory? 11 March 20 June 2009 Back to top

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HomeLet releases a new Tenant's contents insurance product available via jml insurance

HomeLet the major Landlord and Tenant insurance provider in the UK is releasing a new Tenant's contents insurance product. The insurance provider has been listening to customer feedback and introduced "Tenant's Contents Insurance +". The new tenant insurance is more affordable by Tenants.More here June 2009 Back to top

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Home insurance premiums up 25% in Ireland

Home insurance premiums in Ireland have sky-rocketed this year despite record unemployment and drastic price cuts across other sectors of the Irish economy More here June 2009 Back to top

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Tenants and Renters - Have you got your property insured? New HomeLet Tenant's insurance product being launched

The market leader HomeLet is introducing a new tenants insurance policy on Friday 19th June 09. The reason behind this is that have done a lot of research into the market place. HomeLet will now allow up to three people to share the same policy, as long as they’re employed and not a full-time student. They looked at their prices in those areas which are still in the higher bandings. They realised they were a little uncompetitive, and that many tenants decided not to buy, so HomeLet has updated these too. Find out more by seeing this sory in full at the jml insurance Blog June 2009 Back to top

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Irish property market might be very quiet but "Estate agents correx boards" have had a lot of use

(click on image)There are not so many properties selling in Ireland in 2009, however the manufacturers of correx the material normally used for estate agents for sale and sold boards has once again had a new lease of life thanks to the Local and European elections. More on this here June 2009 Back to top

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High Court winds up Lancashire agency

Lancashire-based Saxtons has been closed down by the High Court for the misappropriation of client funds. In a statement issued by the Insolvency Service today, the group is accused of failing to pay rental payments collected on behalf of landlords and failing to refund deposits collected from tenants. The group, which comprised Saxtons (Residential Lettings) Limited, Saxtons Residential Limited and Saxtons (Burnley) Limited, operated as estate agents and letting agents in the Rossendale area until it was wound up in the High Court last month following an investigation by the Companies Investigation Branch of the Insolvency Service. The investigation discovered numerous complaints made by landlords and tenants about the wrongful retention of rental payments and deposits. It also discovered that the group did not operate a tenancy deposit scheme, despite claiming to do so, while falsely claiming to be members of industry bodies, which it wasn't. Source The Negotiator June 2009 Back to top

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Houses prices in Ireland continue to fall as buyers hold out for further declines

The Irish Times has reported that house prices fell 1.9 per cent in April according to the latest edition of the Permanent TSB/Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) house price index. The April decline in average national house prices marks an accelaration in the monthly drops in the first 3 months of 2009. Property prices in Ireland have now fallen back to levels last seen in 2004. The average house price in April 2009 was €248.640 compared with €311,078 in February 2007.More information here May 2009 Back to top

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French Property Tax Deadline

If you own a property in France you should have completed your tax return by the 31st May. The French tax authorities could have sent you the fdecration form "Avis Impôt sur le revenue". They have a specialist department for non resident owners "CDI Non Residents" at 93465 NOISY-GD- CEDEX. If you don't actually let your property, you must not ignore the form, fill it in and send a letter explaining that you don't let the property or have stopped letting it.More information here May 2009 Back to top

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FindaProperty.com's May Rental Index has just been published

The property search engine for buying and renting has just published the May rental index for the UK. It was the first time that rents have not shown a month-on-month decline since as far back as August 2008. Average asking rents remain unchanged at £819 pcm, but are still 5.5% lower than May 2008 when rents stood at £867 pcm. In May 2009, the average time a property to rent was on the market was 65 days, 16 days longer than May 2008. Asking rents rose in 23 of 33 London boroughs, with the Capital experiencing a month-on-month rise of 0.4 per cent. This took the average rent from £1,623 pcm in April 2009 to £1,630 pcm in May 2009. .More information here May 2009 Back to top

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South Bucks Estate Agents Roberts Newby acquires new office

Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire -based Roberts Newby has bought the lease of Chalfont St Giles-based Colman & Green. The branch, which closed down around nine months ago, is currently undergoing a £20,000 refurbishment, will be rebranded as Robert Newby Partnership. Simon Colman has been drafted in to run the branch. Colman, who has spent the last few years working in property development, founded the agency, later selling it to John Green in the mid-90s, who himself sold out five years ago. John Green was a former partner of A C Frost & Co before they sold to the Prudential and later started up again as The Frost Partnership.The most recent owners are understood to have ceased trading around nine months ago. Source Negotiator / jml archive. May 2009 Back to top

