Letting May Be More Stressful Than You Think

If you are a property owner, you may have considered renting your unused space to paying tenants. Letting can be a great way to earn some extra cash, and if you're not doing anything with the space in question anyway, you've got nothing to lose! Right?
 
Not so fast. Too many people rush into the private rental sector without giving any thought to the responsibilities and the pressures that landlords have to cope with. Here are some revealing facts and figures, as recently reported by The Independent:
 
  • 25% of landlords say that letting is more stressful than they anticipated
  • 66% of landlords are more stressed now than they were one year ago
  • More than half of the landlords surveyed expected to make no money in the next 12 months
  • 58% of landlords say that unpaid rent is their main source of stress
  • 40% said that they were stressed about property maintenance and its cost
All of this paints a very clear picture: being a landlord is no bowl of cherries!
 
Now, we're not trying to discourage you from renting out your property - far from it, in fact. As we mentioned earlier, letting is a fantastic means of carving out a second income, but with the number of 'amateur' landlords in the UK still on the rise, more and more property owners are facing steep fines and court cases because they weren't aware of their obligations as a landlord. Some of the most recent stories include:
 
  • The Cardiff landlord who was fined nearly £1,000 for health and safety violations
  • The North London property owner who was fined £3,000+ for fire safety breaches
  • The rat-infested home in Wolverhampton that cost its owner £14,000
These are extreme cases, but they really underline our point: if you want to be a landlord, do your research first. Talk to a solicitor, know your obligations, and make sure you're covered from every angle before signing any contracts.
 
Visit our Advice for Landlords page for more information.

Redrow Charity Event at Celtic Manor

Last Saturday (October 4), several members of the Newbold team were lucky enough to attend Redrow's annual charity event, which this year was held at Newport's stunning Celtic Manor. Here is a picture from the night:
 

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The people in that picture are (from left to right):
  • Beth McAuley, Legal Executive
  • Debbie Edwards, Conveyancing Assistant
  • Sadie Jones, Legal Assistant
  • Maurice Thompson, Partner/Solicitor
  • Gemma Barkhouse, Conveyancer
As you can see, we all had a fantastic time at the party, and we stayed 'til late!
Redrow Homes host an event like this every year to raise money for various charities. This year's party was held to support the following organisations:
 
  • LATCH is a Welsh charity that was set up in 1982 to help the families of children with cancer and leukaemia. In additional to various forms of financial support, the organisation also provides specialist equipment, counselling, and accommodation - Redrow help LATCH to provide comfortable facilities for families who are staying in hospital with their sick children.
  • Healing the Wounds is a small, self-funded charity based in Bridgend. This armed forces charity aims to give veterans and their families all the support they need - this can mean helping them to find employment and accommodation outside of the armed forces, or it can be something as simple as a cup of tea and a chat. Redrow help HtW to provide housing for ex-servicemen and women.
Two very worthy causes, we're sure you'll agree. The Newbold team were honoured to receive an invitation to Redrow's event, and we are proud to have helped raise money for the charities listed above.

Glowing Feedback for Newbold Solicitors

Whether you're a solicitor or an interior design, there's nothing more rewarding than a positive review from a satisfied customer. Happily, the feedback that we receive from our customers tends be very positive indeed - it's great to know that we're doing a good job and giving our clients the support they need.
 
Here's an email that we received from Helen and Noel Smith after our housing law experts helped them to move house:
 
Just a quick note to say a BIG thank you for everything you did in helping us move. You were very kind and patient with us when we were anxious, all of which kept us grounded.
 
Obviously, moving house is one of life's most stressful experiences - there are many, many things to take care of, and the solicitors here at Newbold are well aware of this. We've helped many people like the Smiths to transition from one home to another, and we always strive to work efficiently and sympathetically in these situations.
 
Here's a similarly glowing review of our conveyancing service:
 
Absolutely superb! Not once did I need to contact them for an update or to push them along. Why can't all firms be like Newbold & Co?
 
Again, this feedback proves our commitment to fast, efficient handling of the task at hand. If you've ever moved house, you'll know how confusing it can get - between the buyers, the sellers, the mortgage providers, and two sets of solicitors, there's a lot of potential for crossed wires, and there's nothing worse than having to chase your solicitor for answers while everybody else involved waits on you.
 
Here at Newbold, we will always do our very best for our clients - we want you to feel that you've received value for money, hopefully to the point where you'll send us a five-star review of your own! For help with conveyancing, housing law, or any other legal matter, contact your nearest Newbold office today.

28% of Landlords Have Had Properties Damaged by Tenants

Almost one-third of all UK landlords have had their properties damaged by tenants in the last twelve months, the National Landlords Association has reported.
 
Last week, the Association revealed that 28% of the country's landlords have faced this issue over the past year. These findings - drawn from the NLA's latest research - suggest that hundreds of thousands of landlords have had problems with property damage, which is a staggeringly high number for a single year.
 
