Tag Archives: Housing Association

Gas Explosion in your property Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Gas Explosion in your propertyMy property was two doors up from the property directly opposite the property that blew up in Tinsley, Sheffield. It is rented out by a local housing association. Our property roof tiles were damaged in the blast. There is literally nothing left of the property. The housing association is having to rehouse not only their tenant but the family next door.

If this happened in my property or that of your other subscribers what is our responsibility as a private landlord to rehouse my tenant? Continue reading Gas Explosion in your property


Labour plans for a National Register of Private Landlords Landlord News, Latest Articles, NLA - National Landlords Association, Property News

labour partyThe Labour Party policy review paper indicated:

The Party is considering creating a national register of private landlords so that people found guilty of criminal acts could be banned from being landlords, by being struck off the register.

The review said there was a small minority of criminal landlords who deliberately prey on the vulnerable with Councils reporting up to 1,500 serial bad landlords. However this is out of a total 3.6 million households in the UK who live in private rented housing.

Jack Dromey, the shadow housing minister said “The private rented sector has an important role to play in meeting housing need, but too many tenants are in poor and sometimes dangerous homes. That’s why Labour has set out proposals to drive standards up and bad landlords out.”

The review also wanted to stamp out the use of “retaliatory eviction” against tenants who complain about the conditions of their property and chase HMRC estimates of £500 million of tax evasion by private Landlords.

Click Here to for full Labour Party review document

 

Chris Norris, Head of Policy at the National Landlords Association (NLA), says:

“The NLA welcomes the Labour Party Policy Review’s focus on ridding the private-rented sector (PRS) of the criminal minority who blight towns and cities throughout the UK. However, we are deeply concerned about the impact of the initiatives discussed on levels of desperately needed investment in private housing. Too often the brunt of regulation intended to combat criminality and bad practice is borne by the professional majority, while a minority of rogue operators continue to evade detection and exploit vulnerable people.

“We look forward to the opportunity to work with politicians on all sides of the debate to identify genuine solutions to the challenges faced by those living and working in the PRS. We believe it is essential that the debate addresses the problems which exist in the housing market, without neglecting the positive role played by private landlords.”

 

The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) warns that tenants in England could soon be less well protected than their Scottish and Welsh counterparts, due to lagging rental regulation.

According to ARLA, with 36% of households in England now renting, regulation of the private rental sector (PRS) – or the lack thereof – is an issue that affects more of the population than ever before.

The Scottish Government will announce a review of its strategy for the PRS on 30 May, while the Welsh Government is due to introduce a Housing Bill before the end of this Assembly term, legislating for a compulsory licensing scheme for all letting agents in Wales, as well as a code of practice.

These announcements contrast with the current Westminster Government’s opposition to regulation of the sector. If this opposition continues, tenants in England are still at risk from rogue letting agents and landlords.

Ian Potter, Managing Director, ARLA, said: “The PRS remains an unregulated industry, and in the event of something going wrong consumers still only have limited options. ARLA has been calling for regulation of the sector for a number of years now, and as more and more people rent, rather than own their home, it is vital that legislation in England is at least in line with its neighbours.

“Of course we welcome the Labour Party’s latest policy review and share their ambition to improve standards in the PRS – the case studies the report outlined are a stark reminder of the unacceptable conditions that are thriving in the absence of regulation – but these reforms need to be proportionate. More importantly, what we really need is actual policy not proposals; and it must be policy that is consistent and able to keep step with legislative developments elsewhere in Britain.

“Renting should be a positive experience and tenants should know that not only is their money safe but so is the property they live in. All ARLA members must offer a redress service and client money protection to help protect tenants if something goes wrong.”

 


Scottish Association of Landlords – dismayed by Shelter Cowboys Slur Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News, Shelter

Scottish Association of LandlordsScottish Conservative Housing Spokesman Alex Johnstone and the Scottish Association of Landlords have slammed the language employed by housing charity Shelter in its latest press release which called for letting agents to be regulated.

Commenting, Mr Johnstone said “It is ironic that Shelter uses terms such as ‘Wild West’, ‘cowboys’ and ‘flagrant disregard for the law’, when organisations such as the Scottish Association of Landlords, who also represent letting agents have been advocating change for some time.”

