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.


  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.


10 Things to Look Out for When Buying a New Home

A place in the country?A house shouldn’t just be a roof and four walls. It should be more than that, and there’s plenty to consider when finding your perfect home.

Here are 10 important things to consider when buying your next home:

1. Garden

Do you want a south facing garden for those late afternoons in the summer? It will also help with growing fruit, veg or flowers. You may actually not want a garden at all. If you have children or pets, having an outdoor option may be necessary, but sometimes living in the city or having a bigger house for the size of your budget might be more important.

2. Garage

A garage is useful for storing all manner of things (including cars!). If there is suitable parking available on the road or a driveway and plenty of house storage (shed, attic etc) then a garage may not important – although there is often no better place to store tools, bikes and anything else you don’t want lying around the garden or living room!

3. Location

Location is of the utmost importance when buying a new home. How close your property is to shops and services, to relatives, to work – the list goes on. There’s the town versus country debate and how suitable somewhere will be for your children to consider as well, which we have covered in our previous blog Choosing the Perfect Property Location for a Better Lifestyle.

4. Size

It’s not about having the biggest house possible for the cheapest price. You should be asking yourself what size is necessary, what fits around your needs. Is it worth it having an extra bedroom? How many floors do you really need to fit all your stuff in? If you’re planning on needing another room in the future, but don’t need it just yet, it could be worth looking for a larger house, but if all you want is the bare minimum then this needs to be taken into account.

5. Queuing for the Bathroom

When nature calls or you are running late for work and need to use the bathroom there is nothing worse than having to wait. An en suite bathroom or a downstairs toilet can really make life that bit more convenient!

6. Is it Winter-Ready?

Having a broken boiler or no double glazing can make a home much colder in the winter! With English winters lasting much longer than three months, making sure a home is fully prepared for this period is vital. Of course things like triple glazing, fireplaces and insulation can all be installed, but buying a house with these features already in place is much more hassle-free.

7. Kid-Proof

For those of us with children, the entire property needs to be safe for them (and from them!). This includes the garden, which can be full of perils, such as ponds, thornbushes and wayward conkers. The height of a staircase and if it can have a child-proof gate installed, how easy it is to escape outdoors via doors and gates, and all such manner of things must be thought of to ensure your children’s safety.

8. How Much Work is Needed

Sometimes, a newly bought home doesn’t come with all the furnishings you desire and sometimes it comes with a few issues, such as mould or broken gutters. A house you wish to purchase may be in need of much more than simply a good going-over, which could be time and cost consuming. Although it’s unlikely that a property on the market needs extensive work to make it livable, it’s vitally important that you check everything is in order and there aren’t any hidden discrepancies which need work, otherwise you might not be getting what you thought you paid for.

9. Is it fit to be renovated?

While the previous point covered how much work could be needed, whether a property is actually fit to be renovated is an entirely different kettle of fish. If you’ve always dreamt of having a conservatory, for instance,  then you’ll have to make sure the house structure will allow this. Some buildings are not strong enough to withstand renovations whilst others simply can’t be renovated because of features already in place, such as pipes. If you want to make an extension or alteration to the property you wish to buy, making sure it can stand up to this is imperative.

10. Energy

An important aspect of any home is energy, and we all have a preference. You should check whether the house you intend to purchase is reliant upon gas or electricity for its central heating. Gas is of course the cheaper option and provides the same level of heat consistently throughout the day. However, if your purchase is electricity-based and you intend to install gas central heating after you buy your new home, the short term costs are quite high.

 So there you have it, 10 things you should consider and look out for if you’re planning on purchasing a new property. Some elements may be important to you than others. Whatever your criteria, it’s important to remember you’re not simply buying a house, you’re getting a home. If you’re looking to purchase a home, we have a wide range of properties available to browse on our website via our property search engine. Happy hunting!



5 Ways the Election Will Impact your Next House Move

The 7th May 2015 – the day of the General Election and possibly the most important day of the year for the UK as we decide who will shape the nation for the next five years. One topic that’s drawing a lot of attention is the housing market.

“How could first-time buyers be affected?”

“Will the new policies actually be implemented and when?”

“What are the impacts if I plan on renting?”

