Tag Archives: Landlord Registration

Enforcement not legislation – PRS Hit Squads Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

There is already more than enough funding and legislation to police the Private Rented Sector.

The last thing we need is more legislation, what everybody wants is enforcement and word on the street is that we could begin to see it before the end of 2013. Ben-Reeve-Lewis

PRS Hit Squads

The authorities all know who the real criminals are and the only reason the criminals are still in business is because those holding power don’t combine resources, in fact they rarely talk to each other. Until now they have all run scared of “data sharing protocols” but when that’s put to one side expect to see some very big cases of criminal landlords being taken to task.

I have heard that PRS Hit Squads will target known criminal landlords between now and Christmas and are supported “in principle” by the likes of Mark Prisk, Boris Johnson and others who openly admit to not being fans of the licensing model being operated in Newham. I’ve also heard that six figure funding for a trial has been agreed at ministerial level.

These “PRS Hit Squads” as I’ve labelled them will comprise of:-

  • Environmental heath
  • HMO licensing
  • Planning
  • Anti social behaviour teams
  • EDF revenue
  • Building contol
  • UKBA
  • Police

The plan is that they will share intelligence and converge on criminal landlords in a military style operation, focussing on the worst operators first of course. With their combined resources the criminals will not stand a chance. It will be like a man with a pea shooter trying to fend off the SAS 🙂

Beware the Spin Doctors!

My hope is that the PR outcome of the PRS Hit Squad successes will be positive and support the need for the model to be extended nationally. It is a very low cost model and the results should save the tax payer money as well as improving peoples lives (unless you are one of the targeted criminals of course!). The last thing the PRS needs is for the successes to be used as justification for more regulation. The spin doctors will see this as an opportunity to justify schemes such as Newham but this must not be allowed to happen.

Landlords can be victims too

Landlords are also the victims of criminals and I have seen some very sad examples of that. A recent case in the Fens involved a landlord who let his former home to a Gang-master. Unbeknown to him the unregulated Gang-master then allowed 20 immigrant farm workers to live in the property, all sleeping on mattresses on the floor. When the landlord found out he obviously wanted them out ASAP, as did the neighbours of pretty culdesac in which the landlords 4 bad detached property was located but the law stood in the way. Had the landlord been able to go to the authorities, secure in the knowledge they would fight for him, it would have been a Godsend to him. Instead, the authorities are threatening the landlord and not the Gangmaster! Clearly common sense isn’t that common.

Let’s hope the PRS Hit Squads are successful in taking down criminals and then lend a much needed helping hand to landlords who are also targeted by criminals. If common sense prevails we might just see more action and less talk. When all is said and done, more is said than done, but fingers crossed let’s hope that not the case here.

The Highland Fling

Earlier this year the Scottish Association of Landlords reported that landlord registration in Scotland has cost landlords £11.2 million in fees while the start-up Scottish Government grant for the scheme was £5.2 million. According to the results, since 2006 there have only been 40 rogue landlords identified as operating in Scotland, that’s the number of rejected applications. The cost equates to £400,000 per rogue identified!

Summary

The schemes in Newham and its copycats also show signs of being similar “White Elephants”, therefore I’m pinning my hopes on the PRS Hit Squads taking down as many criminals as possible, proving once and for all that it’s more enforcement not legislation we need. Enforcement not legislation - PRS Hit Squads


Fit and Proper Landlords and Tenants – Consequences? Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

I have heard the words “Fit and Proper” mentioned a lot of late in terms of regulation of landlords and letting agents.

It would appear that society would like fit and proper landlords only to rent their properties to fit and proper tenants.

* When deciding whether or not a landlord is a fit and proper person to let out property the authorities in Scotland perform the following checks to ensure there is no ……

  • Information showing that the landlord has committed fraud, or violent or drug related offences.
  • Evidence of discrimination in any business activity.
  • Information showing that they have broken any other laws in relation to housing.
  • Information showing that they are a bad landlord, or that they have been a bad landlord in the past.
  • Antisocial behaviour problems in any properties the landlord rents out or is responsible for.
  • If the landlord has an agreement with a letting agent (or anyone else who’s acting on their behalf in letting the property), that the terms of that agreement are adequate.
  • Anything else which is relevant.

Now as any NIMBY will tell you, nobody wants a landlord to let a property to a bad tenant in their area. Therefore, the government also want landlords to be responsible for ensuring their tenants are entitled to live and work in the UK and also to be accountable for any anti social behaviour of their tenants. In fact, it was anti social behaviour which spurned the Scottish Government to make landlord registration compulsory. In other words, a landlord could actually be prosecuted for the behaviour of his tenants. Therefore, landlords also need to ensure their tenants are fit and proper law abiding citizens and will not be a nuisance to their neighbours or society in general.

