Stamp duty abolished for some first time buyers – and rates relief for retail

 

Yesterday’s Budget speech didn’t include many dramatic new measures to boost the property sector  but we certainly welcome the Chancellor’s first time buyers’ stamp duty abolition on shared ownership homes valued at up to £500,000. This is a good way to get normal working families into secure accommodation as an alternative to rent.  With the huge increase in numbers of homes for sale and/or part ownership developed by housing associations we see HAs very much as the developers of the future. With a red tape, tick-box-based planning system and some developers guilty of land banking sites to maintain prices – stimulus for social housing must be the answer to the housing crisis.

With the London property market cooling we also welcome the extension of the government’s ‘help to buy’ initiative, which supports many developers and ensures that UK purchasers can buy  UK property – without that ability there is a serious risk of the remote or overseas landlord problem getting out of control.  It is absolutely vital that we don’t alienate young buyers by pushing them out of our cities in favour of yields-driven landlords who overcrowd properties that were originally designed as family homes.   The good news for renters and sharers is that increasingly there are quality, purposefully designed build-to-rent homes coming onto the market in pure rent environments.  But accidental landlords – those who, say, rent out their batchelor pad  – got no comfort yesterday as tax relief and claimable allowances continue to be phased out.

We hope that the promised £400M for schools will be in part directed into ‘fit for work’ measures. On a day-to-day basis at Ringley we remain challenged by the lack of employability skills in many of the youngsters we support. We estimate the employer burden on filling those gaps is costing us up to £3,500 per employee.

Having been an Ambassador for Apprenticeships from the start, we welcome the £695M to develop apprenticeships.  However, we remain concerned and are working with training providers on a number of challenges, in particular the fact that we cannot truly offer to take apprentices through to degree level in some disciplines such as IT and that, for example, IT apprenticeships often reflect old technologies and need updating fast.

The budget did provide much-needed help for the retail property sector. Landlords of our beleaguered high streets and retail centres should be able to hold their rents and reduce the uncertainty of void units with the announcement that rates for small business are to be cut by 1/3rd over the next two years. This is a much needed reduction and some relief from the pressures of a changing landscape and digitalisation, which falls particularly unequally on break-even small businesses.  Not sure we are ready to open our lavatories to the entire general public quite yet though!

We hope that the money local councils will receive to revive their high streets will inspire creative thinking as the reason for having a town centre continues to shift.    More on that soon…..

 

 

 

 

integration-1777537_1920 (1)

Intern Experience: Lena

My name is Lena and I live, work and study in Berlin, Germany. I came to Ringley Chartered Surveyors for a six-week internship as part of my studies. Back home in Germany, I study Business Administration with a special focus on real estate management and engineering. I also work for a housing company in Berlin. Going abroad for my internship, my goal was to get some insights into London’s fast-paced real estate market, which I was able to achieve at Ringley.

During my six-week internship, I was given a variety of tasks covering a range of different areas. I was given a free hand and the independence to complete my tasks. I worked on projects that made life a bit easier at the office and on more challenging ones. My projects included managing defect reports of newly built blocks of flats and fire risk assessments of properties. It was fun to work together with other interns and property managers on matters of compliance and insurance. Whenever I approached someone with a question, they were happy to take the time to answer it for me.

I have enjoyed my time at Ringley and the atmosphere is fun and friendly. There are plenty of interns and staff with whom to socialise and share the experience. It was great to get an insight into working and living in London.

org

TASKS AT RINGLEY

My name is Killiann Noseki. I arrived in the company at a pretty crucial moment, in fact the company was about to commercialise a product that they had entirely thought out and designed. This project was the launch of Human Resources software in the form of a cloud for small and medium businesses. The softwarkillianne, called “Ringley HR 1:2:1”, is intended for companies that strive to achieve better organization, task distribution and knowledge sharing between the employees themselves and the directors. It helps improve the performance of a business, simply by keeping people in touch in a very quick and structured yet simple way, also by tying tasks and objectives into their job role, so that together the team could push the organization forward.

