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which has been in force since 6th April 2006 and remains effective until 3oth September 2018 when it will be repealed.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



Amended Gas Safety Rules for Landlords

Posted on May 3rd, 2018 -

New regulations introduced in April 2018 allow a landlord to arrange for a gas safety check to be carried out any time from 10-12 calendar months after the previous check whilst still preserving the original check expiry date.

For further information please see the Gas Safe website;



Universal Credit Seminar

Posted on April 25th, 2018 -

Universal Credit Seminar

Presented by the National and Regional DWP teams

 Wednesday 9th May 2018 – 9:30 – 11am

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

The seminar will cover –

Universal Credit Overview

Universal Credit Full Service in Numbers

Recent Changes

Universal Credit Live & Full Service

Migration – Natural and Managed

Verification of Rent

Alternative Payment Arrangements


This is a free seminar.

 Of interest to all landlords or organisations who take or advise on Housing Benefit.

 Numbers will be limited, so please email the office info@landlordssouthwest.co.uk to register your place. 


SWLA Letting Agent Course

Posted on April 12th, 2018 -

Due to the volume and importance of the legislation and regulations coming into force for Letting Agents and landlords, SWLA ran a Letting Agent Course in partnership with Plymouth City Council at the Future Inn, Plymouth on Tuesday 10th April 2018.

Topics covered in depth included;

Data Protection (GDPR)

Draft Tenant Fee Ban Bill

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)

Places on the course were limited and booked up very quickly. If you missed the opportunity and would like to be informed of the next Letting Agent Course, please email the SWLA office and we will ensure that you are informed as soon as the next Letting Agent Course date is secured.
For all SWLA course dates and information, please refer to the training area of the SWLA website;

Landlord Training


SWLA Attend Housing Meeting in Torquay

Posted on April 3rd, 2018 -

Iain Maitland (SWLA Vice Chairman) attended the Mayor’s Housing Liaison Group meeting in Torquay on Thursday 29th March.

Items discussed included recent and forthcoming legislative changes (HMO Licensing, Energy Efficiency regulations, Housing and Planning Act 2004 provisions), enforcement updates, Banning Orders, future developments and police/fire service updates.

SWLA are representing their members regularly at a local government level.

SWLA – Recent Local Council Meetings

Posted on March 29th, 2018 -

On Thursday 22nd March, SWLA held a meeting at our Dale Road office with Councillor Ricketts (Cabinet Member for Transport and Housing Delivery) and Matt Garrett (Head of Community Connections PCC). Items on the agenda included Universal Credit, HMO regulations, Homes (Fitness for Habitation) and Banning Orders.

Iain Maitland (SWLA Chair) and Steve Lees (SWLA Vice Chair) attended the Cornwall Housing Summit ‘Home Truths’ on Friday 23rd March hosted by the National Housing Federation. Many housing topics were discussed including social housing for Cornwall and new affordable housing projects in Cornwall.



Iain Maitland, Vice Chairman of SWLA Attends Universal Credit Select Committee Review

Posted on March 15th, 2018 -

14th March 2018, Plymouth City Council held a Select Committee Review to discuss the roll out of Universal Credit. Iain Maitland was invited to provide SWLA member’s views and experiences of the Universal Credit system.

Many thanks to all members who participated.



West of England Panel Meeting Attended by SWLA

Posted on March 14th, 2018 -

Gillian Kerr (Office Manager) attended a meeting hosted by Bristol City Council today (14th March 2018).

Any important updates from the meeting will be shared with SWLA members.


Lets for Life (Housing Charity) Looking for Properties in the South West, Particularly Plymouth

Posted on March 14th, 2018 -

SWLA have been approached by Lets for Life who are seeking smaller houses, flats and bungalows. They will lease the property for between 9 months and 6 years (negotiable). There is a full support package in place for their tenants who have learning disabilities and complex support needs. All tenants will be supported by care staff and a tenancy support agent who will ensure the smooth running and maintenance of the property.

