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Green Homes Scheme Axed, Last Chance to Apply- by 5pm 31 March 2021

Posted on March 31st, 2021 -

Following a review, the Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme launched last year will close to new applications on 31 March at 5pm. Applications made before the end of March deadline will be honoured and any vouchers already issued may be extended upon request.

The Green Homes Grant (GHG) reached just 10% of the 600,000 homes the chancellor promised would be improved.

The scheme will be stopped and the cash allocated to a separate insulation fund run by councils.

The £300m previously allocated for the GHG will now go into a programme administered by local authorities, targeted at lower income households.

Some 19 million homes in the UK need to be insulated or the emissions from gas boilers will wreck the UK’s chances of achieving its climate change targets.

But the GHG scheme, which launched in September in a bid to tackle that, has struggled from the start.

The government said many households were reluctant to apply for the grants – up to £10,000 – because they feared catching Covid from contractors coming into their homes.

However, in some parts of the country installers were actually overwhelmed with demand, and families could not even get firms to answer the phone.

Then checks on the way the money was spent were so stringent that some installers went out of business because payments were so badly delayed.

And despite the checks, some builders appear to have hugely overcharged for their work. One joiner told me he had witnessed an installer carry out work worth £3,000 at most, then deliver an invoice for £5,000.

Stop-start funding

It seems clear there is frustration in Whitehall at the American consultants brought in to manage the scheme for able-to-pay families.

The parallel insulation scheme administered by local authorities is running much more smoothly but ministers still need to create a new programme to nudge able-to-pay home owners into improving their insulation for the UK to hit its climate change targets.

There is no sign yet what that new programme might look like, or when it might happen.

A government source pointed out that the Conservatives promised in their manifesto to spend £9bn on insulation – and insisted that this cash would definitely be made available.

Campaigners, industry figures, and MPs said the current scheme was botched and called for the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to create an insulation programme stretching for decades, so that installers and suppliers have the chance to build up stocks and expertise.

Previously many firms have been driven out of the sector following stop-start government funding.

On announcing the move, Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng chose to focus on the transfer of cash to the local authority fund, rather than the scrapping of the GHG.

He said: “Upgrading the country’s homes with energy efficiency measures means we can cut emissions and save people money on their energy bills.

“Today’s funding boost will mean even more households across England are able to access these vital grants through their local authority.

“This latest announcement takes our total energy efficiency spending to over £1.3bn in the next financial year, giving installers the certainty they need to plan ahead, create new jobs and train the next generation of builders, plumbers and tradespeople.”

Article from BBC News; https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-56552484


Government’s ‘Tax Day’ 2021

Posted on March 25th, 2021 -

  • Little impact on the property sector
  • Tightening taxation around holiday lets
  • Making Tax Digital for income tax is set to go ahead in April 2023

After the Government’s ‘Tax Day’ on Tuesday 23rd March, Landlords have been warned that there may be a surprising change buried in the announcements relating to the Making Tax Digital programme.

For the most part, the announcements made on ‘Tax Day’ had little impact on the property sector. Property developers and investors looking for some beneficial change were underwhelmed. However, Katharine Arthur, a tax expert at accountancy practice HaysMacIntyre, has suggested that there is a hidden surprise for landlords from the announcements.

She states: “of particular note is the confirmation that Making Tax Digital for income tax is set to go ahead in April 2023, as it will fundamentally change how those receiving rental or self-employed income, for example, file their tax returns. This, in turn, ties in with the proposed changes to timely payments, which could see those who pay through tax returns reporting quarterly or even monthly, as opposed to two instalments a year.”

Katharine Arthur continues: “these changes could result in a significant overhaul of the tax system as we know it, and although it could see both the self-employed and landlords facing a hefty administrative task as they get to grips with the new reporting methods, it will ultimately help to streamline and modernise the current system.”

This is surprising and interesting news for potential property investors and wannabe-landlords who may have been holding back due to the fear of tax returns. Having to always keep up with their tax to file two large payments per year can be a daunting task, as many fear a miscalculation could mean they spend money meant for their tax returns. By having the potential for more manageable digital tax payments and more payment opportunities quarterly or monthly, the risk of not calculating tax correctly is reduced.

