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01752 510913

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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.

Letting Agents – From 6th August 2018, ‘Ombudsman Services’ Cease to be a Redress Scheme for the Property Sector

Posted on August 3rd, 2018 -

Since 1st October 2014 – all letting and managing agents in England must belong to a redress scheme.

There were 3 schemes to choose from;

  • Ombudsman Services
  • The Property Redress Scheme
  • The Property Ombudsman

‘Ombudsman Services’ are ceasing to be a redress scheme for the purpose of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 which requires membership by agents.

Any letting or managing agent in England who belong to the ‘Ombudsman Services’ scheme must join one of the other 2 schemes before 6th August to ensure that they continue to comply with the requirement to belong to a redress scheme.

Agents must remember to prominently display who they are a member of in their office and on their website (if they have one).

For more information please see the ‘Ombudsman Services’ press release;



Landlords – Do you rent a property that is lived in by 5 or more people from 2 or more families?

Posted on July 27th, 2018 -

If so, regardless of how many floors the property has, you have until midnight 30th September 2018 to apply for a HMO Licence (if you haven’t done so already).

For further information, please contact your local authority.

Landlord Training Course – Inventories

Posted on July 13th, 2018 -

Landlord Training Course – Inventories 

Tuesday 9th October 2018 – 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. 

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

This course is key for those newer to lettings or for those who recognise their inventory paperwork could be better or for those looking for fresh solutions. 

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

Landlord Accreditation Course

Posted on July 13th, 2018 -

Landlord Accreditation Training Course 

Tuesday 4th September 2018 – 9:30 – 4:30pm 

Venue – Charter 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 680 landlords have already completed this course since September 2011.

Course can lead to Accreditation, if required.

‘How to Rent’ Guide Update

Posted on July 12th, 2018 -

The Government have published another updated version of the guide ‘How to Rent: the checklist for renting in England’. The document was updated on 6th July 2018 and published on 9th July 2018. This was following the previous update on 26th June 2018.

When you provide the ‘How to Rent’ guide, print it straight from the gov.uk website to ensure that you give your new or renewing tenant the most up to date guide;


Form 77

Posted on July 10th, 2018 -

Unfortunately, due to the constraints  of GDPR and having taken legal advice we are no longer able to operate a form 77 service.

We apologise to all form of contributors and thank them for their past submissions.

‘How to Let’ Guide for Private Residential Landlords

Posted on July 4th, 2018 -

The government has published a ‘How to Let’ guide for landlords. It’s a great guide to read through to ensure that you have carried out all of your landlord responsibilities.


Please note. The booklet does not cover leasehold, holiday lets or resident landlords who let to lodgers.


New HMO Guidance Document Released for Local Housing Authorities

Posted on July 4th, 2018 -

The government has released a guidance document for local authorities regarding the extension of mandatory licencing of houses in multiple occupation (HMO). Included in the document is a new definition of an HMO that will require a licence. It also includes the regulations on room sizes and landlords needing to take responsibility for their tenant’s rubbish;


This guidance document will help landlords understand how health and safety rules for shared houses will impact their properties.

From 1st October 2018, private landlords renting out a property to 5 or more tenants from two or more separate households must have a licence from the local authority.

The aim is to protect tenants from poor and often over crowded living conditions owned by a small number of landlords.


Here we have some highlights taken from the document which will be relevant to our members;

We want to support good private landlords who provide decent well-maintained homes and not impose unnecessary regulation.

Mandatory licensing of HMOs came into force in 2006 and originally applied to properties of three storeys or more with five or more people making up two or more separate households living in them.

As demand for HMOs increased in the decade since mandatory licensing was first introduced there has been a significant increase in properties with fewer than three storeys being used as HMO accommodation, notably two storey houses originally designed for families and flats. Some have been used by opportunist rogue landlords who exploit their vulnerable tenants, and rent sub-standard, overcrowded and potentially dangerous accommodation. The growth of HMOs has also had an impact on the local community, including where inadequate rubbish storage leads to pest infestation and health and safety problems.

To this end we have also clarified the minimum size to be applied to rooms used for sleeping accommodation in HMOs and added requirements relating to the provision of refuse disposal in licensed properties. 

