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Have you ever considered a house share?

It’s true – when most of us think about house shares we immediately think of students. Other things you might think of are messy kitchens, people stealing your milk and loud music at all hours of the night. But is there a new type of house share emerging?

 

Think back to the sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S, and how badly you wanted to live with all of your closest friends and move to the big city. Well that idea is making a comeback. How many young professionals are desperate to get out from their parent’s roof but could not afford it alone?

  

More and more of us are being forced into renting because actually getting onto the property ladder in modern times seems impossible. But this in itself is causing problems; as the demand for rented accommodation grows, so inevitably do the prices. A study from Spareroom in 2015, showed a 10.5% increase in rent prices last year alone. The average London rent is now at an unbelievable £1,558 a month, with prices in the South of England also breaking the £1000 mark. 

 

With rent taking around 50% of wages from tenants, is it surprising that many are getting trapped into the rental cycle, with little chance of saving for a deposit? The survey from Spareroom reflects this further, with a 300% increase in house sharers between the ages of 45- 53 over the last 5 years. The 35- 44 age bracket also jumped by 186% during this time. 

  

Not only are many of us forced to rent in older life, but younger generations are living longer with their parents, their parents are taking in more lodgers than ever: to many, spare rooms within houses cannot afford to be spare anymore. 

  

But is there an upside to house sharing for longer? Professional house shares can definitely be successful. Renting with likeminded people, all with careers and stories of their own. Maybe it’s actually quite nice to not come home to an empty flat and order a takeaway for one, but instead crack a bottle of wine open with what could essentially be a free therapist. 

  

House sharing has definitely moved on from damp and cramped student terrace houses. It is actually common now for people to keep the communal areas clean for entertaining their own guests, to be house proud and to actually need sleep ready for work the next day too! Who knows, they also might like Made in Chelsea on a Monday night?

 

The standard of housing is also changing, as well as the kind of housemates you can expect. With refurbished kitchens and showers that are actually powerful, nobody can deny the standard of shared rental accommodation is rising. Even if it is because even because nobody can afford a mortgage; even people with hygiene standards! 

 

Image: From one of Abode's properties to let - Click the image to view our latest properties!

  

‘Generation Rent’, as we are known, could actually force us to be more socially interactive again as everything becomes more and more digitalised. This age of house sharers, working professionals with manners and ambition, forced initially to rent a room rather than a whole house, are starting a trend. What is not to like?  

 

Maybe one day you will even be able to get to the bottom of the mystery of who is behind the casual decline of your milk. 

Should I let my property furnished or unfurnished? 

It has been long debated with rental properties whether potential tenants would prefer furniture provided, or to be able to bring in their own.  In short, it depends on who you are aiming to let your property to. Target market aside, here are some of our thoughts on both furnished and unfurnished properties.

 

Furnished

 

Positives:

 

Increased Rental Returns

  • Often tenants will pay more for a property that has already got everything ready to go, as it gets rid of the stress of moving huge amounts of furniture and the stress of potentially sizing up new furniture in order to fit/ suit their new rental home.

 

Tax Reductions

  • With a furnished property letting, you used to be allowed a 10% ‘wear and tear’ tax break weighed against your rental income. As of April this year however this has changed to a tax relief for any incurred costs to the landlord when repairing or replacing items. This is still a welcomed reprieve for any landlord!

 

The Possibility of Return

  • Not only will you save money on any initial costs of moving out your own furniture when you leave, but also you have the comfort of knowing that should you need to return to living in the property, you would not have the worry of buying new furniture or the cost of moving furniture back in. 

 

Negatives:

 

Damage

  • The most obvious downside to providing furniture in rental properties is damage. You can never guarantee that your tenants will look after any furniture you provide, and with furnished renting, a lot of the time, natural wear and tear can lead to extra expense.

 

Proof

  • Even if you know a tenant has damaged an item in the property, it is hard to agree on whether the damage was there once moving in, or definitely caused by them. Despite many tenants signing an inventory when initially moving in to agree on the state of the furniture, it can still cause disputes over deposit amounts at the end of a tenancy agreement.

 

Insurance

  • Not only do you have to pay for the extra expense of the furniture itself if it wasn’t already in the property, but it is also wise to get it insured. Contents insurance is not a legal requirement, but is common practise with furnished lettings. This is obviously extra expense and it is of course the landlord’s responsibility to contact the insurance company should anything get damaged.

 

 

Unfurnished 

 

Positives:

 

Reduced Initial Costs

  • Even if you have furniture currently in the property you want to rent, you will still need to spend money making sure all of the furniture is of a good quality. If you rent your property unfurnished, the amount it will cost you initially will be reduced because if this.

