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Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space) now in Force

Posted on May 5th, 2021 -

The Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space) came into force on 4 May 2021. The creditor service is currently being developed.

The Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space) will give someone in problem debt the right to legal protections from their creditors.

There are two types of breathing space: a standard breathing space and a mental health crisis breathing space. Where there is a difference between them, we’ll refer specifically to either a standard breathing space or a mental health crisis breathing space. Where there is no difference, we will simply refer to a breathing space.

A standard breathing space is available to anyone with problem debt. It gives them legal protections from creditor action for up to 60 days. The protections include pausing most enforcement action and contact from creditors and freezing most interest and charges on their debts.

A mental health crisis breathing space is only available to someone who is receiving mental health crisis treatment and it has some stronger protections. It lasts as long as the person’s mental health crisis treatment, plus 30 days (no matter how long the crisis treatment lasts).

The legislation this guidance references is The Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020. This guidance is intended to support creditors in understanding the regulations.

Creditors

As a creditor, if you’re told that a debt owed to you is in a breathing space, you must stop all action related to that debt and apply the protections. These protections must stay in place until the breathing space ends.

The electronic service will send you a notification to tell you about each debt owed to you in a breathing space and the date the breathing space started. You need to make sure you apply the protections to these debts from the date set out in the notification.

If you’re a creditor, it’s also possible your debt might be added to a breathing space at a later date, because it is only identified after the breathing space has started. In this case, you have to apply the protections from the date you get the notification, or when the regulations consider you to have received it, whichever is the earliest.

For electronic notifications this is the date they are sent. For postal notifications this is 4 working days after it was posted.

If you have any questions about a breathing space you’ve had a notification for, you should contact the debt advice provider whose details are in the notification.

Qualifying debts

Debts included in a breathing space must be qualifying debts. Debts are any sum of money owed by the debtor to you, while liabilities are any obligation on the debtor to pay money to you. Most debts are likely to be qualifying debts. These will include:

  • credit cards
  • store cards
  • personal loans
  • pay day loans
  • overdrafts
  • utility bill arrears
  • mortgage or rent arrears

Qualifying debts can include any that the debtor had before the Breathing Space legislation came into force on 4 May 2021.

New debts incurred during a breathing space are not qualifying debts. Neither are new arrears on a secured debt that arises during a breathing space.

For full information please see; https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/debt-respite-scheme-breathing-space-guidance/debt-respite-scheme-breathing-space-guidance-for-creditors


Free Webinar for Landlords by Ashley Taylors Legal – Thursday 20th May 2021 – 11am

Posted on May 5th, 2021 -

Subject – Strengthening your Tenancy Agreements

Martyn Taylor will be looking at both ASTs and Company Lets in this talk and considering the “must haves”, ” good ideas to have” and also “should nots” in your Agreements to benefit the Landlord and potentially troubleshoot in advance for when things go wrong.

The registration details are:

When: May 20, 2021 11:00 AM London
Topic: Strengthening your Tenancy Agreements

Register in advance for this webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_nFhp7cApRrCA5kmr-KEVGQ

Please note, numbers are limited to 500, sign up now to avoid missing out. This is not an SWLA webinar, it is hosted by Ashley Taylors Legal.


New Section 8, Form 3 Published by gov.uk on 4th May 2021

Posted on May 5th, 2021 -

The Section 8, Form 3 has been updated to reflect the coming into force of breathing space (debt respite scheme) regulations, which affect the ability to serve notice and make a possession claim under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 in certain circumstances.

Please obtain Section 8 and Section 21 forms from the SWLA website members area or online at gov.uk to ensure that you are using the most up to date version.

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


Training Webinars

Posted on April 30th, 2021 -

Wednesday 23rd June 2021 – 11am – 12:30pm

& Repeated at 7pm – 8:30pm

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

The webinar will cover the topic – HHSRS (Housing Health and Safety Rating System) and Fitness for Human Habitation.  

