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Will The Housing Crisis Win The Election?

Will The Housing Crisis Win The Election?

The Politics Of Housing

It is still generally acknowledged by all political parties that there is a housing shortage in the UK, and each political party wants to offer the public alternative methods of tackling the problem in an attempt to win electoral favour.

Most political parties see the housing crisis in the UK as a possible election winning issue and each party’s election manifesto promises the general public many things, including further private rented sector (PRS) reforms and the introduction of additional legislation. There isn’t much offered by any political party for landlords, except for the promise to put an end to the private rental sector.

A recent survey by Ipsos MORI research published in January 2015 discovered a confusing conundrum, in that:

  • 75% of the public agree that there is a housing crisis in the UK
  • 48% of the public disagree there is a housing crisis in their locality

The publication of each political party’s election manifesto is intended to give the public a clearer indication of the housing priorities of the UK’s next parliament.

However, despite claims of a housing shortage nationally there are still some UK regions that have large proportions of derelict and abandoned properties, many still in a habitable condition.

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Landlords Say Paying Council Tax On Empty Properties Is Unfair

Landlords Say Paying Council Tax On Empty Properties Is Unfair

NLA Campaigns For Landlord Council Tax Exemptions

Currently, the liability of private rented sector landlords to pay council tax for their unoccupied rental properties varies from region to region across the UK. Some local councils do not allow exceptions from their normal rules and even if a rental property is unoccupied, the landlord must pay council tax.

This does not even begin to become fair in any way, shape or form as the rental properties are not financially draining council funds, nor are they a burden on any other council run services as bins are not being emptied and there should be no need for any of the emergency services to be called upon.

The National Landlords Association (NLA) have recently been contacting all UK local authorities to request council tax exemptions for private rental sector landlords whose rental properties become empty between tenancies.

The task is being carried out by the NLA’s 37 regional representatives who operate across the UK in order to campaign at a local level.

Many local authorities will soon to be drafting their budget proposals for the next financial year, and the NLA are keen to negotiate the much needed council tax exemptions for landlords now.

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Dramatic Fall In Number Of Empty UK Properties

Dramatic Fall In Number Of Empty UK Properties

UK Empty Property Numbers At All-Time Low

According to campaigning charity Empty Homes, there has been a dramatic fall in the number of empty residential properties in the UK.

The new research shows that the number of empty residential properties in the UK dropped by 75,000 during 2013, the largest-ever annual fall in numbers.

The substantial fall has reduced the total number of empty properties in the UK to 635,127, the lowest recorded level ever, according to campaigning charity Empty Homes.

The biggest falls in the number of empty properties were observed in the North West of England and London.

There was also a large fall in the number of long-term empty residential properties, with figures dropping by over 27,000 to a new record low of 232,600.

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Flood Insurance Plan Leaves Rental Properties Unprotected

Flood Insurance Plan Leaves Rental Properties Unprotected

New Flood Insurance Plan Leaves Private Rental Sector Properties Unprotected

The ill timed Government announcement over the changes to flood insurance does little to reassure property owners and landlords about flood insurance price rises as huge swathes of the country remain flooded after the winter storms.

The Government has finally reached a deal with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to replace the ‘Statement of Principles’ agreement of the Water Bill, that was originally due to expire on 31st July 2013, under which insurers offered affordable flood insurance coverage to a majority of households in return for the Government maintaining spending on UK flood defences.

The British Property Federation (BPF) reported that an alliance of property industry leaders and the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) had huge concerns about the new plan, called Flood Re.

A number of organisations have already called for urgent amendments to the Water Bill, after it emerged that a significant number of properties that had been expected to be included within Flood Re, would instead be excluded.

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Welfare Reforms That Affect Landlords

Welfare Reforms That Affect Landlords

A basic round up for all UK Private Rental Sector (PRS) landlords of what is and what will be happening to affect tenants that are in reciept of benefits during the 2013 Welfare Reforms. 

Council Tax Benefit April 2013

 

  • Local authorities will become responsible for their own Council Tax schemes under the welfare reforms. Anyone of working age will now have to contribute towards their own council tax – All PRS tenants should have received a letter from their local authority if this affects them.