Wonderful you might think!

Fit and Proper Landlords and Tenants

But let me ask you a question; what about the people who are not “fit and proper”?

Where will tenants who are not fit and proper live?

The days of shipping undesirables off to the Colonies or taking them to the nearest place of execution where they shall be hung by the neck until they are dead, dead dead are long gone!

So what’s the answer?

* Source:-

http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/advice_topics/renting_rights/landlord_registration/the_fit_and_proper_person_test


Rant About Scottish Letting Regulation Commercial Finance, Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

As the Scottish Government gets set to embark on the regulation of letting agents – regulation which is badly needed in my view – I fear that my worst nightmare may be about to become true.

Why? Well, let’s look at what’s happened already with Scottish renting legislation.

Landlord Registration has for the most part been startlingly ineffective in raising standards. In fairness, that perhaps was not its prime purpose (having been introduced under anti-social behaviour legislation) but the fact that we now have a national database of private landlords should allow national and/or local government to target those landlords with awareness-raising advice, invite them to seminars and so on. Those unfortunate tenants who suffer at the hands of malicious or, more likely unaware, landlords need that to happen. I’m fairly sure there must still be many landlords who are not yet registered. The fact that Scottish Government hiked the penalty for non-registration up from £2,000 to £50,000 must surely indicate that registration is seen as important. The requirement to quote registration numbers in property advertisements seemed a pretty good way of bringing all landlords into the system. Yet, how many adverts still appear with no registration numbers? How many unregistered landlords have been fined?

No. I see poor practice flourish aplenty and registration requirement ignored. I see responsible landlords pay their dues while the irresponsible carry on regardless. I see local authority Landlord Registration teams funded by those responsible landlords and, it seems, doing not a great deal to bring all within the net.

Why not simply legislate to make it a requirement that for any individual to rent out a property he or she must either use a regulated agent (when that’s in place) or achieve accredited landlord status (or commit to a time-limited accreditation path)? Overnight, poorly performing landlords would be outlawed.

Look at Tenant Information Packs. Of course it’s good practice to pass incoming tenants information and advice relative to their tenancy and their new property. Responsible agents and landlords have been doing so for years as a matter of course. So surely it’s good that all now have to do so?

In theory, yes, but from our perspective as a letting agency we now find ourselves managing a parallel process issuing the mandatory Tenant Information Pack (TIP) alongside our own one, as the mandatory one is so stodgy as to be a turn-off to most tenants, contains errors, and imparts nothing of substance about the property. The effect of this has been to sap resources, particularly time – our scarcest resource – and so impact negatively on our finances. So a highly responsible agency, regulated by RICS and licenced by ARLA is being forced to go through an ineffective process which hampers business efficiency while less regulated or less responsible agents who decline to do so, or are even unaware perhaps that they need to, sail on in the same old way. How many letting agents have been taken to task for failing to issue a TIP? How many who fail to do so, use a low-fee basis as a means of attracting clients? The answers to those questions are unknown, but I’m pretty certain the first is zero or we’d have heard about it.

Simply Let pays about £2000 per year in professional membership subscriptions and regulation levies. We do that because we believe in high standards, and in demonstrating that we hold that belief. We undertake continuing professional development. We do so because we need to be fully informed in order to serve our clients well. We cannot give our landlord clients and their tenants the service they deserve on a low fee basis.

If a landlord’s agent fails to fulfil one of his client’s statutory obligations, it will be the landlord who is held responsible. Are all landlords aware of this? How many agents are playing fast and loose with their obligations to their clients? Again I don’t have an answer to that. If an agent lands a landlord in trouble as a result of negligence or incompetence does that landlord have recourse to a complaints redress mechanism? If that agent goes bust or even runs off with the cash is the landlord’s money safe? Does the agent have client money protection? Unlike estate agents selling houses, a fairly straightforward one-off task, letting agents have on-going management responsibilities which require detailed knowledge of complex housing law. Currently anyone can set up as a letting agent without any qualifications or training whatsoever and without any insurance or external monitoring and take on responsibility for managing clients’ major financial assets and ensuring tenants’ safety in the home.

You can see then why we favour regulation of letting agents. With a level playing field, landlords and tenants could go about selecting an agent knowing that all agents had the basics in place. Why then do I fear, as I said at the beginning of this blog, that my nightmare is about to be realised?

