Tag Archives: Platform

Win A FREE Ticket to the NALS Conference Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Full details and to book tickets … please visit the Conference Website

Speakers include:

Lord Best
The Property Ombudsmen
Representative from The London Rental Standard
Kate Faulkner
Nick Tadd NALS

Property Tribes is pleased to be able to offer a ticket as a competition prize.

To enter, just tweet this post using the ready-made tweet below – click the “live” RT button:

A tweet will be chosen at random to win the ticket – valued at over £120.00.

If you are not on twitter, you can email vanessawarwick (at) icloud.com with an email titled “Please enter me for the NALS Annual Conference Ticket Draw”.


Ready Made Property Tweets Latest Articles, Property Investment Strategies, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

If like me you are a big fan of Twitter you will no doubt enjoy sharing information with your fellow landlords.

I have just completed the mammoth task of completely updating my buy to let property investment strategy and I will be tweeting about it over the next few days.

Below are some of the tweets I’ve already sent. By all means use them to link through to any articles that might interest you and/or click the re-tweet button Ready Made Property Tweetsat the bottom right of each tweet.

 

 

 

 


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


Deposit Protection Providers call emergency meeting following Court of Appeal Ruling Buy to Let News, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

Deposit Protection Providers call emergency meeting following Court of Appeal RulingMark Alexander, editor and founder of Property118 tweeted the Deposit Protection Providers last night highlighting his fears on the ramifications of the Superstike vs Rodrigues Tenancy Deposit Protection Court of Appeal case. They are calling emergency meetings.

See the response below and read their interim press statement.

 

Interim Press Statement from the Deposit Protection providers

Court of Appeal – Superstrike Ltd v Rodrigues

A joint statement from the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, MyDeposits and The Deposit Protection Service

We have read with interest the latest judgment from the Court of Appeal on deposit protection. Whilst landlords and lettings agents need to take their own legal advice, we will be considering the implications of this judgment for deposit protection and the service of Prescribed information. We will also need to consult the DCLG on this and we will be issuing a further joint statement when we have fully considered the matter.

Justin Selig from The Law Depatment and Landlord Action said:-

I, together with my colleagues at Landlord Action have looked into this in some detail today – we do agree with Mark – this is potentially very serious, but when looked at in detail – it does not make any sense at all.

Firstly, if you are a Landlord and your Tenant occupies your property under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy and you have taken a deposit from your Tenant, then this applies to you. If you have not taken a deposit, then you have nothing to worry about.

If you have taken a deposit at the beginning of the fixed term of the tenancy, and the tenant remains in the property beyond the expiry of the fixed term, then according to this case the periodic tenancy is deemed to be a “new” tenancy. According to the rules relating to deposit protection, a deposit for a new tenancy needs to be protected.

The Court of Appeal ruling states that a deposit is deemed to be received at each renewal – so in the case they were dealing with, the switch from fixed term to periodic meant that a new deposit was deemed to have been received – and because the time it was received was after April 2007 it therefore required protection for that particular tenancy.

I think the arguments as to whether or not this issue applies to deposits received pre or post April 2007 are irrelevant as all deposits being held today (regardless of when they have been received) must be protected by virtue of the Localism Act 2011.

The question is, therefore – where you are holding a protected deposit – do you need to re-protect it each time there is a renewal of a tenancy? At present, I think the answer to that question is, yes – but hopefully I will be proved wrong on this.

Therefore, anyone who is holding a deposit received at the beginning of a fixed term is required to re-protect that deposit when it moves to a periodic. There is a further problem which may hopefully highlight how this does not make sense. A periodic tenancy is deemed to be renewed at the expiry of each period. Therefore, if you follow the argument – this would mean that the deposit would need to be re-protected at the beginning of each period. Most periodic tenancies are monthly – so the deposit would need to be re-protected monthly.

Obviously this does not make sense, nor I am sure is this the intention of the legislation. So how does a Landlord protect himself?

