Landlords In Lockdown

Much of the country has been shut down in an attempt to quell the Coronavirus onslaught. Only ‘essential’ occupations, businesses and services are functioning. And landlords are not included on the list.This means many, if not most, landlords will face a drop in rental receipts, with no effective remedy to hand. New rentals will be on hold – or at the least extremely difficult.  Plans for increases to property portfolios will almost certainly have to wait, as will sales of rental properties.

Meanwhile, there has been no significant relaxations in landlord legal responsibilities either towards their tenants or their properties – although there have been some modifications in the way these responsibilities may be fulfilled.

There is some financial assistance available, but this is limited. There is also financial assistance available to most, but not all, tenants.

Meanwhile, landlords will have much to do – not least to promote a dialogue with their tenants so that both parties to the rental contract can limit the damage of the current crisis. Needless to say, such dialogues will be best conducted at long range – by email, phone or video link.

This need for communication between landlords and their tenants is emphasised in ‘non-statutory guidance for landlords and tenants‘ issued by the Government.

Rental Income

Government restrictions and advice do not change the legal relationship between landlords and tenants. Tenancy agreements continue to apply and rent remains payable in full. The big difference is that landlords have no way of enforcing this – repossessions have been halted and small claims court proceedings have little hope of going ahead for the time being, at least.

The Government suggests: ‘An early conversation between landlord and tenant can help both parties to agree a plan if tenants are struggling to pay their rent. This can include reaching a temporary agreement not to seek possession action for a period of time and instead accept a lower level of rent, or agree a plan to pay off arrears at a later date.

Where a landlord does choose to serve notice seeking possession for rent arrears or has done so already, the notice period and any further action will be affected by legislation lengthening the notice period (to three months) and/or the suspension of possession claims. If a landlord and tenant agree a plan to pay off arrears at a later date, it is important they both stick to this plan, and that tenants talk to their landlord immediately if they are unable to do so.’

Help For Renters During Lockdown

You’ll be protected from eviction if struggling due to coronavirus

If you’ll struggle to pay rent during the coronavirus outbreak you should speak to your landlord as soon as possible to let them know your situation and work out a repayment plan. Government guidance is “encouraging tenants and landlords to work together to put in place a rent payment scheme”.

We’ve seen this guidance be interpreted in different ways though. While some landlords are proactively contacting tenants and reassuring them that they can work out new repayment arrangements if they suffer financial hardship, others are playing hardball, and not offering to make any adjustments.

If you’re struggling, also check to see if you’re receiving all the financial help you’re entitled to, which may include the universal credit benefit. The Government announced on Friday 20 March that it’s increasing the housing allowance part of universal credit so that the local housing allowance would cover at least 30% of the lowest rents in your area.

Can I be evicted if I can’t pay my rent on time?

The Government has said landlords in England and Wales will need to give three months’ notice before starting eviction proceedings. It’s introduced emergency legislation for this, which passed through the House of Lords on Wednesday 25 March and should soon become law.

You’ll be expected to work with your landlord to establish an affordable repayment plan which takes your circumstances into account.

The Government has also said that existing rules for social landlords dealing with rent arrears will be extended to include private landlords too. This is to “support engagement” between landlords and tenants and help them solve disputes. It will ask landlords to be compassionate and allow tenants to stay in their homes wherever possible – while associations representing local government and housing associations have already said that no social renter should be evicted due to coronavirus.

What’s more, private landlords are also now eligible for a three-month buy-to-let mortgage payment holiday if their tenants are experiencing financial difficulties. Technically they needn’t pass this on to their tenants, but morally they should and most will, so speak to your landlord if you need help.

Landlords And Investors Targeting Students With Their Buy-To-Let Investments

The research revealed large bedrooms are the most desired feature of a rental property for students. Living rooms and en-suite bathrooms also ranked highly. Additionally, high-speed internet was considered more important than parking spaces, quality furnishings and gardens.

