Eco-Friendly Decorating Ideas for a more Planet-Friendly Home

eco designer homes

Want your homeware and decor choices to be more sustainable? From reclaimed timber to recycled kitchen tops, Gabrielle Fagan checks out the options.

We’re all aware of the need to look after our environment – and where better to start than at home?

Luckily, more and more companies are embracing eco-friendly approaches and solutions, and designers are becoming ever-more inventive and innovative in their use of recycled materials to create desirable homeware – so you don’t have to sacrifice your style for your principles.

“Year-round, we consistently see people searching for inspiration on Pinterest to shop and live in ways more mindful of the environment,” says Enid Hwang, culture and community manager at Pinterest, who’ve seen a 108% increase in searches for sustainable lifestyle this year.

The site notes that September, when summer holidays are over, is the ‘back to life’ period – when, feeling renewed and refreshed, people look for ways to make small changes in their lives, such as recommitting to their environmental efforts.

“We’ve seen that reflected in searching for sustainable items for their homes, like recycled materials, eco paint and even bamboo bedding. Sustainable lifestyle choices are now a major theme for many Pinners,” notes Hwang.

Need some inspiration? From wallpaper and paint, to furniture and accessories – follow our guide to creating a home to match your values…

eco designer homes

Paint it green

Some house paints use casein – a protein derived from milk or beeswax as a binding agent – while others use ingredients that have been tested on animals.

Mindful of this, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex chose Auro, a non-toxic vegan paint which is also child-friendly, when they decorated baby Archie’s nursery. Auro Coloured Emulsion, from £48 for 2.5L; Wood Paint – Satin, from £16 for 375ml, AuroPaint.co.uk.

A lot of paints contain high levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which emit solvents into the air that are associated with causing dizziness and headaches, and may affect those with allergies.

Crown’s Breatheasy Coloured Emulsion range is 99.9% solvent-free and certified under the asthma & allergy friendly Certification Program.

The Breatheasy range starts from £14 for 2.5L of emulsion and, a further plus, comes in containers made of 100% recycled plastic, which are fully recyclable once empty and clean.

eco designer homes

Paper and plant

The desire for wallpaper with good eco-credentials is growing, and Little Greene not only has great designs, but sources and uses paper from certificated sustainable forests.

“We manufacture our wallpapers in the UK and for every tree used four more are planted,” says Ruth Mottershead, Little Greene marketing director.

“Wallpapers are printed using non-toxic pigments and our high-quality wallpaper paste contains no solvent.”

Their London Papers V range, a collection of authentic heritage designs, starts from £73 a roll.

eco designer homes

Recipe for eco cooks

If you want to cook up a storm but reduce your carbon footprint, sustainable timber is a good choice for kitchen units, worktops and flooring.

Deforestation is a major environmental issue that’s contributing to global warming, so look for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) ‘tick tree’ logo, which signifies it is certified timber that comes from well-managed forests and/or recycled materials.

Make sure worktops don’t let the side down. Wickes offers worktops made from recycled materials in its range of kitchens.

Details count and bamboo kitchen containers are an excellent alternative to plastic (they look lovely too). Bamboo is a highly renewable, fast-growing natural material with antibacterial, anti-fungal properties, and it’s biodegradable.

eco designer homes

Lie back and think of the planet

You’re setting the bar higher if you want a purely vegan lifestyle – but it’s perfectly possible according to Jo Peters, author of new book, Vegan Life: Cruelty-Free Food, Fashion, Beauty And Home (Summersdale, £12.99).

“Vegans prefer to avoid using materials that come from animals, which can make home furnishing seem like a challenge at first,” she acknowledges.

“But, as with stocking your fridge, once you’ve sussed out what to avoid – and found some reliable suppliers of alternatives – you’ll be able to make ethical choices in every room.”

In her handy guide, she highlights the main culprits to avoid in home furnishings: Leather (and suede), wool (and felt), silk, down, fur and cowhide. She also points out that “when choosing a new couch, remember that you’ll need to consider the padding materials as well as the cover.”

That said, it’s useful to remember that making use of pre-existing leather, wool, etc, items that are still in good condition, is generally more planet-friendly than throwing things away only to replace them with new plastic ones!

eco designer homes

Reclaim and rejoice in style

“As everybody becomes more eco-aware, the demand for sustainable furniture that is kinder to the planet is on the rise,” says Ben Adams, co-founder and master craftsman of Rust Collections, creators of sustainable rustic-luxe reclaimed pieces made from locally salvaged timber. They also use oak certified by the FSC.

“By using local recycled wood, we keep transportation miles down and give new purpose to a material that’s already had a life, and in doing so, the carbon footprint is kept very low,” explains Adams.

“Keeping the use of freshly-milled timber to a minimum also means putting less pressure on our natural timber resources, preserving more for future use.”

eco designer homes

Material concerns

“Over the last few seasons at Habitat, we’ve seen a definite increase in demand from shoppers who are obviously interested in purchasing designs made using recycled and sustainable base materials,” says Siobhan McMillan, head of buying for Habitat.

“In textiles, we’re working with suppliers to increase the amount of designs made from fabric that is recycled from the fashion industry. Fabric off-cuts that would have otherwise been thrown away are instead re-dyed and woven to create new rugs and cushions, and we’ve increased the amount of patterns available.”

In lighting, she notes, there’s a growing demand for designs made from sustainable, fast-growing rattan and bamboo, with three-out-of-five of Habitat’s current bestselling shades made from these natural base materials.

eco designer homes

New Homes For Sale 5th October

castlebridge new house image mccarthy holden estate agents
castlebridge new house image mccarthy holden estate agents

Visit the T A Fisher Show House Saturday 5th October

We are now only a few weeks away from being able to view the superb new homes in North Warnborough, by renowned developer T A Fisher.

