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Posted on December 21st, 2023 -

Wednesday 24th January 2024 – 7.30pm start – Future Inn Plymouth – Members Only

Outcomes of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) Review

Posted on December 21st, 2023 -

Local councils use the HHSRS risk evaluation tool to assess health and safety hazards in people’s homes. If an HHSRS assessment identifies that a hazard (for example: fire, damp and mould, falls, excess cold) is at the most dangerous ‘category 1’ level, then the council must take enforcement action against the property’s landlord. Properties must also be free from ‘category 1’ level hazards to meet the Decent Homes Standard.

The government have been reviewing the HHSRS with the aim to bring it up to date, empowering landlords and tenants to engage with the system, and ensuring alignment with other legislative standards and systems, including the Building Safety Act, and help with the effective enforcement of housing standards.

The review has concluded, but new regulations are required to bring the conclusions of the review into force.

In the meantime, the government have published a summary report setting out outcomes of the review and next steps, which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/housing-health-and-safety-rating-system-hhsrs-review-outcomes-and-next-steps

Information from gov.uk

Possession Delays Due to Disrepair Claims

Posted on December 21st, 2023 -

The Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service (HLPAS: Free legal advice and representation for tenants facing eviction) – launched on 01 August 2023 and many tenants have been utilising the service. SWLA have seen a big change in possession cases – often with cases taking longer and being more complex due to tenants counter claiming on the basis of disrepair in the property.


Be sure to protect yourself, your tenant and your investment!

  1. Before letting the property, use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System points as a guide to ensure that the property is free of hazards and is in good repair; https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5a799834ed915d0422069a0a/150940.pdf
  2. Have a thorough inventory from day 1 of the tenancy, this is your proof that the property was in good repair when it was initially let to the tenant. You can create an inventory yourself or use a professional inventory clerk.
  3. Be clear in the tenancy agreement – what is the tenant responsible for and how should they report disrepair to the landlord? Make it easy for the tenant to report issues. Keep communication open
  4. Deal with repair issues swiftly, thoroughly, and keep timescale evidence. When was the disrepair reported, what action did you take, when did you take the action, was the disrepair rectified, have evidence of the outcome.
  5. Carry out regular maintenance checks on the property – once per year or once every 6 months. This will prevent major disrepair in the property as smaller fixes can prevent large scale repair issues.
  6. If your tenant refuses access for maintenance checks and repair visits – they are within their right to do so. Keep evidence and if you feel necessary, report to the local authority – especially if the lack of access is making the property dangerous – i.e. gas safety checks etc.

When it comes to getting possession of your property – the condition of the property is a major factor in whether you will be awarded possession. Have evidence and be prepared for disrepair claims!

Follow the Renters (Reform) Bill Progress

Posted on December 21st, 2023 -

The Renters (Reform) Bill had its Second Reading in the Commons on Monday 23 October 2023 and finished Committee stage on Thursday 30 November 2023. Report stage is expected early in the New Year.

You can follow the progress of the Bill through parliament by visiting: https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/3462

Alongside the Bill’s Second Reading, the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) published their response to the recent DLUHC’s Select Committee Inquiry into the PRS. The Committee’s report included a range of recommendations on various aspects of their policies including court reform, notice periods and guidance for tenants. They have responded to all of the recommendations, and you can read the full report here: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/41806/documents/207184/default/

On 14 November, the Government tabled a number of amendments to the Bill – these changes are policies first outlined in the PRS White Paper, ‘A Fairer Private Rented Sector’. Key changes to the Bill include:

  • Decent Homes Standard – allowing regulations to be made setting out Decent Homes Standard requirements for private rented sector homes, and providing local authorities with effective and proportionate enforcement powers.
  • Blanket bans – making it illegal for letting agents and landlords to discriminate against tenants with dependents or in receipt of benefits.
  • Investigatory powers – strengthening local authorities’ investigatory
    powers, including new powers to require information and powers of entry. This will better equip local authorities to investigate and take any necessary enforcement action against criminal landlords.
  • Rent repayment orders – ensuring that superior landlords can be liable for rent repayment orders as well as a tenant’s immediate landlord. In addition, we are extending the maximum amount of rent that a landlord can be ordered to pay from 12 to 24 months, which will allow for more proportionate penalties for criminal landlords.
  • Tenancy reform – covering a range of amendments from student lets, enforcement and council tax.


Article by gov.uk (DLUHC)


Free Landlord Webinar – by Martyn Taylor of Ashley Taylors Legal – Section 21 Notices: A Checklist to Getting it Right First Time – Tuesday 19th December 2023

Posted on December 15th, 2023 -

This month’s 30 minute Ashley Taylors Legal Webinar looks at the increasing number of challenges to Section 21 actions caused by simple, easy to avoid errors being made at the service of notice stage.

