Tag Archives: best practice

Calling all Wikipedians Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Neither Property118 nor myself have a page on Wikipedia and that makes me 🙁

Can you help?

I understand that other people have to compile the page and the more input the better?  Calling all Wikipedians

If this is the case I suggest the following as a starting point.

Property118 forum

An online forum and news feed with a mission to facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst UK landlords and letting agents.

Founders of The GOOD Landlords Campaign.

Funded entirely by sponsorships and donations.

Google News Publisher.

Claims to have nearly 200,000 subscribers to its weekly newsletters.

Founded by Mark Alexander – Twitter handle @iAmAlandlord


Donations and Fundraising GOOD Landlords Campaign Sponsors, Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Our forums are funded entirely by donations and sponsorships, we do not carry advertising, nor do we charge subscription fees as this would be self defeating towards our mission. Please help us to keep it this way, there is no minimum donation, every little helps.

The mission of The GOOD Landlords Campaign is to promote and facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst landlords and letting agents operating in the UK.

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When to sign the AST and taking holding deposits Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

I have read that on no account should a landlord sign a new tenancy, unless he has vacant possession of the property.Even if good tenants have given notice in writing, it doesn’t mean they will actually move out on the day they say they will. On that basis it makes sense that new tenants should sign the new tenancy on the day of moving in. When to sign the AST and taking holding deposits

I have had problems in the past however, when tenants go through all the motions of wanting to take a property and then pull out, leaving us with lost rent and lost potential tenants.

What do others do to protect themselves ?

In Mark’s excellent Tenant Referencing Using Common sense’ he says …..”Once referencing is accepted …..we ask for the deposit to be paid to hold the property, we immediately protect the deposit….”

What is best practice if taking a so called holding deposit ?

When is a deposit just a holding deposit and not a tenancy deposit and should this ever/always be protected?

Can a deposit really be protected before a tenancy has been created (the DPS ask you to fill in the tenancy start date) ?

If the deposit was taken more than 30 days before the start of the tenancy wouldn’t it need to be protected and the Prescribed info served before moving in?

I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Many thanks

Mike


Popular questions from tenants to landlords GOOD Landlords Campaign Sponsors, Latest Articles, The GOOD Landlords Campaign, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

It’s not just landlords and letting agents using our property forum these days. Recently we have had several Readers Questions posed by tenants who have been badly treated by their landlords. Popular questions from tenants to landlords

If there’s one thing good landlords despise almost as much as bad tenants it is bad landlords who ruin the reputation of our industry. Naivety, criminal acts and rogue behaviour tends to result in increased calls for regulation and gives authorities excuses to create more stealth taxes on good landlords in the form of licensing and other legislation, which of course criminals and other bad landlords simply continue to ignore! As you might suspect therefore, good landlords have been very keen to help tenants experiencing difficulties with rogues by telling them how they can protect their interests and claim compensation.

As it is the mission of The GOOD Landlords Campaign to facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst landlords and letting agents we feel it is important for all landlords to learn from these discussions. Forewarned is forearmed and an opportunity for you to know what you should be doing and to get it right.  The consequences of getting things wrong are very clearly laid out by some incredibly experienced landlords and property professionals in these discussions.

Some of the most popular discussions recently are as follows:-

Retaliatory eviction

Retaliatory eviction – possibility of civil litigation?

Read this discussion

 My landlord thinks I’m a lodger – please help me

My landlord thinks I’m a lodger – please help me

Read this discussion

 Ex-girlfriend-refusing-to-move-out

Ex-girlfriend refusing to move out

Read this discussion

 I have been asked for a 12 months rent in advance

I have been asked for a 12 months rent in advance

Read this discussion

 

 


Good Landlords Campaign Board of Directors GOOD Landlords Campaign Sponsors, Latest Articles

The GOOD Landlords CampaignOne of my goals is for The GOOD Landlords Campaign to eventually become a registered charity. For that to happen there are several hoops to jump through, the first of which is to form a steering committee.

