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Yet another local authority has set its sights on compulsory landlord licensing for every privately owned rental property within its boundaries. 

Liverpool City Council Want Landlord Licensing To Become Mandatory

Liverpool City Council Want Landlord Licensing To Become Mandatory

Liverpool City Council is the second local authority in the UK to launch a consultation for the introduction of a citywide landlord licensing scheme affecting over 50,000 properties.

The controversial move towards mandatory licensing of all private landlords follows that of Newham, in London, which became the first council in England to introduce mandatory licensing of all private rental properties on January 1st.

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Landlords In Salford Face Selective Licensing

Landlords In Salford Face Selective Licensing

The City of Salford local authority (my local council), have finally approved proposals for a selective licensing scheme for landlords in another 3 areas within their region, these are the areas of Langworthy, Weaste and Seedley.

The areas outlined in the plan are currently undergoing some regeneration as historic churches are flattened along with the former home of Salford Reds rugby ground and entertainment venue, The Willows. New homes are currently being built on former brownfield sites within the area, that is just 5 minutes walk from the new home of the BBC at Media City.

Despite delaying the decision for over month, to consider outcomes and exit strategies, the scheme was finally approved, although it remains unclear if the objectives for the scheme are actually in place.

Instead, Salford promised to implement a number of discounts for compliant landlords and establish an engagement group which will supposedly meet to support the effective implementation of the scheme and shape its development.

The decision by Salford comes just a few weeks after the local authority revealed that the previous pilot scheme, which lapsed in May 2012, had lost £239,533 (GBP) during its five-year cycle; with further undisclosed costs for senior management support, enforcement action and Land Registry searches.

During the same period, Salford refused just five landlord licences, and revoked a further 73 landlord licences.

However, the local authority refused to say on what grounds the landlord licences had been revoked, and whether or not this figure included individuals who had simply sold their rental properties and left the private rented sector (PRS).

Chris Town, vice chairman of the Residential Landlords’ Association responded to Salford’s selective licensing decision,saying “The RLA is extremely disappointed with this decision. We are not satisfied that there is a strong case for this selective licensing scheme. Other local authorities such as Manchester, Leeds and Bournemouth have rejected selective licensing and are now looking at alternative methods of raising housing standards, particularly greater promotion of accreditation schemes and improved enforcement. Selective licensing simply does not work and is the legislative equivalent of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

Want your voice heard?    Join The RLA today!

Avoid Tenant's from Hell

Avoid Tenant’s from Hell

As thousands of people struggle to sell their properties in the current financial climate, many are turning to renting them out in order to move on with their lives. However this comes with its own problems and responsibilities that many people are not really prepared for.

Being a landlord means you have legal responsibilities towards the housing of others. In order to stay on the right side of the law, provide a place where people want to live and avoid tenants from hell, it is recommended that landlords should seek to use recognised and trusted professional services to help them operate their rental property business and educate themselves before it’s too late.

The most common concerns faced by new landlords regarding offering a new tenancy are:

  • Background of tenants
  • The rent / rent arrears
  • Property maintenance
  • Insurance
  • Legal compliance

Tenant Referencing

Every landlord wants to avoid the tenant from hell, someone who doesn’t respect where they live, the neighbours or the landlord and who doesn’t pay the rent. Tenant referencing can help landlords avoid bad tenants and professional referencing should include:

  • Credit Check
  • Employers / Accountants Reference
  • Landlords / Managing Agent’s Reference
  • Financial Review
  • Bankruptcy Search
  • Anti Fraud Check

Rent Guarantee

With the current financial unrest still being felt by many people, employment uncertainties and austerity measures still emerging, it can be a worry for landlords and their tenants about being able to pay the rent on time.

The rent can be guaranteed providing that the conditions of the rent guarantee insurance are met, usually meaning that the applying tenant must be credit checked and properly referenced prior to the start of the tenancy.

Property Maintenance

Landlords may need to provide repairs or conduct regular maintenance on their rental property in order to maintain their income producing asset. They may know a bloke from the pub that can do the job but it is recommended to use recognised tradesmen to do any work on the property. Repairs will be done to the correct standard and tradesmen should be professionally registered with their respective federations to ensure quality. Any repairs involving gas can only be conducted by a GasSafe registered engineer.

Insurance

Landlords need to ensure they have adequate insurance for the protection of their rental property, many mortgage providers demand proof of insurance. There are a multitude of different insurance products on the market but it is recommended that landlords protect the landlord’s contents within a property as well as the fabric of the building. This means fixtures and fittings such as the kitchen and bathroom suite are insured. Find out more here

Legal Compliance

Self managing landlords need to ensure they are compliant with over 70 separate pieces of government legislation and a raft of local authority regulations. There are a number of useful governement resouces that can be found on the web, however, it is recommended that landlords seek professional property management agents to ensure that all the correct legal requirements are met.

2011 Census shows Millions own holiday homes in UK or overseas

2011 Census shows Millions own holiday homes in UK or overseas

New data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that in the 2011 Census, over 165,000 people listed a holiday home in the UK as a second address and a higher proportion listed additional properties overseas.

