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Robert Brown
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About Me

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my expertise in the industry

20 + years

Robert 's Recent Activity

Robert  Brown

From: Robert Brown 14 December 2021 13:32 PM

Robert  Brown
Sandra There's ALREADY a huge shortage of good tradesmen, probably exacerbated by the punitive levels of stamp duty making extending cheaper than moving. This has also affected the balance in the housing market by reducing the number of starter homes ( now extended instead of sold to new first time buyers) and so increasing house prices in real terms. Let's just summarise the effect of Government interference on housing over the last 30 years: 1. Tony Blair vastly increased the number of students, reducing the number of apprentices and thus tradesmen. 2. Tradesmen flood in from the EU to plug the gap. 3. Gordon Brown hikes up the stamp duty thus increasing the cost of moving house. 4. More EU tradesmen flood in to meet the increasing demand for house extensions, now cheaper than moving house. 5. Huge negative feeling to EU immigrants "stealing" UK jobs leads to David Cameron calling the June 2016 EU referendum. 6. Boris pushes through Brexit. 7.EU tradesmen go home, leaving a huge shortage in the building trades. 8. In Scotland in December 2017 the SNP ban fixed term tenancies, removing the right of landlords to regain possession of their own properties other than for a very limited range of circumstances. 9. Less prs properties available for rent in Scotland and market forces cause rents to increase by 30% virtually overnight. 10. The Scottish Greens are now pushing for rent controls! 11. What next? Who's going to do anything that needs done to meet anything further that the Government throws at us? One thing we DO know. The above list of failures won't deter them from continuing to interfere!

From: Robert Brown 14 December 2021 09:17 AM

Robert  Brown
Max I was born in a council flat 72 years ago and all my relatives lived I council properties for most of my early life. Over 90% of Council Tenants then we're "salt of the earth" but there were enough scrum families to incentivise decent tenants to buy or build their own properties as soon as they could afford to do so. I do accept there will still be many decent Council Tenants but the percentage of scrum will be significantly higher than before and higher than in more expensive prs properties where landlords can still he them out at the end of the tenancy term. Since tenants are mainly responsible for causing properties to "fall" into disrepair, the higher proportion of scrum tenants in council properties, coupled with poorer quality of management in public sector, means that council properties with very long tenancies are on average in poorer condition than prs properties which have much shorter tenancies. The Queen apparently thinks the outside world smells of fresh paint because that's her limited experience of the outside world. I suspect your experience of prs is similar and limited to the lower end of the market where rogue landlords and tenants live in harmony. I can't think of any reason why landlords with better quality properties would want you in their properties or need your "expertise " which may have given you a skewed opinion of much of the PRS. Anyway, whatever the reasons for your faulty perceptions, on reflection, I think Andrew is right - so it's also goodbye from me!

From: Robert Brown 08 December 2021 09:17 AM

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From: Robert Brown 07 December 2021 16:08 PM

Robert  Brown
Max If every single Council house was refurbished between 2003 and 2017, that means tenants have had plenty of time - 4 to 17 years - to trash them again! I refurbish my properties very frequently - certainly several times in a 17 year period - because that's the way to attract the better off tenants who can pay the highest rents - and in my experience of well over 300 tenants over around 30 years, the best returns are made from the best properties occupied by the highest rent paying tenants. Such properties also generate the least hassle. I learned this lesson early on and upgraded my cheaper properties in areas that justified them and ditched the cheaper properties where upgrading them couldn't be cost justified. I am not in the social work business and want to choose what charity donations I make so I will not considerhousing benefit claimants or buying the type of property they might be able to afford with or without tax pay hand outs. Whilst there are a few rogue lsndlords, I believe most prs properties are initially let out in good order and contrary to one of your earlier claims, properties do not "fall" into disrepair in a passive manner. Toilet seats, power points, fixtures and fittings don't break spontaneously. They break because they are abused. Mould does not grow spontaneously and even most social housing providers produce advice notes on how to avoid it - ignored by those problem tenants who cause it and then complain about it, usually as a justification for rent dodging. In summary, no housing sector, social or prs, is homogeneous and your assertion that the majority of social housing is maintained in a superior condition to the majority of the PRS is nonsense. Market forces dictate that high prices demand high quality to justify them and any landlord who wants to compete for tenants with the social housing sector by charging lower rents is doomed to failure as his costs will exceed his income. I am astonished you don't think the "mistake" of "forgetting " mandatory checks merits the same sort of sanctions that would be levied against a private LandLORD. Finally - remind me - was Grenfell Tower a social or private rented property?