Disability Living Allowance

  • This benefit is being replaced by Personal Independence Payments.
  • All new and existing claimants will be reassessed using stricter rules so fewer people will qualify. The new assessment will focus on an individual’s ability to carry out a range of key activities necessary to everyday life.

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Two Day HMO and LHA Presentation with Arsh Ellahi

Arsh Ellahi

Hi all, Arsh Ellahi here!
People often ask me about how I set up my HMO’s (Houses of Multi Occupancy) so my tenants pay all outgoings such as Council Tax, Water Rates, Electricity and Gas (where applicable). It may seem surprising to some that my only outgoing for a HMO property is merely the landlord’s supply, which pays for the communal lighting and fire alarms.

With this in mind I am holding a 2 day course which will assist you in maximizing your income from your HMO properties and LHA Tenancies. Not paying large utility bills will form part of the course alongside other essential hints and tips from a Landlord with a wealth of HMO experience.

Day 1 Saturday 20th April 2013 – This day will consist of a visit to 4 high cash generating HMOs in which tenants are responsible for their own utility. See a successful HMO in action!

Day 2 – Sunday 21st April 2013 LHA Masterclass– How to skyrocket your cashflow without converting to HMOs

Find out more details and book onto this course by clicking the link below:
www.arshellahi.com/web/ae-events

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Council Tax Changes Costs Landlords

Council Tax Changes Costs Landlords

As of 1st April 2013, all UK local authorities will have the discretion to charge the full Council Tax due on any empty properties within their borough. This is bad news for landlords as this will include any empty private sector rental properties.

The changes are designed to increase local authority revenues and will affect properties that until now had been granted automatic exemption or discounts, including furnished and unfurnished properties in the private rented sector (PRS).

Properties that would previously have been exempt including those that are empty because of necessary building work also lose the automatic right to be let off Council Tax for up to a year.

Numerous local authorities have decided to charge the full amount of Council Tax from the outset. The important changes to Council Tax charges are detailed below:

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Council Tax Exemption For Landlords To Be Abolished in 2013

Council Tax Exemption For Landlords To Be Abolished in 2013

Thanks to the Government welfare reforms and austerity measures the rules for Council Tax exemption on empty rental properties will soon be abolished.

From the 1st April 2013 new legislation being proposed by the government means that landlords will become solely responsible for the Council Tax on all void rental properties.

Some local authorities, such as Durham, have already jumped the gun and have begun charging landlords the full Council Tax amount for any property that is currently untenanted, leaving many landlords confused and severley out of pocket.

If the new legislation is still at the proposal stage and is not yet law, why are some local authorities allowed to do this?

I happen to own several properties around the North East of England and have been billed for void periods over the last 6 months even if a property was empty for only a couple of weeks.

Durham are wrongly charging the full council tax on all empty rental properties despite the fact that no council run services are being used.

I have contacted Durham borough council and attemted to argue the toss and following lengthy discussions I was eventually told by an advisor to complete a form to apply for Council Tax exemption for any property that I had been charged for, however, the local authority in Durham flatly refused to post a form out to me and insisted that I get the managing agent to request one.

The only way that landlords can affect change is to use the current legislation set by Government against any greedy local authority and point blank refute any charge made against them especially if the charge is unwarranted.

Information taken from the Gov.uk website…

A full Council Tax bill is based on at least 2 adults living in a home.

If you count as an adult for Council Tax and live on your own, you’ll get 25% off your bill.

You’ll also get a discount if you live with people who don’t count as adults for Council Tax.

These people are not counted as adults for Council Tax purposes:

  • children under 18
  • people on apprentice schemes
  • 18 and 19-year-olds in full-time education
  • full-time college and university students
  • young people under 25 who get funding from the Skills Funding Agency or Young People’s Learning Agency
  • student nurses
  • foreign language assistants registered with the British Council
  • people with a severe mental disability
  • live-in carers who look after someone who isn’t their partner, spouse or child
  • diplomats

To work out if you should get a Council Tax discount:

  1. Count the number of adults who live in your home as their main home.
  2. Discount anyone in the list above.
  3. If you’re left with 1 person who counts as an adult, your Council Tax bill will be reduced by 25%.
  4. If you’re left with no-one who counts as an adult, your bill will be reduced by 50%.

