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Posted on January 26th, 2024 -

Thank you to members who attended our AGM this week, and thanks to members who sent their apologies.

Steve Lees, SWLA Chair, lead the evening, with SWLA Treasurer Katarina Swain reporting on the financial matters.

After the official business was complete, everyone took the opportunity to catch up with office staff and other members over refreshments.

We look forward to our next (speaker) meeting in April.

Shelter and Citizens Advice Plymouth Visit the SWLA Office

Posted on January 24th, 2024 -

We often meet Shelter and Citizens Advice representatives at local housing meetings, so it was a welcome change to welcome Jack, Jaroslava and Sarah to the SWLA office to share ideas, discuss sector trends and difficulties, and plan some positive collaboration to improve the private rented sector experience in Plymouth and further afield.

Citizens Advice, with the help of Shelter, have released some helpful booklets in an easy read format for tenants. The latest publication shares information on repair responsibilities in the home and how to best deal with them/report disrepair.

You can find the booklet here, and share with your tenants; PowerPoint Presentation (citizensadviceplymouth.org.uk)

Consultation Open for Awaab’s Law – Timescales for Repair in the Social Rented Sector

Posted on January 24th, 2024 -

Exposure to mould can cause respiratory illnesses, allergies and asthma, and can sometimes be fatal.

In 2020, two-year-old Awaab Ishak died after prolonged exposure to mould in his home in Rochdale.

Under new government proposals, dubbed “Awaab’s law”, social housing landlords in England could be forced to repair mouldy properties much more quickly.

What is black mould?

Mould – sometimes referred to using the American spelling mold – is a microscopic fungus that grows in damp places.

Mould spores are found everywhere, and are released in their thousands into the atmosphere.

Signs of mould at home include fuzzy black, white or green patches on the walls, and a damp and musty smell.

How dangerous is black mould?

Inhaling or touching the spores that mould releases into the air can cause an allergic reaction, such as sneezing, a runny nose, red eyes and a skin rash.

Mould can also trigger asthma attacks and cause coughing, wheezing and breathlessness.

Each year, the NHS in England spends an estimated £1.4bn on treating illnesses associated with living in cold or damp housing, according to building research body BRE.

Those more at risk from mould include the elderly, children and babies, as well as people with existing respiratory illnesses and some skin problems.

What causes mould in houses and how can it be treated?

Condensation is the leading cause of mould in homes across the UK.

It most commonly occurs in parts of the home where there are high moisture levels: bathrooms, kitchens, and around windows.

When air cools, water vapour forms into water droplets as it comes into contact with surfaces in the home that are below a temperature known as the dew point.

These surfaces can include uninsulated external walls or windows.

If left untreated, the surface can become damp and create the conditions for mould to grow.

Older and poorly insulated properties are more prone to this.

Mould can also be caused by daily tasks which create excess moisture such as showering, cooking and drying washing indoors.

Taking shorter showers and wiping down surfaces afterwards can help, as can improving ventilation, and opening kitchen windows or using an extractor fan when cooking.

It is also important to check for leaky pipes or gutters which can make the problem worse.

What rights do tenants have if their home has mould?

In private and social rental properties, it is the landlord’s responsibility to fix a mould problem which is due to poor maintenance, according to the housing charity Shelter.

If the mould is so bad that your home becomes unfit for habitation, then you could be classed as homeless and entitled to emergency accommodation.

But landlords may not be responsible if there is evidence a tenant has not been ventilating the home correctly.

Who was Awaab Ishak?

In December 2020, two-year-old Awaab Ishak died after prolonged exposure to mould in his home.

He lived in a one-bedroom flat in Rochdale with his father Faisal Abdullah and Faisal’s wife Aisha Amin.

Mr Abdullah reported mould developing in the flat to his housing association, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), in 2017, but was told to paint over it.

In June 2020, he instructed solicitors to issue a claim over the recurring mould, but any repairs could not be done until the case was settled.

Awaab was taken to Rochdale Urgent Care Centre on 19 December that year with shortness of breath, and died a few days later after suffering respiratory and cardiac arrest.

What would landlords have to do about mould under “Awaab’s law”?

Social landlords would have to investigate issues within 14 days and begin fixing them within a further seven days. Emergency repairs would have to be made within 24 hours.

Landlords who fail to comply could be taken to court and ordered to pay compensation.

consultation on the proposals closes on 5 March.

After this, the government says it will bring Awaab’s Law into force “as soon as practically possible”.



Article by the BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-63642856

If you would like to respond to the consultation; https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/awaabs-law-consultation-on-timescales-for-repairs-in-the-social-rented-sector

Huge Increase in Fines for Right to Rent Non-Compliance

Posted on January 24th, 2024 -

As of 22nd January 2024

For landlords the fines increased from £80 per lodger and £1,000 per occupier for a first breach to up to £5,000 per lodger and £10,000 per occupier.

