Tag Archives: PRS

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.”


PRS in 2014? What will happen to tenant numbers? Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

It’s that time of year again when all the predictions for next year start to be rolled out. We are compiling our own report too.

I don’t know about you but I’m reading conflicting information about the future of the PRS. What will happen to tenant numbers

“Generation Rent” says the numbers of renters are increasing year on year, but I also know, without doubt, that the “Help to Buy” scheme will mean that hundreds & thousands of existing renters leave the rental market in favour of home ownership, probably starting imminently and the ‘Build to Rent’ scheme will increase supply of new build properties.

What do you think all this means for landlords?

I’ve got my thoughts, but I’m curious to see what others think.


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


Tenants Charter – Mr Pickles, have you gone completely mad? Buy to Let News, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Legal, Property Investment News, Property Market News, Property News, Tenant Eviction, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Tenants Charter

Open Letter to Mr Eric Pickles – Communities Secretary – re Tenants Charter

Dear Mr Pickles

Have you gone completely mad?

I am reading in The Times Newspaper today that you are to announce a “Tenants Charter” which will allow tenants to demand two to five year tenancy agreements.

Do you realise that most buy to let mortgage borrowers would be in default of their mortgage contracts if they were to offer tenancy agreements with fixed terms longer than 6 or 12 months?

Do you realise that most modern leases (e.g leasehold flats) contain conditions on subletting not exceeding 12 months in term?

There is a very good reason why mortgage lenders have these conditions in their mortgages. It is because it is so difficult to obtain possession when a tenant reneges on a contract. Bad payers are regularly getting away with up to 5 months of rent free living. Theoretically a landlord can apply to obtain possession by serving two weeks notice once a tenant is two or months in arrears on rent. However, after that 10 weeks has expired it can take several months to get a Court date. Even when a possession order has been granted it then takes several more weeks before bailiffs can be appointed to enforce the order. If you want landlords and mortgage lenders to provide greater security of tenure to tenants then you are going to have to sort out the possession rules for landlords first.

Section 21 of the housing act transformed the UK Private Rented Sector which was in rapid decline until the 1988 act was introduced. Forcing landlords to offer long term tenancy agreements will force the PRS back into the dark ages and reduce incentive for further investment into the sector.

Does Government not recognise the need for a healthy PRS?

Does government not realise that a huge sector of the working population rely on the housing flexibility the PRS provides in terms of job mobility?

Do you have any idea of how your speech today could destabilise the Private Rented Sector?

I totally understand that good tenants, particularly young families with children of school age, need a fair deal and it cuts both ways in that most landlords want good tenants to stay long term. It makes economic sense for landlords to have quality long term tenants,

So why have you not even considered promoting the Deed of Assurance?

Perhaps you are unaware of the effectiveness and simplicity?

A Deed of Assurance is a document in which a landlord promises to pay an agreed level of compensation to a tenant if possession is obtained within a given time period. 

A Deed of Assurance is a relatively simple legal agreement which sits alongside an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement “AST”. It is a separate agreement between landlord and tenant which does not affect the landlords rights to serve notice or to obtain possession, therefore it does not affect the rights of a mortgage lender either. However, it does offer tenants peace of mind.

From a tenants point of view, a Deed of Assurance provides far more flexibility than a long term tenancy because they are only tied in for 6 months and can then move on if they need to. What a Deed of Assurance offers in addition to an AST is peace of mind.

The compensation amount offered by the landlord is negotiable but obviously the idea is to agree something which is meaningful to both parties. For example, I offer to pay anything between £1,000 and £5,000 compensation if I obtain possession within the agreed period, providing the tenancy conditions have been observed impeccably by the tenant of course. If tenants fail to pay rent on time or breaches other contractual terms within the tenancy agreement their right to claim compensation for being evicted during the Deed of Assurance is forfeited. I have been offering a Deed of Assurance to my tenants for a few years now and I am delighted to report that my relationships with new tenants have never been better.

I do not expect a reply from you Mr Pickles but I do hope you will consider the implications of acting on the advice of the people who have been influencing you up to this point.

Yours sincerely

 

Mark Alexander


Mortgage Express Conspiracy Theory Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

I would appreciate your thoughts on the following Mortgage Express conspiracy theory.

As we know, Mortgage Express is run by UK Asset Resolution who are tasked with recovering as much money as possible for the tax payer.

If UKAR were to increase tracker margins for Mortgage Express customers, to a point where most landlords were to default on their mortgages, UKAR would be in a position to appoint LPA receivers. This would not affect the number of properties in the PRS but it would mean that a centralised body, controlled by the Government, would control a huge section of the PRS. In turn, that would create jobs in the public sector, it would mean that Jo Public wouldn’t have to deal with rogue landlords and letting agents to anywhere near the same extent and it would also provide a better opportunity for recovery of tax payers funds.

