New Developments Mean City Living Market Is Moving Again

17 Park RowConfidence in Leeds city centre’s residential property market is returning, with a number of small-scale developers launching schemes that have been specifically been built to rent, onto the market over the last 12 months.

There has been a lot of talk about the lack of supply being addressed through large scale Private Rented Sector ventures, which typically charge a premium for developments that are amenity rich, but in Leeds the market has always responded well to smaller-scale developments too.

The city’s latest apartment development, which offers a select range of highly specified and individual apartments is 17 Park Row.  The development is being marketed by Morgans and is one of several apartment schemes developed exclusively for the city’s rentals market in recent years.

There are just four, one bedroom fully furnished apartments, all finished to an extremely high standard and priced between £875 and £925 per calendar month and there’s also a superb penthouse complete with air-conditioning and Lutron lighting, which has immediately become one of the city centre’s highest specified homes, priced at £2,500 per month including utility bills.

The hugely impressive split level penthouse features Miele kitchen appliances with integrated wine cooler and coffee machine, marble work surfaces, a Sonos sound system, three large TVs and a decked terrace overlooking Park Row.

After a major shortage of new residential development in recent years, work is now underway on a growing number of schemes which is welcome news and these will help to ease demand for high quality rental apartments in Leeds city centre.

The array of schemes in the pipeline is also very positive for the market.  These range from CEG’s £350million South Bank development that will include up to 550 apartments, through to a growing number of innovative and small-scale developments such as 17 Park Row that are specifically aimed at the rentals market.  This development sits in a very sought after location at the heart of the city’s financial district and each apartment has been furnished and finished to an excellent standard, so they’re ready for tenants to move straight into.

Morgans Team Digs Deep For Local Charities

The Morgans team lend a helping hand at Hollin Lane AllotmentsA total of 38 people from Morgans were given the day off work so that they could volunteer at two local charities – Leeds MENCAP and Hollin Lane Allotments.

Half the team went to help Leeds MENCAP, where they painted their three activity rooms, and cleaned all the soft play area and ball pit, which is used by the young children who visit the centre.

The other half went to Hollin Lane Allotments, which are supported by Leeds Community Foundation, where they weeded, trimmed, wood-chipped and planted all day long. The aim was to help make the allotments less daunting for older people.

Everybody worked really hard and the local deli, Sebby’s, provided the team at the allotments with sandwiches and cakes. Some of the people who regularly volunteer on the allotments also made soup and offered hot drinks.

Everyone felt a great sense of achievement at the end of the day, and the charities were very happy with our efforts.

Leeds MENCAP provides services and activities to improve the lives and opportunities of children and adults with a learning disability in Leeds along with their families and carers from The Vinery Centre.

Leeds Community Foundation helps to bring together local philanthropists with dynamic local organisations and community groups that require funding and other resources. Hollin Lane Allotments is a community gardening project in North West Leeds supported by the Foundation.


What’s In Store For The Property Market In 2017?

house keys

We are expecting big things in the city centre market this year. After a number of quiet years during which demand has remained very high whilst new supply has plummeted, we are finally going to see some new developments taking off. Since the downturn of 2007, the impact of which was felt for five or six years, we have become accustomed to living off scraps of new activity but that is about to change.

“A wave of small but perfectly formed new developments are beginning to take shape and will add much needed interest and vitality to a market which is critical to the commercial well-being of the city as a whole. It is essential that the incessant stream of inward relocators, drawn to Leeds by opportunity and prospects, are able to secure good quality rental accommodation close to where they work.

It is inevitable in our view that there will be further growth in both sales and rentals values in Leeds city centre next year, as we continue to catch up with our peer cities such as York, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham, and as we get more and more comfortable with the fact that Leeds is fast becoming a city of great meaning and significance.