For the moment, The GOOD Landlords Campaign mission statement is “to promote and facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst UK landlords and letting agents”.

Forming a charity isn’t something I have done before but I was a founder of the NACFB (National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers) so I do have some insight into forming a professional trade association. I served on the steering committee and also as the first Membership Director. 21 years on the NACFB is the UK’s leading professional body with over 1,000 member firms and virtually all providers of commercial finance having signed up as Patrons.

I am looking for volunteers to form a steering committee for The GOOD Landlords Campaign with the possibility of being voted onto the Board of Directors at the inaugural members meeting of the charity.

Subject to having a sufficient number of volunteers (ideally around a dozen) the plan is to hold a meeting every two months.

If this is something you would like to volunteer for please complete the form below. I will contact all interested parties towards the middle of September with a view to arranging the first meeting mid October 2013. The initial agenda will include:-

  • Mission Statement
  • Vision
  • Funding
  • Sponsorship
  • Increasing awareness

Expression of interest form


Buy to Let Property Sales – Partnering With Estate Agents Buy to Let News, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Letting, Lettings & Management, Property Development, Property For Sale, Property Investment News, Property Investment Strategies, Property News, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Earlier this year we spotted an opportunity to set up a buy to let Estate Agency. However, due to lack of resource (time) very little has been done other than a dozen or so sales on behalf of developers, plus setting ourselves up with The Property Ombudsman Service and organising Professional Indemnity insurance to keep ourselves legal of course.Buy to Let Estate Agency

The reason we haven’t got around to growing the buy to let Estate Agency business is that our passion is facilitating the sharing of best practice amongst landlords and letting agents on the Property118 forum which I set up just over two years ago. Prior to that I was a commercial finance broker and I’ve been a landlord since 1989.

The opportunity is a very simple one. Nearly 200,000 landlords and associated professionals subscribe to our daily newsletters and engage on the Property118 forum. Some of these people are no doubt in the market to buy more property. It occurred to us that most properties are sold with vacant possession, however, for landlords that can be a bit of a nightmare as both the vendor and the purchaser both experience costly void periods.

Rightmove and the Zoopla Property Group portals are ideal to sell properties with vacant possession but if a landlord wants to sell or buy a tenanted property these portals are far from perfect as there’s no search facility for buy to let property. Furthermore, their interfaces are not geared up to show rental yields, returns on capital invested, costs of letting etc. At Property118 we have created a landlords calculator to work all of these things out

As we haven’t got time to source properties to sell, never mind to prepare sales particulars, do floor plans, arrange viewings and progress chase offers through to completion, our idea is to work on a split commission basis with other agents.

We will showcase properties on the Property118 forum and link to them in the daily Newsletters. Enquirers will be landlords who may well already own properties in the area, hence for agents who partner with us on this venture, all referrals will be good leads for future sales and letting opportunities as well as prospective purchasers of the property which is being marketed.

From the landlords perspective, they will be presented with properties which are already let and will have no void periods and perhaps most importantly, without any buyers premium attached to them. The sales particulars will include details of the tenancy including:-

  • rent currently being paid
  • profile of the tenant
  • time already in the property
  • management fees currently being charged
  • other expenses relating to the management/maintenance of the property

This information, together with an indicative financing quotation will enable us to calculate not only rental yields but the cash on cash equivalent annual returns after all costs including mortgage, insurance, lettings and management, a sensible maintenance budget and where appropriate any ground rents or service charges. This will enable investors to compare cashflow returns on their money to the returns they are currently receiving elsewhere on their investments. The potential for capital growth is obviously a primary reason for people to invest into property too of course.

We will not allow this activity to overwhelm what we do here at Property118, therefore, we will cherry pick the properties we want to promote based on those which we believe make sense to buy as investments.

