Martin Thomas

Registered with Property118.com
Wednesday 8th August 2018

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Partnership

Insures properties through a broker recommended by Property118
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Latest Comments

Total Number of Property118 Comments: 43

Martin Thomas

13:07 PM, 1st December 2020
About A day ago

New HMO licence - Can Islington demand these conditions?

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 01/12/2020 - 10:45
I agree with most of what you say Ian. It does cost to go to the Tribunal, both time and money but it might be the only way to challenge some of the more outlandish demands from over zealous Council officials. That's why a group of landlords might need to band together to make the challenge.... Read More

Martin Thomas

10:22 AM, 1st December 2020
About A day ago

New HMO licence - Can Islington demand these conditions?

Woah! I can see Sandy's point and I AM a good landlord! There are already interconnected heat and smoke detectors and only 4 tenants. We don't know what type of tenants or if it a bedsit HMO. You didn't say how many storeys are in the house but if it's only a 2 storey house and not a bedsit HMO, and that would be very typical, there is no need for emergency lighting. Mains interlinked smoke and heat detectors should provide sufficient warning to allow the occupants to escape if a fire starts. Again, fire doors on bedrooms are generally not necessary if it's only 2 storey. The whole point is to get the tenants OUT of the property to a place of safety if a fire starts! The LACORS guide gives really good information on this (pages 27 to 29).
Local Councils are very good at demanding all sorts of things that are not proportionate to the risks and some of them are really dopey. For example, my Council demanded I fit a smoke detector in a single glazed lean-to with one window to the kitchen, outside a ground floor rear bedroom (typical Victorian layout). The smoke detector manufacturer said don't install them in places where the temperature can fall below 4C and I was concerned about multiple false alarms during the winter. When I said that a heat detector was installed in the kitchen (and the usual smoke detectors in the hall and first floor) and that would alert the occupants if a fire started in the kitchen, the reply was "the heat detector might not be working!" In other words, perhaps I and other landlords should double up on all the heat and smoke detectors!
The Council wasn't interested in the evidence about the manufacturer's guidelines or how many nights the temperatures were likely to cause false alarms and I had to threaten them with taking them to the 1st Tier Tribunal before they would see sense.
So Sandy, to answer your point about the licensing conditions, if your house is 2 storey and they are asking for a full fire alarm system, you and other landlords could take them to the 1st Tier Tribunal if you are convinced it is overkill after reading LACORS. It's a pain to do so but sometimes it becomes a matter of principle.... Read More

Martin Thomas

19:16 PM, 20th October 2020
About a month ago

Extension wall built too close?

The Party Wall Act applies because presumably, his builder dug down to put in a foundation for his wall. As such, he may have damaged your foundations.
Also, if the gap between his wall and your property is only 2cm, it won't take much for debris to accumulate in the gap and that could cause the sort of damp issues you experienced previously.
Good luck but I think you ought to get a surveyor involved.... Read More

Martin Thomas

17:53 PM, 20th October 2020
About a month ago

Window to Conservatory: HHSRS cat 1 hazard

We've got a student house with a similar layout and the conservatory is SOUTH facing. At the last inspection, there was some mention of the bedroom that opened onto the conservatory getting excessively hot. I pointed out that the students are in occupation from mid/end September until early June, so the peak of the summer is avoided.
We carry out our maintenance during the summer and I have never entered that bedroom and felt that it was hot, let alone excessively hot. So a bedroom that faces north is highly unlikely to become excessively hot, particularly if as you say, there is plenty of ventilation in the conservatory.
As an aside, the Council also wanted a smoke detector fitted in the conservatory even though there was nothing particularly combustible in there, on the grounds that one of the kitchen windows opens onto the conservatory and they said it was a fire risk. Never mind the mains powered and interlinked heat detector in the kitchen and the smoke detectors in the hall and landing providing an early warning of a fire!
We use Aico smoke/heat detectors and the installation manual says don't install them where the temperatures can exceed 40C or be less than 4C - both scenarios could apply in a conservatory but I was concerned about nuisance alarms during the winter. I found a website that recorded daily both day and night temperatures in our location to prove that winter nuisance alarms would be likely.

This was all so ridiculous but the Council still insisted on the smoke alarm in the conservatory despite the clear evidence to support my argument. In the end , I agreed to fit a smoke detector in the bedroom concerned but threatened them with the 1st Tier Tribunal if they persisted with the detector in the conservatory. Then they saw sense and gave in.

I saw a presentation at our local landlords' group given by an EHO from a local Council (not mine!). He said the HHSRS system is supposed to be evidence based. Where is their evidence that the room is excessively hot? They won't have any.
Demand to see their calculations. Band B has a score 2000-4999, whereas Band D is 500-999 so there's been a huge shift. I would say they are obliged to provide their data.
This is an extract from the Landlord Manual part of the HHSRS;
"Local authority Environmental Health professionals undertake assessments and they must decide for each hazard what is:
• The likelihood, over the next twelve months, of an occurrence e.g. falling down stairs, electrocution etc, that could result in harm to a member of the vulnerable group; and
• The range of potential outcomes from such an occurrence e.g. death, severe injury etc."
So the assessment is based on what might happen during the next 12 months which I think gives you an opportunity to take temperature measurements next summer.
The HHSRS Guidance says on page 60 that the most vulnerable age group is those over 65 years of age. You are letting to students. Furthermore, at para 3.05 it says "Overall, the burden of heat-related mortality and morbidity in the UK has been modest, and data to allow quantifiable attribution to dwelling condition is weak."
So if I were you I would;
1. point out that the conservatory faces NORTH.
2. note the amount of floor area in the conservatory that is in the sun at midday in June (presumably, the house obscures some of it which never sees the sun).
3. check out a website that records daily temperatures in Portsmouth to flag up the fact that daily temperatures rarely exceed a given temperature, say 33C and when those occasions occur. Do it for a couple of years. Look at this website;
https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/uk/portsmouth/historic?month=1&year=2019
4. correlate those dates with the 'summer recess' when the students aren't there anyway.
5. offer to monitor and record the temperatures in the room in question over the summer on a daily basis to prove that the temperatures aren't excessive (and linked to the fact that the students aren't there anyway).
6. monitor and record the temperatures in bedrooms that face SOUTH for comparison purposes.
7. if they still won't be reasonable say that you will take them to the 1st Tier Tribunal - it's a pain and potentially expensive but these people are obviously idiots and need to be put back in their box.
8. see if the NRLA will offer any assistance with your case if it goes to Tribunal. Don't hold your breath!
Basically, if you demonstrate you have the facts to show that their opinion is not valid, they might back down because they don't want to be taken to the Tribunal. It is only their opinion and this latest one conflicts with the previous one. I think that is in your favour.
Good luck!... Read More

Martin Thomas

10:31 AM, 31st July 2020
About 4 months ago

Very weird legal letter about council tax arrears?

I have student properties let on 12 month fixed term contracts in Bath and in the past 2 years the local council have sent me CTax demands for 1 day (the last day of the tenancy) on 2 of these houses. The NLA referred me to the Leeds Council case (link below for details) and I responded, quoting the case. Bath council insists this judgement doesn't apply because the Local Government Act 1992 takes precedence. So far I have ignored their demands and nothing further has come of it. The amounts involved are very small but as I see it, the principle is important.
https://www.jbleitch.co.uk/news/leeds-city-council-v-broadley-2016... Read More