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Property People Blog

Earlsfield Area Guide
Posted: October 25, 2013

Earlsfield is an up and coming suburb in south west London, characterised by Victorian and Edwardian terraces that reflect its working class past. Although it’s less known than its trendier neighbours, Clapham, Putney and Battersea - Earlsfield is gaining popularity as it’s slightly more affordable for young professionals and families. One of the benefits of living in Earlsfield is its easy access to central London. It takes just 13 minutes by train from Earlsfield over ground station to Waterloo and is close to the District Line tube station such as Wimbledon Park and Southfields. On top of this, there’s plenty of regular busses which take you to Clapham and Vauxhall.

Earlsfield and its surrounding area, has many attractions of its own. A busy high street centred around Garratt Lane, where you can chill out in a coffee shop after doing the ‘food run’ at Sainbury’s or Waitrose. Both of these supermarkets provide a pleasant shopping experience but may be a little pricey for those on a tight budget such as students or young commuters who may have limited disposable income once the costs of rent and travel are factored in.

But it you do have some cash to splash Southside shopping centre at the top of Garratt Lane is worth a visit. Apart from big names like Office, Topshop, River Island, New Look, Primark, Superdrug and Watersones there’s a 14 screen cinema in the complex along with Nandos and other restaurants to unwind in after all that exhausting ‘retail therapy’.

For something a little different by way of entertainment, ‘Tara Arts’ is an excellent fringe theatre in Earlsfield with a growing reputation for its innovative productions. Or maybe you just fancy hanging out with friends in one of Earlsfield’s characterful pubs. I can recommend The Wandle, which has a large beer garden with table tennis, the Pig and Whistle and The Halfway House – all do great Sunday Roasts.

Earlsfield has lots of green open spaces to get away from the drone of the city. There is Garratt Green, Garratt Park and King George’s Park – which are all great places to go for a run, or idle about, breathing in fresh air and taking in the sights and sounds of nature.

Wimbledon Park is quite close too; it’s got tennis courts, crazy golf, a croquet club and a lake where you can hire a paddle boat. Perfect idea for a date with a difference! If you have kids, or like pretending you are still a kid, they are all good places let off steam and and have a fun time for free.

Wandsworth Common is fairly close too and Putney Bridge is just a couple of tube stops away on the District Line if you fancy lunch by the Thames.

By Georgette Culley. Georgette is the Features Editor at Talk to The press and a guest writer for Property People Local Area Guides Series


Tags: Earlsfield, Earlsfield Area Guide, SW18 area guide, sw18 night life, Earlsfield night life, Earlsfield restaurants, letting agents in Earlsfield, Garratt Lane, lettings agent in Earlsfield, reliable letting agent, Earlsfield Station, earlsfield road, earlsfield rail, Living in Earlsfield, Earlsfield pubs, earlsfield bars

Help To Buy – the good, the bad and the ugly
Posted: October 23, 2013

The hot topic at the moment is the governments housing initiative called ‘Help to Buy.’ The next generation of property owners face the largest difficulties in stepping on to the property ladder, with increasing house prices and rentals meaning saving for a deposit in the current climate is beyond people’s means.

Before the 1970’s people rented merely as a stop-gap before being able to put down the deposit on their own home. Now with the demand so high on rental properties due to a shortage of new homes and a mobile work force relocating where industry needs them, the pressure on the rental market has caused prices to rise rapidly. People are now finding themselves in a renting trap, particularly leaving hard-working families and the younger generation feeling a lack of control and stability for the future.

Help to Buy is not essentially a new scheme, but an extension on the previous Newbuy initiative which helps Uk citizens with 5% deposits purchase a new-build property with a value up to £600,000 to be used as their primary residence.

In 2013 Help to Buy now means that you can purchase a new or older property to be your only home again up to the value of £600,000 through one of the two schemes that are available, both requiring you to pay a 5% deposit. There is the help to buy mortgage guarantee and the Help to buy Equity Loan. The former works as the government and the participating lenders have struck up a deal that the government guarantees to the lender repayment of the mortgage of up to 15% of the property value. Users of this scheme must pass eligibility checks and make mortgage repayments rather than just interest-only. Participating lenders are Bank of Scotland, Halifax, NatWest and RBS.