However, the government also made another shocking announcement for property investors on ‘Tax Day’. They suggested tightening taxation around holiday lets. Taxes are more favourable to holiday lets than buy to let, and if your home meets the holiday let criteria, it can save you some real money as you become classed as a business. However, the government included the following statement in their announcements, suggesting a change in this area:

“The government will legislate to change the criteria determining whether a holiday let is valued for business rate to account for actual days the property was rented, following a previous consultation. This will ensure that property owners cannot reduce their tax liability by declaring that a property is available for let while making little or no actual effort to do so. Further details of the change and implementation will be included in the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government’s response to the consultation on the business rates treatment of self-catering accommodation which will be published shortly.”

Property investors and landlords who have dealings with holiday homes – or were considering this route – need to seriously consider whether this is a profitable and viable option anymore with these proposed changes.

Article by The Property Forum

Landlords Warned Tax Change Could Have Shocking Impact – Investment Property Forum


Free Webinar for Landlords of Students

Posted on March 25th, 2021 -

Halls v Houses – key trends in student accommodation

Apr 21, 2021 2:00 PM

To register please click here; Webinar Registration – Zoom

The webinar, hosted by ‘Accomodation for Students’ to discuss the latest student accommodation trends.

They will use the session to present the results of a major study into student accommodation choices and decision making. There will be a particular focus on what students perceive as being the differences between HMO’s and purpose built student accommodation.

The session will last approximately one hour and be hosted by the MD of AFS Simon Thompson and presented by Nick Emms. Simon and Nick will be joined by a small team of students for a brief panel discussion.



Bristol Landlords – Have your say on a proposal for property licensing in Bedminster, Brislington West and Horfield

Posted on March 18th, 2021 -

A message from Bristol City Council;

We are launching a 10-week consultation on plans to introduce licensing requirements to certain properties in Brislington West, Bedminster and Horfield to improve housing standards.

The Housing Act 2004 allows local authorities to require landlords of some privately rented accommodation to license their properties. Licensing can be applied to specific areas of the city where evidence suggests there is poor quality private rented housing.

Following the success of the licensing schemes in Stapleton Road, Easton and in St George West, Eastville and 12 wards in the centre of the city, the council is looking to further improve both the accommodation, conditions and management practices in privately rented and multiple occupied properties in these three wards.

Licensing places conditions on the landlord/agent to ensure that minimum property standards are met and that good management practice is delivered. Advice and guidance on the necessary improvements required to ensure the property complies with licensing conditions is also offered. Where landlords do not meet the required condition standards, enforcement action may follow.

The proposed scheme covers two types of licensing:

  • Additional Licensing will include houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) – a house or flat that is occupied by three or more unrelated people who live together and share facilities including kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Selective Licensing will include private rented properties that are occupied by one or two tenants, or a family, but are not HMOs.

The proposal is that:

•             Horfield ward is declared an Additional licensing area

•             Bedminster ward is declared a joint Additional and Selective Licensing area

•             Brislington West ward is declared a joint Additional and Selective Licensing area

If the licensing goes ahead, landlords will be charged a fee for licensing their properties. A licence will normally last for five years and conditions would be attached to the licence to improve management practices and standards.

What are we asking people to do?

We want local residents, tenants and landlords in these areas to tell us what they think.

People can find out more and have their say by filling in a survey available online at www.bristol.gov.uk/propertylicensing2021

Alternative formats or paper copies of the information can be requested by calling 0117 9222474 and leaving contact details.

The consultation closes on 26 May 2021.


Landlords Encouraged to Complete HHSRS Review Survey

Posted on March 18th, 2021 -

Please complete the HHSRS review survey by the deadline of 31st March 2021 if you wish to have a say.

More information can be read on the following link; https://www.rheglobal.com/news

And here is the link to the landlord survey https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CRX2TTD


Landlord Accreditation Training Course – ONLINE

Posted on March 15th, 2021 -

Wednesday 2nd June 2021 – 9:00 – 4:30pm

Venue – Online

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 info@landlordssouthwest.co.uk to book your place, places only secured on receipt of payment.