A good rate of  rent will be paid as the tenants are exempt from local authority caps. Therefore rent will be above the LHA rate.

LFL Flyer

If you are interested in finding out more, please contact Clare Hannah; clare.hannah@letsforlife.org.uk



Changes to HMO Licensing

Posted on March 7th, 2018 -

After a long wait, parliamentary approval of the changes to HMO (Houses in Multiple Occupation) licensing was accepted on 23rd February 2018. These changes will come into effect on 1st October 2018.


Applications and fees will vary by local authority areas. Further details will be promulgated as and when they become available.

For further information, please see the following document or contact your local authority;





Adult Safeguarding

Posted on March 7th, 2018 -

If you are concerned that an adult may be at risk of abuse or know of a worrying situation such as an adult neglecting themselves, as a landlord what can you do?

Don’t tolerate it, don’t ignore it, report it.

You can call your local council, selecting the adult social care option to discuss and report any safeguarding concerns.

(In an emergency situation, for example when a crime is in progress, or someone’s life is at risk due to violence, serious illness or injury, please dial 999.)


Why do we need to safeguard adults?

Everyone has the right to live their life free from violence, fear and abuse.
All adults have the right to be protected from harm and exploitation.
Not everyone can protect themselves.
All adults have the right to independence, which may involve risk.


Which adults are at risk?

People aged 18 or over who:
May rely on other people or services for care and support with day to day tasks because of their age, physical or learning disability, mental health need or involvement in substance misuse
May lack mental capacity
May not be able to speak up for themselves
May neglect themselves and/or their home


Adults at risk can be:

Physically abused
Psychologically abused
Financially abused
Sexually abused
Discriminated against


Abuse can take many forms such as:

Shouting or swearing, which makes a person fearful
Hitting, slapping or pushing
Unwanted touching, kissing or sexual intercourse or sexual contact to which a person cannot consent
Not being cared for properly or denied privacy, choice or social contact
Money or property taken without permission or under pressure
Pressure to sign over money or property or financial transactions to which a person cannot consent
Domestic abuse, which includes incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, honour based violence and female genital mutilation
Modern Slavery, encompassing human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude.


As a landlord, BE AWARE. You may well be the only person aware of the situation.

SWLA Members, Have Your Say on Universal Credit

Posted on February 15th, 2018 -

SWLA will represent it’s members at a Select Committee Review in March hosted by Plymouth City Council. We encourage our members to participate by sending us any issues, concerns and thoughts regarding the Universal Credit introduction and it’s impact on letting your property.

Some areas of focus for any contributions are;

  • the willingness of private landlords to take on Universal Credit claimants due to the risk of arrears or to accept rent up to six weeks in arrears;
  • the implications on the private rented sector homelessness prevention, if tenants were evicted or refused tenancies;
  • the impact of the length of time it takes to process Universal Credit claims (six weeks) on rent arrears and potential eviction;
  • the impact on landlords both social and private from the introduction of Universal Credit

Please send any comments by email; info@landlordssouthwest.co.uk 

Alternatively you can visit the or post a letter to the SWLA office.

This is a great opportunity for PCC to hear how the roll out is going and how it’s impacting landlords and tenants alike. You can submit your views with your name or anonymously.

All submissions must be received by the SWLA office by close of business on Wednesday 28th February 2018.

Letting Fees Ban Postponed Until Spring 2019

Posted on February 1st, 2018 -

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has issued a statement that the letting fees ban will not come into force until at least spring 2019. It has said that the period before the implementation of the ban will take at least 15 months as the current draft Tenant Fees Bill has to undergo pre-legislative scrutiny before it can be passed.

Industry experts have been concerned that the ban would cost sector jobs, make buy-to-let investments less attractive and would ultimately result in costs being passed on to tenants.

The Government hope that the ban will ease the financial pressure on private renters whilst making the lettings market more competitive and transparent.