The first thing I would do is to obtain written clarification from the deposit protection company you are using as to their take on the ruling, and comply with their recommendations. Secondly, as a minimum, and you have a fixed term tenancy about to go onto a periodic, you should at least protect your deposit again when it goes periodic. (Personally, I would actually return the deposit to the tenant – but I appreciate that this is not always practical.) Thirdly, and for belt and braces protection – where you are still holding the deposit, you may want to consider not allowing the tenancy to go onto periodic, but to re-issue the tenant with a new fixed term – and re-protecting the deposit for that fixed term.

I hope that the Landlord does decide to appeal this decision and take it to the Supreme Court as some further clarification is definitely needed.


Do I need to re-protect my deposits? Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

Do I need to re-protect my deposits?

I have been told that I need to issue another Deposit Protection Certificate when my fixed term Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement “AST” reverts to a Statutory Periodic Tenancy “SPT”. Is this correct and if so, do I need to pay to re-protect the deposit with the insurance backed schemes such as My Deposits, The Dispute Service “TDS” and Deposit Guard?

I have also heard that the Deposit Protection Service “DPS” service need to be informed when a tenancy reverts to a Statutory Periodic. Continue reading Do I need to re-protect my deposits?


SEO Made Easy – Marketing Your Business Online Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

long seo

Mark Alexander, Property118 Founder

Mark Alexander, Property118 Founder

I have produced a set of training notes called “SEO Made Easy – Marketing Your Business Online”. It reveals the secrets you need to know to make your website more popular. This is not theory, we use everything contained in this document here at Property118.

After you have read my training notes you will probably know more about Search Engine Optimisation than the person who built your website. Perhaps more importantly, you will also know how to implement this knowledge yourself.

For a bit of fun, and to check that I know what I’m are talking about, try a Google search for “Business Lawyers Norwich” and check out the spoof business profile for Nickett & Leggett solicitors.

Continue reading SEO Made Easy – Marketing Your Business Online


Zoopla or Rightmove? Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News, Question of the Week

Zoopla or RightmoveOK, we know which is the biggest (for now at least), my question is; which do you think is best, Zoopla or Rightmove and why?

This all started with a tweet (embedded below) but then I decided to make this an open discussion and several Estate Agents and Letting Agents have since responded as you will see when you scroll down. Continue reading Zoopla or Rightmove?


Advanced Rent – is this the ultimate assurance for landlords? Buy to Let News, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Lettings & Management, Property Investment News, Property Investment Strategies, Property News

Tenant referencing has now evolved to the extent that insurance companies are prepared to underwrite the risks associated with the financing of Advanced Rent payments, allowing landlords to secure payment of up to six months rent up front. The insurance company underwrites the entire cost of the Advanced Rent and collection of monthly rent payments from the tenant. Continue reading Advanced Rent – is this the ultimate assurance for landlords?


Ombudsman Services Targets NALS Agents Landlord News, Latest Articles, Lettings & Management, Property News

Ombudsman ServicesWith the National Approved Letting Scheme “NALS” conference being held on Thursday 4th October, the recent offer from Ombudsman Services is certainly well timed.

In a Press Release issued by Ombudsman Services today, Chief Ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith said “we are delighted to offer NALS firms access to our services at a very cost effective rate. NALS is an independent licensing scheme working to raise standards in the private rented sector. NALS licensed agents which join our scheme will benefit from our reputation, expertise and experience gained from handling complaints across a broad range of sectors. They will be making a clear statement that they are professional firms which really care about the standard of service provided.”  Continue reading Ombudsman Services Targets NALS Agents


Disqus Commenting and discussions – how it works Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

At Property118 we’ve chosen to use the worlds leading commenting platform, it’s called Disqus and is used by over 500 million people worldwide.

Disqus is more than just a commenting platform though, it’s set up to facilitate conversations and sharing of posts. You will find Diqcus below all of our articles.

To leave a comment or to start a discussion based on the article you have read, simply type in the first commenting box you see below the article you’ve just read. If you want to reply to a comment which somebody else has left, simply hit reply. Your comment will then be shown below theirs, slighly indented, thus making it easier for you and others to follow the conversations, there may be several. It’s a bit like being in a pub or sittinig around a dinner table, sometimes several conversations are going on at the same time. Grouping the conversations in this way makes it much easier for people to establish who is talking to who. You can, of course, engage in multiple conversations, just like you would do naturally at the pub or the dinner table. Continue reading Disqus Commenting and discussions – how it works


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