Header- Phone Number

01752 510913

Header – Email Address

info@landlordssouthwest.co.uk

End of the Rental Mediation Pilot

Posted on October 15th, 2021 -

The following guidance has been updated; Guidance for landlords and tenants – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

For further information on the withdrawal of the pilot, read here; [Withdrawn] Rental Mediation Service – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


Trade Point Offers – 16 October to 01 November

Posted on October 15th, 2021 -

SWLA Tradepoint card holders receive an extra 10% off the deals below;


Notice of a General Meeting via Zoom

Posted on October 11th, 2021 -

Wednesday 20th October 2021, 7.30pm Start

Speakers will Include:

David Aggiss, Three Sixty Mortgages:

“2021: What a Year – the changing BTL/Investment Lending Landscape”.

and

Jeremy Wood – Excaliber Insurance:

“Landlord Insurance: Common pitfalls and how to avoid them”.

If you would like to attend this meeting, Please register with the SWLA Office who will send you details nearer the time;

email: info@landlordssouthwest.co.uk or phone 01752 510913.

We hope to see you on the night.


Update to Government Landlord Guidance

Posted on October 8th, 2021 -

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-and-renting-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-landlords-and-tenants

On 01 October 2021, the government updated their guidance to reflect recent changes to possession notice periods. The document is well worth a read – lots of valuable information for landlords and agents.


HMO Licence Holders – Remember to Diarise Renewals

Posted on October 8th, 2021 -

Local Authorities sometimes remind licence holders that their HMO licences are due for renewal. These reminders are not always reliable so ensure that you diarise your HMO licence renewal to avoid voids in your licence.


Making Tax Digital for Landlords

Posted on October 7th, 2021 -

Article by GoSimpleTax

How much do you know about Making Tax Digital (MTD)? Well, if you’re a UK landlord you should know some basic facts, because MTD could affect you in the near future.  

Making Tax Digital is an ambitious government initiative that will completely change how people and businesses keep their financial records and report data to HMRC.

MTD is being introduced to make it easier for people and businesses to manage their tax affairs and get their tax right. Making Tax Digital could also swell government coffers, as HMRC believes that using MTD-compatible software and apps will help to prevent avoidable tax mistakes. These are estimated to have cost the government more than £9.9bn in lost tax revenue in 2017-2018 alone.

Making Tax Digital will totally transform how financial records are kept and reported to HMRC. MTD for Income Tax will bring in a new way of reporting your earnings as a landlord to HMRC. This guide provides a basic overview of MTD and its implications for landlords.

Here’s what we’ll cover

  • How MTD will change record keeping and reporting
  • When MTD for Income Tax will be introduced
  • How to voluntarily join MTD for Income Tax

How will Making Tax Digital for Income tax change things?

When introduced, you (or your accountant if they look after your books and tax returns) will need to use MTD-compatible software to maintain digital records of your income and expenses.

Your MTD-compliant software will summarise your figures, which you must send online via your HMRC digital account (you will get up to a month after every quarter end). You’ll also be able to see how much tax you owe, based on the information you’ve supplied, so you can budget for paying your tax bill.

At the end of the tax year, you’ll need to finalise your business income and submit a final declaration, confirming that the updates you have provided are accurate, with any accounting adjustments made. Then, you’ll soon receive your tax bill. You must submit your final declaration and pay the tax you owe by 31 January the following tax year.

When will MTD for Income Tax be introduced?

Landlords with annual business or property income of more than £10,000 must follow MTD for Income Tax rules from their next accounting period – starting on or after 6 April 2024. This has been postponed by one year, a written ministerial statement from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Lucy Frazer confirmed.

You’ll still need to send HMRC a Self Assessment tax return for the tax year before you signed up for MTD for Income Tax. But after that, you can wave goodbye to completing an annual Self Assessment tax return and all the hassle and panic that can go with it. Having to record your expenses every quarter might also prevent you from forgetting and not claiming some.

If you’re already using software to maintain your financial records, HMRC recommends asking your provider whether they plan to make their software MTD-compatible. Government website GOV.UK already lists software that is compatible with Making Tax Digital for Income Tax. If you currently maintain paper records, you’ll need to find an MTD-compatible digital solution.

MTD for Income Tax pilot scheme

Some self-employed workers, landlords and accountants have already been part of a live pilot to test and develop MTD for Income Tax. You may be able to sign up voluntarily for MTD for Income Tax if:

  • you’re a UK resident
  • you’re registered for Self Assessment as a landlord and
  • your returns and payments are up to date.

You can sign up now for your current or next accounting period. It could be a good way to get used to the requirements of MTD and make sure you have the right software and systems in place. If an accountant maintains your financial records and/or looks after your tax returns, they can sign up for MTD for Income Tax for you. If you need to report income from other sources (eg wages from working for someone else), you cannot sign up voluntarily. 

