National Landlords Association

Encouraging renting


Ten Ways to Add Value to your Property

This is a guest blog from Portico Estate Agents. 

Home improvements can add considerable value to a property. So whether you are looking to sell up or simply improve on potential returns on investment, there are many ways in which you can make a property more desirable, and thus maximise your earnings.

Robert Nichols, Managing Director of Portico London estate agents reveals his top 10 ways to add value to your property…

  1. Convert a Basement

Potential Value Added*: Up to 30%

One way to add value to a property is by adding a basement and converting it into a living or storage area. Doing so can boost a property’s value by up to 30% – provided that the build cost per square foot is less than the price per square foot of the area.

In addition, if the property already has a basement or cellar, this can be one of the most economical home improvements as conversion qualifies as a ‘change of use’. In this way, you will not need to obtain planning permission to convert the area.

  1. Split into Flats

Potential Value Added*: Up to 30%

Converting houses into flats is very popular in areas of high demand, such as London. Flats are often easier to let to tenants, as potential renters can get a better deal on rent than if they moved into a house.

For this reason, splitting a property into separate units can maximise rental income in the short-term and profit on sale in the long-term. However, it is very important that, before you begin a project, to do the appropriate legwork – particularly when it comes to planning regulations in the area that may limit such conversions.


  1. Convert a Garage

Potential Value Added*: 15%

Garages can also be utilised as living spaces, particularly if there is a parking space outside that is easily accessible. Ask an agent about the buyer demographic in the area and keep in mind when you transform the space.

For example, if the property is located in a family-oriented area, a study or bedroom may be preferable, but if it is in a first-time buyer hotspot, a gym may be a more desirable addition.


  1. Extend a Kitchen

Potential Value Added*: 15%

Well-appointed kitchens can be the all the difference in making a property desirable, so it’s always worth considering whether the existing area could be updated or even re-fitted. To appeal to the maximum number of potential buyers, opt for a neutral, contemporary style.

Side return extensions are often a very popular option, and remember to try and be creative with light and ceiling levels. Lastly, a lot of natural light in a kitchen is important to make the room feel much more spacious.


  1. Convert a Loft

Potential Value Added*: Up to 15%

Adding an extra bedroom can add up to 15% to the value of your home, especially if it’s a loft conversion with an en-suite bathroom. Most lofts can be converted, but it’s essential to get an architect or builder in to double check before you start planning.


  1. Add a Conservatory

Potential Value Added*: Up to 10%

Increasing living space is perhaps one of the most obvious ways to increase the value of a property, but if you are considering a conservatory it is important that you make sure that the style is consistent with the rest of the house.

Conservatories do not require planning permission, so long as no more than half the area of the land of the original house is covered.

  1. Apply for Planning Permission

Potential Value Added*: Up to 10%

If you purchase a property with the intention of adding to its value through extensions or big home improvements, then acquiring planning permission is an absolute must – particularly if you’ve done your calculations on the yields of a bigger square footage.

If a property is being sold with planning permission obtained, there’s a lot of value in that security.

  1. Add a Garden

Potential Value Added*: Up to 10%

In cities and built-up areas garden space is often very limited and as such is a prized asset. It’s therefore worth making the most of the space you have. Adding decking or a patio can transform a garden into the perfect space to entertain guests. It’s also worth considering the addition of lighting and watering systems for ease of maintenance.

  1. Add a new Bathroom

Potential Value Added*: 3-5%

A new bathroom will certainly increase the value of your property – but it’s also an expensive investment. If your current bathroom is just slightly dated rather than in very poor condition, you may not make back a huge amount more than the cost of the upgrade.

  1. Make the living area open plan 

Potential Value Added*: 3-5%

Open-plan spaces are very appealing, so it usually pays to knock down walls that are separating the kitchen and dining room. It also makes the space feel larger and lighter, which will help make your property easier to sell.

*The values quoted here are statistical assessments and not guaranteed.



This is a guide and not a definitive source of legal information.

If in doubt please contact your Local Planning Authority.

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New Housing White Paper announced – could a May led Conservative Government be more interventionist in the PRS?

Writing this just minutes after the Prime Ministers speech to the party faithful (and commercial lobbyists with more money than sense) ending the party conference, landlords should be wary of a distinct change in tone, certainly in regards to housing policy.

Listening to her speech, and reading in between the lines, the Prime Minister mentions change 29 times and I highlight this section where she says

From Edmund Burke onwards, Conservatives have always understood that if you want to preserve something important, you need to be prepared to reform it. We must apply that same approach today.