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

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


Latest SWLA Training Webinar a Great Success

Posted on April 30th, 2021 -

Thank you to Stephen Fowler for a brilliant webinar on Wednesday 28th April. Landlord Compliance was covered in depth and lots of recent, new legislation was discussed. We had over 60 members join us with some great queries and points raised.

We look forward to our next training webinars on Wednesday 23rd June – 11am and repeated at 7pm (HHSRS and Fitness for Human Habitation) – contact the office to book your place!


SWLA General Meeting (via Zoom) 21 April 2020

Posted on April 22nd, 2021 -

We continue to host our meetings online whilst Covid restrictions are in place. Not as nice as meeting in person at the Future Inn, but we look forward to those times again.

Thank you to all members who joined our meeting and thanks to our very informative speakers Martyn Taylor ( www.ashleytaylors.co.uk ) and Annette Stone ( www.thomaswestcott.co.uk ). Martyn and Annette are happy to accept questions via email, feel free to email the SWLA office and we will forward on for you.

If any of our members missed the meeting, we have Martyn’s lecture on The Debt Respite Scheme and Annette’s presentation on Tax Legislation Affecting Landlords. We are happy to send these by email upon request.

Take care, from the SWLA staff and Committee.


Electrical Safety Standards – All tenancies now require an Electrical Safety Inspection

Posted on April 1st, 2021 -

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020

These Regulations apply in England to –

  • all new specified tenancies from 1st July 2020; and
  • all existing specified tenancies from 1st April 2021.

What do the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 require?

Landlords of privately rented accommodation must:

  • Ensure national standards for electrical safety are met. These are set out in the 18th edition of the ‘Wiring Regulations’, which are published as British Standard 7671.
  • Ensure the electrical installations in their rented properties are inspected and tested by a qualified and competent person at least every 5 years.
  • Obtain a report from the person conducting the inspection and test which gives the results and sets a date for the next inspection and test.
  • Supply a copy of this report to the existing tenant within 28 days of the inspection and test.
  • Supply a copy of this report to a new tenant before they occupy the premises.
  • Supply a copy of this report to any prospective tenant within 28 days of receiving a request for the report.
  • Supply the local authority with a copy of this report within 7 days of receiving a request for a copy.
  • Retain a copy of the report to give to the inspector and tester who will undertake the next inspection and test.
  • Where the report shows that remedial or further investigative work is necessary, complete this work within 28 days or any shorter period if specified as necessary in the report.
  • Supply written confirmation of the completion of the remedial works from the electrician to the tenant and the local authority within 28 days of completion of the works.

Please click here for the full NAPIT landlord guide; https://www.napit.org.uk/downloads/Electrical-Safety-in-the-Private-Rented-Sector-Regulations-Guidance-for-Landlords-NAPIT.pdf

And the full gov.uk guide; https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/electrical-safety-standards-in-the-private-rented-sector-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities/guide-for-landlords-electrical-safety-standards-in-the-private-rented-sector

If you need an electrician, you can find one on the SWLA website trade directory https://www.landlordssouthwest.co.uk/tradelistings/electricians-pat-electrical-services/ or search the following;  www.electricalcompetentperson.co.uk          www.search.napit.org.uk


Letting Agents Must Comply with Client Money Protection Legislation by 01 April 2021

Posted on April 1st, 2021 -

Letting and property agents in England must belong to a client money protection scheme by 01 April 2021, when the two-year grace period comes to an end.

It has been mandatory for letting agents in England who hold client money to belong to a client money protection scheme since 1st April 2019.

Letting agencies can be fined up to £30,000, if they do not belong to an approved client money protection scheme, and up to £5,000, if they don’t display their certificate of membership or provide it when asked.

Client money protection schemes protect landlords’ and tenants’ money in the event of theft or misappropriation by agents and ensure that they are compensated. Client money protection also protects landlords’ and tenants’ money should an agency experience financial difficulties – if it was to go into administration, for example.