Plots five to seven are to be released for sale on 5th October and the anticipated price ranges is around £475,000 to £500,000.

So make a diary note to come and view the show house, and explore the scale and quality of these new homes. Telephone 01256 704851 to make arrangement and find out the opening times.

Plots 5, 6 and 7

castlebridge new house image mccarthy holden estate agents
castlebridge new house image mccarthy holden estate agents

Plots 5, 6 and 7 are a terrace of three stylish homes, each arranged over three storeys, and each offering you some surprising lifestyle enhancements.

On the ground floor, you’ll find a spacious, bright and airy open plan living room, dining room and fully integrated kitchen with double French doors to the rear garden to make the most of the natural light. There’s also a convenient downstairs cloakroom and storage cupboard off the entrance hall.

Upstairs the surprises really begin. There are two double bedrooms on the first floor where the master has an en-suite and a walk-in dressing area. On the top floor, you’ll discover an attic room. This could easily be a lovely third bedroom, nursery, a den or games room for youngsters.

These beautiful homes give you space, flexibility and practicality.

A Small Select Development

New Homes Property for sale McCarthy Holden Estate Agents

Castlebrook is a small select development of 11 homes, 7 of which are new build and 4 highly individual and intriguing conversions.

Wonderful Location

king john's castle Odiham Hampshire McCarthy Holden estate agents

You can’t help fall in love with this area, steeped in history with beautiful old historic buildings and places of interest such as King John’s Castle and a lovely pub and restaurant which was a watermill just across the road from this site.

There are great opportunities nearby for activities such as walking, cycling and perhaps even water based on the Basingstoke Canal.

Basingstoke Canal In Odiham Hampshire McCarthy Holden estate agents

Which Houseplant Works Best Where – and How You Should Care for them.

houseplant care

Unsure which plants to place in the bathroom, lounge or bedroom? Houseplant expert Claire Bishop tells Hannah Stephenson her top tips.

houseplant care

As the seasons change, waving goodbye to summer doesn’t have to mean the end of enjoying gorgeous plants.

You can still keep your home feeling alive with houseplants, whatever your decor style. For those new to keeping plants indoors though, knowing what to have where can seem tricky.

Claire Bishop, houseplant buyer at Dobbies Garden Centres, offers the following tips on how houseplants can enhance a number of different styles and moods – from bright and bold, to soft, subtle and architecturally sculpted – and which ones work best where…

houseplant care

Au natural

Lush green plants paired with rugged terracotta containers bring the outdoors into your home. The popular Boston fern, with its arching green fronds, can develop into a perfect sphere of intricate greenery.

Alternatively, go for the sansevieria succulent, which adds attractive marbling to the mix. Commonly known as snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue, sansevieria are much more soothing to have around than either of their nicknames suggests.

houseplant care

Typically tropical

For a more vibrant look, seek out dazzling tropical plants such as the Calathea peacock plant. As the name suggests, this plant is all about display, with a feathered effect in different shades of green.

Since it originates in warmer climes, Calathea will be perfectly at home in the humid atmosphere of a bathroom or kitchen – where it’s likely to expand over time into a substantial, bushy addition.

houseplant care

Family fixture

For a bright, cheerful addition to any family room, turn to dependable, easy-to-grow favourites such as the spider plant. Thriving even in a brightly-lit lounge, the bold stripes of the variegated Chlorophytum will last all year round. Try a hanging basket to display it to best effect.

The peace lily is another go-to houseplant, being beautiful and almost indestructible – it actually thrives on under-watering. With its pure white flowers and deep green leaves, it’s a calming presence. It’s also one of the best plants for removing air pollution.

houseplant care

Shabby chic

Dispense with tradition and opt for ‘guests’ that will bring personality to your rooms. Coconut shells, coffee tins, brass cans – most houseplants aren’t fussy – they’ll thrive equally happily in unconventional containers.

Based on an ancient Japanese art, Kokedama (which directly translates as ‘moss balls’) are plants rooted in soil, wrapped in moss and bound in thread. Much more than just a houseplant, these are pieces of sculptural art, perfect on a windowsill or suspended from the ceiling.

houseplant care

3 key questions about houseplants

Here, Bishop answers some of the more commonly asked houseplants questions…

1. What common mistakes do people make when it comes to houseplants?

Overwatering. It’s surprising that most of the on-trend plants at the moment thrive upon neglect, as most of them require a bare minimum of care. Also, too much light and draughts can affect plants, so being placed directly on a windowsill where the window is often opened. They can quickly recover if you reposition them.

2. Which plants would you recommend for which room, and why?

Houseplants will work well in most rooms, as long as there is natural light.

In bedrooms… Aloe vera is often recommended, releasing oxygen while you are sleeping. They are one of the best plants for air purification.

In bathrooms… Orchids are popular. They are tropical, so they love the humidity and will be at their happiest on the bathroom windowsill.

Spider plants also work well in bathrooms. Thriving in the often-humid environment, they remove CO2 from the moist atmosphere. They like to be kept in rooms that are fairly well lit and watered once or twice a week, but not in direct sunlight.

3. What tips would you give for caring for houseplants?

Succulents and terrariums are pretty easy to care for and look fantastic in groups. They can instantly change the look and feel of a room, from industrial chic to jungle inspired bold botanicals.

All houseplants require a little clean to keep them looking their best – simply wipe the leaves with a damp cloth. This is not just to keep them looking good. Removing the dust ensures good health. Take off any foliage that is yellowing, and trim damaged leaves of larger plants with sharp scissors at the same time.

