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For those focusing on the long term gains, investments as a landlord are still a good business and superior to many alternatives. Nevertheless with a record number of government consultations relating to the private rented sector, 2017 was another challenging year for landlords. This therefore is a good time to reflect on some of the key changes and how they affect you as a landlord, writes Head of Lettings at Balfours, Charlotte George, MARLA.

April 2017 marked the beginning of mortgage interest tax relief being slashed; gradually from 100% to zero by April 2020. So, for the 2017-18 tax year, landlords can still claim 75% of the finance costs at the higher rate, with the remaining 25% being deducted at the basic rate. From 2018-19 this will fall to 50%, in 2019-20 25% will be deducted, with the other 75% receiving basic-rate tax reductions.  

As a result of this, some landlords have looked at setting up a limited company in which they can transfer their property portfolio so they can restructure, and others are looking at ways to realign their portfolio to have fewer mortgaged properties.  Landlords with mortgages need to understand what impact the changes to mortgage interest tax relief will have on their profits. For many January means dialog with your accountant relating to personal tax returns. Expert advice on understanding what is coming in against what expenses will more than pay for itself.

April 2018 sees the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) come into force with any property rented out in the private rented sector requiring a minimum energy performance rating of E on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This will apply to all new lets and renewals of tenancies with effect from 1st April 2018 and for all existing tenancies on 1st April 2020. There are exemptions, also the EPC system, through which all ratings are made, has recently been updated acknowledging that solid walls are more efficient than originally credited.

MEES are arguably one of the most significant pieces of legislation to affect our existing building stock in a generation. I would urge landlords to take advantage of void periods and lease breaks to, ensure you are compliant. If you do have to make improvements these should in turn be reflected in rental value.

Currently, tenants usually foot the bill for tenancy agreements, referencing and credit checks. However the government is planning to ban tenants letting fees and released a  Draft Tenants Fees Bill in November 2017. This revealed details that the charging of fees to tenants will be an offence, also to make it compulsory for agents to be a member of a client money protection scheme.

Under the proposed legislation tenants can be asked to pay only their rent and a deposit; this will also limit holding deposits to no more than one week’s rent, and security deposits at no more than the equivalent of six weeks’ rent. This is likely to come into force next year and will serve to focus landlords attention on agents who provide professional efficiency reflected in cost and quality of service. Landlords dealing directly with tenants will also be in the grip of this bill.

Finally, the government is currently considering whether all letting and managing agents in England must be qualified and regulated to practice and all landlords’ members of a redress scheme to help protect tenants from unfair practices; Wales already has similar legislation in place. We are also hearing suggestions that incentives for landlords, who offer longer tenancies, may be introduced sometime next year.

What should your New Year’s resolution as a landlord be? Keep on top of changes to tenancy legislation and work closely with your agent. After all, our job is to give you the peace of mind and maximise your investment. Wishing you a prosperous 2018, Charlotte George, MARLA.

Monday, 08 January 2018 11:11

A Crisp Finish To New Three Bedroom Homes

The Tyrell is the latest style to be launched from the popular Orchid Meadows development at Minsterley. Balfours are marketing two three bedroom detached homes with features including a magnificent master bedroom and an integral garage linked to utility.

Balfours agent, Scott Kemsley, says: “These are beautifully presented properties opening up a fabulous opportunity, to live in the popular village of Minsterley where there is a full complement of services including primary school, plus secondary school in neighbouring Pontesbury. Shrewsbury is less than ten miles away, with easy links to the bypass and trunk roads to the Midlands and the north.”

Built by Clutton Homes, the “Tyrell” design provides reception hall, lounge, kitchen, separate dining room with French doors to the garden. There is also a wc and utility. People seeking a quality finish will find that Clutton Homes have really gone the extra mile in terms of the design and overall styling of the Tyrell,” says Scott.

Scott adds: “We are thrilled to be marketing the Clutton Homes, where their use of intelligent design techniques, quality modern fittings and craftsmanship achieve a contemporary fresh and stylish feel.”

There are currently just two, three bedroom detached homes of the Tyrell design, each with a guide price of £199,950. For more information call Scott Kemsley on 01743 353511.

Please click here for further details of Plot 39 and click here for Plot 40.

Tyrell main

CH lounge tyrell

CH Kitchen tyrell

orchid Bedroom

Friday, 05 January 2018 16:24

Mayfields – By Name And Nature

Outstanding views of open countryside are maximised at this three bedroom cottage in a popular hamlet south of Shrewsbury.

