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Christmas Open Office 2017

Posted on December 14th, 2017 -

Thank you to everyone who came along to our open office afternoon yesterday (Wednesday 13th December). It was great to catch up with members and welcome new members.

Our next meeting is the SWLA AGM on Wednesday 24th January 2018, 7.30pm at the Future Inn hotel, Plymouth.

Following the AGM, there will be a finger buffet and drinks. We hope to see you there.

(Please note, this is a members only meeting)


Do you have problems with damp and mould in your home?

Posted on December 13th, 2017 -

Watch this video by ‘Plymouth Energy Community’ to get some great tips on how to prevent mould and what to do if it becomes a problem;

http://www.plymouthenergycommunity.com/saving/damp-mould

 

Video produced in partnership with Plymouth City Council.


Plymouth City Council Steering Group

Posted on December 8th, 2017 -

Iain (Vice-Chair) and Gillian (Office Manager) attended Plymouth City Council’s steering group meeting at Ballard House (Friday 8th December).

Items on the agenda included the Charter for Private Renting, HMO Licencing, changes in legislation and civil penalties as an alternative to prosecution for a range of housing offences.


SWLA AGM

Posted on December 8th, 2017 -

SWLA AGM

Wednesday 24th January 2018-

Future Inn Plymouth-

7.30pm

 

 


Christmas Open Office Afternoon

Posted on December 8th, 2017 -

Christmas Open Office Afternoon-

Wednesday 13th December 2017

3pm – 6pm

Come and enjoy a mince pie and a drink with committee members, office staff and other SWLA members.

 


West of England Landlord Panel Meeting

Posted on December 8th, 2017 -

Gillian Kerr represented SWLA at the West of England Landlord Panel meeting in Bristol on Wednesday 6th December 2017.

Topics discussed included;

Minimum EPC requirements

Tenants Fees Bill

Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector

Universal Credit

House Conditions Surveys

Licensing Updates

Prosecutions and other enforcement action

Market conditions

 

 

 


Teignbridge Housing Partnership Event

Posted on November 29th, 2017 -

Vice Chair of SWLA, Iain Maitland attended a stakeholder event hosted by Teignbridge Housing Partnership in Newton Abbot on Tuesday 28th November 2017. The Partnership brings together housing professionals, stakeholders and partners from key organisations to contribute to, and influence the delivery of affordable housing, the prevention of homelessness, maintaining housing standards and supporting people to maintain independence in their own homes.

 

 

 


The Autumn Budget 2017

Posted on November 24th, 2017 -

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/661480/autumn_budget_2017_web.pdf

 

A summary of the budget announcements that may affect the private rented sector……

 

Finance and tax
Stamp duty land tax – the government will raise the price at which a property becomes liable for SDLT to £300,000 for first‑time buyers. The relief will not apply to properties worth over £500,000.
Capital Gains Tax (CGT) payment window – The introduction of the 30-day payment window between a capital gain arising on a residential property and payment will be deferred until April 2020.
Rent-a-room relief – The government will call for evidence to establish how rent-a-room relief is used and make steps to ensure it is better targeted towards longer-term lettings.
Raising income tax bracket – The personal allowance for income tax will be increased from £11,500 to £11,850 from April 2018. The threshold to pay a higher rate of income tax will rise from £45,000 to £46,350.
Mileage rates for landlords – The government will continue to allow unincorporated landlords the choice to use the government’s fixed mileage rates or actual vehicle running costs and capital allowances when it comes to calculating deductible motoring expenses.

Supply and rents
Empty homes premium – The government is keen to bring empty properties back into use. To help achieve this, local authorities will be able to increase the council tax premium from 50% to 100%.
Longer tenancies – The government will consult on landlords offering longer, more secure tenancies to those tenants who want them.
Review of build out – The government will set up a panel to explain the gap between housing completions and the planning permission given, and make recommendations for closing it.
Register of planning permissions – The government will create a central register of residential planning permissions to improve information on where permissions are held and progress towards them being built
Small sites – The government will provide a further £630 million to accelerate the building of homes on small sites. Helping boost housing supply.
New garden towns – The government will bring together public and private capital to build five new garden towns.

