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Liberal Democrats Announce Help To Rent Scheme

Liberal Democrats Announce Help To Rent Scheme

Help To Rent Scheme To Support Young Workers 

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has announced plans for a new ‘Help to Rent’ scheme should his party get elected to power in May. The scheme is intended to support young workers who want to move out of their parents homes and rent their first property in the private rental sector (PRS).

According to some of the latest research it is thought that around two million young working adults still live with their parents because they cannot afford to move into a property of their own, either purchased or rented.

The proposals for the Help To Rent scheme will include a government loan of up to £2,000 (GBP) in London, and £1500 (GBP) in other UK regions to cover the cost of tenancy deposits, with loan repayments staged over 12 or 24 months.

To be eligible for the proposed Help To Rent scheme and secure a loan for a deposit, tenants would need to be in paid employment, aged between 18 to 30 and not be property owners or seeking a tenancy in social housing provided by local authorities. 

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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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A Life Less Taxing For Landlords

A Life Less Taxing For Landlords

HMRC Issue Landlord Warning

With the new tax year already here the HMRC have repeated the warning that they are cracking down on tax evasion by UK private rented sector landlords,

All PRS landlords who own residential rental properties are being advised to register for self assessment, if they haven’t done so already.

The self assessment annual tax return covers the period up to the 5th April each year, and needs to be filed online by no later than the following 31st January.

In order to calculate the tax owed by a landlord, the rental income must be added to any other taxable income that the landlord may earn, including wages from employment. The rate of income tax that HMRC will charge will depend on the landlord’s total income for the tax year.

There are a number of expenses that landlords can offset against their tax liability for rental income, including;

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Buy to let landlords who own rental properties in the North East, Yorkshire, East Anglia and London, should be aware that they will be among businesses targeted by six new HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) taskforces.

The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) report that HMRC are likely to focus on private rented sector (PRS) landlords providing temporary accommodation and landlords of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO’s) although specific details on the scope of the taskforce have yet to be announced.

It is expected that the taskforce will initially focus on private sector landlords in specific areas, but if the taskforces are successful, their remit could be easily extended to cover the whole of the UK.

In 2011/12, HMRC launched 12 taskforces with up to 30 more set to follow in 2012/13.

The taskforces are a result of the Government’s £917m spending review investment to tackle tax evasion, avoidance and fraud which aims to raise an additional £7bn each year by 2014/15

HMRC are using specialist teams and sophisticated techniques to gather information from across Government departments, and other sources including press and internet advertisements, universities and colleges, to identify individuals who are not paying sufficient tax and the chances of going undetected are increasingly remote.

It is not just unpaid income tax that HMRC are investigating, landlords providing temporary accommodation, perhaps to seasonal agricultural labourers, students or even homeless people, may find that a sizeable VAT liability is incurred.

Some landlords may not realise that VAT is chargeable on temporary accommodation as HMRC tend to treat it in the same way as hotel or guest house accommodation.

Landlords may not be registered for VAT when they should be and so could face a back-dated VAT claim.

The HMRC taskforces undertake intensive bursts of activity in specific high risk trade sectors and locations in the UK.

Exchequer Secretary, David Gauke, said: “HMRC is on target to collect more than £50 Million (GBP) as a result of the taskforces launched in 2011/12. We have made it clear that we will not tolerate tax evasion. Everyone needs to pay the taxes they owe in full. We are determined to crack down on the minority who choose to break the rules. It is not fair that at a time when most hard-working people are paying the right tax, others are trying to get out of paying what they should.”

HMRC’s Director of General Enforcement and Compliance, Mike Eland, said: “These six new taskforces will bring together specialists from across HMRC to tackle tax dodgers. If you have paid all your taxes you have nothing to worry about. But deliberately evading tax you should be paying can land you with not only a heavy fine but possibly a criminal prosecution as well”.

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued new guidance for landlords and letting agents to control the threat of legionnaire’s disease to tenants.

The HSE want landlords or their managing agents, to carry out risk assessments for legionnaire’s disease, and if necessary, take action.

The revised Approved Code of Practice: “Legionnaires’ disease: The control of legionella bacteria in water systems,” underlines the legal requirements for landlords and managing agents to ensure that the potential risk to tenants from exposure to the legionella bacteria from all water systems in UK PRS residential rental properties is controlled.

The new guidance insists that landlords and property management / lettings agents must carry out risk assessments to identify and assess potential sources of exposure, and steps take to prevent or control any risk that is identified and record details on all aspects of their risk assessment controls, keeping records for at least five years.

Landlords and property managing agents need to be aware that the legionella bacteria can thrive and multiply in hot or cold water systems and storage tanks, and be spread throughout the property by showers and taps.

Risk assessments should include assessing whether conditions are right for bacteria to flourish and the following items should all be checked or inspected:

  • In water temperatures between 20C and 45C.
  • Water Storage Tanks, (inc header tanks)
  • Thermostatic mixing valves
  • Debris in the system
  • Infrequently used outlets
  • Areas of stagnant water

Steps taken to control the threat of legionnaire’s disease include disinfecting the system, ensuring water cannot stagnate anywhere, insulating all pipework, and keeping water tanks and cisterns free of debris and covered at all times.

Tenants should also be advised about potential risks and told to take precautions such as flushing through showers they rarely use.

Anyone with concerns can contact their local Health and Safety Executive (HSE) office or Local Authority Environmental Health Department.

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