Mayfield Cottage is found at Golding, just six miles from Shrewsbury and Much Wenlock, so highly accessible, yet wonderfully rural.  Semi-detached, the property has been totally renovated, agent, Scott Kemsley, of Balfours explains: “A three bedroom property in such a great location, renovated and ready for living really doesn’t come up every day. We are marketing Mayfield Cottage with a guide price of £289,000.”

The reception hall gives access to the dining room, sitting room and stairs. The dining room opens through to a fully fitted kitchen with integral appliances. Across the hallway the sitting room is a large room with working fireplace and French doors to the conservatory, the two achieve an abundance of space for family and friends. Two of the three bedrooms have fitted wardrobes, with the bathroom also off a well-proportioned landing.

On arrival the welcome is to gravel parking edged by lawn and flowerbeds. To the rear the large garden is laid to lawn and borrows the most magnificent views. Garage and log store complete the package, on the market with Balfours. For more information call Scott Kemsley on 01743 353511.

Please click here for further details.

Mayfield Cottage Main

Mayfield Rear Elevation

Mayfield View

Mayfield Conservatory

Friday, 05 January 2018 16:19

Purchaser, Shrewsbury, Shropshire

The Balfours team was very professional and made sure all the details with the sale were followed through in a timely manner. This was important for us, since we were not in the U.K. During the whole process. The Balfours team even followed up on the lawn and other maintenance items during the listing period. I strongly recommend Balfours in Shrewsbury!

Thursday, 04 January 2018 14:46

Purchaser, Bridgnorth, Shropshire

Thanks to Katie for passing any admin on, its always been sent on promptly.

 

Alistair Hilton, has been my main point of contact, from the beginning of the process he has been very much on the ball, keeping  constantly in touch, with regular updates, returning all emails in super quick time, even over the festive period and whilst being away from the office.. This was very much appreciated..( I'm sure that this sale was a little complicated at times, Alistair managed to keep it all on track, having excellent negotiation skills) I can not really thank Alistair enough!

 

Abigail Barker, stepped in to help covering a period whilst Alistair was on A/L, she did an excellent job, if she couldn't get an immediate answer to my question, she arranged to update me at a said date and time, which she always fulfilled, she always had a kind word to add too..

As with Alistair nothing was to much trouble.

 

Prior to staring Negotiations on our recent property purchase, I made contact with Balfours enquiring about other properties for sale, I then spoke to Duncan Scobie, he took time to explain in detail all relating to my enquiries. I was very grateful that he also took time to answer further questions relating to the property market in general, he was really helpful..

 

Other team members I have had brief dealings with over the phone have been very helpful and polite too.

 

I really appreciate, how difficult it can be to update & return calls quickly due to work load,but it is truly important. Purchasing property can be very stressful, however due to all that has been explained above our journey was pleasant, and made much less stressful than It could have been, my husband and I thank all involved for this.

Thursday, 04 January 2018 13:22

Little Hope – Big Dream

Little Hope, near Welshpool, will be a big hope and reward for someone providing a wonderful backdrop to happiness.

On the market with Balfours, this 17th century cottage has undergone a large extension, the design of which flows with exceptional clarity and focus as a property with an option for two halves. Currently it provides a family home and a highly successful bed and breakfast accommodation, however the layout is so flexible as to provide for two co-habiting families with separate quarters.

Nestled in the hamlet of Hope, Leighton is just two miles from Welshpool, with all necessary services to hand. It is located on the original Offa’s Dyke and sits within an acre of garden and grounds in an elevated position on Long Mountain. The result is a magnificent uninterrupted vista across open countryside –a true wow.

The main cottage comprises of a porch, large sitting room with inglenook fireplace, woodburner and French doors. Adjacent is the library with glazing and views to two aspects and the study – a cosy hideaway. The morning room is the central point of the ground floor from which the stairs ascend to three bedrooms and a family bathroom. Beyond the morning room, the dining room is partially open plan to the kitchen achieving a fabulous social space with sleek contemporary fixtures in the kitchen. A second study, cloak and utility complete the ground floor accommodation.

