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SWLA Attend Plymouth City Council Steering Group Meeting

Posted on June 29th, 2018 -

On Wednesday 27th June, Gillian Kerr (SWLA Office Manager) and Iain Maitland (SWLA Vice-Chairman) attended a Steering Group Meeting hosted by Plymouth City Council. Attendees included representatives from Plymouth City Council, PATH, Shelter, University of Plymouth, local letting agencies and social housing providers.

Items discussed included Energy Efficiency in the Private Rented Sector (PRS), legislation changes effecting the PRS including the appointment of a new portfolio holder for housing, Trading Standards and their role in the PRS, Homelessness Reduction Act and the Plan for Preventing Homelessness.

SWLA attend and support these meetings on a regular basis and are keen to continue developing relationships between the Local Authority, landlords/agents and other key organisations.

New ‘How To Rent’ Guide Published, 26th June 2018

Posted on June 27th, 2018 -

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has published new ‘how to’ guides including the ‘How to Rent’ Guide which must be provided to all new or renewing tenants in England.


On Tuesday 26th June 2018, the government published an updated version of the ‘How to Rent’ guide. This is the second update this year, the previous one being 17th January 2018.

All new or renewing tenants in England must receive the most current version of the ‘How to Rent’ guide from their landlord at the start of their tenancy. Therefore, if you have a new or renewing tenant who signed their tenancy agreement on or after 26th June 2018, this new version must be given.

You should ensure that your tenants sign to acknowledge receipt of all documents that you give (please see page 6 of the ‘How to Rent’ guide). There is space for your tenant to sign for receipt of these documents at the back of the SWLA Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement.

If you do not prescribe the correct documents to your tenant, a Section 21 Possession Notice would be invalid and any application for possession would be thrown out if it goes to court.

If you have a tenancy that started 25th June 2018 or before, there is no need to give your tenant this new version but there is nothing stopping you doing so. It’s a great way to remind tenants of their responsibilities.

Notice of a General Meeting

Posted on June 27th, 2018 -

SWLA Open Office Afternoon 

Wednesday 11th July 2018     3pm – 6pm

30 Dale Road, Plymouth PL4 6PD

Come and join us in the office for a cream tea. You can meet our committee and other SWLA members. All welcome!

West of England Landlord Panel Meeting attended by SWLA

Posted on June 27th, 2018 -

SWLA office manager Gillian Kerr attended the West of England Landlord Panel meeting in Bristol on 20th June 2018.

Items discussed included Legal Updates, Licencing Updates and general market conditions for the Private Rented Sector.

SWLA represent members in many South West local authority areas, we will promulgate relevant information through our quarterly bulletins. If you prefer to read the bulletins online you can do so; https://www.landlordssouthwest.co.uk/news-articles/latest-bulletins/


A Message to SWLA Members; Extension of Mandatory HMO Licensing by Plymouth City Council

Posted on June 15th, 2018 -

I am sure that you are already aware of the pending changes in the Licencing of HMO properties. Historically any property which had five or more tenants forming more than one household* sharing a basic amenity, over three storeys required a Licence which is issued by the Local Authority. From 1st October 2018, the storey requirement will be removed, and any property where there are five or more tenants forming more than one household* sharing a basic amenity, will require a licence, regardless of how many storeys the property has.

*A household is either a single person or members of the same family who live together. A family includes people who are:

  • married or living together as a couple
  • relatives or half-relatives, for example grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings
  • step-parents and step-children

Please follow the information below to see if these HMO licence changes are relevant to you. This article is relevant in all Local Authorities, therefore if some parts are specific to Plymouth, if your let property is outside of Plymouth, please contact the relevant Local Authority for further help and advice.

We are hoping that this will be a seamless a transition as possible.


What is an HMO?

An HMO is any property occupied by 3 or more people who form more than one household (i.e. not a single-family dwelling). Please see the following link for further information


If your property is an HMO, then the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 apply (please see attached document for your reference)


What is a licensable HMO? – Existing Criteria

A HMO that requires a licence under the existing criteria, is a property described as a ‘large HMO’ that is occupied by 5 or more unrelated people and has accommodation that is at least 3 stories high and includes shared facilities/amenities. Please see the following link for further information on what makes an HMO;


For the criteria that makes a HMO licensable, please see;


which has been in force since 6th April 2006 and remains effective until 3oth September 2018 when it will be repealed.

If your property is a licensable HMO then the local authority standards/guidance will apply to the property. On the following link; https://www.plymouth.gov.uk/sites/default/files/LicencedHousesInMultipleOccupation.pdf

You will find our guidance and standards on levels of management required in licensable HMO’s for Plymouth. It is important to add that due to the raft of legislation changes and updates over recent times, we are currently undertaking a review of this document and will have an updated version released later this year.

Whilst there has always been the scope for any local authority to apply selective and additional licensing requirements (to encompass properties or areas that fall out of the mandatory criteria), Plymouth City Council have not adopted this approach.


What are the impending changes?

The mandatory criteria for a licensable HMO is changing so that HMO’s with 5 or more unrelated people, irrespective of the number of stories, come under the new legislation/criteria. These changes have been under consultation with the Department for Communities and Local Government since 2016. If you wish to read further information about the consultation, please see the following paper

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/houses-in-multiple-occupation-and-residential-property-licensing-reforms and Government response document



The final government response document was released on 27.12.2017 and can be found here;



When will the changes apply?