Property for saleThese are all good questions that you, the voters might be asking and the next government (whether that’s a coalition or minority government, which both seem quite likely) will have to address. Here are 5 ways we believe the upcoming election could impact your next house move.


All information stated is what has been promised by each party thus far and may be subject to change in the future.

 1. The Price of a Home for a First-Time Buyer

Just getting on the property ladder is tough, so all the main parties are proposing action. Whether or not it is enough remains to be seen, but the attempt by the Conservatives to re-introduce right-to-buy is a bold move. Both The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are offering first-time buyers a Help to Buy ISA whilst the Lib Dems and Labour are proposing to build over a million houses to fulfill demand and keep prices down.

Whatever happens in the election, our verdict is that it will still remain tough for first-time buyers although things may get a little easier over time.

2. Keeping Rent Costs Down

To let signs

If purchasing a house is not for you, then renting has its benefits, but the upcoming election is unlikely to make a huge impact. Only Labour and the Greens are looking to put a cap on rent or increases. Proposals to build more houses may increase availability and keep prices down but one million new houses won’t get built overnight!

3. Renting: For How Long? 

A short term rental agreement can be a worry when you don’t know where you will live in 6 months time. Both Labour, Lib Dems and the Green party have proposals to address this with policies for longer term tenancy agreements.

4. Caring for your environment, in beautiful surroundings

Nottingham - Second house price riser

If you care for the environment and your surroundings, there are policies to please! The Labour Party and Lib Dems both have proposals for ‘Garden Cities’, whilst the Green Party and UKIP also have interesting policies around the protection of Green belt land. 

This doesn’t guarantee there will be more houses in beautiful surroundings but more ‘Garden cities’ and protection of Green belt land all helps to make Britain a beautiful place to live!

5. The Economy

Once the election is over, it could get complicated in terms of who will be in government. Initial uncertainty could have a short term impact on the economy while a minority government with little power will struggle to get its policies adopted unless they are appealing to other supporting parties. This could also be a good thing as policies need to appease a wider audience on not just the rich or the poor.

The next election could also impact interest rates on which mortgage rates are based. We aren’t going to make any predictions on how the economy could be impacted but suffice to say it could be interesting!


Below is a table with some of the key policies we uncovered during our research:


What They’re Promising…
Lib Dem
To Build
1 million
1.5 million
For First-Time Buyers
Help to Buy ISA and
20% discount to first-time buyers under 40
Give priority to local first-time buyers in new housing areas
Help to Buy ISA
In the Rental Market
Long term tenancy agreements in the private sector and Cap on rent increases
Rent to Own policy and Ban landlords letting out poorly insulated homes
Cap rent and introduce longer tenancies
To Introduce
Capital investment in housing
and local authorities given “use it or lose it” powers

New Towns and Garden Cities.

Right to Grow given to communities.
New homes advertised in the UK before overseas.
At least 10 new Garden Cities and
30,000 Rent to Own homes a year by 2020
Bring empty homes back into use
Brownfield agency for grants and loans.
Protection of green belt land and
Referendums on major planning decisions.
New homes exempt from stamp duty on first sale and
Social housing prioritised for locals


Sections with a dash ( – ) are those which have not been announced

Choosing the Perfect Property Location for a Better Lifestyle

The perfect location?

The location of your new home can have a huge impact on your lifestyle and there is plenty to consider. Do you want to live in the beautiful countryside that is quiet and peaceful or in a busy vibrant town with plenty to do? How close should you be to family and relatives and how will your new location impact your children? These are important questions to consider when choosing your property location, which we address below.

Country versus Town

A place in the country?

A home in the country offers the ideal setting with amazing views, the possibility of a good sized driveway and bigger garden – and not to mention a quieter more peaceful way of life. But it does have its limitations.

Or in town?


If you are a city or town person you will appreciate the convenience of being close to shops and restaurants, the gym, GP surgery, train station… and much more! The disparity in high speed internet access is still considerable for many living in a rural setting.

In an ideal world a mixture of rural and town would be perfect but is very hard to achieve and ultimately, you need to decide how much you value peace and quiet versus access to a wider range of services that comes with living near a town or city.

Home is Where the Heart is

Do you want to be near those you love?Being far from loved ones is less-than-ideal for many, especially when children are involved (or as parents get much older). But this has to be balanced against the need to commute to work. Living close to family may not always be ideal if it involves long daily commutes which can be stressful and expensive in the long run.

