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Month: March 2014

How to pick the best agent

An important question to ask potential agents before letting your property through them is who their regulating body is. We are finding that an increasing number of tenants are being ‘ripped off’ by letting agents as the agents are keeping their deposits and administration fees. The BBC have done research into this and some fraudulent letting agents are taking thousands of pounds from tenants as holdings fees and then not allowing them to move in to the property and retaining the money.

Trading standards in England have stated “487 cases have been reported from January 2011 to September 2013” it is believed this will only get worse supported by the Trading Standard Institute (TSI) saying the way the information is being recorded means the real number of victims could be much higher. The TSI also said cases involving rogue letting agents were becoming a national priority. It is believed that in some cases the landlord’s never even existed however in other cases the agents are also stealing from the landlord as well as the potential tenant.

Authorities are pushing for letting agents to be much stronger regulated. This will make choosing the right agent for you to use a lot easier.

At GFW Letting we are regulated by RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) which gives our landlords confidence in our service and the company ethics.

Industry Regulation

The Association of Regulated Letting Agents (ARLA) has called on George Osborne to bring more regulation in the private rented sector in the latest Budget.

With reports from ITV News, British Gas and Shelter Cymru stating that tenants are living in sub standard accommodation, with many being too scared to complain, the unregulated lettings industry is once again in the spotlight.

The rental demand in the North East continues at a strong rate, not matched by the supply of properties available, allowing unscrupulous agents and sub standard properties to remain in the marketplace. Shelter’s recent survey found that four percent (17,800 people) were threatened with eviction upon complaining about the fitness of their accommodation within the last year.

Common problems tenants were experiencing were damp, mould and excessive cold –in breach of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) introduced under the Housing Act 2004.

As an ARLA licensed agent, GFW Letting fully supports the industry move towards regulation and the possibility of mandatory licensing, already adopted in Scotland and currently under review in the Welsh Assembly.

Fran Mulhall MARLA

Lettings Manager

Merger supports letting agent expansion

Residential property letting and management company GFW Letting, part of the George F. White Group, is continuing its growth in the urban rental sector with the announcement Newcastle based letting agent Davis Keep Ltd has merged with the company.

The merger sees the GFW Letting property portfolio increase significantly, with the Davis Keep premises at Kenton Park Shopping Centre, just off Kenton Road in Gosforth, undergoing a re-brand to the GFW Letting name. The new office base will support GFW Letting’s plans to cover a wider geographical area across the whole of the North East, from Northumberland through to Tyne and Wear and County Durham.

GFW Letting Guide to Gosforth

One of the most sought after locations in the region, the leafy Newcastle suburb of Gosforth is an affluent and vibrant area with a wide range of amenities for residents to enjoy.

Originating in 1826, Gosforth is now a desirable location full of shops, bars and restaurants as well as the Regent Centre, a large business complex. It’s a popular residential area which is well served by local transport links and close to Newcastle City Centre.

The GFW Letting team is often out and about in the Gosforth area, where we regularly carry out valuations and viewings on properties to let. Some of our team members even live in Gosforth themselves.

These are our Gosforth highlights. We’d love to hear yours @gfwletting #BestGosforth

Bite to eat?
Gosforth has a wide selection of restaurants, delis and takeaways to choose from – there really is something to suit every taste, the hardest part is deciding where to go. You can’t beat Gosforth High Street and its abundance of eateries from Italian cuisine at San Lorenzo to the stunning setting of renovated church, Loch Fyne Seafood and Grill. For fans of Indian food, we’d highly recommend Ahad’s, tucked behind the High Street – its tasty tandoori specialities and authentic curries help to give Ahad’s such a great reputation.

Adrianos and its Mediterranean flair bring a dash of Sardinian sunshine to Gosforth – we love its diverse menu with some of the finest meats and seafood, and something to cater for every palate. Don’t forget to sample delicious Adrianos Deli, which is just next door to the restaurant.

When we’ve had a busy afternoon, we love to stop for a coffee (and occasionally a cake!) at Rosie’s Bistro and Patisserie in the Gosforth Centre. Rosie’s has a lovely family atmosphere and uses locally sourced ingredients to offer tasty snacks, lunches or afternoon tea.

For the busy Regent Centre and business community of Gosforth, there are plenty of handy delis and sandwich shops to pick up a bite to eat at lunchtime, including two of our favourites – EatCetera and Deli Espresso.

Another gem of a restaurant we love is Poons Chinese located on Salters Road, delicious Asian cuisine and fabulous service to boot! If you’re on the lookout for one of the best Sunday lunches in the area, we’d recommend the Falcon’s Nest at Gosforth Park – brimming full of rural charm and character, a visit to this country-style pub is the perfect lazy Sunday afternoon treat.

Local amenities
With great local amenities including schools, shops and transport links, the Gosforth community is well served. There are plenty of doctor’s surgeries and pharmacists and Gosforth also has physiotherapy services such as Connect Physiotherapy.

A great night out
There’s a buzz about Gosforth which makes it a great night out whilst still maintaining its calmer residential atmosphere. We love the Three Mile Inn and Scalini’s restaurant right next door. It’s an excellent spot to relax, party and enjoy fabulous food and drink.