Agent, Duncan Scobie, of Balfours, comments: “Evelyn and Mike Gregory have nurtured Little Hope to create a fresh and spacious home, together with a highly successful bed and breakfast business. The latter is run as Long Mountain Bed and Breakfast, which has received many awards and certificates of excellence, from Visit Wales and Trip Adviser. The guest accommodation reflects this it provides three spacious double bedrooms one with en-suite bathroom and the other two with en-suite shower rooms. A large guest dining/lounge spanning nearly six metres square and an independent guest kitchen allow the guest accommodation to be run totally separately; or for an extended family to enjoy.”

Duncan adds: “There are surprises and pleasures throughout the property, the staircase and floorboards and some internal doors are wonderful features preserved in the old part. There are also two large garages, a workshop and plant room.”

Outside features include stone wall, coach lamps punctuating the lawn and a haha wall to maximise the views. The property is reached via a tarmacadam driveway with ample parking and sweeping lawns which virtually encircle the property.

Balfours are marketing Little Hope with a guide price of £725,000 for more information call Duncan Scobie on 01743 353511.

Please click here for further details.

Little Hope Main

Little Hope Sitting Room

Little Hope Kitchen

Little Hope View

Wednesday, 03 January 2018 15:28

Bridgnorth, Shropshire

 

Outline Planning of up to five dwellings following the demolition of Field Cottage and associated outbuildings (All matters reserved) 14/03771/OUT.

One of South Shropshire’s top homes, marketed in 2017, with its own private runway, and state of the art cinema room has sold within its £2m guide price.

A new build state of the art farmhouse, Edge Farm, was completed in 2013, incorporating high tech electronics and efficiencies. Located at East Wall, the 44 acre property is set within South Shropshire’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Runway and helicopter access are complimented by conventional access via its own private drive. Edge Farm is equi-distance between Much Wenlock and Church Stretton and yet just 40 miles from Birmingham.

Agent, Duncan Scobie of Balfours reflects: “We are delighted to have closed the sale of Edge Farm. We had strong interest and ultimately there were two parties in serious contention. The vendors had lavished greatly on Edge Farm; the his and her dream home included a sleek and unique designer kitchen breakfast room with bi-fold walls of glass and polished stone floors and granite worktops set within an abundance of space, plus a cinema room.”

The house which comprises of 9,000 feet over four floors includes three reception rooms plus reception hall, seven bedrooms and five bathrooms.

Duncan adds: “Edge Farm wants for nothing; it is in a fabulous private location and boasts a breath-taking interior. The sale reflects that there are buyers out there who are happy to make a significant investment in the right property despite political uncertainties. The sale bodes well for 2018 and  we are delighted that both our client and the buyer have the deal sealed in time to celebrate Christmas.”

For more information call Duncan Scobie on 01743 353511.

Edge Farm Main

Edge media

Edge Farm Kitchen

Edge 1Taxi

Thursday, 21 December 2017 16:20

H20 – The Power Is In Planning

There is one major take home lesson in the creation of a new micro hydro scheme, planning and preparation are key; now twelve months up and running Maesgwm Hydro Scheme is testimony to dogged determination and has exceeded performance targets.

On the Brondanw Estate, in North Wales the Maesgwm Hydro Scheme was more than five years in the planning. After this gruelling journey, construction commenced in late August 2016. The weather remained kind throughout the four months it took to run water past the turbine and into the power hungry finishing post.

The Scheme is within the boundaries of Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA) where, ironically, hydro on the Brondanw Estate has been harnessing energy since 1902, nearly half a century prior to the establishment of SNPA in 1951. 

Agent of the Brondanw Estate for more than four decades, Jonathan Lovegrove-Fielden, a partner at Balfours, takes up the story: “The Estates’ first 1902 hydro system is in the magical Croesor Valley, with a big reservoir in the hills and a turbine house at the bottom. When we re-built the Cwm Croesor hydro system in 1997, we quite literally put the new turbine in the corner of the old original turbine house.”

The Maesgwm Hydro Scheme passed planning in 2015, after five years scrutiny involving the planners, local communities, a variety of “ologists,” the technical team and of course the Trustees and tenant farmers on the ground  - who nurtured the whole project. Planning and expert adviser costs made up a not insignificant portion of the £800,000 to finance the project, which is forecast for payback within 10/11 years. Against which the turbine has a life expectancy of 20 to 25 years, the penstock piping a 60 to 80 year time-frame and the stone clad Turbine House - built like a shepherds hut - 200 years.