There are currently six government-approved client money protection schemes – Client Money Protect, Money Shield, Propertymark, RICS, Safeagent (previously NALS), and UKALA Client Money Protection. In order to join a client money protection scheme, agencies will need to hold their clients’ money in an account with a bank or building society authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. Agencies are also expected to have strong client money handling procedures in place.

Agencies will need to display the certificate confirming their membership of an approved client money protection scheme in a visible location in each of their premises and on their website. It’s also recommended that they publish a copy of their membership certificates on third-party websites and alongside listings on portals. Agents must provide a copy of the certificate from their approved scheme to anyone who reasonably requests it, free of charge.

Article from https://blog.goodlord.co/letting-agents-must-comply-with-client-money-protection-legislation-by-1-april-2021


Free Webinar for Landlords by Mashroom – What valid expenses can you claim on your tax return? – 09 April 2021 – 3pm

Posted on April 1st, 2021 -

Topic – Landlord Tax Topics: Limited companies or not? What valid expenses can you claim on your tax return? and more!

They will cover the following topics:

  • To be LTD or not to be? What should landlords consider before moving their properties over to a limited company.
  • What valid expenses can you claim on your tax return? Clearing up inconsistencies with regards to valid expenses.
  • How can I avoid my heirs getting stung by inheritance tax? We’ll go over some of the most common issues that catch us out after we die.

To sign up, please visit the Mashroom site – Valid and invalid expenses that you can claim on your tax return – Free Webinar (mashroom.com)

**Please note, this is a 3rd party webinar, not hosted by SWLA**


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

Posted on March 31st, 2021 -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stop-start funding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Government’s ‘Tax Day’ 2021

Posted on March 25th, 2021 -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article by The Property Forum

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


Free Webinar for Landlords of Students

Posted on March 25th, 2021 -

Halls v Houses – key trends in student accommodation

Apr 21, 2021 2:00 PM

To register please click here; Webinar Registration – Zoom

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

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

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



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

Posted on March 18th, 2021 -

A message from Bristol City Council;

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

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

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

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

The proposed scheme covers two types of licensing:

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

The proposal is that:

•             Horfield ward is declared an Additional licensing area

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

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

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

What are we asking people to do?

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

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

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

The consultation closes on 26 May 2021.


Landlords Encouraged to Complete HHSRS Review Survey

Posted on March 18th, 2021 -

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

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

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


Landlord Accreditation Training Course – ONLINE

Posted on March 15th, 2021 -

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

Venue – Online

Price – £65 for members of SWLA, £75 for non – members for one day course.

Course covers ASTs, Deposits, Section 21s, Section 8s, HMOs, Gas and Electrical Safety, Inventories and much more.

The course will provide you with all the skills to start, manage and finish a tenancy.

Places still available. Contact the office on 01752 510913 or info@landlordssouthwest.co.uk to book your place, places only secured on receipt of payment.

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

Course can lead to Accreditation, if required.

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


Training Webinars

Posted on March 15th, 2021 -

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

& Repeated at 7pm – 8:30pm

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

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

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

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


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

Posted on March 11th, 2021 -

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

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

Notice Periods

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

GROUND NOTICE PERIOD

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

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

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

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

Bailiff Enforced Evictions

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

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

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

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

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


Training Webinars

Posted on March 9th, 2021 -

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

& Repeated at 7pm – 8:30pm

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

The webinar will cover the topic – New Possession Rules.  

