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Double Council Tax on Empty Homes Takes Effect on 01 April 2024

Posted on March 22nd, 2024 -

Homes in England with no residents will attract a council tax premium of up to 100% from 01 April as tax reforms aimed at supporting people in areas where empty properties prevent them from finding affordable housing come into force.

Changes brought in by the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 reduce the time before a property is considered an empty home from two years to one year, meaning that homes that have been empty for one year will be subject to a 100% council tax premium.

The Act also introduced a council tax premium of 100% for substantially furnished homes that are not someone’s sole or main residence, but because councils must determine at least one year in advance of introducing a second homes premium, the earliest a council can utilise the second homes premium is April 2025.

A range of exemptions will apply

Properties undergoing major repairs or structural alterations will have a 12-month exception from the empty homes’ premium.

Properties being actively marketed for sale or let will have a 12-month exception from the empty homes’ premium. This will provide protections for landlords whose rental property may become empty in between lets or have a gap between tenancy agreements. It also covers properties where an offer to rent has been accepted but the tenant is not yet entitled to occupy the property because the tenancy has not yet started. The exception can also be used where the sale is taking time to complete because it is part of a chain.

Inherited properties will have a 12-month exception after probate or letters of administration have been granted. Where there are cases that merit a longer exception period, or a higher level of discount, councils can continue to exercise their discretion.

Article Abridged from Propertymark

Double tax on empty homes takes effect on 1 April 2024 | Propertymark

SWLA General Speaker Meeting

Posted on March 22nd, 2024 -

Wednesday 17th April 2024 – Future Inn Plymouth – 7.30pm start – Members & their guests welcome.

Grants Available to Upgrade Off-Gas Properties in Plymouth

Posted on March 15th, 2024 -

Plymouth Energy Community (PEC) is an award-winning local charity with 10 years of experience supporting households in Plymouth. Its Future Fit team is working in partnership with Plymouth City Council to help homeowners improve the energy efficiency of their properties through the Government-funded Home Upgrade Grant (HUG2).

Am I eligible?

HUG2 provides funding towards the cost of upgrades for landlords that meet the following criteria:

  • The Landlord owns a total of 4 or less privately rented properties.
  • The house has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rated D or below and does not use mains gas for heating.
  • The current tenants are either located in an eligible postcode area OR have a total gross annual household income of £36,000 or less (excluding disability benefits)


What upgrades can I have?
Every home is different, but potential improvements may include:

  • Cavity wall, loft or underfloor insulation
  • Air Source Heat Pumps
  • High Heat Retention Storage Heaters
  • Solar panels
  • Heating controls


What are the benefits?
Improving the energy efficiency of your properties can:

  • Improve relations with tenants
  • Lower bills for tenants
  • Make homes warmer and healthier for tenants to live in
  • Help safeguard against future legislative risks associated with EPC Bands.
  • Result in fewer maintenance problems (e.g. less mould and damp)
  • Potentially increase the value of the property

How do I access the grant?
Contact PEC’s Advisors who can assess your eligibility and explain the process – 01752 477990 futurefit@plymouthenergycommunity.com

You can also assess your eligibility for this, and other grant schemes using our online tool at plymouthenergycommunity.com/future-fit

If you have a property outside of Plymouth please contact the relevant Local Authority for more information.






RENT SMART DEVON – Free Landlord Open Event – 23 May 2024 – Exeter Racecourse

Posted on March 15th, 2024 -

Teignbridge is hosting the following event jointly with East Devon District Council, Exeter City Council and Mid Devon District Council. SWLA have a stand at the event. All landlords welcome. 

You are invited to join SWLA at the upcoming Rent Smart Devon event, the premier local event for private landlords and anyone involved in letting property.

It is being held on Thursday 23 May at Exeter Racecourse, Haldon Hill, Exeter EX6 7XS and will run from 2.00pm to 8.00pm.


