Countrywide defends switching energy suppliers while rental properties are empty

Countrywide has defended itself after a landlord complained that one of its agents had changed utility providers to Spark when the property was empty. Spark has also strongly defended itself.

The landlord, writing on a landlord forum, said the practice was a scam.

The landlord said they had signed a contract with Regal Lettings to find a tenant.

In the event, the tenant was found via another agent.

At that point, says the landlord, “I discovered that Regal Lettings had changed the energy supplier for both gas and electricity to Spark Energy.

“The only reason I can think of for doing this is to be paid by Spark Energy. Even small fees would mount up for a letting agent with many empty properties.

“Regal Lettings say that they change all empty properties to Spark Energy because it makes it easier to alert the company when a new tenant moves in.

“Two admin processes rather than one? That doesn’t make sense.

“. . . I’m appalled that letting agents are even allowed to change energy suppliers.

“Worse, no one is interested ­ not OFGEM or the Energy Ombudsman or ARLA.”

The landlord concludes: “As a landlord I don’t really care if energy is supplied by British Gas or British Airways.

“But I do care that my empty property was used to make money for Regal Lettings and they would have charged me for the privilege.”

The landlord acknowledged that the contract with Regal Lettings allowed it to switch gas and electricity supplier when the property was empty, by also posting up the clause in the agreement.

A spokesperson for Spark said: “We pay a small fee per property to cover the costs of administration involved in managing the utilities when properties are empty. For commercial reasons we are not willing to say how much.”

Asked if it was common practice for letting agents to switch empty properties over to Spark, the spokesperson said: “Every property needs an energy supplier. So like other energy companies we are asked by letting agents to become the default energy supplier for their void properties.

“This process saves the agent considerable time and effort and the new tenant moves into a cheaper price than they would inherit on average if the provider was one of the Big Six. Landlords benefit because we manage all the meter readings and admin that they would normally have to do when the property is empty.

“It’s worth noting that Spark receives fewer complaints than any of the Big Six (according to Ofgem Q2 2015 stats) and that tenants and landlords have the right to choose another supplier at any point with no penalty whatsoever.”

Sam Tyrer, MD for Retail at Countrywide, said: “Putting the customer at the heart of what we do is fundamental to our business.

“As part of our change of occupier process and, in accordance with beneficial property management practice, we will arrange to manage the energy supply for the property during a change of occupier.

“Permission from the landlord has to be sought before we can complete this process.

“By implementing the change of occupier process with a chosen energy provider we are able to identify the outgoing energy provider and provide accurate meter readings gained at occupier check-out.

“The chosen energy provider will manage the check-out meter readings with the outgoing energy provider, and this will ensure that accurate final billing is achieved to the outgoing occupier.

“We see this as a benefit to the landlord during void periods and for the tenant when they move in and out of the property.”

We also invited Spark to comment.


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Flat measuring 6ft 6ins wide comes in for criticism on Facebook

A flat measuring just 6ft 6ins wide has attracted unfavourable comment on social media.

The property, in Reading, Berkshire, is for sale to cash buyers only through Parkers at £110,000.

The particulars say that the property – which is close to the Royal Berkshire Hospital – should fetch £500 to £550 per calendar month.

The top floor studio, which is 18ft 10ins long, has one room plus a shower room, and just two windows.

According to the Land Registry, Reading has the fastest rising house prices anywhere in Wales and England. Reading house prices went up 2.4% in August.


rightmove reading

First mortgaged properties bought by crowdfunding scheme

A new marker has been laid down in the fast-growing property crowdfunding sector.

For the first time, three properties have been bought in the same scheme, and then mortgaged at 50% before being offered to investors.

The scheme is the brainchild of Property Partner, which launched this year.

Because the flats, in West Drayton near Heathrow airport, are owned by a company, investors will in fact be buying shares in that company rather than in the properties.

The company structure means that investors will not be hit by the buy-to-let tax reforms announced by Chancellor George Osborne this summer. Instead, investors will be able deduct the full costs of the mortgage from their profits.

Until this purchase, all of Property Partner’s properties were purchased outright for cash.

Shares in the West Drayton flats, or more correctly, the company that owns them, can be bought from £50.

Altogether the flats were bought off-plan for £885,000.

The first was acquired in April; the other two were bought from investors who needed to sell on their contracts.

As a result, Property Partner bought the three apartments at an overall discount, and the current valuation is now £960,000 – meaning the purchase has already turned a paper profit.

Property Partner launched in January and has so far attracted nearly 4,000 investors who have crowdfunded over £8.5m in buying properties.

Individual investments range from £50 to over £100,000 and shares can be traded on the platform’s secondary exchange.

Owners of the properties pay 10.5% (plus VAT) of rental income for management services.

* The latest entrant into the sector is a company called Propology. It plans to source suitable properties through developers and estate agents.

Investors must put in a minimum of £500. They will receive 100% of the net rental income plus quarterly dividends.


