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Coronavirus – Furlough Scheme Date Reminders

Posted on July 30th, 2020 -

We thought we’d remind you about some upcoming key dates and deadlines regarding the UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, as it begins to wind down.

The scheme is now closed to new applicants and employers are able to bring back some employees to work part-time. For the period ending 30 June you need to submit your CJST claim by, tomorrow, 31 July 2020, which is the last date you can make those claims. You will also need to have made a claim at any point on or before 31 July 2020 to be able to make a claim for future months too.

Full details are in the Propertymark Government funding guide (page 11) and here are some other key dates to be aware of:

  • From 1 August 2020 employers must pay employer National Insurance contributions and employer pension auto enrolment contributions for furloughed employees.
  • From 1 September, employers must contribute 10 per cent towards the pay of furloughed employees.
  • From 1 October, employers must contribute 20 per cent towards the pay of furloughed employees.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends on 31 October 2020, meaning no employees can remain on furlough after this time.

Article from ARLA/Propertymark


Making Tax Digital (MTD) – Government Plans to Complete the Roll Out in 2022 & 2023

Posted on July 24th, 2020 -

The government has unveiled plans for the completion of the rollout of the Making Tax Digital (MTD) programme, with the scheme being incrementally extended from 2022.

Companies with turnover of more than £85,000 are currently required to file their quarterly VAT returns via the digital platform.

But from 1 April 2022, all VAT-registered firms must switch to MTD, regardless of the value of their sales.

The programme will be extended 12 months later to any individuals filing self-assessment income tax returns for annual business or property income in excess of £10,000. HMRC say ‘Self-employed businesses and landlords with annual business or property income above £10,000 will need to follow the rules for MTD for Income Tax from their next accounting period starting on or after 6 April 2023.

The government says that providing notice of the extension of MTD now will give businesses and individuals,  including the self-employed and buy-to-let landlords, enough time to plan for the switch.

Plans to make landlords submit tax returns digitally will provide a huge administration challenge, according to Katharine Arthur, partner and head of private client at accountancy firm haysmacintyre. 

She said: “The announcement is particularly significant, proposing a huge administrative challenge once Making Tax Digital becomes mandatory for Income Tax. 

“With reporting required quarterly as opposed to annually, it is likely that buy-to-let landlords, small business owners and the self-employed, who already have limited resources, will be most affected by this change.”

Making Tax Digital was originally announced by the now former chancellor George Osborne in the 2015 Autumn Statement, with a view to digitising the tax system with the self-employed, small businesses and unincorporated landlords needing to keep digital records and use software to update HMRC quarterly.

Arthur added: “With reporting required quarterly as opposed to annually, it is likely that buy-to-let landlords, small business owners and the self-employed, who already have limited resources, will be most affected by this change.”

Article from Landlord Today https://www.landlordtoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2020/7/btl-landlords-will-be-among-most-affected-by-tax-change-says-accountancy-firm


Trade Point – PPE Range

Posted on July 24th, 2020 -

Reminder – SWLA members can apply for a Trade Point Card and receive 5% off all Trade Point items (raising to 10% depending on previous spend). Contact the SWLA office for details on how to apply.


Landlord’s Guide to Reactivating Possession Cases from 23rd August

Posted on July 22nd, 2020 -

Information and article from The Sheriff’s Office; https://thesheriffsoffice.com/articles/new-measures-for-possession-proceedings-1

In preparation for the lifting of the moratorium on residential evictions on 23rd August, the Government has announced a new statutory instrument covering possession proceedings – The Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 4) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020 2020 No. 751 (L. 17) – which comes into force on 23rd August.

In preparation for the backlog of cases, and to protect vulnerable tenants, the Government has announced further measures once courts do reopen.

New measures

  • If you are a landlord and have a possession proceeding waiting for a hearing, then you will also have to do the following:
  • Inform both the court and the tenant in writing after the stay ends on 23rd August that you wish to proceed to court. This reactivation notice must be sent for the possession hearing to go ahead
  • Provide any relevant information about the position of the tenant. This includes information that is known about the tenant and any dependents with regards to vulnerability, disability, and social security as well as detail about if any occupants are shielding
  • To provide evidence of the total amount of arrears owed in advance of the hearing

Hearings spread out

Court hearings are likely to need to be spread out to avoid bunching, so the court will fix a date either on or after issue, and there will be a suspension of the usual 8-week period between the issue of a claim form and the actual hearing itself.

It must be noted that the above procedures must be carried out so that a court hearing can go ahead, any landlord who has been waiting for a hearing will certainly not wish to further delay their case being heard. We therefore suggest that you gather the evidence and information required so you do not experience a further delay to gaining possession of your, or your client’s, property.