Several tasks which were given to me have resulted of this project. I had to search for and call potential suppliers in HR Consultancy, analyse competing products, and edit the tutorial video. On one hand I found it very interesting to follow the marketing process committed by Ringley for this product because it is perfectly suitable with the studies I’m doing in a Business School in France. Ringley enabled me to have a vision and outline in the field I’m studying. On the other hand I felt involved in an important approach which gave me motivation and pride once the task was done. I don’t think lots of opportunities like this come up in a company when you are an intern especially if you’re from a foreign country and don’t speak very good English.

Lunch break. Group of successful businesspeople sitting and eating. Focus is on the cheerful brunette in blue shirt. 

[url=http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/9786622][img]http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40117171/business.jpg[/img][/url]

A FRIDAY AT RINGLEY

The social life at Ringley is more than just cordial and superficial conversations. Ringley is unique in that it is a melting pot of cultures from around the world. We each bring something special to the table, including our experiences, food, and language. This means that we learn something new every day, ranging from learning to say “hello” in Russian to trying food from India. New interns and employees with different cultural backgrounds arrive constantly, so the excitement never stops.

We always have something to talk about, and because everyone has a different point of view, we have very enriched conversations. We all accept each other for who we are, so we are able to speak openly about various topics. Even as people come and go, we are able to make lasting friendships that will continue into the future.
Beyond lunch and the office, we sometimes hang out after work on Fridays. The relaxed environment helps us to consolidate our friendships. Traditionally, we go to the pub to grab a few beers, and this allows us to talk to people we do not often see in the office. Though we can have fun talking to each other, at the end of the day, we always come back to talking about responsibilities at Ringley. Even though we are “only” interns, we feel like we belong at the company.

london

WHAT IT’S LIKE TO WORK IN LONDON

There are two reasons why we, as interns, have come to Ringley. The first is to gain insight in property management; the second is to experience one of Europe’s most unique cities: London. Here is what we’ve learned about London from the friendly people in the Ringley lunch room this week.

Without a doubt, London is distinct in providing anything you could imagine, including culture, food, activities, and architecture. There is hardly a moment when you could feel bored because the city is nonstop excitement! An interesting fact about London is that it has numerous parks scattered around the city. In particular, we recommend seeing Hyde Park, London’s largest and most famous park. You can go for a stroll, go boating, eat out in style or listen to the concerts that happen regularly or you can relax and appreciate the many plants that exist there.

After visiting the park, you could enjoy dinner beside the Thames River. Another option is going to Camden Market and delving into the multicultural environment. Here, you can try a variety of dishes from around the world. For example, you could get a Lebanese falafel wrap, a German baguette, or an African dessert. You’ll always be full and happy!

To finish your brilliant day, you can head to the Shard to have drinks atop the tallest building in Western Europe. At night, the view is most impressive. This is just one possibility in the thousands of activities you can do in London, and you can have all this and more if you choose to work here.

comp-day

COMPANY DAY

Deeply ingrained in Ringley’s traditions is the annual Company Day, when everyone comes together to celebrate the company and employee achievements of the year. Through various team building exercises, we have the opportunity to get to know each other on a deeper level. Before the actual day, only a handful of people in the office actually know where the event will be and what will happen. This year, most only knew that it would take place in a hotel in Edgware, and they needed to be on the bus at 9am! In the bus, everyone was separated into seven teams, and on arrival we competed in a game called Sink or Float. This was where everyone was shown pictures of fruits and vegetables, and we had to guess which would sink or float. After this, we were all separated again into three different groups. One group had etiquette training, the second made bricks, and the third cooked lunch for everyone. The theme of the day was taking responsibility, and everyone was working towards that in their tasks.

