The ‘How to Rent: the checklist for renting in England’ guide from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government was updated yesterday (17th January 2018).
Changes include a change of government department name on page 1 and the removal of reference to the London Rental Standard on page 3.
With immediate effect, landlords must ensure that they issue the most recent version to tenants in England when they start or renew their tenancies. Failure to do so could invalidate any future Section 21 action.
The latest ‘How to Rent’ guide can be found on the gov.uk website;
A Staffordshire based landlord has been sentenced after failing to provide evidence that a gas safety check had been carried out at one of his tenanted properties.
Newcastle-under-Lyme Magistrates’ Court heard how David Corry failed to present a Landlords Gas Safety Record to the HSE after numerous attempts from HSE representatives to obtain this certificate.
On 11 August 2016, HSE served Mr Corry with an Improvement Notice requiring him to arrange for a registered gas fitter to carry out an inspection of the gas appliances in one of his tenanted premises in Stafford, and to produce a Landlords Gas Safety Record. Mr Corry failed to comply with the Improvement Notice.
Mr David John Corry of Springfield Drive, Stafford, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 36(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, and Section 21 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was sentenced to serve a total of 36 weeks imprisonment, suspended for twelve months, and ordered to complete 140 hours unpaid work. Mr Corry was also ordered to pay costs of £6,428.46.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Wayne Owen said: “David Corry potentially put the health of his tenants at risk and also chose to ignore the repeated requests by the HSE to produce the gas safety record.
“Every year around 7 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues that have not been properly installed, maintained or that are poorly ventilated. It is important that landlords fulfil their legal gas safety obligations to their tenants.”
Article from the Health and Safety Executive.
More information on what landlords are legally responsible for in relation to gas safety can be found on the HSE website:
Thursday 25th January 2018 – 9:30 – 4:30pm
Venue – Astor Room, Plymouth Guildhall, Royal Parade, Plymouth PL1 1HA
Price – £65 for members of SWLA, £75 for non – members for one day course.
Course covers ASTs, Deposits, Section 21s, Section 8s, HMOs, Gas and Electrical Safety, Inventories and much more.
The course will provide you with all the skills to start, manage and finish a tenancy.
Places still available. Contact the office on 01752 510913 or via the website to book your place, places secured on receipt of payment.
Over 650 landlords have already completed this course since September 2011.
Course can lead to Accreditation, if required.
Rogue landlords have been put on notice as government has announced (28 December 2017) a raft of new measures to crack down on bad practices, stamp out overcrowding and improve standards for those renting in the private sector.
Housing Minister Alok Sharma has set out how, subject to parliamentary clearance, landlords renting properties in England occupied by 5 or more people, from 2 or more separate households will need to be licensed (regardless of how many floors the property has).
New rules will also come into force setting minimum size requirements for bedrooms in houses of multiple occupation to prevent overcrowding. As part of the licencing requirements, local councils will be able to make sure only rooms meeting the standard are used for sleeping.
Government has also set out details of criminal offences which will automatically ban someone from being a landlord. From April 2018, someone convicted of offences such as burglary and stalking can be added to the database of rogue landlords and be barred from renting properties.
For further information, please see the Gov.uk website;
The Trago2Business Sale
Wednesday 27th DECEMBER 2017 TO Wednesday 31st JANUARY 2018 (INCLUSIVE)
20% DISCOUNT OFF STOCK CARPETS, FURNITURE, FITTED KITCHENS AND BATHROOMS
(MAXIMUM DISCOUNT – NOT IN ADDITION TO YOUR T2B DISCOUNT)
OTHER DEPARTMENTS WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR YOUR USUAL T2B DISCOUNT.
PLEASE PROCESS ALL TRANSACTIONS THROUGH YOUR T2B ACCOUNT, PRESENTING YOUR CARD FOR EACH PURCHASE. YOUR USUAL DISCOUNT WILL BE APPLIED AT THE TIME OF PURCHASE BUT BE ASSURED THAT THE DIFFERENCE, TO REFLECT THE JANUARY SALE DISCOUNT, WILL BE CALCULATED AT THE END OF THE SALE PERIOD AND A CHEQUE FOR ANY ADDITIONAL DISCOUNT OWED WILL BE ISSUED TO YOU ON THE 27TH JANUARY 2017.