Over 950 landlords have already completed this course since September 2011.

Course can lead to Accreditation, if required.

We are proud to announce Landlord Accreditation South West (LASW) are founder members of the West of England Rental Standard.  


Training Webinars

Posted on March 15th, 2021 -

Wednesday 28th April 2021 – 11am – 12:30pm

& Repeated at 7pm – 8:30pm

We are holding two FREE training webinars being presented by Stephen Fowler.

The webinar will cover the topic – Compliance – Gas, Electrical, EPC, Right to Rent, their changes and a logical approach.  

If you would like to register for either of these sessions, please contact the office to book your place stating which you wish to attend.

Once you have registered, we will email you details regarding joining the webinar.


Six Month Notice Periods & Bailiff Enforced Eviction Ban Extended to 31 May 2021

Posted on March 11th, 2021 -

The Government announced on Wednesday that both the ban on using bailiffs, and the longer notice periods for Section 21 and 8 will continue in the same way until 31 May 2021.

This extension is likely to be the final one, and landlords can expect to take the first steps toward normality from June 2021.

Notice Periods

Until the 31 May 2021, private landlords will need to continue to give tenants six months notice before they can repossess properties, except in the following circumstances:

GROUND NOTICE PERIOD

7: Death of tenant3 months
7a: Serious anti-social behaviour4 weeks (periodic tenancy)

1 month (fixed term tenancy)
7b: No right to rent in the UK3 months
8: Serious rent arrears at time of service of notice and possession proceedings(a) 4 weeks where arrears are at least 6 months

(b) 6 months where arrears are less than 6 months
14: Nuisance/annoyance, illegal/immoral use of property None – proceedings may be commenced immediately after service of notice, minimum 24 hours recommended.

For all notice periods see; https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-and-renting-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities/technical-guidance-on-eviction-notices

Bailiff Enforced Evictions

The courts remain open and landlords can get a possession order through the courts.  

However, possession orders can only be enforced by a bailiff after 31 May 2021.  

Landlords can currently only enforce a possession order via a bailiff where: 

  • possession is sought against trespassers; 
  • possession has been granted because of an anti-social behaviour ground (14 or 7a) after serving a Section 8 notice; 
  • possession has been granted after serving a Section 8 notice on a rent arrears ground (8,10 and/or 11) and the arrears total at least six months; 
  • the possession order has been granted on the basis of Ground 17 after serving a Section 8 notice. 

For any other situation (such as a possession order based on a Section 21 notice), landlords will have to wait until after 31 May 2021 for a bailiff to attend the property.  


Training Webinars

Posted on March 9th, 2021 -

Wednesday 24th March 2021 – 11am – 12:30pm

& Repeated at 7pm – 8:30pm

We are holding two FREE training webinars being presented by Stephen Fowler.

The webinar will cover the topic – New Possession Rules.  

If you would like to register for either of these sessions, please contact the office to book your place stating which you wish to attend.

Once you have registered, we will email you details regarding joining the webinar.


Local Housing Allowance Rates Staying the Same for 2021

Posted on March 5th, 2021 -

The LHA rates from 1st April 2021 have been determined in accordance with The Rent Officers (Housing Benefit and Universal Credit Functions) (Modification) Order 2020 (SI 2020/ 1519) and are the same rates that came into force on 1st April 2020. These rates will not appear on LHA-Direct before 15 March 2020.

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates applicable from April 2021 to March 2022 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


Budget 2021

Posted on March 3rd, 2021 -

Changes that may impact landlords;

  • No increase for Capital Gains Tax
  • Freezing personal tax thresholds. Will be increased from April 2021 to £12,570, but frozen till April 2026 
  • From 2023, the rate of corporation tax paid by the largest and most profitable businesses will increase. No change where profits are under £50,000 
  • VAT registration threshold remains till 2024
  • Inheritance tax nil-rate band will be frozen until April 2026 
  • Welfare – Universal Credit £20 a week uplift to be retained for 6 months. Exemptions to the Shared Accommodation Rate for care leavers up to the age of 25 and those under the age of 25 who have spent at least 3 months in a homeless hostel from June 2021.

