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6 Useful Facts Every Good Landlord Should Know

There are many things people can invest in, be it wines, jewellery or paintings. Folk can also get involved with the stock markets or multiple property ownership. One thing’s for sure: it pays to know what you’re doing in advance.

It may be tempting to assume that all landlords do is receive monthly rent checks. A chat with a landlord would quickly rectify this misunderstanding, however. There are multiple responsibilities and landlords need to be a ‘jack of all trades’ in order to do their jobs. If you read this article you’ll learn about six key facts every landlord should fully know.

You Need To Get The Finances Right

This applies each time a new property is considered. It’s important to do the maths and decide if it’s worth the investment. Think about the rents and involve an accountant in all your financial decisions.

In some cases, investors can afford to buy outright for cash. In many others, however, a mortgage will be required. For more information on this subject, it’s advisable to consult the internet. Should you visit largemortgageloans.com you’ll see that there are three types from which to choose: commercial buy-to-let, residential buy-to-let, and owner-occupied mortgages. Many landlords go online to discover what they can use as security for a commercial mortgage and learn about the benefits of having one.

You are well-advised to consult a reputable lender who can offer favourable rates. The price of property insurance is another expense you will need to factor into the calculations.

You Need To Wear Plenty Of Hats

We have just discussed the need to understand all things financial, as well as having property knowledge. There may be out-of-hours responsibilities too, such as tenants with plumbing issues or manual rent collections. When building work occurs it’s necessary to be a communicator with external companies and contractors. Sites may need to be visited regularly to check the work from a practical and legal angle.

Before investors buy homes they need to have an understanding of the property markets. This would include knowing the local area and being aware of e.g. unemployment issues or future developments that could affect their worth. When so many landlord roles are required, it’s not hard to see why they are so often delegated to others. People may appoint an accountant or rental company, debt collector, or maintenance overseer.

There Are Many Legal Responsibilities

If they are not met, external auditors could fine you – whether it relates to tax or safety. Landlords need to be aware of local and national legislation, zoning laws, and building regulations. It’s important to ensure the smoke detectors are fully working and that the emergency doors and windows are also functional. All plumbing and wiring should be certified safe and compliant.

One way to ensure you cover all the bases is by appointing a residential attorney. They would be able to use their experience and knowledge to keep you up to date. Help can also be received for preparing new leases and dealing with evictions.

Maintenance Is Not Optional

Any new tenant will require a warrant of habitability, certifying their new abode to be safe. You may have the responsibility to pay grounds people to care for the communal areas. Workers would be needed to deal with a range of tenant issues, from leaks and dampness to broken windows or appliances. Besides basic handyman jobs, there could be the need for professional plumbers and electricians.

It’s obvious that landlords want to attract and keep quality tenants who are faithful payers. If the properties look nice and are well-maintained this will help, and so will prompt attention to repairs. If you own an apartment block it’s wise to aim for consistency in appearance, and to use the time between tenants to upgrade the flats. Should damp issues be reported, it’s in your interests as well as the tenant’s that action is quickly taken.

You Need To Know Your Tenants

Everyone is different and will have different needs, whether it’s the number of bedrooms or the view. Accessibility is especially important for those with disabilities. If someone has an Emotional Support Animal (EMA) you’ll need to fully understand the person’s rights. Even if you have a ‘no pets’ policy you will be unable to refuse accommodation to someone on that basis.

The Fair Housing Act exists to protect people from discrimination in a number of categories. They include race, religion, national origin or ethnicity, or age. Added to that are gender and family status or people with mental or physical disabilities.

You Need To Understand The Tenancy Process

There are a number of options for you in regards to advertising vacant rooms and houses. You could use local adverts, notes in stores, or specialist websites.

New Tenants

Involve an attorney when someone applies to become a resident so that everything is done efficiently. Credit checks are a key part of the process, making sure the enquirer is not in debt or likely to be a bad payer. If someone was previously bankrupt this should also ring warning bells. Peoples’ references are important too. It’s wise to check the people who have supplied them, as they are vouching for your potential tenant’s character.

