Lease Options: Are Tenants Protected?

I’ve just read an interesting blog post by David Lawrenson over at Letting Focus about a potentially expensive pitfall for tenants in the whole lease option idea.

magnifying glassA lease option basically works like this:

• Tenant rents property in usual way

• Landlord offers option to buy within a defined period (a year or two, for example) at a price agreed today

• Tenant pays lump sum up front (£2-3k, for example) plus a premium on the rent for the privilege

• If tenant buys, he gets some of this back plus the benefit of last year’s house prices;  if he doesn’t buy, he loses the money invested

Now, in theory, there’s nothing wrong with the idea – house-builders have used this ‘rent to buy’ concept as a way to sell when times are tough and it’s been great for struggling first-time buyers.

But what if the landlord is a small-scale buy-to-let investor?  And what happens if said investor, for example, defaults on his mortgage payments or goes bust?

This is especially worth asking since some investment ‘gurus’ are pitching the lease option idea to struggling landlords – see this lease options article, for example.

From the tenant’s point of view, as David points out, the process may be fraught with risk.

Is he right? If any of you out there know more about this, we’d like to hear your views.

November 11, 2009 at 12:26 PM 1 comment

Extension Invention 2: House In Canonbury

Here’s a very clever bit of extension invention in London N1 (Canonbury) – a basement conversion that makes smart use of an existing light well to create a glowing glass lantern that hovers over the new dining room.


House in Canonbury, £1,999,950, Foxtons (Tel: 020 7704 5000)

The extension has a full-height sliding glass door opening onto a fanned staircase that leads up to the garden.

We like!

And so did the judges of the AJ Small Projects Awards competition back in 2006 – they handed out first prize to architect Paul Archer for his efforts here.


House in Canonbury, £1,999,950, Foxtons (Tel: 020 7704 500)


House in Canonbury, £1,999,950, Foxtons (Tel: 020 7704 500)


House in Canonbury, £1,999,950, Foxtons (Tel: 020 7704 500)


House in Canonbury, £1,999,950, Foxtons (Tel: 020 7704 500)

November 10, 2009 at 2:38 PM Leave a comment

Narrowest Houses In London?

Interesting piece in The Times yesterday about a property that, at 7’7″ wide, may well be the narrowest house in London.

It’s in London SW11 and is owned by singer-songwriter Polly Paulusma – she’s supported Bob Dylan and Coldplay – and comes with an elongated reception room that measures  7’7″ x 42’2″ (Foxtons, Tel: 020 7801 1111).


£450,000, Foxtons, 020 7801 1111


£450,000, Foxtons, 020 7801 1111

Almost as narrow – 2.4m (or 7’10”) – is the Gap House, which recently won the prestigious RIBA Manser Medal, an annual prize awarded for the best one-off house or major extension designed by an architect in the UK.

It was designed by Pitman Tozer Architects to slot between two white stucco villas on Monmouth Road in Bayswater.

However, unlike Polly Paulusma’s house, this one widens out behind the villas into more regular dimensions. Still pretty skinny, though!



November 9, 2009 at 3:40 PM Leave a comment

London Flat Where Beatles Lived For Sale

This flat in Green Street, Mayfair was the Beatles’ first home in London (1963) – and it is, apparently, the only place where they ever lived  together as a band.

The Beatles, 1963

The Beatles, 1963

The story goes that manager Brian Epstein found the top-floor flat so they could escape from their screaming fans –   they’d just had a big hit with  She Loves You, Beatlemania was rife, and their eardrums were at serious risk.

There were only three bedrooms back then (two now) so not sure how that worked out (couldn’t Epstein count?!), but I’m guessing Ringo slept in the bath.

There are some nice pics here of the band in the flat celebrating John Lennon’s birthday in October 1963.

On the market for £1,375,000 via James Taylor Property (Tel: 0843 2822 514).





November 9, 2009 at 12:49 PM 1 comment

Wreck Of The Week

The Property: Grade II listed barn for conversion

The Place: Bardney, Lincolnshire

The Price: £190,000 (Guide)


The Pain: It’s listed, and in pretty bad shape, so don’t expect this to be easy.

The Gain: It has planning permission for two three-bed houses – but it may also be possible to convert it into one large home (subject to permission).

The agent reckons the two homes option will result in properties worth around £250,000 each, so if you keep costs under control there’s a good return here for a developer.

If you’re a lifestyle buyer, the single option is probably more attractive – that vast internal space and vaulted ceiling could look really spectacular.

It will, the agent thinks, be worth around £450,000-£500,000 as a single home.

Bardney is a popular village which lies to the east of Lincoln (approx 12 miles).  It has a post office, butcher, school, doctor’s surgery, pharmacy, medieval centre and a railway cycle path which is approx 9.5 miles to Lincoln.

The Agent: Savills (Tel: 0843 2821 659)



November 6, 2009 at 5:55 PM Leave a comment

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