Tag Archives: licensing

Looking to get into property investment or expand your portfolio? Buy to Let Property Hotspots, Latest Articles, Property For Sale, Property Sales & Sourcing, Property Sourcing, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Back in September 2013 I wrote an about an HMO investment opportunity which could be of interest to people wanting a relatively low risk, low hassle investment so far as property goes. It was a sponsored article and every enquiry raised funds to help support the running costs of Property118. Interest levels were reported to be very high and a sufficient numbers of enquirers went on to purchase these investment to prompt the company to ask us to re-run the article. Looking to get into property investment or expand your portfolio?

You should, of course, do your own due diligence before committing to making a purchase though as we do not take any responsibility for any purchase decisions you make. I’ve used the same PR creative for the deal below where you can request a PDF document containing a lot more details. Please note that the PDF document will usually be sent to the email address you provide within two working days although we are not in control of this process.

[display_iframe src=”/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Keystone118-NEW.html” height=”1060″]


Councils lose Court cases over HMO licence fees HMO's & Student Lets, Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Three cases have recently been tested in the Courts whereby Councils have charged more for HMO licensing then was reasonable.

There are rules to prevent Councils using HMO licensing to raise funds for other activities.

Hemming v Westminster City Council: The case outlines the type of costs that councils can recover through locally set licence fees and the processes councils have in place to ensure fee setting is transparent and open to scrutiny. The key issue addressed was whether the fees set by Westminster City Council complied with the requirements of the European Services Directive 2009 and the interpretation of Article 13(2) of the Directive. The Services Directive also makes it clear that licence fees covered by the Directive can only be used to recover costs and should not be used to make a profit or deter service providers from entering a market. Councils lose Court cases over HMO licence fees

Crompton v Oxford City Council: The power to charge fees in respect of HMO licensing is found in s63 of the Housing Act 2004. Importantly, this power is granted in respect of licence applications only. Oxford City Council has sought to charge a fee for the variation of an HMO licence. The Residential Property Tribunal (RPT) ruled that the fee was unlawful and that it could not be charged.

Bristol City Council v Digs (Bristol) Ltd: The defendant was the private landlord of a maisonette in multiple occupation. The council brought a prosecution for failure to obtain an HMO licence and for breaches of the HMO regulations. A District Judge at Bristol Magistrates Court tried the preliminary issue of whether the maisonette was a licensable HMO. It extended over two storeys of a building with a further entrance corridor and hallway on a lower storey. The council included the lower storey in deciding that the HMO extended to three storeys. The Judge held that having regard to Article 3 of the HMO (Prescribed Description) (England) (Order) the maisonette was not an HMO. The council had been wrong to include the lower storey. In the light of that ruling, the council offered no evidence and the defendant was acquitted.

In the wake of these rulings the NLA is asking all local authorities in England to contact any affected landlords, informing them of their right to appropriate refunds and providing details of how they may make a claim.

Richard Lambert, Chief Executive Officer at the National Landlords Association (NLA), said:

we have asked local authorities to come clean about the level of fees they have charged private-landlords, if they were entitled to make these charges, and when they will refund any money unjustly demanded.

Mr Lambert went on to add:

“In writing to all local authorities in England we’re acknowledging the good working partnership many private landlords have with town halls, but making clear they should not be absorbing the costs of overcharging to support other council functions”.


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


SEAL – South East Alliance of Landlords Landlord News, Latest Articles

SEAL - South East Alliance of Landlords

Members of the South East Alliance of Landlords (SEAL) are putting together a bedsit task force to go Street to Street in Southend in a war on neighbours from hell.

Judith Codarin, secretary of SEAL said: “We will choose sections of streets that are troublesome. We will find anyone who lives there and listen to issues. We will try to find landlords who aren’t members, talk to them and try to get them to join.”

SEAL was formed to coordinate a response to Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s plans to introduce Selective Licensing. It represents owners of almost 6,200 properties with hopes to represent 95 per cent of the local rental sector within three years.

SEAL – South East Alliance of Landlords

SEAL members can be easily identified by a sticker in a front window of their properties.

All but one of the 65 complaints received to date, varying from maintenance issues to more complex Freehold problems, have been resolved by SEAL, the last received to be dealt with within the next few days.

Self-regulation in this way is hoped to free up Southend Council to concentrate on non-members, but with only four Council officers to police over 6,000 other rental properties tenants home-owners are still suffering from a few bad landlords and nightmare neighbours.

Chairman Martin Ransom hopes to set up a new arm capable of helping landlords bring low-quality housing up to standard and said: “We have brought in a new member of the board with experience in this area. He has worked with a specific landlord, with whom the council has had historical issues. He has worked with him to get him up to standard.”