 

Longer Tenancy Periods

  • If you have to pay for your own furniture and personalise the property with your own taste as a tenant, you are more likely to stay longer. The investment made by buying their own furniture for a property means the tenants will not only be happy with the furniture, but also responsible for it.

 

Less Worry

  • As you don’t own and aren’t responsible for furnishings within the property, you don’t have to worry about replacing any damaged items, and general wear and tear will not be as much of an issue.

 

Negatives:

 

Harder to Let

  • A lot of the time, tenants will have to purchase new furniture if theirs is unsuitable for the property or they have none to start with, furniture will need to be purchased as oppose to moving straight into a furnished rental property. 

 

Rent Limits

  • You will receive a lower rental income on average than a property that does provide furniture to the tenant. Not only this but you limit large sectors of potential tenant, such as students, who are probably not going to what a property without any amenities.

 

Missing Out on the Market

  • Not only will you miss out on the majority of the student market, but an unfurnished property is unlikely to be an attractive proposition for someone wanting a short-term let. Although this may mean a lower turnover of tenants, renting is a temporary solution for a large percentage of potential tenants and you will miss out on the majority of the short-term let market. 

 

 

Abode’s Advice

 

When deciding whether to let your property as furnished or unfurnished, the key question is target audience. If for example you intend to target your property at students, providing furniture makes sense as it is something most students will require. If you are aiming to let to a family however, most families will most likely already have possessions of their own and would prefer a blank canvas in order to put their own stamp on a property. 

  

The length of time you want to rent your property for is also a factor. If you are in it for the short game, your audience will more than likely require basic furniture. However, if you’re looking for a tenant(s) that you will be living in the property for the foreseeable future, perhaps letting them make their own mark on the property is the best decision.

Our guide to the Golden Triangle

 

When you are looking to move to Norwich, or even if you already live in Norwich, you will always hear people recommend one area in particular – but what is The Golden Triangle?

 

In the simplest terms it’s an area in the centre of Norwich that slightly resembles a triangle. In regards to location, it is the area between Newmarket Road, Earlham Road, and originally Lime Tree Road, just on the outskirts of the city centre.

 

Transport 

 

As The Golden Triangle is so close to the city centre of Norwich, the distance is easily commutable by foot. This adds to this areas popularity, as money can therefore be saved on travel expenses. 

 

Not only this, but The Golden Triangle location makes it very easy to access The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital as well as The University of East Anglia. 

 

If walking isn’t your thing or you fancy cutting your travel time, the bus service can help. The service is very regular in this area, with buses 25 and 35 running frequently between the UEA and Norwich Train Station.

 

Image Source: http://www.homerunstudentpad.co.uk/Accommodation

 

Who lives there?

 

With close links to the university and also to the city centre, you would be right to assume that The Golden Triangle is very popular with students. The flourishing community however is not students alone, and its close links to The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital also make it a very desirable area for working professionals. 

 

The area’s prosperity and diversity also proves very popular with families who enjoy, not only the location’s easy and frequent transport links, but also the various pubs and shops on offer nearby.   

 

Pubs, Restaurants and Shops

 

Nobody will question the claim that some of Norwich’s finest pubs can be found in The Golden Triangle. These include the likes of the Unthank Arms, The Garden House, The Rose Tavern and The Alexandra Tavern. 

 

Shops in this coveted area include all of the necessary amenities, such as convenience stores, takeaways, cafes, a pharmacy and of course as we have mentioned, good pubs and bars.

 

Not only does it have everything you could need, as well as being within walking distance of Norwich City Centre, but also, there are plenty of hotels and B&B’s located within close distance, which also mean your friends and family will be near and have plenty of options when they visit!

 

Image: The Alexandra Tavern in The Golden Triangle 

 

Property and Pricing

 

The majority of Norwich’s Golden Triangle was constructed around the 1900’s. This is clear from the type of property you can find there, which is mainly Victorian terrace houses, giving the area its own distinctive characteristic. 

 

The area is very well known for its rental value. Many letting agencies in Norwich struggle to keep properties in the Golden Triangle area on the market for longer than a week. Properties within The Golden Triangle area have a much higher rental value than other areas for both private and student rental, due to the amenities and travel routes the area can offer. Renting in Norwich can move quickly, and you will find that choosing an independent estate agent, that can show you the best parts of The Golden Triangle, or that know the location of the bus routes with a genuine area knowledge, may be more beneficial if you decide to rent in this sought after area.

 

The Golden Triangle area has retained its capital value, despite the economic uncertainty and Brexit troubles. This is largely due to the area being so well positioned in regards to the university, ensuring demand from students will always remain constant. Not only this, but the area also continues to be largely populated by working professionals and families, maintaining The Golden Triangle is a great place to live. 