From: Robert Brown 07 December 2021 15:05 PM

Robert  Brown
Michael In Scotland, any property let to more than 2 unrelated adults has needed an HMO licence since 2004, costing nearly £2000 for the first 3 years and over £950 for every 3 year period thereafter. A normal 3 bed flat pays the same licence fee as a "proper" HMO property sleeping 10 "households" which is crazy and led to higher rents and lower availability of normal flat shares for 3 or 4 people. In addition we had to spend over £5000 on interlinked smoke alarms, fire doors, 24 hour exit lights etc. to get the licence and since then at the 3 yearly inspections we have had to upgrade to 6 accessible power points per Rom ( I.e. not behind furniture or beds etc.), had to fit intumescent collars on extractor fans, threshold bars on doors, rehang fire doors which no longer had a perfect seal due to wear and tear, abuse, building movement etc. The £2100 flat sleeps 4 in 4 large double rooms, the £1400 flat sleeps 3 with the lounge now converted into a third double bedroom ( had to disconnect its gas fire before licence issued). The bigger flat is very similar to one that I shared with 7 other guys (and often a few female overnight guests) in the very next street, but that's no longer allowed in Glasgow, even although it would help the housing shortage! I can't remember how much rent we paid as it simply didn't figure, leaving us well able to afford severe food and alcohol poisoning almost every night. Ask today's students how they would prefer to spend their cash. The do gooder lefties have taken this choice away from today's youth!

From: Robert Brown 03 December 2021 15:18 PM

Robert  Brown
Unfortunately the SNP is still way ahead in screwing up the PRS and its landlords and tenants than its left wing Welsh cronies. In December 2017 it outlawed fixed term tenancies, even where both landlord and tenants wanted this. It drastically reduced the grounds for repossession of the landlord's own property and allowed all tenants to leave at any time on 4 weeks notice. Some tenants even use this as an opportunity to rent a property for one month at long term rental rates and so landlords can be faced with paying a 6 week rental fee to letting agents and be 2 weeks' rent down with more costs to find new tenants. The SNP were warned of the pitfalls of their legislation and its effect on rents increasing for decent tenants but ignored it all. Market rents went up around 30% in early 2018 for the best propertiesas a direct result of this attack on our business. Recently we have seen the real costs of energy price caps and increasing insurance premiums looming. These hurt those with the common sense to shop around for the best deals but DON'T help the feckless who couldn't be bothered to make the effort to shop around, instead EVERYONE will now pay more for energy and insurance. Despite the evidence of what happens to energy bills when we become overly reliant on unreliable renewables and foreign powers whist becoming less self sufficient in reliable nuclear and fossil fuels, we have the usual idiots clamouring for us to ignore the cleaner energy stored here underground or in nearby coastal waters A bit earlier banks were prevented from penalizing those who breached their agreements and had unauthorised overdrafts. Now they charge up to 39.9% for all overdrafts, hurting EVERY debtor irrespective of how responsibly they operated their overdrafts. Despite all the evidence of the harm done when Governments interfere, the SNP and its even worse little green helpers are he'll bent on imposing rent controls in Scotland. I think this will be a disaster for decent Scottish tenants but landlords will have their rents raised as much as possible before the legislation comes in and will continue to increase rents by the maximum allowed at the highest frequency allowed. We must do so for self preservation but that doesn't mean we won't have sympathy for the decent tenants caught up in this nightmare! The Welsh lefties will have a lot to think about, and many consequences to ignore, over the years ahead!