As quoted on their own website “By becoming a member of SEAL, you are demonstrating that you are willing to agree to a higher standard of management. It is vital that SEAL membership is widespread throughout the Borough of Southend as the larger our membership base, the more we can demonstrate to the Council our effectiveness. It is important also that membership continues to grow, as if SEAL fails, the Council retains the power to reconsider Selective Licensing.”

Mark Alexander, founder of Property118 and The GOOD Landlords Campaign commented “it is refreshing to see this kind of initiative and especially one so well supported. We have a long held opinion that Selective Licensing is not the answer to anti-social behavioural problems or criminal elements operating in the Private Rented Sector. We hope the group will take a look at the enforcement model being adopted by Lewisham Council and learn from that. The SEAL initiative could prove to be a superb method of routing out and reporting the worst offenders. Sadly a handful of criminals can spoil the reputation of an entire sector. Enforcement is required, NOT a stealth tax on good landlords which is ignored by the true villains.”


Thought provoking HMO and selective licensing question HMO's & Student Lets, Latest Articles, Question of the Week, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

The importance of my question is that, depending on the answer, it may be a way for landlords to bypass requirements for HMO licensing,  selective licensing and the problems associated with article 4 restrictions.

Yes it’s a simple question but with enormous consequences and to my knowledge the question has never previously been asked.

Just suppose a landlord rents a 5 bed three story town house to Mr X and gives him permission to take in up to 4 lodgers.

Does the property require an HMO licence?

Please bear in mind the landlord will never actually know how many lodgers the tenant has taken in and the number will change frequently.

To my knowledge there is no legislation to suggest that a tenant can’t also be a resident landlord.

I have checked the legislation and whilst I accept I might have missed something I can see nothing to answer this question.

Thought provoking HMO and selective licensing question

I raised this question on the HMO Facebook Group and so far I’ve not got a clear cut answer there despite several responses and comments

I look forward to reading your comments below.


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


End of Tenancy Deposit Issues – Tenant Requests Advice From Landlords Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Hi All,

I realise this is primarily a landlords site, however nothing like hearing it from you on what will hopefully be an impartial landlord view. I like to believe I am a reasonable and honest tenant.

Background:

My landlady owns a number of properties in London (via a company). I moved in and a new AST was signed (3 bed place), as one of the previous tenants was staying it was agreed (among the tenants) the originals tenants would give £100 each (2 left, 2 came in, I was 1 of the new tenants) towards any damages that they have caused. So there was no official “check-out” for them (they were paid their deposit back in full by the landlady).
During this period the landlady placed our deposits in “insured” schemes which are OK but not great and she never dated them properly.

During the next 2 years both other tenants left any new ones came in (they swapped at different periods). New AST were created. In the interim Landlady goes into administration and the receivers stepped in. They placed our deposit into a custodial scheme.

She got out of it by selling a couple of properties and managing to refinance the remaining properties.
After she gained repossession of the property we did another tenant swap and this meant new AST and supposedly a new deposit protection scheme which we never saw (ie. she never applied for one).

Note 1: We have never missed any payments and always paid on time (for the 2.5 years I lived there).
Note 2: Landlady is still owing deposits to 2 other tenants that left almost 1 year ago (to be fair they should have applied A LOT MORE pressure but she keeps discussing different items that she wants to charge them for and delaying the process). She also seems to be dealing with them at individual level (almost as if she rent rooms out and charging for things that were never done like window cleaning).
Note 3: I took 3 days off work to make sure the property was left in excellent condition as I knew this was about to get messy (this inc professional carpet cleaners @ £115, professional cleaners suggested by her @ £135, I bought paint and brushes to make sure my room and common areas were not marked and left in pristine conditions), and paid a checkout report (although I never saw a check-in report).
Note 4: I am still liable to dispute the DPS custodial one as it was dated to finish in August (our tenancy finished in early September), however some of the names of tenants on that Deposit ID are different to the latest tenancy.

Our tenancy ended 6th Sep and the checkout report was issued 16th Sep (as inventory services agency took ages to produce the report).

Now she is doing the same to us, finding things that she maybe able to charge (including broken tile, leaking pipe, cleaning not up to standard [even though she recommended the professional cleaning company], stained sofa), given more time they will keep increasing.

Googling her name reveals some previous court cases and the cleaning company, check-out report company etc from what they told me sound as if she is the same with all her tenants in her other properties.

It obvious she does not play by the book and I have tried to be very patient and rational about all this. But to be fair to her she was patient with signing new ASTs and swapping tenants in contracts (but surely that is a saving on both sides as she does not have to market the property or have any downtime).