Distance from work may be less of an issue if you live close to a train station although this will incur higher travel costs. If you need assistance figuring out a route, the Commute Search on our main website will help.

The Kids are Alright

Is it right for the kids?

If you have children (or plan to!) then the quality and access to nearby schools is important. Towns tend to have more choice of schools whereas schools in the country tend to have small class sizes, providing a more personal learning experience.

The rural versus city question is once again an important topic when it comes to kids. While there may be sports centres and play-areas in urban locations so the kids don’t get bored, a rural home is likely to be larger and have garden space, possibly nearby fields to be active in.

Does the perfect location exist?

To cut straight to the answer, for many people it’s no. There is always a trade-off to be made but this doesn’t mean that decisions over location should be ignored.

When moving house, don’t just think about the house itself and it’s interior. Property location can have a HUGE impact on your lifestyle in terms of family, friends, work and activities that you love to do.

With this taken into account, you’re ready to start searching for your new home. Why not use our search engines to find that perfect location?



Hull has more stamp duty exempt properties than anywhere else in the country


London, 27th October, 2014 — Hull is revealed as the most first-time buyer friendly city in the UK, as new figures show that the city has the highest percentage of properties for sale under the £125,000 zero percent stamp duty threshold, according to research carried out by property search engine

With 738 out of 1175 properties currently for sale in Hull being marketed at £125,000 or less, that’s almost two thirds (63%) of all available property stock in the city that is not liable to a stamp duty charge. Properties above £125,000 automatically incur a stamp duty charge of at least 1% of the purchase price.

With recent figures showing an 11% rise in first time buyers, looked at the number of properties currently for sale at or under £125,000 in 40 of the major towns and cities across the UK, and ranked them as a percentage of the total number of properties being marketed.

The data revealed that eight of the top 10 towns and cities with the largest percentage of zero percent stamp duty properties were in the north of England. Apart from Hull, more than 50% of properties in Bradford and Barnsley, and more than 40% in Sheffield, Wigan, Middlesbrough, Bolton and Liverpool, were on sale for £125,000 or less. Predictably, London fared the worst with less than half a percent – just 69 properties out of almost 27,000 across the capital – falling into the zero percent stamp duty bracket.

Several of the country’s oldest university towns are decidedly first time buyer unfriendly. Cambridge and Oxford came third and fourth respectively in the list of towns/cities with the lowest percentage of zero percent stamp duty properties, each with less than 1% of all properties for sale. While, Edinburgh fared little better at sixth, with just 4% of homes for sale in the lower price bracket.

The figures also highlighted a gulf within certain regions of the country. York and Leeds are separated by a mere 14 miles as the crow flies, yet in terms of being first-time buyer friendly, they’re worlds apart, with less than one in 20 properties for sale in York at £125,000 or less, compared to one in three in Leeds.

The following table shows the towns or cities with the highest percentage of properties for sale at £125,000 or less:


The following table shows the towns or cities with the lowest percentage of properties for sale at £125,000 or less:


Andy Hatoum, co-founder of, comments: “Our research highlights the reason why campaigns calling for an overhaul of stamp duty charges are gaining traction in the run up to next year’s general election.

“Properties falling within the stamp duty exemption bracket are now at dangerously low levels in many areas, particularly in the south and midlands.

“Unsurprisingly, first-time buyers or those looking for a bargain, have greater options in the north of the country, with higher numbers of properties for sale that are unencumbered by the added financial burden of stamp duty costs.

“More needs to be done to help first-time buyers. Although numbers are rising, getting onto the property ladder is still out of reach for many.”


