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New SWLA Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement

Posted on February 14th, 2019 -

Today we have published our new Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement document.

There are a few minor amendments to allow for the changes that are imminent such as the Tenant Fee Bill (01 June 2019) and mandatory 5 year Electrical Installation Safety Checks (date to be confirmed).

The new AST can be found on the members area of our website for free download.

The old SWLA Assured Shorthold Tenancy document (last updated October 2015) is still valid so can still be used for new tenancies. Moving forward, any new tenancies, please use the new revised document where possible.



Posted on February 8th, 2019 -

24th April 2019

Future Inn Hotel


Speakers/Subjects –  Tax Updates, Making Tax Digital, Sheriff’s Office

Mandatory 5 Year Electrical Installation Checks to be Introduced in Private Rented Accommodation

Posted on February 7th, 2019 -

On 29th January 2019 the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced that 5 year electrical installation checks will be mandatory on private rented accommodation in England.

The implementation date has not been confirmed. Landlords and Agents will be given at least a 6 month time frame to familiarise themselves before it comes into force. It will be introduced in a phased approach, in year one, all new tenancies will be affected and in year 2 all existing tenancies will come within scope.

Properties that already have a valid electrical installation condition report (EICR) will not need to replace it until 5 years have passed since it’s issue.

Inspectors must hold the correct qualifications and be competent to carry out the inspection. Financial penalties will apply if this is not complied with.

We will update our members with further information as soon as a date of implementation is confirmed by the government.


Landlord Training Course – Legal Update 2019

Posted on January 28th, 2019 -

Landlord Training Course – Legal Update 2019 

Monday 8th April 2019 – 9:30am – 4:30pm 

Venue – Astor Room, Plymouth Guildhall, Royal Parade, Plymouth PL1 1HA

If you are accredited this will count towards your CPD hours, but the course is open to all.

Cost for SWLA members – £65. Cost for non-SWLA members – £75. 

A must attend one day course covering the subjects below and more….    

  • Another prohibition on serving section 21 notices.
  • Will both professional cleaning and flea treatment be unlawful?
  • How do the tenant fee ban, and deposit deductions relate?
  • Why a property could cost your landlord £3,500.
  • Why you don’t need an EPC just because the current one runs out.
  • What does the new Fitness for Human Habitation legislation mean for you?
  • Will your client money protection meet the new standards required?
  • Plus, other new laws and court cases.

We will review and consider the effect of what has been a busy year of legislative change, look forward to a pivotal year for our industry and consider the impact of recent court cases.

Having progressed now through the House of Lords we will provide you with all the details of the tenant fee act and consider any regulations needed to implement it.

Places secured upon receipt of payment, book your place through the office 01752 510913.

Course will be instructed by Stephen Fowler from Training for Professionals.


Posted on January 25th, 2019 -

SWLA held their Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 23rd January. 

Thank you to our members who attended.

A coat was left behind at the meeting, please contact the office if it’s yours.

SWLA Vice Chair Iain Maitland Attended Cornwall Council Private Rented Sector Liaison Group Meeting

Posted on January 24th, 2019 -

On Tuesday 22nd January 2019, Cornwall Council hosted the meeting in St Austell, chaired by Joe Roberts (Private Sector Housing Manager). Items discussed included Revenue and Assessment Services update, Home Solutions Team Adaptation Policy update, CRLS update and a plan discussed for the following year’s aims of the group.  The progress of the extension of mandatory HMO licencing was also discussed together with notices and prosecutions.

SWLA Attended Plymouth City Council’s Private Rented Sector Steering Group Meeting

Posted on January 24th, 2019 -

Iain Maitland (Vice-Chair, representing SWLA) and Gillian Kerr (Office Manager and Accreditation Co-Ordinator representing Landlord Accreditation South West) attended the Plymouth Charter meeting on Monday 21st January 2019 to discuss and review the aims and objectives of the Charter.

The committee was chaired by Councillor Penberthy (Portfolio Holder for Housing and Co-Operative Development) assisted by Matt Garrett (Community Connections Service Director). Other attendees were representative of letting agents, housing charities, the social sector, Shelter and CAB.


Tenant Fee Bill to come into force in England 1st June 2019

Posted on January 16th, 2019 -

14th January 2019 saw the 3rd and final reading of the Tenant Fees Bill in the House of Lords. Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth confirmed on the afternoon of 15th January 2019 that subject to the Bill getting Royal Assent, the Tenant Fees Bill will come into effect on 1st June 2019 for all tenancies signed on or after that date.

Throughout the report stage amendments have been made; the deposit cap lowered from 6 weeks rent max to 5 weeks rent max for properties with an annual rent of less than £50,000.00.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government believe that the amendments ‘strike a fair balance between improving affordability for tenants whilst ensuring that landlords and agents have the financial security they need’.