In my nightmare, responsible and already regulated agents found themselves obliged to register and of course to pay a recurring fee for doing so. In my nightmare less responsible agents continued to operate without appearing on the register. The third strand of my nightmare is that nothing much else happened.

It’s turned out like that with Landlord Registration so it’s perfectly possible that Letting Agent Regulation will go the same way.

Why not simply make it a requirement that in order for any letting agent to practice he or she must have in place:

  • A minimum level of relevant knowledge
  • Professional indemnity insurance
  • Client money protection
  • A complaints redress mechanism
  • Evidence of continuing professional development?

All are currently available to any responsible agent.

The private rented sector involves the very basics of life: a tenant’s home and a landlord’s financial investment (and possibly pension plan). It is critical therefore that all who manage any part of that process, landlord or agent, have the knowledge and capability to undertake their role to a high standard and fulfil it in a professional manner. It is critical too that those who entrust their lot to an agent have the benefit of certain basic protections. So my plea to the Scottish Government, when it develops letting agent regulation, is to make it impossible for any agent who can’t deliver those five elements above to continue in practice. The country and its tenants deserve nothing less. Rant About Scottish Letting Regulation

John Gell MRICS


Alternatives to Landlord Licencing Schemes Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

The alternatives to Landlord Licensing Schemes require joined up thinking, changes to data sharing protocols within local authorities and revised high level directives and strategies which must begin at Government level. 

Perhaps the first question to ask is what is Landlord Licensing all about? Is it really about raising standards or is it more to do with raising funds?Alternatives to Landlord Licencing Schemes

Funding

If society as a whole desires that people should not be subjected to sub standard housing conditions then society as a whole must pay to enforce this (howsoever that might be done) whether the money is raised at a local level or centrally.

It is both unacceptable and wholly undemocratic that landlords should be singled out by Government, Councils and Local Authorities to pay stealth taxes badged as licensing fees on the pretence that the money will be used to fund enforcement related initiatives.

Costs associated with licensing schemes imposed on landlords are funded through increased rents. Neither landlords nor tenants want this, particularly as there is clear evidence (demonstrated in this article) that landlord licensing schemes have proven not to be an effective solution to problems in the Private Rented Sector.

Recycling of Court awarded penalties

The high costs associated with prosecuting criminal landlords is borne by Local Authorities, however, fines and penalties go to the treasury. If these funds were to be redirected to the prosecuting authorities this would assist funding of additional prosecutions and create incentives to bring more criminal landlords to task. Continue reading Alternatives to Landlord Licencing Schemes


Tenant Information Pack – Scotland Latest Articles

Since 1st May 2013 landlords in Scotland have had a new statutory obligation to give new tenants a Tenant Information Pack, before the start of the tenancy, setting out key information about

  • the status of the tenancy
  • the tenancy agreement
  • the property
  • the landlord
  • the landlord’s and the tenant’s responsibilities

Responsible landlords and agents will have been providing this information already, but the Scottish Government’s aim is to ensure that all landlords and agents do so, so that all tenants in Scotland receive the same degree of information.

So if you’re a landlord of a property in Scotland and there’s a new tenancy coming up, what do you have to do?

A template Tenant Information Pack can be downloaded here, and a quick look through it will show you the type of information you need to provide.

It’s mandatory to use this template, and you shouldn’t adapt it in any way other, of course, than inserting the relevant information.  Always ensure that you download the latest version of the Pack from the Scottish Government website, as the intention is that it be updated from time to time and you’ll need to make sure you’re using the latest version.  The above links will take you to the most recent version, so bookmark them rather than storing hard copies of the form for future use.

You can give the Pack to your tenants either in hard copy or electronically.  Joint tenants may be given one copy between them or you can give them one each.

As well as providing you new tenants with a Tenant Information Pack you will need to  obtain their acknowledgement that they have received the Pack.  If you send the Pack to your tenants electronically, an e-mail from them stating that they have received it will suffice.

If you use a letting agent to manage your property, you should ensure that your agent is dealing with this properly on your behalf.  If he fails to do so, then the liability will fall on you, so it’s wise to check the contents of your agreement with your agent to ensure that you have recourse to compensation should he fail to discharge your legal obligations.

What happens if you fail to issue a Tenant Information Pack?

Well, you’ll be committing a criminal offence and there’s a fine of up to £500. 