When the new tenant moves in, they need to be shown everything about their accommodation. Let them know their responsibilities and what they should do if there are any issues. Be sure to set up the rental payment arrangement too.

Eviction

There are certain circumstances where you can do this, and a legal procedure exists for it. Let your attorney include the various scenarios in the rental agreement, whether it’s non-payment, noise, and behaviour, or property damage. Both tenant notices and home inspections form part of the legal process.

It has now become clear that being a landlord requires an all-rounder from start to finish. They need wisdom in choosing and developing properties, overseeing the financial and legal aspects, and addressing ongoing tenant issues. In return, a stable income is often achieved, and profit may be made on the increased value of the properties too.

Valuable Facts You Need To Know Before You Start Investing

For many, many years people have been investing in numerous things. Some of them were more or less successful. As a newbie, this whole process may appear to be a bit intimidating at first.

And that’s completely understandable, however, if you get your facts straight and get yourself familiar with some things, you can definitely succeed. Just bear in mind that you’re not the only one who is doing it.

A lot of people have done the same and have managed to turn their life around. With a little bit of patience, effort, and discipline, anything can be done. To help you out, we’ve put together some extremely useful tips. Let’s check them out together!

Important Things Every Investor Should Know

Your Net Worth Must Be The Primary Personal Finance Number You Care About

So what does the term net worth even mean? What does it represent? It is actually the total value of all the things you own, such as your vehicle, house, and stuff that can quickly be resold, along with the balances of your savings accounts, checking account, or any type of investment that you have.

Of course, you also have to take into account the things that you’re forced to spend your money on, such as student loans, credit cards, mortgages, and many others. The whole point is to focus on the money that you already have and how you can increase that amount.

There are so many different ways you can do it. For instance, you can start by paying off all your debts, stop wasting money on things you do not necessarily need, and find a way to enhance your income.

One of the best ways to do it is to invest. Now, if you do not have a long-term perspective about certain things, then maybe investing is not the best option for you for the time being, or if you think that your current checking account balance is more crucial than your net worth.

Understand The Stock Market

There are some terms that you need to comprehend before you even begin. For example, when people say that the stock market is being down or up, they generally think of the biggest market indexes.

Namely, this index monitors the performance of various stocks which either represent a specific area of the market or the market as a whole. For instance, if you’re interested in the South African stock market, you can check out JSE Top 40 index to see what’s currently going on. Generally speaking, investors utilise indexes to assess the performance of their portfolios and sometimes, to state their stock trading decisions.

Furthermore, if you want to, you can always invest in a whole index by using exchange-traded funds and index fund, or even ETFs which supervise a particular index or one sector of the market.

Providing New Investors With More Useful Tips

You Must Pay Off All Your Credit Cards As Well As Other High-Interest Debts

If by any chance you have high-interest debts, anything that’s over eight percent interest rate, then one of the best things you can do for yourself is to work on paying down that debt. Namely, you are going to save so much money just by paying off the debt from your credit cards.

As previously mentioned, paying off any of your debt is going to have a huge, positive impact on your overall net worth which will lead to its slow increment because nothing will hold it back. More importantly, all of this will lead to fewer monthly costs, which means that you will have much more cash to invest than you did before.

All in all, if you have these high-interest debts, you should prioritise them and pay them off as soon as possible before you proceed with investing. Not only will they provide you with a better return, but you will drastically enhance your monthly cash flow and enhance net worth.

Assess Your Comfort Zone In Taking On Risk

The ugly truth is that every investment comes with certain risks and that’s something nobody can deny. If you want to acquire securities, like stocks, mutual funds, or bonds, then it’s of huge importance to comprehend everything before you proceed.

Otherwise, you are going to lose a bunch of money. Generally speaking, the cash you spend on securities normally isn’t federally insured. What does it mean? It means that you could potentially lose the amount of cash you’ve invested.

This can happen even if you acquire your investments via a bank. Does it mean that you shouldn’t risk at all? Definitely not! Who knows, maybe if you invest some money, you receive an amazing investment in return.

Furthermore, if you have a long-term financial goal, it is highly likely you’ll earn more money if you smartly invest asset categories with bigger risks, such as bonds or stocks, rather than focusing on assets with less risk.