Visit GOV.UK to sign up your business for Making Tax Digital for Income Tax. You’ll be asked for your:

  • name
  • email address
  • National Insurance number
  • accounting period
  • accounting type (eg cash or standard accounting)
  • Government Gateway user ID and password you use when you file your Self Assessment return. If you don’t have a user ID, you can create one when signing up.

MTD: What if I have more than one property for rent or let?

You only need to report your earnings and expenses via MTD for all of your properties together, you don’t need a digital account for each property. However, you should maintain detailed records for each individual property, for your own benefit, so you can better understand and compare income and costs.

Making Tax Digital: What if I co-own property?

If owned by a business partnership of which you’re a member, the partnership is responsible for Making Tax Digital obligations, which must be fulfilled by a nominated partner.

Quarterly summary information concerning share of the profit (based on ownership) can be pushed to each partner’s digital tax account. When the end-of-year declaration is made, the nominated partner must push each partner’s share of profits to their digital tax accounts. Individual tax liability will then be calculated.

In cases of jointly held property, for example, where a husband and wife own a property for rent or let, each person who has received income from jointly held properties must report that income separately, after registering for Making Tax Digital.

Where can I find more information about MTD for Income Tax?

About GoSimpleTax

Income, Expenses and tax submission all in one. GoSimpleTax will provide you with tips that could save you money on allowances and expenses you might have missed.

Our software submits directly to HMRC and is the digital solution for Landlords to record income, expenses and file their self-assessment giving hints on savings along the way. Covering all self-assessment pages, not just property, GoSimpleTax does all the calculations for you saving you ££’s on accountancy fees.

25% software discount for SWLA members.


SWLA General Meeting via Zoom

Posted on October 7th, 2021 -

Wednesday 20th October 2021 – 7.30pm – Speaker Meeting – All Members Welcome


SWLA Inheritance Tax Webinar – Well Attended and Informative

Posted on September 30th, 2021 -

Last night, we welcomed Melanie Cotterill (Head of Wills and Trust) from Roper James Solicitors as our guest speaker. Melanie presented via Zoom on the subject of inheritance tax; a general view. Melanie talked through the Residents Nil Rate Band Allowance, Lifetime Gifting and available exemptions.  

The evening was well attended with over 60 members listening in. Some interesting questions were asked by our members, and Melanie talked through the answers in depth.

We received lots of great feedback and we would like to thank Melanie for presenting.

We will have more webinars in the coming months, invites will be sent by email.


This is why the government need to introduce a Tenancy Hardship Grant in England- SWLA are asking MPs to act

Posted on September 29th, 2021 -

Article by the BBC; Covid debt: A baby, job loss – and now eviction – BBC News

Tenants are being evicted due to rent arrears built up during the Covid pandemic, despite the government saying no-one should lose their home as a result of the crisis.

One-third of hearings monitored in England and Wales over the summer explicitly cited the pandemic as the reason for the arrears, an investigation has found. The average hearing lasted just 10 minutes.

“We had a few safety nets, but they weren’t enough for Covid,” says Marshall Kinder-Maiss, 27.

Three weeks before the UK went into lockdown in March 2020, he and his partner Joanne thought their dreams had come true. After 18 months of trying to conceive a child, Joanne had just given birth to a baby boy, Roman. To support his growing family, Marshall, a chef, decided to leave his job at a Nando’s restaurant in Liverpool to take a better-paid role with a city-centre cafe.

Marshall had a week off between his old job and his new one. And that was the week when Covid restrictions were introduced. Marshall’s new job offer was withdrawn. And as he had left his former employer, he wasn’t eligible for the government’s furlough scheme.

The couple’s income plummeted. Until their claim for Universal Credit was processed, their only money was Joanne’s maternity pay of £150 a week. When the couple were both working full-time, they used to take home around £2,000 a month. Their £450-a-month rent quickly became unaffordable as overdrafts were maximised to pay for living expenses. They’ve struggled to pay rent ever since.

“It was not how it was supposed to be,” says Joanne, 24. “It makes me feel a bit sick. We both grew up coming from poverty so we tried our best to get out of that. We’ve always been working people, and now I just feel like our son has been born into the exact same situation.

“All of our peers – they’re not in this position. So it’s a bit humiliating to be honest.”

They are now £4,000 in rent arrears and have been served with an eviction notice. They must leave the house by 11 October.

In March 2020, former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick tweeted that “no-one should lose their home as a result of the coronavirus epidemic”. A ban on bailiff evictions was introduced in England and Wales. This ended in England in May this year, and in Wales the following month.

To investigate the impact of this, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) sent reporters to 30 county courts in England and Wales throughout July and August.

Of the 555 cases involving either private or social housing landlords, 270 ended in a possession order. A third of those, 88 cases, explicitly mentioned the impact that Covid had had on their finances.

Court bailiffs were “swamped” following the end of the eviction ban, lawyers told the BBC.

Marshall and Joanne have decided not to go to Liverpool County Court to challenge their landlord’s legal action. They have been advised by their legal representative that it would be “pointless”.

They have been served with a Section Eight order, used when a tenant breaks the terms of the rental agreement. This acts as a mandatory ground for repossession if the landlord can prove that the tenant has arrears of at least two months.