During the autumn and winter months, houseplants will look their best if you give them a shower as you water, as this will keep the leaves looking green and glossy. Keep an eye on light levels in the darker winter months – some plants may need a bit more.

houseplant care

July Property Trading and House Sales Insight

McCarthy Holden estate agents sold board

Self congratulatory editorial from estate agents is rarely appealing, but we’ll let it pass this time because it is refreshing to read some positive news after a July when we were bombarded with gloomy economic forecasts around the now likely no deal Brexit outcome.

A Busy Town Centre Insight

Since the beginning of 2019, house buyers have shrugged off the chaos around Brexit, and simply got on with making decisions around matters of day to day life, which are the drivers for a house move.

The trading results in July were best seen through the prism of a busy town centre branch such as our Fleet office, where two important factors leapt out of the trading activity.

Firstly, the volume of transactions which demonstrated the resilience in the residential house market, witnessed in £8.5m. worth of property exchanged in the month.

Secondly the importance of High Street showrooms, because out of the £6.5 worth of new sales added in July 75% of the buyers were local. Local factors drive the residential market, where house buying decisions are mostly made by factors such as schooling, access to work and general employment levels and family situations ranging from the three D’s (death, divorce and debt) through to the three N’s (new job, new baby, new beginnings).

If you would like a free property valuation and appraisal, go to our web site home page and click on the valuation tab.

High levels of house sales at Fleet McCarthy Holden estate agents

New Homes Property For Sale Today In Hampshire

New Homes Property for sale McCarthy Holden estate agents Hampshire

Today wonderful high specification new homes from Sunningdale House Developments at their Winchfield View site in Hampshire are released to the market, with prices from £575,000 to £1.6m.

Winchfield View is a select development of stunning high specification new homes by Sunningdale House Developments, in a fine location with pleasing views situated about two miles from the village of Hartley Wintney in Hampshire.

A good number of properties have already been reserved by buyers, so as at today’s date the availability list is as follows.

Plot 5: Available Guide £575,000
Plot 6: Available Guide £575,000
Plot 7: Sale Agreed / Reserved Guide £895,000
Plot 8: Sale Agreed / Reserved Guide £695,000
Plot 9: Sale Agreed / Reserved Guide £1.25m.
Plot 10: Available Guide £1.6m.
Plot 11: Sale Agreed / Reserved Guide £695,000
Plot 12: Available Guide £1.250m.

Plot 10 Winchfield View (Guide £1.6m.)

New Homes Property for sale McCarthy Holden estate agents Hampshire

Plot 10 at Winchfield View represents the flagship house, in terms of scale and indulgent build quality.

This enormous 3,300 sq. ft. 5 bedroom house stands on a corner plot with an entirely detached double garage.

The distinctive twin bay windows and elegant twin pillared porch to the front elevation create instant character and immense kerb appeal.

Take a look at the video below showing plots 9, 10 and 12, and for a download pdf brochure just click here.

Plot 12 Winchfield View (Guide: £1.250m.)

Plot 12 at Winchfield View is just over 2,500 sq ft and provides distinctive architectural elevations and well planned substantial family accommodation.

Plot 12 is not yet ready for internal photography, but a look at the video created below for the show house at plot 11 might provide insight into the beautiful spaces that can be created.

New Homes Property for sale McCarthy Holden estate agents Hampshire
New Homes Property for sale McCarthy Holden estate agents Hampshire

Plot 11 show house video below for interest.

Plots 5 / 6 Winchfield View (Guide: £575,000)

New Homes Property for sale McCarthy Holden estate agents Hampshire

Plots 5 and 6 Winchfield View are truly distinctive semi-detached houses providing around 1,127 sq ft of excellent space.

These are 3 bedroom houses, featuring a luxury en-suite to the master bedroom and a high specification kitchen. Take a look at the download brochure and contact our Hartley Wintney branch on 01252 842100 for an early viewing.

For a download pdf brochure please click this link.

Property Preview – For Sale in Fleet Hampshire

Neo-Gerogian property for sale Fleet Hampshire McCarthy Holden estate agents

See the video tour above

This is a preview of a distinctive property with elegant Neo-Georgian architectural styling, set in wonderful tree fringed grounds and situated in one of Fleet’s premier locations close to the town centre and mainline station.

Due to the open market any day, the property provides  stunning space on a vast scale, with the added benefit of having recently been redecorated by the current owners.

This luxurious space within the dwelling features an exceptional kitchen / family / dining room of particular note. This beautiful family home is offered to the market with no onward chain.

All photos and video by johnjoe.co.uk who created the image output in 24 hours, this enabling us the bring you this preview today. So for information about why property video marketing works take a look at this page

Reception property for sale Fleet Hampshire McCarthy Holden estate agents
Elegant reception hall

Ground Floor

On entering the property the first impact is one of sheer indulgence in space, with a gorgeous open plan floor to ceiling reception hallway. The principle accommodation incudes an open plan kitchen/breakfast/family room, drawing room, study, dining room, conservatory utility room and a cloakroom.

Kitchen diner property for sale Fleet Hampshire McCarthy Holden estate agents
Dining area of the kitchen / family / dining room

The principle accommodation incudes an open plan kitchen/breakfast/family room, drawing room, study, dining room, conservatory utility room and a cloakroom.

The hand painted kitchen is fitted with eye and base level cabinets with granite work surfaces. Inset Franke one and a half bowl sink, space for American fridge/freezer, space for Range cooker and a central island.

Kitchen family room property for sale Fleet Hampshire McCarthy Holden estate agents
Kitchen property for sale Fleet Hampshire McCarthy Holden estate agents

First Floor

The magnificent galleried landing overlooks the stunning hallway. There are five double bedrooms and two family bathrooms on the first floor.