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Insurance in Ireland – Household and Landlord Insurance now available in Ireland

Following on from the successful launch of Irish Property insurance on the jml Insurance website in November 2008, www.irishpropertyinsurance.com Kay International can offer cover for the Republic of Ireland. This site offers introductions to companies like Intasure Home and Holiday Home insurance and with Kay International Plc coming on board as an introducer offering a complete spectrum of household and residential property insurance products ranging from simple landlords cover through to blocks of flats and property portfolios. More information here May 2009 Back to top

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Property price fall lures investors to Europe

The Financial Times has reported thatSharp price falls in European property hotspots and a gradual strengthening of the pound are luring cash-rich UK investors back to the continental mainland just in time for summer. Foreign exchange providers and estate agents are reporting revived interest from cash-rich Britons looking to snap up holiday homes in popular locations across France, Spain, Italy and Portugal. More information here May 2009 Back to top

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SPLA/NFRL members vote against merger with NLA

According to a 3 page article/report in the May/June 2009 edition of "landlord & buy-to-let" magazine, members of the Southern Private Landlords Association (SPLA) (Later trading under the National Federation of Landlords - NFRL) have voted in opposition to the merger with the NLA. More information here May 2009 Back to top

Legal challenge to NLA/NFRL merger fails

The National Landlords Association (NLA), the leading representative body for private residential landlords, has welcomed a decision by the High Court dismissing legal challenges to the NLA/NFRL merger. On Thursday 21 May, His Honour Judge Pelling QC dismissed the legal challenges to the merger. More information here May 2009 Back to top

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Nobody does it better," say female landlords

The National Landlords Association (NLA), the leading representative body for private residential landlords, is continuing its nationwide search for Property Woman of the Year 2009. More information here May 2009 Back to top

ARLA gets behind the NLA Property Women Awards 2009

The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) is sponsoring the Young Property Woman Award category at the NLA Property Women Awards 2009. The NLA Property Women Awards 2009 are the most coveted prize for landlords this year. They recognise the success and achievements of all female landlords in the private-rented sector and show the highest levels of customer service and tenant satisfaction. More information here May 2009 Back to top

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OEA becomes TPO

The Ombudsman for Estate Agents has rebranded as The Property Ombudsman Service. The name change marks boost to consumer protection in property sector.The OEA was founded as the Ombudsman for Corporate Eastate Agents in 1990. In 1998 it included residential estate agents and in June 2006 lettings and property management agents.

Christopher Hamer is the Property Ombudsman. There will be a new logo for window displays, in blue with the OFT Approved Codes symbol alongside for sales offices and green without the OFT logo for lettings. Commercial property sales members will have a black logo when the scheme expands soon to cover some of their activities. The Ombudsman will look into a complaint to see if he can resolve your dispute in full and final settlement. More information here

They have submitted our lettings Code of Practice to the OFT for endorsement under its Consumer Codes Approval Scheme, which they see as vital in current market conditions where lettings are dominating activity. The TPO can also resolve disputes referred by landlords or tenants and relating to lettings and management agents that are members of the Scheme. These agents follow the Code of Practice for Letting Agents, for which we are seeking OFT approval, in common with the Code of Practice for Residential Sales, however disputes relating to repayment of deposits paid by tenants and which are protected by an approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme should be referred to the relevant deposit protection scheme. More information here May 2009 Back to top

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Ex JNP Director and Philip Green Estate Agents staff open new Estate Agents in High Wycombe, Bucks

The 1st June is the date that Wye Residential opens its doors in Crendon Street, High Wycombe. There are four partners. Darell Litchfield is a former Director of The JNP Partnership who left JNP last September to become a property consultant, but has decided to move back into sales. He has over 26 years local experience. He is joined by ex Philip Green Estate Agents staff - Partners in the new venture Steve Harnett, Sean Owen and Rob Mackay. May 2009 Back to top

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New buy-to-let lending fell for the sixth consecutive quarter in the first three months of 2009

New buy-to-let lending fell for the sixth consecutive quarter in the first three months of 2009, reflecting the continuation of extremely challenging funding conditions as well as general housing market weakness, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. Buy-to-lending accounted for 6% of all gross mortgage lending in the first quarter, down from 12% a year earlier.