Here are some further statistics from the NLA report:
  • Landlords in the North East of England are most likely to encounter property damage (46%)
  • Landlords in the South East are least likely to see their properties damaged (21%)
  • 8% of UK landlords have made some form of insurance claim in the last twelve forms
NLA chairman Carolyn Uphill used this news to emphasise the importance of insurance, reminding landlords that "a simple home insurance policy" isn't always enough. In her official statement on the matter, Ms Uphill urges landlords to "protect their investments" with policies that cover every eventuality.
 
However, as crucial as insurance is, it's also important to remember that landlords can take action against tenants who cause damage to their properties. If one of your tenants has damaged their rented home, you may be able to claim damages on grounds of disrepair.
 
Bear in mind that your case will not be viable unless the tenant is at fault for the damages. For example, tenants can not be held responsible for faulty plumbing, but if the plumbing has been damaged as a direct result of your tenant's actions, you may be able to claim compensation.
 
If your property has been damaged and you wish to seek compensation, contact your nearest Newbold office to discuss your case with one of our highly-trained legal experts. Alternatively, visit our Disrepair page for more information.

A Tenant's Responsibilities - The Facts!

When you rent a property, it can be difficult ciphering out what exactly it is you are responsible for. There are obvious things like paying the rent on time which go without saying, but then what about the rest of the responsibilities such as repairs, who takes care of them?

 
 
Tenant's Responsibilities:
  • Ensuring the property is kept in a reasonable state of cleanliness
  • Making sure the property does not get damaged - by either yourself or guests
  • Ensuring the heating is used properly
  • Ensuring minor maintenance gets carried out  - such as checking the batteries on the fire alarm
In Comparison, the Landlord's Responsibilities:
  • Electrics and wiring
  • The structure, roof, and windows are sound
  • The heating system
  • All flues, ventilation systems, and gas pipes
  • Sinks, baths, and all sanitary systems
Now that we have cleared that up, if you find yourself in a property where the landlord has not adequately taken care of their responsibilities, you may eligible for a disrepair claim. If this is the case Newbold are professionals in this area, and should be able to help you ensure your property is safe and sound!
 
Find out more about Newbold and how they can win your disrepair claims now.

Newbold Nominated for 'Law Firm of the Year'!

Great news: Newbold Solicitors have been nominated for Modern Law Magazine's 'Law Firm of the Year' award!
 
The shortlist for this year's ceremony was announced yesterday, and we were thrilled to see our firm in the same category as GT Stewart and other well-known names.
 
About the Award
According to the Modern Law Awards website, the 'Law Firm of the Year' prize rewards the following qualities:
 
  • Extensive development and progress within the last year
  • Active engagement with community and/or corporate initiatives and pro-bono work
  • A rounded approach to the delivery of legal services
  • Operating in the interests of the client and the profession
In short, the firms that have been nominated for this award have all proven themselves to be the 'complete package' in terms of both their services and their strategies. Needless to say, this nomination is a big honour for us, and we wish all the other nominees the best of luck on the night.
 
About the Ceremony
The Modern Law Awards 2014 will be held on October 15 at the Hilton Hotel on London's famous Park Lane. The hosts have planned a variety of entertainment for this black-tie event, and it looks set to be a fantastic evening for all concerned.
 
About Modern Law
Founded in 2012, Modern Law Magazine is a bi-monthly publication that aims to provide comprehensive coverage of the 'business of law'. Each issue features interviews with leading legal minds from Britain and beyond, as well as a wide variety of legal features.
 
The Modern Law Awards were launched last year as a means of recognising and celebrating the UK's top legal talent. After a highly  successful début in 2013, they Awards are back for a second year; 'Law Firm of the Year' aside, other categories include 'Lawyer of the Year', 'Best Use of Technology', and 'Best Marketing Campagin of the Year'.
 
This year's awards are sponsored by such big names as Eclipse, Natwest, and PSG.

Cardiff Landlord Fined for Health & Safety Breaches

Alice Sui Ting Cheung, a private landlord from Cardiff, has been fined £900 for a variety of health and safety violations, Wales Online have reported. Here is a list of reasons why her two properties on Bute Street were deemed to be in "dangerous condition":
 
  • Unsafe electrical installations
  • Inadequate escape routes
  • Defective fire alarms
  • Failure to submit gas/electrical certification
  • Flammable materials improperly stored
A local councillor has stressed that these violations represented a "grave danger" to tenants, adding:
 
"The council will continue to prosecute landlords who ignore the regulations and place people in danger."
 
Now, this isn't the first time we've written about neglectful landlords and the punishments they've received (several other examples can be found in this blog from last month), but we at Newbold found Alice Cheung's story particularly interesting, largely because of the story's proximity to our very own doorstep.
 
As a law firm with offices across South Wales, almost everyone here at Newbold is familiar with Bute Street, the Cardiff Bay thoroughfare on which these unsafe properties were reportedly located. While none of us ever doubted it, this news story is a shocking reminder of just how many landlords are failing to provide safe, habitable conditions for their tenants; it seems like another fine is administered every day, and when the guilty parties live so close to you, you begin to realise just how widespread this problem is.
 
