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The April Stamp Duty Increase – How will it affect you?

Being hailed as the “final nail in the coffin of small landlords,” the upcoming increase in stamp duty will dramatically change the way that property management, online estate agencies and home buying will operate in the UK in coming years. November 25th’s Spending Review and Autumn Statement added 3 percentage points to the stamp duty that is to be paid by home purchasers who own existing property, and this change is set to begin in April of 2016.

While the figure “3 percentage points” may not sound like a dramatic change, do not be deceived by this seemingly small number. In fact, this increase will see those purchasing a second (or tenth) property paying nearly three times the amount of stamp duty on their new property. For instance, someone buying a £350,000 buy to let property will currently pay £7,500 in stamp duty taxes.  As of April that amount will skyrocket to £18,000 pounds – a 250% increase.

This massive increase will certainly hinder the ability of many prospective landlords to go out and buy a second or third property. That said, firms that own more than fifteen properties will not be subject to this nasty tax increase, a move that many argue unfairly pits small time landlords against massive corporations. This will surely give the huge property giants yet another advantage when it comes to snapping up the available valuable homes across the country.

What should you be doing before April?

As April approaches and the increase in stamp duty tax looms, it is now the time for potential homebuyers looking to own a second, third or tenth ‘buy to let’ rental property to act quickly. Right now is the best time to buy – if you wait, you will be hit with this massive increase and potentially lose your chances of ever owning a rental property and also lose all of the financial benefits that come along with this.

One of the first steps you need to take to find reliable and accurate advice - begin your search by perusing the internet for the cheapest online estate agency that has excellent reviews and trustworthy agents. The UK's largest online estate agency is always a good place to start –they will be able to point you in the right direction and help you begin viewing the available properties on the market.

Financial experts and online estate agents all agree – if you want to own an investment property, now is the time to act. Waiting even a few more months may put you at a deep disadvantage when it comes to achieving your financial goals – you don’t want to get caught up in the last minute melee as landlords from across the UK rush to snap up all available homes. Contact a trusted online estate agent today – don’t lose out.


To find out more about selling your property online via I Am The Agent please call 0333 4441 007 or email . If you are looking to find your dream home before April 2016, get searching here

8 February 2016, I Am The Agent

Checking tenants’ right to rent - New rules from 1 February 2016. BE READY!

New rules come into force after 1 February 2016 in relation to checking tenants’ right to rent residential property in the UK. (Landlords in Birmingham and surrounding areas have had to follow these rules since December 2014.) We wanted to ensure our landlords were ready. Using an online estate agent saves you thousands but you must ensure that all the boxes are checked, so here we go the less fun bit: 

The fine for renting to tenants who are not entitled to rent in the UK is an eye-watering £3,000, so it is certainly worth ensuring you have completed all checks before entering into any tenancy.
The checks must be made within 28 days of the start of a new tenancy in respect of all tenants aged 18 and over, whether or not they are named in the tenancy agreement, and in relation to all types of tenancy agreement (including oral agreements).
Landlords will have to:
  • See original documents provided by the tenants confirming they are allowed to live in the UK. The acceptable documents are listed here. The tenant must be present when the documents are provided, so it won’t be possible to rely on copy documents sent by email. (If the letting is to an overseas tenant, landlords must see the original documents before the tenant can move in.
  • Check that the documents belong to the tenant and that they are genuine. Also, check that dates and photographs in related documents correspond.

  • Check that the right to stay has not expired.

  • If the permission to stay is time-limited, checks should be made to ensure appropriate extensions are obtained. (A fine   can also be levied if permission to stay runs out during a tenancy.) If the tenant’s right to rent legally in the UK             expires during the tenancy the landlord is obliged to report this to the Home Office and can be fined if the report           is not made.

  • Obtain any corroborating documents that confirm the tenant’s identity.

  • Keep copies of the documents in a form that can’t be altered (eg, a photocopy) with the date noted. Copies should be   maintained for at least a year after the tenancy has expired.

  • One small relief: in the event that a tenant sub-lets without the landlord’s knowledge, it is the responsibility of the tenant to make these checks, with the commensurate penalties if they do not do so!