The measures complement those in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 which tackle rogue landlords. They will also operate within the additions brought in by that Act to the enforcement regime, including the financial penalty procedures and banning orders.


What are the extended mandatory HMO licensing requirements?

In April 2018, Parliament approved secondary legislation which reforms the mandatory HMO licensing regime.  

The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 20182 (‘the Prescribed Description Order 2018’) has the effect of extending the scope of section 55(2)(a) of the Housing Act 2004 (‘the Act’), so that mandatory HMO licensing also applies to HMO properties which are less than three storeys high. The Prescribed Description Order 2018 also deals with the passporting of licences granted under additional and selective licensing schemes into the mandatory licensing regime.

A second statutory instrument, the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 20185 (‘the Mandatory Conditions Regulations 2018’) amends Schedule 4 of the Act, introducing new conditions that must be included in licences that have been granted under Part 2 of the Act. These are:

-Mandatory national minimum sleeping room sizes; and

-Waste disposal provision requirements.


Minimum sleeping room sizes 

From 1 October 2018 local housing authorities must impose conditions as to the minimum room size which may be occupied as sleeping accommodation in the HMO. A room smaller than the specified size must not be used as sleeping accommodation, and communal space in other parts of the HMO cannot be used to compensate for rooms smaller than the prescribed minimum. The purpose of this condition is to reduce overcrowding in smaller HMOs. The standards adopted are similar, but not identical to, those relating to overcrowding in dwellings under section 326 of the Housing Act 1985. 


What is the minimum sleeping room size?

The minimum sleeping room sizes to be imposed as conditions of Part 2 licences are:

-6.51 m2 for one person over 10 years of age

-10.22 m2 for two persons over 10 years of age

-4.64 m2 for one child under the age of 10 years

The minimum size for sleeping accommodation does not apply to charities providing night shelters or temporary accommodation for people suffering or recovering from drug or alcohol abuse or mental disorders. 

It will also be a mandatory condition that any room of less than 4.64 m2 may not be used as sleeping accommodation and the landlord will need to notify the local housing authority of any room in the HMO with a floor area of less than 4.64 m2. 

Any area of the room in which the ceiling height is less than 1.5m cannot be counted towards the minimum room size. 

In addition, local housing authorities are required to impose conditions specifying the maximum number of persons over 10 years of age and/or persons under 10 years of age who may occupy specified rooms provided in HMOs for sleeping accommodation.

The mandatory room size conditions will however be the statutory minimum and are not intended to be the optimal room size. Local housing authorities will continue to have discretion to set their own higher standards within licence conditions, but must not set lower standards. 


Waste disposal

All licences issued after 1 of October 2018 will need to include a condition requiring the compliance with the council’s storage and waste disposal scheme (if one exists). A licence holder’s failure to comply with the scheme is a breach of the licence and a criminal offence. 

From 1 October 2018, local authorities will be required to impose a mandatory condition concerning the provision of suitable refuse storage facilities for HMOs. Local authorities will be aware that HMOs, occupied by separate and multiple households, generate more waste and rubbish than single family homes. Some local authorities have made specific provision under their function as the local waste authority for landlords of HMOs to ensure there are appropriate facilities for storing rubbish their properties generate. 

All licensed HMOs will need to comply with the scheme issued by the local authority (if one exists) for the storage and disposal of domestic refuse pending collection. A licence holder’s failure to comply with the scheme is a breach of the licence and a criminal offence. 

This condition must be included in all HMO licences (mandatory or additional) granted or renewed after commencement of the Mandatory Conditions Regulations 2018 on 1 October 2018. 


For more information and detail, please see the publication via the link above.

SWLA Attend Plymouth City Council Steering Group Meeting

Posted on June 29th, 2018 -

On Wednesday 27th June, Gillian Kerr (SWLA Office Manager) and Iain Maitland (SWLA Vice-Chairman) attended a Steering Group Meeting hosted by Plymouth City Council. Attendees included representatives from Plymouth City Council, PATH, Shelter, University of Plymouth, local letting agencies and social housing providers.