Questions:

  • How does she have to officially respond to checkout report and how long until we can start kicking and screaming for our deposit?
  • Given that the deposit is not in a “valid” protection scheme for the latest tenancy is there any mechanism to apply pressure? (I know landlords must place the deposits in these schemes but if they don’t they could have to pay multiples of the deposit… where can I go to talk discuss this option, I don’t want to get to this but will surely use this to keep her in line)
  • Should I dispute the deposit under the custodial scheme which has my name and 2 previous (not latest) tenants [who also have not yet seen their deposit back yet]?
  • How can I fight the several claims for several things which she wants money for?
  • Who do I go to for help on this? for example to take her to court or to dispute this end of tenancy given that it is not to my knowledge on any deposit protection scheme.

Please help, we (3 young professionals) all have 6 weeks rent tied here (not to mention 2 others who have also not yet seen their deposit back).

I appreciate all the feedback I can get. End of Tenancy Deposit Issues - Tenant Requests Advice From Landlords

I have rented different places in the UK over the last 10 years (Surrey and London), I have seen a couple of decent landlords but I have seen mostly awful ones. I do support the requirement for standards (licensing or accreditation), it is getting harder and harder to get on the property ladder and more young people will be renting for longer in the future, it is possible for landlords to keep their investments profitable and not have to play with people lives.

Many thanks

Andre


Subletting Scams – why landlords are afraid to report them Cautionary Tales, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Letting, Lettings & Management, Property News, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Many landlords are fearful to seek help from their local authorities in terms of dealing with subletting scams.

Just imagine this, you’ve jst let your nice little three bed house to Mr & Mrs Lovely and their two perfect children, only to find out that 10 of their family have also moved in. How would you feel?

Subletting scams can also go a stage further. Mr & Mrs Lovely may never actually move into the property, they simply cram as many immigrants in as possible (sometimes illegal immigrants) and charge them all a rent and make a huge profit.

The landlord then has numerous concerns including:-

  • Mr and Mrs Lovely fail to live up to their name and stop paying rent, but they continue to collect it
  • wear and tear on the property
  • noise related issues affecting neighbours
  • will their landlords insurance still be valid
  • fire safety
  • HMO licensing
  • and so the list goes on.

You would think that a quick call to the local EHO (Environmental heath Officer) should sort the problem wouldn’t you? So far as I’m aware, EHO’s have every right to close the property down if they consider it to be a danger to human life, through overcrowding for example. In such circumstances, that’s exactly what many landlords actually want to happen. What they don’t want is to spend several months going through the Courts to obtain possession order, which under the circumstances they will inevitably obtain but at what cost to themselves and at what risk to human life in the meantime?

Whilst any legal action is ongoing the landlords property is probably getting ruined, they may not receive rent, the neighbours get very upset and the landlords ends up with a huge bill.

The fear of reporting such problems runs deep. Will the local authorities use the problem against the landlord? Will they take pictures of the property and use them in their anti-landlord propaganda to justify licensing schemes? Will the local authority press charges against the landlord for the state of the property, which may well have been perfect when they first rented it to Mr & Mrs Lovely?

In many cases, inventories prepared by landlords are not up to scratch so the fear of reporting problems is that tenants will claim the property was a death trap from day one and the landlord becomes a victim twice over!

I am hoping that any TRO’s (Tenancy Relations Officers), EHO’s (Environmental Health Officers) and others with the powers to actually do something about this will comment on the problem as well as landlords and letting agents. Subletting Scams - why landlords are afraid to report them

 


Nearly Legal SEO Discussion Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

This Twitter discussion with Nearly Legal will make the lawyers reading this smile, and hopefully a few more business think a bit deeper about SEO and the true value of the internet.

To download your copy of my SEO Made Easy PDF document please complete the form below.Nearly Legal

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I only want happy customers. Therefore, to guarantee that you have nothing to lose I have decided to make this promise to you. If you are not entirely satisfied with the information contained in the document just email me within 3 days explaining why and I personally guarantee to refund your money, whether I agree with you or not.


Rent to Rent Tips, Advice and Case Study Advice, Buy to Let News, Landlord News, Landlords Stories, Latest Articles, Legal, Letting, Lettings & Management, Property Investment News, Property Investment Strategies, Property News, Property Sourcing, The GOOD Landlords Campaign, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

I’ve spotted yet another educational course based on the Rent to Rent concept this morning, this one is called “Let to Rent”. I have no idea whether the course is a good one or not, however, given that the topic of Rent to Rent is so popular I have produced this guide to share answers to some of the most frequently asked questions relating to this subject, specifically in relation to contracts.

When can tenants be offered a license as opposed to an AST?