Of course any governmental initiative has its sceptics and its champions.

Let’s look at the general pros and cons of the Help to buy mortgage scheme-

Advantages -


  • The government understands the difficulty of the next generation becoming home owners and are attempting to provide the means for them to overcome the barriers faced.

  • You only have to save a 5% deposit.

  • You can be a first time buyer or already a home owner, but it must be your primary residence.


  • Disadvantages-


  • You must pass the lenders eligibility checks that determine if you have any history of bad credit rating and not meeting debt repayments then you will not qualify.

  • You cannot let your property out.

  • You must make mortgage repayments (not interest only) just like any normal mortgage. The only new benefit of this scheme is that you can get this mortgage by only having to pay a smaller deposit.


  • The second leg of the scheme is called the Help to Buy Equity Loan. This is available on new homes only and means again that after coming up with a 5% deposit, the government loans you 20% (equity loan) and a 75% mortgage will make up the difference. This initiative has come under the most attack from sceptics as the equity loan is interest free for the first five years, which is great but after this you need to repay 1.75% of the loan, which will increase every year by 1% plus RPI. It is feared if the economy suffers a future set back the only way the government will recover this is to push up interest rates, and therefore people risk losing their homes if they cannot keep up. This could ultimately destroy the lives of the people the scheme had set out to help.

    New figures released by Rightmove also show that a result of both elements of the scheme overall is that housing prices have risen by 10% (in London) due to the demand on the market. A left wing perspective from anther blog writer, Mike Smith, is that the failure for the supply of new builds to increase is that investors and developers quite literally face a brick wall due to current middle class homeowners. They block planning permission to be granted, fearing that a new shiny block of flats across the road will cause their home to decrease in value. Therefore without knowing it they are making the world a tougher place for their next generation.

    Will house prices just go up and up? Will we see a housing bubble? Only time will tell.

    By Natalie Elms. Senior Lettings Negotiator at Property People. Estate agents in Wimbledon Park


    Tags: help to buy, 5% deposit, 95% mortgages, buy to let, lettings agent in Wimbledon, reliable letting agent, affordable housing, government help to buy scheme, help to buy scheme, help to buy extension, affordable mortgages, 95% mortgage, rental inflation, house prices increase, housing bubble

    Putney Area Guide
    Posted: October 22, 2013

    Whether you’re single, in a relationship or married with kids, Putney really is the perfect place to live. Despite being just a 15 minute train journey from Waterloo, it has a cosiness about it that makes you forget you’re living in a big, anonymous, fast-paced metropolis.

    Putney might lack the urban chic of Shoreditch or Brixton but it has a style and personality all of its own. Despite popular myth, that personality is not entirely defined by middle-class yummy mummies – although the predominance of good schools and nurseries are an important ‘pull factor’ for parents moving into the area.

    Young professionals, from every background, are attracted to Putney because of its proximity to central London, buzzing and ‘green spaces’. What’s more, Wandsworth Park and the Thames is a stone’s throw away from the high street, and perfect for an early morning jog before work.

    Above all Putney feels safe. As a mid 20-something-girl, who sometimes enjoys a glass (or two) of wine, it was paramount to me that I lived somewhere safe when I moved to the Big Smoke. In Putney, you can venture out after dark without the fear of getting mugged, or happy-slapped – a worrying trend where hooded youths slap you whilst capturing the moment on their smart phones – which are, embarrassingly, usually more expensive than yours – just to add salt to the wound.

    Other areas in the south west such as Clapham Junction, Clapham North and Balham do not have the same feeling of community and safeness as Putney. Not, of course, that Putney is totally immune from the excesses of modern city life. Like most high streets in London, alcohol-fuelled rowdy behaviour is a familiar feature in Putney at the weekend. But it is a short-lived consequence of local bars and mainly harmless, albeit annoying at times.

    Which brings me on to Putney’s night life.

    There are dozens of good pubs and decent bars dotted along the High Street and around town. The Toy Shop Bar has just opened and it’s already proving a hit amongst daters – who can enjoy prosecco and beer on tap. That aside, there’s a trusty Be@1 at the bottom of the High Street or, for value for money, Wetherspoons. Like all Wetherspoons, its decor is a little predictable, the ambiance cheap and cheerful, the atmosphere too bright and noisy – but if you just want an unpretentious, inexpensive night out – Spoons is your place.