Your speaker Martyn Taylor has been conducting Landlord and Tenant cases since July 1980 and his team specialize solely in that subject. He will talk with up to date experience and share what’s happening in the Courts and Law today.

Martyn will take you through a checklist for use, together with explanations of what to look out for and the subtle nuances that sometimes disguise fatal errors until too late.

When: Tuesday 19th December 2023  2.00pm – 2.30pm
Topic: Section 21 Notices: A Checklist to Getting it Right First Time
Register in advance for this webinar:



After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.


Property Listing Guidance Updated by Trading Standards

Posted on December 13th, 2023 -

National Trading Standards has published guidance for letting agents and landlords to improve material information in property listings.

Material information is any information that a letting/landlords agent provides, which will help a customer make a decision.

Information includes;

  • Council Tax
  • Rent
  • Holding deposit
  • Tenancy deposit
  • Physical description of the property
  • Number and types of rooms
  • Utilities
  • Parking
  • Building safety, restrictions/rights, flood/erosion risk, planning permission/proposals, accessibility/adaptations, location issues (eg in mining area)


For full information and guidance; Material Information in Property Listings (Lettings) v1.0.pdf (nationaltradingstandards.uk)

How Landlords can Obtain 100% Funding to Comply with Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) Regulations

Posted on December 8th, 2023 -


There is currently funding available to improve the energy efficiency of Privately Rented properties. This funding is available via the Government E.C.O. scheme, which obligates energy companies to reduce carbon emissions and tackle fuel poverty.

Landlords benefit as the energy efficiency measures will be installed free of charge and can increase the value of the property, plus will help to ensure that the property complies with the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) regulations.

Tenants will also benefit, due to having a warmer home and lower fuel bills, which has been shown to result in lower tenant turnover.

What energy saving measures are available on the Grant scheme?:

There is currently up to 100% funding available for the following energy saving measures:

  • Solar panels to provide free electricity – Landlords will also benefit from an additional income stream by being able to sell excess electricity back to the National grid.
  • Air Source Heat Pumps (a renewable energy central heating system)
  • Loft Insulation
  • Cavity Wall Insulation
  • Solid Wall Insulation (both Internal Wall Insulation and External Wall Insulation)

Who can apply for a Government Grant?:

There are three criteria that have to be met for the property to qualify for funding:

  1. The property needs to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E, F or G. Unfortunately the funding is not available to properties that have an existing EPC rating of A to D. If the property does not have an EPC then we will carry out an energy assessment of the property.
  1. The funding is directed at properties which use Oil, LPG, Electric, Coal or Wood for heating. If the property already has Mains Gas Central Heating then we will not be able to obtain funding unfortunately.
  1. Any tenant living in the property meets one of the following three conditions:
  • A tenant has a long term health condition, for example asthma, arthritis, a disability, depression, diabetes etc (we will need their GP to sign a form as evidence of this).
  • The total income of the property is below £31,000 per year
  • If any tenant living in the property is in receipt of one of the following tax credits or benefits:


Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, Universal Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Pension Credit, Income based Job Seekers Allowance, Income related Employment and Support Allowance, Child Benefit* (*subject to number of children in property and income thresholds)


Please note that to qualify for funding a tenant only needs to meet condition a or b or c as listed above.



How can a Landlord apply for Funding?:

Landlords can visit the website at www.energysavinggrants.org and complete the Eligibility Grant checker. Landlords can also contact Energy Saving Grants on 03302230333

If your tenant meets the criteria listed above, they will arrange for a free, no obligation retrofit survey to be carried out on the property to assess its suitability for energy saving measures to be installed. Any funding is subject to a retrofit survey of the property. They do not charge for this service.

Any work carried out in your property will be installed by a Trustmark accredited installation company and all work is guaranteed for up to 25 years. Funding is in high demand and is strictly allocated on a First Come, First Served basis. Any funding that you receive does not have to be re-paid.


Article by Andrew at Energy Saving Grants



A Landlord’s Guide on How to Complete Your Self Assessment Tax Return

Posted on December 1st, 2023 -

Article by GoSimpleTax

Life can be busy when you’re a landlord. Leaving aside managing your property and tenants, many landlords must also cope with the demands of a job or running a business. Then there’s your own domestic and family responsibilities.

The last thing you need hanging over you is a tax return to complete, but we’re steadily approaching that time of year again, when the midnight 31 January online filing deadline for Self Assessment tax return begins to loom in the near distance.