From: Robert Brown 03 December 2021 13:29 PM

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From: Robert Brown 29 November 2021 10:42 AM

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From: Robert Brown 29 November 2021 09:54 AM

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From: Robert Brown 25 November 2021 19:50 PM

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From: Robert Brown 19 November 2021 17:19 PM

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From: Robert Brown 09 November 2021 08:28 AM

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From: Robert Brown 05 November 2021 20:16 PM

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From: Robert Brown 04 November 2021 11:44 AM

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From: Robert Brown 02 November 2021 14:23 PM

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From: Robert Brown 02 November 2021 08:10 AM

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From: Robert Brown 25 October 2021 11:47 AM

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From: Robert Brown 11 October 2021 22:33 PM

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From: Robert Brown 11 October 2021 20:33 PM

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From: Robert Brown 11 October 2021 08:44 AM

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From: Robert Brown 17 September 2021 10:15 AM

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From: Robert Brown 11 September 2021 10:19 AM

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From: Robert Brown 02 September 2021 13:00 PM

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From: Robert Brown 23 August 2021 08:52 AM

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From: Robert Brown 12 August 2021 10:58 AM

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From: Robert Brown 05 August 2021 08:03 AM

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From: Robert Brown 04 August 2021 08:04 AM

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From: Robert Brown 30 June 2021 19:36 PM

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From: Robert Brown 25 June 2021 21:41 PM

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From: Robert Brown 22 June 2021 08:29 AM

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From: Robert Brown 16 June 2021 20:37 PM

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From: Robert Brown 16 June 2021 11:51 AM

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From: Robert Brown 20 May 2021 20:25 PM

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From: Robert Brown 12 May 2021 13:17 PM

Robert  Brown
I agree about how vital fixed term rentals are for the student market and shared flats generally. True to form, the SNP, aided by their little green helpers, totally ignored advice when they brought in their ludicrous prs legislation in December 2017, bringing chaos if one joint tenant wants out of the flat or is kicked out of University or College. In theory, in Scotland, one joint tenant could decide to stay in the flat for the rest of their lives and the others would still be liable for their share of rent, utility bills etc. The Scottish legislation has no means of ending a joint tenancy other than by mutual agreement or eviction on a very narrow range of circumstances. Purpose built student accommodation is exempt from the 2017 legislation but not shared or HMO flats with a joint tenancy agreement. The only bright side is that many landlords decided to avoid flat sharing joint tenancies resulting in a shortage of good quality well located flats and the market rents for those went up by about 30% overnight, with the best 4 bed flats near Glasgow University getting around £25k per annum from early 2018 onwards compared to around £19k in mid 2017. Whilst in Glasgow landlords are gaining and students losing because of this ill thought out legislation, in Edinburgh there are NO winners. When fixed term tenancies were allowed, many student rentals were for 8 or 9 months and the flats were quickly refurbished and let to tourists over the summer months. This kept the flats in excellent condition and student rents lower than in Glasgow or Dundee etc. However, because landlords can't plan ahead - and most students don't - these flats can't be booked up well in advance by tourists, so tourists are pushed out to residential areas where many owner occupiers let out rooms or full houses with airbnb at huge rents but no tax is paid and city centre hospitality businesses lose out on evening food and drink revenue. As I said earlier, a lose-lose for practically everyone including HMRC, with only a few tax dodgers winning letting out unlicensed and unregulated potentiality unsafe short term rentals. England could study what has happened in Scotland and learn from it, but somehow I doubt that will happen. The only glimmer of hope I have is that the SNP hates to have anything the same as England, so the SNP might change our legislation if England copies us!

From: Robert Brown 11 May 2021 15:05 PM

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From: Robert Brown 10 May 2021 09:03 AM

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From: Robert Brown 02 May 2021 20:27 PM

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From: Robert Brown 22 April 2021 13:02 PM

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From: Robert Brown 21 April 2021 22:33 PM

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From: Robert Brown 20 April 2021 12:51 PM

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From: Robert Brown 20 April 2021 08:41 AM

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From: Robert Brown 05 April 2021 22:11 PM

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From: Robert Brown 31 March 2021 10:55 AM