It is unlikely that we will be in a position to accept instructions directly from landlords to sell their properties due to the lack of infrastructure to provide a sufficiently professional service, i.e. floor plans, viewings, for sale signs etc. Therefore, any such enquiries will be referred back to the agencies we end up partnering with. Landlords are, of course, also welcome to introduce us to any agencies they are already working with as we will not get tied into any exclusive contracts. Our independence is vitally important to us.

I would like to have a chat with any agents who see some mileage in this opportunity. I have some ideas on splitting commissions but I am very open minded at this stage as the project is very much in its infancy.

Mark Alexander - Your Property ConciergeIf you would like to chat please comment below, email me  – mark@property118.com or call me on 07834 754 223.

Regards

Mark Alexander – founder of Property118.com


Property Investment – what would you buy? Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Whenever I walk down a high street I can’t help looking through the window of the local estate agents and letting agents.

I stand there working out rental yields and often I get tempted to buy.

Do you ever do that?

Property Investment - what would you buy to let?The only reason I stopped buying a few years ago is that I had already achieved all of my financial goals having been in the property investment business for over 20 years. For me it was time to stop investing and to start living.

My current lifestyle is only possible as a result of many years of building my property portfolio.

Over the years I have created systems for everything I do in terms of property investment and property/tenant management and it’s those systems which now afford me the luxuries in life of freedom and opportunity to do what I enjoy best. It’s not all about travelling, spending time with family and sitting on beaches though. I love to engage with other landlords, hence my commitment to sharing best practice on this property forum which, as you may be aware, is funded entirely by donations and sponsorships.

Some of the most common questions I get asked are; how did you do it, is it still possible, what would you do if you were starting again today? Well if you read all 6,000+ posts on Property118 you will get a good idea, however, I’ve been thinking to myself that there must be an easier way to share what I know and to make it relevant to what’s happening in the buy to let property investment business today.

The idea I came up with is to ask you (Property118 readers) where you would consider buying. I will then investigate that area, select a property that I would buy myself (if I was still investing) and explain why. More to the point, I will also document how I would finance, let, manage and maintain the property along with the “desk top due diligence” I would ordinarily do prior to committing to viewing a property with a view to making purchase.

Would you find that useful?

If so, please leave a comment in the section below and let me know which areas you would like me to investigate.

Now I won’t necessarily pick the same properties that you would. That’s because we are all different and we all have a variety of motives for investing into property. Therefore, please don’t ask me to look into high yielding properties such as HMO’s, student properties or housing for state supported tenants as that’s not what I know about. I don’t know much about very high value properties either, my market is far more akin to properties which will appeal to Mr and Mrs Average, either with children of school age or retired. What you might find useful, even if we do do pick different properties, is the way I go about making my decisions.

I will assume that in every case I have access to up to £100,000 cash to invest. Based upon my findings I will explain how many properties I would buy using that money, how much finance I raise in terms of mortgages and how much capital I would retain for a rainy day.

The types of properties I will be selecting will be as follows:-

  1. Decent low maintenance properties in decent areas to attract decent low maintenance tenants
  2. NET cashflow return based on NET capital invested will be greater than could be achieved from a bank or building society
  3. Easy to re-sell or re-let in all market conditions
  4. Prospects for capital growth over the medium to log term, i.e. seven to 20 years

So back to my question, what areas (towns and or cities) would you like me to look into and why?Property Investment - what would you buy


Private Rented Sector Review – Conclusions and recommendations Landlord News, Latest Articles

The Private Rented Sector Review conclusions and recommendations published by the Communities and Local Government Committee:

Simplifying regulation

1.  We recommend that the Government conduct a wide-ranging review to consolidate legislation covering the private rented sector, with the aim of producing a much simpler and more straightforward set of regulations that landlords and tenants can easily understand. As part of this review, the Government should work with groups representing tenants, landlords and agents to bring forward a standard, plain language tenancy agreement on which all agreements should be based. There should be a requirement to include landlords’ contact details in tenancy agreements. (Paragraph 13)