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

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


Local Housing Allowance Rates Staying the Same for 2021

Posted on March 5th, 2021 -

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

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


Budget 2021

Posted on March 3rd, 2021 -

Changes that may impact landlords;

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

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

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

Key points at a glance;

Coronavirus support

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

State of the economy and public finances

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

Taxation

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

Health and education

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

The arts and sport

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

Business, digital and science

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

Alcohol, tobacco and fuel

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

Environment, transport, infrastructure and housing

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

Nations and regions

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

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


Coronavirus – Renters Protected with Ban on Bailiff Enforced Evictions Extended until 31 March

Posted on February 17th, 2021 -

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/housing-secretary-extends-support-for-renters-during-pandemic

  • Renters protected with ban on bailiff enforced evictions extended until 31 March
  • Exemptions in place for the most serious cases
  • Part of a wider package of support for renters during the pandemic

Renters will continue to be supported during the ongoing national lockdown restrictions, with an extension to the ban on bailiff evictions, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced today (14 February 2021).

The ban on bailiff evictions – which was introduced at the start of the pandemic – has been extended for another 6 weeks – until 31 March – with measures kept under review in line with the latest public health advice.

Exemptions remain in place for the most serious circumstances that cause the greatest strain on landlords as well as other residents and neighbours, such as illegal occupation, anti-social behaviour and arrears of 6 months’ rent or more.

The measures are part of a wide-ranging package of support the government has provided to protect renters from the economic impact of the pandemic, including supporting businesses to pay staff through the furlough scheme and strengthening the welfare safety-net by billions of pounds.

Landlords are also required to give 6-month notice periods to tenants before starting possession proceedings, except in the most serious circumstances, meaning that most renters now served notice can stay in their homes until at least August 2021, with time to find alternative support or accommodation.

For those renters who require additional support, there is an existing £180 million of government funding for Discretionary Housing Payments for councils to distribute to support renters with housing costs.

Housing Secretary, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

We have taken unprecedented action to support renters during the pandemic including introducing a six-month notice period and financial support to help those struggling to pay their rent.

By extending the ban on the enforcement of evictions by bailiffs, in all but the most serious cases, we are ensuring renters remain protected during this difficult time.

Our measures strike the right balance between protecting tenants and enabling landlords to exercise their right to justice.

Court rules and procedures introduced in September to support both tenants and landlords will remain in place and regularly reviewed, with courts continuing to prioritise the most cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour, illegal occupation and perpetrators of domestic abuse in the social sector.

The government has also launched a new free mediation pilot to support landlords and tenants to resolve disputes before a formal court hearing takes place. This will help tenants at an early stage of the possession process, mitigating the risk of tenants becoming homeless and helping to sustain tenancies where possible.

Together these measures strike the right balance between prioritising public health and supporting the most vulnerable renters, whilst ensuring landlords can access and exercise their right to justice in the most serious cases.

Further information

The package of support is reducing the number of evictions as applications to the courts for possession by private and social landlords were down 67% between October and December 2020, compared to the same quarter in 2019. The number of repossessions recorded October to December 2020 was down 93% compared to the same quarter in 2019.  Only 548 repossessions were recorded between April and December 2020 compared to 22,444 in the same period in 2019.

The government previously changed the law in England to ensure bailiffs do not enforce evictions for 6 weeks until 22 February. This has now been extended for a further 6 weeks until 31 March. This will be kept under review.

The only exceptions to this are for the most egregious cases – anti-social behaviour, illegal occupation, death of a tenant where the property is unoccupied, fraud, perpetrators of domestic abuse in social housing and rent arrears equivalent to at least 6 months’ rent.

Guidance to support landlords and tenants in the social and private rented sectors understand the possession action process and new rules within the court system in England and Wales is available.


Landlord Accreditation – SWLA Online Courses Launched

Posted on February 11th, 2021 -

The Accreditation Course is a one day course and we have booked 2 dates to accommodate the demand and are hoping to secure more dates shortly. 

Monday 22nd February 2021 – 9am – 4:30pm.
Price – £65 for members of SWLA, £75 for non-members for the one day course.  
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Monday 22nd March 2021 – 9am – 4:30pm.  
Price – £65 for members of SWLA, £75 for non-members for the one day course.


