A buy-to-let landlord has been left in a state of shock after discovering what appears to be a ‘deconstructed meth lab’ in his house in Bulwell, Nottinghamshire, left behind by a former tenant.
The house, located less than five miles from Nottingham city centre, has now been cordoned off by police.
A spokesman for the force said a landlord reported that a previous tenant had left behind a number of bottled chemicals, including an unknown liquid, as part of the meth lab, which is used to make methamphetamine, an addictive drug that can be sold as crystals, pills or powder.
Police have launched an investigation, but no arrests have yet been made.
Chief Constable for Nottinghamshire Police, Craig Guildford, said it is “not very often” his officers come across meth labs.
He told Nottinghamshire Live: “I think this is the first one we have found this year. We come across a lot of cannabis grows but in terms of meth labs that is something relatively rare as a force.
“At the moment, I have not had it confirmed it is that.
“I do not think there is a massive market for it, but if you look at evidence in America we do not want to be in that situation.
“It is good that we have come across it and that we are investigating it, if it does turn out to be a meth lab.
“If something comes to the UK it usually starts in London and then spreads.”
The number of regulations landlords must abide by has increased by 32% since 2010, new analysis has found.
The total number of regulations affecting landlords now stands at 156, up from 118 when the Conservative-led coalition government came to power, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) said.
The RLA is warning that the increased regulation of the rental sector is not translating into action against landlord. A previous study by the organisation found that in 2017/18, despite a greater amount of regulation now governing the sector, two thirds of councils had not commenced any prosecutions against private landlords.
Ahead of the General Election in December 2019, the RLA has proposed scrapping licensing schemes, which it states serve only to penalise good landlords whilst enabling the criminals to operate under the radar.
Instead, the RLA is encouraging local councils to use the wide range of data already available, including council tax, benefits, tenancy deposit and electoral roll information to identify landlords.
David Smith, policy director for the RLA, said: “Removing criminal landlords from the sector will only be achieved if councils have the resources and the will to properly use the wide range of powers they already have.
“Piling more regulations onto the sector which will continue not to be properly enforced is meaningless and serves only to put off good landlords from providing the homes to rent we need. It is time for smarter enforcement, not more regulation.”
A buy-to-let landlord in Worcester has been ordered to pay almost £3,000 for operating an unlicensed House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) on Canterbury Road, WR5.
Worcester Magistrates Court heard that Mohammed Rafiq operated a premises illegally, leaving the council with little option but to take legal action against the landlord.
Rafiq was charged with three offences for breaches of the management of HMO regulations, including failing to supply firefighting equipment and having insufficient fire alarms, failing to install emergency lighting and the failure to display his name, address and contact details at the house.
Cllr James Stanley, chair of Worcester City Council’s communities committee, commented: “The majority of landlords in Worcester abide by the law but as this case demonstrates, the City Council won’t hesitate to act in cases where landlords exploit tenants, provide dangerous or substandard accommodation or flout their legal obligations,” said.
“I would urge any Worcester residents who are facing difficulties with their tenancy or have concerns about an HMO to contact the City Council’s housing team for advice and support.”
With Britain edging closer to its first recession since the financial crisis, a leading property auctioneer is urging property investors, including buy-to-let landlords, to hold their nerve against the spectre of an economic downturn.
The country’s dominant service sector, which accounts for about 80% of the economy, unexpectedly plunged into contraction last month, in a sign of the increasing stress facing the economy as Brexit looms.
According to IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (Cips), activity in the sector fell as companies reported a fall in sales, job losses, cancelled and postponed projects and weak investment levels.
There has been a recent rise in properties going into receivership, banks unwilling to lend for construction projects and a decline in tenants looking to rent business or residential properties, according to Mark Bailey, managing director of Landwood Group, who says that a rise in auction sales is also evident, largely down to an increase in repossessions.
He said: “Worryingly, at Landwood we are also receiving more instructions over the past few months than we have done for a year or more – instructions for properties that have sadly gone into receivership.
“It is harder for property owners to let business space and for domestic landlords to find tenants – there’s no doubt that a squeeze is on.
“With each failed building project, banks become more nervous to lend, builders stop building… and we fall headlong into a dreaded recession. Once we do, it’s anyone’s guess how deep it is or how long it lasts.
“The blame for all of this cannot be put at the door of Brexit… well, not entirely. There is no arguing with the fact that this is a period of change – domestically and globally. People err to the negative whenever there is change on the horizon – until events transpire and the scales balance out. The big issue is uncertainty and property is key to all of this. Uncertainty causes negativity, while a solid market has the opposite effect.”
So, if the pointers are all correct and a recession is upon us, what is the advice?
“Sit tight,” said Bailey. “Whether you are a commercial property owner or a domestic landlord, try your best to ride it out, perhaps for six months, before making any business decisions. Look at your borrowings and don’t over-stretch yourself at this time.
“There are always people who benefit from downturns in the market and they tend to be cash buyers. So if you have cash to invest long-term, a ripe time to buy may be about to begin.
“For the rest of us, it’s time to batten down the hatches and ride out the storm – see you on the other side.”