This free event, kindly sponsored by Tozers LLP, will host exhibitions from specialist companies covering many aspects of property management, as well as support organisations, available to help smooth the tenancy pathway. There will be a range of experts on hand to answer your questions.

Doors open at 2pm for networking with presentations in break-out rooms throughout the afternoon and evening.

The final presentation timetable will be published nearer the event but will cover the following topics:

  • What the Renters (Reform) Bill means for you
  • Understanding and addressing damp and mould
  • Exeter Community Energy’s New Retrofit Service
  • Finance Update

Book your place now so you don’t miss out!

Teignbridge is hosting this event jointly with East Devon District Council, Exeter City Council and Mid Devon District Council. If you are a business and would like to book a stand – please contact the organisers.

Rent Smart Devon Tickets, Thu, May 23, 2024 at 2:00 PM | Eventbrite

Meter Tampering: A Hidden Danger for Property, Tenants, and the Community

Posted on March 14th, 2024 -

Meter tampering is a significant challenge in the housing sector as it impacts landlords, tenants and the wider community and can destroy homes, businesses, and families. But did you know that there is a safe way to report any suspicion? That’s where the Stay Energy Safe service is vital, allowing you to speak up anonymously online or by calling 0800 023 2777.

Bypassing an electricity meter can have devastating consequences, including electric shocks, severe burns, and fires, while gas theft can lead to lethal leaks and catastrophic explosions.

Gas leaks and fatal fires

Real-life cases noted on the Stay Energy Safe website here provide insights into the harsh consequences of energy theft, including instances where innocent lives have been lost. Nadeem Mughal was jailed for three years after risking his neighbours’ lives after tampering with his gas meter twice. His actions led to significant gas leaks – threatening up to 20 neighbours in a block of flats in Leicester.

In another incident, a son living with his elderly housebound mother caused her tragic death due to a bypassed electricity meter after it caused a devastating fire.

Feeling the pinch

Since the start of the cost-of-living crisis, Stay Energy Safe has received an average of 1,000 energy theft reports nationally every single month. From some of the information Stay Energy Safe receives, it’s evident that even business owners have been engaging in this incredibly dangerous and reckless behaviour for years.

Financial pressures can encourage people to look for ways to save money without understanding the risks. However, beyond the financial implications, the threat extends far beyond mere billing concerns. Individuals who engage in energy theft can pose serious safety risks to neighbours. Such unauthorised meter tampering jeopardises the safety of the broader community, including residents and employees.

Energy theft occurs in approximately 1 in 150 homes annually, costing UK consumers £1.4 billion yearly, with each consumer estimated to pay an extra £50 each year on their energy bills. Find out more about energy theft here.

Spot the signs

To protect and safeguard legitimate organisations within the housing sector, their employees, contractors, residents, and the surrounding community, it’s important to be able to recognise the signs of energy theft.

You can learn to recognise signs of energy theft here. It often includes irregular wiring, sparking, burn marks or the smell of gas.

The charity Crimestoppers

Stay Energy Safe is a service run by the independent charity Crimestoppers. To pass on your suspicions about energy theft, please report it by completing the Stay Energy Safe online form or by phone on 0800 023 2777. 100% anonymous. Always. This means you will never be asked for your personal details.
By speaking up safely, you will be helping to protect properties and communities, preventing harm or even loss of life.

Speak up. Stay safe.

Plymouth HMO Licence Fee Increase

Posted on March 14th, 2024 -

HMO Licencing fee changes come into effect on 1st April 2024

The fees are to be increased in line with the 6% uplift across the council.

The fees & forms will be amended to:

Initial application (full fee) £1,007.00
Initial application (discounted fee for holding accreditation) £901.00

Renewal application (full fee) £954.00
Renewal application (discounted fee for holding accreditation) £848.00


10% Off B&Q TradePoint This Weekend – Plus an Extra 10% Off for SWLA TradePoint Members

Posted on March 6th, 2024 -

FRIDAY 8th MARCH 2024 – TUESDAY 12th MARCH 2024

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