Last year, MPs on the Housing, Communities and Local Government committee recommended changes in the law to give judges discretion in deciding each individual case. The government chose to ignore the recommendation.

On Monday, the BBC visited Wandsworth County Court – a crumbling three-storey building in south London – to witness possession orders being rapidly handed down, some within just five minutes.

The individuals or families in question will be forced out of their homes in just two weeks’ time.

Only one tenant appeared in person during the session. She told the court she had been unable, during the pandemic, to find her usual agency work as an executive PA. This left her unable to afford the £1,600 a month rent on her one-bedroom flat in Hammersmith, west London.

She had racked up £24,000 in rent arrears. The court ordered her to leave her property by 4 October. In addition to her rent arrears, she must pay £604 in interest, and the landlord’s £3,000 legal costs.

The woman, who did not want to be named, told the BBC she would stay with a friend for the first two weeks. She has no idea where she will live after that.

“I don’t know what to do. I’ve found a job, but my credit history is so bad, I doubt I’ll find a place,” she said.

Marshall and Joanne say they have the same problem.

Marshall found a new job three months ago, working for a food delivery firm, and is now looking for a second job to supplement his wage. But they don’t have any savings to pay a deposit, and their credit rating is now poor.

And they face fierce competition for a new home, says Joanne.

“They’re really sought after because there are a lot of evictions, so people are desperate to get a house.”

Marshall says he phones the council an average of once a week to enquire about social housing, but has been told there are others whose need is greater.

The couple say they definitely plan to pay back their arrears once they are able to.

The average tenant in the cases analysed by the TBIJ had £6,500 worth of rent arrears. But a judge at another London court told the BBC he had come across one set of tenants with arrears of £190,000 in recent weeks. Some tenants had “undoubtedly taken advantage” of the evictions ban, he said, in effect to live rent-free.

Landlady Michelle Dighton, 41, believes this is the case with a tenant in one of her rental properties.

She is owed more than £25,000 in rent arrears as she says her tenant – in Croydon, south London – hasn’t paid rent since October 2019. She says that she delayed serving an eviction notice, hoping to resolve the situation amicably.

But when the government introduced the eviction ban, Michelle found herself stuck. Legal delays have further prevented the mother-of-two from sending round the bailiffs.

“I have to pay a mortgage and service fee for the flat, but I’m not getting any income from it.”

Michelle says, as a tenant herself, she understands why the government introduced the eviction ban, “but the courts can’t distinguish between those who can’t pay and those who won’t pay”.

“My tenant’s arrears have nothing to do with Covid,” she thinks.

Although the majority of tenants whose cases were monitored by TBIJ were served a Section Eight eviction notice, a fifth were served a Section 21 notice. Section 21 is a controversial part of the 1988 Housing Act which allows landlords to evict people without giving a specific reason. Often called “no fault” or “revenge” evictions, the Conservatives promised to scrap them in their 2019 manifesto.

Ministers said they will outline their proposals “in due course”.

In a statement, the new Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “Our £352bn support package has helped renters throughout the pandemic, and prevented a build-up of rent arrears. We also took unprecedented action to help keep people in their homes by extending notice periods and pausing evictions at the height of the pandemic.

“As the economy re-opens, it is right that these measures are now being lifted and we are delivering a fairer and more effective private rental sector that works for both landlords and tenants.”

A Welsh government spokesperson said: “Here in Wales, we have made significant additional help available for tenants, including additional funding for Discretionary Housing Payments and grants to clear Covid-related rent arrears. This support goes far beyond any support UK government have provided.”

555 private and social landlord hearings observed

  • 270ended in an outright possession order
  • 88possession orders mentioned Covid
  • 10minutes average case time
  • £6,500average (median) tenant arrears

Source: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (July and August 2021)


Free MEES Webinar for Landlords Hosted by The Centre for Sustainable Energy & Bristol City Council – Wednesday 6th October 2021

Posted on September 24th, 2021 -

**Please note, this is not an SWLA webinar, please book direct with the host**

Subject – Understanding MEES Obligations

A webinar for landlords and agents to understand the Minimum Energy Efficiency
Standards Regulations


When – Wednesday 6 October 2021 at 5pm via TEAMS


Register for this online webinar by clicking here; private.landlords@bristol.gov.uk

Find out at this webinar about:
• What are the MEES regulations?
• Understanding and interpreting your EPC
• Costs for bringing a property to meet the future minimum C level
from an E
• Funding options
• Exemptions

The webinar will be presented by Sonia Pruzinsky and Pete McNeil from CSE and
moderated by Fran Miller, Bristol City Council. The centre for sustainable energy
(CSE) is an independent national charity that shares its knowledge and experience to
help people change the way they think and act on energy. They do this by giving
advice, managing innovative energy projects, training, and supporting others to act,
and undertaking research and policy analysis.


After registering you will receive a link to the webinar on Teams.