The final content of the legislation is not yet confirmed, however key points of the Bill are as follows;

  • Default fees limited to charges for replacement keys (or respective security device) and late rent only
  • Cap holding deposits to max 1 weeks rent (applying to a max of one property only)
  • Creates a civil offence with a fine of £5,000.00 for first offence and civil penalties of up to £30,000.00.
  • Local authorities to retain the money raised and reserve for future local housing enforcement
  • Amendment of the Consumer Right Act 2015 to specify that the letting agent transparency requirements will also apply to property portals (i.e. Rightmove, Zoopla)


What is exempted form the banned list? Holding deposits, rent, deposits and charges for defaulting on the contract are all exempted however are subject to additional restrictions as part as part of the legislation.


A lead local authority will oversee and police the new measures.


For further information on the Tenant Fees Ban in England;



Article Abridged from NLA & RLA



The Tenancy Deposit Scheme; first to appoint an external, independant complaints reviewer.

Posted on January 11th, 2019 -

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) has become the first of the three Government-approved tenancy deposit protection schemes to appoint a new external, independent complaints reviewer.

Margaret Doyle has taken up the new role and says: “Having an independent and impartial outside reviewer is a key process for demonstrating robust arrangements exist for ensuring that customer complaints are dealt with well, and that complainants have the opportunity for review by someone outside of TDS.

“It is also designed to help TDS learn lessons from complaints and to help improve service provision.”

Doyle’s appointment was introduced to enhance the scheme’s transparency to members and the wider private rental sector.

The role of the independent complaints reviewer will be to look at the way the TDS has investigated complaints about its service, in order to ensure that the process has been fair and transparent, and that the issues raised have been properly considered.

In its 2018 Annual Review, the TDS reported that less than 1% of its tenancy deposits ended in a dispute – a total of 14,430.

Of these 14,430 disputes, just 2.65% resulted in a complaint being made about the adjudication decision or the service received.

Steve Harriott, the Chief Executive of the TDS, says: “We take any complaints about our service very seriously and strive for the highest standards of complaints handling practice. If a complainant remains unhappy about TDS’s response to their formal complaint about an adjudication decision or other aspect of TDS’s customer service, they can escalate it to the independent complaints reviewer.

“This role does not make Margaret a TDS staff member, but someone who is appointed by the TDS board to take an independent view of complaints and report annually to the board on their work.”

He adds: “As the only not-for-profit deposit protection scheme operating in England and Wales, TDS is committed to a programme of continuous investment in our systems, processes, people and service. Margaret’s appointment is part of that ongoing strategy and we are proud to have her on board.”

Article from Landlord News (landlordnews.co.uk)



Posted on January 10th, 2019 -


Wednesday 23rd January 2019-

Future Inn Plymouth-


If a tenant owes you rent you can claim it back via the small claims court, how does it work?

Posted on January 10th, 2019 -

Listen to this episode from BBC Radio 4’s Money Box Live. The panel discusses the effectiveness of the system for getting you your money back.



Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 passed through Parliament and comes into force 20th March 2019

Posted on January 4th, 2019 -

It will be a requirement for all social and private landlords (including letting agents acting on their behalf) in England to ensure that a property is fit for human habitation both at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout. The Bill amends the Landlord and Tenant Act 1984.

If a home does not meet the standards of the HHSRS (Housing Health and Safety Rating System), tenants can take legal action in court for breach of contract.

Put forward by Labour MP Karen Buck, the Bill received Royal Accent on 20th December 2018 and comes into force 3 months after that date – 20th March 2019. Initially it will only apply to new and renewal tenancies in England from this date. It will then apply to periodic tenancies 12 months later to give landlords time to ensure properties are up to standard.

The government have a HHSRS guide for landlords and property professionals;


For more information on the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018;


Tenant Fees Bill in final stages

Posted on January 3rd, 2019 -

The Tenant Fees Bill 2017-2019 is due it’s 3rd and final reading on 15th January 2019 in the House of Lords. Once the final reading takes place, it will then return to the House of Commons for a consideration of amendments, after that it can receive Royal Assent and become law.

The implementation date is not known but is to be expected in Spring 2019 at the earliest. The Bill seeks to ban most letting agent and landlord charges to tenants and will place caps on security and holding deposits.

For updates on the Bill and to read debates on all stages of the bill, please see the following link; https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2017-19/tenantfees.html








ICO issues first fines to organisations who have not paid the data protection fee

Posted on January 2nd, 2019 -

All organisations, companies and sole traders that process personal data must pay an annual fee to the ICO unless they are exempt. Fines for not paying can be up to a maximum of £4,350.

This follows regulations which came into force alongside the new Data Protection Act on 25 May 2018.

These first organisations have been fined for not renewing their fees following their expiry and more fines are set to follow. More than 900 notices of intent to fine have been issued by the ICO since September and more than 100 penalty notices are being issued in this first round.


Article from The Information Commissioners Office 28.11.2018

SWLA Office Christmas Opening Hours

Posted on December 20th, 2018 -

The SWLA office will be closed from 3pm Friday 21st December 2018 and will re-open at 10am on Wednesday 2nd January 2019.

Emails and telephone messages will be checked and responded to in that period.

We wish all of our members a very lovely Christmas and a Happy New Year.