“Shelter’s use of such sensationalist language makes, in my view, sweeping and negative generalisations about the private sector as a whole. This kind of behaviour might well make vulnerable people fearful of seeking a home in the private rented sector, and it’s frankly not good enough. The fact is that the private sector is playing an increasingly important role in providing much needed accommodation, and they themselves are keen to provide a good and fair service.”

Chief Executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords John Blackwood said “For some time, SAL has campaigned for regulation of letting agents in order to protect both landlords and tenants. However we also recognise that many letting agents already offer good management services, ensuring that properties are managed properly and within the law.”

“Instead of indulging in this kind of negative sensationalism on the sidelines, I would urge Shelter to engage with those of us who do actually put roofs over people’s heads and see what we can achieve by working together in a positive and constructive way.”

Mr Blackwood concluded “It is disappointing that Shelter has seemingly abandoned its policy of working in partnership with the private rented sector in favour of demonising an entire sector where by far the majority of letting agents operate reputable businesses.”

Many members are expressing the viewpoint that SAL should take public action against Shelter. One letting agent who is a personal supporters of Shelter even saying he will now stop his donations.

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ARLA figures suggest lack of housing supply taking firm hold Landlord News, Latest Articles, Letting, Lettings & Management, Property News

Ian Potter of ARLATenants are now staying in one property for a record duration of 20 months, according to the latest research from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). 

This figure is up year-on-year from an average of 19 months in Q1 2012, indicating that tenants are starting to take a longer-term view of renting a property. It is also the joint highest tenancy length recorded by ARLA. Continue reading ARLA figures suggest lack of housing supply taking firm hold


Free insulation for tenanted properties Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

Free insulation for tenanted propertiesDid you know that landlords can now get free loft, cavity and solid wall insulation and more, especially if your tenants are in receipt of benefits?

The procedure to find out whether your properties qualify for free insulation is simple; it costs just £100 for a survey and if the works go ahead the survey fee is refunded too! Continue reading Free insulation for tenanted properties


Terry Lucking of Belvoir Lettings Cambridge and Peterborough GOOD Landlords Campaign Sponsors

The GOOD Landlords CampaignTerry Lucking of Belvoir Lettings Cambridge and Peterborough

I have been trading in lettings since 1999 with our offices in Cambridge and Peterborough managing just over 1000 properties.

The offices have 16 trained and qualified staff, are ARLA licensed with fully audited and bonded client accounts.  We are members of Safe Agent, NALS and The Property Ombudsman.

I sit on various council housing steering groups representing the PRS (most recently housing strategy 2011-2014 – next expected to be consultation over selective licensing and article 4 directions). I developed the property accreditation standards for University Centre Peterborough and also the Chair of the Peterborough National Landlord Association (NLA) branch (voluntary role) introducing NLA accreditation for landlords in Peterborough February 2013.

Continue reading Terry Lucking of Belvoir Lettings Cambridge and Peterborough


Landlords Guide To Health and Safety Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

Health and SafetyA Simple Landlords guide to Health and Safety written by Syd Lewis

When I first started renting properties some 20 years ago, to be legal, all you had to do was have a rent book and if you wanted to ensure you could get possession of your property at the end of the tenancy you drew up an AST. It seems these days Landlords are required to perform more and more tasks, which has not only resulted in having to spend additional time managing their properties but also increased cost. In my work as a professional inventory clerk, I often meet new property owners who apart from perhaps having some vague idea that they need a gas safe certificate and an inventory as part of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme know of little else. This article is for them just to give a few pointers in plain English about some other aspects to consider about health and safety when letting a property.

First the stick, penalties and enforcement, if you for whatever reason, fail to comply with any of the statutory regulations for Landlords and rented property you could be fined up to £5000 or even receive a custodial sentence. Further, if you need to make a claim on your insurance and you are in breach of the regulations your insurance is likely to be void.

Now the Carrot, in my years as a Landlord one of my great pleasures it to hear my tenants tell others that I am a good Landlord and how they like living at their rented home. Apart from the obvious ego massage, there are other benefits, they stay longer at the property reducing void periods and the hassle of finding, vetting and establishing a new landlord and tenant relationship, they tend to take greater care of the property and are willing to pay a higher market rent the live there.