For any queries please contact private.landlords@bristol.gov.uk


Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Delayed until April 2024

Posted on September 24th, 2021 -

Businesses get more time to prepare for digital tax changes – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Article from gov.uk.

Businesses will have an extra year to prepare for the digitalisation of Income Tax, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has announced today.

Recognising the challenges faced by many UK businesses and their representatives as the country emerges from the pandemic, and having listened to stakeholder feedback, the government will introduce Making Tax Digital (MTD) for Income Tax Self Assessment (ITSA) a year later than planned, in the tax year beginning in April 2024.

A later start for MTD for ITSA gives those required to join more time to prepare and for HMRC to deliver a robust service, with additional time for customer testing in the pilot.

Forming part of the government’s ambition to become one of the most digitally advanced tax authorities in the world, Making Tax Digital is the first phase of HMRC’s move towards a modern, digital tax service fit for the 21st century. It supports businesses through their digitalisation journey and provides a digital service that many have come to expect in their everyday lives.

Lucy Frazer, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:

The digital tax system we are building will be more efficient, make it easier for customers to get tax right, and bring wider benefits in increased productivity.

But we recognise that, as we emerge from the pandemic, it’s critical that everyone has enough time to prepare for the change, which is why we’re giving people an extra year to do so.

We remain firmly committed to Making Tax Digital and building a tax system fit for the 21st century.

MTD for Income Tax will now be mandated for businesses and landlords with a business income over £10,000 per annum in the tax year beginning in April 2024.

General partnerships will not be required to join MTD for ITSA until the tax year beginning in April 2025, while the date other types of partnerships will be required to join will be confirmed in the future.

In March 2021, the government announced a new, fairer system of penalties for the late filing and late payment of tax for ITSA. The new penalty system for those who are mandated for MTD for ITSA will now come into effect in the tax year beginning in April 2024, and in the tax year beginning in April 2025 for all other ITSA taxpayers.

For many businesses, MTD is a natural extension of the way they already operate. Evidence shows that many businesses currently operating MTD are already experiencing wider benefits and reductions in input errors.

Eligible businesses and landlords will have the opportunity to gain the benefits of MTD early by signing up to the pilot, which is already underway and will be gradually expanded during the 2022 to 2023 tax year, ready for larger scale testing in the 2023 to 2024 tax year.

Collaboration with tax professionals and customers has been key in the development of MTD and HMRC has worked closely with partners in the business and tax communities on the proposed design and scope of MTD for ITSA.

The laying of regulations today sets out the technical details of how MTD for ITSA will work, and its new launch date – giving certainty to businesses.

HMRC will continue to work in close partnership with business and accountancy representative bodies and software developers to ensure taxpayers are well supported as they adopt MTD for ITSA.

Further information

Last year, the government published Building a trusted, modern tax administration system, setting out a vision of a UK tax system fit for the 21st century, designed to improve its resilience, effectiveness and support for taxpayers. MTD is the first phase of a move toward this modern, digital tax service.

Making Tax Digital (MTD) first launched for those with taxable turnover above the VAT threshold (£85,000 per annum) in April 2019. Since MTD for VAT was launched in April 2019, over 1.5 million businesses have signed up, including a number of VAT-registered businesses that have joined voluntarily.

VAT-registered businesses with taxable turnover below the threshold need to have joined MTD for their first tax return from April 2022. Over 30% of these customers have already signed up voluntarily.

As part of the 2020 announcement, the government set out that it would be extending MTD to businesses and landlords with business and/or property income over £10,000 per annum that are liable for Income Tax from April 2023.

MTD for Income Tax is now being introduced from the tax year beginning in April 2024. Those within scope will need to keep digital records and use software to update HMRC quarterly, through MTD software, however, MTD does not change when taxpayers need to pay their tax. This announcement does not affect the MTD for Income Tax pilot, which will continue as planned.

To align with the introduction of MTD for Income Tax in 2024, reformed penalties are being introduced for Income Tax taxpayers required to use MTD in the tax year beginning in April 2024.

For all other Income Tax taxpayers, the new penalty regime will be introduced in the tax year beginning in April 2025.

Simple partnerships will not be required to join MTD for Income Tax until the tax year beginning in April 2025. HMRC will confirm at a later date when complex partnerships will be required to join.

For further information see;

Check when to sign up for Making Tax Digital for Income Tax – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


SWLA Inheritance Tax Webinar

Posted on September 22nd, 2021 -

When – 7pm Wednesday 29th September 2021
Subject- Inheritance Tax – Know Your Limits 
Where- Zoom

Melanie Cotterill of Roper James Solicitors will be presenting on the subject of inheritance tax. It will be a general view of inheritance tax to include; Residents Nil Rate Band Allowance, Lifetime Gifting and available exemptions.  

If you would like to register for this webinar, please email the SWLA office to book your free place.

The Zoom link will be sent to all registered members prior to the webinar.