Student tenants are often more budget-conscious; however, most said they would pay more if their landlord offered cleaning services as part of the tenancy agreement. Unsurprisingly, location is also key for students, especially being near a supermarket and within 15 minutes of university.

The results of this study can help landlords and investors better target students with their rental property. To ensure higher rates of occupancy, which is key for any successful rental property, it’s important to invest in properties with features and amenities students prioritise

8 Things Students Look for in a Rental

1. Affordability: Another high priority on a student’s list is how much the rental costs. Money may be tight, and while they need a place to live, they also want money to eat and to go out with their friends. They may prefer a moderately priced rental to a more expensive, renovated apartment. Living with roommates and splitting the monthly rent can also help keep costs down.

2. Proximity too Amenities: Being close to town/city is another high priority item on a student’s wish list. Quick access to entertainment, shopping, and dining are all desirable in a rental

3. Access to Public Transportation: Many college students do not have cars, so access to public transportation is a must. This can include trains, buses, and taxis.

4. Safety:  College students, as well as their parents, want to know that they are safe at home. Low crime areas are the most desirable. Well-lit apartment exteriors are a plus. Deadbolts on doors and working locks on windows are necessities.

5. Private Area: Even if a student is living with roommates, he or she wants their own private space. This can be accomplished by having multiple private bedrooms and a common area, such as a living room and kitchen, which the roommates can share.

6. Laundry: College students would prefer to have on-site laundry at the apartment building or home.

7. Neighbours: Students may have a desire to rent an apartment in a certain neighbourhood. Some students want to live in an area with homes predominately rented to other college students. Other students want the exact opposite and want to live in a quiet residential neighbourhood, removed from other students.

8. Cleanliness: Most students would prefer to live in a rental property that is clean and free from rodents and other pests.

The Number Of Chinese Students At UK Universities Has Soared

The 120,000 Chinese students are an important source of income for universities because international students pay fees two to three times higher than UK students.

The figures are startling. Since 2014-15, the number of Chinese students in the UK has grown from 89,540 to 120,385, compared with 26,685 students from India.

Liverpool

The University of Liverpool has been one of the most successful in recruiting from China, which now provides almost one in five of its students. More than a decade ago it was involved in creating a new university in the city of Suzhou, near Shanghai. Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University runs degree courses which involve students coming to Liverpool for two years. By the end of the decade, the joint venture is expected to have grown to almost 30,000 students.

Reasons to study in Liverpool

If you choose to study in Liverpool then you’ll enjoy the relatively low cost of living. Rent is cheap and food and drink is inexpensive, so you’ll be able to save your money and spend it on fun activities. You can also find lots of bargains in the city’s department stores, like Home & Bargain, and there are often special offers for students. What’s more, everything in Liverpool is within walking distance so you won’t have to spend lots of money on transport — walking around is also a great way to get to know the city!

Fascinating history

Wherever you go in Liverpool, you are surrounded by history. Beyond the stunning waterfront (a UNESCO World Heritage site), you can explore 800 years of the city’s past. Protected historic areas, such as the Albert Dock, can be found across the city, and one of the most recognisable landmarks is the Royal Liver Building. The liver bird is the city’s emblem, and the 2 liver birds on top of the Liver building are there to watch over the city. Legend says that if these birds ever fly away, then the city of Liverpool would disappear!

Great culture

Liverpool’s arts scene is thriving. The city’s theatres host fantastic performances throughout the year, and it boasts more galleries and museums than in any other city outside London. Contemporary spaces like Tate Liverpool, and traditional galleries, such as the Bluecoat, are just some of the places that help to make Liverpool the dynamic, cultural place that it is.

Interested in studying in Liverpool? Find out more about the University of Liverpool, or the pathway courses on offer at University of Liverpool International College which could help you qualify for entry to the University.

North West Has Ambitious Goals Of Being Carbon Neutral By 2030

The region has set ambitious goals of being carbon neutral by 2030, with the process also set to create 33,000 new jobs and £4bn of investment.