There were 22,400 new buy-to-let mortgages advanced in the first quarter, down from 38,000 in the fourth quarter of 2008 and 72,400 in the first quarter of last year. The total number of outstanding buy-to-let mortgages was 1,155,200 at the first quarter, slightly down from 1,157,000 at the end of 2008. By value, buy-to-let gross advances totalled £2.1 billion in the first quarter, down from £4.0 billion in the fourth quarter and £9.5 billion in the first quarter of last year. More Information here May 2009 Back to top

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National register for English landlords proposed

The government has published its long-awaited response to the Rugg Review of the private rented sector. Proposals include:

  • National register for all English landlords
  • Mandatory regulation of letting and managing agents
  • Raising standards through training and accreditation
  • Encouraging institutional investment in rented property

The proposed national landlord register would be run by an independent body. Landlords would have to register their name, home address and all rental addresses every twelve months.

The details of this scheme and the other proposals have yet to be published. The government has indicated that it will publish draft legislation later this year, but how the economy and the impending General Election may affect this remains to be seen. To read the government’s proposals in full and for the NLA’s initial response find out more here May 2009 Back to top

ARLA welcomes the Government’s “historic shift in thinking” on the private rented sector towards improved industry standards - May 2009

“ARLA welcomes a response from the Government to the Rugg Review and its commitment to a fair deal for tenants, landlords and professional agents through licensing. Ian Potter, operations manager of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), says the Government’s response to the Rugg Review into the private rented sector today represents a “historic shift in thinking”.. find out more here May 2009 Back to top

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Irish house prices halve in two years

According to a report in www.estateagenttoday.co.uk on the 8th May 09, one of the worst affected is southern Ireland. Property prices in Dublin have dropped by 52% since 2007 – and one in five buyers today are paying cash

A report by the Irish Times looks at data on 192 house sales in the city in the first four months of this year. Almost all had been on the market since last year, and some since 2007. Only two of the 192 properties sold for above their asking prices and both were in low price brackets. The report also reveals why Irish auctioneers no longer reveal the prices they have achieved.

This is because in Ireland it is illegal to give out exact prices without the written permission of both buyer and seller. Auctioneers used to say ‘in the region of’ when revealing prices, but the National Consumer Agency threatened prosecution under the Consumer Protection Act unless they gave exact prices. The Agency had warned that some prices had been deliberately exaggerated as the market fell. However, it is known that the number of auctions in Ireland has fallen sharply from 1,500 in 2006 to just 127 last year. May 2009 Back to top

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ARLA launches new licensing scheme to protect consumer interests - Consumer interests safeguarded by letting agent licensing

MPs Welcome Licensing for Letting Agents MPs today gave their backing to the launch of the Association of Residential Letting Agent’s licensing scheme at the House of Commons. MPs signed a register in support of ARLA’s commitment to create the highest standards for letting agents in the UK and prevent unethical practice. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of consumers’ money is lost each year to unprotected, unprofessional and unethical letting agents. More Information here May 2009 Back to top

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Philip Green Estate Agents Buckinghamshire Taken Over

Philip Green and Partners have been taken over by LSL Property Services who are the third largest property company in the UK. They also own well known estate agents like Your Move and Reeds Raine. Philip Green and Partners was established in 1993 by Philip Green and James Dimascio. The new Managing Director is Nick Devenport who has confirmed that although owned by a coporate it would remain an independently run concern. Philip Green has sales offices in High Wycombe, Hazlemere and Prestwood. May 1st 2009 Back to top

From The Negotiator 14th May 2009 LSLi snaps up Philip Green & Partners from administrators

LSLi has acquired High Wycombe-based Philip Green & Partners as part of its ongoing acquisition strategy. The agency, which was established in 1993, has three sales offices in Hazlemere, Prestwood and Stokenchurch, in addition to High Wycombe, where it lettings business also resides, though this is a completely separate entity.

