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More Details Emerge On Government Demand For Transparency Over Letting Agent Fees

More Details Emerge On Government Demand For Transparency Over Letting Agent Fees

More Details Emerge From Government
On Letting Agent Fees Debate

The Government have declared that all UK letting agents and property management agents must display full details of all fees charged to tenants on websites and in offices.

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg faced a tough grilling at his House Of Commons session from Labour MP Harriet Harman, who wanted the Government to back the ban on letting agents charging fees to tenants.

Ms Harman told MPs: “Not least because of the difficulties of affording to buy a home, there are now 9 million people renting, including 1.3 million families with children – security and continuity are particularly important for them. It is time to move from one-year tenancies with unpredictable rents to three-year tenancies with predictable rents. What we need to be sure is that letting agents do not rip tenants off by charging fees to the tenants, as well as charging the landlords.”

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More Severe Weather Warnings For UK Property Owners

More Severe Weather Warnings For UK Property Owners

Landlords Urged To Ensure Insurance Is Up To Date Before Severe Weather Hits Again

There was more bad news for property owners and landlords this week as the UK Meteorological Office (Met Office) has issued further severe weather warnings for the week ahead, bringing more misery for landlords and property owners in the South of England already seriously affected by flooding.

Met office staff have predicted a “Valentine’s Day Massacre” as the UK prepares to be battered by 80mph winds and more torrential rain on Friday 14th February, however there will be much more rain before then, with a slightly weaker weather front expected earlier in the week (Tuesday 11th – Wednesday 12th February).

Government departments, local authorities and agencies are working together to do everything they can to help communities at risk, but landlords are urged to check that they are adequately covered by specialist landlord insurance policies.

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Help-To-Buy scheme Is The Deal Of The Century For The Government Government Say Help-To-Buy Scheme Is Creating

 75 New Homeowners A Day

The Prime Minister, David Cameron has been defending the controversial Help-To-Buy scheme, stating publicly that the scheme is creating up to 75 new homeowners a day.

Over 2,000 first-time buyers have made offers on properties using the scheme and the Prime Minister is rubbing his hands with glee because there is a dark secret behind the incentive.

More than £369 Million (GBP) has been lent to new home owners, making the loan figures average £155,000 (GBP) per person. Wages will likely rise with inflation and so will mortgage rates, doing little for the financial security of working homeowners who will be trying hard to pay off the percentage stake in their property that is owed to the Government.

Mr Cameron insisted that the state-backed loans are helping hard working responsible people purchase residential property to live in, and he also dismissed fears over a new housing bubble and taxpayers helping the wealthy middle-classes as nonsense.

What he did not say was what the prospects are likely to be, for people buying property now using the Help-To-Buy scheme, in a few years time.

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MP’s Claim Universal Credit Is Another Government White Elephant

MP’s Claim Universal Credit Is Another Government White Elephant

Universal Credit Roll-Out faces major delays

The current Local Housing Allowance (LHA) benefit system is likely to continue until at least 2017 for the majority of private rental sector (PRS) landlords and tenants in most of the UK, following major delays to the roll-out of the new Universal Credit system.

Universal Credit was originally due to be rolled out nationally to all new tenants claiming benefits from October this year, however due to continued problems, the controversial welfare reform measure will just be extended to an additional six jobcentres.

The delay is being blamed on poor IT by Government ministers, leading to claims that Universal Credit is just another Government white elephant.

Universal Credit was heralded by its proponents as an easier way to deliver state benefits including housing benefit or LHA and tax credits into one lump sum paid monthly to claimants, but its proposal saw an immediate backlash from PRS landlords, letting agents and landlord associations over the abolition of direct rent payments to landlords.

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Government Set To Backtrack On Landlords Conducting Immigration Checks

Government Set To Backtrack On Landlords Conducting Immigration Checks

Bill forcing landlords to check Immigration status of tenants
will be watered down

As previously reported on Spotlight the Government proposals for landlords to check the immigration status of all tenants, has already caused a great deal of outrage from all sectors.

http://mypropertypowerteam.com/landlords-expected-to-do-uk-border-agencys-job-for-them/
http://mypropertypowerteam.com/even-mps-think-landlord-immigration-checks-are-unworkable/

Government ministers look likely to perform the expected U-turn and backtrack on the proposal that would require landlords to verify the immigration status of their tenants.

Prime Minister, David Cameron is reported to have been livid when he was told that the proposed new legislation would have to be watered down.