2.  We recommend that the Government consult on the future of the housing health and safety rating system and the introduction of a simpler, more straightforward set of quality standards for housing in the sector. The Government should also ensure that planning and building regulations are consistent with standards for the quality and safety of private rented housing. (Paragraph 18)

Increasing awareness

3.  We recommend that, once the review of the legislative framework we have called for is completed, the Government, working with tenants’, landlords’ and agents’ groups, establish and help to fund a publicity campaign to promote awareness of tenants’ and landlords’ respective rights and responsibilities. Our recommendation for a wholesale review of the regulation in the sector provides the obvious platform on which to base a publicity campaign. (Paragraph 24)

4.  We recommend that the Government bring forward proposals for the introduction of easy-to-read key fact sheets for landlords and tenants, and consult on the information these sheets should contain. The sheets could include links to further information available online. As a minimum, the sheets should set out each party’s key rights and obligations, and give details of local organisations to whom they could go for further advice and information. This fact sheet should be included within the standard tenancy agreement we propose earlier in this chapter. (Paragraph 25)

Raising standards

5.  Some local authorities are doing excellent work to raise standards in the private rented sector, but there appears to be more scope for sharing this good practice, so that all councils are performing to a high standard. The Local Government Association should, as part of its sector-led improvement role, make sure that mechanisms are in place to ensure all councils learn from the good practice and take effective steps to improve standards of property and management in the private rented sector. (Paragraph 30)

6.  We are concerned about reports of reductions in staff who have responsibility for enforcement and tenancy relations and who have an important role in making approaches to raising standards successful. Given the financial constraints that councils face, it is important to identify approaches to raising standards that will not use up scarce resources. One approach is to ensure that enforcement arrangements pay for themselves and help to fund wider improvement activity. Therefore, where possible, the burden of payment should be placed upon those landlords who flout their responsibilities. (Paragraph 31)

7.  We recommend that the Government consult on proposals to empower councils to impose a penalty charge without recourse to court action where minor housing condition breaches are not remedied within a fixed period of time, though an aggrieved landlord would have the right of appeal to a court. (Paragraph 33)

8.  We recommend that, where landlords are convicted of letting property below legal standards, local authorities be given the power to recoup from a landlord an amount equivalent to that paid out to the tenant in housing benefit (or, in future, universal credit). We hope that such a measure will help to prevent unscrupulous landlords from profiting from public money. Local authorities should be able to retain the money recouped to fund their work to raise standards. To ensure a consistent approach, those tenants who have paid rent with their own resources should also have the right to reclaim this rent when their landlord has been convicted of letting a substandard property. (Paragraph 37)

Illegal eviction

9.  We do not agree that a statutory duty to have to take steps to tackle illegal eviction should be placed on local authorities, as it would be inconsistent with a localist approach. Nevertheless, it is again important that local authorities learn from each other and share best practice on tackling illegal eviction. The Local Government Association should ensure that lessons on illegal eviction are learnt and disseminated. (Paragraph 38)

10.  We are concerned that the police are sometimes unaware of their responsibilities in dealing with reports of illegal eviction. We recommend that the Department for Communities and Local Government work with the Home Office on guidance that sets out clearly the role of the police in enforcement of the Prevention from Eviction Act 1977. (Paragraph 39)

Licensing and accreditation

11.  The idea of national licensing has some merit, and such a scheme could bring a number of benefits, particularly if introduced alongside an effective system of redress. It is clear, however, that the Government has not been convinced by these arguments, and we have some sympathy with the Minister’s assertion that a national scheme could be very rigid. Having tailored local schemes may bring its own costs, especially for landlords operating across several areas, but on balance we would prefer to see local authorities develop their own approaches to licensing or accreditation in accordance with local needs. The Government’s focus should be on giving local authorities greater flexibility and encouraging the use of existing powers. (Paragraph 43)

12.  We recommend that the Government bring forward proposals for a reformed approach to selective licensing, which gives councils greater freedom over when licensing schemes can be introduced and more flexibility over how they are implemented. Councils should ensure that the cost of a licence is not set so high as to discourage investment in the sector. (Paragraph 49)