That’s why where markets are dysfunctional, we should be prepared to intervene.

Where companies are exploiting the failures of the market in which they operate, where consumer choice is inhibited by deliberately complex pricing structures, we must set the market right.  

It’s just not right, for example, that half of people living in rural areas, and so many small businesses, can’t get a decent broadband connection.

It’s just not right that two thirds of energy customers are stuck on the most expensive tariffs. 

And it’s just not right that the housing market continues to fail working people either.

Ask almost any question about social fairness or problems with our economy, and the answer so often comes back to housing. 

A Conservative Party prepared to be more interventionist and hinting at price controls for energy companies…who would have thought it.  Not Ed Miliband for sure.


To quote Bob Dylan the times they are a changin’.  It was announced this week there would be a new Housing White Paper in the Autumn and we understand that there is going to be a significant section on renting.

Whilst we were completely ambushed by George Osborne’s tax grab on landlords in his emergency budget in June 2015 (more to report on that later)*, the mood music has already been playing for some time regarding a changing Government approach to renting before this speech.

We have a new Ministerial team at DCLG, including a new housing minister, Gavin Barwell, who is a senior figure within the party, and also happens to represent a very marginal seat in London.  He therefore has a deeply vested interest, and a political mandate from the PM herself, in ensuring that the PRS works for all concerned.

Right now his focus is on Affordability and Security within the PRS.  Issues in his inbox, and which we have been discussing with him for some time include:

  • Tax changes (both Finance Cost and Stamp Duty),
  • Longer Term Tenancies,
  • Letting Agents Fees
  • Section 21 and
  • Rent levels (code for controls).

We meet with the Minister in less than two weeks’ time and you tell us what you want us to raise with him here.  We already know that he is sympathetic to our concerns regarding the tax changes but is worried about high rent levels, letting agents fees and the length of tenancies.

It looks like Theresa May is too and is prepared to legislate if necessary.  Remember the Prime Minister has 4 years until she has to call an election and there is no credible opposition or even leadership challenger on her own side, for her to worry about.  Yes she has a small majority but

  1. The opposition parties are not united so her majority is bigger than it looks.
  2. Her backbenchers love her as she is seemingly intent on delivering BREXIT, so will be less likely to cause trouble, especially if she is seen as a vote winner.

She can, in short, get on with governing.  Now a week is a long time in politics but there is nothing potentially stopping the Prime Minister doing what she wants…


A Waste of a Blog Post


The NLA’s own rubbish royalty, Gavin Dick explores the fascinating world of waste disposal

As a generous and generally easy-going sort of person, you might be mistaken in thinking that your local authority, in its approach to the collection of household waste, was doing you a favour. They kindly come to your house once a week (if you’re lucky) and empty your bins as an act of kindness, out of sheer altruism.

But you’d be completely wrong. They have a clear legal duty, as outlined in the Environmental protection Act (EPA) 1990.

It’s a dirty job, but……

Within England, two tier local authorities (such as counties and boroughs) divide the waste obligation between collection and disposal of the waste service to households, unitary authorities meanwhile undertake both. They now provide an array of bins, receptacles and bags for the waste to be collected and in different colours for the different week that the waste will be collected.

It’s all about the 3 R’s!

The waste hierarchy states remove, reuse and then recycle, but local authorities are apt to miss the first two and moved straight to the third as they cannot easily measure the first two – and after all recycling sounds sexier!

The collection authority will tell you how much – as a percentage – they are recycling and what an amazing job they are doing.  What they do not tell you is if there has been an overall reduction in total waste collection, whether the amount that is to be burnt or land-filled and recycled is in a going down or how much is being reused

As long as they empty my bin what do I care?

 With councils having to reduce costs, the waste service is one that has to make “savings” every year. This is done by limiting the service to wider and wider groups of residents. The service that many authorities are providing is being reduced year after year in the name of efficiency and savings. Even if the savings made in the waste department has a detrimental impact on another departments’ budgets.

Really what harm could it do?

We are now seeing councils not collect side waste (bin bags that won’t fit in the bin), or with bins that cannot be shut, or bins that have the wrong material in them, or bins called Steve. OK maybe not the last one, but the list is growing and the next on many areas list could be bins of rented homes.

The impact of this is rubbish on the streets, bins left for weeks and litter across our green and pleasant land – And did those feet, in ancient times…….