Ashley Taylor Webinar 22/09/2021

Posted on September 20th, 2021 -

**PLEASE NOTE – THIS IS NOT AN SWLA WEBINAR – PLEASE SIGN UP BY CLICKING THE LINK BELOW IF YOU WISH TO ATTEND**

Martyn Taylor of Ashley Taylors Legal invites all SWLA members to the following free landlord webinar; 
When – 11am Wednesday 22nd September 2021
Subject- 1. Changes coming in on 01 October  2. Sub-letting 
Where- Zoom

Martyn will be updating attendees on recent cases of concern and forthcoming changes in practice.  With the end of some of the Coronavirus restrictions, there are changes coming in from 01 October which you will need to be aware of. The specific subject this month is Sub Letting, authorised or not, the pitfalls, dangers and damage limitation.  Too many landlords are being caught out and landed with costs they never thought possible.

If you would like to sign up, please click the following registration link;

Register in advance for this webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_4LGAUncZQh6Iybban7QrVw

The webinar is limited to 500 attendees on a first come, first served basis.



GAS SAFETY WEEK 2021

Posted on September 15th, 2021 -

Gas Safety Week: Fighting for a Gas Safe Nation Landlords’ legal responsibilities – Annual Gas Safety Checks

We are proud to be supporting Gas Safety Week 2021, taking place 13 – 19 September.

Gas Safety Week is an annual safety week to raise awareness of gas safety and the importance of taking care of your gas appliances. It is coordinated by Gas Safe Register, the official list of gas engineers who are legally allowed to work on gas.

Badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO is a highly poisonous gas that can kill quickly with no warning, as you cannot see it, taste it or smell it.

Landlords are legally responsible for the safety of their tenants. Landlords must make sure maintenance and annual safety checks on gas appliances are carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer to ensure their tenants and wider communities stay safe.

If you’re a landlord, you are legally obliged to make sure:

· Gas pipework, appliances and flues provided for tenants are maintained in a safe condition.

· All gas appliances and flues provided for tenants’ use have an annual safety check. Your tenants can report you to the HSE if you don’t provide one, so it’s important to remember! You can set a free email and/or text reminder so you don’t forget, visit StayGasSafe.co.uk.

· A Gas Safety Record is provided to the tenant within 28 days of completing the check or to any new tenant before they move in.

· You keep a copy of the Gas Safety Record until two further checks have taken place.

· Maintenance and annual safety checks are carried out by a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer.

· All gas equipment (including any appliance left by a previous tenant) is safe or otherwise removed before re-letting.

Before any gas work is carried out always check the engineer is qualified to carry out the work that needs doing e.g. natural gas, domestic boiler. You can find this information on the Gas Safe Register website or by checking the back of the engineer’s Gas Safe ID card. Encourage your tenants to also check the card when the engineer arrives at the property.

For more information and to find or check an engineer visit GasSafeRegister.co.uk


Notice Periods to Return to Pre Covid Lengths from 01 October 2021

Posted on September 9th, 2021 -

The UK Government has confirmed that notice periods will return to their pre-COVID lengths from 01 October 2021.

Following the pandemic and the introduction of the Coronavirus Act 2020, the UK Government initially increased all notices to six months for most grounds (including Section 21 notices), with exemptions for certain serious cases.

From 01 June 2021 until 30 September 2021 notice periods were at least four months in most circumstances, apart from exemptions for the most serious cases.

Moving forward, the UK Government retain the power to implement any similar measures again in the future should the public health situation worsen. To this end, legislation has been tabled that retains the ability for the UK Government to reapply longer notice periods until 25 March 2022 as a backstop.

Additionally, they will update the landlord, tenant and local authority renting guidance and court guidance ahead of 01 October 2021 to reflect that notice periods will be reverting to their pre-COVID lengths.

There will be brand new section 21 and 8 notices for use in England from 1 October 2021.

Section 8 Minimum Notice Periods from 01 August 2021

The notice periods for rent arrears grounds 8,10 and 11 changed to:

  • two months if the rent arrears are less than four months in total at the time the notice is served; or
  • four weeks if the rent arrears are more than four months in total at the time the notice is served and no other ground is being relied on.

Section 8 Minimum Notice Periods From 01 October 2021

Notice periods revert to pre-COVID lengths;

  • Section 8 using any of grounds 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9 or 16 – two months and cannot expire before the end of the fixed term
  • Section 8 using the rent arrears grounds (8, 10 and 11) – two weeks
  • Section 8 using grounds 3, 4, 6, 7b, 12, 13, 14A, 14ZA, 15 or 17 – two weeks
  • Section 8 using ground 7a (anti-social behaviour with a conviction) – One month for fixed term tenancy, 4 weeks for periodic tenancy.
  • Section 8 using Ground 14 (the discretionary ground for anti-social behaviour) – Immediately after the notice counts as served (usually 24 hours)

Section 21 Minimum Notice Periods

Prior to 26 March 2020 – 2 months

26 March 2020 – 28 August 2020 – 3 months

29 August 2020 – 31 May 2021 – 6 months

01 June 2021 – 30 September 2021 – 4 months

01 October 2021 – 2 months


SWLA Office

Posted on September 3rd, 2021 -

Thank you to all of the traders who worked on modernising our office front, a brilliant job, I am sure our members will agree.