CASH CUSTOMERS PLEASE NOTE: –
IF YOU WISH TO PLACE A LARGE ORDER AND BENEFIT FROM THE 20% DISCOUNT AT THE TIME OF PURCHASE PLEASE EMAIL THE OFFICE AT email@example.com.
CREDIT ACCOUNT CUSTOMERS PLEASE NOTE:-
PLEASE NOTE THAT ALTHOUGH THE TILL RECEIPT WILL SHOW YOUR USUAL DISCOUNT, THE CORRECT LEVEL OF DISCOUNT WILL BE REFLECTED ON YOUR INVOICE.
** SWLA Members, if you have not yet arranged your Trago2Business discount card, please contact the SWLA office for details on how to apply.
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;
Video produced in partnership with Plymouth City Council.
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
House Conditions Surveys
Prosecutions and other enforcement action
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.
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.
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 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.
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;
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).
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.
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.
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
Second Session – 13:30 – 16:30 – Important items of compliance and other safety related management issues including
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
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/
For information please visit the following website; http://firedoorsafetyweek.co.uk/
SWLA attended the West of England Landlord Panel on 13th September in Bristol.
Topics discussed included;
We will inform our members if any legislative changes occur.
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.
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;
Thank you to Neil Hoppitt at The Bateman Group (http://www.bateman-group.co.uk/) for the above article from HSE.
From 30th September 2017 new lending rules* come into play which mean lenders will be required to adopt a specialist underwriting approach for Portfolio Landlords. A Portfolio Landlord will be any landlord who owns four or more mortgaged Buy-To-Let (BTL) properties.
One of the reasons behind the new process is that the PRA has found that the rate of arrears increases as a landlord’s BTL property portfolio increases.
The PRA does not prescribe exact requirements but provides guidance, which includes:
Impact on Landlords
Lenders will likely request income and mortgage details on all properties in a BTL portfolio every time they refinance one, or purchase a new property. This contrasts with most lenders current policy of assessing a buy-to-let mortgage application based on the rental income and value of just the property they are lending against. This will cause problems for landlords when refinancing a property in a portfolio which is performing well but the application is affected by another property that is underperforming.
These changes will likely cause a large increase in work for lenders with a longer and more complex underwriting process. This may lead to some lenders pulling out of this area of the market meaning less competition, or increasing application fees and/or interest rates.
Some lenders will bring these changes in ahead of the deadline but will honour applications accepted prior to their chosen inception date. Those who will be classed as Portfolio Landlords and are able to refinance before the changes are implemented may benefit from reviewing their mortgages now.
Bridging loans, holiday lets, property commercial lending, and corporate lending are exempt from the changes.
*Prudential Regulation Authority’s (PRA) Supervisory Statement 13/16 Underwriting Standards for buy-to-let mortgage contracts.
SWLA have been requested by Plymouth City Council to circulate the following.
Since the introduction of alternative weekly collections some problems have arisen regarding recycling facilities.
Please make contact with Plymouth City Council if your property has a) no recycling facility, b) insufficient recycling facilities.
“You and your residents would of course see benefits from our involvement as the increase in recycling rates would place less strain on general waste containers causing less waste related issues such as contamination, excess waste etc.”
For further information contact the Recycling Officer – firstname.lastname@example.org
Representatives of SWLA attend regular D & C Police briefings on modern slavery.
If you substitute the word ‘exploitation’ for ‘slavery’ it is easier to understand the scale and complexity of the subject.
Todays slavery is more likely to take the form of trafficked people, having paid for UK entry, with identity papers removed and being forced to work for little or no money. These people are often living in chronically overcrowded conditions with few if any amenities.
If you suspect a case of ‘Modern Slavery’ contact the police on 101 or the modern slavery help line on 0800 121 1700.
Making tax digital was announced by Chancellor Osbourne in the 2015 Autumn Statement with the aim to digitise the tax system for the self employed and small businesses (including landlords).
The snap election delayed MTD’s implementation and enabled further consultation on the controversial plans.
The new Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride MP announced changes to MTD on 13th July.
These changes are:
This will ensure that there is time to test the system fully and for digital record keeping to become more widespread.
Thank you to all of our members who attended the SWLA open office afternoon on Wednesday. It was lovely to catch up with everybody and enjoy a cream tea!
Congratulations to Greg Yates who won the bottle of champagne, kindly donated by Ken and Brenda at Sam’s Accommodation.
Our next open office event will be in December, details will be confirmed nearer the time.