I digress. The NLA is hearing from landlords that some councils have refused to take away tenants’ waste and left it for weeks.  We have come across situations where a council has refused to take a bin and a tenant has emptied the bin in a back ally or down the street in the hope that street cleaners will dispose of the rubbish. In extreme cases they have set fire to it.

Tag you’re it?

The blame game then begins; it is the landlords fault for not telling the tenant how to deal with their household waste. It is the landlord for not managing the tenancy (read tenants’ life). It is the landlords fault, oh it does not really matter let’s just blame the landlord. It is never the local authorities, through different departments acting in separate ways that has caused the problems.

The problem is then made worse by the failure by local authorities to allow a landlord to use the waste facilities. A landlord who is willing to take a tenants’ waste to the local dump is blocked by the Council, on the basis that they are running a commercial business.

The more unscrupulous landlord will leave the waste on the street, as it is not their waste. The more responsible may  eventually bill the tenant for a professional waste provider to remove the waste.

The current approach of too many councils increases the chance of fly tipping and litter across their areas. The local authority will blame landlord and the tenants, but they will never look at the failed policy that they have implemented.

Death of  a thousand cuts?

The drive to salami slice budgets year after year – there is no magic money tree for local authorities in the future – will not solve the current problem. A pragmatic approach to managing the issues is required.

Working with landlords and tenants rather than demonising them, recognising waste as domestic in origin and allowing landlords to take their tenants’ waste to the tip, picking up side waste, especially at the end of university terms when the pressure is at its greatest, will significantly reduce the amount of litter and filth on our streets.


Social Housing Evictions Higher than in Private Housing

A Familiar Narrative

You may have noticed that privately rented accommodation is not always held in the highest regard. With a shortage of housing in the United Kingdom (at least in London, anyway), private tenancies are regularly decried for being expensive, poor value and, ultimately, unstable.

Repossessions – or evictions – we are reminded are commonplace in the private sector.

The received wisdom goes that with little regulation of rents and a highly pressured market, private landlords can make renting very difficult. Untenable, even. On the other hand, social housing is affordable, in good condition and above all else, secure. Or so the story goes…

Possession claims from Social Housing Higher Than and Private Housing

Findings from the Ministry of Justice suggest that we might not be getting the whole story. Of the possession claims issued in the first quarter of 2016, over half (57%) occurred in social housing. By contrast, just 15% occurred in private, while 28% of possession claims were accelerated procedures.*

Accelerated possession claims are made up of a mixture of both social and private, but it is likely that a substantial amount of the claims will be from the latter tenure.

However, even if all the accelerated possession claims came from the private rented sector (PRS), this would still only amount to 43% – far less than the figure for social housing.

Accelerated Claims

When we consider how many claims actually result in county court bailiff repossessions, the findings also show that the majority originate from social housing, with 44% in social, 14% in private and 42% accelerated.

Expansion of the PRS

Even so, it should be noted that the proportion of repossession claims in social housing has actually decreased over time while there has been a corresponding increase in both private and accelerated procedures.

Type of Claim 1999 2015
Social 83% 62%
Private 9% 13%
Accelerated 7% 25%

Much of this has to do with how the landscape of housing in the United Kingdom has changed over time. Social housing has declined, while the private rented sector (PRS) has expanded dramatically.

The private rented sector (PRS) now accounts for approximately 5 million households and has overtaken social housing. In 2014-15, the PRS accounted for 19% of households while the social rented sector fell behind at 17%.**

More people are privately renting than ever before, including more vulnerable households who would traditionally live in social housing, such as those from lower incomes and in receipt of housing benefit.

Voluntary Departures

Of course, some will argue that the majority of private renters, once served with an eviction notice, are likely to voluntarily leave a property instead of remaining against their landlords’ wishes and advancing a repossession claim.

However, research indicates that, by and large, it’s the tenant that brings their tenancy to an end, rather than their landlord. According to English Housing Survey findings, 78% of tenants reported that their last tenancy ended because they wanted to move to a different property.***

Research from the National Landlords Association supports these findings. Only 1% of tenants said that their landlords ended their last tenancy. By contrast, over half (51%) of tenants reported that their tenancy continued after the fixed term had expired and a third (33%) said that their landlord renewed their tenancy after it had finished.****

Long-term Tenancies benefit everyone

This is an important issue, but private renting is not as unstable as you might have thought – and no more so than social renting which is often held up as the beacon of stability.