Robert  Brown
Totally agree! Glasgow Council brought in compulsory HMO licences around 2005 for all properties let to more than 2 unrelated adults, irrespective of size or number of rooms etc. On each flat I had to spend around £2k on a 3 year licence and around £5k on fitting mains operated interlinked smoke and CO alarms, new fire doors, new locks on external doors etc. I also have ongoing annual costs of around £500 for LGSR, boiler servicing, PAT checks and alarm servicing, around £1000 every 3 years for each renewed HMO licence - plus upgrading to meet any changes in regulations, like 6 easily accessible power points per room, intumescent collars on extraction fans etc. However I found I could increase my rents from a bit under £200 per month per bedroom in 2004 to over £250 as soon as the HMO regulations took effect and I had up to 17 groups of four wanting the best located flats. Rents continued to rise steadily to around £375 per room per month in 2017 and since the new loony SNP legislation came into force in December 2017, I can now get £525 per room per month - so £2100 per month for a four bed flat from 2017 onwards that used to get under £800 in 2004! Tenants will always have to pay for the policies of those who claim to be looking after them! PS. When I was a student in Glasgow in the early 70's there were 8 of us sharing a grotty 4 bedroom flat - but we could easily afford the essentials like 8 pints of beer per night and copious quantities of fish and chips from the local chippy. No wonder there's a huge housing shortage when youngsters are banned from doubling up (at least officially!) and thus needing twice as many flats (and paying twice as much rent) compared to earlier generations - who didn't die in their thousands due to house fires, gas explosions, legionella, CO poisoning or electrocution!

From: Robert Brown 29 March 2021 10:34 AM

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From: Robert Brown 25 March 2021 10:00 AM

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From: Robert Brown 24 March 2021 08:20 AM

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From: Robert Brown 23 March 2021 17:18 PM

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From: Robert Brown 11 March 2021 11:35 AM

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From: Robert Brown 08 March 2021 09:21 AM

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From: Robert Brown 05 March 2021 17:41 PM

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From: Robert Brown 03 March 2021 17:18 PM

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From: Robert Brown 03 March 2021 09:31 AM

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From: Robert Brown 01 March 2021 15:22 PM

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From: Robert Brown 26 February 2021 09:19 AM

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From: Robert Brown 25 February 2021 19:24 PM

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From: Robert Brown 25 February 2021 09:33 AM

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From: Robert Brown 24 February 2021 23:05 PM

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From: Robert Brown 24 February 2021 22:47 PM

Robert  Brown
Michael The SNP war against Landlords (and by extension, decent tenants ) has led a real shortage of decent properties. I had 17 groups of 4 students chasing one 4 bed flat in June 2019, and only one out of a dozen flats suffered the early termination by tenants last March (allowed in Scotland) when lockdown started, as the others knew they wouldn't get such nice flats again. I have another really nice holiday house in a lovely seaside village which easily rents from April to September every year. I used to take a 6 month let for the winter, basically to avoid the Council Tax and keep it heated, but it still gave a family a nice home, albeit for only six months. SNP legislation now means I can't set a 6 month limit on a winter let, so I stopped doing a winter let. However I have found that with Christmas and New Year weeks let at peak rates, along with off peak short breaks and weekends, I make more than previously from the six month rental. It also now qualifies for tax advantages and council tax exemption as a furnished holiday let. Net result is I am about £3000 per annum better off, would qualify for only 10% CGT if I sold it, and the local market has lost a fantastic value winter 6 month rental opportunity. Many of the former high quality student flats in Edinburgh are no longer rented to students as the short term summer rentals couldn't be booked up in advance until students deigned to give the minimum 4 weeks notice. Purpose built student ghettos charge £500 plus per room and tend to be in more dodgy further out areas, so that sets expectations for rents for the better situated normal 4 bed properties. In addition, local residents want councils to limit the number of HMO licences issued so limiting availability and creating higher demand from the growing numbers of students and other young flat sharers. I don't see anything interfering with this situation in my lifetime. These are some of the reasons good properties are in short supply and in high demand making very high yields in Scotland for the best properties. Incidentally the flats yielding £25k per annum would sell for between £250k to £350k maximum, so yielding around 8 to 10% gross. I never paid over half this amount, with many of my flats being well under a quarter of that 30 to 40 years ago, so I could cope with a serious step change but really can't see it happening in Scotland.