The Government has Extended Covid-19 Adjusted Right to Rent Checks until 5 April 2022

Posted on August 27th, 2021 -

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-landlord-right-to-rent-checks

The following temporary changes were made on 30 March 2020 and remain in place until 5 April 2022 (inclusive):

  • checks can currently be carried out over video calls
  • tenants can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals
  • landlords should use the Home Office Landlord Checking Service if a prospective or existing tenant cannot provide any of the accepted documents

Checks continue to be necessary and you must continue to check the prescribed documents set out in Landlords Guide to Right to Rent or use the Home Office right to rent online service.

It remains an offence to knowingly rent to a person who does not have the right to rent in England.


Rental Reform is Coming – Including the Abolition of Section 21

Posted on August 27th, 2021 -

The proposals that the NRLA have made, with the backing of SWLA can be read in full here;

Background

At the beginning of the current session of Parliament in May 2021, the UK Government reiterated its commitment to reform the private rented sector. They have said that they will publish a White Paper – a policy document outlining their proposals for future legislation – in autumn 2021.

The White Paper is expected to set out the Government’s plans for possession reform and the future of Section 21 (so-called ‘no fault’) possession, as well as a broader remit, including exploring mandatory redress for landlords, the merits of a landlord register, and reforms to enforcement.

The NRLA & SWLA have welcomed the Government’s decision to publish a white paper, recognising the significance of the changes for the sector. We are participating, along with other stakeholders, in roundtables chaired by Eddie Hughes MP, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, to discuss the issues which will be raised in the White Paper.

We have now also set out our proposals for the private rented sector, in our report: A New Deal for the Private Rented Sector.

Our Campaign

The NRLA & SWLA are calling for:  

  1. Clear and comprehensive grounds for possession: There needs to clear and comprehensive grounds upon which landlords can legitimately regain possession of a property for when there has been a ‘fault’, and where the landlord needs to make business decisions such as selling the property, moving in, or making substantial changes.  
  2. Improved access to dispute resolution and the development of a new landlord/tenant conciliation service: to prevent, wherever possible, possession cases ending up in court in the first place. Alongside this, for those cases which do proceed to court, reforms are needed to allow them to be heard more swiftly, including greater use of technology to hear cases and ensuring tenants can access suitable advice and support much earlier than they currently do.
  3. A redress scheme for the sector which can improve compliance by linking to the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN). Such a scheme would make the need for a separate national register of landlords redundant. A redress scheme should also be accompanied by a full review to establish if certain types of local landlord licensing schemes are still required. 
  4. A review of enforcement: The UK Government should work with local authorities to conduct an assessment of the ability of relevant departments to enforce the wide range of powers already available to them to tackle criminal landlords. Alongside this, central government needs to provide upfront, multi-year funding to held councils build their capacity to tackle bad practice.
  5. Lifetime deposits: It is vital that the new system in no way discourages landlords from making valid claims for damage to properties. Landlords cannot be expected to give up their right of recourse to a security deposit until such time that they are satisfied there will be no need to make a claim against it. 


New Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) Private Rented Sector newsletter

Posted on August 27th, 2021 -

To read the newsletter; MHCLG PRS Newsletter (mailchi.mp)

To subscribe to the newsletter; MHCLG – PRS Newsletter (list-manage.com)

Dear colleagues, We’re delighted to be able to send you the first edition of the new Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) Private Rented Sector newsletter.
 
Many of you have said that you would like more regular updates on what Government is doing to reform the private rented sector, and we hope that these newsletters will provide you with those insights.  We will aim to share the key headlines from our work programme as it progresses, particularly as we develop a White Paper as promised in this year’s Queen’s Speech.
 
We have already had the pleasure of meeting some of you but wanted to take the opportunity to introduce ourselves to those who we haven’t been able to speak to yet. We are Caroline Crowther and Charlotte Spencer, Directors (job share) for Leasehold and Private Rented Sector at MHCLG. We joined MHCLG last year after working across Government on a range of policy issues such as disability and employment, child poverty, legal aid, and on EU & international negotiations. This move has allowed us to fulfil a long-held ambition to work on housing given its importance to absolutely everyone and its role as a key plank of people’s wellbeing.
 
The past 18 months has been a strange and difficult time. As you know, a number of legislative changes were quickly introduced to offer protection to social and private tenants by delaying when landlords could start court proceedings to evict tenants and preventing bailiffs from serving notices and carrying out evictions. Appreciating the pressure placed on landlords, other tenants and local communities, notice periods for the most serious cases were dropped and restrictions on bailiff enforcement have now been lifted in line with improved public health situation and the easing of national restrictions.
 
We worked with the judiciary to put in place new court arrangements that seek to ensure appropriate support to all parties alongside a new mediation pilot.  We published new guidance on the possession action process for tenants and landlords, which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/understanding-the-possession-action-process-guidance-for-landlords-and-tenants.
 