On the other hand, if you have a short-term financial goal, then you can freely invest your money only in cash investment. The biggest problem when it comes to investing in cash equivalents is definitely inflation risk.

Your Spouse Must Agree With Your Plans

Of course, this segment refers to those who are married. Now, if that’s the case with you, then it would be recommendable to talk to your spouse about your financial plans and see what he or she thinks about it.

Moreover, this conversation should cover three major points. The first one explains your goals. Why are you focusing on a particular investment? What do you want to accomplish with it? The second one should refer to the plan.

Did you create any plan that is going to help you achieve this goal? Do you think that what you’re doing makes sense at all and where are the accounts and whose name did you put on them?

If you do not have this type of conversation with your partner, then you will potentially cause a huge problem? How come, you probably wonder? Well, that’s because if your spouse notices that the money is slowly vanishing he/she will want to know what is going on.

Nobody can ever tell you what you can and cannot do with your money, however, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be smart about it. That’s precisely why we’ve created these guidelines, to help you be and stay successful on this journey.

DLA Piper advises Briq in US$30 million Series B financing

DLA Piper represented construction technology company Briq Technologies Inc. in its recent US$30 Series B financing led by Tiger Global Management LLC.

Briq’s corporate performance management (CPM) platform for construction financial professionals provides accurate and real-time forecasting abilities, automated workflows and interconnected systems that provide contractors with better visibility into their business.

“It was a pleasure to bring together our extensive experience advising emerging growth tech companies on complex transactions and our strong understanding of the construction industry to advise Briq on this financing, which will enable it to continue developing innovative construction technology for the benefit of its customers,” said David Richardson, the DLA Piper partner who led the firm’s deal team.

In addition to Richardson (Sacramento), the DLA Piper team representing Briq included associate Spencer Hodson (Sacramento) and partner Eileen O’Pray (Silicon Valley).

DLA Piper’s Emerging Growth and Venture Capital practice includes more than 200 lawyers in the United States who provide strategic counsel to emerging companies in high-growth industries, including healthcare, insurance, biotech, manufacturing, communications, software and semiconductors. Over the last three years, DLA Piper has completed more than 2,100 financings totalling over US$31 billion.

DLA Piper’s global Technology sector lawyers work across practice areas and offices to support technology clients – from start-ups to fast-growing and mid-market businesses to mature global enterprises – doing business around the world.

DLA Piper advises on all aspects of the fintech sector, representing a wide range of clients, including banks, private equity and venture capital funds, asset managers, broker-dealers, insurance companies, trading platforms and exchanges, and distributed-ledger technology platforms. The firm’s multidisciplinary team around the world offers integrated legal solutions that help clients navigate the increasingly complex environment at the intersection of transactions, technology and regulation. DLA Piper is also at the forefront of providing legal counsel and business support to emerging proptech companies, investors and developers of innovative real estate technology in areas critical to both their short-term and ongoing success.

Opening the Floodgates to Islamic Finance in Kenya

By Walid Khan, Head of Real Estate and General Finance at Africa Law Partners.

In recent years, Islamic Finance has grown rapidly across the world. By conservative estimates, Islamic finance is estimated to have over $2.88 trillion of assets globally. It is offered in over 80 countries and is estimated to grow at around 10-15% a year. Despite a significant slowdown in 2020 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the market is expected to grow to $3.69 trillion by 2024.

Islamic finance also commonly referred to as Sharia-compliant finance, involves the delivery of financial services in conformity with the principles of sharia law. The fundamental principles that govern Islamic finance include the prohibition against riba (interest), gharar and maisir (contractual uncertainty and gambling), and haram industries (prohibited industries such as those related to pork products, pornography, or alcoholic beverages). Other central principles to Islamic finance include compliance with the Shariah (Islamic law), segregation of Islamic and conventional funds, accounting standards, and awareness campaigns.