Apart from landlords, can you imagine tax payers not supporting such a scenario?

As I see it, the clock is ticking and landlords only have so much time to diffuse this bomb. The success of a Class Action against West Bromwich Building Society or Bank of Ireland could prevent the above. If a test case isn’t won before the above scenario comes to pass then I’m afraid the PRS as we know it may be doomed.

Mortgage Express Conspiracy Theory

Thoughts?

EDITORS NOTE

Property118 is leading a Class Action group to fight back by taking a test case to Court if necessary to prove once and for all that amending the margin on a tracker rate mortgage is breach of contract. If you are worrying whether your mortgage lender will follow the lead of Bank of Ireland or West Brom please READ THIS and complete the form below to support this campaign.

The deadline for submission of instructions has now expired. However, it may still be possible to join the representative action subject to paying Court fees and an additional cost to cover associated administration. For details please email : carla@cotswoldbarristers.co.uk


PRS Industry spokesman – please stand up! Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Can you help me? Who would you consider to be the official spokesperson/body for the lettings industry? I’ve only been in this industry for 12 months, so I’m still relatively a novice compared to most! But I would have thought ARLA? Yes? Anyone else?

I’m still fuming after only just catching up with the Watchdog / Rogue Traders episode from earlier in the week, when the last comment to screen was some ‘Letting agents, don’t act illegally’ – or words to that effect…so now 4.5m viewers think that most of the lettings agents are criminals! Yes I know it makes good TV, but where was the industry spokesperson saying that 99.5% of the industry aren’t like that?

If this was a business that had been featured, there would have been crisis PR in action immediately. Take Johnson & Johnson or EE who were also covered on that programme – there was an immediate response (albeit a bit wishy washy in some cases), but at least there was a response and not complete radio-silence. There wasn’t a single reference to this episode on the ARLA website this week (apologies if I’ve missed it and it was there).

So when did the PRS get such a bad rap? I read a thread somewhere that it was around a year ago that it started getting really bad in the media. I know we aren’t going to stop bad stories being publicised – nor should we, it’s a free country & a media-driven culture after all – but the industry needs to at least stand up for itself a bit more. I know that idiot company weren’t ARLA, they probably weren’t even regulated by TPO, but there needs to be an industry spokesman/body who stands up for the whole industry. Who is it?PRS Industry spokesman - please stand up

The benefit of being new to this industry is that I can look at it with the benefit of the experience of other sectors – and I can assure you that if it was a solicitor or an accountant that was being shown up on Watchdog, those trade bodies would have their PR teams all over it! (and I’m no particular fan of the way ICAEW run themselves, but I’ll give them their due – they are very vocal & have helped over the past 100+ years to form the way their industry should be portrayed). We are still a relatively new sector – we need the same strategy! The majority of us want to increase standards across the board – let’s shout that from the rooftops (even more!)


Reluctant landlords begin slow exit from private rented sector Latest Articles, Letting, Lettings & Management, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Latest ARLA research also shows regional variation in tenant demand.

The number of reluctant landlords in the private rented sector (PRS) is falling*, according to research from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

Over the past three months, ARLA member offices have reported a decrease from 26% to 21% in the proportion of rental property coming onto the market because it cannot be sold. This also represents a sharp drop of 21% on the figure of 42% recorded last year.

As these reluctant landlords stop entering the sector, tenants are still faced with strong competition for rental homes. 52% of ARLA members said there were more tenants than properties available. While this represents an incremental fall on tenant-property ratio from the 54% recorded in the previous quarter, this statistic shows that PRS accommodation remains in high demand.

The South East (excluding London) has the highest proportion of members reporting more tenants than properties (67%), whereas London, surprisingly, has the lowest, with just 17% experiencing this trend.

Despite this competition among tenants for properties, there has been an overall fall in the number struggling to meet rental payments. The current figure of 35% remains high, but represents a fall of 5% from the figure of 40% recorded at the same time in 2012.

Ian Potter of ARLAIan Potter, Managing Director, ARLA, said: “Much has been written recently about the recovery of the residential sales market, and it would appear that these effects are now being felt in the private rented sector. While the departure of ‘accidental landlords’ from the sector will be a good thing for the individuals concerned, there is a real and ongoing worry about the level of rental properly supply across the country.

“With competition for the best properties remaining fierce, landlords and tenants alike can benefit hugely from seeking the advice of an ARLA agent. All ARLA licensed agents must adhere to a strict code of conduct, as well as offering client money protection and redress schemes, which protect all parties if things go wrong.”  

It may not be practical or desirable to manage your own properties for the reasons listed below if ….