13.  We recommend that the Government give local authorities a power to require landlords to be members of an accreditation scheme run either by the council itself or by a recognised landlords association. (Paragraph 53)

14.  It is important that local authorities have options and tools to raise standards in their areas. Three particular options are: (1) greater use of landlord licensing schemes; (2) compulsory accreditation; and (3) taking a proactive neighbourhood approach to raising standards. In each of these cases, given resource constraints, the schemes have to pay for themselves, and, as far as possible, place the burden of payment on the unscrupulous landlords, with financial deterrents for non-compliance. Councils should be given the powers to impose heavy penalties on those who do not register for licensing or compulsory accreditation after appropriate notification. Neighbourhood approaches could be funded by local authorities recouping costs from landlords whose properties fail to meet minimum standards. We further recommend that the Government initiate a review of the fines imposed by the courts for letting substandard properties, to ensure they act as a sufficient deterrent. (Paragraph 55)

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

15.  We recommend that the Government conduct a review of the mandatory licensing of houses in multiple occupation. This review should consider, amongst other things, evidence of the effectiveness of mandatory licensing, how well it is enforced, and whether the definition of a prescribed HMO should be modified. (Paragraph 58)

16.  Where there are community concerns about high concentrations of houses in multiple occupation, councils should have the ability to control the spread of HMOs. Such issues should be a matter for local determination. We therefore consider it appropriate that councils continue to have the option to use Article 4 directions to remove permitted development rights allowing change of use to HMO. (Paragraph 63)

17.  Universities have a responsibility to ensure that student housing does not have a detrimental impact upon local communities. They should be working with local authorities and student groups to ensure that there is sufficient housing in appropriate areas and that students act as responsible householders and members of the community. (Paragraph 64)

Safety standards

18.  We recommend that the Government work with the electrical industry to develop an electrical safety certificate for private rented properties. To obtain such a certificate, properties should be required to have a full wiring check every five years and a visual wiring check on change of tenancy. Landlords should be aware of the legal requirement to provide safe installations and appliances. (Paragraph 66)

19.  We recommend that the Government introduce a requirement for all private rented properties to be fitted with a working smoke alarm and, wherever a relevant heating appliance is installed, an audible, wired-up EN 50291 compliant carbon monoxide alarm. (Paragraph 67)

Regulation of letting agents

20.  We recommend that, as part of its consultation on the redress scheme, the Government seek views on how best to publicise such a scheme and what penalties should be in place for those agents who do not comply. The Government should also explore how the redress scheme fits alongside existing arrangements for deposit protection. We further recommend that the redress scheme is accompanied by a robust code of practice that sets out clear standards with which agents are required to comply. (Paragraph 74)

21.  We recommend that the Government make letting and managing agents subject to the same regulation that currently governs sales agents. This includes giving the Office of Fair Trading the power to ban agents who act improperly, and making client money protection and professional indemnity insurance mandatory. (Paragraph 78)

22.  Any proposal to require sales agents to meet minimum professional standards before they begin trading should also be applied to letting and managing agents. In addition, if at any point a requirement for sales agents to be registered with an accredited industry body is to be introduced, this should be part of a wider framework also covering letting and managing agents. We recommend that the Government review these arrangements in two years’ time. (Paragraph 78)

Agents’ fees and charges

23.  We recommend that the code of practice accompanying the new redress scheme include a requirement that agents publish a full breakdown of fees which are to be charged to the tenant alongside any property listing or advertisement, be it on a website, in a window or in print. This breakdown should not be “small print”, but displayed in such a way as to be immediately obvious to the potential tenant. The code should also require agents to explain their fees and charges to tenants before showing them around any property. Furthermore, the code should forbid double charging, and there should be a requirement that landlords are informed of any fees being charged to tenants. If agents do not meet these requirements, the fees should be illegal. Finally, the professional bodies should make a commitment to full, up front transparency on fees and charges a requirement of membership. (Paragraph 83)