Let this serve as a reminder, then, to all landlords - in Cardiff and across the UK - that you can NOT get away with health and safety violations in the properties that you let. The quote above ("The council will continue...") is not an idle threat; if you continue to put your tenants' health at risk and their lives in danger, you will eventually pay the penalty. Note that Alice Cheung got off relatively lightly - her £900 fine seems very light indeed when you know that other landlords have paid upwards of £10,000 for their violations.
 
And, to any tenants (particularly those living in South Wales) who are currently residing in unsafe rented accomodation, we recommend contacting a solicitor as soon as possible to find out if you are entitled to compensation. Newbold Solicitors offer a No Win, No Fee policy on all disrepair claims - click here to see our contact details and find your nearest Newbold office.

Newbold Solicitors Fixed Fee Divorce Packages

Going through a divorce or the ending of a civil partnership can be an extremely distressing time. As well as being a difficult situation, you then have the added stress of trying to figure out how to get a legal separation. One thing you might not have previously realised is that the divorce and separation procedure can actually be pretty expensive, which of course is the last thing you need at this pressing time. 

This is just one of the reason why Newbold Solicitors decided to incorporate fixed legal fees into our divorce packages to ease the process of legal separation a little for our clients. As fixed fee solicitors, we offer a range of fixed fee divorce packages which you can pay for up front, and then you will have the comfort of expert legal advice from one of Newbold's divorce solicitors. 
 
If you are looking for a divorce solicitor in Wales, or indeed a divorce solicitor anywhere else in the UK then we offer a set of fixed legal fees for our three different divorce packages. 
 
If you are unsure which of our fixed legal fee packages is most suitable for you then we will offer a free 10 minute consultation with an experienced Solicitor can guide you regarding which package may be the most appropriate for your needs. If you wish to know the grounds for divorce, they can be found on our Fixed Fee Divorce page. 
 
Fixed Fee solicitors are extremely difficult to find. Newbold Solicitors will act with discretion, respect and professional expertise at all times when guiding you through this difficult period. To book your 10 minute consultation, Contact Us today.

My Landlord Wants Me Out!

If you have received an eviction notice from your landlord, you might well be wondering what to do next. Perhaps you feel that your landlord has no grounds to evict you, or perhaps he/she is using unreasonable methods to force you out of your home.
 
Don't panic - there are numerous laws in place to protect tenants such as yourself, and with the help of a legal professional, you can successfully defend against your landlord's attempts to evict you.
 
Here are some things to consider:
 
  • Has your landlord served the correct notice?
    There are several different types of eviction notice, and if your landlord has not served the right one - or if they have served it improperly - this may mean that the notice is invalid.
  • Does the landlord have reasonable ground for eviction?
    Why is the landlord trying to evict you from the property? Common reasons include unpaid rent and damage/disrepair, but it is possible to defend against these accusations. For example, unpaid rent is not grounds for eviction until a certain amount of time has passed, and many forms of disrepair are actually the landlord's responsibility, not the tenant's.
  • Has the landlord gone to extreme lengths to get rid of you?
    We often hear horror stories about landlords who have forced their tenants out by failing to maintain their properties or changing the locks without notice. If your landlord has attempted to remove you via any of these methods, you may be entitled to damages, as they have failed to meet their obligations as a landlord.
No matter what your circumstances are, we strongly recommend getting in touch with a legal expert to discuss the matter in greater depth. If your landlord wants you out, call Newbold Solicitors today, or click here for further advice on what to do next.

Gas Safety Week 2014: A Landlord's Duty

It's Gas Safety Week this week, from the 15th - 21st of September. Gas Safety Week is a national safety campaign which attempts to raise awareness of gas safety in the UK. It's co-ordinated by Gas Safe Register with support from many big names in the gas industry and promotes the importance of maintaining and checking all of your gas appliances once a year. You must always use a Gas Safe registered engineer to fit, fix and service any gas appliances within your home.

 
Gas Safety Week is almost more important for landlords than the rest of us, because of course, those who are responsible for letting out properties are responsible for all appliances within the home and the safety checking of those appliances, gas appliances included. As a landlord it is your responsibility to ensure that any gas appliances within the property you're letting are checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer once a year, every year to ensure the safety of your tenants. There were 343 injuries and 10 deaths in the last year as a result of gas related injuries, so if you aren't rigorous with your gas checks you could be looking at a traumatic and serious lawsuit. 
 
Of course, it's not only gas that you've got to worry about as a landlord. Housing Disrepair claims and cases can be a real trouble for landlords. Disrepair cases cover a variety of problems within a property, some of the main culprits being damp, mould and un-repaired necessary household items. As a landlord, it is your duty to ensure your tenants reside in a safe household, and if you don't meet your tenant's disrepair needs you could find yourself in court with a nasty fine to pay. 
 
Newbold Solicitors offer a comprehensive advice for landlords service, and can offer you expert legal advice with regards to housing disrepair and any other legal issues that might be facing you as a landlord. If a housing disrepair claim has been brought against you or you simply wish to know your rights as a tenant, then contact Newbold Solicitors today