  • Landlords will also need to keep an eye on data protection law, to ensure they are not breaching any of its requirements in relation to an individual’s identity documents.

  • Landlords of managed properties are entitled to ask their managing agents to deal with all these checks, and this requirement should be stated in writing in the management contract.
For more information, there is some helpful Government guidance here.
22 January 2016, I Am The Agent

The 3 Million Reasons That Christmas Is The Best Time To Market Your Property online

If you’re thinking of selling your property in 2016, you may just want to think about getting your property on the market before Christmas to take advantage of the millions of people who search for property as soon as the last Christmas cracker has been pulled.

Last year Rightmove had over a million visitors on Christmas Day – perhaps in part due to more people using mobile devices for their house-hunting (imagine the number of people multi-screening while watching the Queen’s speech).

It’s from Boxing Day onwards when things really start to get exciting, with millions of people coming to Rightmove to find their next home over the Christmas holiday period.

Once the New Year rolls around the traffic numbers make the case for making sure your property marketing is prepared before the start of 2016 -nearly 3 million people visited Rightmove on the first working day last January, starting a trend which saw sellers who choose a Rightmove agent benefiting from record-breaking traffic levels with over 110m visits for the month of January.

If you’re thinking of selling your property

Remember that it takes some time for your online estate agent or you to prepare the marketing of your property, including getting photos taken, floorplans prepared and Energy Performance Certificates (EPC’s) commissioned. Start now and you’ll be ahead of the game, leaving your to focus on those New Year’s resolutions when January rolls around! For only £299inc VAT to sell your property online and receive a free ‘for sale’ board.

To find out more on getting your property online and visible on all property portals click here.


  *finding and information courtesy of

22 December 2015, I Am The Agent

Keeping your property safe over the festive period


Christmas is a very popular time for holidays and many tenants of private landlords will be jetting off to warmer climes over the festive break. Have you considered and discussed with your tenants how to keep your (and their) property safe whilst they are away?

Here are some do’s and don’ts to try to deter burglars when the property is empty:



·         Ensure that, if your property is fitted with an alarm, your tenants know how to use it and have the code. Obviously, the code should not be written down anywhere!

·         Ask your tenants for an emergency contact number whilst they are away.

·         Make sure that all doors and windows are locked and secured when the property is empty.

·         Cancel regular orders that might be delivered during absence.

·         Use timers on lamps, radios and Christmas tree lights so that the property appears to be occupied. These can be set for random times.

·         Mark up valuables using special pens. You could also photograph these items, including serial numbers, so that they can be identified should the worst happen.

·         If you are on good terms with your neighbours, let them know you or your tenants will be away and ask them to keep an eye on the property.

·         Give your tenants an emergency contact number if you are away to manage issues with your property.



·         Don’t leave keys in locks on the inside of the door – it is all too easy for burglars to retrieve them and make their way in.

·         Never hang keys in the hallway, especially near letterboxes, as these can be fished out. Car thieves will target properties with expensive cars, so make sure car keys are never on view.

·         Don’t write the property address on key fobs.

·         Don’t leave wrapped Christmas presents near windows. It is also best to keep calendars that show appointments away from windows.

·         Don’t arrange for parcels to be delivered during absence.



·         Don’t turn the heating off completely, in order to avoid frozen pipes.

·         You could remind your tenants that Christmas tree lights should be turned off whilst they are away.

·         Similarly, electrical items should, if possible, be turned off at the socket.


We hope this is helpful and thank you for making I Am The Agent the UK’s largest online estate agency.

Merry Christmas form IATA HQ. 


22 December 2015, I Am The Agent

Obtaining possession of property using Section 21 notice

Private landlords who let their properties on assured shorthold tenancies have, until now, obtained possession of their property at the expiry of the term of an assured shorthold tenancy by serving a section 21 notice on the tenant, without giving any grounds, and giving the tenant two months’ notice to leave. If the tenant does not comply with the notice, court proceedings may be issued to obtain possession.

(A different procedure - using a section 8 notice - is used if tenants are in arrears of rent or have broken the terms of the tenancy agreement, for example by causing damage to the property.)