LSLi, the subsidiary of LSL Property Services, has drafted in Nick Devonport to run the agency and manage its 17 staff. He was previously managing director of the residential division of Surrey-based Campsie, before which he worked for LSL for 11 years. Speaking exclusively to The Negotiator, he says he plans to keep all existing staff, and is in the process of recruiting four or five additional sales staff as part of plans to expand into the upper end of the market. The agency’s average property price is currently £230,000. May 2009 Back to top

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Holiday Homes in the News

Holiday homes are very much in the news at the moment. It is the time when owners of self catering properties much achieve their booking quotas and especially in 2009 when many prospective holiday renters are searching for bargains.More Information here April 2009 Back to top

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New President for IAVI Irish Auctioneers and Valuers Institute -Talk of Merger with SCS

Aine Myler is the new President. She is a Director of Myler Real Estate Alliance. According to nespaper reports the IAVI and The Society of Chartered Surveyors - SCS are talking of merging. As a result of the decline in the property market, both organisations are losing membership subscriptions and as they both run educational programmes would mean a merger would mean cutbacks and staff reductions. A deadline of June 09 is set for a merger decision.April 2009 Back to top

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Irish Landlords are not very Happy

Members of the IPOA - Irish Property Owners Association are not happy. With 400 landlords attendingh a meeting in Dublin. They complained that they now face negative equity and reduced rents. The bankers and Government are being blamed for the situation. The SE and Department of Social and Family Affairs are now targeting landlords in an effort to reduce rents.April 2009 Back to top

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Research Reveals Britain’s “Reluctant Landlords"

Frustrated sellers are turning to the lettings market creating a glut of inexperienced landlords, according to the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA).94 per cent of lettings agent respondents to the ARLA Members’ Survey of the Private Rented Sector * reported an increase of property coming onto the rental market because it could not be sold. ARLA’s members believe that these figures confirm a trend that has been much discussed but thus far unproven other than through anecdotal evidence.More Information here April 2009 Back to top

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Londoners Most at Risk from Burglary - Endsleigh Names UK Burglary Hotspots

London has been named the UK's riskiest city for household theft while Preston is the safest, according to a new report published on the 14th April by Endsleigh Insurance Services Limited. The new figures were revealed in Endsleigh's 'Homes Report 2009', which shows the top ten safest and riskiest towns and cities for burglaries in the UK. More Information here April 2009 Back to top

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Buckinghamshire agent jailed for theft

The Negotiator UK' estate agent trade magazine has just reported that Former Frost Partnership agent John Christopher Jeffery has been sentenced to prison for eight months. Jeffery, a former manager at Frost's Flackwell Heath branch in Buckinghamshire for nearly 10 years, was sentenced after pleading guilty to a charge of theft by employee at Aylesbury Crown Court on February 16.

During the hearing it emerged that Jeffery had stolen more than £40,000 in commission from the agency over several years, which came to light after he left the company to set up JC Jeffery & Co estate agents in Cookham, Berkshire last year. John Frost, managing director of the Frost Partnership, says: "We are extremely disappointed that such a significant and calculated theft took place by a long-standing senior member of our staff, with whom we placed a great deal of trust. The whole situation is regrettable."

Jeffery's estate agency, where he was partner, has now rebranded as Camlet Properties. A spokesperson for Camlet Properties says: "He is no longer part of it [the agency]. The partners would like to apologise for any upset that this may have caused our clients and assure them that this was a matter between John Jeffery and his previous employers and that at no point were any of our clients exposed to any misconduct." Source The Negotiator April 2009 Back to top

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Italian Property Market Update

According to the April edition of Italy Magazine, a performance analysis of the Italian property market for the last 25 years shows that values have grown substantially in real terms. After years of boom prices are expected to fall slightly in 2009. However the marketfor "urban lofts" bucks the property slum and while average house prices start to decline, loft prices are good. Interest in lofts is highest in Milan.

Generally in 2008 property sale volumes saw a greater drop in Italian provinces than in the provincial capitals and in the north more than the south. Florence and Venice were the two best performing cities. The latest report of the Agenzia del Territorio (equivalent to the UK's Land Registry) shows that the credit crunch has had a moderate impact on Italy. Finally the roundup reports that "Italian mountain properties see a small decline... As the skiing season enjoys a good year in Italy, the market for mountain properties picks up momentum. Buyers will only be able to find marginally lower prices than in 2008 April 2009 Back to top

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Capita replaces Corgi from April 2009

For almost twenty years, Corgi has been in charge of making sure that homes meet gas safety standards with its registered engineers. In April of 2009, the Capita Company will take over for the Corgi Company as the official gas safety protocol company for the Health and Safety Executive office (HSE).Gas Safe Register™ will be the new name and the official stamp for gas safety in Great Britain. More Information here March 2009 Back to top

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Letsure Property Insurance now available again via jml Insurance in the Uk

After an absence of 14 months when Letsure products could not be sold on line a new system is in operation and available via jml insurance More Information here March 2009 Back to top

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Landlords: could your property be housing a cannabis factory?