Repeat breaches will be up to £10,000 per lodger and £20,000 per occupier, up from £500 and £3,000 respectively. The higher penalties will come in at the start of 2024.

Landlords have been hit with over 320 civil penalties worth a total of £215,500 since the start of 2018 when the Government’s Right to Rent rules were first introduced.

Landlords should already be checking the eligibility of anyone they let a property to and there are a number of ways to do this, which are not changing, including via a manual check of original documentation and a Home Office online checking system.

For full details on how to carry out a landlord Right to Rent check, please see the gov.uk website www.gov.uk/landlord-immigration-check and contact the SWLA office if you have any queries.

1/2 Day Course Opportunities

Posted on January 23rd, 2024 -

Plymouth City Council are working with South West Landlords Association to drive up the standards of accommodation on offer in our city. They are providing courses to interested parties keen to increase their knowledge and improve the standards of the accommodation they offer.

The courses are initially offered to various partners of PCC but where there are places available they will be offered to SWLA members on a first come first served basis. The first 1/2 day course took place today on Damp & Mould, it was very informative.

Keep your eye out for any further opportunities.

Landlords Must Give New Boiler Certificate (Building Regulations Compliance Certificate) As They Would a Gas Safety Certificate

Posted on January 10th, 2024 -

A recent court case has highlighted the importance of landlords providing tenants with documentation.

A new boiler was installed at the start of a tenancy, the Building Regulations Compliance Certificate was not given to the tenant, a Gas Safety Certificate was given to the tenant later in the tenancy when the gas safety check was due, later on in the tenancy a Section 21 was served. The Section 21 was deemed invalid as the Building Regulations Compliance Certificate was never given to the tenant.

The full court case information can be read here, article by the NRLA;

A landlord has had their Section 21 possession claim rejected – and been ordered to pay their tenants’ court costs – after failing to provide them with information about a newly installed boiler before serving notice.

The case of Van-Herpen v Green & Green rested on an argument as to whether a Building Regulations Compliance Certificate had to be issued for a newly installed boiler – and whether a Gas Safety Certificate should have been provided following subsequent visits to the property by a gas safety engineer.

Mrs Van-Herpen, the landlord, had attempted to serve notice on July 14, 2022 – 17 months ago – but the tenants disputed the validity of the Section 21 notice on the basis they hadn’t been given essential paperwork.

The background 

While the claimant and defendants’ version of events differed on certain points, it was accepted the tenants moved into the property on September 5, 2018.

A qualified gas safety engineer confirmed in a written statement to the court that a new boiler was installed on September 6, 2018, and that – as a new installation – it did not need a Gas Safety Certificate, but instead only a Building Regulations Compliance Certificate.

He claimed in his statement: ‘This certificate is a Gas Safety Certificate in its own right and is issued by the Gas Safety Register’. Both parties agreed a copy was not given to the tenants, although the landlord said they would have provided one, if asked.

The same engineer also checked the boiler two months later, on November 14th, and although he said this was a ‘complete safety check’ he also said no Gas Safety Certificate was necessary, as the boiler was under a year old. Again, both parties agreed no Gas Safety Certificate was given to the tenants, but the landlord says this is because it was not required due to the boiler being under a year old.

The boiler was next checked on October 30, 2019, after an original inspection scheduled for August was delayed by the tenants – something they didn’t dispute. Following this inspection, on the same day, the tenants were given a Gas Safety Certificate by the engineer.

The issues in question 

The case rested on two key questions:

•    Had the claimant (landlord, Van-Herpen) complied with the Gas Safety Regulations, despite the fact they did not provide the defendants (tenants, Green & Green) with the Building Regulations Compliance Certificate (dated September 6, 2018)?

•    Had the claimant complied with the Gas Safety Regulations, despite the fact they did not provide the defendants with a Gas Safety Certificate (following the inspection on November 14)?

The landlord argued there was no legal requirement to provide the Building Regulations Compliance Certificate, and that no Gas Safety Certificate was issued or requested in 14th of November 2018.

They argued that, having provided a Gas Safety Certificate to the defendants following the 2019 inspection, the Section 21 Notice was in all circumstances valid, and they were therefore entitled to possession.

The defendants argued the landlord was in breach of Gas Safety Regulations and therefore the notice was not valid.

The verdict 

Following a trial at Hastings County Court on November 9, Deputy District Judge Duncan Wright ruled in favour of the tenants.

In his judgement he said he was ‘not persuaded by the claimant’s submission that such a check and consequential record is not required within 12 months of a boiler being installed’.

He also refused to accept the landlord’s suggestion that, had the defendants requested a copy of the Building Regulations Compliance Certificate, they would have been provided with it; saying the legislation clearly places the onus upon the landlord to provide the record to the defendants.