The majority of medium and large companies pay higher wage rates to men than to women, according to the latest government figures, and that is having a knock on effect when it comes to renting property. The disparity, known as the gender pay gap, reflects the different average hourly salaries earned by men and women. The pay gap not only holds women back — making it harder for them to support themselves and their families — but it impacts their rental potential across the UK rental market, new research shows.
ideal flatmate looked at the current net monthly wage in each area across the UK for those that live there and what percentage of salary was required to rent in the local market, as well as how much of the UK fell into each affordability bracket for both men and women. The figures reveal that across the UK, the average male is required to spend 28.6% of their salary on rent, while this increases to 42.6% for the average female.
This gap is at its largest in England at 17.9%, with men spending 35.5% of their salary on rent while women fork out 53.4%.
The smallest gap is in Wales, with women spending 35.3% while men 25.4% – a 9.8% difference. When looking at a regional level, the extent of this affordability gap becomes very apparent. Across the UK, the higher cost of the average male wage means that in 42% of areas they are spending 30% or less of their salary on rent. In contrast, the average female could afford to pay rent at 30% or less of their salary in just 0.3% of UK areas. An astonishing difference.
The research also revealed that a further 39% of areas were home to an average salary and rental cost that saw men pay between 30%-40% of their earnings on rent, while just over a quarter – 26% – of areas were affordable enough for women paying the same percentage of wages. At the other end of the rental affordability scale, just 0.3% of the UK rental market would see men living there pay 70% or more of their salary in rent, while for women, 10% of areas in the UK rental market would require them to pay 70% or more of their salary on rent.
East Renfrewshire was identified as the most affordable spot for men with just 17.1% of salary spent on rent each month. Rhondda Cynon Taf is the most affordable rental market for women, however, it would require them to pay 29.7% of their salary on rent. In London, male renters in Bexley have it best, paying 39% of their salary on rent, while Greenwich is the most affordable for female renters but requires 58.5% of their salary to rent.
Tom Gatzen, co-founder of ideal flatmate, commented: “Despite the spotlight that has focussed on the gender pay gap for quite some time, it’s clear there is still a worryingly large disparity between the earnings of female and male workers across the UK.
“This isn’t simply a case of equal pay but equal opportunity across the board and there is a real lack of this when it comes to rental affordability in particular. Tackling the UK rental market is tough enough as it is without the immediate set back of a 14% reduction in your rental potential due to a lower wage.
“As a result of this inferior financial foundation, female workers are forced to either pay far more in rent or be priced out of the market altogether, resulting in a wider search, a longer commute, and a lower quality of life.”
Germany’s rent controls place strong restrictions on in-tenancy rent increases, while the ‘rent brake’ introduced a couple of year ago makes it harder for landlords to charge higher rents when re-letting a property. But would a similar system work as far as the UK’s rent control system is concerned?
Last week the German finance minister Olaf Scholz voiced his support of a controversial five-year rent freeze to tackle the increasing cost of living in the city.
The aim, according to Scholz, is to ensure that Berlin does not ‘end up like London’.
In the last five years, London rents have increased from an average of £1,530 a month to £1,679 – an increase of 2.44% annually.Should this growth trend persist for a further five years, it would push the average rent in the capital to £1,894 a month.
However, the implementation of a five-year rental rate freeze would see London tenants save a total of £7,620 in rental costs, according to the research. Tenants in Newham stand to save the most, with rents increasing by 6.95% on average in the borough over the last five years, an increase of £329 in the monthly rent. If this continues, the average rental price could hit £1,977 a month in five years, but a freeze would see tenants save a notable £19,413 as a result.
A five-year rental rate freeze would also see a five-figure saving for tenants in Barking and Dagenham, Hackney, Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets, Redbridge, Kensington and Chelsea, the City of London, Havering, Lewisham, Southwark, Enfield and Ealing.
Oxford tenants would benefit with a rental freeze saving totalling £17,746 over the next five-years. The average rent in Oxford over the last five years has increased at an average of 7.3% a month, second only to Manchester at 8%, which could see Oxford’s rental costs hit £1,741 a month.
Bristol has also seen a sharp increase in rental prices, up 6.75% annually over the last five years. A similar growth trend would see the average monthly rent hit £1,489 however, a five-year rental freeze would save tenants a total of £14,294. Tenants in Manchester, Oxford, and Newcastle would also enjoy a five-figure saving.
Tom Gatzen, co-founder of ideal flatmate, said: “The figures suggest that should such a rental rate freeze be introduced in London and the wider country, the saving for tenants could be considerable. This saving could go some way towards a mortgage deposit and a foot on the ladder, while at the same time helping to alleviate some of the pressure on the rental sector.
“Any pro-tenant initiative can, of course, be viewed as a positive, but the mere suggestion of a rental rate freeze in Berlin seems to have sent the property market into meltdown. There is every chance that the same could happen here as a recent string of government changes to the buy-to-let sector have already diminished landlord confidence levels.
“This further dent on profitability could see more opt to invest elsewhere, however, the meteoric rise of the build-to-rent sector is providing a viable alternative to traditional stock supply and could therefore be the answer, stomaching a static rate of rental growth far better without any detriment to the tenant.”
The massive increase in the build to rent sector is beginning to filter through, but there needs to be more money made available for this. As it stands, there is not enough private funding of build to rent, but with amendments to tax rules, this could change rapidly. If legislation were introduces to allow people to plough their pension funds in to build to rent, but under strict return guidelines, to ensure affordability, this could not only give our ageing population a source of income, but it would also help to create more housing stock, thereby distributing demand and curbing spiralling rents. As build costs on a large scale are less than property on the open market, this would give the investors a fair return, without the need for excessive rent costs.