Welfare
Universal Credit – The government will provide more support to Universal Credit claimants. From January 2018, those who qualify will be able to access up to a month’s worth of Universal Credit within five days via an interest-free advance. The government will extend the period of recovery from six months to twelve months, making it easier for claimants to manage. From February 2018, the government will remove the seven-day waiting period so that entitlement to Universal Credit starts on the first day of application. From April 2018 those already on Housing Benefit will continue to receive their award for the first two weeks of their Universal Credit claim. The government will make it easier for claimants to have the housing element of their award paid directly to their landlord.
Targeted Affordability Funding – To support Housing Benefit and Universal Credit claimants living in areas where private rents have been rising fastest, the government will increase some Local Housing Allowance rates.
Rent payment data – The government will support firms developing innovative solutions that help first‑time buyers ensure their history of meeting rental payments on time is recognised in their credit scores and mortgage applications.
Rough sleeping – The Budget sets out the government’s first steps towards its commitment to halve rough sleeping by 2022, and to eliminate it by 2027.
Housing First pilots – The government will invest £28 million in three Housing First pilots in Manchester, Liverpool and the West Midlands, to support rough sleepers with the most complex needs to turn their lives around.


New Accelerated Possession Forms Published (N5B)

Posted on November 24th, 2017 -

 

Please note that there have been updates to the N5B England court form which is used by landlords to seek a court order for possession of a property located in England.

For further information please see the following government website;

https://www.gov.uk/accelerated-possession-eviction#more-information

https://formfinder.hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/n5b-england-eng.pdf

If you have any questions in relation to the form changes, please contact the SWLA office.

 

 

 

 


Shelter Housing and Homelessness Conference

Posted on November 23rd, 2017 -

Steve Lees and Iain Maitland, Chair and Vice-Chair of the SWLA, attended the Shelter Housing and Homelessness Conference on Tuesday 21st November at Plumer House in Plymouth. Agencies were brought together to raise awareness of services and to increase knowledge in order to support those who are homeless and at risk of homelessness. Also discussed was the topic of substandard housing and promotion of joint working initiatives- new and existing. A variety of presentations and workshops took place.

http://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice

 

 


SWLA Meeting With Luke Pollard MP

Posted on November 17th, 2017 -

Today (17th November 2017) Steve Lees, Iain Matitland and Linda Johns of the SWLA committee met with Luke Pollard MP and his office manager Alex Beverly at the SWLA office. Items discussed included Tenant Fees Bill 2017, student accommodation, landlord/agent training and the Plymouth City Council Local Plan.

We plan to hold quarterly meetings with Luke regarding housing/landlord issues. Any items that members would like to be considered for discussion may be passed to the SWLA office.


Chairman & Vice Chairman met with Councillor Ricketts & Matt Garrett

Posted on November 6th, 2017 -

Chairman and Vice Chairman met with Cllr Ricketts and Matt Garrett (Head of Community Connections) at 30 Dale Road on Thursday 19th October 2017.

Subjects discussed included, plan for empty homes and student accommodation, council tax, the PRS steering group and private rented forum.


Mid Devon District Council Landlord Networking Event, Wednesday 8th November, 5pm-8pm

Posted on November 3rd, 2017 -

SWLA will be attending this networking event which is being held at Muddifords Court Country House. All local landlords are welcome, pre-booking is advised, free to attend,  please see the following website for more information;

https://www.middevon.gov.uk/residents/landlord-networking-event/

 

mid-devon-a5-landlord-l-let


Free Universal Credit Training for Landlords – Weston Super Mare, Wednesday 15th November 2017. (pre-booking essential)

Posted on October 25th, 2017 -

Wednesday 15th November 12.30pm – 4pm. Location; 2nd Floor, The Imperial, Weston Super Mare.

***FREE ENTRY AND OPEN TO ALL *** 

Local representatives from the DWP will be presenting an intensive afternoon on welfare reform via Universal Credit (UC), which is VERY important for local landlords to understand.

PLUS, a short talk on The Ark Passport Scheme; a brand new solution to help more benefit assisted and low income tenants secure private rented accommodation – working in collaboration with North Somerset Council.

 

Accredited landlords will receive 5 CPD points for attending.

Please book your place ASAP as this course will be very popular and there are limited spaces available. To book, email;  enquiries@nlceuk.co.uk

(refreshments will be included) 

Universal Credit is by far the largest shake-up of the benefits system that the whole of the UK has ever known and will affect over 12 million people and has already had a major impact on the private rented sector due to rent arrears.

Landlords will find out how they can help their tenants receive interim payments, as it takes six weeks upon completion of the registration before claimants can receive their first Universal Credit payment.

 


Plymouth City Council Local Authority Meeting

Posted on October 20th, 2017 -

The Chairman and Vice Chairman of the SWLA met with Councillor Steve Ricketts (Cabinet Member for Transport and Housing) and Matt Garrett (Head of Community Connections PCC) at our Dale Road office on Thursday 19th October. Items on the agenda included the PRS Steering Group, Charter, PRS Forum, Council Tax and Empty Homes. Also for discussion was the purpose built student accommodation report contained in the Plymouth and South West Devon Joint Local Plan.