Written by: ROSALIND RENSHAW | OCTOBER 6, 2015


and yet again, cant believe people just don’t frame up the shot properly!



Sunglasses please!


Now this is what you call multicoloured!


ARLA says rent controls could lead to even more expense for tenants

The Association of Residential Letting Agents says rent controls would do nothing to benefit tenants.

ARLA was responding to questions from the London Assembly Housing Committee which asked ‘Which rent stabilisation measures do you think operate effectively in other countries?’ and ‘What more can the Mayor do to support the development of build-to-let and commercial landlords?’

In its responses it said it was not in favour of rent controls as similar schemes in other countries had often led to tenants being left with much larger furnishing expenses.

ARLA managing director David Cox said: “Fundamentally ARLA is not in favour of introducing rent stabilisation measures in London. In March we surveyed our members and nearly three-quarters of them said that rent control, longer tenancies and less freedom to evict tenants will not benefit tenants in reality.

“We’ve looked at Germany, which is often viewed as one of the best examples of rent stabilisation in the world, but there are large costs involved for tenants as most properties are let bare without a kitchen or bathroom.

“In addition, in Belgium they have longer minimum tenancies lasting between three and five years which simply wouldn’t work in London where the fluidity of people coming and going for short periods is a common occurrence.

“The challenge in London remains to find new, imaginative and additional ways of delivering good homes in safe and friendly neighbourhoods for prices people can afford.

“We think that the stamp duty raised from London property sales should be kept in London to invest in more housing and we would like to see the London Rental Standard become mandatory across the private rented sector.”


Written by: CHARLIE STONG | OCTOBER 5, 2015

One direction: Harry Styles sets his sights on becoming an estate agent

Cheer up everyone! Here is the PR coup that the entire industry has been waiting for – Harry Styles wants to become an estate agent.

In what could well be the biggest single landmark for the industry since Mr Rutley said to his mates Messrs Knight and Frank, ‘How about it?’, Harry Styles, the One Direction heart-throb, has announced that post-One Direction: “I’ll go from singer to estate agent.”

He has even thought about the art of writing compelling property details.

“I like the little ones (houses) because then you throw in ‘It’s romantic’ which means it’s tiny, while ‘It’s cute’ means it has a window.”

He’s learning fast, is Harry.

One Direction have shattered millions of young hearts by announcing that they plan to take a break.

Indeed, not since the Bay City Rollers called it a day has there been such a profound sense of national loss.

So, it’s good news that Harry Styles thinks estate agency is where it’s at.

Come on, someone, hire that lad before Purplebricks and easyProperty reach into their coffers and enter a bidding war!

Could he even become Zoopla’s next ambassador (sorry, Phil).

* Meanwhile, former Hampshire, Surrey and England cricketer Chris Tremlett has become an estate agent. He has joined online firm The Home Cloud, which was launched in May by Tom Jewell.

Tremlett, who took 53 wickets for England in 12 Tests but was beset by injuries throughout his career, will manage sales and lettings in the London area.

Jewell’s own CV includes a stint at London agents Thamesview.


Written by: ROSALIND RENSHAW | OCTOBER 5, 2015

More Free Golf!

We have yet another free 4 ball to give away for the Gillingham Golf Course! Steve just liked and shared our page and is now booking for him and 3 friends to have a great day out, and its free!!!


Simply like and share our post on our Facebook Page via the following link;

Even if you don’t play, you must know someone who would benefit from this?

So easy, just like and share the competition!

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Now that’s a Harry Potter home!

Clapham ‘bed-under-stairs’ advertised for £500 a month

Room in flat in Clapham

An under-stairs cupboard has been put up for rent in south west London for £500 a month plus bills.

Alex Lomax, 23, went to view the flatshare in Clapham, south west London, which was described as “furnished” in an online listing.

Ms Lomax, who posted images on Twitter of the “bed under the stairs”, said: “I was obviously shocked but was all too polite, I think”.

The BBC has contacted the landlord for comment.

Alex Lomax's tweet saying 'I have literally just been shown a bed under the stairs for £500 a month'

Ms Lomax, who travelled from Nottingham to view the property, said: “There was a landlord and I was shown the kitchen and the under-stairs cupboard – he seemed deadly serious, which is the worrying part.

“He said, ‘You would be sharing with three others people’, and I just wanted to get out of there, so I made my excuses and left.

“I wish I’d been more angry because it’s clearly ridiculous and I’m annoyed at myself for basically just making my excuses.”

Room in flat in ClaphamImage copyrightAlex Lomax

The listing on the website advertises for a “friendly, open-minded and outgoing person” to join the house share.

It adds: “We’re a good bunch and like to chill out a lot together – not really looking for somebody that just wants to stay in their room. Room comes with a bed.”

Ms Lomax said the man who showed her the room “didn’t apologise” for its condition, and told her “it was the last room to rent in the place”.