Placebuzz for iOS: a new property search mobile app

Exciting news: we’re thrilled to announce the launch of Placebuzz for iOS, a new property search mobile app!

Placebuzz for iOS will be able to do things like access and create new saved searches, see Google Streetview, and book viewings within the app, just like you already can on a desktop or mobile browser. The app also makes it easy and quick to book viewings with agents, and request free, zero-obligation valuations.

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The Placebuzz app was designed to offer a seamless experience to returning users as well as new visitors. If you already use the desktop or mobile web versions of Placebuzz, you just need to enter the email address you used to register and verify it within the app. The app will automatically link to your existing account.

The Placebuzz app also features:

  • Searches for property within a specified radius and conduct pinpointed searches
  • Intuitive search filters including number of bedrooms, budget, and more
  • Easily-managed push notifications to notify users when a new property matching their saved search is added to Placebuzz
  • Access to Placebuzz account settings
  • A history of user enquiries

Over a million people rely on us each month to easily discover and connect with places to live, and we hope our new iOS app will make using Placebuzz even easier. “The new Placebuzz app provides users with additional functionality in a simple and intuitive interface that is in line with our mission of helping people to easily discover and connect with places to live,” says Placebuzz Co-Founder Andy Hatoum. “Our Android app is in the works and we will be bringing innovative new features and tools to help our users find their dream home.”

Want to keep track of the ways we are working to make property searching easier, or tell us an idea you have that will improve Placebuzz? Looking to stay up-to-date on property news? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

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Competition: Win a £100 or £50 Amazon Gift Card!

 

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Bad flatmates – we’ve all had them. You get out of your parents’ house for the first time and you think you’re finally free – no more dealing with your sister’s long hair in the shower drain, your dad’s nagging about the dishes, or your mum’s friends spilling wine on your favourite chair (or was that just our family?). So you find a nice technically-a-double-but-really-rather-small room in a flatshare that seems friendly enough, or – heaven forbid – you decide to buddy up with your best mate.

And that’s when the nightmare begins.

Share your story about the worst flatmate experience you had. Make us laugh, cry, or both and you have a chance to win a £100 Amazon gift card (first prize) or a £50 Amazon gift card (second prize).

Haven’t had a terrible flatmate? Lucky you! Instead, share a photo of an object you’ve taken with you every single time you’ve moved.

The contest will run from April 10th to May 31st, and the winner will be announced on June 5th.

How to enter:

  1. ‘Like’ us on Facebook
  2. ‘Like’ the competition post and comment with your #WorstFlatmateEver story, or post it on our page (and photos and passive-aggressive tagging of the offender are encouraged!)

OR

  1. Like our page.
  2. Post a picture of something that you’ve taken with you each time you’ve moved house with the caption ‘The one object that survives every move is ______.’

We’re looking forward to reading (and seeing) them!

Terms & Conditions:

– The prize is a prize of a £100 Amazon Gift Card for our favourite entry and a £50 Amazon Gift Card for the runner-up.
– Entrants must be a resident of the UK.
– Entrants must be at least 18 years of age to enter.
– One entry is allowed per person.
– Only the winning entrants can be a recipient of the gift card.

– The competition will run from 10/04/2016 until 31/05/2016 and the winner will be announced on 06/06/2016
– If a winner does not respond within 7 days of the winner announcement, the prize will be allocated to another entrant.
– This competition is not open to employees of Placebuzz or any associated companies or their immediate families.
– This competition is run independently by Placebuzz on their chosen social networking platforms and is not endorsed by, associated with or sponsored Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Amazon.
– Placebuzz reserves the right to close the competition early and to change the T&Cs at any point during the competition.
– Placebuzz can duplicate any entries into the competition on any of their hosting platforms, i.e. website or social media accounts. Entries may be edited for length or clarity.

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Know your renters’ rights – Part 2

This is Part 2 a two-part blog post about your UK private renters’ rights. Part 1 covered tenancy agreements, your right to know who your landlord is, property conditions, and tenancy deposit schemes. See Part 1 here.

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5. You have the right to live in the property undisturbed

The landlord does not have the right to come bursting in unannounced. He or she must provide 24h notice before entering your property, and visit at a reasonable time of day unless there’s an emergency. Your landlord should absolutely not be letting himself into your flat in the evening without warning. He or she also may not harass you, or attempt to drive you out or discourage you from insisting on your legal rights. Finally, you must be given adequate notice before being removed, which the landlord cannot do by force – they must go through the courts.