24.  We intend to gather further information on the impact in Scotland of the decision to make fees to tenants illegal, and to return to this issue in 2014. (Paragraph 86)

Longer tenancies

25.  The demographics within the private rented sector are changing. No longer can it be seen as a tenure mainly for those looking for short-term, flexible forms of housing. While some renters still require flexibility, there is also an increasing number, including families with children, looking for longer-term security. The market, therefore, needs to be flexible, and to offer people the type of housing they need. The flexibility of assured shorthold tenancies should be better exploited, and the option of using assured tenancies should also be considered where these meet the needs of landlords and tenants. That we are beginning to see some institutions and housing associations offering longer tenancies under the current law suggests that we do not need legislative changes to achieve them. Rather, we need to change the culture, and to find ways to overcome the barriers to longer tenancies being offered. (Paragraph 94)

26.  We recommend that the Government convene a working party from all parts of the industry, to examine proposals to speed up the process of evicting during a tenancy tenants who do not pay rent promptly or fail to meet other contractual obligations. The ability to secure eviction more quickly for non payment of rent will encourage landlords to make properties available on longer tenancies. The Government should also set out a quicker means for landlords to gain possession if they can provide proof that they intend to sell the property. (Paragraph 97)

27.  Some landlords are not able to offer longer tenancies because they are prevented from doing so by conditions in their mortgage. We are pleased that lenders are considering how such conditions can be removed, and that Nationwide Building Society is to begin allowing its borrowers to offer longer term contracts. We urge the Council of Mortgage Lenders to work with other lenders to ensure that they quickly follow suit. Lenders should only include restrictions on tenancy length in mortgage conditions if there is a clear and transparent reason. (Paragraph 100)

28.  We recommend that the Government include in the code of conduct for letting agents a requirement both to make tenants aware of the full range of tenancy options available, and, where appropriate, to broker discussions about tenancy length between landlords and tenants. (Paragraph 102)

‘Retaliatory eviction’

29.  There is a perception amongst some tenants that if they speak out it could result in their losing their home. Tenants should be able to make requests or complain without fear that doing so will lead the landlord to seek possession. We are not convinced, however, that a legislative approach is the best or even an effective solution. Changing the law to limit the issuing of section 21 notices might be counter-productive and stunt the market. Rather, if we move towards a culture where longer tenancies become the norm, tenants will have greater security and also more confidence to ask for improvements and maintenance and, when necessary, to complain about their landlord. Moreover, if local authorities take a more proactive approach to enforcement, they will be able to address problems as they occur rather than waiting for tenants to report them. (Paragraph 105)

Rents and affordability

30.  Problems with the affordability of rents are particularly acute in London and the South East. Although in other parts of the country average rents and yields are relatively stable, we are still concerned that some families are struggling to meet the costs of their rent. We do not, however, support rent control which would serve only to reduce investment in the sector at a time when it is most needed. We agree that the most effective way to make rents more affordable would be to increase supply, particularly in those areas where demand is highest. (Paragraph 110)

31.  There is no perfect way to set rent, but, where longer tenancies are being established, linking increases to inflation or average earnings, or voluntarily agreeing a fixed uplift each year merit consideration and could provide tenants and landlords with a degree of stability, though over time mechanisms may emerge as, for example, in the commercial property sector. Tenants’, landlords’ and agents’ groups should encourage their members to discuss these options at the outset of a tenancy. Existing arrangements for setting and increasing rent are often arbitrary and uneven, and reflect the immaturity of the market. (Paragraph 113)

Placement of homeless households in the private rented sector

32.  We welcome the Government’s use of secondary legislation to clarify when accommodation is unsuitable for homeless households. We expect councils to pay full regard to this order and to ensure that homeless households are only placed in suitable accommodation. Given that many of these households will be vulnerable, councils have a particular responsibility to ensure that the properties they are placed in are free from serious health and safety hazards. We recommend that, as a matter of good practice, local authorities should inspect properties before using them for the placement of homeless households. (Paragraph 117)