CPR rules

This instrument inserts into Part 55 of the CPR a new rule which provides the basis for a new, temporary Practice Direction 55C supplementing Part 55 (“PD55C”). PD55C (which is available on the Ministry of Justice website.


‘No DSS’ Letting Bans Ruled Unlawful by Court

Posted on July 15th, 2020 -

The claimant had been a tenant for many years, with no problems and good references. She is a single mother with a disability, who was employed. She was searching for a new tenancy and contacted the defendant letting agents, only to receive an email stating that for years the agents “have had a policy of not accepting housing benefit tenants”.

The claimant, with Shelter acting, then brought the present claim for sex discrimination and disability discrimination under sections 19 and 29 Equality Act 2010 and for a declaration in the County Court.

Usually the defendant agents settle out of court in similar circumstances. But for once the defendant agents did not settle. However, it appears that they had a change of mind, possibly on the advice of counsel, as what was apparently a case management hearing was turned into a final hearing at the request of both parties and, as the order records, terms were agreed by the parties. However, as well as ordering the agent to pay damages of £3500 and costs, the District Judge also went on to make a declaration as sought and to give reasons.

The declaration is that;

The Defendant’s former policy of rejecting tenancy applications because the applicant is in receipt of Housing Benefit was unlawfully indirectly discriminatory on the grounds of sex and disability contrary to sections 19 and 29 of the Equality Act 2010.

The reasons record that:

A ‘No DSS policy’ puts or would put women at a particular disadvantage. 53.1% of female single-adult households renting privately claim Housing Benefit compared to 34% of male single- adult households. When households with couples are included, 18.8% of women renting privately claim Housing Benefit compared to 12.4% of men. This means that, in the private rented sector, using whichever of the two analyses set out above, women are more than 1.5 times as likely to rely on Housing Benefit, and thus be excluded by a No DSS policy, than men.

And in relation to disability:

A ‘No DSS policy’ puts or would put persons who are disabled at a particular disadvantage. 44.6% of households who claim DLA or SDA claim Housing Benefit compared to 15.1% of households who do not claim DLA or SDA. This means that, in the private rented sector, disabled households are almost three times as likely to rely on Housing Benefit, and thus be excluded by a ‘No DSS policy’, than non- disabled households.

A policy of ‘No DSS’ would therefore have an increased impact on women and on people with a disability. This amounted to indirect discrimination under section 19 Equality Act 2010.

It is, we must note, a county court judgment, and so not binding on other courts. However, in the absence of a defence under s.19(2)(d) Equality Act 2010, that the discriminatory practice is “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”, it would seem likely that other courts would reach the same conclusion. No such defence was maintained in this claim (and for letting agents at least, it is hard to imagine what one might look like). I do not think it would be a defence for a letting agent to say the policy was at the request of the landlord(s).

What it means is that a blanket policy of refusing potential tenants who claim housing benefit is unlawful. What it does not mean is that potential tenants who claim housing benefit can’t be refused.

In principle, the same should apply to landlords, as well as letting agents. However, it may be that some landlords may have a s.19(2)(d) defence, for example, that their mortgage agreement has a condition of no letting to housing benefit claimants. Most of the bigger lenders have changed their policies on this, but there will still be some lenders and historic mortgages with those conditions.

What this doesn’t mean, alas, is that housing will be any more affordable. It should mean that housing benefit claimants have the opportunity to be considered for a tenancy on their own circumstances, rather than rejected straight away under a blanket policy.

Thank to Rose Arnall of Shelter for the copy of the Order and Reasons. She has been pursuing this issue for years.

Article from Nearly Legal; https://nearlylegal.co.uk/2020/07/discrimination-and-no-dss/?utm_source=mailpoet&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=new-on-nearly-legal-newsletter-total-new-posts_1

The order and reasons can be read here; http://431bj62hscf91kqmgj258yg6-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/20.07.02-Redacted-Court-Order.pdf


Buy-to-Let Landlords Welcome Stamp Duty Cut

Posted on July 9th, 2020 -

The summer statement provided a much welcome boost for buy-to-let landlords who stand to benefit from the stamp duty holiday. 

The levy has been scrapped immediately for all homes under £500,000, to kick-start the stalled housing market and pick up the flagging economy. 

Rishi Sunak said the move would benefit nine in ten home buyers, saving £4,500 on the average purchase.

But with the threshold raised, purchasers, including buy-to-let landlords, acquiring a property for less than £500,000 will save up to £15,000 on their total tax bill.