Design was driven by engineer Mike Woolcock of Kiem Water Limitedtogether with Renewables First of Stroud.  The main contractor was Alan Jones of GHJ Civil Engineering, Pwllheli and the turbine was supplied by Hydrolite of Swansea.  Jonathan explains: “The whole thing was brought together by Mike Woolcock who helped me project manage the construction and installation.”

The intake at 235m above sea level is the starting point, followed by 840 metres penstock piping, with a 128 metre drop to a Turgo 99kw capacity turbine within the turbine house. The energy created is then fed into the grid via £100,000 worth of cabling. The stone clad and well insulated shepherd’s hut not only fits in aesthetically but absorbs the significant  noise made by the turbine.

Jonathan continues: “We have reduced the amount of water we take out. This was predominantly due to protecting bryophytes – aquatic lichen. Bryophytes are most prominent in fast-flowing, soft-water streams draining upland catchments thriving in lots of spray and gushing water. Wales has an exceptional diversity of bryophytes. As a result restrictions also include limiting intake during seasonally reduced rainfall.”

Nevertheless the project remained viable with an anticipated output of 355,000kw per annum, powering some 125 Welsh homes. The energy generated is fed directly into the national grid, with the Estate receiving the Feed in Tariff and top up payment.

He adds: “The spirit of the Trustees work is as custodians of the landscape right down to the micro-level, and as such they remain true to Clough’s ethos. Small scale hydro achieves on all levels: High conversion efficiency of 70 to 90%, and far higher than other technologies; zero carbon footprint; as a well-designed project it is environmentally benign and can encourage ecology allowing, and in some cases enabling, fish and aquatic species movement. Finally sustainable income enables further investment in the estate and local community.”

Tenant farmers, Lewys Williams and son Rhys, who are second and third generation farmers on the Estate, and Richard Pearson have all been pivotal in their cooperation. “Richard farms the land on which we have installed the intake; he has been hugely helpful regarding the new installation. Already he assists with the timber contract for the Estate’s Renwable Heat Incentive (RHI) plant, heating the main house together with some half dozen houses and the Estate caffi.”

Jonathan continues: “The Williams’ have also embraced the Maesgwm project with the whole of the Penstock piping crossing the land they farm and culminating at the turbine house. “They have been enthusiastic and helpful throughout the planning process. As their farming regularly takes them past the turbine house Lewys and Rhys are now responsible for the maintenance contract for the turbine. It’s another string to their bow – their main farming enterprises are sheep and Stabiliser cattle. However this isn’t their first deviation into renewable income, with the family installing solar panels on land they own nearby – and outside the SNP.”

Jonathan concludes: “We commissioned the turbine January 2017 and by September it had exceeded expectation. We anticipated generating 355,000kw/annum – by September we achieved 320,000kw, which is amazing given the low rainfall.”  To discuss the project in more detail Jonathan Lovegrove-Fielden can be contacted at Balfours on 01743 241181.

 

Sir Clough Williams-Ellis was given control, by his father, of the Brondanw Estate in 1908, aged 25 years, at the time he wrote: "Nothing, just then, could possibly have been more ecstatically welcomed by me... The guardianship of a rambling old Carolean Plas set in a wildly romantic little estate among the Welsh mountains that had been held by my family for over four centuries was well calculated to inflame me."

It was indeed a fortuitous match, directly tapping into his professional prowess as a highly successful and well-known architect and so it was as a result of financial success that he galavanised his Estate and created the Portmerion Village. Five years prior to his death in 1972 to protect his property and ensure its conservation he created a Foundation, now known as the Clough Williams-Ellis Foundation. Today the Foundation is run by eight Trustees, four of whom are direct descendants, the balance being local people with specialist skills or knowledge, including the Vice-Chairman of the CLA Cymru David Wynne-Finch.”

The green ethos of Clough and his wife Amabel remains a corner stone of The Foundation and the Trustees interpretation of Clough’s vision, specifically to "Cherish the past, adorn the present and construct for the future."

trustees

Michael Woolcock - Engineer, David Wynne-Finch - Trustee, Christine Wallace – Wife of Julian Wallace, Iwan Huws - Trustee, Dafydd Iwan - Trustee, Menna Angharad - Trustee, Julian Wallace - Trustee

penstock piping installation

intake

shepherds hut construction

the power house

Wednesday, 20 December 2017 16:16

Kennedy Road, Shrewsbury

 

A fine detached family residence with versatile accommodation, off street parking, double garage and generous gardens in a secluded location.

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