The North West has the potential to “lead the way” in global efforts to become carbon neutral, and has set the ambitious target of achieving that goal by 2030 – two decades before the national 2050 date.

Key to this is the North West Energy and Hydrogen Cluster – a scheme delivering decarbonisation of the region’s industrial sector, hoping to be the UK’s first low carbon industrial cluster in 11 years’ time.

As well as saving the planet, it’s hoped the initiative could deliver 33,000 jobs and over £4bn investment, with the scheme supported by the Liverpool and Manchester metro mayors, as well as Local Enterprise Partnerships in Cheshire and Warrington.

The project could see hydrogen blended into the gas grid and piped into homes and businesses across Liverpool, Manchester, Cheshire and Warrington, within the next five years.

The project will initially save one million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO) emissions every year (rising to up to 10 million tonnes per year), creating a replicable model for the rest of the UK and beyond. It would also see hydrogen supplied in new pipelines to major manufacturing and power generation sites reducing the carbon footprint of industry and creating many opportunities.

The Liverpool City Region declared a Climate Emergency earlier this year with hydrogen forming a critical part of the planned response.

Targets included replacing all methane with hydrogen from the city region’s gas grid by 2035 and delivering a network of at least eight zero-carbon refuelling stations by 2025.

How can we become carbon free?

Reducing energy use.

Some of these changes could also be fitted to existing buildings to improve temperature control and potentially reduce heating use by around 50%.

Transport energy demand could also be cut by 78% by increased use of public transport, walking, cycling and using electric vehicles while cutting flights by two thirds.

Increasing energy supplies.

Based on the past decade’s weather and energy use, it is possible to fully match the UK’s entire energy demand with renewable and carbon-neutral energy.

Half of that would be provided by wind while other sources suited to the UK climate – including geothermal, hydro, tidal and solar – would produce most of the rest.

Carbon-neutral synthetic fuels are also an important alternative to electricity, especially in some areas of industry and transport.

Transforming land and diets.

  • Reduce on-farm greenhouse gas emissions by 57% (compared to 2017)
  • Cut food imports from 42% to 17%
  • Use 75% of current livestock grazing land for restoring forests and peat-lands

Buyer Funded Deposits, Do They Always Work Out For Investors?

What are Fractional Sales?

Fractional sales (or buyer funded deposits) have been utilised heavily across the UK (but particularly in northern UK cities) over the last 5 years. They are essentially an off plan sale of a new build property to an investor who pays more than the standard 10% deposit on exchange. In many cases the buyer has been paying up to 50% on exchanged and more than often another 25% before completion. Hence the other term of buyer funded deposits. Fractional sales are also normally associated with “guaranteed yields” where many developers have been offering guaranteed income/rents often in excess of what is considered open market levels.

What makes Romal stand out above the rest when it comes to Fractional sales?

Its all about trust and building a long lasting relationship with investors, Romal Capitals CEO Greg Malouf works with the belief that a 20% desposit from the beginning gives a true reflection the team will finish through to completion. Romal believes that looking after the investor through to supporting the agents and then the tenants will leave a feel of trust and reflect the outstanding service that the team provides, its all about delivering the end product.

Why have so many sales been of the fractional sales type?

Developers have seized on the attractiveness of selling schemes using fractional sales as this has helped them develop more units/schemes than through a more traditional funding model. Where they are collecting between 50-75% before completion they are in effect using the buyer’s money to fund the construction of the development. The serious lack of traditional bank funding for residential developments has logically forced many more developers down this route.

Are there any other issues/challenges regarding fractional sales?

Whilst not definitively linked many fractional sales schemes have been sold with the “benefit” of a guaranteed yield by the developer. Often these guaranteed yields have been offered for a period of 3-5 years at levels of between 7-10%. This has appeared extremely attractive to overseas buyers who have viewed the returns as an additional bonus to any capital growth they may experience during that period. Unfortunately with the vast majority of these sales the quoted yields have been in excess of what is genuinely achievable and have resulted in returns lower than anticipated. Although these investors did at least get the property they had paid for (unlike those in the stalled schemes), disappointing returns have continued to erode confidence in the sector.