The National Landlords Association (NLA), the leading representative body for private-residential landlords in the UK, is warning landlords to be vigilant of the way their properties are used, following a BBC report into cannabis factories. According to the report, 29 police forces across the UK revealed a sharp rise in cannabis being produced in ‘factories’ inside rented housing. Although this is not a new problem, the NLA is reminding landlords to be aware of what could be going on behind the doors of their properties. More Information here March 2009 Back to top

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Rentguard Property Insurance now available via jml Insurance in the UK

As the UK now has numerous rental properties & jml property Insurance who act as introducer to a couple of other rental insurance providers have just been appointed an agent for Rentguard insurance. The Rentguard Insurance has range of products & services covers all aspects of residential & commercial lettings as well as Owner Occupier Insurance and UK Holiday Home Insurance. More Information here March 2009 Back to top

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Landlord in Bexley fined for breach of HMO rules

Bexley Magistrates Court, Greater London has fined Ludomir Szulc £99,000. He pleaded guilty to 22 offences brought by the London Borough of Bexley under the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006. These are the rules that set out the duties of landlords and managers of houses in multiple occupation under the 2004 Housing Act. Environmental health officesrs found uncapped gas pipes in bedrooms, dangerous electrics lacl of adequate fire precautions, badly maintained and filthy bathrooms and kitchen and a lack of hot water to kitchen and sinks.

The original fine was £110,000 but reduced to £99,000 according tothe report in the NLA's magazine "Uk Landlord" March 2009 Back to top

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Woolworths have closed, but one branch has now re-opened under the Wellworths name

The retailer Woolworths has now gone although the name will come back to life later this year as an online retailer. However on the 11th March in Dorchester, the former Woolworths branch opened its doors again as Wellworths.Claire Robertson a former manager who had worked for Woolworths for 18 years has hired 20 of her former colleagues. The store was opened by DJ Chris Evans on the 11th March. It had always been a profitable store. It will soon be known as Wellies. See also: March 2009 Back to top

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Britain has the world's biggest fall in property prices after Latvia

In 2008 Brtitain had some of the steepest house price falls in the world. The prices collapsed by 14.7% and only Latvia qwith 33.5% was higher.Countries like the United States came in with 12.1% and Ireland with 9.1%. Iceland came just below Britain with 14.0%, meanwhile the research that was carried out by Knight Frank showed that Dubai was the strongest performer with house prices soaring by nearly 60%. Research discovered that 19 per cent of countries examined still had price rises in the final third of 2008. March 2009 Back to top

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One in eight US Households in arrears

One in every eight US homeowners are in arrears. A record ended 2008 behind on their mortgage payments or in the foreclosure process according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. As unemployment is at a 16.5 year high, more borrowers will be late paying or fall into foreclosure. March 2009 Back to top

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Slowdown in mortgage market activity reflects overall economic environment, says IBF(Irish Banking Federation)

  • Total of 110,300 mortgages issued in 2008
  • First-time buyers grow share of slowing market to 21%
  • Improving affordability from lower rates and house prices

The IBF/PwC Mortgage Market Profile published on the 18th February 2009 shows that 18,706 new mortgages to the value of some €3.5 billion were issued during the fourth quarter of 2008. This brings to 110,305 the total number of new mortgages issued in 2008 at a value of over €23 billion; and the overall mortgage book now stands at €148 billion. The volume of new lending in Q4 is down 33% compared to the previous quarter and is down some 50% year on year – a trend which is consistent with other key market indicators and which reflects the general economic environment.

Commenting on the data, IBF Chief Executive, Pat Farrell, stated:“The recorded slowdown in mortgage market activity reflects the overall economic environment and the very challenging situation that prevails. However, we continue to see very clear evidence of improved affordability through falling interest rates and house prices and this should help to further build confidence among first-time buyers. On the supply side, lenders are variously announcing increased capacity for mortgage lending and introducing innovative and competitively-priced product offerings. Together, these factors can provide the basis to stimulate activity in the market.” Irish Banking Federation (IBF) is the leading representative body for the banking and financial services sector in Ireland, representing over 70 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace in Ireland February 2009 Back to top

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Mortgage lending plummets to low of 1974 in the UK

New data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders graphically illustrates the sharp decline in mortgage lending activity over the past year. There were 516,000 house purchase loans in 2008, a decline of 49% from 2007 and the lowest level of activity since 1974. There were 32,000 house purchase loans in December, a decline of 5% from November and the lowest level since monthly records began in 2002.