    Another Putney hotspot is Citizen Smith - best known for its great cocktails, and live bands on a Sunday. To be honest, every time I’ve been here I’ve left feeling slightly underwhelmed and broke. But it must be doing something right as it’s always packed at the weekend.

    Recently, Putney added The Roxy to its list of bars. This little number is a stone’s throw from the High Street and open until the early hours of the morning. For cheapskates, it’s the perfect place to go late at night because you don’t have to pay an entrance fee. Cocktails are Okay but if you’re used to drinking Prosecco or champagne don’t expect a flute glass – because you’ll just be offered a standard wine glass.

    When it comes to nightclubs, there’s only one. Fez. The Fez is the heart and soul of Putney. With its spacious dance floor, chart toppers and sweaty students it’s impossible to have a bad night. The bouncers are a little over-zealous but once you get past the airport-like-security you’re guaranteed a good night.

    The following day, you might fancy a decent breakfast as a hangover cure. There’s ample restaurants to choose from as well as the usual suspects, Wagamama, Pizza Express, Nandos, Bill's, GBK Burger, Byron to name a few – although, obviously, not all are open in the wee small hours.

    Coffee-shops are plentiful in Putney. There are several in Upper Richmond Road. I can recommend Artisan, which is also a regular haunt for TV chef Gordon Ramsey. I can vouch for the fact that the coffee and cakes are really good.

    Finally, to combat the excesses of too much food and drink, I can recommend a good and inexpensive gym at Putney Leisure Centre where the memberships are around £50 a month – which is quite reasonable considering the price includes swimming, sauna, steam room and exercise classes in peak hours.

    Happy Putney days everyone!

    By Georgette Culley. Georgette is the Features Editor at Talk to The press and a guest writer for Property People Local Area Guides Series


    Tags: Putney, Putney Area Guide, SW15 area guide, sw15 night life, Putney night life, Putney restaurants, letting agents in Putney, Upper Richmond Road, lettings agent in Putney, reliable letting agent, East Putney Tube Satation, Putney High street, Putney rail, Living in Puntney

    Should I get an Inventory?
    Posted: October 20, 2013

    Should I get an Inventory?

    Having an inventory is not a legal requirement. But it is a legal requirement for all landlords and agents to register tenancy deposits with a government authorised deposit protection service. And all deposit protections schemes highlight the importance of having an inventory or a schedule of condition in place for any tenancy. This advice is not to be taken lightly and there are plenty of good reasons why all deposit schemes recommend this. Because if there is ever a dispute at the end of a tenancy, an inventory can make proving your position a lot easier.
    According to the Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS), one of the major leading deposit protection services, since 2007 over 75% of the dispute cases they have received have been for damages and wear and tear caused to the property.
    It is our experience that in the absence of a signed inventory or a schedule of condition, all deposit protection services will lean heavily in the tenant’s favour. If you decide to go to court over the damages, even the court will not rule in the landlord’s unless proof is present in the form of a signed inventory or schedule of condition.

    Some basic rules to follow regarding Inventories.

  • Both parties must since the inventory report at check in and check out.

  • Take evidence in the form of photo graphs or even video to illustrate any disparity at check-in and at check-out.

  • Keep all invoices/receipts for any items replaced or work carried out related to the damages caused.

  • It’s advisable to get an independent third party (usually a professional inventory clerk) to prepare and carry out an inventory check in and check out.

  • Note: At Property People we always advise our Landlords to have a professional inventory prepared at the start of the tenancy. Please let us know if you would like an inventory prepared when instructing us and we will ensure that a third party professional inventory clerk prepares a comprehensive and up to date inventory complete with photographs.
    Ready to let your property in the Southfields or Wimbledon Park area? Call us now on 02089467171 to arrange a no obligation free valuation or to discuss your requirements.

