Friday, 18 January 2019

Today’s Confession, well, where do I even start?

Latest from The Key Place’s ‘Confessions of a ..... Letting Agent’ series which takes a behind the scenes look at the operation of a busy lettings business.

We have a property on our books which we have managed for a long time.  The tenant is a 50 year old man who lives with his mother, and the lease is in his name.  The tenant has a sister who is not on the lease but who has been authorised by the tenant to deal with all property related matters on his behalf.  And so the sister, let’s call her Susan, is who The Key Place has to deal with.

Now I suspect Susan is the older sister.  She works for a public sector body and has the talking style of a 6 page letter without punctuation.  She clearly has too much time on her hands given her level of involvement in the property, and she has read up on every single possible legality with regards to renting in Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales and beyond.  She claims to record every call we have with her.

We wanted to inspect the property but were refused access.  The reason given was that the tenant would be too stressed by the inspection, plus he has allergies which prevents anyone who has gone within an inch of a bar of soap from entering the property.  We gave the required notice as per the lease to gain access to the property to carry out an inspection.  Myself and a manager were on our way to the property when we received a phone call from Susansaying that under no circumstances were we to come to the property and if we did, the police would be called.  The reason given was that we had not sent written confirmation that we accepted their conditions of entry – we hadn’t had this request so couldn’t give written confirmation.  We abandoned the inspection as we knew we could not inspect without approval or a court order.

We refused to give up!  Eventually it was agreed that our Chief Exec could inspect the property as long as he didn’t shower with soap that morning and used no deodorant or aftershave.  He had to agree that the tenant would smell him at the door before he was allowed access (yes really!).  And so the inspection took place.  The property was found to be OK, not in the best condition but not bad.  There were some things needing seen to, however the family were not keen (you can imagine) on work being done in the house, and so we had to negotiate what could be actioned, balancing landlord obligations under repairing standards verses smaller jobs that could be left. 

The main repairs needing attention were a damaged back door, some work to the kitchen and a cracked front door step.  Taking the front step as an example of how difficult this all became - the tenant eventually agreed the step could be fixed but stated the repair could take no more than 1 hour.  Apart from this 1 hour they wanted continuous access to their house.  When we explained that this was impossible and that the tenants were being unreasonable Susan said she would go the police, MP’s, the newspapers.  As we always do when we are threatened by people, we acknowledged that it was Susan’s right to go to the police, MP’s, the newspapers etc. but we suggested that speaking to a lawyer in the first instance might be a better idea from herpoint of view to ensure that her position was sensible.  This surprised Susan who has assumed that her threats of ‘taking things further` would scare us, but, as we were doing things by the book, we had nothing to be concerned about.

And so where are we today?  Well the step has been mended after incredible negotiation, however some of the other repairs have not been dealt with due to tenant refusal.  The property does at least meet the repairing standard.  We have not been allowed to re-inspect yet but we hope to shortly.  The landlord has been kept fully informed at all points and knows exactly what is going on at his property.  We do not believe the tenants are going to intentionally damage the property and they pay their rent every month without fail.  The owner would need to spend money on his property if the tenants were to leave, and so for him, he would rather keep the paying tenants, even although we can’t carry out inspections as regularly as we would like.

This is an on-going difficult situation as we still have a job to do.  We certainly feel that we have earned our management fee on this one!

#bathgate #bonnyrigg #bo’ness #boness #dalkeith #edinburgh #falkirk #grangemouth #kelso #linlithgow #livingston #loanhead #musselburgh #penicuik #stirling #property #buytolet #realestate #ownermanagedbusiness #retirement #retirementplanning #privaterentedsector #prs

Monday, 14 January 2019

I smell a Bo’ness Buy to Let Property Bargain …..

Today at The Bo’ness Property Blog I am revisiting a property that I blogged about in November 2018 because I believe that there is now a bargain to be had with this property.

Firstly, let me remind you about the property.  It is a 1-bed first floor flat in Liddle Drive in Bo’ness.  The flat has a lounge, a separate fitted kitchen, a double bedroom and a bathroom with a shower over the bath.  There is a shared ‘garden’ area at the rear and on street parking.  The flat needs a bit of refurbishment – for example, the kitchen and bathroom are a bit ‘tired’.

So, why am I talking about this property again, I hear you ask?  Well, it is because the price has recently been dropped and the owners are motivated to sell the property.

The flat was on the market for offers over £55,000 but this price has recently been dropped to offers over £50,000.  On the basis that the owners are motivated seller, you may get this property for a cheeky £52,500 or more likely a less cheeky £55,000.  I estimate that refurbishment costs may be £5,000 which would take the property cost in the range of £57,500 to £60,000.  I would expect that you could get a rent level of £425/month based on the flat being refurbished which would give you a yield of 8.5% - 8.7%.