From: Robert Brown 24 February 2021 22:46 PM

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From: Robert Brown 23 February 2021 15:01 PM

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From: Robert Brown 22 February 2021 20:49 PM

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From: Robert Brown 19 February 2021 09:21 AM

Robert  Brown
Spot on! A key reason for the lack of rental properties is renters being unwilling (or not allowed) to share in the manner they always did in previous generations. I shared a 4 bedroom student flat with 7 other guys (officially) and often also with a few girls (with the "single" guys sofa surfing on a "my turn for the bedroom tomorrow" basis). We had 1. an electrical engineer - who couldn't even by-pass the meter, 2. a mechanical engineer - who couldn't fix anything we broke, 3. a medic - sometimes came in handy, 4. a vet- in case the medic took ill, 5. a law student - useless if we ever needed him - still is! 6. a microbiologist - couldn't even brew decent beer, 7. a chemistry student - nearly blew us up trying to distill home made hooch, 8. an art student - never expected him to be useful anyway. We had thread bare rugs, draughty windows, fire trap sofas, dodgy gas fires and old round pin plugs and frequent rodent visitors - but the biggest risk we had was dying of food or alcohol poisoning or fatal skin diseases through unwashed skin, clothing or bed clothes. The bottom line was we could well afford the rent split 8 ways and higher density sharers only needed half the number of flats than we would need with current day HMO rules, so leaving many more flats available for others to rent. Another case of the "campaigners" shooting themselves in the foot at the expense of other innocent tenants and the homeless who are no longer allowed to share as cheaply like we did ? PS - Never had so much fun (don't tell the wife!)

From: Robert Brown 17 February 2021 14:29 PM

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From: Robert Brown 17 February 2021 13:13 PM

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From: Robert Brown 23 January 2021 11:44 AM

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From: Robert Brown 22 January 2021 16:51 PM

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From: Robert Brown 20 January 2021 13:49 PM

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From: Robert Brown 20 January 2021 13:44 PM

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From: Robert Brown 14 January 2021 19:21 PM

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From: Robert Brown 13 January 2021 11:36 AM

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From: Robert Brown 12 January 2021 17:26 PM

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From: Robert Brown 12 January 2021 10:43 AM

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From: Robert Brown 11 January 2021 10:25 AM

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From: Robert Brown 11 January 2021 08:51 AM

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From: Robert Brown 11 January 2021 08:50 AM

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From: Robert Brown 09 January 2021 15:01 PM

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From: Robert Brown 07 January 2021 19:18 PM

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From: Robert Brown 05 January 2021 09:57 AM

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From: Robert Brown 30 December 2020 22:38 PM

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From: Robert Brown 24 December 2020 08:53 AM

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From: Robert Brown 22 December 2020 09:47 AM

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From: Robert Brown 22 December 2020 08:59 AM

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From: Robert Brown 22 December 2020 08:16 AM

Robert  Brown
It looks as if our right of reply to Shelter's claims in the adjoining thread have been curtailed. This is a pity because for once Shelter is right. We can, we do and we WILL discriminate - and we WILL get away with this discrimination - because otherwise how else can we decide who to rent to? Should it be based on any logical selection criteria - which means discrimination - or on a random basis - like always first come, first served.... or by raffle ticket .. or by drawing straws? If it's anything other than a purely random selection then it will always be discrimination - positive discrimination in favour of the fortunate tenants we choose, balanced by negative discrimination to the disadvantage of those we don't choose. Unless we only have two applicants for each empty property then there will, by definition, be more negative discrimination than positive discrimination. That's life! It was ever thus - even if the lefties try to thwart every selection process by removing or hiding or falsifying the information on which we make our selections - like they are doing now with abolishing school exams and letting them mark their own homework! Surely it's better to have a known, quantifiable and visible method of selection - like working tenants only - which time and experience has shown to work well, by and large - than an invisible method subject to hidden or unconscious bias with no scientific or verifiable basis and thus no means of subsequent quantification of its level of success and hence justification?