If you would like to book a place on either of the courses, please email or call the office on info@landlordssouthwest.co.uk or 01752 510913.
Your place will only be secured once payment has been received, you can pay by BACS, Cheque or call and pay by Credit/Debit Card  

How to pay-
Account Name: SWLA
Sort Code: 20-68-10
Account Number: 50498610
Please quote your name as the reference
Or by Cheque to:
SWLA, 30 Dale Road, Plymouth, PL4 6PD
If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to call us.  


Discretionary funding available to support businesses during lockdown

Posted on January 29th, 2021 -

Information from Plymouth City Council

Plymouth City Council has announced details about new discretionary funding available to support businesses that are severely impacted by the third national lockdown.

The city has been allocated a total of £7.57 million to support local businesses through the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG). More than £1.7 million has already been distributed to help businesses that struggled during the November lockdown.

The discretionary funding is intended to support businesses that cannot claim from the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) scheme, which gives grants to rate-paying businesses that have been forced to close due to the national restrictions.

Businesses may be eligible to apply for financial support through the ARG if they:

  • Have been legally required to close under current national restrictions but were not eligible for the LRSG as they do not pay business rates, or pay packaged rent and rates
  • Have not been legally required to close but have suffered a significant loss in turnover as a result of the national restrictions.

Due to the limited amount of funding available, the Council will prioritise the following types of businesses when distributing the grants:

  • Fishing businesses
  • Childcare providers
  • Tradespeople and businesses who supply businesses that are required to close (e.g. retail and hospitality)
  • Creative and event businesses
  • Businesses that pay packaged rent and rates and are required to shut, or supply businesses that have been required to close
  • Businesses with high fixed costs that haven’t been able to claim from any previous grant schemes.

The Council is prioritising in order to help as many businesses as possible, however it is likely that the Government funding may not meet the demands for help. 

Applications for the new ARG will open at 10am on Monday 1 February. Businesses must complete a new application, even if they have received a discretionary grant during previous lockdowns.

In order to apply for a grant, businesses will need to meet the following criteria:

  • Must have been trading on or before 4 January 2020.
  • Must be a micro or small business with up to 50 employees.
  • Must have ongoing fixed monthly business costs in Plymouth (for example rents, wages, mooring fees or utilities)
  • Can confirm they have been significantly affected by coronavirus (at least a 30 per cent loss in income)
  • If a home based business in Plymouth, they must be registered with HMRC and provide their Company Unique Taxpayer Reference as well as a copy of their most recent tax return.

Businesses will not be eligible for funding if they have exceeded state subsidy limits or are in administration, insolvent or where a striking off order has been made. Certain types of businesses will also not be considered eligible, including ‘home sharing’ businesses, buy to let properties and premises that are used for personal use only (for example, riding stables).

Grant payments

The grants awarded are one-off payments intended to support businesses through the third national lockdown which started on 5 January 2021.

Businesses that do not pay rates will be eligible for a grant of £3,000.

Rate-paying businesses that have not been forced to close but are still significantly affected can claim the following grants:

  • For businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under, grants to be £4,200
  • For properties with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000, grants to be £6,300
  • For properties with a rateable value of £51,000 or over, grants to be £9,400

Only one discretionary grant will be awarded to any business per lockdown, but if businesses operate from multiple Plymouth premises they may be eligible for additional payments.

The grants are intended to help with fixed business costs rather than to replace lost income, as there are other schemes offering this financial support. More information about these schemes can be found on the Invest Plymouth coronavirus business support page, or via the Heart of the South West Growth Hub.

A portion of the overall funding given to the Council will also be allocated to supporting wider economic development activity across the city and key city institutions that provide a significant economic benefit.

For more information about the ARG and LRSG grant schemes, including how to apply, please see: investplymouth.co.uk/business-grants.



Cornwall Landlords – Warmer Tenants Advice Service for Landlords

Posted on January 27th, 2021 -

Article by Community Energy Plus. For more information please contact Nicole Solomons on 01872 308930 or email: nicole@cep.org.uk

Introducing a new service from Community Energy Plus, designed to provide advice, support and guidance to private sector landlords working alongside their tenants. The aim of the Warmer Tenants Advice Service is to improve the energy efficiency of rented properties in Cornwall. Here, the advice team have put together a few Q&As to explain what the service aims to do and how they can help.