    By Asad Jamil. Branch Manager at Property People. Estate agents in Southfields


    Tags: Inventory, inventories, schedule of condition, landlord inventories, letting agents in Wimbledon park, letting agent in Southfields, inventory check-in. inventory check-out, wear and tear, end of tenancy, tenancy dispute, deposit dispute, damage to the property during tenancy, assured shorthold tenancy agreement, ast, reliable letting agent

    Let’s talk deposits!
    Posted: October 8, 2013

    Let’s talk deposits! After you have viewed a property and are happy that it is the one, your agent will ask you to place a holding deposit to show you’re committed to moving forward with entering into a tenancy agreement for the property. This is called a holding deposit and in London is usually £500.


    What is a holding deposit for?

    A holding deposit means that you have reserved the property as yours whilst the necessary paperwork is sorted. The agency will then cease marketing the property and viewings.


    What happens if I don’t pass the reference checks?

    Before you wish to pay the holding deposit the agency will ask you to provide some basic details of employment and salary status. This is to initially check that you are a suitable candidate to move forward with. If the reference checks show that you have provided false/misleading information or detrimental information is revealed (e.g. CCJ’s, negative landlord reference) then the agency is entitled to hold back a reasonable sum to cover the costs incurred for reference checking. If the landlord thought that your references were not sufficiently good enough and you are not their idea of the ideal tenant your holding deposit should be refunded.


    What happens if I can no longer go ahead with the property?

    The idea behind the holding deposit is that it prevents people from committing to a property but for whatever reason decide to change their mind, leaving the landlord in the lurch with potentially an empty property. It is there to safeguard against time-wasters and to show you have real intentions to rent the property.

    Your agent will provide you with a receipt for the holding deposit, and can confirm under what circumstances you would receive a refund.


    When do I get the holding deposit back once I move in?

    Once the tenancy agreement is signed and you are ready to pay the final amount the holding deposit is detracted from this sum. So-
    One Month’s Rent + 6 Week Deposit + Admin Fees= Total – Holding Deposit= Final Amount to Pay.


    Tenancy deposit

    Once the tenancy contract is signed you will be asked to pay a tenancy deposit, which is usually between 1 month and 6 weeks rent. Some cautious landlords can ask for 2 months, in certain circumstances for example if you are students or have a pet. The agent or landlord is legally obligated to transfer or register this with one of the governmental protected deposit schemes if your assured shorthold tenancy has started or renewed after 6th April 2007. Deposits must be registered within 30 days of the agent/landlord receiving it.

    There are two types of deposit schemes that your deposit will be registered with-


    1. Custodial Schemes
    - Your deposit is transferred into the deposit schemes account for safekeeping. You will be emailed the details and provided your unique ID number which you will need to process the refund at the end of the tenancy. Your deposit is safeguarded in this account until the end of the tenancy, and if any amount of your deposit comes into dispute then it is held there until this is resolved. The deposit scheme acts as a third party. If both sides agree on the amount of deposit to be repaid then this will be processed back to within 5 days.
    Examples of custodial schemes- Deposit Protection Service (DPS)

    2. Insurance Schemes
    - Unlike the custodial scheme the landlord can keep the deposit in their own bank account. The landlord usually pays a registration fee whereas the custodial schemes are free as they retain the interest to cover their admin. This scheme does also have a dispute resolution service so it is not left between you and the landlord to battle it out.
    Examples of insurance schemes- Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), My deposits

    What happens if I cannot get hold of my landlord to return my deposit?

    If your landlord has registered your deposit and you cannot get hold of them to process the return, then you can contact the scheme’s administrator directly, and they will request to the landlord your application. They have 30 days to respond and if they do not then the deposit will be returned in full to you.

    I don’t think my landlord/ agent registered my deposit?

    If you do not think your deposit has been safeguarded then you can check online. For example via this website.
    If it has not been then due to changes in the law in April 2012 they can incur a penalty of between 1- 3 times the value of the deposit decided via the courts.


    Case Study

    One of our landlords came under attack due to his failure to register a deposit. We had been contacted by him to let his property, however he sought our advice after he came into a dispute with his previous tenant. He had attempted to charge her an additional amount for cleaning and she did not agree. They had hit a brick wall with their negotiations and therefore she sought legal help which unearthed that the landlord had not registered the deposit. Unfortunately the landlord had been travelling at the time and had forgotten all about it. He faced being fined up to 3 times the deposit value, and after a heavy amount of pleading with the previous tenant he repaid the deposit in full forgetting any extra charges he had tried to implement. Lessons learned! At Property People if a landlord instructs us that they will be registering the deposit, we ensure that they provide us with their tenancy deposit registration details so we can protect our tenants. We have an account with Deposit Protection Service which currently holds over a million in our tenant’s deposits!

