UK Rental Market Remains Stable Following Brexit Vote

A June rental market report from The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) indicates a knee-jerk reaction dip in rent from 12% of its members in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote. Despite this, the broader picture immediately after the referendum seems to be one of stability.

According to ARLA members, the supply and demand from tenants remained the same – 67% reported no change in supply, and further, 64% reported no change in the number of prospective tenants seeking homes. Knight Frank also reported that tenant demand remained strong, with viewings in June at the highest level since records began.

However, according to the ARLA, in the weeks following the Brexit vote almost half (45%) of letting agents have witnessed uncertainty from landlords looking to let properties, which could cause waves in the rental market during the autumn and winter.

David Cox, managing director of the ARLA said: “What we need is some certainty from the new government that housing remains a priority with the rental market playing a central [role]. For example, we want to avoid a situation where institutional investors start pulling away from the market because, ultimately, this will impact tenants by squeezing supply further and pushing up rents.”

According to Mr. Cox, one thing that is clear following Brexit, is that supply and demand remains a real issue in the rental market. “If supply continues to dwindle against growing demand, no matter what the eventual implications of Brexit are, renting will become more difficult and expensive for tenants,” Cox said.

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Spotlight on: St. Albans

St. Albans is an affluent Cathedral City in StAlbans2jmHertfordshire just 22 miles north of central London. Its colourful history as a stop-off point for travellers to and from London is still very much in evidence with Roman remains and beautiful medieval architecture.

Popular with young professionals, St. Albans is a desirable place to live and work. Two of the main reasons for its enduring popularity are the great schools, both state and private (physicist Stephen Hawking went to St. Albans School) and a fast train service to London St. Pancras which takes about 20 minutes.

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Applying for Placement at a UK State School

In order to register for a place at a UK state school, applicants must have proof of residence and an address within the school’s catchment area. A signed lease and a utility bill will suffice as proof of residency, but this means that you will need to secure a property before being able to apply to the school.

Admission criteria can vary slightly from one school to the next. State schools are usually only able to accept children who live in their designated catchment area. However, living in the correct catchment area does not necessarily guarantee your child a place at your first choice of school, as some of the most popular state schools are over-subscribed and have long waiting lists.

When trying to get a place at a popular state school, bear in mind they may give priority to children who:

The UK state school system is divided into four levels: early years/preschool, primary education, secondary education, and tertiary education.

The UK state school system is divided into four levels: early years/preschool, primary education, secondary education, and tertiary education.

  • already have a brother or sister at the school
  • live close to the school
  • are from a particular religion (for faith-based schools)
  • do well in an entrance exam (for selective schools, e.g., grammar schools or performing arts schools)
  • went to a particular primary school (i.e., a “feeder school”)
  • are looked after by social services (all schools must have this as a top priority)

All state schools are regulated by a governing body referred to as OFSTED. You can search for reports on schools by area, or look for a link on the school’s own website. The Good Schools Guide is another independent source of information although access to some of the website will require a subscription fee.

There is no legal requirement to have had vaccinations to attend a UK state school although most children born in the UK will have been vaccinated against Diptheria, Tetanus, Whooping Cough, Polio, Hib, PCV, Rotavirus, Men B, Men C, Measles, Mumps and Rubella. (Some private schools do ask for immunisation records as part of the application process.)


General Advice

Contact the schools you are interested in directly about place availability. Create a shortlist and contact the secretary/head teacher of each. They will organise time for you to have a tour and provide you with the forms or information you will need to transfer mid-year. There is no guarantee of a place at a preferred school, but you can ask to go on their waiting list.

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UK: How to Avoid Five Common Deposit Disputes

According to the TDS, over half of all disputes at the end of a tenancy relate to issues with cleaning. A slightly lower proportion relate to damage followed by the upkeep of the garden.

A tenant cannot be held responsible for changes in a property’s condition caused by what the House of Lords has called “reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces” (i.e., passage of time). Defining just what constitutes “fair wear and tear” is often cause for dispute. The law does not allow for “betterment”, meaning landlords cannot expect to have old items replaced for new at the tenant’s expense. It may be the case that a tenant has melted an area of an acrylic sink with a hot pan, but if the sink was already 10 years old with a recommended life expectancy of 12 years, the tenant should not be expected to bear the entire cost of a brand new one.
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Dwellworks HQ Passes Business Continuity Test with Flying Colors

RNC CLE sign 2016As the City of Cleveland took center stage during the Republican National Convention, our local employees worked within the confines of home, to avoid possible safety and traffic concerns and any business continuity challenges that may have arisen that week. Several employees also took the opportunity to work with their teammates in our Detroit office. Over several months leading up to the convention, the Dwellworks leadership team took proactive measures in developing and testing a solid business continuity plan.
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Seattle City Council Passes New Housing Law

On August 8th, the Seattle City Council approved a groundbreaking change to how landlords approve potential rental applicants. The policy will require landlords in the city of Seattle to rent their available units to qualified applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. In the past, landlords were permitted to screen multiple applicants and select the one they liked the most. The City Council felt this action allowed landlords to use their own biases to potentially limit or discriminate against certain applicants.