The draft Tenant Fees Bill can be viewed here; https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/draft-tenants-fees-bill

Universal Credit Changes Will Benefit Landlords

Posted on January 26th, 2018 -

In December 2017, the Department for Work & Pensions ended the practice of requiring a tenant’s explicit consent for an Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA) to be put in place. This APA would mean direct payment of the housing cost element of Universal Credit being paid direct to the landlord if the tenant is struggling to budget.

The new process should considerably simplify and speed up the APA request for landlords and will continue to retain a safeguard for the claimant to challenge the APA request e.g. where the claimant is in dispute with the landlord.

The tenant will no longer be asked or required to give explicit consent for an APA. The tenant will now be told that an APA has been applied for by the landlord, and the reason. The tenant will then have 7 days to provide proof that either the basis of the claim is wrong, or proof of a valid landlord/tenant dispute. Such evidence could be proof of payment (for rent arrears claims), or correspondence with local authority/CAB about repair issues (for landlord/tenant dispute)
If the tenant cannot prove that the basis for the APA is unfounded, or that there is a valid landlord/tenant dispute, or if they just ignore it, the APA will be put in place after 7 days.

In addition, when a claimant is asked to verify their rent, the DWP will also ask them if their housing benefit was being paid directly to their landlord prior to their UC claim and the reasons for this. This will allow work coaches to have a conversation with the claimant to determine whether a managed payment to landlord APA for the UC claim may need to be applied, if appropriate.



SWLA AGM, Wednesday 24th January 2018

Posted on January 19th, 2018 -


Notice of an Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the Association will be held on Wednesday 24th January 2018 @ 7:30pm.

The Future Inn Plymouth, 1 William Prance Road, Plymouth International Business Park, Plymouth PL6 5ZD

Please note that this will be a members-only meeting

We will start promptly at 7.30pm with the formal proceedings of the Annual General Meeting in accordance with the Agenda.

After the important business has been concluded there will be an opportunity to socialise over drinks and a finger buffet.

The Committee would like to thank you for your support and hope to see you at the AGM.


Updated ‘How to Rent’ Guide

Posted on January 18th, 2018 -

The ‘How to Rent: the checklist for renting in England’ guide from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government was updated yesterday (17th January 2018).

Changes include a change of government department name on page 1 and the removal of reference to the London Rental Standard on page 3.

With immediate effect, landlords must ensure that they issue the most recent version to tenants in England when they start or renew their tenancies. Failure to do so could invalidate any future Section 21 action.

The latest ‘How to Rent’ guide can be found on the gov.uk website;






Landlord Sentenced After Failing to Comply

Posted on January 17th, 2018 -

A Staffordshire based landlord has been sentenced after failing to provide evidence that a gas safety check had been carried out at one of his tenanted properties.
Newcastle-under-Lyme Magistrates’ Court heard how David Corry failed to present a Landlords Gas Safety Record to the HSE after numerous attempts from HSE representatives to obtain this certificate.
On 11 August 2016, HSE served Mr Corry with an Improvement Notice requiring him to arrange for a registered gas fitter to carry out an inspection of the gas appliances in one of his tenanted premises in Stafford, and to produce a Landlords Gas Safety Record. Mr Corry failed to comply with the Improvement Notice.
Mr David John Corry of Springfield Drive, Stafford, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 36(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, and Section 21 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was sentenced to serve a total of 36 weeks imprisonment, suspended for twelve months, and ordered to complete 140 hours unpaid work. Mr Corry was also ordered to pay costs of £6,428.46.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Wayne Owen said: “David Corry potentially put the health of his tenants at risk and also chose to ignore the repeated requests by the HSE to produce the gas safety record.
“Every year around 7 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues that have not been properly installed, maintained or that are poorly ventilated. It is important that landlords fulfil their legal gas safety obligations to their tenants.”

Article from the Health and Safety Executive.

More information on what landlords are legally responsible for in relation to gas safety can be found on the HSE website:


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