Tag Archives: LHA

Property Research Tool Latest Articles

UK Property Research Tool
What you need to know and where to find the information

This Property Research Tool is for the benefit of all property buyers, landlords, tenants, owner occupiers and professional advisers associated with property.

Thanks to business sponsors and Property118 Members for their incredibly generous donations making the development of this Property Research Tool.

Property Research generally begins online

Far too many people fall into the trap of not doing proper online research, they see a property they fall in love with or meet a sales person they trust and the deal is done. For those of us who have learned our lessons the hard way, it still takes a long time to wade though websites to complete thourogh due diligence. The really annoying part for me was finding each website individually and then having to enter the same postcode into each one over and over again to find the right pages. For these reasons I wanted to have a system built as a convenient Aide-mémoire (check-list) for every internet user to be able to use and to provide access to to the websites containing vital information with the minimum number of clicks. Property Research Tool

Essentially the Property Research to is a pop up page, called a modal, which consolidates key information used by landlords and other property purchasers to assess properties. Any website can incorporate this technology free of charge. The functionality works best with Google Chrome and Safari internet browsers.

The only data input for users is the Post Code of the area. The key benefit is the ability to access all information required to complete desktop due diligence without having to remember visit multiple websites, thus saving considerable time and effort. The information is called from several websites which provide insight into the location being searched.

Enough of me trying to explain what it is, why not see for yourself?

If you run a website yourself why not write a review and grab the embed code to install the Property Research Tool functionality on your own website? We even have a widget which creates a “call to action” button (like the one below) which you can size to your requirements.

Want to learn even more?

My buy to let property investment strategy is documented and constantly updated in the Advice section of this website. To get back to the main menu >>>

 

Landlords Buy to Let Property Investment Strategy


Boiler Theft – Copper and Carpets Too! Latest Articles

I had a call about one of my properties in the Middlesbrough area that has gone downhill quite a way since I bought it 10 years ago.

It was one of John Paul’s merry crew at Castledene who told me that the place has had its back door kicked in, all copper piping, cable, boiler and even the almost new carpets pinched. It has been void for 2 months despite the offer to the local Homeless Unit and other caring organisations.

Evidently there are no homeless people in Middlesbrough who would like what is effectively a free (LHA rate only) 3 bed house, newly decorated and carpeted, with a modern gas central heating system and UPVC windows and doors. I am even throwing in cable TV and broadband free for 6 months and £100 to help with removal expenses!

So the loss adjuster has been in and sucked air through his teeth and we are in the process of getting estimates to make good. It hits the 90 day vacant limit of my insurers next week (The NLA members scheme at Alan Boswell) and I am told that none of the insurers they use for vacant property will accept it while a claim is in progress, so I am not going to have theft, accidental or malicious damage cover as of then.

Crime Prevention officers helpfully suggest that we don’t reinstate pipes, cables or boiler until, immediately before occupation. Not realistic as it’s hard enough to let as it is!

I have bleated to the council asking what is being done about this result of their selective licensing elsewhere in Middlesbrough driving the less desirable to my area. No useful reply as yet despite the mayor being Ray “Robocop” Mallon the former controversially tough “Zero Tolerance” copper.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Mallon

Questions:

1. How to get insurance worthy of the name until I have a tenant
2. How to get the place (and one in the next street) tenanted
3. (Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition) Best security measures to prevent a repeat. There is an alarm system there, which I am looking into having reinstated, assuming it isn’t working, and I plan to arrange curtains, blinds and lights on timers.

Many thanks

Jerryburglary


Rise in working families claiming benefits for housing Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

As early as Christmas working households claiming support for private sector rent could outnumber those in which nobody works, says a new report published tomorrow (Friday 18 October) by London Councils.

‘Tracking Welfare Reform in London’ reveals that just under 50 per cent of households receiving benefit in private rented housing in the capital have at least one person in work. Rise in working families claiming benefits for housing

If the number rises as expected London will be the only part of Britain where working households claiming benefits for private rented housing eclipse those where no-one is working. The report also found the number of people receiving help with their rent has fallen in inner London since May 2011, while in outer boroughs the number has increased.

