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Foreign owners who leave their homes empty should pay more tax says London Mayor Incorporating Food Safety in to Your Commercial Premises More Landlords in the UK are selling then adding to their property portfolios The Problems You Could Face When Renting Out A Property

Foreign owners who leave their homes empty should pay more tax says London Mayor

For those foreign property owners who leave their homes empty, they could find themselves paying more tax if the Mayor of London has his way.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan as requested that the government agree to increase the council tax bill in those London boroughs where high valued properties are empty.

This request comes after a report was carried out last year to understand the role that overseas investment plays in the property market of London. The London School of Economics and the University of York carried out the research and they consider the how overseas investment contributes to the new housing supply along with any concerns that the public has about those homes that are being left empty after they are purchased by overseas buyers.

It was found that the number of empty properties was relatively low but there were more empty homes in those locations that are upmarket and considered to be prime areas.

Therefore, the Mayor has requested that the Government supports the proposed changes to increase council tax on empty homes above the current 5% level. He stated that councils should have the ability to increase council tax to a rate that is meaningful to the point where it would encourage owners to occupy their properties. It was also suggested that the increase could also help to enhance investment in affordable homes in an attempt to deal with the housing crisis. He made a point of mentioning the Westminsters top Band H, where properties can be worth millions of pounds but due to the empty homes levy would be no higher than 668 per annum.

London is facing a real housing crisis and this challenge alone will not be sorted out overnight. Therefore, a solid plan needs to be put in place in order to deal with the issue.

The Mayor believes that even one empty home is one too many and that is why he wants to form relationships with boroughs in an attempt to stand up for Londoners by asking the government to charge a higher rate of council tax at rate that really does help to make a change.

Many of the boroughs have made their support clear and are now asking for increased flexibility to be provided to local authorities so that they can have a greater control over the amount that can be levied on properties that are empty.

While this would send out a hard hitting message it would create extra money that can be re-invested so that it can benefit those residents who live in these areas. There is no a large push and an increase in support for affordable housing to become available in the capital.

This suggestion from the Mayor should be considered by the government. They certainly need to consider what is working and what is not working in order to reduce the number of empty properties currently located in the city.

Fletcher Day are commercial and residential property lawyers in London.

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Incorporating Food Safety in to Your Commercial Premises

If you are running a business that involves food you will need to ensure that you put the right food safety and hygiene precautions in place. There is more to this than just ensuring that your surfaces are clean because you need to consider the way that food is stored and prepared.

What are your Responsibilities?

The Food Safety Act 1990 gives you three main responsibilities to follow:

  • It permits you from adding or removing anything from food and you are not allowed to treat food in a way that would result in it posing a risk to those who consume it.
  • The food that you sell or serve has to meet the standards that consumers expect.
  • Food has to be clearly labelled and advertised as well as presented in a suitable way so that it is not misleading in any way.

So what can you do?

Keep pests under control

If you fail to meet the expected food standards, you will soon find that pests make an appearance. Once they have a hold on your kitchen they can spread extremely quickly which can lead to contaminated food through the spreading of foodborne diseases. Therefore, it is important that you put the correct pest control measures in place so that it can be monitored and dealt with as quickly as possible.

Deal with waste in a reliable manner

This ties in with the previous point because if you fail to manage waste correctly it will encourage pests to appear. Therefore, waste should be managed in accordance with legal requirements in order to prevent contamination.

To prevent dirt from spreading, business should have waste storage areas and the right containers. There should also be procedures in place for the removal and storage of waste in order to stop waste from building up.

Personal Hygiene

This is more important than you may realise because poor personal hygiene is likely lead to poor food hygiene and it will result in customers turning away. It is important that you make it possible for staff to carry out good hygiene by putting the correct facilities in place so that you can meet the relevant food safety requirements. This means that you will need to ensure that staff wash their hands regularly, their hair is tied up or covered and are not wearing jewellery.

Provide correct training for staff

The right training will make sure that staff fully understand what is expected of them while helping to reduce the risk of contamination. Certain regulations require those who handle food to be supervised as well as being trained in maintaining good food hygiene.

A work environment that is clean

If your work environment is clean it will make it easier to implement good food safety. Meeting the correct hygiene standards can be achieved through disinfection and regular cleaning and this will also help to prevent foodborne illnesses and bacteria.