    Note- If you are looking for a letting agent in Wimbledon Park Southfields who pay attention to detail and are trustworthy please look us up- www.property-people.co.uk

    By Natalie Elms
    Senior Lettings Negotiator at Property People. Letting Agents in Wimbledon Park

    Tags: tenancy deposit, deposit, holding deposit, custodial scheme, assured shorthold tenancy agreement, tenancy agreement, ast, DPS, deposit protection, tenants, landlords, tenancy deposit law, letting agents in southfields, letting agents in wimbledon park

    Letting a property check-list.
    Posted: October 6, 2013

    Letting a property check-list.

    Are you thinking of letting your property? Then there are a few things you will need to consider. Here is small step by step guide we have put together to assist you.

    Step 1: Preparing to let your property
    In the very first step before you let your property you might need to consult:
    • Your mortgage lender
    – Your lender may need to be notified of the type of tenancy and would want it to be an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.
    • Your insurance company
    – Your cover can be affected if you are letting out your property. It may be invalid in case of damage to the property if you haven’t notified your insurance company
    • Your freeholder
    – (may apply if your property is leasehold) You may need consent from your freeholder.

    It is required by law that you provide an Energy Performance and Gas Safety certificates for the property. Property People can arrange these for you through our reliable list of workmen.

    Step 2: Appoint a letting agent
    Appointing a letting agent can seem overwhelming as there are over 200 agents covering the local area. Property People are a small company which means we truly value your business. We will work tirelessly to find you a tenant for your property in as short a time as possible. Using top websites such Rightmove, Zoopla and Prime Location to name a few, we can reach a huge number of prospective buyers.
    There are a couple of ways you can appoint an estate agent.
    Sole agency
    is where you appoint a single agent for a fixed period of time and that agent concentrates their efforts to find you a tenant. Sole Agency is the most popular option with better value for money.
    Multiple agency
    is where you instruct several agents at the same time, who will all market your property. The commission rate for a multiple agency let will be higher than that of sole agency.

    Note:
    It is arguable that you increase your chances of finding a tenant quickly by instructing more than one agent. In most cases you will be duplicating your efforts if you instruct 2 agents to do the same job. In this age of internet, prospective tenants are internet savvy and won’t restrict their property finding to a single high street agent but instead register their interest on all online property portals. Property People advertise your property through all the major websites as well as marketing through an up to date tenant register. We will leave no stone unturned in search of the right tenant for your property.

    Once you have chosen an agent there are usually three levels of service to choose from.

    • Letting Only
    is where an agent markets your property through a multitude of websites, magazines and existing database of potential tenants. Your agent then follows up leads from all the sources and arranges and conducts the viewings, draws up a tenancy agreement and performs the handover of keys.
    • Letting & Rent Collection
    is essentially the same as above with one key difference; your agent will chase & collect the rent and pay into your account every month.
    • Full Management
    is an all-inclusive service with letting, rent collection and management of your property. Your agent will market and let your property and deal with all repairs & maintenance of the property during the length of the tenancy. Your agent will carry out periodic inspections and deal with any issues. Rent will be paid into your nominated account every month minus the management fees.

    Note:
    At Property People We have years of experience in dealing with workmen to arrange repairs for properties that we manage. We know what the right price is for any given job in a property. We work with carefully selected group of workmen on our books who give us preferential rates and we have witnessed the quality of their work. If the job is bigger we look to get a few quotes so that we can get the best value for money in addition to a good quality of work.

    Step 3: Presenting Your Property
    First impressions count, and there are a few things you can do to ensure you find a tenant as quickly as
    possible, which are:
    • Reduce Clutter
    – Remove things you don’t need, this will allow the prospective tenants to imagine what the property will look like with their possessions in and will make rooms look bigger.
    • Add a coat of paint
    – A neutrally coloured fresh coat of paint can really make a difference.
    • Have a good clean
    – A simple tidy and clean including windows really helps.
    • Outside
    – A potential tenant will often walk or drive past a property they are interested in before arranging a viewing. Painting the outside and tidying the front garden or driveway will give a great first impression. You’re then ready for your lettings agent to start showing prospective tenants round.