There are plenty of pubs and bars to choose from – a night out in Gosforth is like escaping from it all and offers a ‘holiday like’ feel to it with venues such as the Brandling Arms on Gosforth High Street and the Brandling Villa in South Gosforth, to enjoy. The Brandling Villa often plays host to a range of artists and bands and offers regular gigs and events to entertain the crowds.

Other pubs we’d recommend include The Northumbrian Piper which boasts Gosforth’s biggest beer garden, local high street pub the Gosforth Hotel, offering live sport and local ales and historic The County, which is housed in a listed building.

Sport and leisure
If you’re a sports fan in Gosforth, there’s plenty going on to keep you well served. Gosforth offers golf, gyms, swimming, bootcamp, football, rugby and much, much more!

Gosforth Academy, the main high school serving the Gosforth area, runs a special ‘Sport at Gosforth’ scheme which is open to all ages, including a fitness suite, climbing wall, sports hall, gymnasium and group classes.

Amongst our favourite gyms in Gosforth is David Lloyd which has all the sporting facilities you could imagine, under one roof. There’s also ‘ladies only’ gym Lady Lily’s which provides a relaxed and friendly atmosphere for people looking to improve their fitness and take part in fun informal exercise classes.

Gosforth Bohemian Football Club is another local highlight for sport in the area. Founded in 1894, the club which is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year, is the biggest and oldest amateur football club in Newcastle.

Gosforth is also home to the North East’s premier racecourse, Newcastle Racecourse, which is set in beautiful High Gosforth Park and offers a wide range of racedays and events throughout the year.

What’s more, there’s the City of Newcastle Golf Club, Gosforth Swimming Pool and Harriers club and no shortage of other sporting facilities in the Gosforth area.

Entertainment for everyone
Despite the fact that it covers a relatively small area, you will never be short of things to do in and around Gosforth and there’s something to keep people of all ages entertained.

For the little ones, we love Captain Ted’s Children’s Entertainment Centre located in Gosforth Shopping Centre. Children will love the pirate themed soft play whilst mums and dads can relax with a coffee and a bite to eat.

With so many events taking place year round, Newcastle Racecourse and the Marriott Hotel, offer a great range of entertainment.

There’s even entertainment for your dogs in the form of the fabulous Lola’s Place dog day care and grooming on Sandy Lane. We’d highly recommend Lola’s – the GFW Letting dog Ferg even sampled a doggy groom and pamper for himself recently!

Shopping highlights
From the major supermarkets including Asda and Sainsbury’s to a range of independent shops and boutiques, Gosforth has a lot to offer in terms of shopping. Gosforth High Street has a wide range of shops on offer including jewellers David Hall Goldsmith, Jump children’s shoes, Katherine’s Florists and Just Kidding clothes for youngsters.

There are some lovely and well-stocked charity shops located in the centre of Gosforth including St Oswald’s Hospice shop and Oxfam shop. Have to Love is a fabulous designer boutique and we’d also recommend wine specialist, Carruthers and Kent. Newcastle’s longest established bike shop, M. Steele Cycles, is based in South Gosforth and is the place to go for anything cycling related!

There’s also plenty of hair and beauty options to choose from too for men and women, including U Salon, Alpha Male Grooming and Gallery 108 Hairdressers.

Property hotspots
Gosforth in general is a very popular residential area, appealing often to young professionals and families who can live and work close to the city centre, whilst taking advantage of this quieter suburb which offers excellent schools and transport links.

Popular spots include some of the newer developments such as Grove Park and Great Park, as well as Elmfield Square. South Gosforth and The Grove are areas that come highly recommended. Areas such as Salters Road offer a wide variety of affordable properties to rent and there are some nice properties in the Kenton Road, Montagu Avenue and Roseworth Crescent areas. We find that there is high demand for areas in the whole of Gosforth.

Hidden gems
Ashburton Road shops have some real little gems, including The Art House with its cosy coffee lounge and art gallery where customers can take a relaxing break away from it all. The shop specialises in cards, gifts, jewellery and fine art.

Paddy Freeman’s park near South Gosforth is great for sports and family play with big green spaces, play parks and a duck pond.

We love Thorpes of Gosforth on the High Street – the shop that’s been around for generations and sells a wide range of traditional hardware items. It widely thought, “if you can’t get it at Thorpes you won’t get it anywhere”!

Minimising Flood Damage

With the recent flooding this winter in the UK – it’s imperative to take cautionary action to minimise the potential damage this severe weather can cause. For some unfortunate residents dealing with the devastating effects has become a stark reality.

As a landlord, you’ll undoubtedly want to make every effort to protect your property, its contents and your tenants and whilst preparation can’t prevent a flood from happening, it can help to reduce damage to your property. Here are eight top tips on what to do keep water out and how to minimise damage if it does get in;

Tip 1: If your area could flood, check the news and weather regularly for updates.

Tip 2: Consider working with tenants to move valuable items upstairs.

Tip 3: In flood-vulnerable areas, it can be worth fitting sockets and fuse boxes higher in the building.

Tip 4: Check pointing and apply sealant to exterior walls.

Tip 5: Fitting “non-return” valves on pipes can prevent water backing up during a flood.

Tip 6: Position sandbags around the bottom of doors and low windows.

Tip 7: Ventilation bricks should be sealed with special covers.

Tip 8: Most of all, make sure your tenants are aware of the risk, and know what to do if it happens.