The machinery also needs cleaning but not as frequently as surfaces or cooking utensils as these can contain microorganisms that can result in food poisoning.

Stuart Jessop is a licensing barrister in London, specialising in health and safety, licensing, planning and regulatory law.

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More Landlords in the UK are selling then adding to their property portfolios

A new trend seems to be developing that shows one in five landlords intend to sell at least one of their properties in the next year. With an increase in rental incomes from tenants, what could possibly be the catalyst for this shift and what does it mean?

A recent report has shown that 22% of property investors looking to sell investment properties, whilst only 18% plan to buy more property for their portfolios. It seems that in the last six months, the number adding to a portfolio has dropped by 7%, whilst those reducing their list of assets has grown by 2%.

The Rental Market

This change in those looking to sell is not due to demand, as 33% of landlords have reported seeing an increase in those looking to rent over the last three years. With a distinct lack in supply, almost half of the landlords surveyed expect to increase their rents in the next 12 months.

This rise in rental rates is largely due to the new buy to let tax changes which will now eat into a landlords profit margins. Many have been left feeling that putting their rents up is the only way to combat the new shortfall.

There are still investors looking to add to their portfolios, but the number of those with such an intention has seen a drop. This might show that these tax changes are a major factor in the decision to reduce portfolios, with many feeling discouraged to invest when monthly incomes have been hit so hard.


A recent survey has also uncovered the fact that a third of landlords have attempted to evict a tenant in the last year, with most blaming rent arrears as the reason for this. This has become a serious concern for many investors, and changes to mortgage interest relief will only serve to make landlords feel more uncomfortable.

Welfare reform has also led to some concerns, as 38% of those who let to tenants on universal credit or housing benefit have experienced tenants going into rent arrears in the last year.

More than half of landlords have successfully requested an Alternative Payment Arrangement, but a similar number found that the DWP were unhelpful. Rent arrears from these tenants are the main reason for many landlords regaining possession of their property. This indicates that some changes to the universal credit system must need to be made in order for landlords to be able to claim alternative payments and keep arrears to a minimum if landlords are to be expected to keep providing housing.

The current political and economic climate has shaken the confidence of many industries, and this is certainly true of landlords. A weak result in the general election coupled with the uncertain outcomes of the Brexit negotiations has left landlords doubtful of adding to their portfolios. Whilst 38% were reported to be confident in the sector, 28% described feeling the opposite way, which might explain why plans for landlord portfolios have now seen this shift.

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The Problems You Could Face When Renting Out A Property

Investing in a property is a smart move to make in these current financial times. After all, your money isnt doing anything in savings accounts anymore, so its always been good advice to put your money in bricks and mortar and invest in property. You may already own your home, so other options to consider are to buy a house to rent out to people who are struggling to get onto the property ladder themselves. While it all may sound very simple, there are problems even the most experienced landlord can have. I thought I would share with you what some of the most common ones are.


Payment issues


A good tenant will always pay on time, and of course, if you have the support of an agent, then you may always be guaranteed the rent. But, there are still issues you could face if you find yourself with tenants who dont pay their rent on time, or at all. This means that you may have to get involved in regards to bailiffs or chasing arrears of payments if you find they start to pay the agreed amount. It can be an unpleasant thing to do, as often, the tenants are not paying due to circumstance. However, you do find that you can end up with tenants that are trying their luck with messing you around.


Needing the tenants out at their end of their agreement


With all tenancy agreements, there will come to a point where the contract ends. Of course, you may have already renegotiated for a new term or agreed with your tenants the next step, but, in some cases, landlords may want to have the property vacant once more. Maybe to sell it or renovate it, or get rid of problematic tenants. However, you may find yourself in a situation where the tenant wont move out. This is when you may need the help of property litigation solicitors to resolve any issues. It wont be easy with sitting tenants in your home, and they may even change the locks or cause you distress. So it is vital to have the law on your side.


Damage to the property


If you have a decent tenant, then the chances are they will take care of your property as if it was their own. Ensuring that no damage is done and that it remains, and anything you provided within the property, in good condition. But there could be times where a tenant damages the property and then leaves without any way of you contacting them to pay for the damage. In rare cases, the damage can be substantial.