Of particular note is the master suite with exquisite four-piece en-suite bathroom and a dressing room. The bathroom features a walk-in shower cubicle with rain head, standalone Catchpole & Rye bath tub with central mixer tap, sink and WC.

Both the family bathrooms are re-fitted to a high standard and offer four-piece suites including Villeroy & Boch units.

Luxury bathroom Catchpole and Rye bath tub property for sale Fleet Hampshire McCarthy Holden estate agents
Catchpole & Rye bath tub
Luxury bathroom property for sale Fleet Hampshire McCarthy Holden estate agents
Luxury bedroom property for sale Fleet Hampshire McCarthy Holden estate agents
Exceptional Master Bedroom Suite
Luxury bedroom property for sale Fleet Hampshire McCarthy Holden estate agents

Grounds

The attractive rear garden is mainly laid to lawn and extends to approximately 0.45 of an acre.

Immediately to the rear of the property are two patio areas ideal for entertaining. Evergreen borders surround the rear garden offering a good degree of privacy.

To the front of the property is a generous driveway offering parking for several vehicles leading to a detached double garage (with the added benefit of being linked to the main house security alarm system).

Location Fleet has excellent commuter links with trains to London Waterloo from 43 minutes via the mainline rail station and Junction 4a of the M3 motorway linking to the M25. Fleet offers comprehensive shopping and leisure facilities, schools for all age groups, churches of various denominations and various health care services.

Heathrow Airport is about 25 miles and Farnborough Airport is about 4 miles distant. Private aircraft facilities are also available at Blackbushe Airport (about 4.5 miles).

For those seeking a high specification detached property with excellent road and rail access, this property is a must to view.

Telephone 01252 620640 for further details.

For an up to date property valuation in this fast moving market – go to our home page and click on the valuation tab.

About to be a First Time Parent like Meghan and Harry? 5 tips for Baby-Proofing your Home

From stair gates to non-slip mats and locking the oven, there's lots you can do to make your home more baby-friendly.

baby proofing your home

One can only imagine the challenges involved in baby-proofing a royal residence. Fitting stairwells with the world’s widest baby gates; locking down toilet seats in 78 separate bathrooms – well, Buckingham Palace has 78, but the Duke and Duchess of Sussex won’t have quite that many to contend with, when they take their baby back to their new home in Windsor.

baby proofing your home

Still, whether you’re a royal or a regular Joe, baby-proofing your home for new arrivals can be a pretty big task. Your little prince or princess might spend all day, every day snoozing at first – but they’ll soon hit curious mode, wanting to clamber on, poke and explore everything possible.

“More than a million children are taken to hospital every year in the UK because of accidents in the home,” says Lorna Marsh, senior editor and parenting expert at BabyCentre. “Falls are the most common accidents, and you need to minimise hazards before your baby starts crawling.”

So where to start? Here are five tips for ensuring your home is a baby-friendly zone…

baby proofing your home

1. Prepare early

A couple of points to note up front: First of all, no amount of baby-proofing can substitute for watchful supervision, so don’t let gadgets lull you into a false sense of security. Many a baby gate has been scaled by an enterprising infant, and some youngsters make a habit of turning up in unexpected places.

Secondly, it’s never too early to start thinking about baby-proofing. Young children tend to grow alarmingly quickly and by the time they’re crawling, you want to be confident with your new safety features. Getting the job done is much simpler when you’re not knee-deep in nappies and battling sleepless nights, so it’s a good idea all round to prepare early.

Before you begin, it’s worth getting on your hands and knees to get a child’s eye view of your home. Are there any edges or corners that look threatening, or furniture that’s invitingly climbable? Silly though it may sound, this is a worthy way to identify potential trouble spots before your child starts to explore.

baby proofing your home

2. Consider how things look from toddler height

Start with the big stuff. Any furniture that can topple (bookcases, we’re looking at you), should be fastened to the wall securely with furniture straps or brackets, while tall, unstable lamps should ideally be removed. Attach cushioned corner protectors to desks and coffee tables to avoid painful bumps and bangs.

“A new arrival means you’ll see your home in a whole new light,” says Marsh. “Things that you took no notice of before suddenly become a potential danger.” Cupboards should be sorted into safe and not-safe, and the latter latched with baby locks.

There are some obvious things to keep out of reach – knives, medicines, cleaning products and so on – but even apparently innocuous items can represent a risk if not considered carefully. House plants, for example, can be poisonous if nibbled on, and even the harmless ones are often potted in earth or dirt that might look appetising to a curious bub.

Beware the chest of drawers – you may think it’s a safe place for your unsecured television to sit on, but adventurous children use drawers for climbing practice, and anything heavy on top can topple off, potentially ending in serious trauma.

baby proofing your home

3. Make stairs and windows safe

If there are stairs in your home, baby gates are essential – consider installing one at the top and bottom of the stairs. It only takes a second for a littl’un to scale a set of steps!

Window blind cords can be particularly dangerous for children and must never be overlooked. “Replace corded window blinds with cordless ones,” says Marsh, “and put stickers on glass doors to make them visible to your child. Fit window locks, and never open them wide enough for a crawling baby to get out.”

Electrical cables represent trip, choke and entanglement hazards for small children, so use cord holders to fasten them to the walls.

baby proofing your home

4. Check every room

Once you’ve dealt with the basics, give your whole house a systematic sweep. Different dwellings pose different dangers, and the only way to know that you’ve got everything is to take a proper stock-check yourself.

The bathroom is one of the most perilous places for a tot who’s just finding their feet. An infant can drown in just 5cm of water, so invest in a baby bath seat and never, ever leave a bathing baby unsupervised. Toilet seat locks are a must too, and you can prevent scalding by adding soft covers on bath taps and spouts. Wobbly babies and slippery surfaces don’t mix, so put down some non-slip mats in tiled areas.