The effective date of these changes has been confirmed as 1st October 2018 in the following statutory instrument;


Through the work with our partners in the private rented sector (landlords, agencies and the University) we have been collating information on the properties that may be subject to the extension criteria. Currently we have 470 known properties that will be licensable from 01.10.2018 and have had contact from the relevant persons. This enables us to have a contact list to provide updates to so that the transition can be as smooth as possible.



What do you now need to do?

All we ask at this point is that you consider your properties to see if you have a HMO to which the changes apply. If you have a HMO property, or properties, that will be subject to the changes, please confirm this by sending an email to; communityconnections@plymouth.gov.uk

Please include the following details:

  1. The addresses of the HMO properties you have that will be subject to the extension of licensing (i.e. any property that has 5 or more unrelated tenants in residence, irrespective of storey count)
  2. Your preferred contact details (postal address, telephone and email) for further information and guidance to be sent to you.

The provision of the above information will be added to a list of properties that I am collating. This information is securely stored and will not be passed on to any 3rd parties. Once the licences have been processed to cases being opened, this database will be erased.


Any Other Business?

At Plymouth City Council, we have had a drive to move towards the modern digital age and have created an online application process for HMO licensing that is set to be available for use in submitting HMO applications from 01.07.18.

Our HMO licence fee structure has also been reviewed (last reviewed in 2012) and we will be shortly publishing the new HMO licence fee structure to come into effect, hopefully from 01.07.18. What is very good news for landlords is that the discretionary discount offered to landlords who are accredited, is increasing from £60 previously to £150 under the new fee structure.

My colleague and I recently attended the Annual General Meeting at the Future Inn and want to thank the SWLA and their members for inviting us and making us feel very welcome on the day. We do appreciate the opportunity to connect with our partners across the city and see this as a valuable opportunity to maintain and enhance relationships between the Local Authority and landlords within Plymouth. We have supported multiple events and will look to continue this, so please make sure you keep in touch with the SWLA team to identify topics you might want us to speak on.

I would like to finish by saying that we appreciate your support, particularly in respect of the extension to HMO licensing, and look forward to receiving your response at your earliest opportunity. I look forward to working together with you through these changes.

Message sent from Mark Chubb, Plymouth City Council 

Universal Credit Seminar Review, Plymouth

Posted on June 15th, 2018 -

The South West Landlords Association, based in Plymouth and covering mostly the Westcountry were tasked by the RLA to promote and host a Universal Credit seminar which was being presented by the DWP engagement division as part of a National programme.

Plymouth City Council provided a venue in the City Guildhall and SWLA advertised and promulgated the updated universal credit information which formed the content of the seminar.

As well as landlord and letting agent members of both the SWLA and RLA, the event was opened to all landlords and interested parties. Over 50 attendees were present with representatives from charities, credit unions, social housing providers, as well as landlords and agents.

Gary Jenkins (DWP U.C. programme) was assisted by Gary Martin and Jacki Williams (DWP Devon, Cornwall and Somerset operational partnership team) in presenting the one and a half hour session. The assistance of the regional team was greatly appreciated as their local knowledge of implementation and rollout problems was invaluable.

The teams jointly explained Managed Payments and Alternative Payment Arrangements and how landlords can apply for a direct payment of rent or rent arrears deduction from a tenants Universal Credit if they are having difficulty paying. They clarified when a landlord can use form U47 to apply for direct payment.

Local Housing Allowance rates were discussed, how they were arrived at, and their relevance to Universal Credit.

Transitional Housing Payments were explained in that as from 11 April 2018 claimants who have a claim to Housing Benefit (HB) at the point they claim Universal Credit will continue to be paid HB at the full rate by their local authority for the first two weeks of their Universal Credit claim.

At the end of the presentation a lively, informative Q & A session ensued. Again the local team’s in-depth knowledge of local problems proved invaluable, with Jacki and Gary being able to answer specifics.

Iain Maitland, vice chairman of SWLA closed the meeting by inviting Paul Williams, Manager of City of Plymouth Credit Union to give a short address outlining the benefits of the Credit Union to landlords who had tenants who were unable to satisfactorily manage their own financial affairs.


Links –

What Universal Credit means for Landlords –  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-and-rented-housing–2


Managed Payments/Alternative Payment Arrangements –



Local Housing Allowance –



Transitional Housing Payments –



Cathco Open Week, Plymouth

Posted on June 14th, 2018 -

Cathco specialise in appliance repairs and servicing. They also sell reconditioned appliances.

Cathco will be hosting an open week from Friday 22nd June 2018 though to Friday 29th June 2018 to promote their new retail premises stocking over 50 reconditioned appliances.

They will be offering discount on all goods to landlords and letting agents. SWLA members can get 25% off their first call until July 31st 2018.


“Come and view our new facilities have a drink with us to discuss what we can do for you as a landlord/letting agent”


Cathco Ltd

Unit 315 Faraday Mill Retail Park




For more information, please visit the Cathco website; http://www.cathco.co.uk


West of England Landlord Expo, Wednesday 13th June 2018

Posted on June 8th, 2018 -

SWLA will be attending this year’s West of England landlord exhibition in Bristol.


Exhibition & Conference Centre, University of the West of England
Wednesday 13th June
11am – 6pm

Free entry to all.

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