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, the legislation that is set to become part of a the new Immigration Bill, will not be rolled out nationally, instead, only landlords in certain parts of the UK will be forced to carry out immigration checks and the newspaper named some boroughs in West London would where landlords would be at the forefront of policing the immigration requirements.

Communities and Local Government (CLG) secretary, Eric Pickles, is reported to think that a mandatory requirement for all UK landlords would involve a great deal of additional red tape, and the resulting extra costs would end up being paid for by tenants.

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Landlords expected to do UK border agency's job for them

Landlords expected to do UK border agency’s job for them

Private landlords are set to become an extra line in UK Border Control as they will be legally responsible for ensuring that they only let rental properties to people allowed to be in the UK under immigration laws announced in the Queen’s Speech.

This means that Private Rental Sector (PRS) and social housing landlords will have a responsibility to make sure their tenants are in the country legally

Over 3 million buy-to-let landlords are rental property owners in the UK private sector and will be responsible for checking the immigration status of all potential tenants, with fines running into thousands of pounds for those breaking the law.

Employers will also face more substantial fines for employing on illegal immigrants.

It appears that UK landlords and employers are expected to police the immigration system as unpaid members of the UK Border Agency.

Landlords are being given additional responsibility with no recompense other than the threat of heavy fines for failure to comply. Why are we expected to do the UK Border Agency’s job for them when they are paid handsomely for failing to do the job they are employed by the Government to do?

Does this mean that Landlords will be given a financial incentive to turn informant?

I don’t think so…

The new measures are included in an amended Immigration Bill will also limit the ability of European migrants to claim UK state benefits and ensure that the right to residence in the UK on the basis of family commitments is not abused by criminal elements. The UK judicial system will be expected to balance the nature and seriousness of the crime committed against the right to remain resident in the UK.

Temporary migrants will be charged for use of NHS services and only those who have lived in an area for at least two years will qualify for social housing. Regulations will also be amended to ensure that European immigrants cannot claim benefits for more than six months if they do not actively seek legal employment and show they have a genuine chance of obtaining work.

The legislation has been drawn up as the Coalition Government struggles to contain the electoral threat posed by the UK Independence Party (UKIP), which has hard-line immigration policies.

The details of how the measures will be implemented will be set out later in the year. The plans will be the subject of a formal consultation in the coming months.

Ministers expect the legal requirements on landlords will affect those letting rooms in houses of multiple occupancy (HMO) properties. However, the measure will be universal and it will be the responsibility of all landlords to seek copies of passports and appropriate visas.

It is unclear how landlords are supposed to verify the authenticity of documentation, as many employers have already discovered to their cost since the tightening of employment rules surrounding immigrant workers, as falsified information has no way of being checked and is only up to the diligence of the employer to ascertain the true identity of their employees.

The limit of the financial penalties set to be levied on landlords who fail to comply is also yet to be decided but is expected to be severe and may run into thousands of pounds.

Gov Insist Direct Payment Deal Is Bringing PRS Rents Down

Lord Freud, the Government welfare reform minister, has claimed that the majority of UK landlords of benefits tenants have dropped their PRS rental prices in return for getting direct payments.

Government Out Of Touch On PRS Rents

Government Out Of Touch On PRS Rents

The “out of touch” statement does not reflect what is really happening in the UK Private Rental Sector or the rise of PRS rents and is giving misleading information to existing landlords.

The Government temporarily extended the discretion of local authorities to make direct payments to landlords last April when caps to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) were introduced, paying a maximum of £400 a week for a four-bed property.

Private sector landlords were told that they could only receive direct payment for tenants claiming benefits if they lowered their PRS rent. This simply is not true!

According to the essential landlords handbook written by theLHAexpert.com – UK Landlords can still receive direct rent payments for tenants claiming benefit if the tenant is classed as vulnerable.

Speaking at the National Landlords Association (NLA) annual conference, Lord Freud said “The measure has been very successful. In London alone, a third of claimants who tried to renegotiate their rent received a rent cut. This arrangement will stay in place for housing benefit claimants, prior to the move to Universal Credit. There has been no mass exodus of people moving out of city centres or widespread homelessness because of our housing reforms.”


Hmmm… I was under the impression that some local authorities had been criticised for shipping families out of their boroughs, in a bid to avoid local authority overspending on PRS rents…and London is the worst culprit!

In a report titled “Between A Rock And A Hard Place: The Early Impacts Of Welfare Reform On London”,by the Child Poverty Action Group and Lasa, a welfare rights charity, found that many councils are actively considering obtaining accommodation elsewhere, while others believe that making up private rent shortfalls will leave the authorities with gaping holes in their budgets. The report also predicts that 124,480 London residential households will be hit by a combination of cuts to Local Housing Allowance, the new benefit cap which means no household can claim more than £26,000 a year in total, and under-occupation penalties.

