Newcastle City Council seeks legal advice over maisonette HMO licenses.

Landlords with HMO licenses for maisonettes could be due a refund.

Landlords with HMO licenses for maisonettes could be due a refund.

Newcastle City Council are seeking legal advice after a precedent set by a landmark ruling in the Britsol Council v Digs Ltd case may mean landlords are due refunds on HMO licenses for maisonettes.

The case which ruled that maisonettes cannot be classed as HMOs because they only have living accommodation across two floors rather than three, has prompted many to contact the council and dispute their need for a license.

The National Landlords Association say that Newcastle council has licensed an estimated 700 maisonette HMOs at £1,100 per property, and that the new ruling should entitle landlords to a refund. The NLA has written to Pat Ritchie, Newcastle Council’s chief executive, to ask what process is in place to allow landlords to apply for refunds.

A Newcastle Council spokesperson said: ‘Licensing of HMOs was introduced to ensure that tenants are protected by adequate health and safety standards and the proper management of properties.

‘A recent High Court case involving Bristol Council deemed that a particular three-storey property in Bristol was not a licensable HMO. We are obtaining legal advice in respect of the position of some licensed properties in Newcastle and whether they are affected by the Bristol decision.’

To read more on the original case click here.

Student flats planned for empty bank building in Newcastle.

The imposing three storey building has been empty for seven years.

The imposing three storey building has been empty for seven years.

The former Lloyd’s Bank building on Shields Road in Byker has been earmarked for a student development.

The bank was built in 1904, and is on the city council’s list of heritage asset buildings, but has been empty for the last seven years.

Planners say that during this time there have been no other planning applications, and that the proposed plans would provide a sustainable long term use for the building and advised councillors to back the plans.

There is already a precedent in the area for such developments, the former Parrish’s department store also on Shield’s Road is a student block and its neighbour the 1910 Beavans department store is now converted into flats.

Conservation architect Cyril Winskell, who has led townscape studies of Newcastle and Gateshead, said: “ Towns and cities are always changing. Such change is ongoing – it never stops. It changes constantly.

“With buildings like banks and department stores you can see the pattern of change.

“The uses of buildings change as society and the facilities it needs also change.”

More details on the plans are expected next month.

Social Media Landmarks for City Centre Property Agency.

Social media figures has helped boost engagement at Walton Robinson.

Social media figures has helped boost engagement at Walton Robinson.

Newcastle Lettings and estate agency Walton Robinson has recently passed 1000 fans on both Facebook and Chinese social network, Weibo.

The agency has been established in Newcastle City Centre since 2001 and over the last two years has implemented a wide-ranging marketing plan which included a large-scale rebrand and setting up accounts on several different social media platforms.

You have probably heard of Facebook but what do you know about Weibo? The Chinese social media site is similar to a mix of Twitter and Facebook. Accessible both in China and the UK, it means that Walton Robinson can use it to connect with Chinese speaking clients all over the world to promote their services and give advice on life in the city. The company has also invested in hiring Chinese speaking staff members to support clients in processes such as understanding their tenancy agreement and setting up utility bills.

Alice Lam who manages Walton Robinson’s Weibo page said; “Walton Robinson’s Weibo recently reached over 1,000 followers in just over a year since it launched. Chinese students and potential investors are able to find out useful details about Newcastle and the properties we have available via our Weibo no matter where they are. It is particularly helpful to students in China who can find the right accommodation, before they even arrive in the UK, without any hassles or worries.”

The full service property agency has a growing presence on seven different social media sites; Facebook, Weibo, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest, reaching thousands of people all over the world.

This February, the number of fans on the company’s Facebook and Weibo pages both successfully passed the 1000 fans barrier, and to mark the occasion, bottles of Champagne and shopping vouchers were given out to a lucky fan from each page.

One of the ways Walton Robinson drives engagement on their Facebook and Weibo pages is photographs of tenants after they have signed up for a property as well as regular special offers and competitions.

Sally Bettinson, marketing administrator at WR said; “Social media is extremely important to us, it’s an increasingly useful tool in spreading awareness of the company and the services we offer to students, first time buyers, home-movers, landlords and property investors. The last few months has seen us experience the busiest student lettings season we’ve ever had and it’s exiting to see our social media following increasing to these levels. Running special offers and competitions is a great way to keep our followers interested and attract new fans. Bring on the next 1000!”