There is a change in the legislation in relation to tenancies created on or after 1 October 2015. This relates to information which must be provided to the tenant prior to the commencement of the tenancy. Such information includes making available copies of:

  •  the energy performance certificate;
  •  the gas safety certificate; or
  •  a copy of the Government’s ‘How to Rent Guide’.


The notice to the tenants in is a prescribed form and further information and guidance can be obtained from the Residential Landlords Association website at

24 November 2015, I Am The Agent

Mortgage deals: how to get the best rate and avoid high fees

Cheap rates may look good value, but borrowers searching for the best deal should watch out for eight key fees that could eat into savings...


Remortgaging has surged as borrowers seek to take advantage of low fixed rates that offer interest savings running into thousands of pounds and protection against an eventual base rate rise. Many lenders have two-year deals at under two per cent for mortgages of up to 75 per cent of the value of a property.
But borrowers searching for the best deal should watch out for additional fees that eat into the interest savings.
The mortgage deals with the lowest headline rates often have high fees, which can make them much less competitive overall.  

Set-up fees of £2,000 or more on some loans mean borrowers may be better off choosing a loan with a higher interest rate but lower fees, say experts.
For example, the Post Office offers an ultra-low two-year fix at 1.15 per cent for mortgages of up to 60 per cent of a property’s value. But for many borrowers, a higher fixed rate of 1.59 per cent from Chelsea Building Society could work out substantially cheaper.  

How lenders’ fees stack up

Mortgage account fee For setting up, maintaining and closing your mortgage account. If charged, there shouldn’t also be an exit fee. £100 to £300
Early repayment charge; Applies if you come out of the fixed-rate or discount period before it ends. One to five per cent of loan
Exit fee Also known as a mortgage completion or deeds release fee. For closing your mortgage account. £75 to £300
Arrangement fee Sometimes known as a product or completion fee. £0 to £2,000+
Valuation fee Varies with property value, often waived on remortgages. £150 to £1,500
Booking fee Application fee, generally non-refundable, which may be included in the arrangement fee. £99 to £250
Own buildings insurance fee Sometimes charged if you sort out your own buildings insurance, rather than buying from lender. £25
CHAPS fee For transferring mortgage funds to your solicitor. £25 to £50

Sources: Money Advice Service; MoneySuperMarket

The Post Office charges a hefty arrangement fee of £1,995 and borrowers also pay a valuation fee of hundreds of pounds, while there are no arrangement or valuation fees with the Chelsea offer.
Even with its higher rate, the overall cost of the Chelsea deal would be about £1,000 lower over the two-year fixed-rate period for a £250,000 repayment loan, according to calculations by financial website
Financial adviser Justin Modray, of Candid Money, warns that lenders can use up-front fees to make their mortgage rates look more attractive than they really are. A high initial fee means they can cut the headline interest rate without affecting their profit,” he says.
Ray Boulger, of independent mortgage and remortgage adviser John Charcol, adds: “There’s an element of taking advantage of borrowers’ naivety — lenders are disguising the real cost of their deals.”
Most mortgages have arrangement fees, but their size varies widely and can be as high as £2,800, according to researchers Moneyfacts. The average is more than £900 — three times the level of a decade ago. And although in many cases, the fee can be added to the loan, this means paying interest on it.
Where a lender charges a property valuation fee, this can also be a significant cost, ranging up to more than £1,000 for high-value homes.

Lowest rates Vs cheapest deals

Lender   Mortgage rate Set-up fees Total annual cost
Post Office   1.15 per cent fixed for two years £2,495 £12,670
Chelsea Building Society  1.59 per cent fixed for two years   £0 £12,130
HSBC 2.19 per cent fixed for five years  £1,810 £12,170
Saffron Building Society    1.49 per cent two-year discounted variable £685 (+ cashback of £800) £11,930
HSBC   2.19 per cent fixed for five years £810 £13,140Based on a £250,000 remortgage on a £500,000 property. Set-up fees include arrangement/booking and valuation fees.

Total annual cost comprises fees, averaged over length of fixed/discount term, plus mortgage payments.
Source:, November 13, 2015

Fees have a greater impact on the cost of smaller and shorter-term loans. And they can add up for borrowers who routinely switch when deals end.
“Borrowers choosing a two-year fixed rate will have to remortgage again relatively soon, which could see them paying out yet another hefty fee,” says Moneyfacts’ Charlotte Nelson.