After all, long-term tenancies do not just benefit renters, they benefit landlords too. It stands to reason that possession claims in private rented accommodation should be lower than in other tenures, particularly when renters have the freedom to extend and end tenancies when they wish.

The real story will be whether this trend continues. As the PRS continues to grow, will we see an increase in possession claims as more households find themselves unable to rely on social housing and to sustain the repeated cuts to housing benefit?


*Ministry of Justice Bulletin – Mortgage & LL. Possession Statistics in England and Wales April to June 2016

**DCLG English Housing Survey Headline Report 2014-2015

***DCLG English Housing Survey Household Report 2013-14

****NLA Quarterly Tenant Panel – Q2 2016 (946 respondents)

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Tenants on the starboard bow……



Hotels in space have been talked about as the next big (if not final) frontier for space tourism for some years. Some even predict that the first commercial ‘enterprise’ could open its door – or should that be airlocks – in 2020.

Drinking from the ‘astronomically’ priced mini-bar whilst orbiting the Earth at 17,000 miles per hour sounds great – but what if you feel like settling down for a while and finding your own personal lagrange point?

A hotel in low Earth orbit just won’t cut it.

What you need is a space landlord, one who knows his or her anti-matter containment device from their hyper-spanner. Who know’s you like 0.8 Earth gravity and exactly how you prefer your environmental controls set.

You need a certain type of individual, with loyalty, intelligence, dependability and perhaps a close friend with pointed ears and fashionable green blood.

That’s why to mark the 50th anniversary of the first US network broadcast of Star Trek 50 years ago we are asking the vital question:

Which Star Trek captain would make the best private landlord?

To make matters simpler we have limited the choices to Kirk, Picard, Janeway and Sisko*. To all of you fans of Commodore Wesley or Matt Decker (not to mention Capt. Archer) I sincerely apologise – but tough.

Vote here, or via the NLA’s twitter feed (@nationalandlord) and share your opinion.

The NLA’s opinion?

I know what you’re all thinking. Kirk. Obviously. He’s simply one of a kind. That’s certainly the ‘human’ heartfelt option. But to  consider the ‘logic’ of the situation is he really the best landlord? He’s loyal, decisive, knows a miracle worker of an engineer if the boiler breaks down. However, does he know the value of a Quatloo and could you trust him around female tenants?

On the other hand Janeway is smart, dedicated, great in a crisis – but away a lot and not the greatest to call for a quick response. I think residence in the Delta Quadrant really would make her absentee.

On that basis Sisko has the advantage of steady day job and the knowledge that he’ll probably be in when you call to say the roof’s leaking, but is he inspiring? Plus at some point he’s bound to want the house back when Jake goes off to uni.

Which leaves Picard. Steady, diplomatic, intelligent Picard. But can you really trust someone who has been assimilated by the Borg Collective? Also the 24th Century’s noted disapproval of the profit motive  casts doubt on his ability to run a viable business.

I’ll keep my vote to myself for now except to say; we went there, we went there boldly, we went there without splitting the infinitive.


*Yes, I know Sisko spent some time as a Commander, but he made it to Captain in the end.


New Bill Gives Hope to Landlords Regaining Possession


A new Bill was published to tackle homelessness, and it contains good news for landlords.

The Private Members’ Bill, introduced by Conservative MP Bob Blackman, has been welcomed by the Communities & Local Government Select Committee in its recent report into homelessness. The Committee will now undertake pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill, and the NLA has provided written evidence in support of the Bill.

The Damage

Increasingly, local authorities are advising tenants who receive a valid Section 21 notice to remain in the property until evicted by bailiffs, or else they will be deemed to have made themselves intentionally homeless.

The Mortgage and Landlord Possession Statistics released by the Ministry of Justice earlier this year highlight a growing problem in the private rented sector. Over the past 12 months, 40% of possession claims from private landlords have had to go all the way to repossession by bailiff with the average time of this process taking 45 weeks. This is a stark rise from just 25% of claims in the same period 5 years ago.

This has done financial damage to landlords and tenants, as well as causing landlords to become more reluctant to let their properties to formerly homeless or vulnerable households.

Recent NLA research has shown that 1 in 5 landlords have had a tenant advised to remain in the property until evicted by bailiffs. Half of these landlords had property damage as a result, at a cost of just under £2000.

Overall, the average cost of the tenant being advised to remain in the property was just over £6,750, through property damage, lost rest, court and legal fees.

