With letting agents demanding hundreds of pounds in payment before prospective tenants are allowed to view properties for rent, changing energy providers in order to get kick backs and charging ever more, what should we be doing as landlords? Maybe more importantly, with the legislative changes that will prevent them charging tenants as they do today, will any survive?
After a challenge from the Southern Landlords Association, Brighton and Hove have shelved their plans to introduce Selective Licensing in February after support for the scheme was withdrawn by the Secretary of State.
The challenge related to the lack of evidence to support the proposal and the flaws in the logic as to why the scheme was needed.
In the past couple of weeks, since the PDPLA decided to withdraw from B&Q’s Tradepoint scheme as the new terms were unfavourable for most landlords, B&Q has been hit by threats of a boycott from various landlord groups because of B&Q’s donations to activist group Shelter.
As landlords we struggle to get a fair hearing, it is easy for the press, media, councillors and politicians to 'win points' by going after 'nasty landlords' when the reality is that a higher percentage of private sector tenants are happy with their homes than social sector tenants, we house more than 1 in 4 of the local population and we do it without subsidy or support while contributing strongly to the local economy. This occasional newsletter item asks members to do their bit to change attitudes and help start changing perceptions.
This month we have a campaign on Universal Credit below plus the item on B&Q and Shelter, elsewhere in the news. Please do your bit to support both as appropriate.
Another year nearly done, roof still leaking? Woodchip still up? Tenants still creating mess? Have you followed the golden rules of Property Investing?
We have acquaintances who have a property they rent in the US. It had been successfully let to a young woman who lived with her partner until earlier this year.
Then the couple split, the partner moved out and then came back and burnt the house down.
A terrible experience for a landlord (and the tenant of course) wherever it happens – so why are we reporting it here? Well, it is different in America...
Portsmouth, like many councils, has outsourced collection of council tax to a private company with a view to maximising their income and thus reduce the impact of cutbacks on the services they provide. This is commendable, but when it comes to student accommodation, we fear it may hurt students, the University and the council itself in the longer term.
I am amazed that the Government had any energy left for the budget after recent European events and I guess it may all come to nothing next March when we leave the EU but where there is change there is always opportunity.
There is a Private Members Bill making its way through the Houses of Parliament which has almost universal support - however, some people are expecting it to solve problems that it cannot and we also see statements which do nothing to reduce the bad press landlords get considering the amount of time and effort we expend helping those most in need and most vulnerable. Read on to see our explanation of some of the considerations that we sent to Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan and his positive response.
We have been following the legal battle over HMO licensing between Nottingham City Council and one of their student landlords with some interest. In the latest instalment, the Supreme Court removed conditions applied by the Upper Tribunal in an earlier appeal which confirms our view (and contradicts a view held by PCC during the 5 years of Additional Licensing just ended), that you can take the type of tenant into account.
A simple example, is that gaps between spindles on stairs (balustrades) need to be 4 inches or less to prevent small children falling through, but in a house which will only be let to adults, is this relevant? PCC always argued they could not guarantee the type of tenant or their visitors, so all rules should apply to all properties. The new ruling shows that this is not the case and allowances can and should be made based on the type of tenant.
We often recommend members challenge or appeal decisions by inspectors, partly because they are inconsistent from one house to the next, but also because many of them are inappropriate given the type or usage of the property in question. So if you are asked to do something the benefit of which is not obvious, do consider challenging it before you spend your hard earned cash on what may be unnecessary alterations.
If you have properties in Portsmouth you need to be aware of changes in waste collection as falling foul of them could cost you £5,000 (see our earlier article outlining the fines which can be applied).
Residents will be issued small bins which can only hold 3 compressed bin bags and there will be a £2 charge for every additional bin bag (and only then if they have pre-paid stickers on them). Residents in HMO's can get larger bins but you need to take action now to ensure you get the appropriately sized bin for each of your properties.
They turn up, mess up your bedlinen with blood stains, help themselves to food and then refuse to pay their bill. Read on to discover how to deal with these persistent unwanted guests.
PDPLA committee members, Tony Athill and Joannie Goldenberg, attended the RLA Future Renting conference at Imperial Collage, London in September.
The all-day event, hosted by 30-year veteran of radio and presenter of the popular Property Hour on LBC radio, Clive Bull, was attended by more than 200 landlords and letting agents.
Speakers included MP's, senior civil servants and a wealth of experts from across the industry.
Housebuilder Redrow just announced a record year according to Merryn Somerset Webb in MoneyWeek. The number of houses sold is up 9%. Revenues are up 16%. Pre-tax profits are up 21%. And the dividend payment to the firms shareholders is up 65%. The chairman and founder, Steve Morgan is pleased and keen for this fabulous run to continue, so he has an idea. He'd like the Help To Buy scheme under which the government underwites 20% of the purchase cost of a new build home to continue forever. "If it aint broke" he says, "Why fix it?".
He has a point, H2B works brilliantly for housebuilders. 30% of Redrows sales last year relied on it which is typical across the industry. Without it, the sales number would probably be lower. But H2B doesn't just help housebuilders shift stock, it helps them shift it at high prices. After all, anyone effectively getting an extra 20% worth of loan from the state can clearly pay more than someone who isn't. Probably explains why Redrows profits are growing faster than their revenues. This government driven house price inflation is no different to the 'rent inflation' which has been caused by Housing Benefit. That to some extent, stopped when LHA was uncoupled from inflation - but it still underpins the market and sustains higher rents than would otherwise be asked (and thus higher house prices as the yield justifies it). Interesting as H2B was originally setup to solve the problem of high house prices.
The PDPLA was invited to a private reception at the House of Commons, hosted by Sir Christopher Chope MP to mark the 20th anniversary of the RLA. The event heard from Housing Minister, James Brokenshire, MP and also Shadow Housing Minister, John Healey MP and was celebrated by the publication of a series of essays on the future of the private rented sector.
RLA Chair, Alan Ward, made a point of highlighting the positive contribution that private landlords make and how they have struggled as a result of recent legislation. The MP’s present, from all parties, sang the praises of private landlords but we obviously have to wait and see if any of this positive support translates into improvements to the environment in which we operate.
A big achievement by the RLA was in bringing together so many diverse voices in the collection of essays, from the RLA to Crisis and Shelter to the British Property Federation – a collection of organisations not always on the same side.
Read on for a summary of what was discussed....
Following on from our article highlighting the fact that a landlord or a tenant could be fined up to £5,000 for leaving bin bags in the street on the wrong day or rubbish in a forecourt, it is imperative that you instruct ALL of your tenants on their obligations and be able to prove you have done so, in order to avoid the prospect of being fined for their misdemeanours. We have drafted a document which we recommend that you get all new tenants to read and to sign to show they have read it.