However, Boulger warns that borrowers who are put off a low-rate offer just because of its high fees could also end up worse off.
With larger or longer-term loans, the size of fees can be relatively unimportant, he says.  
Among five-year fixes, HSBC offers a cut-price rate of 2.19 per cent which, even with a booking fee of £499, plus hundreds of pounds of other set-up costs, still works out cheaper than rivals with no fees, according to
The site has a free “mortgage best buys” tool, which compares total loan costs, including arrangement and other set-up fees. It includes deals available through mortgage brokers, as well as those only available direct from lenders.

A good mortgage broker will also be able to find the right deal based on your circumstances. Brokers will often have details about lenders’ criteria, which can help with applications — and the process should be quicker.

However, it’s not just fees charged at the outset of a mortgage that borrowers should consider. David Hollingworth, of broker London & Country Mortgages, says most fixed-rate mortgages have early repayment charges during the fixed term.
These are generally a percentage of the loan and can amount to thousands of pounds, making it important to think about how long you should tie yourself in for.

Article courtesy of Homes & Property. To see the full article click here

24 November 2015, I Am The Agent

Handy Guide for Buy to Let Landlords to keep on top of the budget

The Government’s tax changes for landlords, announced in this summer’s Budget, will significantly eat into landlords’ profits and, in many cases, will wipe them out completely. The changes are so complex that their true impact is only now being fully understood.

In his Budget speech, Chancellor George Osborne also announced changes to the tax treatment of maintenance costs for furnished properties.

So how will these changes affect you and what other expenses can you claim?

While most capital expenses – those involved in buying and selling a property, such as the purchase price and agent and legal fees – cannot be used to offset your income tax, many other costs can.

Here we have put together a guide to the expenses you can claim for your buy-to-let property.


Mortgage interest

You can currently use the interest you pay on your mortgage each year to offset your tax bill. Landlords can claim relief at their personal tax rate.

But radical reforms are being introduced that will change this.

In a nutshell, landlords will no longer be able to deduct the cost of their mortgage interest from their rental income when they calculate a profit on which to pay tax.

In other words, tax will be applied to the rent received – rather than what is left of the rent after the mortgage interest has been paid.

So tax rates will, for some, exceed 100pc: landlords will have to pay all of their profit in tax, and then pay more tax still.

The Government will allow a tax credit equivalent to basic rate tax (20pc) on the interest, but this will do little to offset the increased cost.


A full worked example, and explanation of the tax change, is here.

The tax increase, on which there was no consultation, will be phased in from 2017 and fully implemented by 2020.

Smith & Williamson has calculated that any higher-rate taxpayer landlord whose mortgage interest is 75pc or more of their rental income, net of other expenses, will see all of their returns wiped out by 2020.

For additional-rate (45pc) taxpayers, the threshold at which their investment returns are wiped out by the tax is when mortgage costs reach 68pc of rental income.

Some current basic-rate taxpayers will also be hit, because the change will push them into the higher-rate tax bracket.

Mortgage fees

Broker and arrangement fees are currently tax deductible and can be claimed back in the year you arranged a mortgage. However this is also likely to be restricted when the changes to mortgage interest relief come into effect.

- Buy-to-let rental calculator: How much rent should I charge?

- Buy-to-let mortgage calculator: How much can I borrow?

Securing a tenant/ letting agent fees

If you decide to rent your property privately or through an online estate agent, you can claim back the cost of advertising for tenants, purchasing a tenancy agreement, credit checking, referencing, deposit protection and professional inventory costs. With our all-inclusive landlord package at £249.99 which includes marketing for 6 months on major property portals, 2 x comprehensive references and the tenancy agreement. These could come in at more than £300 each time a new tenant moves in, according to the National Landlords Association.


Buildings and contents insurance premiums

Specialist landlord insurance will cover the building, your liability as a landlord and loss of rent. You can also add contents cover, home emergency, legal expenses and rent guarantee insurance. Cover for a typical low-risk buy-to-let property costs around £200 a year.