Chair of London Councils, Mayor Jules Pipe, said: “Last year, private sector rents in inner London rose by 14 per cent, so it’s not surprising that more and more working families are turning to housing benefit to help them survive. Our latest research shows households claiming housing benefit, both working and non-working, are increasing in outer London and that is placing a greater burden on local services such as schools, transport, and social care.

“London Councils supports a fairer, more accountable system of welfare, but is concerned that the current reforms have the potential to be devastating for families and local services. We want the government to undertake a serious, full and fair assessment of the additional costs of welfare reform for London’s councils as soon as possible.”

London Councils, which represents the capital’s 32 boroughs and the City of London, is calling for London to be exempt from the below inflation rise in private sector housing benefit, known as Local Housing Allowance (LHA). It is concerned that the move, which will see LHA rates limited to one per cent growth for the next two years, could drive homelessness.

The report also found:

  • a 17 per cent rise in people claiming LHA since April 2011, with working households accounting for 96 per cent of that growth
  • the number of working households claiming LHA has doubled over four years, while the number of non-working households claiming LHA has increased by 10 per cent over the same period
  • the number of households on LHA fell in some inner London boroughs by as much as 30 per cent between May 2012 and May 2013, but grew by 10,000 in outer London, which equates to an overall rise of 7 per cent
  • a rise in the number of households accepted as homeless and in priority need in London since 2010. Around 41,000 households are now in temporary accommodation in London, having presented to their local authority as in urgent housing need
  • around 97 per cent of households affected by the benefit cap in the four pilot London boroughs contained children.

Renting to ‘Council Tenants’ Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Not strictly an accurate title but I have heard novice landlords refer to people on Housing Benefit (provided by the council) as such so many times.Renting to ‘Council Tenants’

So, should you accept tenants who claim benefits?

No one can make that decision for you – but there are some risks to consider, and precautions you can take.

Financial Security

Although it is a generalisation, many benefit claiming tenants do not have much in the way of assets or financial reserves. This can result in delayed rent, or even non payment of rent if some other financial problem arises. In the longer term, it means that if you need to pursue a claim for damages or missing rent at the end of the tenancy, there is a high chance that you will not be able to enforce the resultant court order. Linked to this, for many tenants, is an irregularity of rent payments. Most tenancy agreements reserve rent monthly in advance. Housing Benefit (LHA) is paid 4 weekly in arrears (fortnightly in some areas). This means that the dates rarely match up (monthly rent, 4 weekly LHA) and the amounts for a single payment never match up (annual rent/12, annual LHA/13). For tenants who rely solely on LHA for their rent payment this will also mean that rent is always paid late.

Example:

Rent: £500pm (£6k pa)
1st July £500 rent due £500 owed
29th July £461.54 housing benefit received £38.46 owed
1st August £500 rent due £538.46 owed
26th August £461.54 housing benefit received £76.92 owed
1st September £500 rent due £576.92 owed
23rd September £461.54 housing benefit received £115.38 owed
1st October £500 rent due £615.38 owed

Providing your tenant is entitled to sufficient housing allowance to cover their entire rent (as above) the 13 LHA payments over a 12 month period will equal the 12 rent payments.

You may be asked by your tenant to change your tenancy agreement to 13 x 4 weekly rent periods a year in an attempt to match up rent due and benefits paid. Do not do this – If you needed to evict due to unpaid rent a 4 weekly rent period would prevent you using the mandatory ground 8 in section 8 of the 1988 Housing Act.

Many providers of landlord insurance will charge an additional amount if you let to benefits claimants. If you let to benefits claimants whilst paying for non-claimants then your insurance is likely to be invalid.

Your lender may have limitations on what type of tenants you can let to.

Your tenants benefit may be stopped.

