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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)


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 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.


SWLA Membership Renewals 2018

Posted on October 12th, 2018 -

All SWLA Memberships are due for renewal as of 1st November 2018.

Thank you to members who have already paid. If sending a BACs/Bank Transfer (£45.00), please remember to include your surname and membership number so that we can send your receipt promptly via email.

Account Name: SWLA
Sort Code: 20-68-10
Account Number: 50498610

You can also renew by sending a cheque to the office; SWLA, 30 Dale Road, Plymouth, PL4 6PD




Notice of a General Meeting

Posted on October 3rd, 2018 -

 Wednesday 17th October 2018 – Future Inn Hotel, William Prance Road, Plymouth –  7.30pm



Speakers will include:-


Emma Rose, Plymouth City Council

An update on Universal Credit, with Q&A to include Housing Benefit & Council Tax questions


Jeremy Wood, Excaliber Insurance

‘The perils of being under-insured’ including loss of rent vs rent guarantee


Richard Green, Trading Standards

‘The role of Trading Standards in Private Renting’


Wine & orange juice will be served during the evening.

We hope to see you there, guests are very welcome.


Please remember to register your car at the hotel reception upon arrival.

SWLA Members – Plymouth Landlords – Free Energy Saving Measures

Posted on September 26th, 2018 -

Do you have a property in Devonport, Ham or St Budeaux electoral wards? (to include Devonport, Keyham, Morice Town, Ham, Weston Mill, Pennycross, North Prospect, Kings Tamerton, St Budeaux, Barne Barton and parts of Stoke and Beacon Park)

To check which ward a property falls into, the postcode can be entered at https://mapit.mysociety.org/ and it will tell you immediately.

Plymouth Energy Community are working with Plymouth City Council to provide free energy saving measures to homeowners and private renting tenants. Everything that they provide is free including;

  • LED lightbulbs
  • Draught excluders (door, window, letter box etc)
  • Pipe and tank lagging
  • New Thermostatic Radiator Valves (if not present or not functioning efficiently).
  • Advice on reducing damage caused by condensation

No means testing. Completely free of charge.

To enquire, call 01752 477117 or email  energyteam@plymouthenergycommunity.com

Click the following link for more info;    Energy Team – Big Bills Save Money

HMO Licencing

Posted on September 25th, 2018 -

New HMO licencing – 5 persons or more sharing – New legislation begins on 1st October 2018.

Only 5 days to go to get your applications in to the local authority where an early bird discount may be applicable.

Teignbridge Property Agent Rating Scheme

Posted on September 25th, 2018 -

Vice Chairman, Iain Maitland attended the launch of the Property Agent Rating Scheme for Teignbridge on Wednesday 19th September 2018.

19 agents were awarded ratings from bronze to platinum.

Landlord Accreditation Course

Posted on September 25th, 2018 -

Landlord Accreditation Training Course

 Thursday 8th November 2018 – 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 700 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.

Landlord Training Course; Inventories – Last Few Places Remaining

Posted on September 21st, 2018 -

Landlord Training Course – Inventories

Tuesday 9th October 2018 – 9:30am – 4:30pm at Plymouth Guildhall

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.

Inventory Course will cover:-
– How to create a robust Inventory and Schedule of condition
– Mid-term visits – what to look for and record
– Managing the safety paper trail
– Alternatives to taking a deposit
– IT solutions
– Move in
– Move out
– Move out reports
– When is wear and tear a damages claim
– Managing a move out dispute
– Adjudication workshop

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

B&Q Trade Loyalty Scheme Launch

Posted on September 14th, 2018 -


From 1st October 2018, TradePoint members are eligible to receive flat rate discounts when they spend and swipe their TradePoint membership card. The discount is applicable on practically every product across B&Q and TradePoint.

Spend £250 in a month and you’ll receive 5% discount off your products until the end of the following month.

Spend £1,000 in a month and you’ll receive 10% discount off your products until the end of the following month.

These changes will help make B&Q low prices even lower for loyal members.

  • As you make purchases using your TradePoint card, B&Q will track your monthly spend
  • When you spend £250 or £1,000 in any given month (including refunds or cancellations) B&Q trigger your discount.
  • Your discount will be valid until the end of the following month.
  • B&Q will apply your correct level of discount within 7 days of you reaching the qualifying spend.
  • If you let B&Q have your email address they will send you an email advising you that your discount has been applied and a monthly spend update.
  • Each calendar month is a qualifying period – so there’s a chance to earn the discount every month.

***SWLA Members, if you do not have a B&Q Trade Point Card, please contact the office to find out how you can apply***



Meetings Attended by SWLA

Posted on September 7th, 2018 -

On Wednesday 5th September, SWLA Office Manager Gillian Kerr attended The West of England Landlord Panel in Bristol. Main subjects covered were HMO licencing and Universal Credit.

Linda Johns (SWLA Committee Member – Policy and Liaison Officer) along with SWLA Vice Chair Iain Maitland attended Plymouth City Council’s Charter Steering Group. They met Plymouth’s new Portfolio Holder- Cabinet Member for Housing; Councillor Penberthy. Discussions were held regarding  private rented accommodation within Plymouth and Pledge 33 from the Labour Manifesto. Other items included the plan for preventing homelessness.

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