Remortgaging declined by 26% from November to 40,000 loans in December, as the combination of attractive reversion rates and more restrictive lending criteria meant that for many borrowers the best option was to stay with existing deals.

Michael Coogan, CML director general, said: "The shortage of mortgage funding and reduction in the number of active lenders has reshaped the mortgage landscape in the space of a year. This low level of transactions is insufficient for the functioning of an efficient market. "Measures are now in place to seek to restore the flow of funding to the mortgage market, but this will take time to feed through. Further action may still be necessary to increase transactions, stabilise prices and restore confidence." February 2009 Back to top

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Buying or selling info in France

If you need to check out what property has sold for in France then you need to visit www.immoprix.com . The data is provided by Notaires. You'll find prices and indices for each type of property (house, apartment, land) based on its geographical location (region, department, municipality, district, neighbourhood).February 2009 Back to top

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Regulation needed to protect business of residential letting

At the ARLA conference on the 3rd February, property experts gathered to demand that British rental practices are brought into the 21st Century by introducing minimum standards for agents.More Information here February 2009 Back to top

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ARLA presidents past and present launch lettings business in Norwich

Robert Jordan and David McMaster have joined forces to launch a Norwich-based lettings business - It has been established by former President of ARLA Robert Jordan and present President David McMaster who was made redundant from Norfolk and Suffolk-based Howards Estate Agents before Christmas. February 2009 Back to top

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House prices increased 1.9% in January 2009 to £163,966, according to the Halifax House Price Index.

This is a 17.2% annual decline, reveals the index, published today. Martin Ellis, Halifax economist, says: "Prices in the three months to January compared to the preceding three months, which provides a better indicator of the underlying trend, were 5.1% lower. "Historically, house prices have not moved in the same direction month after month even during a pronounced downturn."

"There are some very early signs that market activity may be stabilising, albeit at quite a low level. Nonetheless, continuing pressures on incomes, rising unemployment and the negative impact of the dislocation of the financial markets on the availability of mortgage finance are expected to mean that 2009 will be a difficult year for the housing market." February 2009 Back to top

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Lorry crashes through ferry door on Scottish - Irish ferry route

Passengers on a Belfast-bound Sealink fast HSS ferry ( Stena HSS Voyager)were stranded in Stranraer after a lorry onboard broke free in the hold, crashed through a door and was left dangling out of the rear of the vessel on Wednesday 28th January. A lorry which was carrying non-hazardous ferrous sulphate powder.broke free and smashed through the back doors of the Stena HSS Voyager. The vessel had nearly 200 people on board. More Information here January 2009 Back to top

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Spain officially in recession

According to the BBC website, the Spanish economy is in recession for the first time since 1993. Figures from the Spanish Central Bank show that GDP fell 1.1% in the final quarter of 2008 and a further fall of 1.6% is forecast for 2009. The country's reliance on construction means that it has also suffered from the collapse of the real estate bubble. Mortgage lending was down a massive 51% in November, marking the biggest fall in 10 straight months of decline. January 2009 Back to top

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NAEA –Housing Market reform needed – But it must be effective

Following the publication of the Government Review of Regulation and Redress in the UK Housing Market by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents, said: “For years, the National Association of Estate Agents has been calling for an appropriate level of regulation to be introduced as mandatory in the UK housing market. “The sums of money are too large and the potential impact on families too great for the industry to remain liable to abuse by unqualified cowboys. “Professor Jones recognises that estate agents should be better regulated to ensure that every branch has suitably qualified employees.

This is a welcome step, and we look forward to the Government’s response to the report’s suggestions. “I would like to reassure all of the hardworking and reputable estate agents in the industry, as well as the thousands of people considering getting onto the property ladder, that the NAEA will fight to ensure that any reform to the industry is effective. “In the meantime, I would advise anyone entering the property market or moving up the housing ladder to ensure that their estate agent is bound by appropriate rules of conduct, as is the case with NAEA members.” Source NAEA January 2009 Back to top

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The National Landlords’ Association (NLA) has merged with the South of Scotland Private Landlords’ Association (SoSPLA)

Both organisations represent private residential landlords (in the case of the NLA around 20,000 across the UK) and joining forces presents an opportunity for better communication with government at all levels. Commenting on the move, the chairman of NLA Scotland, Jim Parker, says he is keen to raise the profile of the private rented sector and the contribution it makes to the UK’s housing mix. To this end he wants to work more closely with local authorities in Scotland to ensure a fair balance between the needs of tenants and landlords. The SoSPLA has been representing landlords in southern Scotland for over 15 years.