However, the 3% surcharge for additional homes, including buy-to-let properties, still applies on top of the revised standard rates, so purchases of homes valued up to £500,000 will attract a 3% stamp duty bill.

Sara Macallum, senior partner at Boodle Hatfield, said: “The 3% surcharge will still sit on top of these new bands – so for buyers of second homes, they will pay 3% SDLT up to £500,000, as opposed to 3% up to £125k, 5% from £125k up to £250k, and 8% from £250k to £500k.”

“Overall, it works out as an SDLT saving of £15k for both normal and additional rate taxpayers. Taking the example of a first-time buyer of an apartment for £750k, they will pay SDLT of £12,500 instead of £27,500. If on the other hand this were someone buying a second home, they would pay SDLT of £35,000 instead of £50,000. 

“Companies will also benefit from these changes where they are not subject to the flat 15% rate.”

Article abridged from Landlord Today;

https://www.landlordtoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2020/7/btl-landlords-to-benefit-from-stamp-duty-cut


The new ‘Green Homes Grant’

Posted on July 9th, 2020 -

Homeowners in England will be able to get up to £5,000 worth of vouchers to make energy-saving improvements to their properties from September 2020.

The government will pay at least two thirds of the cost of some energy-saving home improvements. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced details of the £2bn Green Homes Grant in the recent economic update statement.

Homeowners and landlords will be able to apply for the vouchers from September 2020. The announcement is part of a £3bn investment in green technology to cut carbon emissions.

The vouchers will be for homeowners and are expected to cover energy-saving measures including boilers, double glazing, energy-efficient doors, energy-saving light bulbs and insulation. The vouchers will pay for at least two thirds of eligible measures up to the value of £5,000. For example, if you wanted to fit insulation worth £4,000 in your home, you would pay £1,320 and the government would give you a voucher for the remaining £2,680.

Those on the lowest incomes wouldn’t have to pay anything and could get vouchers of up to £10,000.

You’ll need to complete an online application for one of the recommended home improvements, get a quote from a listed supplier and have that quote approved before getting the voucher to spend. The Government has said that homeowners will be able to apply for the grants on the Simple Energy Advice website from September.

Some commentators have warned that the funds allocated for Green Homes Grants could run out very quickly, as happened with the 2014 Green Deal Home Improvement Fund.

Article abridged from Which;


Coronavirus impact on Cornwall PRS, virtual meeting.

Posted on July 7th, 2020 -

Iain Maitland represented SWLA at the virtual Covid19 impact on Cornwall Private Rented Sector (PRS) meeting held on 7th July 2020.

This initial meeting included facts and discussions around:
– PRS Shrinkage and Market Shift
– Empty Properties
– Houses in Multiple Occupation
– National Government Interventions, such as introduction of mortgage holidays, the furlough scheme, assistance for the self employed etc.

We will update you further with more information as and when future meetings are held.



Arrears Management and Coronavirus – A Guide for Landlords & Tenants

Posted on July 3rd, 2020 -

The housing sector has come together to support landlords and tenants facing rent arrears as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. A guide has been published offering practical ways in which arrears can be addressed.

Landlords and tenants facing arrears can use the guidance, it’s a brilliant resource that contains numerous options and support information.

https://news.rla.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/rent-arrears-management-guidance.pdf


Plymouth Properties Required for Families

Posted on July 2nd, 2020 -

BCHA are a social housing landlord and registered housing provider delivering services in Plymouth, who are looking to lease more residential properties in Plymouth.

BCHA are interested in leasing a range of 2 /3 /4 or 5 bedroom houses to use as family homes

Benefits to the owner:

  • A guarantee to pay you every month in full
  • Repairs and maintenance covered
  • No letting agent costs
  • BCHA ensure the property is fully compliant
  • BCHA lease for a period of 1-3 years, sometimes longer
  • Guarantee that the property is returned in an improved if not original condition

Please contact Nick Richards if you are interested in further discussions.

Nick Richards Property Development Officer

BCHA, St Swithun’s House, 21 Christchurch Road, Bournemouth BH1 3NS

Tel No: 01202 410538       Mobile: 07971614990


Courts to Resume Possession Cases from 24th August 2020

Posted on July 2nd, 2020 -

The government has confirmed that courts will begin to hear possession cases from 24th August – providing greater certainty for the rental market.

The suspension of possession cases began on 27th March and was put in place to give tenants reassurance and security during the Coronavirus pandemic.

https://www.arla.co.uk/news/june-2020/concerns-expressed-to-ministry-of-justice-on-housing-possession-cases/


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