From: Robert Brown 21 December 2020 14:13 PM

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From: Robert Brown 19 December 2020 19:39 PM

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From: Robert Brown 17 December 2020 13:01 PM

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From: Robert Brown 15 December 2020 22:18 PM

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From: Robert Brown 07 December 2020 13:58 PM

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From: Robert Brown 04 December 2020 09:36 AM

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From: Robert Brown 26 November 2020 14:43 PM

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From: Robert Brown 25 November 2020 12:15 PM

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From: Robert Brown 19 November 2020 15:12 PM

Robert  Brown
I wonder if they will abolish the annual £12.5k CGT allowance which stock market investors (I.e. Most MP's and Tory voters) can use every year but landlords can only use once when they crystallise a capital gain (largely inflation) when they sell, usually after a number of years of caring for and improving the property. I foresee two outcomes, neither of which will be what the Government wants. 1. Landlords will dramatically reduce how often they sell or churn their properties, so the amount of CGT raised won't necessarily increase as the Government hoped for. Look at how the Stamp Duty hikes have reduced the amount of activity in the owner occupied sector, with many ugly unsuitable extension being built to avoid moving. This has all reduced the availability of smaller homes for the first time buyers. Any. CGT hike will add to this problem - not the outcome the Government wants! 2. In the 80's and later, rents stayed relatively stable as landlords were happy with modest yields and healthy capital growth. Now that capital growth is stalled, rents have grown substantially in the last 10 to 15 years. A hike in CGT will add to. Landlords' potential costs and thus increase rents in the current market where demand outstrips supply. Again, not what the Government wants. It's notable that they are steering clear of a much fairer strategy - taxing the dead! Whilst I expect my children to pay a modest amount of IHT on my demise, I have taken steps to minimise this by buying much of my portfolio in their names and receiving the after tax rental profits as tax free gifts from them. However I wouldn't object too much if the rules were changed to close IHT loopholes and spread the load amongst all relatively comfortable families. However that would hurt the Tory voter base too much so it's easier to penalise landlords as most voters would support that, not realising that it's actually tenants who would be penalised in most cases. Any landlords who plan to sell up in a few years would be well advised to set up a company and sell to it NOW, so crystallising the current gain under current CGT rates, gaining the current tax advantages of owning properties in a limited company and also gaining the flexibility of selling a proportion of the company later over a number of years to maximise any remaining CGT annual exemptions. In summary, I think only changes to unavoidable taxes like Council Tax, PAYE and VAT will actually make any difference to the amount of tax revenue raised. All other taxes are too easily avoided or mitigated by sensible tax planning and creative thinking.

From: Robert Brown 12 November 2020 09:39 AM

Robert  Brown

From: Robert Brown 05 November 2020 10:27 AM

Robert  Brown
Mark For generations, most working people have been unable to buy their own homes. Keeping families fed and clothed was a daily struggle for many before WW2.This eased up a bit for probably one full generation but it now seems more difficult again in many areas, but by no means everywhere or for every property. Evidently there is no current problem in affording copious amounts of food for the vast "bulk" of people, whether working or not. There are plenty of buying opportunities in auctions throughout the UK for those with the gumption to grasp them. Working people were undeniably poor up until WW2 but given the obesity epidemic, sky dishes, fancy cars, fancy holidays, costalot coffees and expensive mobile phones, the biggest barrier to home ownership for many is the inability or refusal to get their priorities right. For many renters, they don't want to buy and take on the responsibility of mortgages, maintenance, prohibitive stamp duty payments on moving house - compared to no fees at all on renting another property. PRS investors ( NOT speculators!) are providing a valuable and much wanted service and contributing to the mobility of the working population, although not enough of them seem to be prepared to exploit such mobility opportunities and go where the work is and just bemoan lack of local opportunities, ignoring those opportunities further afield. Perhaps if the benefits system, and especially the furlough schemes etc. were less generous then they would have more incentive to chase the opportunities that do exist. However it's easier to moan about those who have grasped opportunities past and present!

From: Robert Brown 04 November 2020 13:38 PM

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From: Robert Brown 31 October 2020 23:01 PM

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From: Robert Brown 28 October 2020 10:16 AM

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From: Robert Brown 19 October 2020 09:18 AM