Islamic finance deals with most financial services, including banking, insurance and capital markets. While it has been used to finance huge infrastructure projects, it has also been used to fund small and medium-sized enterprises thus having a positive impact on smaller businesses. In view of the massively important role played by small businesses to developing nations, Islamic finance has a far-reaching impact on the economy. Other advantages of Islamic finance include:

   1. Financial inclusion

World Bank defines financial inclusion as ‘Financial inclusion means that individuals and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs – transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance – delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.’ (Worldbank.org, 2017)

The conventional banking system is based on paying/receiving an interest which is strictly prohibited by Shariah Law. As such, Muslims refrain from conventional banking. This has resulted in many Muslims remaining unbanked and unable to access financial products and services. Islamic finance permits Muslims to participate and benefit in the financial system.

Despite being based on Shariah, Islamic finance is not restricted to Muslims only and is available to non-Muslims. In fact, there have been innumerable occasions where an Islamic finance product has been attractive to potential investors, even when they are not motivated by religious reasons.

   2. Financial Justice

Financial justice is a fundamental requirement in determining whether a product is shariah-compliant. Islamic finance requires that risk is shared between the bank and the customer. A lender must therefore carry a proportional share of the loss of a project if it expects to receive profits from the project. This brings about equitable distribution of income and wealth.

   3. Discourages speculation

Due to the fact that speculation is prohibited, investments are approached with a slower, insightful decision-making process with thorough audits, analyses and due diligence. This has resulted in reduction of risk and greater investment ability. This was evident during the global financial crisis when Islamic finance products proved less volatile.

While Islamic finance has been vibrant in Muslim-majority countries particularly in South-East Asia and the Middle-East, it has, in recent times, gained traction throughout the rest of the world particularly in the United Kingdom since the UK Government took a keen interest in the industry. Noting the benefits of Islamic finance, the UK Government developed a work programme to make the UK’s financial services regulations compatible with Islamic Finance. One such way was to accommodate Islamic finance products in existing legislation and regulations governing conventional financial instruments and putting Islamic products on the same tax footing as their conventional counterparts.

The latest Islamic Finance Country Index (2019) ranks the UK 17th of 48 countries in terms of its overall Islamic finance offering. This puts it in first place in Europe and in first place among non-Muslim-majority nations. Many firms, Islamic and non-Islamic, see London as an important Islamic finance global centre to such a great degree that products developed in London are being marketed in Muslim majority countries in the Middle East.

Kenya’s Islamic finance industry is regarded as somewhat developed with immense potential for growth. Kenya has made some legislative amendments and new regulatory frameworks that have brought about the development of Takaful Retirement Benefits Schemes, shariah-compliant finance products and taxation exemption for Islamic finance products. However, it seems that Kenya needs to do more to further stimulate the market. Per the Islamic Finance Country Index 2019 rankings, Kenya ranks 24th of the 48 countries. This is a drop from the 2018’s rankings which had Kenya at 21st. This appears to be a noteworthy setback as Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy, would want to position itself as the region’s Islamic banking hub to profit from its apparent benefits and provide its 5.2 million Muslims with better access to Islamic finance services.

Further, in order to meet the Big 4 Agenda and Vision 2030, Kenya should hasten structural, legal and regulatory reforms to further enable Islamic finance services and also begin issuing sukuks at the earliest possible time. Sukuk also referred to an Islamic bond, is an instrument for raising capital and is tradeable on the securities exchange. Sukuk may be used to finance projects around Vision 2030 and the Big 4 Agenda, such as infrastructure and health projects.

Enabling an Islamic finance environment will enable Kenya consolidate its status as the leading trade hub in the region and the gateway to East Africa. Kenya has already made significant strides at enhancing the ease of doing business in the country. The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index 2020 ranked Kenya at number 56. This is an improvement from 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016 where Kenya was ranked 61st, 80th, 91st and 108th respectively. Mauritius (13), Rwanda (38th) and Morocco (53rd) are the only African countries ranked ahead of Kenya.

There is need to open the floodgates to Islamic finance in Kenya. Industry stakeholders and regulators ought to collaborate to demystify Islamic finance by way of regular training and workshops on Islamic finance concepts. Kenya also requires supportive Government policies to create a fiscal and regulatory framework to broaden the market for Islamic finance products.

Africa Law Partners is well placed to advise on Islamic finance matters. For any assistance, please contact Walid Khan.