  • you are new to being a landlord and fearful of getting things wrong
  • your time is more valuable to you
  • your properties are located inconveniently for you to arrange viewings and meet with tenants as required
  • you prefer to distance yourself from the management of your property portfolio and relationships with tenants.

If any of the above apply to you then a fully managed service might be better suited to your needs. See the letting section of this website or complete the form below for more details of the ARLA agent recommended by Property118. Property Management is available for a little as £14.99 per month + VAT.

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Letting agent regulation for Scotland – Scottish Government plans announced Landlord News, Latest Articles, Letting, Lettings & Management, Property Investment News, Property Market News, Property News

Scotland’s newly formed Council of Letting Agents (CLA) steering group met for the first time yesterday. Letting agent regulation for Scotland

The members of the group have been selected to represent Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) letting agent members’ views. These members are tasked with working up the plans for this new letting agent division of the Scottish Association of Landlords.

A senior Scottish Government representative accepted our invitation to attend and he warmly welcomed the CLA as the new letting agent body for the Scottish Private Rented Sector (PRS). It was confirmed that it is the intention of the Scottish Government to regulate the letting agent industry in Scotland going forward. Letting agent regulation has been called for by SAL for some time.

The steering group heard first hand about the likely shape of plans for this regulation which follows approximately two years of consultation on various levels.

The intention is to propose via a new Housing Bill to be put before the Scottish Parliament that letting agents are regulated using a system which will emulate the way the Property Factors Act works. The likelihood is that this will include:

•    Registration of all letting agents in Scotland
•    Code of practice which will ensure consistency of good standards across the industry
•    Opportunity for redress where these standards are not being met – this would be through a Housing tribunal.

As with the procedure for all new Scots legislation, the process involves several stages in the Scottish Parliament. Therefore at this point in time, nobody can predict for certain the details of the future Bill and likely resultant Housing Act.

We’ll continue to keep all SAL members posted. The CLA will represent our members agents as the details of the planned regulations are drafted.

SAL will also continue as ever to represent landlords via our place on the regulations working group. Please keep us posted with your views.

SAL Membership Enquiry

  • Please enter a value between 0 and 99999.

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

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

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

Funding

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

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

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

Recycling of Court awarded penalties

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


Landlord Licensing Schemes – Raising Standards or Raising Funds? Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

WARNING – this article might make you want to cry, it might make you want to laugh and it will probably make you angry, and for many different reasons depending on who you are. Licensing - Raising Standards or Raising Funds?

This is one of those articles which I would like to be read by every landlord, every letting agent, every tenant and especially every Politician.

I would also like every person who reads this article to leave a comment, share it and help turn it into a HUGE debate.

So what is it all about?

My friend Mary Latham recently wrote a book about the storm she see’s brewing which is heading towards the Private Rented Sector with potentially catastrophic consequences. One of the chapters in Mary’s book is called “Raising Standards or Raising funds”.

There have been many discussions about the effectiveness of licensing which is being introduced into the PRS in it’s various forms and on many occasions, landlords have concluded that licencing has very little to do with raising standards and more to do with Local Authorities raising funds to create “jobs for the boys”

Well you may be pleased to hear that the DCLG have asked Local Authorities to complete a survey about licencing. Have they read Mary’s book one wonders?

When I heard about the survey, intrigue and curiosity got the better of me – what questions were the DCLG asking?

To my surprise,  I managed to get hold of a link to the survey questionnaire, DCLG had used ‘open source’ software for their survey. Being the curious type I obviously felt compelled to take a look, fully expecting to be met with a security screen where I would have to enter a User Name and Password to get any further. I’d have given up at that point as there’s no way I would attempt to hack a Government website. To my surprise though, there was no security! They were using Survey Monkey and that awoke the little monkey in me.

To see the questions being asked I needed to complete the page I was looking at to get to the next set of questions, so I began to fill it in. This is the point at which my curiosity transformed into mischief as I was having a lot of fun with my answers 😉

Here was my opportunity to tell the DCLG what I really think about landlord licencing in the most cynical and mischievous way possible. What an opportunity!

Now before you think about attacking me with some “holier than though” type comments, please remember the DCLG are responsible for the drafting of all of the legislation which has caused the PRS so much grief. Anyhow, enough said on that, it’s done now.

I took screen shots of every page I completed and I have put them together in a slideshow below.

Do take a look and whether you laugh or cry and for whatever reason you get angry, please post a comment or join in the discussion below this article 😉

If I mysteriously disappear, you might just find me at the Tower of London LOL

I hope you will appreciate the irony of my answers!

[thethe-image-slider name=”Raising Funds or Raising Standards”]

Note for tenants – More licensing = higher rents!


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