In his ruling he said the tenants: ‘should have been provided with a copy of the Gas Safety Certificates arising out of the inspections on September 6, 2018, and November 14, 2018, prior to service of the Section 21 Housing Act Notice. This did not occur.

“As a consequence, the purported Section 21 Housing Act Notice was defective, and as a consequence these proceedings must be dismissed.”

The then ordered the landlord to pay the tenants’ court costs.



New Local Housing Allowance Rates to Come into Force in April

Posted on January 10th, 2024 -

Around 1.6 million private renters are set to receive a substantial boost to their housing support in April, as the Government lays legislation to increase Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

For the new rates from April 2024; https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/local-housing-allowance-indicative-rates-for-2024-to-2025

  • New Local Housing Allowance rates to come into force in April as legislation being laid in parliament.
  • £7 billion investment over the next five years means 1.6 million private renters on Universal Credit or Housing Benefit will be around £800 better off a year.
  • Comes as national insurance cut comes into effect – meaning households with two average earners will save nearly £1,000 per year.

The boost will benefit some of the poorest families on either Universal Credit or Housing Benefit who will gain around £800 a year on average.

The support worth over £7 billion over the next five years comes as the government publishes the proposed LHA rates for 2024/25, with people living in the most expensive areas set to see the biggest boost.

The increase to the LHA has been welcomed by many housing and homelessness organisations and is part of the Government’s £104 billion cost of living support package – worth an average £3,700 per household. This also includes raising benefits by 6.7%, the state pension by 8.5%, and £300 cost of living payments, with over 7 million households receiving the latest payment and another payment coming in February. Whilst more than 26 million payments totalling over £2 billion to help families with essentials have been made since October 2021 through the Household Support Fund.

This additional support comes as 27 million people are set to get a significant tax cut as the main rate of employee National Insurance will be cut from 12% to 10%. This reduces National Insurance by more than 15% in total, saving £450 this year for the average salaried worker on £35,400.

Subject to the benefits cap, eligible renters of:

  • A four-bedroom property in Bristol could get up to £1,850 per month.
  • A two-bedroom property in Greater Glasgow could get up to £850 per month.
  • A one-bedroom property in Leeds could get up to £675 per month.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said:

Housing costs are the number one expense for families. This £1.2 billion boost to Local Housing Allowance, along with our landmark Back to Work reforms, reflects our fair approach to welfare – helping people into employment while protecting the most vulnerable with unprecedented cost of living support.

Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Mims Davies said:

Keeping inflation down and supporting people to stay and progress in work is the best way we can bolster families’ finances and help them progress, but we know some are still struggling which is why we are providing this important extra help.

This key boost to our housing support will see average renters around £800 better off. It is just one crucial part of our £104 billion package to help the most vulnerable which also includes an increase to benefits in line with inflation and our latest series of cost of living payments.

Crisis Chief Executive, Matt Downie said:

It cannot be understated just how vital this investment in housing benefit will be in helping to both prevent and end homelessness.

In recent years, people receiving housing benefit have found it increasingly difficult to afford the soaring cost of rents. Giving housing benefit this crucial boost will make a real difference to people across Great Britain and will relieve some of the pressure facing people on the lowest incomes.

We hope this investment will be maintained for the long term, so we can continue with our collective mission to end homelessness for good.

The investment comes on top of the £30 billion the government is providing over 2023/24 on housing support.

Minister for Levelling Up Jacob Young said:

This funding boost is just one part of how we’re supporting people in the private rented sector with the cost of living.

We have already invested £30 billion in housing support, along with Discretionary Housing Payments which provide an added safety net for anyone struggling to meet their rent.

We are taking the long term decisions needed for a better private rented sector, through our Renters Reform Bill, giving tenants security and supporting good landlords.

The government is also tackling homelessness with the £654 million Homeless Prevention Grant, giving councils in England vital money and support to prevent and tackle homelessness, as well as developing the Homelessness Covenant with Crisis.

The Local Housing Allowance determines the maximum housing support for private renters. It ensures that claimants in the same area with similar situations are entitled to the same maximum support regardless of the rent they pay. The level of support is based on the area where the person lives and the size of their household.

Additional Information

More information on cost of living payments – Cost of Living Payments 2023 to 2024 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)



(Broad Rental Market Area)

Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) LHA rate (£) 1 bed LHA rate (£) 2 bed LHA rate (£) 3 bed LHA rate (£) 4 bed LHA rate (£)
Plymouth Currently 73.50 103.56 134.63 159.95 195.62
Plymouth Proposed 92.05 126.58 155.34 184.11 224.38

*The data is indicative, confirmed rates will be released in accordance with legislation on 31 January 2024.


Article from gov.uk


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