With so much information on various standards, rating systems, regulations and statutory obligations, it’s not surprising that many landlords feel confused and overwhelmed. We’re here to help landlords through the maze, find cost-effective ways to improve and maintain their property and to help landlords ensure their tenants are living in warm and healthy homes.

There’s so much information out there, I’m completely confused and just don’t have time to deal with it.
We understand. Our professionally trained advisors can help guide you through the maze of information and assist you with anything you don’t understand or need help with in improving the energy performance of your property. A problem shared, is a problem halved, as they say. The most difficult part of the process is deciding to do something about it.

I have asked for advice before – how are you different?
We’re a new service, helping to liaise between landlords and their tenants. We have a dedicated Landlords & Tenants Advisor who can help make the process much easier and by using our advice service, landlords can be assured of free and impartial advice to help them find solutions and available options in order to make cost-effective, energy efficient improvements to their property. Part of our service is to provide an advocacy service, speaking with both landlord and tenant to ensure the best outcome. This can be a combination of property visits and/or phone calls. We can liaise with tenants and other third parties, if appropriate, in order to secure grant funding. Landlords can be confident that not only can they meet regulations, but also secure existing and prospective tenancies by ensuring their tenants live in warmer homes.

Do you provide EPCs?
We do provide EPCs where a new EPC is needed as part of the process. In addition, we can also provide EPC modelling, which is a way of producing draft EPCs that show a selection of measures to increase your property’s EPC rating, so you can prioritise what to do and potential costs and savings.

I need to raise my property’s EPC rating to an E. How am I going to be able to afford this?
Part of the advice service is to help landlords gain access to grants in order to help pay for measures needed. For example, if you have an eligible tenant, we can help you access ECO grants, and we can give advice on the new Green Homes Grant which landlords are eligible to apply for. There is a maximum price cap that landlords have to spend on improving a property and if this is met, an exemption can then be applied for. There are other instances where exemptions can be applied for and we will be happy to advise on this process.

I have heard the minimum EPC rating may be raised to a C in a few years’ time. Is this true?
BEIS (the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) has just completed a consultation on whether to increase the minimum EPC rating to a C from 2025 for new tenancies and from 2028 for existing tenancies. If your property’s EPC rating is already D or E, then we can help you find ways to make the investment to move toward a low-carbon property, thus future-proofing your property to any new regulations.

Apart from meeting regulations, what’s the point of improving my property’s EPC rating?
Existing tenants should save money on their energy bills, which in turn could make them a more secure tenant with less chance of running into rent arrears. For prospective tenants, your property should look more attractive, as tenants would expect lower energy bills and a warm home in which to live.

Are there any special provisions for listed buildings or property in conservation areas?
There is no blanket exemption for historic buildings, listed buildings or buildings within a conservation area from requiring an EPC and in the majority of cases an EPC will be required. Protected buildings will only be exempt if compliance with the minimum energy efficiency requirements would unacceptably alter their character or appearance and the owner can provide evidence of this. Even if a building is protected it is likely that it may still be possible to make some improvements without altering its character or appearance and advice should be sought to confirm this. The
onus is on the owner of the property to understand which works may or may not be permitted. A property owner can contact the Planning Service at Cornwall Council to provide evidence in relation to the likelihood of obtaining planning permission or listed building consent for energy efficiency improvements through the Planning Service page.

Where can you get additional information?
For more information from Community Energy Plus: https://www.cep.org.uk/ourservices/warmer-tenants-advice-service-for-landlords/

Community Energy Plus
35 River Street
Truro
Cornwall
TR1 2SJ

Telephone
01872 245566 / 0800 954 1956
Freephone advice line
0800 954 1956
Email
advice@cep.org.uk