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The Responsible Gas Safe Renting Guide

Badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. Every year thousands of people across the UK are diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. It is a highly poisonous gas that can kill quickly with no warning, as you cannot see it, taste it or smell it.  

Follow these few simple checks to keep you and your family safe.

  • Check your Landlord’s Gas Safety Record. By law, your landlord must keep gas pipework, appliances and flues supplied for you to use in good condition. They must arrange a gas safety check of the appliances and flues every 12 months and give you a record of the check.
  • Check any gas appliances you own every year. Gas appliances should be safety checked once a year and serviced regularly by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Set a reminder so you don’t forget at StayGasSafe.co.uk.
  • Check your engineer is Gas Safe registered. You can find or check an engineer at GasSafeRegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.
  • Check your engineer is qualified for the type of gas work you need doing e.g. natural gas, domestic boiler. You can find this information on the back of their Gas Safe ID card and the Gas Safe Register website.
  • Check for warning signs that your appliances aren’t working correctly, such as lazy yellow /orange flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks on or around the appliance, a pilot light that keeps going out and too much condensation in the room.
  • Know the six main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness.
  • Have an audible carbon monoxide alarm. This will alert you if there is carbon monoxide in your home.

Landlords are legally responsible for the safety of their tenants. Landlords should make sure maintenance and annual safety checks on gas appliances are carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

If you’re a landlord, you are legally obliged to make sure:

  • Gas pipework, appliances and flues provided for tenants are maintained in a safe condition.
  • All gas appliances and flues provided for tenants use have an annual safety check. You can set a reminder so you don’t forget at StayGasSafe.co.uk.
  • Maintenance and annual safety checks are carried out by a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer.
  • All gas equipment (including any appliance left by a previous tenant) is safe or otherwise removed before re-letting.
  • A Gas Safety Record is provided to the tenant within 28 days of completing the check or to any new tenant before they move in.
  • You keep a copy of the Gas Safety Record for two years.

Truuli behind Gas Safety Week 2018

Truuli  has pledged its support for Gas Safety Week (17th-23rd September 2018) and will be helping to raise awareness about the importance of gas safety.

The eighth annual Gas Safety Week sees organisations from across the UK working together to raise awareness of the dangers of poorly maintained gas appliances, which can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

This year, Gas Safety Week is addressing a whole range of gas safety matters throughout the week, from tackling illegal gas work to reminding people to avoid DIY when it comes to gas appliances and instead leave it the experts – registered engineers who are legally qualified to make sure your appliances are working safely and efficiently.

Jonathan Samuel, chief executive for Gas Safe Register, said: “It’s great to see so many people supporting Gas Safety Week this year to help spread important and, in some cases, lifesaving advice about gas safety. It’s so vital that we help people to know not to cut corners with gas and always ask a suitably qualified Gas Safe registered engineer to work on gas appliances at their home to stay gas safe.”

Keep up-to-date with Gas Safe Register’s updates and advice throughout Gas Safety Week by following them on social media (Facebook, Twitter @GasSafeRegister and Instagram) and search #GSW18. 

To keep you and your family safe, follow Gas Safe Register’s top tips: 

  • Know the symptoms of CO poisoning; headaches, nausea, breathlessness, collapse, dizziness and loss of consciousness.
  • If you smell gas or think there might be a gas leak, call the free 24-hour national gas emergency number immediately on 0800 111 999.
  • Never attempt to work on a gas appliance yourself, always seek the help of a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer who can work on your gas cooker, boiler or fire in a safe way.
  • ‘Don’t cut corners’ and always ask to see your engineer’s Gas Safe ID card. Make sure you check the back of the card, which will state which gas appliances they are qualified to work on.
  • Only employ a suitably qualified Gas Safe registered engineer when having gas work carried out in your home. Gas Safe Register is the official register for legally qualified engineers. You can find a registered engineer in your area by visiting the Gas Safe Register website at www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk or by calling on 0800 408 5500.

Truuli are backing calls for a Property MOT in the private rented sector…

Researchers from the University of York have called for the introduction of a Property MOT, operating in a similar manner to the system for cars whereby the condition of homes are checked on an annual basis.

In summary, the report states that current regulation of the sector is ‘confused and contradictory’, ‘failing at multiple levels’.

The report reveals that conditions of a property worsen the longer tenants are inhabiting, with poor property management being the root cause; affecting both low and high income renters. One in five rented homes at the top end of the market and one in three at the bottom end are currently classed as non-decent. The report warns of a ‘slum tenure’ emerging at the bottom end of the private rented sector due to welfare reforms.

‘Unbelievably, there are currently no minimum standards that properties have to meet before they are let and as a result, millions of renters have to put up with damp, disrepair and sometimes life-threatening hazards,’ said Dr Julie Rugg a leading housing academic at York University.