We would like to thank you for your support and ongoing engagement during this period.
 
Moving forward, we are excited to progress our work on renter reform. We are particularly excited to hear your thoughts on how government can achieve its aim of developing a private rented sector that works for everyone and have planned a programme of engagement over the coming months to allow us to support conversations between you and our ministers.
 
Our recent round tables on the shape of the reform programme and tenancy reform were lively and engaging sessions and we’ve included the minutes in newsletter so you can see the range of issues we discussed (more details below).
   
We want to gather as much feedback as possible from you on how you think the PRS works, including examples of what’s going well in your local authority area or with your stakeholder groups, as well as where the situation is more difficult.  You can reach the team at our inbox PRSStrategyandEngagement@communities.gov.uk.
 
We are really looking forward to talking with many of you at our PRS roundtables and in other forums, staying connected on all things private rented sector – there is and will be much to share!
 
Best wishes,
 
Caroline and Charlotte
Delivering a Renters’ Reform White Paper

White papers are policy documents produced by the Government that set out their proposals for future legislation. Our Renters’ Reform White Paper will set out ambitions for the PRS, including meeting the Government’s manifesto commitment to delivering a better deal for renters while ensuring landlords continue to have the tools and confidence they need to operate. This includes:
 Abolishing Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and reforming landlords’ rights to regain their property when it is fair and reasonable to do soIntroducing a new ‘lifetime’ deposit to ease the burden when tenants choose to moveAlso, Bringing forward proposed reforms to drive improvements in standards in rented accommodation, including by ensuring all tenants have a right to redress, andExploring the merits of a landlord register to ensure well targeted, effective enforcement that drives out criminal landlords 
Work is currently underway to develop these proposals, and it is important for us to ensure that new policies and interventions are shaped and sequenced in ways that have maximum effect when they are introduced.
Stakeholder Roundtables

This is why we’re organising a series of round table events which will allow our minister, Eddie Hughes MP, and senior officials to learn from your experience to inform the development of the reform programme. In June, we held our first session, sharing information about our ambition for the renters’ reform agenda, while hearing the views and key priorities of stakeholders representing the diverse make up of the sector.
 
At the second roundtable we discussed some of the detail of Tenancy Reform, and heard views on the challenges and opportunities faced in reforming tenancy structure and grounds for possession. As you might expect, stakeholders put forward a range of views at each of the roundtables, but many expressed support for learning from the experience of the last year particularly with regard to implementing longer notice periods for tenants and putting in place more support to allow landlords and tenants to mediate to overcome difficulties.
 
At the latest roundtable, we discussed options for a Lifetime Deposit model. There was broad agreement amongst stakeholders on the principle for a lifetime deposit model, but there is some further thinking to do around ensuring that a potential solution will work to support the wide range of renters in the market and that it is easy to understand and use.

We’ve attached the minutes from the sessions below.
 
The next roundtable will be on 15 September on the topic of Dispute Resolutions.
 
We are shaping the invite lists to make sure that discussions are manageable, but that they also provide opportunities for a wide range of stakeholders to attend and contribute, particularly where they have an interest in a specific aspect of PRS reform. If we are unable to invite you to attend then we still strongly welcome your thoughts and contributions and encourage you to get in touch with our team to discuss how best to do this.
 
We’re particularly keen to hear from the voices that matter the most – tenants and landlords in the PRS. Some of you have already offered to facilitate user group engagement and we are currently working with you on potential ideas, including running webinars, focus groups and surveys. In the meantime, please get in touch with us at PRSStrategyandEngagement@communities.gov.uk if you have more ideas on reaching tenants and landlords.
 
Minister Hughes is also very keen to engage directly with many of you through outreach visits across the country over the summer – keep an eye on this space for information on upcoming visits!
 Other Updates 
Lifetime Deposits User Working GroupThe Queen’s Speech announced the Government’s proposal for a new ‘lifetime’ tenancy deposit model to ease the burden on tenants when moving from one tenancy to the next, helping improve the experience of those living in the private rental sector.
 
We have therefore established a Lifetime Deposits User Working Group comprising representatives from the sector including agent, tenant and landlord representative groups, to provide industry expertise on ‘lifetime’ deposit solutions. PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), who were procured through an open tender, will also be working closely with the Department and the User Group over the Summer to help build potential lifetime deposit models.
 
We held the first meeting on 1 July where the work programme on lifetime deposits was discussed, and we will be working closely with the User Group as work progresses over the Summer.
 
 
Funding for Intelligence Database subscriptionMHCLG has made funding available to allow one year’s subscription to the Intelligence Database (IDB) for those districts in England who are not yet members.
 
The IDB is an online platform which allows local authorities to share intelligence about a business or person of interest. Local authorities can use the IDB as a central intelligence source for a wide range of housing enforcement investigations, when considering issuing a first penalty to ensure that the business or individual has not already been issued with a first penalty by another local authority and also to fulfil their duties under s14 of the Tenant Fees Act (TFA) to notify relevant authorities when taking or withdrawing enforcement action.
 