 

 

If you would like any extra advice on The Golden Triangle area, whether you are looking to move to the area, rent in Norwich, or whether you think a property in this area offers an appealing investment opportunity, please do contact us at Abode. Our office is in the city centre, at 5 Charing Cross if you would like to come in and say hello! 

Abode's Building of the Week

 

Our latest contribution to Building of the Week is the flagship of the Norwich City Council, City Hall. As one of the Norwich 12, this building has an individual place in Norwich’s history and culture.

 

History

 

Once the council outgrew The Guildhall in Norwich by 1931, they needed a new location. A competition was held for the design of City Hall and was eventually won by Charles Holloway James and Stephen Rowland. Actual construction was delayed as the Depression hit and it wasn’t until 1936 that the foundation stone was laid.

 

 

The building broke records on its opening alone as City Hall was officially opened by the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, seeing record breaking numbers attend on 29 October 1938. This celebration was short lived as those who are keen historians are aware, World War II began less than a year later. 

 

Norwich did not avoid the bombing devastation, however Norwich City Hall remained intact. After war came austerity, ensuring that no building built for a long while afterwards could match the quality and innovation of City Hall. Still in all its original glory today, the building remains a statement of the architectural capabilities of its time.

 

 

Exterior

 

The actual building has no steel framework, and is instead entirely built from solid bricks which reflects the council’s beliefs at the time it was built; that firm foundations were needed for a building that holds such importance. Even these bricks were especially crafted for the building itself; 2 inches longer than standard as to accommodate the size of the hall itself more proportionally. 

 

The building is not just bricks; artistic statements are obvious from even an initial glance. Apart from the 6 polygonal columns, the first thing likely to grab your attention is the two dominating statues, stood proudly at the opening of the steps.

 

 

Heraldic Lions

 

Stood on plinths guarding the entrance to City Hall are two heraldic lions. Their pose has ferocity, as they are built roaring, with a paw raised as if to halt those who enter. The statues are Assyrian-inspired, clear from their manes and their raised long necks which show an interest in the Assyrian sculpture with Earl Haig’s horse. 

 

The artist was Alfred Hardiman, selected by the competition winning designers in order to create these stunning statues. The first design initially faced intense criticism and was therefore revised before the final statues were built, prior to their unveiling in November 1937. They were eventually installed on the 4th February 1938.

 

Largest Clock Bell in the UK

 

City Hall actually brags the largest clock bell in the whole of the United Kingdom. It is no wonder the building is so visible in the Norwich landscape, with the tower that holds this enormous bell standing at 206ft high, from ground level to the tip of the lighting conductor. 

 

 

Not only is the bell the biggest in the UK, but the tone is the deepest within the whole of East Anglia, ensuring it is heard as well as seen! The tower contains 166 steps that lead to a small viewing platform that welcomes any brave visitors.

 

Longest Balcony in England 

 

Another fact that the City Hall building brags is that it actually is home to the longest balcony in the whole of England. It measures an incredible 111m/365 ft. long. To enter this beautiful building and enjoy the balcony, you must first pass through on of the three pairs of bronze doors leading to the entrance hall. On these doors are 18 plaques that contain a story of Norwich’s history including trades that are iconic of this city. 

 

 

 

Interior

 

Entrance Hall

 

Inside the entrance hall on the ground floor, and continuing to the first floor landing, you are greeted with a decadent Italian marble clad walls. The stairs are light due to a window that has painted glass. The ceiling is also painted elegantly with a design from Eric Clarke which was then painted by James Michie.  Also displayed in the entrance hall are the names of every city mayor Norwich has ever had. 

 

 

The Lord Mayor’s Parlour

 

Once you move past the initial iconic entrance space, the hall above, also made with marble clad, leads to a long suite of committee and reception rooms. The interior resembles an art deco style. Timber features heavily as an architectural material, with many of the walls in the main rooms dressed in rich mahogany paneling. 

 

None are as iconic as The Lord Mayor’s Parlour. The actual shape of the room is octagonal, which in itself makes it distinctive. The ceiling is shallow vaulted, which is entirely panelled in sycamore. The finish is extremely detailed with the effect of intensely rich dado figuring and lighter wall figuring that is cloud-like in nature.

 

  

 

The Council Chamber

 

Another room with a distinctive feel is the Council Chamber itself. The wooden theme is extended with mahogany seating that curves delicately. The edges of the seating are inlaid with brass, which breaks up the mahogany. This wooden theme continues to be a feature of the room as it is used for the entrance wall columns and paneling on half the height of the walls which are mixed in design. 

 

 

Other surviving aspects include even the light fittings that were designed for the building by the original architects. Focal points of the chamber include the rear elevation, which projects into the courtyard. Also, the west façade incorporates 3 unique sculptures into the brickwork. Sculpted by Alfred Hardiman, they each have a distinct meaning: ‘Wisdom’, ‘Recreation’ and ‘Education’, with the central figure originally meaning ‘legislation’. 