 


Detailed Guidance on the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards

Posted on October 20th, 2017 -

The Government have published official guidance to landlords of privately rented domestic and non-domestic property on complying with the 2018 ‘Minimum Level of Energy Efficiency’ standard (EPC band E).

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/650467/27_09_17_Domestic_Private_Rented_Landlord_Guidance_-_Final_Version.pdf

 

A brief summary;

The domestic minimum standard will be introduced in a phased manner, with triggers for new tenancies signed from 1 April 2018 onwards, and a backstop date for all tenancies from 1 April 2020. This means that, from 1 April 2018 landlords must not let any sub-standard domestic property to new tenants, or renew or extend an existing tenancy agreement with existing tenants, unless either:
a. the landlord has made all the relevant energy efficiency improvements that can be made to the property (or that there are none that can be made) and the property’s energy performance indicator is still below an EPC E, and this exception has been registered on the national PRS Exemptions Register; or
b. no improvements have been made but a valid exemption applies which has been registered on the Exemptions Register.

 

Then, from 1 April 2020, landlords must not continue to let a sub-standard domestic property, even to existing tenants (where there has been no tenancy renewal, extension or indeed new tenancy), unless:
a. all relevant energy efficiency improvements have been made (or that there are none that can be made), the EPC remains below E, and the exception has been registered on the Exemptions Register; or
b. no improvements have been made but a valid exemption applies and has been registered on the Exemptions Register.

 

Therefore, from 1 April 2018, where a landlord intends to let a domestic property (or from 1 April 2020 continue to let such a property) they will need to check whether their property is covered by the minimum level of energy efficiency provisions, and, if so, ensure that the EPC rating is at E or above. If the EPC rating is below E, they must either take appropriate steps to improve the rating to meet the minimum standard, or register an exemption if applicable.


Reminder, SWLA General Meeting Tonight (Wednesday 18th October)

Posted on October 18th, 2017 -

SWLA will be hosting a general meeting tonight at the Future Inn Hotel, William Prance Road, Plymouth. We hope to see you there for a 7.30pm start. Members and guests welcome.

Speakers will include:-

Duncan Banks, CEO at IU Energy discussing Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards(MEES).

Christian Scandurra, presenting Mine2Manage – easy to use landlord software.

Gordon McCaw, Tax Planning Specialist delivering proactive tax advice specifically for landlords.

Wine & orange juice will be served during the evening.

 

**SWLA memberships expire on 31st October, if you haven’t renewed already, feel free to do so on the night**

Please remember to register your car at the hotel reception upon arrival.


Universal Credit – A Guide for Landlords

Posted on September 28th, 2017 -

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-and-rented-housing–2/universal-credit-and-rented-housing-guide-for-landlords

This document provides private and social sector landlords with information about Universal Credit to help them understand what they can do to help their tenants prepare for:
– their move to the single Universal Credit benefit payment
– making direct payments of their housing costs (rent) direct to their landlord themselves

It explains how Universal Credit will ensure that the appropriate protections and safeguards are in place – both the trigger points for intervention by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and recovery of arrears where they occur.

It also explains what budgeting and payment support is available for tenants who may need help moving to the new system.
This includes alternative payment arrangements if claimants are finding it hard to manage their Universal Credit payment and pay their landlord themselves.

Universal Credit is being introduced in stages across Great Britain by postcode area.

There are 2 types of Universal Credit services:
– Universal Credit full service
– Universal Credit live service


1/2 Day Landlord Training Courses – Plymouth

Posted on September 27th, 2017 -

Monday 9th October 2017

Venue – Astor Room, Plymouth Guildhall, Royal Parade, Plymouth PL1 1HA

If you are accredited this will count towards your CPD hours, but the course is open to all.

Cost for SWLA members – £35 per half day or £65 for both courses.

Cost for non-SWLA members – £40 per half day or £75 for both courses.

First Session – 9:30 – 12:30 – Repossession Procedures   

  • Section 21’s
  • Section 8’s
  • Tenants who are in breach of tenancy other than rent arrears
  • How to manage repossession situations

Second Session – 13:30 – 16:30 – Important items of compliance and other safety related management issues including

  • Legionella
  • Gas safe
  • Right to rent
  • Electrical installation testing
  • PAT testing
  • Deposits
  • Smoke alarms

 Places secured upon receipt of payment, book your place through the office 01752 510913.