This was a guest post from Newcastle letting agent Walton Robinson.

Newcastle night spot earmarked for student development.

After decades of dancing the Liquid Envy nightclub will bow out to make way for student housing.

After decades of dancing the Liquid Envy nightclub will bow out to make way for student housing.

The Liquid Envy nightclub, formerly the Oxford Galleries Ballroom on New Bridge Street in Newcastle upon Tyne has been recommended as a site for a new student development.

The historical nightspot that has been home to a vibrant party scene since it was built in 1921.  It was first a ballroom and then enjoyed several reincarnations as a night club. Planning officers from Newcastle City Council have recommended that the main building be flattened to make way for a new development. The stone Oxford Galleries portico will stay and the Grade II listed John Dobson’s house will be restored and used as a bar or restaurant space.

Protestors are angry that another part of Newcastle’s heritage is to be bulldozed, and while the planning department noted that while the site has local value as a drinking and dancing spot, the site was perfect for demolition.

The building became famous after a dramatic scene in the 1971 film Get Carter was filmed on its dance floor. The council received 30 letters of injection including those from nearby businesses and a hotel concerned that the change of use for the site would bring more noise and disturbance in the day, as well as bringing traffic to the street which has no space for parking.

Visitors to the Chronicle’s discussion on the proposed plans were vocal in their disappointment:

Louise Karmazyn wrote: “This is The Oxford an iconic landmark in Newcastle. How many more flats do we need for students? There are plenty of empty flats in Wallsend and Heaton without building more in the town centre!”

David Garside added: “Why do they keep knocking old buildings down…there’ll be nothing of old Newcastle left at this rate.”

Total Re-Brand at City Centre Property Agency

The Walton Robinson office at Haymarket is sporting an updated look.

The Walton Robinson office at Haymarket is sporting an updated look.

Over the past two years, Newcastle property agency Walton Robinson have seen a complete overhaul of their corporate branding. At the same time the workforce has been expanding and moving into further office space within the Bruce Building on Percy Street.

The re-branding project began at Walton Robinson in 2012 and is receiving the finishing touches this spring. This has been the second re-brand since the company was initially established in 2001 and has seen a some big changes take place. 

A totally new logo, website, car liveries, window graphics, interior decoration of the office and brand new illuminated signage to the exterior have all been incorporated into the new branding. Walton Robinson worked alongside both local and national design companies on different sections of the re-brand and re-decoration.

As part of raising the profile of WR’s new identity, they have expanded their social media presence, invested more heavily into local advertising and joined major property portals Rightmove and Zoopla.

Percy Street’s major landmark, the Bruce Building, is the home of Walton Robinson and has been recently purchased by Michigan Investments; another company Mark Walton is a director of.  Future plans are to develop private rented accommodation and more office space for the burgeoning property agency.

Not only was there a redesign of the logo and website but a new brand identity was put into place; the idea of the “Full Circle Service”. Walton Robinson provides everything from lettings, residential sales, buy to let sales and full property management to large scale investment opportunities so this “Full Circle” motif was incorporated into every step of the new-look Walton Robinson.

Mark Walton, managing director of Walton Robinson said; “The aim from the start of Walton Robinson was to provide an all-encompassing, “Full Circle”, service- offering advice on buy-to-let, sales and renting, which we did do to a certain extent. However, we now have the team, processes, training, PR, marketing, branding and identity all in one place, to enable all these services to be provided exceptionally well – and it makes me proud to see our clients responding so positively to our approach.”


Does broadband speed affect your property choices?

Does broadband speed affect your choice of home?

Does broadband speed affect your choice of home?

Broadband speed is becoming an increasingly important factor for renters and homebuyers when making a decision on a property to rent or buy according to research from property portal Rightmove.

The speed of broadband connection at a property is becoming an increasingly important factor when deciding on a property; according to the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), poor broadband speeds can potentially lower the value of a property by 20%.

The government have promised £250 million to extend the coverage of super-fast broadband in the UK to reach 95% of homes and businesses by the year 2017. An additional £10 million fund has been launched in March 2014, aiming to find ways to reach the other 5% of the UK.