Hogan Lovells invests in FinTech start-up Fygo

Hogan Lovells is supporting the launch of an innovative free automatic student rewards app from COVID-19 start-up Fygo, one of the firm’s FinTech Mentor and Momentum Program 2020 cohort.

Launched in April 2017, through the Program, FinTech organisations in Asia, the EU and UK at any stage of development, from start-ups to established momentum players in strong growth mode, can apply for complimentary or subsidised support from Hogan Lovells.

Recipients benefit from extensive industry knowledge from Hogan Lovells’ commercial insights, access to the firm’s global network, legal and compliance training, industry events and use of the firm’s FinTech tools, up to a maximum value of £25,000 for any one company.

Founded during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fintech start-up Fygo has conceived and brought to market, with the help of Hogan Lovells, an innovative automatic student rewards app. Launching initially at Durham University, the free mobile app allows students and staff to link their bank cards to the app through a secure interface, and instantly and automatically receive cashback when they spend using a linked card at Fygo partners, without having to say, show, or scan anything.

For participating businesses, partnering with Fygo provides an affordable cost, hassle and commitment free solution to acquire more Generation Z customers and increase revenue. The in-built tracking system providing insights to help them better understand their customers and competitive positioning, with access to customer analytics, and to improve their service and products.

Commenting, Hogan Lovells FinTech Mentor and Fygo relationship lead, counsel Oliver Irons, said: “The global pandemic has totally changed how we live and work, and whilst it has presented many challenges, some positives that can be drawn are the advancement of technology, and innovation to adapt to constantly changing circumstances. The team at Fygo identified a way to support both students and businesses through harnessing their technology, and have worked tirelessly to make their concept a reality. They are deserving recipients of our FinTech Mentor and Momentum Program support package, and it has been hugely interesting and rewarding working with them. We wish them the very best for the pilot in Durham, and look forward to a continuing relationship.”

“Being accepted onto Hogan Lovells FinTech cohort 2020 was an enormous boost for us. They have provided superb strategic advice on several of our key business activities. The team’s diligent approach has ensured we are building a product capable of launching and scaling quickly. Being amongst top European start-ups has inspired us to sharpen our product’s value proposition and continue putting everything we have into building something people want!” said Jonah Lowenstein, Co-Founder at Fygo.

For further information about Hogan Lovells FinTech Mentor and Momentum Program, see here.

Businesses will be onboarded from March 2021, and the app is expected to launch to students in early April. Businesses can find out more via blog, podcast or video. Students can join the waiting list here.

Jay Williams joins DLA Piper’s Structured Finance practice in New York

DLA Piper announced today that Jay Williams has joined the firm as a partner in its Structured Finance practice, based in New York.

Williams represents issuers, underwriters, investors and other market participants in a wide variety of structured finance transactions – including CLOs; secured lending facilities backed by loans, CRE assets and other asset classes; re-securitisations; and synthetic securitisations – as well as swaps, derivatives and repurchase agreements. He has extensive experience with regulatory capital relief transactions and other types of synthetic risk transfers and also advises private funds and their sponsors with respect to investments in distressed assets. Williams is dual-qualified, practicing both New York and English law.

“Jay is a fantastic addition to the firm who will immediately enhance our structured finance capabilities,” said John Cusack, US chair and global co-chair of DLA Piper’s Finance practice. “His extensive experience handling complex financial transactions increases our ability to meet the evolving needs of the market, and our global platform will be of significant benefit to his practice and clients.”

“We are continuing to build our wider finance practice, including structured finance, in New York and across the firm, and Jay’s skillset and experience providing guidance to highly sophisticated clients across multiple asset classes is an important part of that strategic initiative,” added Richard Hans, managing partner of the firm’s New York office.

“The addition of Jay to our structured finance team will greatly enhance our ability to continue to strengthen our position among the market leaders in US and European CLOs, as well as other important asset classes,” said Rich Reilly, head of DLA Piper’s Structured Finance practice.

Williams joins from Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP. He received his J.D. from Wake Forest School of Law, his LL.M., with distinction, from Georgetown University Law Center, his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and his B.S.F.S. from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.