Pros of a Property MOT:

  • Provide a set minimum standard which must be met by all landlords in the private rented sector
  • Simplify and bring together current requirements for checking gas, electrical, and energy certificates
  • Offer tenants a guarantee before signing a tenancy, assuring the property will be well managed and that standards will not lapse in the future
  •   Afford landlords greater clarity and protection against prosecution

At Truuli we believe the needs of private renters have been ignored for too long and it is time the government introduce legislation to provide decent, secure and affordable homes – particularly for those on low incomes.

Link to full report

Should I fix my mortgage for five years?

Should I fix my mortgage for five years?

Historically two year fixed rate mortgages have been the go to product when taking out a new mortgage or re-mortgaging.

In my opinion, the main reason for this choice is historically the price difference between a two and five year fix has been wide enough to not make it worthwhile paying the extra money. Over the past couple of years in a low interest rate climate and signs that the base rate is only likely to go up, people like myself are asking the question “should we now consider fixing our mortgage rate for 5 years?”

Gap between the average two year and five year fixed rate mortgages.

***Please note this is an average rate and not broken down by loan to value (LTV)***

 June 2016June 2017June 2018
Two-year average fixed rate2.57%2.30%2.52%
Five-year average fixed rate3.17%2.86%2.92%
Difference 0.60%0.56%0.40%

Source money facts. Assessed 10 July 2018

Difference in cost between a 2 and 5 year fixed mortgage product.

***Based on mortgage amount of £300,000 and a mortgage period of 25 years***

 June 2016June 2017June 2018
Two-year average fixed rate£1,356£1,316£1,349
Five-year average fixed rate£1,449£1,401£1,410
Difference£93£85£61

Cons of long term fix rate mortgages

Interest rates fall: One of the cons of fixing your mortgage rate for a long term is if interest rates fall your mortgage rate may look expensive. With the base rate at 0.75%, it’s unlikely we will see any further falls and the base rate is likely to raise in the near future.

Early repayment charges: While initial rates are low, whether you should fix for five years will depend on your individual circumstance. If you need to pay off your mortgage early it can be expensive and is usually subject to early repayment charges.

For example; if you want to move house before the end of the fixed period, you may need to pay a percentage of you loan as a fee.

Below is an example of typical fee charges

Year 1    Year 2    Year 3    Year 4    Year 5

5%          4%          3%          2%          1%

You may be able to avoid early repayment charges by porting your mortgage but you will need to weigh up the pros and cons of taking this route, which is not covered in this article.

Want more information or advice? Give the expert team at Truuli a call on 0330 043 0002  or request a callback.

Truuli - Bank of England

Has today’s interest rate increase made things difficult for aspiring homeowners?

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee has announced today that interest rates will increase by 0.25% to 0.75%, in a unanimous vote.
Today’s news will be welcomed by savers in general but not for those saving to get on the property ladder as any increase in savings rates won’t bridge the gap on rising house prices.
Homeowners not on fixed term mortgages will see an average rise of around £270 on their yearly mortgage payments.

The increase will be manageable for most homeowners, those that have stretched themselves financially to get on the property ladder or those aspiring homeowners may find the interest rate increase a bit more difficult to absorb.

Related story ……Economists predict an interest rate rise in the near future

Economists predict an interest rate rise in the near future

With the royal wedding and recent record temperatures boosting the UK economy in May, economists predict an interest rate rise in the near future.

The UK economy grew by 0.2% in the three months leading to May, compared with the previous three-month period, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.

However, wages rose more slowly over the same period, wage growth, excluding bonuses, slipped to 2.7% from 2.8% in the three months leading to May, whilst unemployment decreased by 12,000 to 1.41 million.

For some, that means we could be in for higher borrowing costs as economists expect interest rates to go up next week. The predictions come as doubt was cast on a possible increase earlier this month. That came after inflation held tight at 2.4 per cent, instead of rising to 2.6 per cent as economists predicted.

It is likely to be relatively small, from 0.5% to 0.75%, and for the large majority of homeowners, not particularly painful, however, it would be the highest it has been since March 2009, when it was reduced from one per cent to 0.5 per cent during the financial crisis.

Like in all situations, there will be both winners and losers. The winners could include 45 million savers, who have seen some interest rate improvements after the previous rise in November. But at least four million households with variable or tracker rate mortgages are likely to see their payments increase once again.

Variable-rate mortgages
Throughout the UK, roughly 9.1 million households have a mortgage. About half of these are on a standard variable rate or a tracker rate, amounting to between four and five million households.
These are the people who would be most affected by a rate rise, as their monthly payments would increase.
According to the Nationwide, a 0.25% rate rise means someone on a £200,000 mortgage would face paying around an extra £25 a month, or about £300 a year.