If the council decide to stop paying housing benefit to your tenant, or their situation changes and they are entitled to less, they may not be able to pay their rent. Receipt of Housing Benefit is NOT guaranteed.

What can I do to protect myself?

The first thing to do is to NOT forget to carry out full referencing and credit checks on your tenants. This is likely to show if your tenant has previously defaulted on rent, or any other recorded debt. If you do these checks yourself, it is worth questioning the ‘last but one’ landlord. The current landlord may have a vested interest in giving a good reference to get rid of non-paying tenants.

A deposit is essential in all cases. As your tenant is on benefits, they are unlikely to have a large amount available for a deposit – and yet their lack of assets is the very reason you need as large a deposit as possible. It is probably cheaper to wait for a tenant with a suitable deposit than run the risk of a tenant running up a large rent debt, and not being able to obtain a penny through the courts.

A guarantor is also highly advisable. The guarantor will be expected to cover any bills that the tenant cannot pay. In view of this, your tenants’ guarantor should be a creditworthy homeowner, preferably working full time. The guarantor should be credit checked. If the guarantor is a homeowner, they are less likely to move – making them easier to find – and they have an asset that you can place a charge on if a court order is made against them.

Guarantees are very difficult to enforce and it is important to ensure that the document is legally binding. As a rule of thumb, a guarantee that is not witnessed and executed as a deed will not be enforceable in court. This is one area where DIY or unsubstantiated internet forms are best avoided – the cost of purchasing a professionally worded deed of guarantee is minimal compared with the potential consequences of having a guarantee that cannot be enforced.

Obtain written permission from the tenant to discuss their Housing Benefit claim with the council and make sure your tenancy agreement specifically states that you can use grounds 8, 10 & 11 from schedule 2 of the 1988 Housing Act. If it doesn’t, you will not be able to gain possession before the end of the fixed term even if your tenant owes many months’ worth of rent. I would also suggest that the initial tenancy agreement is only 6 months (not 12) to give you access to section 21 earlier, and (although I dislike the idea) it may be wise to serve a section 21(1)(b) notice as soon as the deposit regulations have been complied with. Doing this means that once the tenant is in a statutory periodic tenancy you can get guaranteed possession date within around 6-8 weeks of the first hiccough in payments whereas with section 8 you ideally need to wait until the tenant owes 2 months rent and you have to give a further 14 days notice, so that means you can commence possession proceedings at least 6 weeks earlier and probably get eviction 2 months earlier.

If it is too early to apply to the Courts for possession under section 21, as soon as the tenant is even a few pounds behind on their rent, serve a section 8 notice under ground 10. You don’t have to follow it through to the court process but this simple action will demonstrate to the tenant that their omission could have serious consequences and, if they have been good tenants, hopefully jolt them back on track.

And finally, as soon as the tenant misses a rent payment, notify the council of the fact and request that their payments are made directly to you in future. Some councils will do this, however all councils are obliged to do this once the tenant has a minimum of 8 weeks rent unpaid.


Stung by the £500pw Benefit Cap, no rent being paid – Help! Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

This week I have been stung by my first experience of the benefits cap. Stung by the Benefit Cap, no rent being paid - Help

One of my tenants Housing Benefit has gone down to £30pw from £159pw.

This is the cap where the Government are limiting families to £500pw of maximum benefits and all councils will have it by Sept 2013.

My tenant now gets £310 Child Tax Credit, approx £90 Child benefit & £10 Income Support with loans taken off. With Council Tax & the £30HB, we are about £500. A lot of money I know, but when they’ve had if for years, they’re used to it.

My tenant cannot understand at all that she has to pay any rent out her own pocket – so isn’t going to – so she says.

I’ve given her notice in case things get worse, as mortgages don’t grow on trees.

I don’t want her to go and she she doesn’t want to go either!

She rang me up every week for a year to get a house off me, so we are both valued to each other.

I have contacted Shelter, MP’s, Govt, CLG, Advice Centre, the Council Housing benefit and more and none of them seem to know anything whatsoever about direct payment to a Landlord when tenant is in arrears as a result of these circumstances.