Items discussed included Energy Efficiency in the Private Rented Sector (PRS), legislation changes effecting the PRS including the appointment of a new portfolio holder for housing, Trading Standards and their role in the PRS, Homelessness Reduction Act and the Plan for Preventing Homelessness.

SWLA attend and support these meetings on a regular basis and are keen to continue developing relationships between the Local Authority, landlords/agents and other key organisations.

New ‘How To Rent’ Guide Published, 26th June 2018

Posted on June 27th, 2018 -

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has published new ‘how to’ guides including the ‘How to Rent’ Guide which must be provided to all new or renewing tenants in England.


On Tuesday 26th June 2018, the government published an updated version of the ‘How to Rent’ guide. This is the second update this year, the previous one being 17th January 2018.

All new or renewing tenants in England must receive the most current version of the ‘How to Rent’ guide from their landlord at the start of their tenancy. Therefore, if you have a new or renewing tenant who signed their tenancy agreement on or after 26th June 2018, this new version must be given.

You should ensure that your tenants sign to acknowledge receipt of all documents that you give (please see page 6 of the ‘How to Rent’ guide). There is space for your tenant to sign for receipt of these documents at the back of the SWLA Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement.

If you do not prescribe the correct documents to your tenant, a Section 21 Possession Notice would be invalid and any application for possession would be thrown out if it goes to court.

If you have a tenancy that started 25th June 2018 or before, there is no need to give your tenant this new version but there is nothing stopping you doing so. It’s a great way to remind tenants of their responsibilities.

Notice of a General Meeting

Posted on June 27th, 2018 -

SWLA Open Office Afternoon 

Wednesday 11th July 2018     3pm – 6pm

30 Dale Road, Plymouth PL4 6PD

Come and join us in the office for a cream tea. You can meet our committee and other SWLA members. All welcome!

West of England Landlord Panel Meeting attended by SWLA

Posted on June 27th, 2018 -

SWLA office manager Gillian Kerr attended the West of England Landlord Panel meeting in Bristol on 20th June 2018.

Items discussed included Legal Updates, Licencing Updates and general market conditions for the Private Rented Sector.

SWLA represent members in many South West local authority areas, we will promulgate relevant information through our quarterly bulletins. If you prefer to read the bulletins online you can do so; https://www.landlordssouthwest.co.uk/news-articles/latest-bulletins/


A Message to SWLA Members; Extension of Mandatory HMO Licensing by Plymouth City Council

Posted on June 15th, 2018 -

I am sure that you are already aware of the pending changes in the Licencing of HMO properties. Historically any property which had five or more tenants forming more than one household* sharing a basic amenity, over three storeys required a Licence which is issued by the Local Authority. From 1st October 2018, the storey requirement will be removed, and any property where there are five or more tenants forming more than one household* sharing a basic amenity, will require a licence, regardless of how many storeys the property has.

*A household is either a single person or members of the same family who live together. A family includes people who are:

  • married or living together as a couple
  • relatives or half-relatives, for example grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings
  • step-parents and step-children

Please follow the information below to see if these HMO licence changes are relevant to you. This article is relevant in all Local Authorities, therefore if some parts are specific to Plymouth, if your let property is outside of Plymouth, please contact the relevant Local Authority for further help and advice.

We are hoping that this will be a seamless a transition as possible.


What is an HMO?

An HMO is any property occupied by 3 or more people who form more than one household (i.e. not a single-family dwelling). Please see the following link for further information


If your property is an HMO, then the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 apply (please see attached document for your reference)


What is a licensable HMO? – Existing Criteria

A HMO that requires a licence under the existing criteria, is a property described as a ‘large HMO’ that is occupied by 5 or more unrelated people and has accommodation that is at least 3 stories high and includes shared facilities/amenities. Please see the following link for further information on what makes an HMO;


For the criteria that makes a HMO licensable, please see;


which has been in force since 6th April 2006 and remains effective until 3oth September 2018 when it will be repealed.