What about the future for Fractional Sales?

Investors have become more risk aware than in the past and are looking for those developers where there is a track record of delivery and schemes that are well located and honestly marketed. Although the issues discussed above would suggest that it has become almost impossible to sell off plan property to investors this is not the case. There are numerous developers selling off plan in the city that are selling on a more traditional 10% deposit on exchange (or sometimes up to 20%) and delivering the product in a timely and professional manner. There is still a good strong demand for Liverpool property from both overseas and UK investors but the focus of these buyers will be those developers like Romal Capital who can afford to fund schemes with more normal deposits and deliver on their promises.

£13 Million Loan Agreed For Heat Network At Liverpool’s Waters

CBRE’s Investment Advisory team, part of CBRE Capital Advisors, has arranged a £13 million senior loan facility, on behalf of the Merseyside Pension Fund, to support the development of the first phase of a Heat Network at Liverpool Waters, one of Liverpool’s most significant regeneration projects.

The Heat Network, which will be delivered by Peel Energy part of Peel L&P, will be an integral component to the Liverpool Waters regeneration project. Peel Energy has established a dedicated Energy Supply company which will build, own and operate the Heat Network. Completion is expected in 2023 and once complete, the first phase will provide up to 19 gigawatt hours of heat energy per annum to consumers at Liverpool Waters and the greater waterfront area.

The funding will facilitate the development of two temporary energy centres as well as initial underground pipes to transfer heat energy at the Princes and Central Docks, and northern areas of Liverpool Waters.

The funding marks the third investment backed by the Penson Fund’s Catalyst Vehicle since its establishment in 2017 and meets the ‘Catalyst’ criteria of supporting projects that support the economy in the Liverpool City Region.

Muir Miller, Managing Director of Peel Energy, part of Peel L&P, said:

We are very pleased the Mersey Heat project is being financially supported by the local Merseyside Catalyst Fund. Their involvement highlights the importance the Liverpool city region is placing on addressing low-carbon energy generation and its willingness to innovate.

So far, the UK has made great progress in de-carbonising the electricity sector but more needs to be done on heating and transport emissions. This is the first phase of a ten-year project, which we hope will eventually supply around 9,000 homes and numerous businesses along Liverpool’s waterfront. The scheme clearly demonstrates Peel L&P’s intent to play a significant part in tackling carbon dioxide emissions from heating, by providing a cost effective and attractive low carbon offering to developers.

Joe Bahsoon, Director, Investment Advisory, CBRE Capital Advisors, said:

We are very happy to be involved in arranging this loan facility on behalf of the Merseyside Pension Fund and to one of the region’s most established developers. The loan provides greater diversity to the existing investments made by the Fund and represents the opportunity to accelerate the delivery of an important regeneration project in the City region as well as facilitate low carbon heat and energy in keeping with the UK government’s Clean Growth Strategy.

Cllr Pat Cleary, Chair of Merseyside Pension Fund, said:

Catalyst Fund represents MPF’s commitment to local development and regeneration making a positive impact on the communities its stakeholders live, work and retire into while seeking commercial return for its members. We are pleased to have made our third Catalyst Fund investment which will provide cost effective heat and power solution to up to 9000 homes and 4 million sq ft of commercial space with cleaner CHP technology as part of the UK’s drive to reduce carbon emissions. This project will contribute towards the UK Govt.’s CO2 targets by delivering low carbon heat and power and make Liverpool a greener place to live, work and visit. We look forward to the potential of making similar investments in the future.

Peel Energy announces plans to install district energy at Liverpool Waters

Peel Energy, the low carbon energy arm of Peel Land and Property, has announced plans to develop a district heat network at its ambitious £5bn Liverpool Waters development, under the name of Mersey Heat.

The first phase of the network is centred on existing buildings around Princes Dock along with planned new developments along the waterfront.