If there’s no discount listed and you think you should get one, write to your council.

The council has 2 months to respond. If you disagree with the council’s decision or don’t hear back within this time, you can appeal to the Valuation Tribunal.

Local authorities have the power to charge council tax on all rental properties as soon as they become empty, a critical point that will hit landlords hard and give lettings and property managing agents a massive administrative headache.

It used to be that when a residential property became vacant, the owner was automatically granted a period of six months exemption before council tax was payable.

Some local authorities, such as Durham Council, have already implemented this action and have been collecting council tax on empty rental properties as well as privately owned empty residential properties for a number of months.

With the Class C exemption still under debate, have Durham council jumped the gun?

A spokesperson for Durham County Council reckons not: “We have been applying full council tax liability on all empty properties within the 7 boroughs of our region since April and landlords must understand that revenue is due from all residential properties regardless of whether or not they are lived in.”

Now MP’s want to abolish the mandatory 6 month class C exemption period, for all local authorities across the UK, using the Localism Act.

The Government reckon that there is no compelling reason why the first six months should be treated so generously, so their proposal is to abolish the Class C exemption for council tax purposes and replace the exemption with a clause that would let local authorities charge whatever they wanted on all empty properties for the first six months.

Class C dwellings are empty properties that are largely unfurnished. Other classes, which would appear to remain untouched by the latest moves, include homes left empty after someone has become ill or because the property is subject to probate.

The proposal will impact hardest on landlords with void periods, as well as property vendors who may need to relocate quickly for a variety of reasons such as for work or, in the case of older people, to be closer to family.

Meanwhile, the Local Government Finance Bill, currently going through Parliament, will allow local councils to charge higher amounts for residential property that has been empty for two years or more, as well doubling rates for second homes.

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said “The proposals could have unintended consequences, but it would be nothing like as complicated as the proposal to abolish Class C”.

In the official consultation earlier this year, 169 local authorities voted in favour of the Class C exemption being abolished with only 25 councils voting against the plan.

Only five property-related businesses responded during the official consultation, with 3 businesses voting against the proposal and 2 for it.

70 members of the public were also consulted, although the proportion of landlords remains unclear. Of these, 11 were in favour of the idea and 59 were against it. Only 1 MP responded, favouring the abolition of the exemption.

With so many local authorities under a great deal of financial pressure during the recession it is hoped that councils will choose not to grant council tax-free periods, because of the major financial implications it will have for landlords and struggling property vendors.

Additionally, there will be an increased administrative burden for letting and property management agents in that they will have to continually revise information of vacant rental properties to local authorities, most of which are often only empty for a few days.

It is also likely that it will cost local authorities more to collect the small amounts of council tax owed than the additional revenue they hope to achieve.

Durham council do appear to have acted independently of all other local authorities in the UK by implementing the abolition of the Class C exemption well before everyone else.

As a landlord with properties within the Durham council area I for one remain unhappy and will be talking to the RLA (Residential Landlords Association) about lobbying the Government to review this ridiculous way of thinking and because the abolition of the Class C exemption is not approved by Government at the present time I will be demanding repayment of unfairly levied Council Tax payments already made.

People who own second properties, portfolio landlords and even accidental landlords who have inherited property could be forced to pay more council tax in a bid to help out other struggling households, it has been revealed.

Communities and Local Government secretary Eric Pickles, is expected to announce a consultation for the plans on Monday, which will reduce tax discounts for those with more than one property and remove discounts on empty properties.

These discounts, which can range from 10% and 50% – with 100% for some empty properties – can be worth many hundreds of pounds every year.

Under the proposals Mr Pickles has also revealed plans to review the way “granny flats” are currently treated as distinct properties by tax inspectors, meaning that families with an annex receive two separate council tax bills.

It is thought that the scheme, if it is approved, would make exceptions in certain circumstances, such as homes left empty after someone has died, moved to hospital or when someone moves elsewhere for care.

If the reforms are implemented it would allow council tax bills to be reduced for most people, with Mr Pickles pointing out that the £1,196 generally charged for a Band D property could fall by around £20

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