    Step 4: Agree the rental
    Once a suitable tenant has been found, has been referenced and credit checked, a tenancy agreement will be drawn up by your agent which both parties then sign. If required, your agent will carry out an inventory of the property and register the deposit with tenancy deposit protection scheme as required by law. The keys are then handed to the tenant before the agreed tenancy start date.

    Note:
    Property People engage the services of a reputable tenant referencing agency to obtain credit checks and references on prospective tenants. And as such the checks are very stringent to make sure we match great tenants with your property. Property People also protect all deposits with the Depots Protection Scheme.

    You have now let your property – congratulations!


    Fees
    Letting fees for agents can range between 5%-17%. Our introductory fees are very competitive at 5% for letting only, 7% for rent collection and 9% for full management. These rates apply to sole agency Lettings – should you decide to market with multiple agents, please ask us for a quote.

    Repairs, Improvements, EPC and Gas Safe certificate
    Please ask our staff and we will appoint one of our contractors who are carefully chosen by us based on their competitive prices and quality of workmanship.

    Ready to let your property?
    Call us on 020 8946 7171 or email on info@property-people.co.uk You will be pleasantly surprised with a quick and efficient let. Our office is based near Southfields and Wimbledon Park Tube Stations on Durnsford Road. Our average turnaround for letting a property is usually 2 weeks.

    By Asad Jamil
    Branch Manager at Property People. Best Letting Agents in Wimbledon Park SW19

    Tenant Admin Fees
    Posted: October 2, 2013

    The main belief people have about lettings agents is that they charge unnecessary administration fees and this can be a driving force for people to limit their search to finding a property privately.

    It is true that some unscrupulous lettings agents can potentially charge an unlimited and very high admin fee. So common has been this practice in the past that lettings agents are now required by law to post a notice on all listings making potential tenants aware that an admin fee may apply. This prompts all prospective tenants to inquire about the fees beforehand. Majority of agencies however are not the bad guys they are sometimes made out to be, and only charge reasonably to account for all the work involved for processing the tenancy. The advantage of using a letting agent over a private landlord is that you will have a comprehensive, detailed and up-to-date assured short hold tenancy agreement and proof of deposit registration with one of the governmental approved deposit schemes. A good letting agent will ensure the landlord has an Energy Performance Certificate and Gas safety certificate for the property which are legal requirements. They will also facilitate the move-in by liaising with the landlord to check that the property will be clean and an inventory in place.

    At Property People we charge a one-off admin fee of £150 per applicant. This is a small amount to pay for this peace of mind and is only payable once the agreement is signed. You are never expected to pay to simply register with an agency or for them to send you through property portfolios or to take you on viewings.


    The fee covers-
    - Reference Checking. Obtaining and checking the new tenants references, e.g. employment and previous landlord references.
    - Credit Checks- We run a background credit check on the prospective tenants to ensure that it does not flag up any CCJ’s or bailiff action.
    - Drawing up and signing of the tenancy agreement by all parties.
    - Time spent negotiating conditions and making arrangements between the landlord and tenant.

    Be warned! Some agencies can mask costs and initially provide a figure for the admin fee, however when you are ready to proceed as you have fallen in love with the property they may add a few extras to the invoice by breaking down the costs individually, for example adding on £50 for an inventory to be provided. Property People are completely honest and transparent about the costs involved, and our admin fee is always a flat £150 per applicant which includes everything. We promise to never surprise you with any hidden costs.


    Questions to ask your letting agent:

    - Is there an admin fee to pay?
    - Does the admin fee cover all the extras such as, inventory, check-in, tenancy agreement, referencing?
    - Is that the only fee I have to pay to move into the property in addition to first month’s rent and security deposit (usually 6 weeks rent)?
    - Is the admin fee refundable if the tenancy doesn’t go ahead for some reason?


    By Natalie Elms
    Senior Lettings Negotiator at Property People. Best Value Letting Agent in Wandsworth







    

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