Residential problems


Finally, as a landlord, you may find that you are expected to resolve any residential issues that may arise due to your tenants. They could be disruptive to neighbours, cause brawls or issues on the street, or perhaps dont leave the property looking as good as it should be, for example, leaving rubbish on the front. There are all types of residential issues you could face with your tenants, and it can be quite hard to resolve and deal with people who have such a difference in opinion.


I hope this has made you more aware of some of the problems you could face when renting out a property, however, do bear in mind that this isnt always the case, and renting out a property can be a very worthwhile investment to have.

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The Benefits Of Investing In Large Cities In The North Of England

Slowly but surely, the global economy has now fully recovered from the financial crisis in the latter part of the previous decade. There are now, incredible investment opportunities for anyone whos savvy to make a healthy profit from all kinds of business ventures. No more so, than perhaps the oldest money-making strategy technique, property investment. The benefits of doing this in a large city are almost countless, as the environment is characterised by constant growth, ebbs, and flows of the economy and the socio economical needs of the populace. It’s a great place to diversify your portfolio, and if youre willing to do so, you can have your finger in many pies at once. The best options for investing in large cities lay in the commercial and residential real estate market. However, in the modern world of fast-flowing commerce, the trend to buy seemed all but fizzled out, so you must innovate to generate.


Consumer trends


Look for cities that have consistently shown themselves to attract a wide variety of people, but all on the same socioeconomic journey. Young professionals and retirees are the very motivated to find the best property for long-term inhabitants. Millennials want to get on the housing ladder and have increasingly found themselves to be left behind by governmental policies. However, these young families and career-minded individuals have found innovative ways to live in properties that would otherwise be out of their price range but choosing to rent, rather than to buy outright and seek ownership.


However, retirees who have saved for a lifetime, also want to buy their dream homes and finally get to relax after a long life of work. They are in the process of looking to move up the ladder as well. They may have been living in an average-sized home, but now want to buy homes will large garden spaces and possess the square-foot capacity for a guest house so they can accommodate for guests and family. These home styles are found around the outskirts of large cities as affluent home buyers want to find peace of mind in the countryside but have been city-slickers all their lives; so theyre not willing to make a clean break from the city itself.

Image by – Max Pixel


Why the north?


Property investment is set to be a very lucrative strategy to make consistent returns, more so in cities situated in the north of England. Times are changing, and finally, the politicians have realised that the north is no longer purely an industrial complex, but a thriving part of Great Britain where innovation and job creation is at an all-time high. HS2 plans seem to be going ahead, and this will only cement the narrative that the north is finally going to be linked to the south with jobs and wealth flowing upward.


Professionals in Birmingham


Travel a little further south, and youll find the second largest city in the UK, Birmingham. There are so many investment properties and many categories to choose from. The city has the biggest population outside of the capital and attracts young professionals from both the south and the north, meshing cultures together and the promise of good paying jobs. The location of the city being in the Midlands makes it very accessible and all other cities in every direction, evenly spaced with regards to travel time to reach them. The high-speed rail program is due to be finished by 2026, and the Birmingham New Street train station is already receiving 150,000 commuters every day, this is surely set to increase. From London, directly to the heart of Birmingham is where this line will run, so the cities are set to begin sharing talent like never before, making it full prime real estate opportunities.


Retirement opportunities in Leeds


Leeds property prices have gone up by 6% and the average price for a home has also gone up. But as aforementioned, the young professionals are earning more money than previous generations, but dont want to buy. Leeds is, therefore, an even bigger attraction to investors as the plan is to build more and more apartments and high-rise buildings that could supply plentiful housing in the form of luxury studio property. The city is also in among the fourth most heavily populated urbanised area, with many bungalows, and terrace houses linking neighborhoods and families together. Cheaper than the Midlands and most definitely the south, Leeds is a great place for pensioners to buy large properties for their retirement years, for a very good price.


The north of England is but a mirage of its former self, and this is because the shift from mechanical engineering and natural resources jobs have given way in number, to young professionals working in the technology industry and e-commerce sector. Now is the best time is invest in properties as large scale population movements are taking place.

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