 

 

City Hall Today

 

As part of the Norwich 12, the building is open to Heritage Open Days. These are free tours of a chance to explore some of Norwich’s oldest and most iconic buildings. The next tours are scheduled for Thursday 8th September and Friday 9th September, both at 10am, and 11.30am. It is free and can be booked here:

 

 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/city-hall-guided-tour-free-tickets-26171796548 

 

 

ABODE'S BUILDING OF THE WEEK 

Our latest offering from this feature includes both St. Andrews Hall and Blackfriars Hall as part of The Halls complex. These medieval buildings are rich in local history, from great fires to rebellion. 

 

Background

Both St. Andrews Hall and Blackfriars Hall make up the most intact medieval friary complex still standing in the entire country. Visitors have been welcome at The Halls since 1538. These include beautiful buildings made from flint are Grade I listed and date back to the 14th century.

The origin of The Halls site dates back 1226. A group of settlers, part of a religious order called the Sack Friars, settled in the parishes of St Andrews and Hungate. This group however soon saw a steep decline and by 1307 the royal license changed hands. The Dominican Order acquired this license on one condition: that the last friar was cared for. A serious fire in 1413 destroyed not only the original church and buildings, but also a substantial amount of Norwich at the time.

Some parts of the Halls complex did survive this serious fire, including the crypt, Beckets Chapel and some of the tracery in 4 of the windows in St Andrews Hall itself. The replacement church building, built after the 1403 fire, is still standing today. Finished by 1470, the nave of this newer church is formed by St Andrews Hall. Blackfriars Hall, the chapel, cloisters and even a crypt also still remain from this period.

Image: Becket's Chapel with vaulted brick ceiling dating back to 1307. 

More turbulent times were ahead. Fortunately, the site’s purpose changed when the City Corporation purchased the site from the king during one of the most unsettled periods ever known - the Reformation. The reason behind the purchase was to create a ‘common hall’. The buildings have since been used as a workhouse, a mint and of course a place of worship.

 

Favourite Fact

Our favourite piece of information about The Halls links back to the range of uses these buildings have seen – but did you know they played a part in Kett’s Rebellion in 1549? The friary complex was used as stables, housing the army of horses during the rebellion. 

Image: St. Andrews Hall.

 

St. Andrews Hall

St. Andrews Hall is at the very heart of The Halls complex, forming an extensive nave to the medieval English friary. It is estimated to have been finished by 1449, however, traces of the first church that was destroyed by the 1413 fire can still be found within it.

St. Andrews Hall is a stunning nave, famous for both its aesthetic value, as well as the actual size of the building. The initial use for the building was as a huge preaching hall which is visible when you look at its architectural structure.

One clear way the architecture highlights its intended purpose is the very narrow pillars that stretch as tall as possible in order to assist with acoustics and visibility. The nave is completed with seven bays, including wide aisles which are parted in the centre.

Image: Here is a picture of St Andrews Hall's accoustics being taken full advantage of!

Blackfriars Hall

Part of The Halls complex that has not always been intended for such a public use is Blackfriars Hall. Slightly smaller than St. Andrews Hall, Blackfriars Hall was initially the private chapel to the friar’s family. This would suggest that your average townsperson at the time would not have had access to it.

Blackfriars Hall in comparison to St. Andrews Hall has no aisles. This is perhaps why the hall’s statement English gothic architectural centrepiece – the enormous perpendicular window on the east wall - is to such a scale. In some discussions it has been referred to as ‘the great seven-light east window', as it would have originally been the end wall of the chancel and faces Elm Hill.

Image: The huge gothic window in Blackfriars Hall.

The arching windows aren’t the only immaculately proportioned feature of Blackfriars Hall, but the beautiful oak panelling adds a unique warming atmosphere.

 

The Halls Today

It’s this intimate atmosphere that makes The Halls so perfect for their modern purposes. They are regularly used for conferences, weddings, concerts, beer festivals and meetings. These large, multifunctional rooms have a capacity of 1200 people! The buildings can be used individually however, offering flexibility to meet the requirements of any event.

The Halls are also part of the Norwich 12: these are heritage sites that aim to look after and develop irreplaceable historic buildings in Norwich. The Halls are both owned and managed currently by Norwich City Council. The buildings are regularly maintained. The latest renovations include a complete refurbishment of the main toilets inside St Andrews Hall in order to create more cubicles and some general roof repairs to ensure the building remains in beautiful condition!

Image: The Halls Norwich.

Take a look at the beautiful building for yourself with a free tour, which takes place as part of the Heritage Open Days. The next tour is taking place on Friday 9th September at 10.30, 11.30 or 12.30,  and you can book your ticket for the tour by following this link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-halls-tour-free-tickets-26461836064

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