Swansea is most affordable place in the UK for second steppers looking to buy first family house


  • Edinburgh is least affordable for second steppers, with average price difference of 124.7% between flat and first house
  • London – price difference between flat and first house for second steppers is £463,580
  • Four Scottish cities; Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Glasgow, appear in list of least affordable places for second steppers
  • Two east England locations; Norwich and Ipswich, rank in the top three most affordable locations to be a second stepper

London, 20th August, 2014 — Swansea is the most affordable place in the UK for second stepper couples looking to buy their first family home, with the average price of a house only 9.6% more than the average price of a flat, according to research carried out by property search engine,

Figures show that homeowners on the first rung of the property ladder in Swansea have the smallest percentage jump to the second rung. The average price of a one to two bedroom flat in Swansea is £133,561, compared to £146,448 for a terraced or semi-detached house. That’s a price difference of just £12,887, which is around 57% of the average annual salary in Swansea, which stands at £22,829
The problem of second stepping has forced couples across the UK to stay in their first properties, which are often flats, much longer than they would like. figures reveal towns and cities around the UK where the second step, from flat to a terraced or semi-detached house, is the largest and smallest. Only major towns and cities have been considered for this research.

The east of England came out as the most affordable region of the country for second stepper couples, with Norwich and Ipswich featuring in the top three places for most affordable second stepper towns or cities. The average percentage price difference between a terraced/semi-detached house compared to a flat in Norwich and Ipswich is 18.4% and 19.5% respectively.

This compares with Edinburgh, which came out as being the least affordable place in the UK for second steppers based on the percentage difference between the price of a house versus a flat. Couples in Edinburgh looking to buy their first family home face a mammoth 124.7% extra or £180,285 more to purchase an average terraced/semi-detached house (£324,874), compared to a one to two bedroom flat (£144,589). With the average salary in Edinburgh around £31,040, that extra cost to step up is 581% more than the average wage.

Predictably, London is the least affordable city when you look at the actual amount of money required to jump from the first rung to the second rung of the ladder, with couples facing the prospect of having to find an extra £463,580 to move from a flat to their first house. That’s a staggering 1079% of the annual central London salary of £42,970, which explains why many couples have to move out of the capital to second step. figures reveal that Scotland actually has the two least affordable places for second steppers, with Edinburgh closely followed by Dundee, where couples looking to buy their first family home are looking at an average additional cost of £79,089 to do so. Aberdeen and Glasgow also feature high up on the list, with average second steps of £101,718 and £53,040 respectively.
The following table shows the most affordable towns or cities for second steppers looking at the price difference of an average 1-2 bedroom flat compared to a terraced or semi-detached house:

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 12.29.53

The following table shows the least affordable towns or cities for second steppers, looking at the price difference of an average 1-2 bedroom flat compared to a terraced or semi-detached house:

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 12.30.41

Andy Hatoum, co-founder of, comments: “These figures show that the gap between the first and second rung of the property ladder in many areas of the UK remains too wide for many couples to consider buying their first family house.

“The second step is the often the hardest step to take on the property ladder. But it’s also the most important for many couples, as this is the property they stay in for years to raise a family. It’s not just the price differential between a flat and a house, there’s also the additional costs of purchase such as stamp duty, extra mortgage and furnishing costs that need to be met.

“Many couples have to put off moving, and accept they might to have to raise a family in cramped conditions and in areas not necessarily suited to bringing up children. Inevitably, relocation becomes a topic of conversation around the dinner table, but this is not always an option if work or family commitments mean they have to stay local or face horrendous commuter journeys.”


Want to live on ‘Prince George Street’? Properties command a royal price tag


  • Properties on a street bearing the name of Prince George are on average 16% more expensive than the local average
  • Buyers can expect to pay a premium of £110,187 for the privilege – 63% higher than the UK average house price 
  • In London, properties with the regal address are a third (33%) more expensive than the average house price in the capital 

Buy property on a street bearing the name of Prince George and you can expect to pay almost a fifth (16%) above the average for that postcode, according to new data by leading property search engine, [1].

The research, coinciding with Prince George’s 1st birthday on July 22, also reveals that a property with the little prince’s moniker costs on average £110,187 more (63%), than the average UK house price[2].

According to figures, properties on Prince George streets in London are 26% more expensive than average property prices in the same postcode, and a third (33%) pricier than the average London property[3].

For example, buyers purchasing property on Prince George Road in London’s trendy Stoke Newington will pay £599,464, which is almost 50% more than the average house price in the N16 postcode.

And, in south-west London, the trend continues. Buying a property on Prince George’s Road in Wimbledon costs £725,491, 28% more than the average SW19 home.

This gulf in price is not unique to London. In Portsmouth, houses on Prince George Street are on average £223,920, over a quarter more (26%) than the cost of a home with a P01 postcode (£177,860).