The kitchen is also high on the danger-o-meter. Avoid place mats and tablecloths on dining tables (an inquisitive child will tug on them, and bring the table’s contents crashing down), and make sure your oven is always safely locked, with covers on anything likely to get hot to the touch.

Sitting rooms can be deceptively hazardous, especially those with fireplaces. “Fit smoke alarms and keep a fire extinguisher nearby if you have a fireplace,” says Marsh. “By law, you must have a fireguard, and keep matches and lighters out of your child’s reach.

“In the bedroom, make sure your baby’s cot or Moses basket is sleep-safe,” she adds. “And, if you have a cat, put a cat net over [the baby’s bed].”

baby proofing your home

5. Think about how you’re using your home too

Making alternations is vital – but think about how you’re doing things around the home too. Is there a more child and baby-safe way to adapt everyday tasks?

For example, cook on the wall-side hobs if you have them (they’re further from reach!), and keep kitchen appliances away from children where possible. “Keep mugs of hot drinks away from edges,” adds Marsh. “And when cooking, make sure that the handles of saucepans are turned away from the edge.”

Be sure to unplug appliances like irons (we should all be doing this anyway!), and remember that visitors to your home may not be holding their habits to the same standards.

Be careful what you throw away too, as some babies are relentless scavengers. “Old batteries, plastic bags and sharp objects should be discarded safely,” says Marsh. Toys like Lego are well-established choking hazards, and the same goes for items like marbles, coins and paperclips.

“Keep plastic bags, including nappy bags, well out of reach of your child,” she adds, “and make sure pens, scissors, letter openers, staplers and other sharp instruments are kept in locked drawers.”

Even when they’re clear of all apparent danger, crawling children are still wiping their mitts on the floor, so it’s important to keep a hygienic home too. If you don’t already, enforce a no-shoes policy inside the house, and clean regularly to keep your surfaces germ-free (you don’t need a gleaming show home, of course – we’re just talking about getting the important basics done).

Tenant Fees Act (2019): An overview

The Tenant Fees Act will come into force on 1st June 2019. At the centre of the new law is a ban on all tenant fees, including agency and any third party fees.

tenant fee act 2019

The guidelines from the government will come soon, but here’s what we know so far about the Tenant Fees Act (2019).

What does the Act comprise of?

Here are the key parts of the Act:

tenant fee act 2019

All Payments Are Prohibited Except Rent, Utility Bills, Deposits (and 2 Exceptions)

Tenants will no longer be responsible for any costs except: the rent, the tenancy deposit and a holding deposit (more on these below).

This means it is no longer possible to ask tenants to cover the cost of their own referencing. Tenants will not be able to be charged for check-in, inventory or set up fees. These fees will be deemed prohibited by law

The only two exceptions are two forms of ‘default’ fee. These fees are chargeable during the tenancy in the following circumstances, provided the relevant clauses are written into the tenancy agreement.   

a) Late Rent Fees

Fees will be charged for rent payments that are over 2 weeks late. The fees can be up to 3% over the prevailing Bank of England base interest rate. Because this is an annual interest rate, the amount will need to be calculated for the pro rata interest accrued on the outstanding rent.

For example:

The tenant is 30 days late for one £1,500 rent payment.

The base rate of interest is currently 0.75%, therefore the amount the tenant can be charged for is the outstanding rent plus a fee of 3.75% of outstanding rent, pro rata for the 30 days. (3.75% of £1,500 is £56.25.) 30 days is 30/365 of the yearly rate. Therefore, the pro rata amount is calculated by multiplying £56.25 by 30/365, which is £4.62.

Landlords will of course still be able to serve Section 8 notices for late payment of rent provided the rent is 2 months or more in arrears.

(b) Lost Keys

Tenants can be charged for losing their keys (or other security device) but the charge must be a reasonable amount for which evidence must be provided.

Both default fees will need to be included in the tenancy agreement to be able to charge them, and previous rules about fair clauses will still apply.

It has also been advised that landlords shall be able to charge up to £50 for a change of tenant, and with regards to an early surrender request by a tenant, a landlord shall be able to charge the tenant for the remaining unexpected void period.

tenant fee act 2019

Cap on Tenancy Deposits

The amount of security deposit that can be requested is being reduced to 5 weeks for AST’s (Assured Shorthold Tenancies) and licences where the rent per annum is up to £50,000, and up to 6 weeks for those tenancies over £50,000 in rent per annum.

This applies to all tenancies regardless of the reason a higher deposit was taken previously. (ie: if there was poor credit etc.)

The ability to request a higher deposit due to the applicant having a pet has also been removed, however, if landlords will consider a pet, when marketing the property, it can be advertised at 2 rental amounts (ie: £1,500 p.c.m. or £1,550 p.c.m. with 1 x pet)

tenant fee act 2019

Cap and New Rules on Holding Deposits

Holding deposits will be limited to one week’s rent.

The holding deposit can only be held for 15 calendar days unless another ‘deadline’ date is agree in writing subsequently by both parties.

After the deadline, the holding deposit must be repaid within 7 days.

The holding deposit must be returned to the tenant via a refund or by being put towards the first rental payment if agreed in writing.

There are some exceptions. In these cases the holding deposit shall be forfeited  but a reason must be given in writing to the tenant within 7 days:

  • The tenant withdraws
  • The tenant doesn’t take all reasonable steps to enter the tenancy in the required time
  • The tenant fails a right to rent check
  • The tenant provides misleading information which materially affects their suitability to rent the property
tenant fee act 2019

What Are the Penalties to Landlords Who Charge Tenant Fees?