The Local Authority is now saying no provision for direct payment to Landlord when in arrears.

As we all know Universal Credit are talking about direct payment to Landlord because of the big arrears they’ve been getting in trial areas. And as we all know, direct payment when LHA was introduced in 2008 was a no no,until we all moaned enough that is. Now getting direct payment is like taking candy from a baby.

However, I’m hitting a brick wall with direct payment under this new benefit cap.

I thought I was a benefit expert until this week. I’m 99% sure they will do something eventually, when enough people get evicted and moan enough, but I and many others need something positive to happen now.

My Local Authority are not interested, they seem to think it’s  funny that supercool Landlord Mick Roberts is now only getting £30pw when he was getting £159pw and in their eyes, lapping it up.

My tenant is still allowed £159pw under 4 bed LHA rate rules, but it is the benefits cap which is limiting her housing benefit payment to £30pw. Clearly this is the first thing tenants lose when going over the £500pw threshold.

Govt needs to wake up because they haven’t got the houses for for these tenants and wherever this tenant ends up she will only get £30pw towards her rent, so will be in the same boat with any Landlord.

The big families are no longer attractive!

Jeez, I wanted this to be a quick post, but if any experts reading this know more than me and can help, it would be very much appreciated.

Regards

Mick


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


Letting to Family Member Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Letting to Family MemberI would really value some advice about letting to a family member please.

I have recently retired and purchased a “retirement home” for my wife and myself.

My intention is to let my current property to my daughter and I have consequently contacted my mortgage provider (Woolwich – Barclays) for permission to do this. Reading the application form that I received from them suggests that consent will not be given as my daughter is currently in receipt of Housing Benefit (£970 / month). Continue reading Letting to Family Member


Birmingham City Council – “We support good landlords” Latest Articles, The GOOD Landlords Campaign, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Birmingham City Council - “We support good landlords”Birmingham City Council have sent a strong message to landlords who let in the city – We support good landlords

Senior officers of the city council have been in discussions with the West Midlands Regional Representative  of the National Landlords Association (NLA)  since 2011 when HMO licences were about to come up for renewal but it was not until the NLA proposed a radical new approach to the fee structure that progress was made. Continue reading Birmingham City Council – “We support good landlords”


Universal Credit will be paid direct to landlords but …. Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

Universal Credit will be paid direct to landlords but ....The Residential Landlords Associated revealed yesterday the housing benefit element of Universal Credit may well be paid directly to landlords after all. However, a lot of questions remain unanswered.

According to the RLA “automatic direct payments to landlords will now be allowed in the pathfinder areas. The policy change was tucked away on the last page of an obscure circular published by the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) yesterday.” Continue reading Universal Credit will be paid direct to landlords but ….


How can honest Landlords remove bad or non paying tenants Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Recardo writes to raise a debate on how honest landlords can remove bad or non paying tenants.

I have been a landlord for 12 years and as I manage my own BTL properties I am always looking for information and procedures on this industry. I have even written in the past for advice from other landlords on Property118, and I hope this article will help other landlords.

Over the years I must just have been lucky as I didn’t get any bad tenants, but over the last year I have had three. Must be a sign of the times.

One was a long term tenant who after signing a new 12 month tenancy wanted to leave 10 weeks later with 1 months notice. Another has just left after a year because “things just kept breaking”, front door lock, back door lock, toilet flush twice in 2 months, glass in the oven door (£220 to replace). Broken basin taps, and leaking connecting pipe. I just could not afford to keep this tenant on. The worst one I want to talk about is a tenant who stopped paying the rent and the hassle and stress that has caused.

This lady was in her 2nd year of tenancy when she had some “problems” and stopped paying the rent, she has a stay at home partner and a couple of kids. they were receiving LHA and she was the only worker. Her “problems” led to her loosing her job.