The heat network will deliver low carbon hot water for the use of space heating and hot water provision within the buildings.

Peel Energy will operate the network through an energy services company called Mersey Heat, which will be responsible for system design, construction of the generation plant and operation of the network, providing low cost, low carbon reliable heat to the building owners and occupiers.

Development at Liverpool Waters will enjoy the benefits of a low-cost, reliable heating and hot water solution for the buildings by connecting to the network, which will also have long-term cost benefits for occupiers.

Muir Miller, managing director of Peel Energy, which also developed the wind turbines at Port of Liverpool said: “Our colleagues and their development partners are producing a first-rate product at Liverpool Waters and it deserves a 21st century heating system to match.

“We believe that Mersey Heat can make a significant positive impact on the low carbon credentials of the project and provide cost benefits to developers and occupiers as well.

“We are very excited at the prospect of deploying the first phase of the network and seeing how far it can grow.”

Peel’s development director for Liverpool Waters, Darran Lawless, said: “Liverpool Waters includes the regeneration of 60 hectares of former dockland to create a high quality, mixed use waterfront development which will bring huge commercial and retail opportunity as well as over 9,000 new homes.

“The fact we can offer low cost, low carbon heat to a development on this scale is a fantastic step forward in us delivering a sustainable community where people can live, work and play.”

This will be Peel’s second district heat project after the successful installation at MediaCityUK in Salford which has been in operation since 2009, supplying such blue-chip customers as the BBC and University of Salford as part of the world’s first BREEAM-approved sustainable community

 

Peel’s Liverpool Waters welcomes international property developer Romal Capital

International development company, Romal Capital owned and operated by Gregory Malouf, has now completed the steel superstructure at its Quay Central building within Liverpool Waters Central Dock neighbourhood.

Once completed, the eight-storey residential apartment building will provide 108 high-specification one and two-bedroom apartments. It will also offer 600 sq. m of commercial space on the ground floor.

Romal Capital and Peel, who own and manage the Liverpool Waters project with a planning consent for 2m sq.m of development, have worked closely together to ensure that Quay Central will boast smart living amenities by offering the best energy solutions, hyper-fast broadband and all the very latest technology.

Malouf, originally from Australia, moved to the North West in 2015 with the intention of capitalising on the growing property market in the UK, bringing with him over three decades of international property development experience.

The commencement of work at Central Dock signals another major step forward for the £5 billion project, with Quay Central being the first building to be located within the Central Dock neighbourhood which will comprise 200,000 sq.m of development. This includes a combination of commercial, residential and leisure facilities, as well as the new Isle of Man Ferry Terminal and new public realm and park.

Gregory Malouf, chief executive at Romal Capital, said:

“Following years of meticulous planning and working closely with the team at Peel, to now be making significant progress on Quay Central is a real achievement for both Romal Capital and the Liverpool Waters project.”

“Being the first scheme to commence at Central Dock is something that we are incredibly proud of, and I can say from experience that I have not come across any other project that is on a similar scale or ambition to Liverpool Waters. Not only will Quay Central benefit from having such a vast array of business, residential, leisure and entertainment facilities nearby, it also has the advantage of being placed at a prime location on Liverpool’s waterfront.”

Darran Lawless, development director at Liverpool Waters, said:

“We are delighted to be working with the Romal Capital team and an experienced developer such as Gregory Malouf. It’s been an outstanding year so for at Liverpool Waters with Quay Central being one of many projects already under way including development at Princes Dock along with proposals for a new cruise liner terminal, new Isle of Man ferry facility and new stadium for Everton FC.

To learn more about the Liverpool Waters development project led by Peel Land and Property, please visit http://www.liverpoolwaters.co.uk

First Central Docks apartments recommended for approval

Plans to build the first apartments in the new Central Docks district of Liverpool Waters could be given the go-ahead next week.

Proposals from Australian developer Greg Malouf and Peel Land and Property have been recommended for approval by Liverpool City Council’s planning committee.