Time to sort out your Self Assessment tax return

Few landlords look forward to doing their Self Assessment tax returns. It’s not enjoyable, even if you do have a head for figures. Many people leave it until January, but that increases the chances of missing the deadline and having to pay a £100 fine.

About 600,000 people missed last year’s Self Assessment tax return online-filing deadline, but that was a huge improvement on the 2.3m who missed the 31 January 2022 deadline, caused largely by the impact of the pandemic.

You can file your Self Assessment tax return any time after the tax year ends on 5 April. And rather than face the stress of battling the deadline in January, you could get it done now. There really is no time like the present.

Assuming that you’re an existing landlord who is already registered for Self Assessment, here are six tips that could help you to complete your Self Assessment tax quicker.


1 Collect the information you need to complete your Self Assessment tax return

If you spend time in advance gathering all of the information you need to complete your Self Assessment tax return, you’ll get the job done much quicker. As a landlord you’ll need your ten-digit URT (Unique Taxpayer Reference), which enables HMRC to identify you. You will have included your UTR in previous tax returns.

You must also know how much gross rental income you’ve received during the tax year, and what property rental expenses you wish to claim as allowable expenses. You’ll need your National Insurance number and summary details of any income you’ve received from self-employment and other taxable sources, such as share dividend payments, pension payments, capital gains, etc, as well as summaries of costs you wish to claim as tax expenses.

If you’re employed, find your last P60, because it will show how much you’ve been paid and how much has been deducted in tax and National Insurance. If you’ve lost your P60, ask your employer for a replacement copy. If you’ve made contributions to charity or pensions that qualify for tax relief, have details of these to hand, too.


2 Be clear about which tax return supplementary pages you must complete

As well as the main Self Assessment tax return (the SA100 form), landlords must complete the SA105 supplementary pages, where you will detail your rental income and landlord-related tax expenses that you wish to claim. If you’re also a sole trader, you’ll need to also include the SA103 supplementary pages. Depending on your other taxable income sources, you may need to include other supplementary pages (visit   government website GOV.UK to view a full list).


3 Pick the right time and place to fill out your Self Assessment tax return

You’ll complete your Self Assessment tax return much quicker if you do it at the right time in the right place, away from distractions and interruptions that will slow you down. If you can find a calm, isolated place, it can really help you to concentrate on the job in hand. If you must do it at home and live with others, ask them not to disturb you so you can concentrate fully on completing your tax return. Switch off your phone and any other potential distractions.


4 Get your Self Assessment tax return done in one session

 If you do it in a series of shorter sessions, it will take you more time. You could find yourself putting it off and delaying it. Show more discipline. Remain determined to do it in one sitting (unless there really is no other option). If you’ve already gathered all of the information you need, completing your Self Assessment tax return should take just three or four hours. Don’t rush, because mistakes will be more likely. Be methodical. Build in enough time to check your tax return at the end.


5 Save time and money by using Self Assessment tax return-filing software

You can fill out and file your Self Assessment tax return online via GOV.UK. You’ll need to sign in using your Government Gateway user ID and password. The big drawback is you’re literally on your own. The only guidance available comes from notes HMRC publishes online, which may or may not help you.

Another popular option is to use commercial Self Assessment tax return-filing software, which can make things much easier and quicker. Basically, you specify the taxable income you need to report and the software guides you through relevant sections of the tax return, while ensuring that supplementary pages are completed. Automatic prompts reveal what information you need to enter and where, which makes mistakes less likely. Expect to pay about sixty quid or so for the year, which is significantly cheaper than an accountant, while still saving you lots of time and hassle.


6 Reach out for support to complete your Self Assessment tax return

If you really hate the idea of doing your own tax return, especially with a deadline approaching, and you can afford it, obviously, a suitably experienced accountant will complete and file your Self Assessment tax return for you, which will save you the time and hassle. If your return is simple enough, it should cost you £150-£250. If your tax return is more complex, you’ll pay more, depending on how much work is required.

Even if you do your own Self Assessment tax return, for a fee, an expert will look at your tax return and let you know if there are any mistakes. Such service providers charge about £100-£200, but you might pay less tax as a result, so it can be worthwhile.

We all want to complete things we don’t like doing as soon as possible. But you really shouldn’t rush when it comes to your tax return, because even seemingly small mistakes can have big consequences. At very least, later, you may need to correct them, which will only waste more of your time. More haste, less speed.


About GoSimpleTax

Record Income, Expenses and tax submission all in one.

It is the solution for landlords, the self-employed, sole traders, freelancers and anyone with income outside of PAYE.

The software will provide you with hints and tips that could save you money on allowances and expenses you may have missed.

Get started with GoSimpleTax , it’s free to try.


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