After she missed her first rental payment I contacted her to ask what was happening and she  said she was having a few problems, but it would be paid in a couple of weeks. After 2 weeks you’ve guest it no money, so I went on the chase and emails went unanswered and no reply to my phone calls. I sent her a section 21 giving her about 10 weeks to vacate (2 full months required). I also offered her a payment plan to catch up on her rent so I would not have to proceed with an eviction (my first). I also said if I had no reply within 5 days She would receive a copy of the section 21 in her hand delivered by my cousin, who is local and does small repair jobs for me.

She then contacted me three days later by email to say how sorry she was and she had received my notice, but she had lost her phone, and would you believe it her internet connection had gone down at the same time. No I didn’t, but if no money was received in seven days the eviction would proceed. She said her mum would lend her some money, but no money came as her mum was ill and taken to hospital.

It was now time for her 2nd rental payment (2 months) which she missed again. I contacted the council on that day to say she had missed two payments although agreeing to a payment plan, so could I have her LHA directly, and I had served her a sec 21 notice. They agreed to do this and I started to receive £565 from them although the rent was £725. At least I was getting something and if it was a private tenant with no RGI it would be nothing.

The day for them to leave on my notice was fast approaching, but she said she could not leave as they would be according to the council making themselves homeless. As such they would not have any responsibility to rehouse them! Isn’t it about time the council were banned from this practice. I have given 10 weeks notice and the tenants have made themselves homeless by not paying the rent they receive from the council to help house them. The lack of rent makes them homeless, not a court order.

Next step: Download a Claim form for Possession of Property. A four page form. As a landlord you have done nothing wrong, the tenants have broken their agreement to pay the rent. If they will resume they can stay there for the next 10 years. Question 7 on the form, have you taken a deposit if so was it held under a tenancy deposit Scheme, who with, give the reference Number. Was every one involved given the prescribed info etc etc. Are you sweating? Who’s on trial now! Is your deposit protection correct, up to date, and info sent to tenants been recorded and singed for by them? Phew thanks to reading the 118 site mine was.

This court process only cost a £175 fee, but that’s Ok as you can reclaim it from the tenant who hasn’t got a job or two pennies. They then have 2 weeks to appeal.

Luckily (you notice how lucky I’ve been so far, hope you are too) 3 weeks later there has been no appeal (as far as I’ve read no appeal against a sec 21) and the court has given them 18 days to move out. So that’s alright then this all started nearly 5 months ago.

The tenants receive the following court order: On 1st March 2013 District Judge——– etc. The Court Orders the defendant gives the claimant possession of ——- on 18th March 2013. The defendant to pay the claimant £175 costs.

I then receive a call from the partner (first time in nearly 2 years), this is the first he’s heard of this and they need more time to move. I said “I’m sorry you don’t talk to your partner who was paying part of the rent, but since she stopped 5 months ago I want my house back now”.

His response “this house isn’t worth 725pm, it’s falling apart and I’m going to paint all your walls black, you need to get a new gas cert as this one has expired it’s the law.”

Mr response was “you should not be in my house, so I’m not getting a gas cert until you leave and if the house is not worth the money then leave. On my last inspection there was no complains and the house looked fine to me. if you want to do some work I will bring you some magnolia and pay you to redecorate” he then hung up.

I sent the bailiffs form off (£110) on 18th and I’m still waiting for a date. If the tenants wait for the bailiffs I hope they can take their old car, TV etc to pay my court costs, because the lost rent has gone forever.

Universal Credit starts soon so I am sure more evictions are on the way and my advice is to make sure all your paperwork is correct and up to date because if not you’re the one on trial.

The tenant refuses to move on a notice, then on a Court Order on 18th, so are they in contempt of court? Are they squatters, new laws say the police can move them! Why would I be in court for going knocking, or wait till they are out and change the locks? Why does the landlord have to spend more time, money and lost rent to get the bailiffs in? What can we do to change the system on faster evictions and stop the council policy of advising tenants not to leave? A section 8 seems a waste of time when people have no money, but a sec 21 served for non payment of rent should mean they are out in 2 months.


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