6. Your landlord must give you the following information:

7. Your landlord must not discriminate against you

  • Your landlord cannot discriminate against you based on your age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or related issues (e.g. service dogs), religion or belief, race, and pregnancy or having an infant

8. Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

  • If you share a toilet, bathroom, or kitchen with other tenants and there are at least 3 tenants from more than one household, you are in an HMO
  • Large HMOs, at least 3 storeys tall and containing at least 5 tenants, need a license from the local council
  • The landlord is responsible for maintaining common areas in an HMO

 

Who to contact if you have a problem

Unfortunately, even if you do everything right, problems can arise. When they do, it’s important to know who to turn to for help, and how to best handle the issue without making it worse.

  1. If there’s a problem with the property:
    • Speak to your landlord first. Most likely, they will want to resolve the problem as much as you want them to.
    • If you can’t resolve the issue with our landlord, raise your concerns to a local councillor, your MP, or a tenant panel next.
    • If your home (in England) isn’t fit to live in, contact your local council. They carry out Housing Health and Safety Rating System assessments, and must act if the home is unsafe.
    • If your landlord isn’t doing repairs, contact the environmental health department at your local council, or the Private Rented Housing Panel in Scotland
    • If you’re in an HMO and there are hazards – The local council is responsible for enforcing standards
  1. If you have financial problems
    • Speak to your landlord first, and then contact Citizens Advice or Shelter if you need more help
    • If you’re being forced out illegally, call the police. Your landlord cannot remove you by force – they must go through the courts.
  1. There is anti-social behaviour at the property
    1. Contact your local council – they can take over property management or create a selective licencing scheme if there is antisocial behaviour in several houses in an area

Although many of us might prefer not to be renting, the reality is that a lot of us will have to for several years before we’re able to get on the infamous property ladder. Renting will always have its downsides as opposed to owning, but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Knowing your rights – and responsibilities – as a tenant can help ensure that you have a good landlord-tenant relationship, which goes a long way toward a good quality of life. 

Much of the information in this post was compiled from the government’s guidance on private renting, Shelter, or Citizens Advice. For more information, you should visit the websites of these organisations.

This is Part 2 a two-part blog post about your UK private renters’ rights. See Part 1 here.

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Know your renters’ rights

This is Part 1 a two-part blog post about your UK private renters’ rights. Check back next week for Part 2.

Bad flatmates, rent increases, and short tenancies – life can be hard for Generation Rent. But there are still some basic renters’ rights you are guaranteed as a private renter – and you can’t be penalised by your landlord for insisting you get them. These will pertain to Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs), which include all tenancies starting from 28 February 1997. These renters’ rights are guaranteed to you regardless of whether you were provided with and signed a written tenancy agreement.

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  1. Your tenancy agreement must be fair and legal

Although tenancy agreements don’t legally need to be written in England and Wales, they usually are. Because it can be harder to enforce oral agreements, we recommend that you get your agreement in writing, and keep a copy after you’ve signed it. Your written agreement should include:

  • names of people involved
  • rental price and method of payment
  • information on how and when rent is reviewed
  • deposit amount and protection, details of when the deposit can be withheld
  • property address
  • start and end dates of tenancy
  • tenant or landlord obligations
  • bills you are responsible for
  • when and how to end the tenancy early (a break clause)
  • who’s responsible for repairs (that the landlord isn’t legally responsible for)
  • whether you may sublet

In order to change the terms of your agreement during your tenancy, both you and your landlord must agree to the change. This might come up if you ask for permission to have a pet although your agreement forbids it (you should definitely not keep a pet without your landlord’s permission!), or if your landlord wants to raise the rent. Keep in mind that if your agreement has a rent increase procedure, your landlord must follow it. Otherwise:

  • Your landlord can only increase the rent during a fixed-term tenancy if you agree, otherwise it can only go up at the end of the term.
  • If you have a yearly tenancy, you must have 6 months’ notice of a rent increase.
  • For a periodic tenancy (weekly or monthly basis), the rent can’t be raised more than once per year without your agreement, and you must have a minimum of a month’s notice.
  • Rent increases must be fair and realistic, which means they’re in line with average local rents.
  1. You have the right to know who your landlord is

Maybe you worked with a letting agency or a management company, and you’re wondering who your landlord is. There are a number of reasons it might be good for you to know who they are and how to contact them, whether it is to raise a dispute, in the event of an emergency, or to verify whether a person wanting access to your home has the right to enter. You can make a written request to the person who collects your rent and they are required to provide you with the landlord’s name and address within 21 days.