Any person,  landlord (or agents) or any third parties who charge fees to Tenants could face paying huge fines.

The first offence would be a civil offence, with a fine of £5,000.

If the offence is repeated within five years, this would be deemed a criminal offence and levies a fine up to £30,000.

Local Trading Standards organisations will enforce the ban.

Hoping to sell your home? 11 Value-slashing pitfalls to avoid

Ahead of the spring selling season, an industry expert outlines some common 'blunders' that could put off potential buyers. By Vicky Shaw.

With the spring house-selling season around the corner, many home owners eyeing a move in 2019 may already be sprucing up their properties to get them ready for market.

But while moving can be an exciting time, estate agents warn that it’s easy to make blunders while trying to sell, which could potentially knock value off your property – and some of these may be quite surprising.

Mark Bentley, president of NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents) Propertymark, cautions: “Sometimes the improvements and changes you have made might make the property less attractive to buyers. So before you start marketing your home, it’s worth taking stock and making any necessary alterations, to give you the best chance of securing your asking price.”

For those in two minds about making changes, he suggests: “You can ask friends or family for their honest opinions, or your estate agents can help advise on any small changes you may want to make before placing your home on the market.”

Of course, the extent to which something would add or take away value from a home can vary, depending on factors such as individual circumstances and local market conditions.

With that in mind, here are some of the key factors that NAEA Propertymark members have experienced as having a negative impact on a property’s value…

Phil Spencer home buyer questions

1. Over-personalisation

People’s homes suit their personalities. But if you like your decor big and bold, it may be worth toning it down a bit – unless you can find a buyer who has similar taste. Typically, modestly-decorated homes are most desirable, as home owners can easily see how they could make it their home.

2. Property condition

Tell-tale indications of damp, cracks on walls, a poor roof condition, an old boiler, and single-glazed windows can all impact on the value of a property – and interest from buyers.

extension-property-hampshire-diy-renovation

3. Bad presentation

Show off your home at its best. Everything should be clean, clutter tidied away, and any outstanding DIY jobs should be finished. If a home smells fresh and clean, it has a much greater chance of selling quickly.

4. Swimming pools

They may be great fun in the summer, but swimming pools in the UK can put some potential buyers off – although others may be wowed. As well as the issue of maintenance, pools take up space, and some buyers may see them as a hassle.

If a property has an outside swimming pool that is run down, owners might want to consider filling it in. But if it’s great condition, then selling the home in the summer could show the pool off at its best.

tips for selling your home

5. Not having the right paperwork

If you have had work carried out while living in the property, such as extensions or conversions, make sure you obtained appropriate planning permission and building regulations, and have access to these documents. If you haven’t got the right documents, you may have to pay for them retrospectively before agreeing a sale.

6. Darkened rooms

If you’ve planted lots of bushes and trees close to the windows, your home may appear gloomy to buyers. Frosted glass windows or netted curtains can also sometimes have the same effect.

property interior

7. Japanese knotweed

If you think you can see any in your garden, call a professional to excavate is as soon as possible.

8. Clutter

Clean each room from top to bottom, paying special attention to ‘high-impact’ rooms, such as the kitchen and bathroom. Things like too much furniture, children’s toys and unused gym equipment can make your property feel smaller.

tips for selling your home

9. Dated fixtures and fittings

Kitchens are often the focus for buyers, so it’s important they don’t look too outdated. Painting kitchens and replacing cupboard handles and old taps can be a cost-effective way of getting kitchens up-to-date.

10. Over-improving

As well as not doing enough, you can do too much. For example, putting fake grass in the garden may have benefited your sporty family but it may not appeal to buyers who love the smell of a freshly-cut lawn. Keep improvements simple.

11. Not being energy-efficient

A home’s energy performance has become increasingly important, so if your home needs an energy efficiency boost, consider steps to make it happen, such as installing double glazing.

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To discover more about the local market and how your home could thrive with the assistance of McCarthy Holden, contact your local branch:
Estate Agents Fleet, Estate Agents Hartley Wintney, Estate Agents Odiham.

House Buyers Ignore Brexit in January

house buyers ignore brexit image

With the first month of 2019 trading behind us, it appears that despite the chaos in the Palace of Westminster around Brexit, house buyers are simply getting on with making decisions around matters of day to day life, which are the drivers for a house move.

All of the McCarthy Holden branches experienced an uptake of buyer interest in January and the McCarthy Holden web site enquiry hits were up on the January 2018.

Whilst it is too early to comment on the market direction for 2019, it nevertheless appears that house buying decisions are mostly made by very localised factors such as schooling, access to work and general employment levels and family situations ranging from the three D’s (death, divorce and debt) through to the three N’s (new job, new baby, new beginnings).

high levels of house sales image

Amongst the Estate Agents in Fleet, our own branch had a particularly productive January with, witnessed by events such as £3.4m. worth of residential property sales exchanging contracts in just one 24 hour period.

As we said in our 2018 / 2019 market review, who knows, there might well be some pleasing outcomes to report at the end of 2019.

So, if you are considering a move this year, now is a great time to get ahead of the competition by calling one of our property experts for a free, no obligation, advice on how is best to market your home.

Pantone Colour Of The Year 15 Ways To Add A Splash Of Coral At Home

wisteria trees wall paper

With Living Coral set to make make waves across decor trends throughout 2019, Sam Wylie-Harris reveals the sunny-hued finds to shop now.

If you’re hankering after some winter sun and desperate to get your glow on without having to leave home, Pantone’s new Colour of the Year – Living Coral – could be the next best thing to basking in some natural warmth.

A gorgeously rich coral hue with a golden undertone, we can’t think of a better way to welcome in 2019 than by brightening up the home with this happy, sunny shade.