Fixed-rate mortgages
The large majority of new mortgage loans (96%) are on fixed interest rates of two or five years. Currently half of all outstanding loans are on fixed rates, equating to about 4.5 million households.

Such rates have already started to rise since November’s rate increase.
When borrowers reach the end of their term, they may find they have to make higher monthly payments or be required to move lender to keep the mortgage affordable.
That said, they could, depending on when they took out their loan, end up on a cheaper deal. The lenders offering fixed rates tend to be especially competitive.

A recent survey of nine economists by website Finder concluded all of them predict a base rate rise, mostly because they believe the economy has strengthened, inflation is set to go up and so are wages, despite having stagnated so far.

But while there seems to be agreement over an improvement of the economy up to now and positive expectations about wages in the coming months, some economists were concerned about housing affordability and the rise in the cost of living.

Andrew Wishart of Capital Economics said: ‘The Monetary Policy Committee held off raising rates in May because it wanted to see evidence that the weak patch in economic activity at the start of the year was just a blip. ‘The official data and business surveys released since then suggests that growth did indeed recover in Q2. ‘With little slack left in the labour market, robust growth is likely to lead to a further increase in wage inflation. ‘Alongside the MPC’s ambition to return interest rates to a level from which they can be cut to help in the next downturn, we think that provides reason enough for the MPC to raise interest rates in August.’

Croydon Westfield June 2018

Westfield Croydon Update – June 2018

Westfield Croydon Update

It will soon be a decade since the retail giant opened in Shepherd’s Bush and to mark their anniversary, Westfield has taken a leap into the future to predict what visitors will want when they go to a shopping centre in 2028.

The designs have been released after it was confirmed on Thursday (May 31) that a huge John Lewis and Waitrose will be the anchor store of Westfield Croydon and the company have released futuristic design plans to provide customers with a glimpse of how it may be doing shopping in the area in 10 years’ time.

The Westfield ‘Destination 2028’ concept was created by a panel of experts, including a futurologist and people from the fashion and

retail industry, looking at trends for what customers expect and want when they go shopping. They predict there will be a greater importance on ‘experience and leisure’ with the likelihood shoppers will make each visit a full day’s activity, as opposed to quickly rushing out to grab something.

 

Work on the new Croydon Westfield is due to commence in early 2019, we will of course continue to keep you informed with updates.

Properties in Croydon have “earned” more than their owners over the past two years

Recent research shows that properties in Croydon have “earned” more than their owners over the past two years as house prices have been rising much faster than wages.
Halifax conducted a comparison on rising property values against people’s average take-home earnings across the two-year period of 2016 and 2017 to make the findings. Croydon ranked in the top 10 places in the country for house prices outpacing average earnings with there being £27,386 between property price growth and wages.

This is good news for Croydon residents as the proportion of areas in the country where house prices outpaced earnings fell from 31% in 2016 to 18% in 2017, Halifax said.
Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax, said: “Over the past two years, we have seen house price growth and earnings converge at a national level, leading to a drop in the total number of areas where the average house price rise is greater than owners’ take-home earnings.
“Despite the slowdown in house price growth in southern England, it has still outpaced wages across most of the region.
“This means that middle earners are also facing a challenge getting on to the property ladder.”
The report also demonstrated the continuation of the north/south divide, with 86% of areas where the average house price rise is greater than local earnings being in London, the South East, South West or the East of England: this is down slightly from the previous year when 93% of areas came from these four regions.
According to Halifax’s report no district in the north east of England, Yorkshire and the Humber, Scotland and Northern Ireland saw average house price growth go beyond the average take-home earnings over the past two years.

The most expensive home sold in Croydon in January 2018 went for £1,230,000

Away from southern England, leading performers for house price growth compared with earnings incorporated Harborough in the East Midlands, with house price gains of £19,662 more than earnings, as well as the Ribble Valley in the North West (£8,217), Tamworth in the West Midlands (£3,226) and Denbighshire in Wales (£793).
According to Halifax, here are the top 10 places where house prices outpaced earnings across 2016 and 2017.
In the list below, the average increase in house prices over the two-year period is the first figure, followed by average take-home earnings in the same time and then the cash difference (figures have been rounded):
1. Barnet, London, £106,896, £54,641, £52,256
2. North Hertfordshire, East of England, £95,417, £54,514, £40,903
3. Newham, London, £75,304, £45,169, £30,135
4. Worthing, South East, £73,342, £43,472, £29,871
5. Canterbury, South East, £75,798, £47,454, £28,345
6. Croydon, London, £79,064, £51,678, £27,386
7. Guildford, South East, £77,664, £54,992, £22,672
8. Oxford, South East, £71,275, £48,761, £22,513
9. Fareham, South East, £67,799, £47,571, £20,228
10. Merton, London, £73,800, £53,784, £20,016

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