We are looking forward to working on a number of very exciting new developments including Victoria House, Iron Works, Kirkstall Forge, Tower Works and 53 The Calls, which will provide the next wave of much-needed housing and have very high hopes for Headingley, which is showing strong signs of a return to its glorious past when it was the suburb of choice for aspirational house-holders.

The migration of more and more students to purpose built accommodation in the city centre has created short-term challenges around empty properties and change of use, but this will change in demographic and the area will return to a more equitable and sustainable mix of occupiers, which will in turn fuel a more dynamic and sustainable economy.

Here’s to a happy new year!

the changing face of headingley that’s leading to a chronic shortage of rental property


HEADINGLEY is experiencing a chronic shortage of rental property as the area continues to transform itself from a student enclave into one of the UK’s best performing areas for property investors.

Our rental portfolio is currently 99% occupied and there is a major shortage of properties available for rent at the moment and there are no signs of that changing anytime soon. We manage one of the largest portfolios of property rented to professionals in North Leeds and have the highest ever occupancy rate, since setting up in Headingley 18 years ago.

As well as record occupancy levels, we have seen a big increase in the amount of time tenants are staying at the same property. Typically, the majority of tenants would look at what the market has to offer after between 8 and 12 months, and many would choose to move. As supply has shrunk however, there are far less options available, and 25% more tenants chose to stay put this year than did during 2015.

I believe that the issue of undersupply could be partially addressed through the conversion of former student properties and HMO’s into properties suitable for letting to the professional market.

It’s only 20 years since the student tidal wave surged beyond its traditional boundaries, into Becketts Park, through Far Headingley and even into West Park. However, an explosion in the delivery of high quality purpose built student accommodation blocks in the city centre, along with ongoing investment in teaching and recreational facilities has had the effect of almost entirely reversing the trend.

Once again, Far Headingley and West Park are almost entirely student-free and Becketts Park is fast returning to owner-occupation, which it was originally designed for and inevitably better suited to.

We have always dealt solely with professional lets, and are the only agency in Headingley that focuses entirely on this sector, so we have a real understanding of what the professional market is looking for.

Over the last year in particular, we have seen a significant increase in the number of vacant student properties, due to some landlords being reticent to invest in developing them for the professional market, with some even leaving them empty in the hope that students will return. Figures from Unipol suggest that there were literally hundreds of empty properties across the area which had formerly been rented to students.

This is a very risky strategy and especially in light of the fact that some sensible investment now will almost certainly secure a professional tenant and a great return.  This is reinforced by the fact that Headingley has just been named as the UK’s top rental hotspot in terms of yields by comparison site TotallyMoney, which revealed that investors buying property in the LS6 postcode, can achieve rental yields of up to 10.79%, which compares to the national average of 3.3%.

As a result, we are encouraging property investors who own student accommodation or those wanting to expand their buy to let portfolios to buy in Headingley and provide more homes for rent – as the demand is certainly there.

It’s clear that the whole fabric of Headingley is also adapting to reflect these changes.  Symbolic of Headingley’s identity crisis is the fact that it took around 10 years for both Pizza Express and Nandos to find a footing, due mainly to local opposition.  It is to Headingley’s detriment that it shunned these archetypally family brands for so long.

At long last, it appears that the continued, and apparently permanent, migration of a large proportion of the student population southwards is spawning a whole new generation of bars and restaurants such as White’s Deli, The Cat’s Pyjamas, Red’s True BBQ, Sebby’s Deli and Head of Steam, who join an array of local stalwarts.

As a result, Headingley, which has often been second-choice for many young professionals behind Chapel Allerton, is fast re-emerging as a popular place for first time renters who want a slightly quieter life than the city centre can offer, or for those looking for a slightly greener and calmer place in which to make home. We believe that this trend will continue and that Headingley will once again become the place to be in North Leeds.

Getting ready to rent; top tips for the first time landlord

Jonathan Morgan (Picture: Barnaby Aldrick)

Whilst a well-managed property investment is in our view an essential element in a balanced long term investment plan, it can take a little planning to get there.