Course will be instructed by Stephen Fowler from Training for Professionals


Free Seminar for Landlords by North Somerset Council on Wednesday 27th September

Posted on September 21st, 2017 -

North Somerset Council are introducing ‘The Ark Passport Scheme’ to help low income tenants secure private rented accommodation. Private landlords and letting agents throughout the South West are welcome to attend a free seminar which will take place on Wednesday 27th September 2017, 6pm – 8pm at the newly refurbished museum in Weston-Super-Mare.

For more information please see the following link; http://www.arkpassport.co.uk/blog/2017/09/13/homelessness-a-thing-of-the-past/

 


Notice of a General Meeting

Posted on September 15th, 2017 -

SWLA General Meeting –

Wednesday 18th October 2017 at Future Inn, Plymouth –

7pm for a 7.30pm start –

Guest speakers to cover the topics of Managing Properties, Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards and Tax Planning, all members welcome.

 


Fire Door Safety Week, 25th September – 1st October

Posted on September 15th, 2017 -

A 5 Step Fire Door Check

Fire Door Safety Week is giving these tips for a 5 Step Fire Door Check that anyone can do:

  Download a PDF copy here.

  • Check for certification Is there a label or plug on top (or occasionally on the side) of the door to show it is a certificated fire door? You can use the selfie function on your camera phone or a mirror to check. If there is, that’s good news, otherwise report it to whoever is in charge of your building.
  • Check the gaps Check the gaps around the top and sides of the door are consistently less than 4mm when closed. You can use a £1 coin to give a feel for scale, this is about 3mm thick. The gap under the door can be slightly larger (up to 8mm is not uncommon), but it does depend on the door – as a rule of thumb, if you can see light under the door, the gap is likely to be too big. It’s good news if the door fits the frame and it’s not damaged. If not, report it. If the gaps are too big smoke and fire could travel through the cracks.
  • Check the seals Are there any intumescent seals around the door or frame, and are they intact with no sign of damage? These seals are usually vital to the fire door’s performance, expanding if in contact with heat to ensure fire (and in some cases smoke) can’t move through the cracks. If not, report it – the door may not be properly maintained and in the intensity of a fire may not protect you long enough.
  • Check the hinges Are the hinges firmly fixed (three or more of them), with no missing or broken screws? If you see problems, report it – the door is obviously not properly maintained and in the intensity of a fire may not perform and hold back the fire for long enough.
  • Check the door closes properly Open the door about halfway, let go and allow it to close by itself. Does it close firmly onto the latch without sticking on the floor or the frame? If not, report it. A fire door only works when it’s closed. A fire door is completely useless if it’s wedged open or can’t close fully.

For information please visit the following website; http://firedoorsafetyweek.co.uk/


West of England Landlord Panel

Posted on September 15th, 2017 -

SWLA attended the West of England Landlord Panel on 13th September in Bristol.

Topics discussed included;

  • Rent With Confidence
  • Minimum EPC requirements
  • Civil Penalty Policies
  • Licensing
  • Data Protection

We will inform our members if any legislative changes occur.


Plymouth City Council’s Plan for Future Student Accommodation

Posted on September 11th, 2017 -

View Plymouth City Council’s joint local plan for future student accommodation in Plymouth and South West Devon including population, supply and demand, planning applications, HMOs and council tax data.

https://www.plymouth.gov.uk/sites/default/files/PlymouthStudentAccommodation.pdf

 


Misinterpretation of Landlords Responsibilities Regarding Legionella

Posted on August 25th, 2017 -

Some consultants and letting agents are using the revised L8 Approved Code of Practice to suggest that new legislation has been imposed on landlords of domestic rented properties for managing and controlling the risks of exposure to Legionella bacteria of their tenants. This is wrong, the legislation has not changed and misinformation/misinterpretation can impose unnecessary financial burdens on landlords where they are being charged for Legionella testing and certificates they don’t actually need.

There is a legal duty for landlords to assess and control the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria, but Health and Safety law does not require landlords to produce or obtain, nor does HSE recognise a ‘Legionnaires testing certificate’. Legionella testing or sampling is generally not required in domestic hot and cold water systems and then only in exceptional circumstances.

The law is clear that if you are a landlord and rent out your property (or even a room within your own home) then you have legal responsibility to ensure the health and safety of your tenant by keeping the property safe and free from health hazards.

 

For more information, please see the HSE website;

http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/legionella-landlords-responsibilities.htm

http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/faqs.htm

 

Thank you to Neil Hoppitt at The Bateman Group (http://www.bateman-group.co.uk/) for the above article from HSE.