If your property is a licensable HMO then the local authority standards/guidance will apply to the property. On the following link; https://www.plymouth.gov.uk/sites/default/files/LicencedHousesInMultipleOccupation.pdf

You will find our guidance and standards on levels of management required in licensable HMO’s for Plymouth. It is important to add that due to the raft of legislation changes and updates over recent times, we are currently undertaking a review of this document and will have an updated version released later this year.

Whilst there has always been the scope for any local authority to apply selective and additional licensing requirements (to encompass properties or areas that fall out of the mandatory criteria), Plymouth City Council have not adopted this approach.


What are the impending changes?

The mandatory criteria for a licensable HMO is changing so that HMO’s with 5 or more unrelated people, irrespective of the number of stories, come under the new legislation/criteria. These changes have been under consultation with the Department for Communities and Local Government since 2016. If you wish to read further information about the consultation, please see the following paper

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/houses-in-multiple-occupation-and-residential-property-licensing-reforms and Government response document



The final government response document was released on 27.12.2017 and can be found here;



When will the changes apply?

The effective date of these changes has been confirmed as 1st October 2018 in the following statutory instrument;


Through the work with our partners in the private rented sector (landlords, agencies and the University) we have been collating information on the properties that may be subject to the extension criteria. Currently we have 470 known properties that will be licensable from 01.10.2018 and have had contact from the relevant persons. This enables us to have a contact list to provide updates to so that the transition can be as smooth as possible.



What do you now need to do?

All we ask at this point is that you consider your properties to see if you have a HMO to which the changes apply. If you have a HMO property, or properties, that will be subject to the changes, please confirm this by sending an email to; communityconnections@plymouth.gov.uk

Please include the following details:

  1. The addresses of the HMO properties you have that will be subject to the extension of licensing (i.e. any property that has 5 or more unrelated tenants in residence, irrespective of storey count)
  2. Your preferred contact details (postal address, telephone and email) for further information and guidance to be sent to you.

The provision of the above information will be added to a list of properties that I am collating. This information is securely stored and will not be passed on to any 3rd parties. Once the licences have been processed to cases being opened, this database will be erased.


Any Other Business?

At Plymouth City Council, we have had a drive to move towards the modern digital age and have created an online application process for HMO licensing that is set to be available for use in submitting HMO applications from 01.07.18.

Our HMO licence fee structure has also been reviewed (last reviewed in 2012) and we will be shortly publishing the new HMO licence fee structure to come into effect, hopefully from 01.07.18. What is very good news for landlords is that the discretionary discount offered to landlords who are accredited, is increasing from £60 previously to £150 under the new fee structure.

My colleague and I recently attended the Annual General Meeting at the Future Inn and want to thank the SWLA and their members for inviting us and making us feel very welcome on the day. We do appreciate the opportunity to connect with our partners across the city and see this as a valuable opportunity to maintain and enhance relationships between the Local Authority and landlords within Plymouth. We have supported multiple events and will look to continue this, so please make sure you keep in touch with the SWLA team to identify topics you might want us to speak on.

I would like to finish by saying that we appreciate your support, particularly in respect of the extension to HMO licensing, and look forward to receiving your response at your earliest opportunity. I look forward to working together with you through these changes.

Message sent from Mark Chubb, Plymouth City Council 

Universal Credit Seminar Review, Plymouth

Posted on June 15th, 2018 -

The South West Landlords Association, based in Plymouth and covering mostly the Westcountry were tasked by the RLA to promote and host a Universal Credit seminar which was being presented by the DWP engagement division as part of a National programme.

Plymouth City Council provided a venue in the City Guildhall and SWLA advertised and promulgated the updated universal credit information which formed the content of the seminar.

As well as landlord and letting agent members of both the SWLA and RLA, the event was opened to all landlords and interested parties. Over 50 attendees were present with representatives from charities, credit unions, social housing providers, as well as landlords and agents.

Gary Jenkins (DWP U.C. programme) was assisted by Gary Martin and Jacki Williams (DWP Devon, Cornwall and Somerset operational partnership team) in presenting the one and a half hour session. The assistance of the regional team was greatly appreciated as their local knowledge of implementation and rollout problems was invaluable.