Every year, design company Pantone look at the latest trends influencing our lives, before revealing the shade taking top spot. The colour experts cite Living Coral as a release from digital technology and social media, and a nod of recognition towards our increasing concern over environmental issues, the energising aspects of colour found in nature, and our desire for playful expression. All sounds good to us.

To celebrate everything coral without having to be ‘sur la plage’, we’ve rounded up the latest must-have decos and homewares inspired by 2019’s hottest shade…

Monkey Table Lamp
MW by Matthew Williamson Monkey Resin Table Light, £85, Debenhams (available late February). Attention-seeking and showy, if you can't resist a little bit of monkey business and thoughts of far-flung places, this designer lampshade will steal the spotlight very nicely.
wisteria trees wall paper
Wisteria in Coral Floral Wallpaper, £120 per roll, Woodchip & Magnolia (sofa and floor lamp, stylist's own) Woody wisteria trees may charm us with their violet flowers, but why settle for the usual purple petals when you can adorn the walls in climbing coral?
Seafern Wallpaper
Cole & Son Seafern Wallpaper - Coral 107/2011, £85 per roll, John Lewis Or for something closer to the real deal, this classic design inspired by botanical prints from the late 1700s delves beneath the sea to illustrate living species of coral (although more allusive), such as Staghorn and Ivory Tree.
Embroidered Velvet Palm Tree Cushion
Embroidered Velvet Palm Tree Cushion, £46, Audenza To evoke memories of tropical holidays and palm-fringed beaches, this luxe velvet cushion with its gold palm tree motif has a timeless allure
Unity Cane Wall Mirror
Unity Cane Wall Mirror, currently reduced to £95 from £145, Oliver Bonas To mirror our fascination with tribal art, this brass frame has been wrapped in woven red raffia inspired by West African celebratory masks. To make a real statement, hang one either side of a dresser or wide chest of drawers.
Orange Coral Table Lamp with Linen Shade
Orange Coral Table Lamp with Linen Shade, £125, Graham & Green An attractive objet d'art you'd expect to see in a swank retreat by the sea, the exotic coral base and pristine white shade channels beauty while also being functional. Style it with some collectible seashells for maximum impact.
Clarissa Hulse Filix Bed Linen
Clarissa Hulse Filix Bed Linen - Coral Ombre, from £19-£125, Lambswool Throw - Coral Ombre, £150, Clarissa Hulse Rise and shine... Nothing spells sassy like a burst of burnt orange, dazzling coral and a splash of lemony yellow in a bright sunrise, ombre effect. Enriched with fabulous feather fern motifs and styled with a luxurious, fringed throw, these sateen sheets are a wake-up call to wonderfulness.
Debenhams Cosmo Painterly Bud Vase
Debenhams Cosmo Painterly Bud Vase, £15, Debenhams (available late February) This bowl-shaped vase adds a fresh dimension to the colour by picking up the golden accents and adding interest with some conch pearly pink and a wash of pebble stone grey.
Bird by Toikka Red Cardinal
Oiva Toikka Bird by Toikka Red Cardinal, £282 (130 x 200mm), iittala A flight of fancy - but if you don't have to penny-pinch, this striking songbird makes a lasting impression. According to mythology, cardinals are spiritual messengers and a sighting brings good fortune, making this a deco 'defo' worth the outlay

Latest Property Event Kick Starts 2019

Whilst it is undoubtedly too early to comment on the market for 2019, at McCarthy Holden we felt it was worth letting you know that the usual seasonal spike in online activity in the run up to New year followed that of previous years.

Based at our Fleet Estate Agents branch, Associate Director Ben Murphy witnessed the success of our Boxing Day Live, with 18 new properties entering the market for sale and a further 9 properties all reduced in price.

According to data from Rightmove.co.uk, 25,147,701 properties were viewed on Boxing Day alone with activity still strong leading up to New Years Day.

“During the Christmas / New Year period we opened our doors for trading and secured 18 viewings, 5 valuations and two instructions.

Off-street activity was also high with new buyers registering looking for property. Not a bad result in 12 hours work” Comments Ben Murphy.

“Opening our door again yesterday saw activity at a good level, with this weekend filling up with viewings on a wide range of property. “

“Clients tend to think marketing before Spring is wrong but there are some fantastic advantages to marketing before the daffodils blossom. This is because there is usually less competition and therefore clients can hope to achieve a good price for their property. Furthermore, people tend to spend more time at home over the Christmas/winter period and begin to feel their home may be too small/too big and look into moving.”

So, if you are considering a move this year, now is a great time to get ahead of the competition by calling one of our property experts for free, no obligation, advice on how is best to market your home.
Contact one of our branches:
Estate agents in Fleet
Estate agents in Hartley Wintney
Estate agents in Odiham

Ben Murphy photo
Ben Murphy - Associate Director

Sell Or Add Value To Your Home? Phil Spencer Shares Some Top Tips

Phil Spencer photo

Whether you’re thinking longer term or considering putting your property on the market soon, TV’s Phil Spencer has some advice. By Vicky Shaw.

Here, TV property expert Phil Spencer, shares his insight into current housing trends, as well as the property pitfalls to watch out for…

“I’ve been involved in the housing market for over 25 years and, as with all things, there are trends. There are elements of fashion and, as with clothing, fashion changes, so be careful of that and don’t go too far out on a limb.

“There was a trend for open plan and generally opening things out, but I’d say that’s changing again.

“More en-suite bathrooms have been prioritised recently. They take up more space and don’t always add huge amounts of value when re-selling, so it will be interesting to see if this lasts. Pantries and larders are also on the up, as we crave more and more space.”

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What do home owners need to be mindful of when thinking about making improvements – are there pitfalls to watch out for?