After the delicious lunch that the cooking team prepared, a bus took us to one of the sites managed by Ringley, and the team did their best at working out what the budget and annual charge per owner would be. Those not participating in this event prepared afternoon tea and dressed as waiters to greet us and take our orders on our return. To round off the day, the group got back into our original seven teams and learned and interviewed each other about the values and procedures at Ringley. Everyone was in good spirits after this, and some employees were awarded for their special achievements from the year. For instance, there were awards for providing five star service, graduating, or fixing customer issues. At the end of the day, we had a fun time, and we felt more interconnected as a company.

592590_46982af3-460x180

CHANGE CLOCK WEEKEND

Fire kills and so does the build up of natural gas that can cause an explosion.
So whilst you go around your home to change your clock (31st March 2013), test your smoke alarm too or install one.


Ringley’s advice is 
fit a working smoke alarm inside your property and support your Property Manager by asking for a natural gas detector in the common parts.

At Ringley, we are still on a daily basis persuading flat owners to implement fire risk assessment advice.  We believe that there will become a time, like with EPC’s (energy performance certificates) that are required before you sell or rent a home for the government to consider further registration on fire risk implementation.  After all in April 2012 we saw the start of a national register of air-conditioning plant so slowly there is close down on safety compliance in all areas.dstclockimage


It is also now becomming commonplace with many new build developers now installing ‘natural gas detectors’ as standard with some even committing to retrospectively installing these too.  Amos 550 natural gas detector as an example costs from about £60 and in high risk buildings are also worth considering installing as they reduce the risk of gas explosions.  So please spread the word, when your Property Manager asks you to consider a little in your budget for a natural gas detector, support them and say yes.

 

To see the latest government video and more information go to:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/you-can-t-turn-back-time-will-you-promise-to-keep-your-family-safe

15 children died in accidental fires last year, among a total 7,256 injuries and 187 deaths from dwelling fires across the country, and you’re 4 times more likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a working smoke alarm.


The new heart-wrenching video by up-and-coming director, Stevie Russell, reminds everyone exactly what is at stake in a house fire, and is part of the Fire Kills campaign asking people test their smoke alarms when they change their clocks over the Easter weekend.  A working smoke alarm can buy you and your family the valuable time you need to get out, stay out and call 999.


Be safe.

apprentices1

Ringley supporting National Apprenticeship Week

apprentices
This year Ringley will be supporting National Apprenticeship Week, themed “Apprenticeships Deliver” aims to showcase the benefits high quality Apprenticeships deliver for both apprentices and their employers.
Apprenticeship Ambassador Mary-Anne Bowring, Managing Director of The Ringley Group Property Services company tells us why every company who takes CSR (corporate social responsibility) seriously should immediately take steps not only if they have an empty desk to fill it with an apprentice but also to show their support to young people.

Interested? Then here’s the steps Mary-Anne says you should take:
Step 1 – create a CSR page on your website
Step 2 – adopt the ‘youth charter’ The ‘youth charter’ is at the centre of getting young people focused on their future. You’ll find it at www.youthcharter.co.uk and you can sign up to show your support at The Recruitment and Employment Confederations website www.rec.uk.com
Step 3 – review your business growth strategy – see when someone leaves if you can take on an apprentice, this gives great opportunities for other staff to test their training and mentoring skills, brings great enthusiasm into an organisation and helps re-inforce a learning culture, something that any organisation in pursuit of excellence needs.
Step 4 – find out about the various apprenticeship routes, the number of frameworks are growing, for example Ringley supports Apprentices on the Customer Services Framework, Property Services, Accounting Technician and Creative & Digital Media Apprentices.
Step 5 – either you can go to a training provider, useful if you need support throughout the process and they become the employer for year 1, otherwise you can go to an apprenticeship delivery organisation and employ the apprentice direct.
Step 6 – when taking on your 1st apprentice you can claim a £1,500 allowance from the government.
To support National Apprenticeship week Ringley invites local employers to drop in to Ringley House, 349 Royal College Street to see their apprenticeship programme in action. Right now Ringley have 9 apprentices and have graduated 3 already. This will give local employers the opportunity to (a) meet an apprentice (b) understand how their training works.
At Ringley, we strongly believe in growing staff from within and have proven that when you replace one leaver with two apprentices the extra research and data you can collect can spur business growth and marketing efforts that otherwise we would not have time to resource. Ringley were voted ‘Local Employer of the Year 2012″ as chosen by the Camden & Islington chamber of commerce – perhaps this is one of the reasons why.