Whether the law will be enforced is another matter, and enforcement of other property legislation such as landlord registration and the recent requirements to include landlord registration numbers and EPC banding in property advertisements has been notably lacking as far as I can see.  But the requirement is well intentioned and the law is the law, so why risk a hefty fine and criminal record?

Tenant Information Pack - Scotland


Deposit Deadline of May 15th in Scotland Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

Scotland-flagLandlords in Scotland are urged to beat the deposit deadline and avoid huge penalties.

Over half of deposits for private tenancies in Scotland may not yet have been paid into a legally required tenancy deposit protection scheme – with just one week to go until the final deadline to sign up.

SafeDeposits Scotland, the leading provider of the tenancy deposit scheme in Scotland, says based on the latest figures as many as 56% of tenancies eligible for taking a deposit may not have yet had their deposits paid into a scheme.

According to the latest Scottish Government figures up to the end of March there are only 129,164 deposits submitted to a scheme – but there are 291,190 properties across Scotland signed up for landlord registration. (1)

From May 15 all deposits from privately rented properties must be secured into one of three government approved tenancy deposits protection schemes in Scotland, as part of the Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011. The legislation has been phased in and May 15 is the final deadline for all properties. (2)

Glasgow based SafeDeposits Scotland, the Scottish Association of Landlords and the National Union of Students are now issuing a call to urge landlords to ensure they are signed up before the deadline to avoid facing financial penalties.

Director of Operations at SafeDeposits Scotland, Rebecca Johnston said, “These figures are to the end of March and while we would like to report a massive surge in the last month of landlords signing up to the scheme that hasn’t happened. We want landlords to know that we are here to guide them through this process. But there isn’t much time left. They must sign up to a scheme – or risk a financial penalty. No-one wants that.”

John Blackwood from Scottish Association of Landlords said, “While not all landlords will charge a deposit and more deposits may have been protected since the last count, the estimated figures paint a worrying picture about the potential number of properties not signed up.”

Robin Parker, President of NUS Scotland, said, “These statistics seem to indicate that many landlords have yet to sign up to tenancy deposit schemes, which will be a surprise to student tenants who are expecting to hear shortly from the schemes how much of their deposit they are due back. Landlords are liable for huge penalties if they don’t submit their tenants deposits to a scheme, and we would urge them to beat the deadline and sign up. We also urge student tenants to get in touch with their landlords to confirm they are aware of the deadline and signed up to a scheme.”


Landlord Regulation is NOT the Answer Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News, The GOOD Landlords Campaign, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Landlord Regulation is not the answerThere is no doubt that our sector is attracting the criminal elements, however, landlord regulation is not the answer.

Why would any person in their right mind choose to live in a bed in a shed, or a mouldy, over-crowded wreck of a property?

The answer is simple, they need a roof over their head and there is no other choice. Continue reading Landlord Regulation is NOT the Answer


E-news Summary for 22/01/2013 eNews, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Is rent hiking a good business model?

Is rent hiking a good business modelIt’s been a while since I wrote anything in my ‘Don’t shoot the messenger’ series. Mainly because I kept getting shot ha-ha.

But I have a tough skin.

This article is an open letter to all you P118 landlords but probably more the London crew, because it is about rent increases and London is a different animal to the rest of the UK. I see properties for rent in different parts of Britain where the rents seem reasonable.

London is off the scale though. read on

Landlord registration is costing £400,000 per rogue

Landlord registration is costing £400,000 per rogueA multi-million pound scheme introduced to crack down on rogue landlords has resulted in only 11 people being reported to the procurator fiscal in two years.

The Landlord Registration Scheme has so far cost landlords and the taxpayer nearly £18 million since 2006, figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives have revealed.

That breakdown revealed responsible landlords have paid £11.2 million in fees, while the start-up Scottish Government grant for the scheme was £5.2 million. Annual running fees for the website since 2006 are estimated to be just under £300,000. read on

Should I purchase a dryer in a shared house ?

Should I purchase a dryer in a shared houseI have a shared house where the tenants are respectful and love this refurbished property as their home. The only thing they are requesting is proper drying facilities so they no longer need to use clothes racks or hanging stuff outside in the winter months

What do I do ?

The tenants would be happy to purchase tokens off me for its running cost if I purchased a token/coin operated timer equipment controlling a standard dryer.  read on

Readers question for building contacts and advice

Readers question for building contactsWe are a Manchester based property company and are in the process of building a small two bedroom two bathroom house, which we would like to sell or let when completed.

Where can I find authoritative information, preferably free, regarding the cost differences between :

(1) 12.5 mm dot and dab plasterboard and skim and 13 mm 2 coat wet plaster finish.