The following table shows a sample of Prince George streets across the UK:

Street City Average price of a house on a ‘Prince George’ road (£) Average price of a house in the same postcode (£) % Difference compared to average house in same postcode % Difference compared to UK average
Prince Georges Road, SW19 London £725,491 £567,430 + 28% + 322%
Prince George Road, N16 London £599,464 £404,611 + 48% + 248%
Prince George Avenue, N14 London £509,111 £378,652 + 34% + 196%
Prince George Street, PO1 Portsmouth £223,920 £177,860 + 26% + 30%
Prince George Drive, DE22 Derby £179,786 £169,654 + 6% + 5%
Prince George Street, ST10 Stoke onTrent £179,495 £160,566 + 12% + 5%
Prince George Avenue, SR6 Sunderland £173,000 £163,751 + 6% + 1%
Overall Average £281,222 16% 63%

Andy Hatoum, co-founder of, says: “By George! Clearly, buyers have to fork out a lot more for the privilege of living on a road steeped in royal history. The inflated price tag associated with living on a road named after the latest addition to the royal family is almost double in Portsmouth. The baby Prince is already boosting sales of baby clothes – does his regal influence extend to the property market too? It would seem so.”


New mortgage rules: Advice for borrowers

mortgage agreement

New mortgage rules have been introduced by the Financial Conduct Authority (FSA) on the 26th of April that require mortgage lenders perform a full affordability check on applicants to ensure that they can afford their mortgage now and in the future.

There are a number of actions you can take to improve your chances of getting a mortgage and minimise delays:

Review and keep hold of your payslip and bank statements

Applicants will be required to supply a number of documents that prove income and expenditure which include 3 to 6 months payslips, bank statements and detailed outgoing figures. Self employed applicants will be required to provide track records going back up to 3 years and evidence of work in the future.

Avoid gambling, going overdrawn and using payday loans as they are viewed negatively by lenders.

Create a budget plan

Lenders use affordability calculators that take account of all spending. They will access if you can afford to pay for your repayments now and in the future. Ensure you have sufficient disposable income for all your outgoings and the new mortgage. Also take into account surprises such as a rise in interest rates. Make sure you include any payments that will no longer exist after a new mortgage is taken out and avoid taking out any new debt.

Ensure you’re on the electoral role

This will help lenders identify you. If you are not already on there you can apply to get on the electoral register for free on GOV.UK.

Check you credit report

Lenders use credit agencies to determine your affordability and risk. You can obtain a copy of your credit report from credit agencies such as Experian and Equifax for a statutory price of £2. Make sure that all the details on your report are correct. Contact and try to resolve any issues with the companies in question directly.

Where can I afford to live in London? | Find a property for Sale


London’s last 100k homes

We found just five properties in London advertised for less that £100,000, excluding retirement properties, shared ownership homes and those sold at auction.

This may be the last time we see properties under £100,000 being sold in the capital – well on land least, as the only homes available in this category are houseboats.

Take a look and let us know what you think:




UK House prices in 2014

The latest house price index from Halifax has revealed that prices in the three months to December were 7.5% higher than in the same three months the previous year.

These latest (Halifax) figures show just how tricky it is to gauge exactly where the property market is on its road to recovery.Nationwide’s last figures showed a 1.4% rise in property prices in December, while Halifax reveal a 0.6% decline, which is what we would typically expect to see as activity drops off before and over the festive period.

The difference between now and 12 months ago, when we were seeing this type of conflicting data, is that at that time there were very few new properties coming onto the market and very few people buying.

Now buyer confidence is back with a vengeance in many parts of the country, fueled by a continued supply of cheap mortgages and a more buoyant economy, and it’s only a lack of supply that is holding them back.

The slight worry is that mixed in with this confidence is a degree of fear, especially amongst first time buyers, that if they don’t take the plunge now they will be left behind as lack of supply and buyer demand drives prices higher and out of reach.

The next few months are going to provide a crucial indicator as to where we are in the housing market cycle. The market is building up a head of steam but there will be concerns that property prices are starting to rise at an unsustainable rate, especially in London and the Home Counties.

The hope is that we will see more steady growth at the start of 2014 supported by a much stronger supply of new properties coming onto the market.