33.  All agree that, wherever possible, councils should be placing homeless households within their local area (unless there are particular circumstances that mean it is not in the households’ interests). It nevertheless appears inevitable that councils in areas with high rents, London in particular, will place homeless households outside the area, including in coastal towns. Before any placement, there should be a full discussion with the receiving authority and the prospective tenant and information about the household and its ongoing needs should be shared. The Government should consider making this a statutory duty. (Paragraph 121)

34.  We were pleased to hear of positive examples of work to support homeless households in the private rented sector, including the establishment of social letting agencies and the development of private rented sector access schemes. We encourage the Government to work with local government, the charity sector and industry bodies to ensure best practice is shared and lessons learned. (Paragraph 122)

Local housing allowance

35.  We recommend that the Government take immediate steps to allow councils to apply for a variation of broad rental market area boundaries where anomalies occur. (Paragraph 125)

36.  We recommend that the Government conduct a wide-ranging review of local housing allowance (LHA). This review should assess whether there is greater scope for local flexibility over the setting of LHA rates and the boundaries of broad rental market areas. Local authorities could be incentivised to reduce the housing benefit bill by being allowed to retain any savings for investment in affordable housing. (Paragraph 125)

Data quality

37.  We recommend that the Government establish a small task group of key organisations and academics to consider how data relating to the private rented sector can be improved and made more readily available. In addition, we encourage the National Audit Office to contribute to an effective evidence base about the sector and to draw upon our recommendations when developing studies on housing related topics. (Paragraph 128)

Tax

38.  We recommend that the Government, in reviewing the regulation covering the private rented sector, set out proposals for greater co-ordination between the tax authorities and those regulating the private rented sector. (Paragraph 131)

Increasing supply

39.  We welcome the introduction and expansion of the Build to Rent Fund. The Government should take steps to ensure that the fund makes a net addition to new housing, as well as speeding up the delivery of those homes already in the pipeline. (Paragraph 138)

40.  It remains to be seen how much impact the guarantee scheme for the private rented sector will have in delivering additional new homes. The policy may be well-intentioned in its aim to encourage organisations to have more confidence to invest in the sector, but the Government needs to measure results. We invite the Government in its response to our report to update us on the number of applications it has received for the private rented sector guarantee scheme, and to provide an estimate for the number of additional homes it expects the scheme to deliver. If there is any doubt that the scheme is going to deliver the homes required, we recommend that the Government rapidly explore other options for the use of the resources identified. (Paragraph 142)

41.  We welcome the establishment of the task force to promote and broker investment in build-to-let development, and are pleased that the task force is already in operation. It is important that this task force does not become another quango but quickly delivers on its objectives. We invite the Government, in its response, to set out the progress made by the task force in its first few months of operation. This update should quantify the amount of additional investment brokered, and the number of additional homes it would deliver. (Paragraph 144)

42.  Efforts to promote high-quality build-to-let development have commanded significant amounts of government attention and resources. One of the main arguments in favour of this approach is that it will lead to improved choice, quality and affordability across the whole of the private rented sector. It is too early to assess the impact, but a key part of the evaluation of these measures must be the impact they have on the sector as a whole. If, in a year’s time, there is no evidence of this broader effect, the Government must reconsider its strategy and look to other measures to boost supply across the sector as a whole. (Paragraph 148)

43.  There is an urgent need to boost supply across all tenures of housing. We recommend that the Government revisit the Committee’s report on the Financing of New Housing Supply, and set out proposals to implement those recommendations it initially rejected. (Paragraph 150)commons logo


Client Money Protection cover now available to all Agents Landlord News, Latest Articles, Letting

The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme has pushed on behalf of the Lettings industry to make Client Money Protection cover (CMP) available to all UK lettings agents.

