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Rental deposits worth over £500,000 not claimed in Scotland

Thousands of private sector tenants in Scotland have failed to collect their deposit when they moved out of their home, it has been discovered. Staff at tenancy deposit scheme SafeDeposits Scotland have calculated that money due to tenants amounts to more than £500,000. Tenancy deposit schemes were introduced in July 2012 and since then more than 156,000 deposits have been repaid by SafeDeposits Scotland. While millions of pounds have been returned to tenants at the end of their leases, a small proportion of people don’t claim back the money that is due to them. It is those people who SafeDeposits Scotland are trying to track down. A large proportion of missing tenants are students, according to the firm. With the start of the academic year, September is the busiest time for deposits being paid both in and out. The busiest day sees almost 90% more deposits being paid in than the average day through the year. Just over 2,000 tenants have ended their leases without claiming back the money due them, totalling more than £500,000. The clock is ticking and if deposits aren’t claimed back within six years, unclaimed funds go to the Crown, a process which will start in 2018. SafeDeposits Scotland’s finance team do everything they can to reunite former tenants with their money including sending letters to forwarding addresses, emailing, calling and texting. While successful in the majority of cases, some people are more elusive. Money cannot be paid directly back into accounts as this isn’t information that tenancy deposit schemes have been given. The Scottish Government introduced the tenancy deposit scheme in 2012 to make deposits safe for tenants. When landlords and agents take a deposit from a tenant they’re required by law to lodge the money with one of three approved schemes who ring fence the money until the end of the lease. SafeDeposits Scotland is the largest of these three approved schemes in the UK, holds an estimated 60% of all private rental deposits and the only scheme to be based in Scotland. ‘It’s extremely surprising that people can leave their rented property and forget to ask for their deposit back. The vast majority of tenants remember to claim their money but there’s a small minority who don’t,’ said Jennifer Paice, chief executive of SafeDeposits Scotland. ‘Our finance team do a great job in tracking most of them down but there are a significant number they can’t get hold of. We don’t think it’s right that people lose out on what’s due to them so we do everything we can to try and get people the money they are owed,’ she added. Continue reading

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Home owners in UK underestimate the work involved in selling a home

Nearly a third of home owners in the UK view estate agents as poor value for money but they dramatically under estimate the work involved in selling a house, new research has found. Overall, the survey, which analysed the perceptions of UK home owners across a variety of property related topics, including the services consumers expect as part of an estate agent's fee, preferences for online property portals and the public perception of estate agents, concluded that there is a need for more transparency in a rapidly changing property market. Only 18% of home owners regarded estate agents as helpful but 20% viewed them as knowledgeable. However, 35% thought they are too pushy and 30% perceived them as poor value for money. When choosing an agent, the fee is the most important deciding factor with 56% rating this as their top consideration, according to the research from estate agent comparison site netanagent. The survey found that a personal recommendation is a close second and local knowledge and responsiveness also ranking highly. It also found that home owners expect a lot for their money with 25% expecting to pay as little as 0.5% to 1% fee to cover all estate agency services, in comparison to the national average of 1.1%. The firm suggests that this reveals a clear need for better education by estate agents amongst consumers about what a fee covers and the work that goes into selling a property. As part of the fee, 52% expect photography to be included while 49% expect their property to be listed on property portals. Some 10% expect the running of open days to be included as standard, along with 6% expecting video marketing services and 10% virtual tours to all be part of the fee. The research also shows a major shift in how people are prepared to sell property. Some 85% are willing to consider using an online estate agent. The report says this is symptomatic of a changing market, with traditional high street agents not always the first port of call when selling a house. Despite this trend, there is still a clear appreciation for the services offered by traditional agents, with reasons to not use an online agent including a desire to speak to people face to face when dealing with big decisions and for local people to sell a house in the local area. With the increased competition in the marketplace from online agents, the survey reveals that 96% of home owners would consider comparing estate agents' fees and services online if they could, to help decide which agent to use when selling a property. Findings from the survey also reveal that the most popular time for home owners to conduct estate agent research is in the evening, with 38% doing so between 6pm and 9pm, outside of traditional opening hours for many high street agents. When looking for property online, only 13% of respondents visit OnTheMarket to… Continue reading

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Many parts of New Zealand seeing new home development boom

The home building boom in New Zealand is continuing to gather momentum with planning consents up 13% in the 12 months to July 2016, and up 2% month on month. p 52% in Bay of Plenty, up 37% in Waikato and up 21% in Otago. The value of residential and commercial building work is also booming and hit an all-time record of $18.5 billion for the year to July, up from $15.6 billion the previous year. Of this, $6.3 billion was non-residential, and half of that was for education buildings such as at Victoria, Canterbury and Otago universities. In Auckland, the total of all building work increased 32% to $6.9 billion for the year, while residential increased 29% to $4.4 billion. In Christchurch post-earthquake building is continuing with the latest $300 million development of 600 homes confirmed by Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith. The development adds to three set up under the Christchurch Housing Accord, between the Christchurch City Council and the Government, which aimed to increase the longer term supply and affordability of homes and are the final phase of the Government’s housing response to the earthquakes. ‘I am hugely encouraged by the progress we are making in Christchurch, where the market is now well recovered from the loss of 10,500 homes in the quakes. Housing in Christchurch was an acute problem two years ago, with costs rising rapidly and record numbers of people requiring emergency housing,’ said Smith. He pointed out that rents in Christchurch have declined by 7% in the past year as compared to a national increase of 3% and house prices have increased 2.6% compared to the national increase of 14.2%. ‘We are now well down the road of recovery. The completion of these four Government-initiated housing projects and the council’s new housing organisation will help give Christchurch a mix of social and affordable housing to meet future needs,’ added Smith. Continue reading

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