The policy also bans landlords from applying discounts or other related benefits to preferred companies in the area. The Seattle Office for Civil Rights began investigating these rental benefits for preferred tech companies to see if they violated fair-housing guidelines. The Office for Civil Rights noted: “Data has shown workforce gaps exist in the tech sector, for example, based on gender and race, which negatively impact groups who are currently underrepresented in the tech workforce. Given Seattle’s high rents and increasing unaffordability, incentives and opportunities for certain groups over others may perpetuate existing racial, gender, and other social inequities.”

SeattleThis new law will now be placed in front of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, and if signed, the law would have the following requirements:

  • Landlord would need to provide the renter with their minimum screening criteria
  • Landlord required to note the date and time when receiving a completed application
  • Landlord must screen multiple applications in order of receipt
  • Landlord required to offer the unit to the first applicant who meets the landlord’s criteria

The law is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2017.

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Severe Flooding in Louisiana to Impact Housing Availability

This month we have seen extreme flooding in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area. In the week between August 8th and the 14th, more than 6 trillion gallons of water fell on the area with 40,000 homes damaged or destroyed, displacing at least 100,000 residents. Per the Red Cross, it is the worst natural disaster to hit the United States since Hurricane Sandy. In addition to the damage that was caused, Louisiana’s topography is very flat and it will take several weeks for the water levels to go down. Recovery in the area will be a very slow as cleanup, repairs, and rebuilding are still to follow.

The impact this disaster has on the mobility industry will be felt when it comes to available rental properties. For those being relocated to Baton Rouge and Lafayette – areas already with limited housing inventory prior to the flooding – there will be almost no available rentals, including apartments and houses, for several months to come. Any existing inventory is expected to be quickly snapped up by displaced residents.

An occurrence of these inflated market conditions was last seen during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, where rentals in the area were secured oftentimes sight-unseen and rent price amounts grew substantially higher than normal market rates. It is anticipated that the area will experience similar increases to rental prices, as demand overwhelming exceeds supply. Dwellworks, and its local Destination Services Consultants, will continue to monitor the situation and provide feedback as new information is gathered.

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Top Ten Rio Olympics Culture Tips

Brazil is a country with a driven, yet laid back culture known for its friendly, welcoming, and ethnically diverse people. Despite their hospitality, however, there are still certain cultural faux pas which can cause some uncomfortable interactions if you’re not careful. Here are 10 tips to help guide you through the national and regional do’s and don’ts of travel to this year’s Olympic host city of Rio de Janeiro…

10. NEVER make the thumb-to-forefinger “OK” sign/hand gesture… it’s not OK in Brazil!
9. Cariocas are people from the time-flexible, cultural capital of Rio de Janeiro; Paulistanos are people from the time-sensitive work capital, Sao Paulo. They don’t appreciate being confused with one another!people
8. NEVER wear a combination of green and yellow-colored clothes in Brazil… UNLESS you are going to a soccer game, or an Olympic event!
7. The “figa” hand gesture (“I got your nose!”) means Good Luck in Brazil – Use it!
6. Friends greet each other with 2 or 3 “air kisses” in Brazil. Be sure to reciprocate in kind!
5. A red streetlight is merely a suggestion: pedestrians beware! Brazilians often drive with their headlights on during the day, and off at night.
4. Caipirinha – the national cocktail – is made of cachaça, sugar, fruit, and ice. Caution: it goes down easy… and so will you!
3. Most Rio samba music clubs are small, intimate venues, not like the massive street parties of Carnival.
2. There are usually three shakers on the table in Rio: salt, pepper, and manioca (a shredded root, added to thicken and flavor sauces.)
1. Missed Carnival? Missed the Olympics? You’ve still got time to get to Rio this year for its BIGGEST annual event: New Year’s Eve and the Festival of Iemanja, goddess of the sea, right on the beach!

If you follow these tips you’ll avoid an unfortunate misunderstanding and have a wonderful time in Rio. Enjoy your trip – or as the cariocas would say – Aproveite a viagem!

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Successful Leaders: Go for the Gold!

I always enjoy watching the Olympics. I love the pageantry of the event, the stories of the athletes, and the incredible competition. In that vein, I ran across an Inc. article by Jeff Haden about US Swimmer Katie Ledecky. In the article, Haden talks about the lengths she goes to in order to be the best in her sport and dominate the competition. Her hard work, the extra time, her dedication, her charting her own path and her laser focus have made her an Olympic Champion; however, they can all be applied to being a business leader as well.

Obviously it all starts with hard work. Intelligence, luck, and timing play a role in our success as a leader; but, hard work is the main ingredient… the building block for any accomplished career. Luckily we don’t have to swim thousands of yards a day like an Olympic swimmer, but we are going to have to put some extra hours, take on that extra workload, and expend the extra energy to be a success. As Haden says, “There are no shortcuts.” Another hallmark of a successful swimmer or a successful business leader is the ability to be fully committed to the cause. He said of Ledecky, “isn’t a person who swims. She’s a swimmer.” That is the approach you need as a business professional. Don’t be a worker running a project or someone in charge of a team. Be a leader.

My challenge this week is for you to go for the gold. We don’t all have the opportunity to win an Olympic medal, but the work ethic, focus, and dedication are the same traits that create successful business leaders. Go out there and get it!

Onward and Upward

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EU-US Privacy Shield Launched August 1

After a ruling by the EU Court of Justice – the highest court in the EU – declared the US/EU Safe Harbour Framework invalid, leaving more than 4,000 US companies with uncertainty as to the best way of transferring personal data between the EU and US, both parties have since been vigorously working toward a new version.

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