The benefits of providing a license is that it is much easier to evict tenants. There is no requirement for a minimum 6 month term, no requirement to give them two months notice and no requirement to obtain a Court order and instruct bailiffs to regain possession if a tenant refuses to move out after the notice period. Furthermore, tenants deposits do not need to be protected in a tenancy deposit scheme if a property/room is let on license or a lodgers agreement, which is a form of license. No wonder Rent to Renters want to offer licenses instead of AST then! Image - Let to Rent and Rent to Rent Tips

Licenses can only be used under the following circumstances:-

1) The room/property is being rented as holiday accommodation. You may need to prove that the occupier of the room or property has another residence though, e.g. a place where they are registered on the voters roll.

2) You are a live in landlord. If you live in the property yourself you can take in lodgers

3) If you provide a service such as a hostel or a B&B. For example, if you provide cleaning services including changing the bedding once a week or breakfasts in the morning.

What if none of the above apply?

If none of the above apply then the basis of your tenancy is an AST whatever your contract says. This is because legislation in the housing and 1988 (and subsequent updates) and the landlord and tenant act 1985 over-rule whatever your contract says.

What is the right contract to have between the property owner and the Rent to Renter?

First, you need to understand what is the wrong type of contract and why.

Company Let Agreement (AKA corporate letting agreement)

Company Let Agreement (AKA corporate letting agreement)These allow a company to use the premises to provide accommodation for their employees. If you are using a company let agreement and subletting a property or a room within it to a person who is not your employee then you will be in breach of the agreement. Many Rent to Rent companies are using these agreements in ignorance of this fact. They do so because deposits do not need to be protected with a tenancy deposit scheme.

AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement)

AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement)AST’s do not generally allow subletting, therefore, any subletting without the owners permission is a breach of contract. Furthermore, the property owner could obtain possession of the property after just 6 months, even sooner if you are in breach of contract. If you have sublet the property and your tenants are still occupying the property after the owner has obtained possession you could be held liable and subjected to claims for massive financial compensation.

The correct agreement between a property owner and a Rent to Renter is a commercial lease

The correct agreement between a property owner and a Rent to Renter is a commercial lease.

Don’t use just any old off the peg commercial lease , you need one which is professionally drafted specifically for Rent to Rent which includes clear, fair and reasonable provisions for subletting a residential property. Do bear in mind that the property owner is highly likely to seek professional advice about the contract between you. The owner will generally be advised not to lease the property for more than 5 years and to ensure the lease is contracted out of the landlords and tenant act 1954 to ensure that it is his choice alone whether to offer to extend the arrangement by granting a new lease at the end of the contracted period. The owner of the property will also be advised to ensure that you become responsible for the maximum number of residents, maintenance, basis of occupancy/subletting, licensing and statutory requirements and maximum number of occupants. Therefore, it is important to be able to offer a well drafted document covering all of these points at the earliest possible opportunity. This will give the property owner and his professional advisers confidence in you being a professional operator.

Successful Rent to Rent Case Study

Let me give you a great example of a lady I spoke to a few months ago about her success story.

She came across a situation whereby an elderly guest house owner had fallen ill and moved into a granny annexe at her childrens home. The Guest House was on the Lincolnshire Coast and the children were based in the Home Counties. The Guest House had been in the family for for two generations and the family are reluctant to sell it. Based on profits, the family were advised by a professional commercial agent that the market rental value for the property was £1,000 pcm. The decision of the family was to let the property for 5 years prior to making a decision on whether to sell it OR for one of her grandchildren to run it OR to continue to rent it as a going concern. As the property was already registered as a guest house it already met all of the requirements to be a HMO. There were no selective licensing or Article 4 barriers to contend with in the area.

The rent to renter I spoke to had interesting plans for the property. She had spoken to the local authorities about the requirement for temporary accommodation for victims of domestic violence and homelessness as a result of mortgage repossessions and other forms of eviction. Her son would reside in the property as caretaker and would also serve breakfast and offer a basic cleaning service including a weekly change of bed linen. Under the circumstances, all rooms could be let on licenses. The profits on this activity amounted to more than £5,000 per month and within a week all 16 rooms were full.

Rent to Rent  Commercial Lease Contract

To have a suitable contract professionally drafted and ready to present to a property owner and his professional advisers typically costs around £3,000. In the case study presented above the lady purchased our Rent to Rent Commercial Lease template for just £97. The document template was professionally drafted by Justin Selig who is a qualified solicitor specialising in property and contract law. This arrangement is a joint venture between Property118 and Landlord Action. The Rent to Rent Commercial Lease Template has been one of the most popular premium downloads on this website.  The lady in our case study required a few amendments to the standard template due to the sub-letting arrangements in the template being drafted to assume AST’s would be used, however, that was easily sorted by her own solicitor who charged her just £300 to make the necessary amendments. In all she saved over £2,500 in legal fees and now makes over £5,000 pcm from her first Rent to Rent deal. Needless to say, she is now on the lookout for similar opportunities!

Order the "Rent to Rent" lease contract template

  • Price: £ 97.00

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