  • If you are buying in another city, ensure that you observe the first rule of property- view before you buy. However appealing the marketing, make sure that you at least visit the site and check the credentials as they have been put before you. Double check the ‘5 minute walk to the railway station’, the ‘host of bars and restaurants on the doorstep’ and the ‘easy access to major road links’.
  • If you are preparing to rent out your own home, make sure that you remove any valuable items or anything of sentimental value. It is a simple fact that even the most diligent and pleasant of tenants can unwittingly damage or ruin fine items.
  • make sure that you have appropriate insurance and that it is noted on the policy that you are renting the property out.
  • take out specialist contents insurance which includes accidental damage.
  • if you are renting out your own home, make sure that you inform your lender.
  • choose a reputable agent with a high street presence and membership of ARLA.
  • ensure that you follow the agent’s advice in terms of whether to let furnished or unfurnished and, if it is to be furnished, make sure that you install neutral, sturdy items which will stand the test of time.

Bank of England given powers to control buy-to-let mortgages


The Bank of England is taking an ever more robust approach to the buy to let sector and has been given new powers by the Government to control buy to let loan to values. A prudent approach to lending is essential in ensuring that new loans are sustainable over time and through changing market conditions, but it is hard to understand just why the Government is so intent on creating more and more barriers to entry to the private buy-to-let market place. Clearly, they have invested heavily in the institutional PRS sector and have sponsored this asset class from inception right through its market entry- perhaps the Government believes that they can meet housing need and achieve better quality and regulation by driving more and more supply through this channel.

The reality is of course, that this sector, in its purest form, will not satisfy demand where it is most acute, in the mid-markets. The PRS handbook which was published by the government, promoted a set of guidelines for delivery which included recommended floor plans which are now appearing in numerous schemes in almost identical form across the country. The standard 2 bed PRS  ‘horseshoe’ configuration, for example, has two bedrooms with direct access from the living room. There is little diversity in delivery and a real focus on core city centres where premium rents will be a prerequisite of the success of any PRS fund, as will a very tight handle on gross to net costs, which are yet to be proven.

It remains to be seen what impact this latest layer of regulation will have on activity in the buy to let sector, following hard on the heels of the stamp duty premium and changes to wear and tear allowances and mortgage interest relief.

It is a grave error in our view to try and regulate the sector to this degree- individual investors are the lifeblood of the private rented sector and sweeping regulatory changes of this nature are excessive and unfair.

Brand New Leeds City Centre Apartments Are Huge Success


Work is complete at Leeds city centre’s latest ‘build to rent’ apartment scheme and the fully furnished, brand new apartments are all now fully occupied after being reserved in a matter of weeks.

The development is located in an enviable position on New Briggate and consists of 13, one and two bedroom, apartments over five floors.

Each home is finished to an exceptional standard and includes air conditioning, which is a first for Leeds city centre, as well as high quality furnishings and a stunning range of kitchens and bathrooms.

These apartments have been extremely popular with discerning tenants looking for a standout home.  Each property has been carefully designed and thoughtfully furnished so tenants just needed their clothes and personal belongings, to move straight in.

The development’s location has been another major selling point.  The apartments occupy the upper floors above North Bar, next to the city’s Grand Theatre, with both Briggate and Victoria Gate just around the corner, meaning the development has some of the UK’s best shops, bars and restaurants on its doorstep.

As a result we were inundated with enquiries as soon as we started marketing these apartments and it’s fantastic to see them already fully occupied, in such a short space of time.



Lifetime Achievement Award For Jonathan Morgan


Morgans enjoyed a special night at this year’s Residential Property Awards when Jonathan Morgan was presented with the event’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

The awards are a sensational celebration of Yorkshire’s property talent and were hosted by TV presenter Jonnie Irwin from Escape To The Country and A Place In The Sun.  The event also raises tens of thousands of pounds every year for children’s charity Variety.