Maintenance and repairs

Any money you spend keeping the property in a good state of repair is tax deductible. While you cannot claim for renovations, extensions or improvements that add value to the property, you can offset expenses to correct wear and tear.

Property repairs can include mending broken windows and doors, repairing broken cookers, white goods, furniture or guttering, painting and decorating and replacing or fixing the roof.



The rules here are changing. If the property is furnished, you can currently choose to claim back either a general “wear and tear” allowance or the exact cost of replacing individual items.

The wear and tear allowance is 10pc of the rent annually, minus any costs you pay on behalf of the tenant such as council tax. You do not have to have spent any money replacing or repairing the furniture in a given year to claim this allowance.

Alternatively you can claim the exact cost of replacing furniture in the property. This only applies to existing furniture – you cannot claim back the cost of furnishing it in the first place.

But from April 2016, landlords will only be allowed to deduct costs that they actually incur. So if you don't spend any money correcting wear and tear, you cannot claim.


Ground rent and service

If you are a leaseholder, you will usually pay ground rent to the freeholder. Service charges are common in blocks of flats and can vary greatly. Basic charges cover cleaning, maintenance, heating and lighting for common areas, but other costs could include security or concierge staff. You can also claim back any on-site services such as gardening and electrical costs.


Council tax and utility bills

If you pay any council tax or utility bills that a tenant would normally pay, you can claim the whole cost. You can also claim these costs during void periods, when there is no tenant living in the property.



Other direct costs of letting the property such as phone calls, stationery and the costs of travelling between different properties for the purposes of the rental business are also claimable expenses.


Before you submit a tax return

As a landlord you must submit a self-assessment tax return each year. If an accountant prepares this for you the fees are tax deductible.


Nimesh Shah, a partner at accountancy firm Blick Rothenberg, said to always keep receipts and other proof of payments. “If HMRC decides to raise an inquiry it will want to see written proof of all the costs you have claimed.”

 We advise you to speak to a qualified accountant for further information and clarification. 


*courtesy of the telegraph online &HMRC 

15 September 2015, I Am The Agent

Leading Online Estate Agency, I Am The Agent, Announces Landmark Affiliate Deal with British Gas

The UK’s biggest online estate agent I Am The Agent, has this week announced a brand new affiliate in British Gas – the UK’s largest energy and home services company. British Gas will now showcase their vast range of products on the I Am The Agent website, as well as offering their expert services as part of the property management packages provided by the lettings experts.


The new agreement is a first for the online lettings world, with I Am The Agent chosen over dozens of other agents in a highly competitive sector. The deal was six months in the making, and British Gas’ decision to join with I Am The Agent on this landmark affiliate deal is a testament to the high quality and unparalleled service standards the agency has become renowned for.

Rebecca Peach, Founder of I Am The Agent, says, “We’re thrilled to welcome British Gas as one of our affiliates. They are one of the most recognisable brands in the country, and their name is synonymous with superb quality – which is obviously one of the things we strive for here at I Am The Agent.”


Ms Peach adds, “Our website will now showcase some of British Gas’ most popular and relevant products for landlords and tenants using our site, and their team of expert engineers will be called into service as part of our property management package. Landlords will now be able to have their boilers and other utility equipment serviced and maintained by the best in the business, representing even greater value for those who use our management services.”

The current offer is an exclusive 10% off British Gas landlord packages. 

15 September 2015, I Am The Agent

Beware of AirBnb-Style Rental Scams

Here at I Am The Agent, it’s crucial to us that our clients remain protected online, especially when looking for a new property to rent. Unfortunately it’s come to our attention that a brand new scam has taken off in recent weeks, designed to encourage unsuspecting tenants to part with huge deposits for properties that don’t seem to exist.

Using a site that looks very similar to AirBnb, and convincing users that AirBnb itself is ‘guaranteeing’ the transaction, the scammers are attempting to lure in those who seek luxurious properties at affordable prices with this illegal scam. So far we’ve found evidence of this scam operating in Liverpool and London – but there could be dozens of other perpetrators across the country.

The scam operates as follows. Scammers list stunning properties for rent at very low prices to lure in potential tenants who can’t believe their luck. We’ve seen the properties listed on various online estate agencies and popular property portals.