We hope you find our posts useful.  If you would like some advice with your potential investment, please call me on 01506 828096, pop into the office at 6 Vicar Street Falkirk to see me or email me on

#bo’ness #boness #property #buytolet #realestate #ownermanagedbusiness #retirement #retirementplanning #energyefficiency #privaterentedsector #prs #privaterentedsector

Friday, 11 January 2019

Changes to smoke detection rules for Bo'ness landlords

It has been a few years since it has been law to have smoke detection equipment in private rented properties. 

The law currently is that you need a smoke alarm in each living area (in practice, living rooms) and circulation areas (in practice, halls and landings) as well as heat alarms in kitchens.  These need to be hard-wired and inter-connected (meaning that is one goes off then all go off).

Most landlords can get their heard around the benefit of having this safety detection equipment in their properties but there is genuine gripes about the damage or unsightliness of the hard-wiring particularly in older buildings with, for example, ornate cornicing.  This is particularly the case given the significant advances in battery technology since the law was introduced.

The Scottish Government has listened to these concerns and from 1 March 2019 landlords will be permitted to install inter-linked long life sealed lithium battery alarms instead of mains powered ones.

As an aside, from 1 February 2021 all properties in Scotland must meet the same standard of smoke/heat and CO alarm provision as the Private Rented Sector, regardless of tenure.  This means that there will be a level playing field in this regard for private, social and Council landlords ….. which is something that private landlord has been asking for for a long time now.

#bathgate #bonnyrigg #bo’ness #boness #dalkeith #edinburgh #falkirk #grangemouth #kelso #linlithgow #livingston #loanhead #musselburgh #penicuik #stirling #property #buytolet #realestate #ownermanagedbusiness #retirement #retirementplanning #energyefficiency #privaterentedsector #prs #firsttimebuyers #brexit #hardbrexit #cliffedge #smokedetection

Monday, 7 January 2019

To buy or sell in the Bo’ness property market? That is the question


One of my landlords from The Drum rang me last week, after he had spoken to a friend of his. They were discussing the Bo’ness property market and both could not make their mind up if it was time to either sell or buy property. If you read the newspapers and the landlord forums on the internet, there is a good slice of doom and gloom, especially with Brexit, the general uncertainty in the world economic situation, changes in the taxation towards landlords, the increasing legislation affecting the sector etc. 

I would admit, there are certain landlords in Bo’ness who have over exposed themselves in the last few years with high percentage loan to value mortgages. Those mortgages, with their current (yet artificially) low interest rates, will start to suffer, as their modest monthly positive cash flow/profit (ie income (rent) less costs (mortgage, fees, tax)) will become negative when the tax and mortgage rates rise.

It appears to me these landlords seem to have treated the Bo’ness Buy to Let market as a sure bet and have not approached this as a business and, as a result, they will suffer as they thought "Buy a house - rent it out so it covers the mortgage and make a few quid on top".  These are the people who will be thinking twice. I see opportunity everywhere and won't be stopping, I am here to stay. It’s going to be an exciting year.

Gone are the days when you could buy any old house in Bo’ness and it would make money.  Yes, in the past, anything in Bo’ness that had four walls and a roof would make you money because since WW2, property prices doubled every seven years years… it was like printing money – but not anymore.

True, since September 1998, the average price paid for a Bo’ness terraced house has risen from £32,646 to today’s current average of £114,759 in the town, an impressive rise of 251.5% and semi-detached houses have risen in the same time frame, from £40,260 to £146,145, an even better rise of 268.0%. 

However, look back to 2008, and in that year, the average terraced house was selling for £92,685 meaning our Bo’ness landlord would have seen a 23.4% rise and the semi-detached house owner would have seen an increase of 32.3% as they were selling for on average £110,505 .... not bad until you consider inflation.

Since 2008, inflation, ie the cost of living, has increased by 32%. That means to retain its value, a Bo’ness semi-detached house bought for £110,505 in 2008 would need to be worth £145,867 today to counter the impact of inflation. Therefore, our average semi-detached house landlord has only seen a marginal increase of 0.3% (ie 32.3% less 32% inflation) over these 10 years ie 0.03% per annum.

The reality is that in the period since around 2008 we haven’t seen anything like the average capital growth in property we have seen in the past largely as a result of the ongoing effects of the economic crash in 2008 and it’s not predicted to grow at the rates it has previously done either. So it is high time anyone considering investing in property stopped believing the hype and did some serious research using independent investment expertise.  You can still make money by buying the right Bo’ness property at the right price and finding the right tenant.  However, remember, investing in Bo’ness property is not only about capital growth, but also about the yield (the return from the rent). It’s also about having a balanced property portfolio that will match what you want from your investment – and what is a ‘balanced property portfolio’?