Rightmove reported that broadband capabilities were ranked as a more important feature than information on local transport and schools. The property portal have also added a broadband speed search function on their website for prospective tenants and homebuyers enabling them to check the speed of broadband in a specific postcode. This feature was added earlier this year and now receives over 400,000 page views per day.

Bernard Phillips, Head of Consumer Platforms at Rightmove, said: “We’re always considering new developments to our website and mobile platforms, to make sure we provide Rightmove users with the best property search experience and because we understand the benefits these have for our customers. The trial exceeded our expectations so it’s become a permanent  addition that further enhances our listings. We already offer a number of tolls to help consumers make informed decisions about a property including local schools and transport links, and we’re pleased to be the first to add data on broadband, something that has become ingrained in people’s lives and an important factor when choosing a home.”

This was a guest post from Newcastle letting agents Walton Robinson.

High Court upholds Bristol Council v Digs Verdict

Is the jig up for the HMO Maisonette?

Is the jig up for the HMO Maisonette?

A judge in the High Court has upheld a decision made at Bristol Magistrates Court in October 2013.

The original case centred around a masionette and whether it needed an HMo License, we first reported on it back in November.

Last week Justice Burnett at the High Court refused Bristol Council’s appeal, meaning that the maisonette did not need an HMO license, and therefore set a precedent for any future cases of this nature. This means that the case us binding in any lower courts, unless there’s a change to the law or a higher court makes a different ruling.

It is thought that now the door is open, many more landlords will bring cases to their respective councils, seeking a refund for their licenses, and the works they had to do to bring properties to HMO standard.

Enviro-vent scoops champagne prize at Newcastle Landlord Conference.

Our stand at the Newcastle Landlord Conference.

Our stand at the Newcastle Landlord Conference.

Last Thursday the team from Student Housing magazine were down at the Newcastle Landlord Conference at Newcastle Civic Centre. With stands from over 30 exhibitors and seminars and talks from prominent industry specialists the day was a great chance to meet some new faces and catch up with old acquaintances. We were handing out magazine goody bags so if you missed your opportunity to grab one fill in this form here and we’ll send one out to you.

Paul Allison and the winner dgsfdh

Paul Allison and the winner Anthony Hunter

As usual we were giving away a bottle of champagne to a winner pulled from a hat by Danielle Wilson from the Private Rented Service and this year the winner was Envriovent Ventilation Specialist Anthony Hunter. Envirovent is a leading manufacturer and installer of clem air ventilation systems that can reduce condensation in a property and improve air quality. For more information please visit their website.

Student Housing at the Newcastle Landlord Conference

newstudent_banner_new_600pxWe will be at this year’s Newcastle Landlord Conference, this Thursday the 27th March.

Hosted and organised by Newcastle City Council and their Private Rented Service the event will feature speakers from the NLA and the Department of Communities and Local Government. All are welcome to attend, there will be stands and information on mortgages, leases and taxes and how the Council can help make the most of your properties.

The event will run from 10am ’til 4pm and exhibitors will include: -

Warm up north, grants for thermal solutions
Robson Laidler, Chartered Tax advisor
Approved Mortgage solutions
M J Boaden, Chartered Surveyors
Martin and Co, Lettings
Valuation Office
Tyne & Wear Homes
National Landlord Association
Northumbria Police
Any of course us!

You can drop in or spend the day there, refreshments and a light lunch available. If you’re interested please get in touch with
Newcastle City Council on 0191 277 1438 or email them at

New Student sponsors Student gig fundraising for cancer charity.

A Night Out @ The Cluny, sponsored by Student Housing Magazine and Graphic Designer John Luke

A Night Out @ The Cluny, sponsored by Student Housing Magazine and Graphic Designer John Luke

Student Housing magazine has joined forces with two Newcastle College students to fundraise for Cancer Research.

Miles Pratt (21) and Clive Kennedy (22) are Sound Engineering Students at Newcastle College and have put together the gig at Newcastle Music Venue the Cluny to raise money for Cancer Research on April 3rd 2014.

A Night Out @ The Cluny will feature live music from headliners The Cities We Light and support from Built Like a Gun, The Shinobi Fantobi, Good Friend and The Face.

Tickets are available on the door or from The Cluny. For more information please see the event’s Facebook page.