As has been outlined in previous communications, the deposit rules change from 6 April 2012. The most important change is that from that date where a deposit is taken, it must be protected in one of the three Government approved schemes, and the Prescribed Information provided within 30 DAYS. This is an absolute time limit, and failure will mean that no Section 21 Notice can be served. We have heard that there are some unscrupulous agents that have been advising that the legislation is retrospective, and offering, at a fee to help landlords. This is not the case. If anyone comes across such tactics, please advise the office. Landlords need not worry, but please be very much aware of the new rules.
Universal Credit is a replacement benefit for six existing means tested benefits: – Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income Based Jobseekers Allowance, and Income Related Employment and Support Allowance. Please note, not Council Tax Benefit. It will be paid to households of working age people, and it is proposed that it will be paid monthly. At present the plan is for this monthly amount to be paid direct to the claimant, who it is assumed will pass onto the landlord. This may change, and we shall keep all members informed.
New claims for Housing Benefit from people who are working will move to Universal Credit from April 2014. Existing claimants will move from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit on a phased basis from October 2013 to October 2017.
Under the localism policies of the Government, local authorities can now more easily introduce measures for the Private Rented Sector. We at the ELA believe we have some very good relationships with councils in the area, and are continually striving to further improve these. Landlords are very much part of the solution, rather than the cause of any housing problems. We strongly believe that the most effective way of combating ‘rogue’ landlords is strong enforcement, and if required, prosecution. This theory is costly, and often easier said than done. Plans to limit the number of rental properties in a set area and/or to licence all landlords are less effective.
Housing Action is a registered charity, based in Suffolk, that offered accommodation through many Private Sector Landlords to tenants, mainly on Housing Benefit. They had agreements with landlords, guaranteeing rents, with no voids, and also the condition of the property. This organisation is in the process of closing, and we understand is due to enter liquidation 17 April. On that day there will be a creditors meeting, which will include landlords, at The Holiday Inn, London Road, Ipswich, 11.30. Some of the landlords have issued a change of landlord notice to themselves from Housing Action, and we are trying to determine the exact legal position for landlords, who had contracts with the charity rather than the tenant. We have advised landlords at this stage not to sign to surrender their leases until more information is available.
‘Caveat Emptor’ – Let the buyer beware. Many landlords may be considering leasing roof space on their properties to companies generating energy from solar panels. However they do need to comply with lender rules and avoid difficulties if selling or refinancing. Landlords do need to check any planning and lender consents, and that any work is carried out to the necessary accredited standard. If the property is repossessed in the lease period, lenders can remove the panels, so affecting the value of the property. Equally if the roof space is not leased, also check with the lender.
With the forthcoming introduction of the Green Deal, existing funding schemes will end. This includes Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT), and Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP). The Energy Act passed into law in November 2011, and from October this year all present grant funding will be replaced by the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO), who will be the only agencies that will fund works. The Warmfront scheme will end, as will all other offers.
Section 21 or Section 8? – Pros and Cons.
|21 – Judge must give possession.||8 – Minimum of 14 days notice before going to court.
Requires minimum 2 months notice. Can require possession and rent owing, if 2 months.
Quite unusual to have to go court.
If in any doubt please call the office, errors can be costly, both in time and money.
House Price Confusion
There are three main published house prices indices, often with quite different figures – why? The Nationwide is traditionally based in the south, and not UK as stated. With the Halifax figure, the prices are more skewed to the north, and for the Land Registry, which are the most accurate as they are based on actual sales, are only for England and Wales. It is almost the case of select the figure that you want, and much can be proved with statistics.
A minor, those under 18 are legally incapable of owning’ an estate in land’. The clear message to landlords is never to grant a tenancy to anyone under age in his or her sole name. Always have an adult, someone over 18, sign the tenancy agreement as a co-tenant.
The recent claim by our Prime Minister that landlords are decreasing rents as a result of the welfare reforms is incorrect. Freedom of Information requests to all 353 English councils, showed only 36, just 10%, saying landlords were reducing rents to gain direct payments from the local authorities. A recent survey by Inside Housing confirmed the warning from the ELA and other associations that landlords would rather re-let at the market rent to non – Local Housing Allowance tenants. This is something they can do in the current high demand rental housing market.
All comments to the office are welcome, and we hope to see many of you at the AGM and Conference.
|Peter Davis – CEO
Landlord Meetings & Other Events
April 18 – Suffolk Coastal District Council – Landlords Forum – Council Chamber, Melton Hill, Woodbridge. From 9.00 Registration – 12.30. Speakers on Benefit Changes, Insulation, Fire, SNAP – Housing Support and The ELA.
April 25 – Lowestoft – Landlord & Property Investor Show – Aspire Centre, Yarmouth Road,
Lowestoft. – From 14.00 to 21.00, stands in the afternoon, evening presentations -
including: – ELA, WDC, Tessa Shepperson, Housing Action & Fire Safety.
May 2 – Suffolk Coastal District Council – Landlords Forum – as April 18
May 8 – Brentwood Landlords Forum – Town Hall, Ingrave Road, Brentwood
From 9.30 – 12.00 – Speakers to include ELA, HMO’s, Housing Benefits.
May 9 – Waveney Branch – ELA Branch Meeting – venue and speaker to be confirmed.
May 9 – Thurrock Landlords Forum – Thurrock Civic Centre, New Road, Grays
details to follow.
May 11 – ELA AGM & Conference – Wensum Valley Golf & Country Club.
Sponsored by – British Gas – Fosters – Lovewell Blake – Fosters – Shergroup
From 11.30 – 16.30. More than 20 stands, buffet lunch.
Please book your place with the office.
May 15- Ipswich – ELA Branch Meeting – Holiday Inn, London Road, Ipswich From 19.15 – Speakers to be confirmed
May 22 – Bury St Edmunds – ELA Branch Meeting – Farmers Club. Northgate Street, Bury
From 18.45 Speakers to be confirmed.
May 23 – Southend – ELA Branch Meeting – Civic Centre, Southend
From 19.15 – Speakers to be confirmed.
May 30 – Breckland – ELA Branch Meeting – Pelorus Office, Rashes Green, Dereham
From 19.15 – Speaker from Cookes Renewable Energy
May 31 – South Norfolk – ELA Branch Meeting – Scole Inn, Scole
From 19.15 – Speaker from Cookes Renewable Energy
June 15 – ELA Grand Summer Ball – Dunston Hall – for more information please see
www.investevents.co.uk/elasummerball, or call 01603 340250
December 8 – ELA Christmas Dinner Dance – Brasteds – Framlingham Pigot, Norwich.
Now taking bookings at £32.00 a ticket for our Christmas celebration
All Branch Meetings are open meetings, and please bring a friend, colleague etc.