If you would like to talk to me about your balanced property portfolio, please call me on 01506 828096, email me at or pop into the office for a chat – the coffee is always on.

#bo’ness #boness #property #buytolet #realestate #ownermanagedbusiness #retirement #retirementplanning #privaterentedsector #prs #firsttimebuyers #lettingagents

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Bo'ness landlords – help from HMRC with your tax return

Happy, happy New Year to you.

I know, I know, I know that I am being brave mentioning the words ‘HMRC’ and ‘tax return’ on the first day back after the festive break but I am trying to be helpful ….. honest!

Landlords are required to submit tax returns to HMRC annually declaring ALL their income and all the tax they have paid on this income already eg tax deducted at source. 

Tax returns for the 2017/18 tax year to 5 April 2018 needs to be submitted and, any tax arsing thereon, paid by 31 January 2019 at the latest.

To be helpful to landlords ….. as well as all other tax payers ….. HMRC are running a series of webinars aimed at helping different groups from amongst the 5.5 million individuals expected to complete a self-assessment form in the next few weeks.

One of these webinars is just for landlords and considers in detail the completing of the property section of the online tax returns.

You can see a link to register for the webinars by clicking here.

We hope you find our posts useful.  If you would like some advice with your potential investment, please call us (on 01506 828096), come and see us in our offices (6 Vicar Street, Falkirk) or email me (

#bathgate #bonnyrigg #bo’ness #boness #dalkeith #edinburgh #falkirk #grangemouth #kelso #linlithgow #livingston #loanhead #musselburgh #penicuik #stirling #property #buytolet #realestate #ownermanagedbusiness #retirement #retirementplanning #hmrc #taxreturns 

Monday, 24 December 2018

The Bo’ness Property Blog - Festive Greetings To All Our Readers

Well investors 2018 is drawing to a close and the property world is beginning to go into Christmas hibernation, so I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all the followers of the blog for your support during 2018.

Your support has been much appreciated and I have enjoyed the debate the blog has generated with you all, the majority of whom have become good friends, as well as valued customers. It has been an interesting year for investors in the Bo’ness property market, with increases in average prices combined with much new and rents in the face of the BREXIT uncertainty, new legislation to take on board particularly for letting agents; announced changes in ADT rates, to name but a few.

Those of you who follow the blog know my views moving into the New Year and those of you with existing profitable portfolios in place have different challenges, to those just starting out in their property investment careers. As ever, I will endeavour to continue to post articles covering all investment opportunities in the property market in Bo’ness, when I return to the blog the week commencing 7th January.

In finishing I would like to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.

If you would like to explore how I can help you with your property investments, or should you require any advice about investing in the Bo’ness property market, wish to enquire about our Investment Analysis Reports, Property Sourcing, Residential Lettings or Property Management services, please do not hesitate to call me on 01506 828096 or email me on

Alternatively, please feel free to pop in and see us at our offices in Vicar Street, Falkirk for a chat, the coffee is always on.

Don't forget to visit to view back dated articles and deals from The Bo’ness Property Blog.

#bathgate #bonnyrigg #bo’ness #boness #dalkeith #edinburgh #falkirk #grangemouth #kelso #linlithgow #livingston #loanhead #musselburgh #penicuik #stirling #property #buytolet #realestate #ownermanagedbusiness #retirement #retirementplanning #energyefficiency #privaterentedsector #prs #firsttimebuyers #brexit #hardbrexit #cliffedge #epc #childbenefit #benefits

Monday, 17 December 2018

Modern Bo’ness buy to let opportunity for the ‘easier life’ landlord

 The buy to let opportunity from The Bo’ness Property Blog today is an example of a good buy to let property a landlord who is looking for an ‘easier life’. 

The property is a modern 2-bed first-floor flat in Hillside Grove in The Drum development in Bo’ness.  The flat, which is in good decorative condition, has a large open plan lounge/dining room, a separate modern fitted kitchen, two double bedrooms (one with built-in wardrobes) and a modern bathroom with a shower over the bath.

Running the numbers on this one.  The flat, which has been on the market since June, is being sold by Your Move Linlithgow for offers over £95,000 – let’s say it goes for £100,000.  I would expect that you could get a rent level of £550/month which would give you a yield of 6.7%.  This yield is lower than some properties in Bo’ness which reflects the modern, low maintenance nature of the property.

We hope you find our posts useful.  If you would like some advice with your potential investment, please call me on 01506 828096, pop into the office at 6 Vicar Street Falkirk to see me or email me on

#bo’ness #boness #property #buytolet #realestate #ownermanagedbusiness #retirement #retirementplanning #energyefficiency #privaterentedsector #prs #privaterentedsector