(2) 22 mm t & G flooring grade chipboard and 22 mm timber t & G boarding. read on

 

Tenancy Deposit Question from a Tenant

Questions

We have been renting a house and our landlady used a local estate agent for the process.

We are due to renew our tenancy and our landlady, after seeing all the charges for renewing to us from the estate agents, has said she was happy to do a private agreement between us. We get on very well and are good tenants.

The estate agents are now saying I can’t get my deposit back, surely if she is dispensing of their duties, I am entitled to it back? read on

Seller numbers jump by 22% and Rightmove traffic swells by 27%

Rightmove have released their House Price index for January which reveals some very interesting trends summarised below.

A copy of the full report can be downloaded by completing the form at the foot of this article. read on

Go to Latest Articles for all Property118 News:  CLICK HERE

Including in the last 5 Days:

  • Landlords investing more according to new data from ARLA
  • Ground Rents Investment Question
  • Rents rising in Scotland
  • Advertise property to let, reference tenants, guarantee rent – one package
  • NLA welcomes the launch of the Green Deal Cashback Scheme
  • Nottingham Buy to Let with three year assured 9.2% net yields
  • The Deposit Protection Service announce new pricing structure
  • Positive end to 2012 for the UK property auction market reported by EIG

Property Auctions: CLICK HERE

Dafydd Hardy Property Auction – 31/01/2013

Dafydd Hardy Property AuctionDafydd Hardy are holding a property auction on Thursday 31 January 2013 at the Anglesey Arms Hotel, Menai Bridge – 5:30PM.

To download the auction catalogue please complete the short form below. read on

Parsons Son & Basley Property Auction East Sussex – 21/02/2013

Parsons Son & Basley Property AuctionParsons Son & Basley are auctioning 10 properties at the Banqueting Suite, Hove Town Hall, Norton Road, Hove BN3 3BQ Thursday 21 February 2013 at 3pm.

To download a copy of the catalogue please complete the form below. read on

Louis Taylor Property Auction Stoke on Trent 12/02/2013

Louis Taylor Property AuctionLouis Taylor are holding a property auction consisting of 12 lots with guide prices from as little as £35,000 at 7pm on 12 February 2012.

The venue for the auction is 66 Trinity Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire ST1 5NB

To download a copy of their catalogue please complete the short form below. read on

Clive Emson Auctioneers – Property Auctions 4th to 7th February 2013

Clive Emson AuctioneersClive Emson Auctioneers are holding their first auctions of the New Year on 4th-7th February offering 116 Lots. Download their auction catalogue by completing the form below. The four auctions cover lots of land and commercial and residential properties across the whole of southern England, from Kent to Cornwall and from the Isle of Wight to the M4 corridor. read on

Athawes Son & Co National Property Auction 29.01.2012

Athawes Son & Co Property Auction 29.01.2012Download the auction catalogue for the Athawes Son & Co National Property Auction Sale.

Date: Tuesday 29th January 2013 commencing at 1pm

Venue: The Grand Connaught Rooms, 61-65 Great Queen Street, Kingsway, London WC2. read on

Nottingham Property Auction – 13th Feb 2013

Nottingham Property Auction - 13th Feb 2013HEB Chartered Surveyors are holding their first Nottingham property auction of the year on 13th February 2013.

There are 17 properties going under the hammer with guide prices from £20,000. read on


Landlord registration is costing £400,000 per rogue Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Landlord registration is costing £400,000 per rogueA multi-million pound scheme introduced to crack down on rogue landlords has resulted in only 11 people being reported to the procurator fiscal in two years.

The Landlord Registration Scheme has so far cost landlords and the taxpayer nearly £18 million since 2006, figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives have revealed.

That breakdown revealed responsible landlords have paid £11.2 million in fees, while the start-up Scottish Government grant for the scheme was £5.2 million. Annual running fees for the website since 2006 are estimated to be just under £300,000. Continue reading Landlord registration is costing £400,000 per rogue


Chance to Have your Say About Regulating Landlords Buy to Let News, Latest Articles, Lettings & Management, Property Market News

Time is running out for buy to let investors in Wales who wish to make their feelings known about proposals to set up a compulsory landlords register.

The date for responses to the Welsh Assembly Government ‘Meeting the Housing Challenge’ closes on February 14.

The government is planning a nationwide register and accreditation of landlords in a bid to raise housing standards in the private residential sector. Continue reading Chance to Have your Say About Regulating Landlords


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