First and foremost, it is the landlords responsibility the make sure the property they let is habitable, in health and safety terms, adequate heating and ventilation, lighting, proper sanitation and more recently good insulation. It is also important for Landlords to make sure tenants understand their responsibility too. I have found a great aid to this, is not just to tell tenants what to do but also to provide a “tenant’s pack”. This includes a welcome note, important information, e.g. how to turn off the water in an emergency, what they should do if there is a problem with the boiler, how to properly ventilate and look after the property to avoid excessive condensation and the resultant mould, operation manuals for any appliances at the property. As a matter of thoroughness, I also recommend that you have copies of any certificates for the property in the tenants pack even if you are not required by law to do so.

INSULATION

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC):
EPC, is a document that states the energy efficiency of a property in bands such as A.B,C, D, etc. stating its typical energy use for the year and estimated cost. The certificate is valid for 10 years. You are required to provide a copy of an EPC to any new tenant. If it is in your tenants pack, you have fulfilled your duty.

FIRE

Furniture and Furnishing Fire Safety Regulations (FFL):
Since 1997 all upholstered furnishings must be fire resistance and have the appropriate fixed permanent labels attached: Beds (including headboards, bases and mattresses), sofa-beds, futons and other convertibles, children’s furniture, garden furniture that can be used in the dwelling, scatter cushions, seat pads, pillows. This is not normally an issue these days as most modern furniture is already labelled. However, should the label come loose or be taken off then you will be in breach of the regulations. A good inventory will list each item that has a FFL and help identify any such items that may have had their label removed or damaged during a tenancy.

Fire Extinguishers and Blankets:
There is no compulsory requirement to provide fire extinguishers or fire blankets in single occupation tenanted properties (please note there are special regulations for HMOs and converted building over two stories), but again, this may be a wise precaution, at least in the kitchen area. Having made the decision to provide fire extinguishers, the landlord or agent must then arrange for regular servicing – usually on a 12 monthly basis. You will need to keep up to date records and keep a copy in tenants pack.

Smoke Detectors:
Since 1992 it is required that, all smoke alarms are electrical mains supplied and have a battery backup. There are specific requirements as to which type and where they should be place according the buildings structure and layout. It is the landlord’s duty to make sure the correct devices are fitted at the correct location and to ensure that all devices are working properly when a new tenant takes up occupancy. Thereafter, it is the tenant’s responsibility to regularly check the device by looking for the green light, pressing the self-test button to ensure it is working and when necessary change batteries. Cleaning should be carried out by a competent person and manufactures instructions should be followed. The Landlord needs to make sure that the tenant is aware of their duty and it is a good idea to have this in writing and ensure that there is operation and cleaning advice in the tenants pack.

GAS

Gas Safe:
Landlords are required by law to have an annual gas inspection on all internal gas installations, this must be carried out by a registered Gas Safe Engineer who will upon passing the gas appliances as safe, issue a Gas Safe Certificate. You must ensure that you provide a copy of the certificate to your tenant. If it is in your tenants pack, you have fulfilled your duty.

Carbone Monoxide Detectors:
There is no legal requirement for Landlords to fit Co2 alarms. However, it is a good idea to have them, the principles to follow are those used for a smoke detector. They should be fitted 1m from the boiler and manufactures operating instructions put in the tenants pack.

ELECTRICAL

Periodic Electrical Testing:
If a property is a new build then it should have a “Domestic Electrical Installation Periodic Report” which states the electrical system is safe to use, if not then the property is not habitable. All electrical systems deteriorate over time, the Electrical Safety Council recommend that a periodic electrical test be carried out on rented property every 5 years, a suitability qualified electrician must carry this out. You should keep a copy in your tenant’s pack.

Portable Appliance Testing (PAT):
There is no direct statutory obligation on Landlords or agents to have PAT checks carried out on the electrical system or appliances. However, under the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, the Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994, both of which come under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, there is an obligation to ensure that all electrical equipment is safe. Also by having regular tests carried out it is a landlords best defence against negligence and acts as corroborative proof that an electrical item was working/ undamaged at the beginning of a tenancy or during a deposit dispute. A copy of the PAT report should be kept in the tenancy pack.

