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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 30 January 2006

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Mandatory licensing of HMO’s will help prevent ‘studentification’ problems

THE National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) stated on 25 January 2006 that the introduction of licensing for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) should help prevent problems experienced in local communities by so-called ‘studentification’.

The mandatory licensing of HMOs is being introduced to ensure that properties let to more than one household at a time are being properly managed and maintained. Households that will fall into this group include, for example, all houses rented by five or more unrelated persons who share a kitchen and bathroom in a property which has three or more storeys, like a typical student home.

The licensing, which is due to come into effect on 1 April 2006, brings with it the requirement for a ‘fit and proper person’ to have full responsibility for the management of such properties. This means that a single person or letting agent will be responsible for the property and, therefore, the behaviour of those in residence. It will be in the best interests of letting agents to ensure that students behave in a manner that is respectful of local residents as poor behaviour would reflect negatively on their businesses.

Problems regularly reported to NAEA members that are caused by students include:-

* Untidy exterior of property, from poorly maintained gardens to leaving cycles strewn across pavements

* Rubbish, over-spill from bins, potentially attracting rats

* Noise - from loud music internally and revellers making their way home

Jan Bartlett, Lettings expert at the NAEA, comments:- “Good landlords and letting agents will already have procedures in place for dealing with such problems. This could include providing bike racks and gardeners, and visiting noisy tenants, day or night, to make them aware of any discomfort they are causing to their neighbours.

The fact that the law will require a single person to take responsibility for a HMO in the very near future is great news for residents currently experiencing this type of problem.”

Peter Bolton King, Chief Executive at the NAEA, concludes:- “For those who can’t wait until 1 April to have their problem solved it is worth noting that local authorities have powers to force letting agents to sort out problem tenants in a speedy and professional manner. This can be much more difficult to enforce if the property in question has been let out privately.”

Wirral business hits the fast track

A Wirral-based business that provides warranties on new homes has been named as one of the fastest growing private companies in the UK.

MD Insurance Services has raced to fifth place in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 list by boosting sales from £333,000 to £7.2 million in just three years.

Managing Director Gary Devaney says it was support from Business Link for Greater Merseyside in the early stages that made such explosive growth possible.  “Our Premier Guarantee brand now has over £10 billion of new homes under warranties and Business Link provided the building blocks for this success.

They supported a project with Liverpool based consultancy CCUK, which writes bespoke local & group wide database applications, updates current applications and link office data to online websites, to develop a web-based database that could allow us to evolve and grow and provide a top-class service. The business has just expanded from there and we now even have our own IT department.”

Gary, a former pupil of Caldy Grammar School, founded MD Insurance in 1997 and only took on his first staff in 1999.

With banks unwilling to release mortgages for new homes without a structural warranty, the company broke into a rewarding new market when it won a government licence to offer such warranties.

Now the company has over 40 staff and, with customers that include Wimpey and Britannia homes, Premier Guarantee is one of the main rivals to NHBC.

The main target markets are the UK and the Channel Islands as well as Ireland where the company’s rapid expansion has been fuelled by the recent building boom.

Andy Jones of Business Link said:- “Business Link is delighted to have played a key role in such a remarkable success story, as well as finding the right IT consultants for their IT needs we provided assistance with location of premises and introductions to local strategic partners.”

Gary Devaney admits that all the signs suggest that MD Insurance Services will stay in the fast track for the future.  “We’re expecting to achieve sales of around £12 million for the current financial year and are targeting a £23 million turnover for 2006/7.”

For further information on how Business Link for Greater Merseyside can help your business contact our customer service team on 0845 330 0151.

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