According to a survey in the Guardian, some London councils are already acquiring properties in Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Berkshire and Sussex, and are considering accommodation in Manchester, Hull, Derby, Nottingham, Birmingham and Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales.

This is despite guidance issued by former government housing minister, Grant Shapps telling councils in May 2012, that they must “as far as is reasonably practicable” offer accommodation for homeless families within the borough.

Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs last January at Prime Minister’s Questions that housing benefit reform had brought private rent levels down, a claim repeated last month by, newly appointed, government housing minister, Mark Prisk.

Local councils in London say that because of buoyant demand, Private Rented Sector (PRS) landlords see no reason to drop rents for benefits tenants, and that many landlords have already refused to accept applications from tenant’s claiming benefits.

So Mr Cameron does refusing tenant’s on benefit qualify as reducing LHA rents?

Just because there has been a drop in Government and local authority spending on LHA payments, it does not support the Governments claims. The real truth is that the Government are putting the squeeze on the UK PRS as they fear that landlords will make more profit than the government can either control or even tax.

Such a shame that the people who are supposed to be in charge of our country are so out of touch with the real world, especially in the wake of Friday’s post about “Record Rental Prices”.

UK PRS Landlords still avoiding housing benefit tenants

1/3 of Private Rental Sector Landlords Avoiding Tenants Claiming Benefits

A new Government report has revealed a growing concern about UK landlords, as an increasing percentage are now refusing to accept applications from tenants claiming housing benefits.

The situation regarding LHA tenants is set to get much worse, following the recent statements made by UK Prime Minister David Cameron and his party’s vision for further welfare reform. Read full story

The Government commissioned report was compiled by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University revealed that over one third of the 1867 landlords who agreed to take part, are already actively refraining from accepting LHA tenants or are considering avoiding benefit tenants in the future.

This change in UK landlord’s perspectives has developed since the government capped housing benefit payments in April 2011, meaning that many LHA claimants are no longer able to claim the entire rental amount from the local authority.

33% of the UK landlords surveyed admitted having severe reservations concerning the reliability of payments from LHA tenants, and as a result they were either planning to or considering no longer accepting benefit claimants as tenants.

29% of landlords had already gone through the process of tenant eviction with LHA tenants or had refused to renew the tenancies of benefit claimants when they came to an end.

36% also admitted that they were experiencing increased rental arrears from LHA tenants because of the changes to benefit payment levels made last year.

Landlords can safely and legally recover rent arrears/debts from all types of tenants, including absconded tenants by using Legal 4 Landlords professional services

Welfare Reform Minister, Lord Freud, didn’t see the results of the Government commissioned report as worrying, stating that: “The research gives us an early insight into what is really happening, and it shows that the many scare stories about the effects of housing benefit reform are simply not materialising.”

If that were true, why are an increasing number of UK landlords wrongly avoiding accepting LHA tenants?
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to get regualr direct payments from any Local authority – Get “The Landlords Essential LHA Handbook” by John Paul – The LHA Expert

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, Prime Minister David Cameron suggested cutting housing benefit for people under the age of 25 in an attempt to claw back Millions of pounds worth of Government money

Housing benefit is paid to adults on a low income, to help them pay their rent, either to the local council, a private landlord or to a hostel.

It is currently paid to around 380,000 under-25s and scrapping their entitlement would save the government around £2 Billion (GBP) a year.

The Prime Minister suggested that the current housing benefit system is sending out “strange signals” that people are “better off not working, or working less”. It encourages people not to work and have children, but we should help people to work and have children”.

The proposed reforms to the welfare system could be presented as an effort to reduce a feeling of antipathy towards people on benefits that may exist among the general public.

Mr Cameron said that current benefits system has “led to huge resentment amongst those who pay into the system, because they feel that what they are having to work hard for, others are getting without having to put in the effort.”

He also commented that cutting housing benefit for younger people would “stop the state dragging young people into dependency”.

Downing Street said that Mr Cameron wanted to encourage a debate about welfare.

The Prime Minister is also considering proposals to set benefits at a regional level, rather than a national level, in order to reflect wide regional variations in pay.

Political analysts have suggested that Mr Cameron’s comments are part of an effort to reconnect with Conservative backbenchers who believe the party’s values are being watered down under the coalition.

Housing charity Shelter has warned that cutting housing benefit for young people could lead to an increase in homelessness.