The Solution

For many years the NLA have been campaigning for a law change to ensure that local authorities have to accept a valid Section 21 possession notice as evidence that an applicant is threatened with homelessness.

So far the Government has been reluctant to act, having only gone so far as writing to English councils to clarify homelessness guidance. Despite this letter, local authorities are continuing the practice of advising tenants to ignore eviction notices until the bailiffs turn up to evict them.

The NLA has consistently warned that putting vulnerable households in this position is detrimental to both landlords and tenants alike. Tenants often accrue further rent arrears and other associated costs that make them more susceptible to homelessness, while landlords could fall behind on mortgage payments as they are dragged through a lengthy and costly court process.

As a result, landlords are becoming more reluctant to let out their property to vulnerable households as their confidence in their ability to regain possession is diminished.

This is especially damaging as local authorities are increasingly looking to use the PRS to discharge their homelessness duties due to a lack of social housing.

The Homelessness Reduction Bill amends the Housing Act 1996 in a number of ways to expand councils’ homelessness duties, installing a new focus on prevention. Importantly for landlords, this includes:

  • Providing that valid Section 21 notices are proof an applicant is threatened with homelessness
  • Doubling the definition of threatened with homelessness from 28 to 56 days.

Councils will have to respond to the threat of homelessness at a much earlier point, allowing for a greater chance of success in mediating with private landlords, assisting with rent arrears and debt management.

By ensuring that councils accept Section 21 notices as evidence of homelessness, this Bill will take strain off of overstretched courts, ensure that tenants are properly supported by their local councils, and provide landlords with the confidence they need to let their property out to riskier tenants.

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Thinking about letting to Students? Here are the NLA’s Top Tips for Student Landlords


lafrowda-Ensuite-kitchen-and-sitting-areaLetting to students can be a very attractive prospect for a private landlord. The student market benefits from very high demand, and with the number of students going to university continuing to rise, there is likely to be very little shortage of potential tenants to accommodate.

Letting to students can also be very profitable, as properties tend to be shared among larger groups of people and are consistently shown to offer high, competitive rental yields. When managed properly, a property let to students can be both a rewarding and reliable earner.

However, as with any investment, such properties are not entirely free of risk. Student accommodation is, understandably, a more niche part of the lettings market, and therefore requires a particular approach, expertise and understanding of the issues at stake.

To help you decide whether the student market is for you, we’ve listed some of the pros and cons of letting student property. Whether you are a newcomer to buy-to-let or an established landlord considering a move to student letting, we have plenty of useful tips and advice on the benefits and drawbacks of opening your doors to a more university-bound clientele.



  1. Profitability

Students have been shown to be more profitable and, according to the latest NLA research, offer the highest rental yields compared to other tenant types, at an average of 6.5% – higher than professionals, couples, singles and families.

  1. Landlords can let property to larger groups

Student lets are usually Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs), which (as the name suggests) are properties that are shared among a group of 2 or more households. HMOs also offer higher yields as you have more rooms you have to let, thus increasing your potential rental income.

  1. Students are the least likely to fall into rental arrears

Landlords letting to students are the least likely to experience incidences of non-payment of rent. NLA research shows that out of all landlords who had experienced rental arrears, just 33% of student landlords had experienced incidences of arrears, below the average of 35%.

  1. High Demand

Students need places to stay during term-time, so attractive and affordable student accommodation is always a desirable and in-demand commodity. Record numbers of UK university places have been offered this year, charting a 3% increase since the day that A-Level results were released last year, in 2015.



  1. Void periods

Student accommodation tends to be for the short-term, with students both leaving at the conclusion of their degrees, and also at the end of term years. As such, the turnover is much higher, which can result in void periods when properties go unoccupied, as well as more time spent trying to find new tenants. Nearly a third (28%) of student landlords experienced voids this year, with the average void period lasting for 62 days.

  1. Wear and tear

Most, if not all, students may have never lived away from home before and this can mean that students are less likely to keep up with routine maintenance of properties. In addition, properties may also suffer more damage and wear and tear due to higher turnover and stereotypical party lifestyles.

  1. Harder to screen tenants

As mentioned, university will be the first time many students are living away from home, and it may therefore be difficult to get both references and credit checks from them. Many landlords counter this by taking slightly larger deposits or asking for a guarantor.

  1. Greater regulation

While HMOs can be profitable, there is far more regulation surrounding them than for other buy-to-let properties. Mandatory HMO licensing exists across England, with fines and penalties for those who break the law.