  1. The property must be safe and in good repair

The landlord must ensure that the property is in good condition. This doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be beautiful, but it does have to be safe and usable when you move in, and kept that way throughout your tenancy.

  • Gas safety – installation and maintenance of gas equipment by a Gas Safe registered engineer, annual gas safety checks by a registered engineer, provide a copy of the gas safety check record before moving in or within 28 days of the check
  • Electrical safety – your landlord must ensure the electrical system is safe as are all appliances
    • Fire safety – safety regulation compliance, you need a smoke alarm on each storey, a carbon monoxide alarm in rooms with a usable fireplace/woodburner, access to escape routes, fire safe furniture and furnishings, and fire alarms/extinguishers (if a large House in Multiple Occupation)

The landlord is always responsible for the property’s structure and exterior, basins/sinks, baths, pipes, drains, heating and hot water, gas appliances, flues, ventilation, electrical wiring, and any damage they cause while attempting repairs, and usually common areas in blocks of flats. You can’t be forced to do repairs that are the landlord’s responsibility.

  1. Your deposit must be returned at the end of your tenancy

Your tenancy agreement should outline in what instances part or all of your deposit can be retained by the landlord – generally, this would be if you were to cause damage to the property or any fittings inside it that belong to the landlord, like a carpet or a curtain. Your deposit cannot be retained over normal wear and tear to the interior, however. In many cases, your deposit must be protected by a government-approved scheme. Your agreement should provide the details of the protection scheme, which you can turn to if your landlord refuses to return your deposit. It is in your best interests to be aware of this information.

This is Part 1 a two-part blog post about your UK private renters’ rights. Check back next week for Part 2.

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The top 4 places in London for homesick Americans

Maybe you chose the expat life. Maybe the expat life chose you. Either way, Americans in London are bound to get homesick at some point. One day, you’ll wake up wondering where you are, with a powerful craving for Pop-Tarts. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow. But someday. Placebuzz has got your back.

  1. Five Guys, Soho, Covent Garden, & more

Photo via oxfordstreet.co.uk

You need some fries. Not ‘chips’. Fries. Served with a double-patty burger as the standard option. Soda galore, and free refills – just like the Founding Fathers intended. Thank God for Five Guys Burgers & Fries.

  1. Starbucks Drive-Thru, Heathrow

not this kind of drive-thru

Coffee. You need coffee. But not just anywhere, like at the Starbucks on your corner – you need to drink it in a car. All is not lost. You’ll have to get to the airport, but it’s not so terrible. Heathrow is, technically, in London, and you won’t have to go so far as to board a plane headed for Newark, New Jersey to get your fix. Heathrow has a drive-thru Starbucks. Close your eyes and inhale that aroma of fuel exhaust and bitter coffee. You’re home.

  1. American Food Store, Holland Park

Photo via Yelp

Are you feeling weird this morning, Americans? Is your blood coursing a little too easily through your unclogged veins? Did the English breakfast you ate, which weirdly involved tomatoes in non-ketchup form (whyyyyyy??), leave you feeling a bit too even-keeled? Then you need to get your butt over to the American Food Store for some £3.95 Pop-Tarts. Feel that sweet, sweet sugar rush once again. It feels like Freedom.

  1. Westfield Shopping Centre, Shepherd’s Bush & Stratford

Photo via The Telegraph

Step inside this gleaming monument to consumerism, this beautiful temple to the gods of over-consumption. Look at the Lululemon store, side-by-side with a mid-range sedan and a prosecco bar. Take a deep breath – in through your nose, out through your mouth. You smell that, America? Smell that ambrosia of perfume wafting out of clothing stores, mixed with sticky-sweet cinnamon pretzels? It smells like home.

We hope we’ve saved all of the homesick Americans in London an overseas flight. Go forth and overeat, dear friends.

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