The teams jointly explained Managed Payments and Alternative Payment Arrangements and how landlords can apply for a direct payment of rent or rent arrears deduction from a tenants Universal Credit if they are having difficulty paying. They clarified when a landlord can use form U47 to apply for direct payment.

Local Housing Allowance rates were discussed, how they were arrived at, and their relevance to Universal Credit.

Transitional Housing Payments were explained in that as from 11 April 2018 claimants who have a claim to Housing Benefit (HB) at the point they claim Universal Credit will continue to be paid HB at the full rate by their local authority for the first two weeks of their Universal Credit claim.

At the end of the presentation a lively, informative Q & A session ensued. Again the local team’s in-depth knowledge of local problems proved invaluable, with Jacki and Gary being able to answer specifics.

Iain Maitland, vice chairman of SWLA closed the meeting by inviting Paul Williams, Manager of City of Plymouth Credit Union to give a short address outlining the benefits of the Credit Union to landlords who had tenants who were unable to satisfactorily manage their own financial affairs.


Links –

What Universal Credit means for Landlords –  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-and-rented-housing–2


Managed Payments/Alternative Payment Arrangements –



Local Housing Allowance –



Transitional Housing Payments –



Cathco Open Week, Plymouth

Posted on June 14th, 2018 -

Cathco specialise in appliance repairs and servicing. They also sell reconditioned appliances.

Cathco will be hosting an open week from Friday 22nd June 2018 though to Friday 29th June 2018 to promote their new retail premises stocking over 50 reconditioned appliances.

They will be offering discount on all goods to landlords and letting agents. SWLA members can get 25% off their first call until July 31st 2018.


“Come and view our new facilities have a drink with us to discuss what we can do for you as a landlord/letting agent”


Cathco Ltd

Unit 315 Faraday Mill Retail Park




For more information, please visit the Cathco website; http://www.cathco.co.uk


West of England Landlord Expo, Wednesday 13th June 2018

Posted on June 8th, 2018 -

SWLA will be attending this year’s West of England landlord exhibition in Bristol.


Exhibition & Conference Centre, University of the West of England
Wednesday 13th June
11am – 6pm

Free entry to all.

GDPR for landlords. Have you registered and paid your data protection fee with the ICO?

Posted on May 31st, 2018 -

From 25 May 2018, the Data Protection (Charges and Information) Regulations 2018 requires every organisation or sole trader who processes personal information to pay a data protection fee to the ICO, unless they are exempt.

Take this test if you are unsure whether you need to pay the fee to the ICO;


Landlord Training Course

Posted on May 25th, 2018 -

Landlord Training Course 

Friday 6th July 2018 – 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. 

Course will cover:-    

  • HMO’s – including new licensing legislation as from 1st October 2018.
  • GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) – what you need to know about the New Data Protection legislation.
  • Other forthcoming legislation changes. 

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.

Meeting with Luke Pollard MP

Posted on May 21st, 2018 -

Luke Pollard MP met with Chair/Vice Chair and Policy Officer at SWLA offices, Dale Road, on 18th May 2018.

Items on the agenda included GDPR/PRS registration of Landlords/Agents Fees/Agents qualifications/electrical safety checks/Universal Credit. A very constructive meeting was much appreciated.

GDPR Landlord’s Guide

Posted on May 18th, 2018 -

SWLA’s Guide to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will apply from 25th May 2018

GDPR will form the new standard by which landlords and agents deal with personal information from their tenants, prospective tenants, residents and guarantors and any others from whom they collect information. It replaces the Data Protection Act and introduces significant changes to the way you should process personal information.

1. If you haven’t done so already, register with the ICO (Information Commissioners Office). It costs £40.00 per year for most landlords.



2. Use the ICO’s ‘12 step process’ to review your business and make adjustments to comply with GDPR;



3. You as a landlord are the ‘Data Controller’. Operations which are subject to GDPR are called ‘Data Processing’ and includes collecting data, storing data, altering data, sharing data and destroying/deleting data. Part of the ‘12 step process’ is to review and audit all the information that you receive and record what you do with it.


4. Another important part of the ’12 step process’ is to issue all new/existing tenants/residents, guarantors and prospective tenants with an updated privacy notice.



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