Up until this month, CMP cover was only available through a number of trade bodies. The introduction of two new CMP providers this month will enable letting agents that are not registered with a trade body to sign up for cover.

Gerry Fitzjohn, Chief Operating Officer of TPO said:

‘We need an even playing field for lettings. All agents are required to hold client money in a separate Clients Account but there is no current requirement to have those funds insured against unlawful use or fraud, which is why CMP is crucial for landlords and tenants.

‘CMP is not a duplication of any deposit scheme or professional indemnity cover. It goes beyond that and provides landlord with the peace of mind they need to know that the rent collected by an agent is protected.

‘This isn’t ‘news’ to the thousands of experienced agents that have had comprehensive CMP cover with a trade body for many years and we fully support the ongoing efforts of trade bodies such as ARLA, NALS, RICS and UKALA to improve industry best practice. The new CMP products launched this month by PSR Insurance brokers and Hamilton Fraser Insurance Brokers mean CMP cover is now available to the whole of the market, which can only be a good thing.’

It is estimated that some £23 billion is paid annually in rent, of which £6 – £10 billion is collected by agents on behalf of landlords1.

Press reports over recent months have highlighted a number of cases where landlords or tenant have not been able to recover funds due to them, which were held by agents.

TPO has surveyed 8,000 lettings branches2 to assess the viewpoints of member agents registered with the TPO scheme. The results revealed an overwhelming number of agents backed CMP, with 80% already protected.

Mr Fitzjohn added:

‘We passionately believe that CMP is great for consumer protection and will ultimately result in a reduction in the number of complaints against lettings agents. We know from surveying our own agents that the vast majority already have cover. For those that don’t, they now have an opportunity to distinguish themselves from any rogue operators by showing landlords and tenants that they have the appropriate cover in place.

‘My personal viewpoint would be to question why a letting agent would not support CMP. In the absence of any regulation for the UK private rental market, agents themselves need to take proactive steps to show landlords and tenants that they have taken out the necessary cover to protect rental income.

‘We now need the industry to unite to raise awareness of this issue so consumers understand the value of CMP and we will be writing to each of our TPO registered offices this month to publicise our support.’TPO_generic logo


TPO report on impact of Consumer Protection Regulations on Agents Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

In The Property Ombudsman’s (TPO) first Interim Report for 2013, Christopher Hamer focuses on the impact of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) for the day-to-day business operations of estate and letting agents.

The report has been produced for the 22,000 sales and lettings offices registered with The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme.

Mr Hamer commented: “Events over the past 12 months have seen the CPRs starting to be enforced by Trading Standards. While the origins of CPRs are based on European Directives that are not specifically aimed at the property sector, the forthcoming repeal of the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991, expected later this year, will potentially see Trading Standards increase activity in taking civil and/or criminal actions against property agents that fail to comply with the Regulations.”

As the UK’s largest property ombudsman scheme, TPO was one of the first organisations to issue guidance on CPRs and the report includes a number of example case studies that the Ombudsman has considered.

Mr Hamer added: “The application of CPRs change the way all property agents market properties and provide information to consumers. Part of my role as Ombudsman requires me to feedback to the industry on matters of best practice. This Interim Report is therefore targeted directly at the sales and lettings industry and includes case studies, commentary and guidance to assist agents in meeting their obligations under the CPRs.”

The CPR guidance, based on recent cases, is designed to help agents remain compliant and to improve customer service for property sellers home owners/vendors, buyers, landlords and tenants. CPR-related case studies included in the report cover instances of misleading actions and omissions from sales and letting agents in both the re-sale and new build markets.

The case studies include issues relating to:
• Planning permission
• Freehold, leasehold & commonhold title
• Property access
• False credentials
• Conversions
• Neighbours

The report also provides useful links to existing Office of Fair Trading guidance and to the Regulations themselves alongside TPO statistics for the first four months of 2013. To view the report in full, please visit http://www.tpos.co.uk/quarterly_report.htm. TPO

 


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