The judges highlighted the role Jonathan has played in making city living a vibrant and exciting reality, as well as applauding his work in attracting inward investment, and described him as a great ambassador for the city.

Well-known Leeds professionals who endorsed Jonathan’s award included Richard Lewis from Town Centre Securities, Jon Kenny from CEG and Martin Patterson from St George’s Crypt, which is in the frontline of support for homeless, disadvantaged and vulnerable people in Leeds.

Richard Lewis said: “I first met Jonathan 20 years ago and he had a bonkers idea about converting space above shops into flats. Fortunately I listened, and the rest as they say his history.  I’ve had a long relationship with him, I’ve loved working with him, he is a true pioneer.”

Jon Kenny added: “He’s Leeds through and through.  He’s been involved in the market for many years, stood up for it when it’s been down, and promoted it heavily when it’s been up.  There’s not a thing he doesn’t know about the Leeds residential scene.”

Martin Patterson said: “He is keen to make sure Leeds becomes a better city for everybody in the community.  He’s achieved an enormous amount for St George’s Crypt.  Over £500,000 has been raised during 10 years through the amazing Crypt Factor event.  Additionally he has secured major opportunities for us in networking.  Without his work, our work would be so much more difficult.”

The money raised at the Yorkshire Residential Property Awards funds Variety’s work with disabled, disadvantaged and deserving children in Yorkshire.  It’s spent on a wide range of initiatives including Sunshine coaches, which are used by schools and organisations for children with special needs.  It also supports one-off appeals for help and specialist wheelchairs which can cost up to £20,000.

Homes To Rent In Leeds’s Secret Garden


Home hunters are being given the chance to move into a luxury property with grounds once visited by J R R Tolkien. Hollies Park Court is a four-apartment building next to The Hollies, a Victorian villa located within Meanwood Park, near Weetwood.

The house’s gardens are known for their botanical significance, and are home to oak woods, waterfalls, rhodedendrons and azaleas set on a hillside. The building was gifted to the city of Leeds in 1921 by George Brown in memory of his son, Harold, who was killed in action in World War One.

The house became a sanatorium for children with tuberculosis and the grounds were opened to the public. Lord of the Rings author Tolkien was known to have wandered around the attractive woodland dell. The modern property on Weetwood Lane includes two large apartments which have recently gone onto the lettings market. The two-bedroom ground floor flat is available for £1,200 per month, while the top floor flat, which has a luxury fitted kitchen, is priced at £1,500 per month.

Both have been recently refurbished, have secure parking and scenic views over the park with a great specification and layout. They will no doubt appeal to people who want to be close to the city, but are attracted to the natural environment of the park setting.

An architectural competition with a difference – The Carbuncle Cup



How uplifting recently to read about the losers and the losers in the Building Design Magazine Carbuncle Cup – there can be no winners in a competition whose very purpose is to bring to the attention of the public the worst buildings of the year. You might be tempted to think that a competition founded on just how bad a building might be would fail to engage but thinly veiled contempt can be equally as enthralling as gushing admiration.


Romping home in first place was Lincoln Plaza in Docklands, described as “yet another shameful indictment of bad planning as well as bad architecture”. Of an extension to Poole Methodist Church, a nominee said; “The building screams of the same bland, belligerent mediocrity that is the insidious moniker of ostensibly polite and ubiquitous background architecture everywhere and of new offices, One Smithfield, in Stoke on Trent… An aesthetic mutation between the nostalgic 1980s brain games of Connect 4 and Blockbusters might not seem like a natural breeding ground for architectural malevolence but this building proves what happens when colour goes rogue.’’


The judging panel, responding to a wave of public nominations, apparently see the awards as a counter to much heralded Stirling Prize, and clearly delight in what they see as architectural faux pas. No building is safe from the threat of the Carbuncle Cup it seems.