Founder member, Jim Sharpe, is also keen to promote growth in the private rented sector and to avoid over-burdensome regulation for landlords. Since April 2006 landlords in Scotland have been obliged to register with their local authorities but the system has been bogged down in funding and administrative problems. To register a landlord, a local authority must consider them a “fit and proper person” taking into account criminal convictions, failures to act in respect of tenant antisocial behaviour and other breaches of housing law. January 2009 Back to top

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mydeposits will stick by all letting agents- January 2009

mydeposits, a Government-authorised insurance-based tenancy deposit protection scheme, will not be following the decision by The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) to withdraw insurance protection for deposits held by 'unregulated' letting agents.From 6 April 2009, TDS will no longer accept letting agent members that are not affiliated to a recognised professional body.* Existing agents that do not satisfy this basic membership criterion will have to seek alternative arrangements for all deposits requiring protection after this date More Information here January 2009 Back to top

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JNP Partnership Lettings in High Wycombe move to New Office

The JNP Partnership has moved it's Residential Lettings Office from the sales office at 27 Crendon Street, High Wycombe to a self contained lettings office at 15 Crendon Street, High Wycombe. Due to the increase in the letting business in the High Wycombe area, new premises were needed with more room for additional staff. Dave Pering a Director of JNP said "Last year was without question the most difficult in the property market for a very long time and possibly ever and it is great that in 2009 JNP are rising to the challenge of the current economic climate by expanding, while many of our competitors are contracting".More Information here January 2009 Back to top

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Property supplement returns to Irish Times

Thursday 22nd January and the first Property supplement in The Irish Times for 2009. As a regular reader of the Thursday edition will know that traditionally the property pages supplement often stopped in August and in December. Last week there was just one page in the main paper, mostly editorial.This is certainly a sign of the bad Irish Property market, that is is suffering with many agents closing branches and cutting staff. More Information here January 2009 Back to top

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Survey reveals landlords' postcode lottery -Tenants in South East England more likely to damage your property

Tenants in the South East of England are most likely to damage property - according to new analysis from The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS). More than 40 per cent of DPS disputes between landlords and tenants have occurred in that region - with tenants trashing houses, letting gardens go wild or simply disappearing without notice.More Information here January 2009 Back to top

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ARLA demands an end to unregulated Letting agents

Lettings agents should be required to take a professional qualification before they are allowed to set up shop in the High Street, according to the Association of Residential Lettings Agents.(ARLA) Ian Potter, Operations Manager of the ARLA, said that the time had come to raise awareness about unregulated lettings agents – many of whom have had no formal training and may be completely unqualified. They are also immune from any form of disciplinary action for misconduct. More Information here January 2009 Back to top

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Tenancy Deposit Protection Withdrawn From Unregulated Letting Agents

At the insistence of their insurers, The Tenancy Deposit Scheme will only provide deposit protection and alternative dispute resolution to letting agents who are members of recognised professional bodies. From April 6, only regulated letting agents and corporate and individual landlords will be covered by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme and cover will be withdrawn from unregulated agents. Tenants are advised to ensure their landlords have made alternative arrangements to safeguard deposits as soon as possible.

The Scheme advises landlords and tenants to be certain that their lettings agents are members of either the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), The National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS); or that deposits are protected under one of the other government authorised deposit protection schemes: Tenancy Deposit Solutions (trading as mydeposits.com) or The Deposit Protection Service. More Information here January 2009 Back to top

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Intasure launches policy for UK-based second homeowners

Holiday home insurance specialist, Intasure, has introduced a new policy for people who have their main residences in the UK but are absent for long periods. The company, which provides policy documents in English and operates a UK based English-speaking support team, also provides cover for holiday homes across a number of European countries and further afield, in Thailand and the United Arab Emirates. The firm says its policies are designed around the needs of property owners and can include locally tailored cover. More Information here January 2009 Back to top

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