SWLA Members – 5% Discount at B&Q

Posted on December 7th, 2018 -

As of Monday 10th December 2018, SWLA members with a B&Q Trade Point Card receive 5% off B&Q purchases (to exclude local clearance items, vouchers and services – see T&Cs) without having to have a minimum spend the previous month.

This is on a 6 month trial basis. With the right amount of uptake, this trail period will hopefully be extended.


**please note if over £500.00 is spent in one month, an additional 5% discount will be applied within 7 days to run for the remainder of the current month and the following month**


See the original discount update here;

B&Q Trade Loyalty Scheme Launch



West of England Landlord Panel Meeting, Bristol

Posted on December 7th, 2018 -

On Wednesday 5th December, Gillian (SWLA Office Manager) attended the West of England Landlord Panel Meeting. Items discussed included Bristol’s proposed Additional Licencing Fee update, mandatory licence standards and the Tenant Fees Bill. 

Teignbridge District Council Stakeholders Housing Event

Posted on November 29th, 2018 -

On Friday 16th November, Gillian Kerr (Office Manager) and Iain Maitland (Vice Chair of SWLA) attended a Teignbridge District Council Stakeholders Event in Kennford.

Housing progress and plans for 2018/19 were discussed and many ideas were shared.

Landlord Training Course

Posted on November 28th, 2018 -

Landlord Training Course

End of Tenancy including Repossessions 

Monday 4th February 2019 – 9:30am – 4:30pm 

Venue – Charter Room, Plymouth Guildhall, Royal Parade, Plymouth PL1 1HA

If you are accredited this will count towards your CPD hours, but the course is open to all.

Cost for SWLA members – £65.  Cost for non-SWLA members – £75. 

Course will cover:-    

  • Abandoned Property
  • Managing Rent Arrears,
  • Anti-Social Behaviour issues and eviction
  • Other tenancy enforcement issues
  • Section 8 Forms
  • Section 21 Forms
  • Court Forms and Procedures
  • Bailiffs
  • Left belongings
  • Latest legal updates and relevant case law 

Places secured upon receipt of payment, book your place through the office 01752 510913.

Course will be instructed by Stephen Fowler from Training for Professionals.

Landlord Accreditation Training Course

Posted on November 27th, 2018 -

Landlord Accreditation Training Course

Tuesday 29th January 2019 – 9:30 – 4:30pm 

Venue – Astor Room, Plymouth Guildhall, Royal Parade, Plymouth PL1 1HA

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 via the website to book your place, places secured on receipt of payment.

Over 720 landlords have already completed this course since September 2011.

Course can lead to Accreditation, if required.

Shelter – Help for Tenants Applying for Benefits in Plymouth

Posted on November 19th, 2018 -

If your tenant is struggling with their finances or benefit claim, you can direct them to Shelter for help. Shelter are opening their Information Resource Centre in Ernest English House, Buckwell Street, Plymouth in December 2018. There will be 2 computers and a phone line, with a full-time member of staff dedicated to helping your tenants with guided self-help. Guidance will be for benefit claims, housing applications, job searches, Shelter ‘get help’ pages and other related assistance. The member of staff who will be running this service is called Rachel Hembury. The Information Resource Centre can be accessed Monday to Friday 9.30-12.30 and 13.30-15.30, no appointment is necessary.

Meeting with Councillor Chris Penberthy, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Co-operative Development, Plymouth City Council

Posted on November 12th, 2018 -

SWLA Chair Steve Lees, Vice Chair Iain Maitland and Policy Officer Linda Johns met with Matt Garrett (Head of Community Connections PCC) and Councillor Chris Penberthy at the SWLA Office to discuss the following items;

  • Universal Credit and its impact on the Private Rented Sector
  • HMO Licencing and applications
  • Homes (Fitness for Habitation)
  • Hopes and direction for the Charter Steering Group


SWLA Christmas Open Office Afternoon

Posted on November 12th, 2018 -

Wednesday 12th December 3pm – 6pm


Come and join SWLA staff, committee and members for a mince pie and a drink. All members welcome.

SWLA Chair Attends Shelter Meeting in Plymouth

Posted on November 7th, 2018 -

Steve Lees (SWLA Chair) attended the Shelter meeting on Monday 5th November 2018 with PATH, CAB, Plymouth City Council, Plymouth Homes 4 Let and other representatives from housing related agencies.

Topics discussed included; –

  • Rescuing tenancies before breakdown
  • Recognising early warning signs and having a reporting system in place before steps are taken to issue notice to tenants


SWLA Membership Renewals 2018/2019

Posted on November 1st, 2018 -

Membership renewal payments of £45.00 are due by today (01/11/2018). Thank you to members who have paid already.

Renewal receipts will be sent by email unless a paper copy has been requested by post.

If you haven’t yet renewed, you can do so by paying a BACs (Bank Transfer) payment to –

Account Name: SWLA Sort Code: 20-68-10 Account Number: 50498610   (remember to include your name and membership number!)

Alternatively, you can send a cheque to SWLA

SWLA, 30 Dale Road, Plymouth, PL4 6PD

Please note, you do not need to return your membership renewal form in the post. By paying your membership fee, you are agreeing to continue the membership terms of your original membership.