300 WORDS ON THE RINGLEY GROUP
The Ringley Group is a multi-award winning one-stop-shop for property services, and, with a brand promise of 100% transparency and money back guarantee Ringley have risen to be an acclaimed consumer champion.

Recognised by The Times/Sunday Times (here’s their write up http://tiny.cc/timesaward
Recognised by Camden & Islington Business Awards

Services include surveys, lease extensions, bank valuations, block management (service charge), specialist breach of lease litigation, enfranchisement, company secretarial services and sales and lettings. Ringley stand as Court Appointed Manager for a number of blocks where the management arrangements have broken down or become dysfunctional but prefer to empower Clients with the necessary knowledge and co-ordination to buy the freehold, claim the right to manage or extend their lease instead.

From HQ in Camden Town, London NW1, Ringley manage just under 10,000 properties (250 blocks) and spend over £7 million each year on maintenance and refurbishment, preferring to restore than replace. The portfolio spreads across the whole of London and the South East from Portsmouth, to Cambridge and Reading to Canterbury. No blocks is too small as Ringley have a ‘legal and financial admin’ package for small blocks of flats who otherwise could not afford a Managing Agent. These packages omit the property inspections but protect Clients from all the legal and financial pitfalls and given Ringley national exposure. Indeed the small blocks team has resident management companies, right to manage companies and freeholders properties using their BlockCare 300 package as far afield as Wales and Liverpool.

Recognised by several innovation awards, a national training award and various industry awards Ringley is a clear market leader. Their customer GATEWAYTM de-mystifies the service charge world, giving customers visibility down to every invoice paid. ‘Flatie’, the Ringley mascot, through www.leaseholdersupport.co.uk gives away the knowledge and expertise necessary to survive as a flat owner for free.

There are nearly 500,000 (487,313) leaseholders in owner occupied flats in London, of the 4.5M flats nationally, 1.5M are leasehold; Ringley is the place to go for all leasehold issues.

With a CSR second to none, in recognition of their contribution Ringley were in 2011 appointed as an ambassador for Apprenticeships and Training. Ringley’s leader Mary-Anne Bowring also sits as a governor of the Institute of Residential Property Managers.

THOUGHT LEADERSHIP, OPINION, CONTRAVERCY
Ringley regularly participates in raising issues such as their response to Channel 4 Despatches documentaries such as Property Nightmares : the truth about leasehold (20th August 2012) and not excessively, but when there is a discussion ongoing we’ll blog a little or tweet something useful.
Our MD, Mary-Anne Bowring continues to call for changes to rectify fundamental flaws in leasehold legislation.

You will find Ringley writing letters to the Mayor of London or the Minister for Housing on key topics. Ringley has supported ARMA* in the call for greater regulation of Managing Agents and Estate Agents. Ringley are not afraid to come forward and call for regulation and voluntary codes to go further, a recent example being The 2012 code, issued by the Energy Retail Association (ERA) which is supposed to protect small businesses from crippling backdated energy bills but completely fails to do so. These microbusinesses are run by volunteer leaseholders purely to manage the communal areas of their homes and do not make a profit. Unexpected bills, often the result of energy companies misreading meters, can run into tens of thousands of pounds and are especially damaging to the leaseholders who must then foot the bill through their service charge payments.