“Simply put – bad DIY. It’s obvious when somethings been done cheaply, we should all be mindful of that. You also need to be realistic with the space you’ve got. Every property has a ceiling price and as long as you’re aware of that, then you’re good.

“I would say you need to be consistent. I’ve seen expensive bathrooms in cheap houses and it can look very out of place. Always match the price bracket of fittings to that of the house.

“Also, not to make things too personal to you and your taste and lifestyle. If you’re doing it for you, great, but if you want to re-sell be careful. You always need to appeal to the largest possible denominator – there is a reason people use magnolia!”

What should home owners bear in mind when considering whether to move or improve?

Forexpert advice on your property valuation and top selling tips, go the McCarthy Holden home page and click on valuation, for a free no obligation property appraisal.

Ask An Expert: Why Is My Toddler More Interested In The Christmas Packaging?

A psychologist tells Lisa Salmon why children often like the box more than the toy.

My two-year-old son plays with the Christmas boxes and wrapping paper more than his presents. Why does he love the packaging so much?

Dr Shona Goodall, a clinical psychologist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital who has appeared on Channel 4’s Secret Life of 4 Year Olds, says: “Many of us have spent a small fortune on Christmas presents only for our toddlers to seemingly push them aside in favour of the cardboard boxes or wrapping. But Christmas packaging has more benefits for children than you might realise.

“Children of this age tend to take a great deal of interest in packaging at Christmas because removing it is often the first thing we encourage them to do. The sensory sound of the ripping noise is a quick win for them to master – it improves their hand-eye coordination and strengthens their finger pincer grip.

Childe in Christmas box

“Free (but safely supervised) play with packaging therefore offers a blank canvas to explore what they can do with the paper and boxes at their developmental stage and get creative and learn, without fear of getting it wrong.

“Playing with packaging can have other beneficial effects on their development too – it can help your son instigate positive behaviours like recycling.

“Young children love to copy at this age – you might have noticed your son will often look at you right before he’s about to do something. Caregivers attune to their child’s responses and assist them to make sense of the world, and research has shown praise will positively reinforce them to do it again.

Child in cardboard box

“By encouraging the behaviour you want to see more of, such as putting something in the bin or recycling, you can lay a fantastic foundation upon which to teach him about sustainability. That’s your chance to chat through some of the materials being played with to educate him about where they come from and where they could go next.

“So, playing with packaging will not only aid your son’s development, but also sow the seeds for him to learn all about recycling and sustainability for both your children and future generations”

For more on cardboard packaging, visit Beyond the Box

Dr Shona Goodall
Dr Shona Goodall - Interveiwed by Lisa Salmon, Press Association

The unknown, or a property market that bucks the Brexit fears?

estate agent sold board

The Market 2018

Let us start with 2018, which was peppered with challenging market conditions for residential property sales.

Because our trading year runs January to December we can report on the full picture for 2018, which may indicate the direction of travel for 2019.

Surprisingly, some branch productivity levels for house sale revenue was at or above 2017 levels, especially in the village locations. That outcome however doesn’t for one moment disguise the fact that during the first half of 2018 we saw one of the poorest levels of house sale transactions for some time, however, buyer positivity surfaced in the summer and remained reasonable through to December despite the increased chaos around Brexit.

When we say house sales were up in the second half of 2018, we are talking about house sale volumes not prices. Large house price gains are gone for a while, but like all markets when they rebound from a low they come back with a sharp and fast uptake.

The rental market performed extremely well in 2018, with a notable uplift in activity for high end rentals outside of London, especially in our core area of operation on the Berkshire / Hampshire borders.

Properties taken to the rental market in the £7,000 to £10,000 p.c.m. sector frequently saw rental offers from multiple tenants. This was driven by high end house buyers deciding to pop into a property rental for the next year or so, using some of the stamp duty funds they would have allocated on a property purchase around £2.0m. or £3.0m., and then wait and see how property values shape up post Brexit.

house let
High end rental activity compensated for house sales

One certainty

One thing that is certain, is that uncertainty impacts on the property market especially around the times of a General Election or a Referendum. How this uncertainty works its way into tangible outcomes for 2019 is not straightforward and varies in different house price sectors of the property market.

In the short term, house buyers generally will be more cautious and slower in their decision making. This doesn’t mean house prices will fall, because buyer demand remains steady and employment levels are excellent. There is the prospect of a flat market in respect of property prices, however, discerning house buyers are seeing the current market conditions as an opportunity to move whilst prices remain static. House sellers will sell successfully in the 2019 market, but they can’t expect a fancy or inflated price and must engage with the reality that over pricing will fail in a market where buyers are cautious.

Different sectors, different outcomes in 2019

Different market sectors will have different outcomes in the forthcoming months ahead. Buying decisions on property sales from around £250,000 to £1.5m. are mostly made by very localised factors such as schooling, access to work, general employment levels and family situations ranging from the three D’s (death, divorce and debt) through to the three N’s (new job, new baby, new beginnings). Decisions around such matters of day to day life will continue to be made by house buyers against the backdrop of political uncertainty, so house sales will be maintained at the current level with price sensitivity being the watchword.

Further up the property price sector, and especially in the £2.0m. to £6.0m range house buyers will be more influenced by global and political factors so we could see further negative price impacts in this sector. Savvy top end buyers are playing a waiting game, but they are there on our books and will respond to excellent marketing and a competitive price strategy.

House sellers and buyers should approach 2019 with realistic expectations, engaging positively with the new beginnings for the country and house moving opportunities and, who knows, there might well be some pleasing outcomes to report at the end of 2019.

We wish you a happy Christmas and the very best for 2019.

 

John Holden – Chairman and Managing Director McCarty Holden

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