BIOLOGICAL

Legionnaires Disease:
Legionella are bacteria common in artificial water systems such as storage tanks, pipework, taps and showers. People can catch the disease if they inhale into their lungs tiny water or vapour droplets carrying the bacteria. Different properties will require differing approaches – a new build property with a combi-boiler presents less risk than a Victorian terrace with an old water system. If you think, you may have an issue you can go to HSE website and read their free booklet on risk assessment. Upon having completed your risk assessment, if there is no need for further action simply keep a record that no action is required.

Damp and Mould:
Is usually caused by excessive condensation and in most cases can be attributed to the tenant, but not always. Landlords need to be aware that under Healthy Housing and Safety Risk Scheme 2006, Local Authorities can serve you with an improvement notice and fine you. The best protection against this is to have conducted an assessment for condensation and ensure that the property has adequate heating and ventilation. You should also provide your tenant with appropriate instructions on how to avoid and control condensation.

Pets:
The issue here are fleas and potential new tenant’s allergic reaction to an active protein in the salver of a cat. The simplest, measure I have found is to have agreed with the pet owning tenant that they will pay for a professional clean at the end of the tenancy. It is also important to establish the level and quality of the clean required.

Vermin and insects:
Regardless of who is at fault, if a property becomes infested with insects and or vermin, it is always in the Landlords best interest to get it sorted out quickly and by a professional. You can sort out who pays afterwards; fact is if the tenant refuses to pay, you would need to get it sorted anyway.

About the author of this Post

Sydney Lewis A+ Inventories

Syd Lewis has been a private landlord for over 20 years, he is an accredited member of the National Landlords Association (NLA), Residential Landlords Association (RLA), Sponsor of the Good Landlords Campaign, a full member of the Association of Professional Inventory Providers (APIP) and a Certified Electrical Portable Appliance Tester (NIPIT). He is passionate about what he does which is providing residential inventory services, PAT testing and marketing floor plans for Agents, Landlords and Tenants. Inventories start from £56.00 to find out more see:-


Housing jargon explained by the NAEA Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

JargonRecent figures show over 40% of people looking into buying a home say that housing jargon confuses them. House hunter numbers are rising and first time buyers now make up a quarter of the market.  With this in mind the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) releases a jargon busting list to assist house hunters with the buying process.

Mark Hayward, President of the NAEA, said “It can be easy to forget that language and terms used when speaking with colleagues can be confusing and difficult to understand to buyers. Many have a limited knowledge of the vocabulary around buying and selling a home and will often find it off putting. Continue reading Housing jargon explained by the NAEA


Are Private Landlords Soft Targets? Guest Articles, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

Are Private Landlords Soft Targets?In this time of austerity, we must all put our shoulder to the wheel, do our bit, and pay our fair share. However, over the last few years with all the new requirements for Landlords and the resulting costs and additional work and some of the more recent developments, I wonder if Landlords are seen as soft targets for income generation?

It is well publicised that in addition to Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) certain Local Authorities (LA) are now requiring private landlords to be licensed before they can rent their property for which they are charge a fee. To add to this Lewisham Council, for example, intends to not only fine any property owners found to be committing an offence under the Housing Health and Safety Regulation System but also charged an administration fee for doing so. The LA sees both of these situations as a new source of revenue. Continue reading Are Private Landlords Soft Targets?


Is my letting agent treating me fairly? Landlord News, Latest Articles, Lettings & Management, Property News

Is my letting agent treating me fairlyMy partner and I have been renting a flat through a letting agents for the last 2 years. They charge us £150 to renew to lease every 6 months, the latest contract was signed in November 2012 for a further 6 months.

Shortly after we signed the new contract we were offered a larger and cheaper place with the local housing association which we have now moved into.

What I want to know is, as we are still paying the £400 a month rent until the end of the tenancy or until a new tenant takes on the existing lease, can they actually charge us the £295 finders fee that they are saying we are liable for?

There was nothing in the tenancy agreement and they’re not losing out on rent because we are stuck paying both rents until May if they don’t find anyone to move in sooner. Continue reading Is my letting agent treating me fairly?


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