The charity’s chief executive Campbell Robb said: “To take away housing benefit from hundreds of thousands of young people – particularly in the current economic environment where young people in particular are finding it very difficult to find jobs – would have a devastating impact on many people’s lives. I think we would see many more people ending up homeless as a result of this kind of very significant change.”

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UK Prime Minister David Cameron has a new vision of the welfare state. He wants state benefits to be a safety net – and nothing more!,

The Prime Minister outlined future radical changes which on top of existing plans, could save the UK an extra £10 Billion (GBP) by 2016.

Government ministers expect this “next wave” of benefit cuts to include the axing of all housing benefit currently paid to around 380,000 people aged under 25.

Such a move would force many young adults to move back in with their parents rather than living independently.

Another controversial reform which could come in further down the line is setting benefit payments regionally – which would mean less money going to claimants who live in less-expensive parts of the country.

Some Tory MPs say the current system is unfair – with differing “incentives” on people to seek work depending on where they live. Liberal Democrats, however, would be likely to oppose any such changes.

The Prime Minister said his overall aim in reforming welfare was to stop people “languishing on the dole and dependency”.

Here are some of the welfare reforms Mr Cameron is considering

• Stopping most under-25s claiming housing benefit. Cameron said the government was spending almost £2bn a year on housing benefit for this group, and that 210,000 people aged 16 to 24 were social housing tenants. Many of them could live with their parents, he suggested.

• Scrapping the non-dependent deduction. Cameron said people could lose up to £74 a week in housing benefit if they have an adult child living with them. That “doesn’t seem right”, he said.

• Cutting benefits for the under-21s. Cameron said that in Holland the benefit system does not normally help the under-21s. When it does, benefits are set at a low level, and parents are expected to top them up.

• Ending subsidised social housing for the wealthy. Cameron said that between 12,000 and 34,000 families on more than £60,000 a year, and between 1,000 and 6,000 families on more than £100,000 a year, were living in council homes. “When you have people on £70,000 a year living for £90 or so a week in London’s most expensive postcodes you have to ask whether this is the best use of public resources,” he said.

• Uprating benefits in line with wage inflation instead of price inflation when price inflation is much higher. Cameron said in September benefits went up by 5.2% (inflation) even though workers were getting much lower pay rises. “Given that so many working people are struggling to make ends meet we have to ask whether this is the right approach,” Cameron said.

• Cutting benefits for the long-term unemployed. Cameron said that when the Americans decided to time-limit benefits in the 1990s, case-loads fell by more than 50%. “Instead of US-style time-limits – which remove entitlements altogether – we could perhaps revise the levels of benefits people receive if they are out of work for literally years on end,” he said.

• Cutting housing benefit further.
The government has already introduced a benefit cap to stop a relatively small number of families claiming exorbitant sums in housing benefit. But Cameron said this would still allow people to receive up to £20,000 a year in housing benefit. “Surely we should ask if it’s fair that the maximum amount that you can get on housing benefit is set at a level that only the top five per cent of earners would otherwise be able to afford,” he said.

• Stopping people from claiming child-related benefits if they have more than a certain number of children. Cameron did not say how many children, but he quoted the number of people on income support with three or more children (150,000) and four or more children (57,000), implying benefits could be capped at two children.

• Requiring people on out-of-work benefits to gain basic literacy and numeracy skills.

• Requiring people on out-of-work benefits to prepare a CV.

• Requiring able people on out-of-work benefits to do full-time community work after a certain period. In Australia this was standard after just six months, Cameron said.

• Requiring people on sickness benefits to improve their health. “Today if someone is signed off work with a bad back there’s no requirement to take steps to get well to keep on receiving that benefit – even if they could be getting free physiotherapy to get back to health and start working again,” Cameron said.

• Requiring more single parents to work – or at least to prepare for work. Cameron said the government was already forcing single parents to look for work when their youngest child reaches five, not seven as before. But, with free nursery care available from the age of three, there was a case for changing the rules again, he said. “Even if there’s no scope for actually working, there should at least be for preparing to work: getting down to the job centre; writing a CV; learning new skills.”

• Imposing tougher restrictions on people claiming benefits if they have never worked than if they have paid tax and national insurance for years before submitting a claim.

• Stopping teenagers from claiming benefits as soon as they leave school. Cameron said he wanted to ask “if it’s right that people continue to have the option of leaving school and going straight onto benefits, without ever having contributed to the system in any way.”

• Stopping paying winter fuel payments and other non-contributory benefits to people who live abroad.

• Stopping paying some benefits in cash and paying them instead in benefits in kind, like free school meals.

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