Our MD, Mary-Anne Bowring sits as a Governor of the Institute of Residential Property Management and is part of the apprenticeship ambassadors network and is willing to speak at events, past examples include the Introduction to London Apprentices day and raising questions at Vince Cable’s “Apprenticeship Summit. Mary-Anne was also instrumental in encouraging the Institute of Property Management to build the ‘Property Management Apprenticeship framework’.
*ARMA –Association of Residential Managing Agents

apprenticeship

Ringley champions apprenticeships and takes on four more

Ringley is committed to staff development and promotion of skills and education for young people. In February (as part of National Apprenticeship Week) both elements were brought together by taking on four additional apprentices and helping to launch COATA (The Confederation of Apprenticeship Training Agencies) which has HRH The Duke of York as its patron.

UK youth unemployment stands at 22%, accounting for over a million young people. Ringley is continuing to do its part in helping this ‘lost generation’ onto the employment ladder, by more than doubling the number of apprenticeships it provides.
With a workforce of over 50, Ringley initially took on three apprentices but was so pleased with their abilities and commitment, it is now taking on four more via the London Apprenticeship Company (LAC), an organisation that directly employs young people, taking all the risk and bureaucracy of recruitment and employment away from a host business. The first three apprentices went into client liaison, finance and communications roles, whilst two of those just joining are going into professional services, one into legal and the other into IT. All Ringley apprentices get to experience different aspects of the business, learn how the whole company works but most importantly contribute to the company’s success from day one.

“I’m particularly interested in staff development and in promoting skills and education for young people, so I’m delighted to continue supporting an apprenticeship training initiative,” explains Mary-Anne Bowring, MD at Ringley Group. “Even in these tough economic times, businesses need to invest in their staff and help young people onto the first rung of the commercial ladder. By providing them with an opportunity to demonstrate the value they can deliver and by supporting their progress, each of the apprentices we currently employ has proved their worth and they contribute to the growing success of our business.”
Mary-Anne Bowring and Jasper Gray (Ringley’s first apprentice who is due to graduate next month to a
‘real’ fulltime job with Ringley) were also invited to the launch of COATA (The Confederation of Apprenticeship Training Agencies) as part of National Apprenticeship Week 2012, (6-10 February 2012). Here they met with VIP’s and talked about their positive experience of using an apprenticeship training agency from the employers and employees perspective. An umbrella organisation that has HRH The Duke of York, as its patron, COATA has been set up by 11 Apprenticeship Training Agencies across the UK to promote and support apprenticeships and includes London Apprenticeship Company as one of the founders.

Jake Lewis was the last of the first three apprentices to join Ringley. He initially wanted to become a PE teacher but didn’t do too well in his AS exams so started to apply for volunteer sports coach roles with no success. He then attended an LAC assessment day and because he enjoyed maths, thought a Finance apprenticeship was for him and was quickly placed with Ringley. Jake explained: “So far I have spent time getting used to the computer system here and once I have a firm grasp on this will move onto more advanced stuff like bank reconciliation! Although still new, I already feel I’ve learned more here in my induction period than I ever did at school! I was also quite a shy person but this job is helping me come out of my shell.”
The London Apprenticeship Company provides a solution to the problems faced by both job seekers and employers today. It offers a valuable work-based learning route for individuals wanting to start out on a career path, but not wanting to go down the traditional route of formal education. For employers, apprenticeships provide businesses with talented, motivated people ready for the world of work… and at an affordable cost.

For more information about what Ringley Group has to offer in terms of employment and property management services visit www.ringley.co.uk or for the London Apprenticeship Company and apprenticeships currently on offer visit www.londonapprenticeship.co.uk or call 020 7963 8548.

And looking to the future Mary-Anne Bowring concludes: “Apprenticeships are an ideal way for businesses to move forward and grow. We have high hopes for the four new apprentices joining us and we will certainly be looking at taking on additional resource in this way. London Apprenticeship Company has and continues to prove to be the perfect partner in achieving our success.”