What does 2015 have in store for the UK rental market?

Fran Mulhall of GFW Letting, urban property rental specialists based in Newcastle upon Tyne, discusses the 2015 UK lettings market landscape and changes that will impact landlords.

As the first month of 2015 draws to an end, the UK rental market will have grown by at least five per cent. Recent statistics show that for every one rental property out there, at least five tenants are chasing it. As the lettings market grows, increasingly complicated regulation increases also, putting greater demands on both letting agencies and landlords.

2015 will see a big change for letting agencies. Up until recently, letting agents needed no formal training or experience in order to practice. Since October last year however, all letting agents, by law, must sign up to a redress scheme. This provides greater protection to both landlords and tenants giving them an avenue to seek redress should the company's internal complaints procedure not satisfy their complaint. For the lettings market, it will hopefully drive out the unscrupulous traders who give genuine agents a bad name and importantly raise the standards of service provided by agencies, creating better working relationships between agencies and landlords.

In other legislation, The Immigration Act 2014 introduced a requirement for landlords to conduct checks to ensure that new tenants have the right to rent in the UK. This is set to become mandatory in the first half of this year meaning landlords must check a tenant's immigration status or face a hefty fine, creating more red tape for landlords and letting agents. Add to this the removal of the six month council tax exemption periods for landlords with unoccupied residential properties, which is increasingly forcing landlords to negotiate on asking rent in order to secure a quicker let so that they save the cost of paying council tax during void periods, it's not surprising that the private lettings market may seem like a minefield of bureaucracy to landlords.

We also need to consider political influences such as the impact of the next general election later in the year. If Labour succeed, the new government would look to create longer tenancy terms, abolish tenant fees and bring in a national register of landlords. Their...

pro tenant stance will inevitably impact landlords who would likely see their fees rise to overcome the shortfall created by the lack of tenant fees.

It's also important to point out that Interest rates are likely to increase in early 2015. This would push up rates on buy-to-let tracker mortgages for landlords which may mean the rent they charge no longer covers the repayments thus giving landlords no choice but to increase their rent level.

For the next couple of years at least, 'Generation Rent' is here to stay. This is why it's vital that investor landlords use property agents that provide an effective and genuine service and actively seek to let out properties to good quality tenants quickly and efficiently. Legislation, political agendas, the tax environment and insecure interest rates are just some of the things that can be very confusing and disheartening for landlords.

Indeed, a recent UK Landlord Tax survey found that 67 per cent of landlords are feeling the strain. The role of the letting agent is even more pivotal than before - we need to guide, advise and support landlords as part of our offering and provide a quality, transparent service. Anything less will only serve to create a black hole of misunderstanding and mistrust in an already complex market.

For more information about the points raised in this discussion, please visit: www.gfwletting.co.uk

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Free 2014 Tax Guide for Property Managers

The new year is here, but all of us have one more piece of unfinished business from 2014: preparing and filing tax returns. Even if you've handled your taxes yourself in the past, it's a challenge to stay on top of federal and state tax codes, which often change from year to year. Sometimes these changes are dramatic, so it pays to have expert, up-to-date tax advice to ensure you don't pay too much or make a mistake that could get you in trouble with the IRS.

To help you get through this hectic time of year, we've put together a free resource that simplifies the often-complicated tax instructions from the IRS and state governments: The Buildium 2014 Tax Survival Guide.

This free 2014 tax guide details tax deductions and credits that all property managers should know about to minimize their tax burdens and file their returns accurately and on time. The advice in the chapter "The Top Ten Tax Deductions for Property Managers" alone could save you more than 46% in taxes!

Download the 2014 tax guide now for free.

Here's a preview of the tax information covered in our free guide:

Top Ten Deductions for Property Managers

Tax Credits for Individuals

Tax Credits for Small Businesses

How to File Your Tax Return

How to File a 1099

State Taxes

Special State Tax Rules for Landlords

Online Tax Resources

When you download the guide, you'll also receive a special offer for 25% off the price of these two titles by tax expert Stephen Fishman:

We hope you enjoy our free tax guide, and from everyone here at Buildium, many happy returns!

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How to Find a Qualified Tax Professional for Your Property Management Business

Taxes and Ben FranklinA seasoned tax pro could save you a lot of Benjamins. (Flickr/Donkey Hotey)

The New Year is upon us, a time for celebration and optimism. And then it's everyone's favorite time of the year: tax season. Even if you're comfortable preparing and filing your own taxes, hiring a certified professional accountant (CPA) or other qualified tax preparer can be a wise move.

A good tax professional will make sure you don't overpay a dime in taxes because you're not taking all the tax deductions you're entitled to. He or she also can prevent you from making costly errors that could land you in hot water with the IRS or your state government.

In this post, attorney, author, and tax expert Stephen Fishman tells you how you to find a CPA or other qualified pro to handle your tax preparation and filing.

Often, the best way to find a tax pro is to get referrals from friends or business associates. If this doesn't work, there are a number of professional organizations that have online databases of tax preparers.

These organizations include the:

o National Association of Enrolled Agents

o American Institute of CPAs, and

o National Association of Tax Professionals

Additionally, you can find other directories at Accountant-Finder.com, AccountantsWorld.com, and CPAdirectory.com.

Note that you don't have to go to a tax preparer's office to do your return. Tax return preparation can be handled completely online by email. There are no laws preventing you from using an accountant online. Thus, you can use a preparer in another city or even another state.

However, it's wise to stick with a preparer located in your home state because he or she will likely be more knowledgeable about your state's taxes.

Keep in mind that whoever you hire to prepare your taxes, it's ultimately up to you to make sure your return is prepared properly.

You can protect yourself by taking these steps:

o Verify your preparer's credentials. You can check on an enrolled agent's status with the IRS by emailing the IRS at epp@irs.gov or opr@irs.gov, or calling (313) 234-1280 or (202) 927-6428. You must provide the agent's full name, city and state, plus your name and address. Additionally, you can check on a CPA with your state board of accountancy.

o Make sure you understand how much the services you are getting cost. Ask for an estimate of the preparer's fees before you hire him or her. The IRS recommends that you should avoid tax return preparers who base their fees on a percentage of the refund.

o Your preparer must provide a preparer tax identification number (PTIN) obtained from the IRS.

o Whether your return is filed electronically or by mail, make sure to get a printed copy signed by your preparer. IRS rules require all paid preparers to identify themselves on the returns they prepare. If a preparer refuses to sign your return, he or she is likely up to something shady.

Read more articles by Stephen Fishman on the Buildium Blog. And from everyone at Buildium, have a Happy New Year!

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