When the tenants try to arrange to view the property, the scammers insist that this isn’t currently possible because they’re not in the vicinity of the property – but if the potential tenants simply send over a three-month deposit through their ‘secure’ system, they can arrange a viewing afterwards. If they don’t like anything about the property, they get their deposit back. Sounds simple, right?

Unfortunately, there is no property, and there is no lease. Scammers convince the tenants that the transactions for the deposits are approved and monitored by AirBnb before sending them to a mock-up payment page which is 100% fake. Once they have three months’ worth of rent from the potential tenant, they scarper, with no trace left behind.

We’ve heard of numerous instances where this scam has been pulled off, and we want to put a stop to it happening in the future. We’ve put together a few tips for potential tenants looking for a new property to rent:

·         Don’t ever send money to landlords or agents if you haven’t viewed the property yet. Only part with your money if you’ve viewed the property and are happy to put a deposit down on it.

·         Ask for identification and other credentials to ensure the landlord is who he or she claimed. A legitimate, professional landlord will have no qualms about showing you their ID.

·         Always request a tenancy agreement before you part with security deposits and rent. You don’t want to put a deposit down without checking what you’re signing up for.

·         Always verify the status of websites that you’re directed to. Conduct a WHOIS domain lookup, examine the page for grammatical errors, and see if the page has any contact details or links to other verified pages. Many scammers go through the trouble of creating forms or pages designed to mimic popular, trusted websites, so be thorough in your verification, and if you’re not sure – ask!

·         If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. In today’s highly competitive property market, the likelihood of finding luxury properties at incredibly low prices is scarce. If you think you’re getting too much of a good deal, you might want to consider the possibility that you’re being scammed. 

·         Stay safe by using an established online letting agent – look at the site, Google them, look at reviews and if in doubt, call.



26 August 2015, I Am The Agent

What Does The Conservative Government Mean for the Property Market?

It’s been three months since the General Election that gave the country a Conservative majority, and the dust has settled on the Emergency Budget the Chancellor called in early July. So what effect are the Conservative’s new policies having on the property market – and what does this mean for landlords, buyers, sellers and prospective tenants?


Many landlords will have breathed a sigh of relief when the exit polls showed a Conservative majority – it means that the prospect of rent caps or controls will no longer be hovering over them. Labour often spoke of introducing rent control and guaranteeing longer tenancies in certain properties, but the Conservatives aren’t currently planning to make waves in the private residential sector.

However, George Osborne’s Summer Budget revealed that landlords will no longer be allowed to deduct 10% off their rental income to cover general maintenance on furnished properties. They must provide details of the cost of their furniture replacements, rather than using the 10% tax-free deduction as a way to lower their rent prices and make their properties more appealing. Could this move result in landlords opting out of providing furnished properties?


It’s no secret that house prices are higher than ever before – especially in London and the rest of the south-west, where single rooms and garages routinely fetch hundreds of thousands when marketed as ‘studio flats’, and family homes cost more than £1m on average. 

The Conservatives have outlined plans to build 100,000 new homes in the UK, but there are claims that this is nowhere near enough to meet demand. The Conservative’s pledge to allow housing association tenants the right to buy their property has also come under fire, with critics asking how the properties will be replaced. This lack of new homes could see house prices soar even further over the next five years.


If you live in the south-west of England, now is a fantastic time to sell your property – you’re likely to get much more than you paid for it, and the demand for high-quality properties is such that most don’t stay on the market for long. The aforementioned lack of quality properties and new homes being built is sending prices soaring, so sellers under the Conservative government are likely to get a very appealing return on their initial investment.


The extension of the Right to Buy scheme mentioned earlier is obviously a boost for many tenants currently living in housing association properties. They’ll be offered the chance to buy the property rather than renting, with a discount too – the price will be capped at £102,700 for homes in London, and £77,000 for the rest of the UK.

A Help to Buy ISA has also been introduced to help tenants currently saving for their first home – every £200 saved towards a deposit will be rewarded with a £50 cash bonus.

If you’re planning a move, ask I Am The Agent – the top online estate agency and online letting agent – about your options.



26 August 2015, I Am The Agent