The National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) are facilitating IDB training and access, and would be grateful if you could forward this letter to your contacts within your local districts, asking that they contact them at estate.agency@powys.gov.uk to get started.
 
 
Landlord Register discovery phaseAs part of exploring the potential merits of a landlord register, we are procuring an external supplier to conduct an 8-10 week ‘Discovery Phase’ across September-November 2021. This phase will involve user research including interviews with a range of stakeholders to identify the needs of different users and will produce proposals for how some of the issues identified could be solved. We will provide more information on this in due course or as this work progresses 
 
A Fit and Proper Person test for mobile (park) home site owners comes into forceMobile homes are an important part of the housing sector offering homes to over 85,000 households, most of whom are elderly and vulnerable.
 
The Government is committed to improving the sector and the lives of all residents.
As part of that commitment, Regulations were made on 23 September 2020 to introduce a fit and proper person test for site owners or managers of residential mobile home sites.
 
The first part of the Regulations came into force on 1 July 2021. From that date local authorities had to be ready to receive and process applications from site owners.
Site owners will have until 1 October 2021 to submit an application to be assessed and placed on a local register of fit and proper persons. The register will be published online by each local authority.
 
Local authorities can charge fees to cover the cost of carrying out their fit and proper functions but must publish a fee policy before doing so.
Non-statutory guidance on the implementation of a fit and proper person test for mobile home park site owners and setting a fee policy are available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mobile-homes-fit-and-proper-person-test-guidance-for-local-authorities
 

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) Review The HHSRS is the tool used to assess hazardous conditions in all residential property. It’s particularly used by local authorities as the enforce standards in the private rented sector. An HHSRS assessment identifies whether one or more of the 29 HHSRS hazards are present in a property – these range from common hazards like falls, fire, excess cold to less common hazards like radon gas or legionella. The HHSRS assessor will then establish how serious the hazard is. If it’s at the most serious ‘category 1’ level, the local authority has a duty to take enforcement action, which ranges from a legal notice informing the landlord of the hazard, a notice requiring works are carried out or even the prohibition of all or part of the property. For very serious hazards local authorities can carry out works themselves.
 
The HHSRS hasn’t been updated in over 12 years and landlords, tenants and local authorities say it is complicated and inefficient to use. We’re now 10 months into our two-year review of the system which is exploring how to simplify it, how to implement minimum standards for some hazards and the development of digital solutions for inspecting properties.
Renters’ Reform Roundtable 23 June 2021:
https://mcusercontent.com/e577a620afac5c7a87c8c1044/files/791f26c2-c8fc-84fc-cad1-dbd0aaed2b76/PRS_Roundtable_1_minutes.02.pdf

Tenancy Reform Roundtable 27 July 2021:
https://mcusercontent.com/e577a620afac5c7a87c8c1044/files/8fcac24e-d849-a07c-8c14-3b10d265c35d/Tenancy_reform_roundtable_minutes_July_2021.pdf

Lifetime Deposits Roundtable 18 August 2021:
https://mcusercontent.com/e577a620afac5c7a87c8c1044/files/d1002127-49af-d984-a970-90202fefa420/Lifetime_Deposits_Roundtable_Minutes_18_August_2021.pdf



Free Landlord Webinar – by Ashley Taylors Legal – All SWLA Members Welcome

Posted on August 12th, 2021 -

**PLEASE NOTE – THIS IS NOT AN SWLA WEBINAR – PLEASE SIGN UP BY CLICKING THE LINK BELOW IF YOU WISH TO ATTEND**

Martyn Taylor of Ashley Taylors Legal invites all SWLA members to the following free landlord webinar; 
When – 11am Wednesday 18th August 2021
Subject- Section 8 Notices – Let’s get them right!

Where- Zoom

Martyn will be looking at the many section 8 possession changes that we have had over such a short period of time. It will be a very interesting and valuable webinar for landlords to listen in to.

If you would like to sign up, please click the following registration link;

Register in advance for this webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_FYb0U7OESAGqFLVBG74SgQ

The webinar is limited to 500 attendees on a first come, first served basis.


Trade Point – Latest Deals 20th August – 16th September

Posted on August 12th, 2021 -

**Remember, you will get your SWLA 10% Trade Point discount on top of these deals**

Also, you can win a van each month! Just scan your Trade Point card twice over the month to be entered.


Section 8 Notice Period Change from 01 August 2021

Posted on August 11th, 2021 -

As published in our June bulletin;

The notice periods for rent arrears grounds 8,10 and 11 have changed to:

  • two months if the rent arrears are less than four months in total at the time the notice is served; or
  • four weeks if the rent arrears are more than four months in total at the time the notice is served and no other ground is being relied on.


Update to Section 8, Form 3; (Notice Seeking Possession)

Posted on August 11th, 2021 -

On 03 August 2021 the government updated ‘Form 3’ to correct a typographical error. This does not affect the validity of the form published 1 June 2021. SWLA stationery has been updated.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/assured-tenancy-forms#form-3


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