Unfortunately, the Government did not announce measures to tackle Covid-related rent debt.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/budget-2021-documents

Key points at a glance;

Coronavirus support

  • Furlough to be extended until the end of September
  • Government to continue paying 80% of employees’ wages for hours they cannot work
  • Employers to be asked to contribute 10% in July and 20% in August and September
  • Support for the self-employed also to be extended until September
  • 600,000 more self-employed people will be eligible for help as access to grants is widened
  • £20 uplift in Universal Credit worth £1,000 a year to be extended for another six months
  • Working Tax Credit claimants will get £500 one-off payment
  • Minimum wage to increase to £8.91 an hour from April

State of the economy and public finances

  • UK economy shrank by 10% in 2020
  • Economy forecast to rebound in 2021, with projected annual growth of 4% this year
  • Economy forecast to return to pre-Covid levels by middle of 2022, with growth of 7.3% next year
  • 700,000 people have lost their jobs since pandemic began
  • Unemployment expected to peak at 6.5% next year, lower than 11.9% previously predicted
  • UK to borrow a peacetime record of £355bn this year.
  • Borrowing to total £234bn in 2021-22

Taxation

  • No changes to rates of income tax, national insurance or VAT
  • Personal income tax allowance to be frozen at £12,570 from April 2022 to 2026
  • Higher rate income tax threshold to be frozen at £50,270 from 2022 to 2026
  • Corporation tax on company profits to rise from 19% to 25% in April 2023
  • Rate to be kept at 19% for about 1.5 million smaller companies with profits of less than £50,000
  • Stamp duty holiday on house purchases in England and Northern Ireland extended to June, with no tax liability on sales of less than £500,000
  • No changes to inheritance tax or lifetime pension allowance or capital gains tax allowances

Health and education

  • £1.65bn to support the UK’s vaccination rollout
  • £19m for domestic violence programmes, funding network of respite rooms for homeless women
  • £40m of new funding for victims of 1960s Thalidomide scandal and lifetime support guarantee
  • £10m to support armed forces veterans with mental health needs

The arts and sport

  • £400m to help arts venues in England, including museums and galleries, re-open
  • £300m recovery package for professional sport and £25m for grassroots football

Business, digital and science

  • Tax breaks for firms to “unlock” £20bn worth of business investment
  • Firms will be able “deduct” investment costs from tax bills, reducing taxable profits by 130%
  • Incentive grants for apprenticeships to rise to £3,000 and £126m for traineeships
  • VAT rate for hospitality firms to be maintained at reduced 5% rate until September
  • Interim 12.5% rate to apply for the following six months
  • Business rates holiday for firms in England to continue until June with 75% discount after that
  • £5bn in Restart grants for shops and other businesses forced to close
  • £6,000 per premises for non-essential outlets due to re-open in April and £18,000 for gyms, personal care providers and other hospitality and leisure businesses
  • New visa scheme to help start-ups and rapidly growing tech firms source talent from overseas
  • Contactless payment limit will rise to £100 later this year

Alcohol, tobacco and fuel

  • All alcohol duties to be frozen for second year running
  • No extra duties on spirits, wine, cider or beer
  • Fuel duty to be frozen for eleventh consecutive year

Environment, transport, infrastructure and housing

  • New UK Infrastructure Bank to be set up in Leeds
  • It will have £12bn in capital, with aim of funding £40bn worth of public and private projects
  • £15bn in green bonds, including for retail investors, to help finance the transition to net zero by 2050

Nations and regions

  • £1.2bn in funding for the Scottish government, £740m for the Welsh government and £410m for the Northern Ireland executive
  • 750 UK civil servants to be relocated to new Treasury campus in Darlington
  • £1bn Towns Fund fund to promote regeneration in 45 English towns
  • £150m for community groups to take over pubs at risk of closure
  • First eight sites for freeports in England announced

Information from BBC; https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-56266773


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