Friday, 25 November 2011

The Panic is Starting...

The panic is starting .......No, I'm not talking about doing your online Christmas shopping. Although if you haven't yet started it probably is time to start panicking.  What I'm referring to is the imminent problems in Europe and a worldwide depression.

Every day in the news we hear more countries in Europe are facing financial difficulties. How many people have forgotten about Greece which has been shoved to the background because of the new stories emerging? Their problems haven't suddenly gone away they just aren't newsworthy at the moment.  In a couple of weeks when they are again due to run out of money they'll be thrust back into the limelight again.

The countries currently in the headlines are:

Germany - once thought to be the savious of Europe and the Euro have found themselves out of favour with investors and this week failed to sell their full 6bn euro bonds. They could only sell 3.6bn euros and that was for much higher interest rates than expected. With opportunities to resolve the European turmoil squandered and  rumours circulating that Germany is printing deutchemarks in readiness for the fall of the euro it is no wonder there was a lack of confidence in buying German Bonds.

France - also squandered an opportunity to tackle the european crisis.  Their banks more than any other country have large exposure to sovereign debt.  Any default or break up of the euro would leave them vunerable to collapse. Rating agencies are looking carefully and France and their AAA rating is at risk. So France's attempts to sell French bonds was met with a luke warm market and interest rates were much higher than previous sales.

Other countries - in the headlings this week are Austria, Belgium and Latvia who all have banks in financial difficulties who are likely to need bailouts. Latvia nationalised it's bank but that hasn't helped stop the run on the bank in question

Europe is heading for recession and bar a miracle is probably already in recession and that will impact on Britain and other countries worldwide.

Today the FSA announced that banks need to have emergency plans in place inreadiness for the collapse of the euro. They went on further to say the euro could collapse within weeks.  European banks are frantically trying to sell off assets so they have cash in hand to deal with the crisis.

And what about us as investors? Well, Britain is still a relatively good place to do business.  Opportunities exist if you go looking for them. It is very much going to be every person providing for themselves and not relying on others to do it for them.  Keep building those assets and you will have a better chance of surviving 2012.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Section 8 or Section 21 Notice to Evict

A frequently asked question about evicting tenants is whether to use Section 8 notice or Section 21 notice.

As a landlord for 11 years I used to say go with Section 8 for speed especially when dealing with rent arrears. But over recent years these types of evictions have become more frequently defended and can often cost the landlord large solicitor bills. I now recommend Section 21 in every instance.

Last year, I had a tenant who had totally wrecked a lovely five bedroom house. They were also not paying their rent and so for speed of eviction I decided on a Section 8 notice under grounds 8,10 and 11. On the day of the court hearing the tenants turned up with their lawyers who asked for additional time to put a defence together. The judge told them off for not entering a defence at the correct time but still gave them the extra time to put a defence together. A new hearing date was set a couple of months later.

At the next hearing they claimed the wrecked house was my fault. I was able to prove that the house had been in excellent condition when let to them (I had an independent inventory completed at the time of letting) but it was decided that the matter would need to go to trial. The trial set for several months later. I had to pay up front some court costs.( All the while, the tenant was not paying any rent.)  I was looking at legal costs of around £20,000 to go to trial and if I lost the case I would also have had to pay the tenants legal costs which would easily have taken my costs to £40,000 +. The tenant had legal aid to take this matter to court.

At the time of serving Section 8 notice on the tenants, I also served Section 21 notice. I immediately applied for an eviction order under Section 21. As a result of the eviction order I then had a bargining chip to get the tenants to withdraw their action in return for my withdrawing the eviction order thus saving me the costs of going to trial. I was back to stage one with still no rent coming in and I was now out of pocket nearly £3,000 in legal fees.

I then served another Section 21 notice on the tenant and applied for their eviction. It was granted.

Following this experience, I would recommend to any landlord to use Section 21 notice everytime to evict a tenant. Provided it has been served correctly you must be given possession of the property. The judge normally gives possession within 14 days of the order being granted. If a defence is entered the judge can decided to give the tenant extra time of around 28 days to leave the property.

Your can get a solicitor to do the paperwork for you and serve the notice. To save costs and because Solicitors can be slow and don't always get the paperwork right, I tend to do all the work myself.

It should be remember that under Section 21 you do not give a reason for evicting the tenant. You are only applying to the court for an order asking the court to give you back possession of the property.

If you have outstanding rent you can make a claim through MCOL and if payment isn't received you can get a CCJ and apply for attachment of earnings.

A step-by-step guide to evicting tenants under Section 21 is available for £5.99.  Please contact the writer at

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Yuk! It's School Time Again

After two weeks of half term holidays it is back to school again tomorrow. The daily grind of up at 6:00am begins again. But this second half term will be different. The clocks have gone back to GMT time and it will be dark when I collect my daughter from school.

When we are on British Summer Time (BST) our after school activities include walking the dog along the canal to a local playing field where he gets a run; bike rides around the boating lake or up to the Open Hearth Pub; Walks around Tredegar House Park. The activities only last half an hour or so but it is wind down time for all of us. For me it's the end of a busy day and my chance to get out of the house. For my husband it marks the time to switch off the phone which rings non-stop everyday and relax with the family.  For my daughter it's a break before starting homework. For the dog it's his chance to be let off the lead and have a free run. Sadly, due to the darkness, these activities become reserved for fine weekends only until it starts getting light again..

The other thing I dislike about school is the whole school system.  Don't get me wrong, school is important as our daughter needs to learn the basics reading, writing and arithmetic but unfortunately school is aimed at producing the next generation of employees and not the next generation of entrepreneurs or investors. Although only 12 years old our daughter already has a long list of business opportunities she wants to develop. Some will be consigned to the waste bin within a year or two but most have real potential to be outstanding businesses of the future. Her knowledge of investing is growing and will I've no doubt, exceed mine within a few years. (Especially now we have Junior ISA's which allow her to become her own investor). To me school holidays are the time when we work on the skills she will need to run a business or become an investor or both. While having fun we manage to plan, organise, research our trips. Play games that encourage investment and creativity such as monopoly and cashflow. All the while her business list ideas gets longer and her knowledge becomes greater.

For us school holidays are such and important time. As a family we decide what we will be doing each day of the week for the duration of the holidays with contingencies if the weather isn't appropriate for the planned activity. We schedule a morning a week for dealing with work after that it is total activities. These holidays we managed along with our bike rides and walks, mini golf at Celtic Manor; Halloween Party; Cinema; Guy Fawkes party; Visits to Fleet Air Arm Museuem; Haynes Motor Museum and Cadbury World. Two home movie nights and numerous games of Cashflow; Monopoly; Frustration; Articulate and Charades. And our ladies trips to the beauty salon and hairdresser. And while they seem simple enough activities they are building entrepreneurial skills which we hope will support her in her future career whatever it might be.

And so we are back to the school routine tomorrow.  The count down to the Christmas holidays has began.  Six weeks and we're back on holiday again. Six weeks and we are back into the realm of business, investment learning and fun again.