ONS figures said that according to the 2011 Census data, 165,095 people stayed at a holiday home in the UK for 30 days or more a year.

The UK local authorities with the largest recorded number of second addresses used for holidays were:

  • Cornwall – 10,169
  • Gwynedd (North West Wales) – 7,784

Gwynedd, which covers part of the Snowdonia National Park and the Lyn Peninsula, headed a league table of UK local authorities with the highest rate of people with second addresses, used for holidays, with 64 people from outside the area listing secondary addresses for every 1,000 usual local authority residents.

1.57 Million (2.8%) residents in England and Wales reported having a holiday home either in the UK, but under another local authority, or overseas, that they used for 30 days or more every year.

Looking for property abroad? See our full overseas property listings here!

A request sent by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) using a Freedom of Information request about bad landlords has so far been ignored by Newham Council

The London borough are the first local authority in England who intend to bring in the blanket licensing of all private rental properties within its boundaries is unable to tell the RLA how many prosecutions it has brought against private landlords over the last five years.

The Residential Landlords Association made a Freedom of Information request, and described the response from Newham Council in London as ‘pitiful’.

The RLA said it was staggered that the authority, which requires all private rental property to be licensed by January 1, did not have the information to hand.

Newham insists that it is bringing in blanket licensing because it has identified problems of poor property and tenancy management.

The council said it was unable to “… provide accurate historical reports on the number of prosecutions against landlords for the last five years”.

It went on to blame “a change in recording procedures last year and a change in computerised systems for reporting purposes” for its failure to provide the figures. It said that to produce the figures would require an officer to manually interrogate all files.

Newham could only produce figures for 2011/12. These show that the council prosecuted 31 landlords.

The RLA has repeated its call for the council to abandon its plans for blanket licensing, and to use existing legislation to actively pursue and prosecute criminal landlords.

Licences applied for now will cost £150 and last five years. After January 1, the cost will rise to £500.

Licensing would usually be the responsibility of the landlord, but could also fall into the remit of the managing agent. Failure to license could mean fines of up to £20,000, and the council could seek a rent repayment order for up to 12 months of rental income. It will also not be possible to use the S.21 procedure for possession if a property has not been licensed.

The homeless charity, Shelter, has also called on all other local authorities to follow Newham Council’s lead, but they are already facing criticism over their blanket Rogue Landlord campaign.

UK Landlords Need To Sign Up To Force The Government To Listen To Common Sense

UK Landlords Need To Sign Up To Force The Government To Listen To Common Sense

Under the next wave of welfare reforms, new rules set to be introduced next year, mean that the housing benefit allowance of the new Universal Credit system, will not be paid directly to landlords.

Instead the Government proposes that all payments will be paid directly to tenants, even if they are vulnerable or in arrears!

Please Sign The e-Petition Now!

This will not only expose the landlord to the threat of tenant rent default, it will increase financial pressure on all parties involved and the possibility of repossession proceedings if the rent is not passed over to the landlord.

The proposed welfare reforms will also increase the likelihood of landlords refusing to take any further applications from DSS/LHA/Housing Benefit tenants, in the future as well as bringing to an end existing tenancies, further increasing the pressure on local councils and housing associations, who under the same proposals, will also not be able to request direct payments for non paying tenants.

The Government needs to take on board UK landlords views, that tenants who receive housing benefit directly and who do NOT pay their rents are not financially responsible and therefore it should be allowed that rents can be paid directly to their respective landlord, when tenants are vulnerable or in arrears, as per the current rules.

Failure to take note of this common sense approach will cause more issues for the Government, Local Authorities, Homeless Charities, Tenants and Landlords.

This is a common sense and a logical solution for all concerned – Pay rent direct to landlords where it is needed please!

Please Sign The e-Petition

Responsible department: Department for Work and Pensions

Many Local Authorities are struggling to crack down on rogue landlords because of a lack of public sector funding.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) surveyed a number of local authorities across the UK and uncovered an alarming number of failed prosecutions against bad landlords due to public sector cuts.

One local authority stated: “We generally have no budget to prosecute.”

Another local authority said that it had been unable to take anything through to the prosecution stage since 2009 because their legal department was so small.

A third council said that it had “practically disbanded its  private sector housing team”.

In other areas, one environmental health officer was expected to cover the large geographical area of 2 local authorities, following a restructure.

Head of policy at CIEH, David Kidney, said: “This survey confirms our worst fears that many councils are finding it increasingly difficult to conduct investigations due to cutbacks in government housing expenditure. This is impairing the ability of EHOs to tackle abuses in the private rented sector. As we have said, it makes no economic sense to cut back investment in housing. The equation is a simple one: poor housing leads to poor
health which needs to longer NHS queues, which end up putting a further squeeze on the nation’s resources. The Government’s obsession with cutting spending is putting some of the most vulnerable people at risk. We must have an informed, evidence-based discussion about housing in this country.”

 

Stamp Out Rogue Landlords

No Rogue Landlords

The National Landlords Association (NLA), Accreditation Scheme for private landlords is now being used by 28 local authorities across the UK, only a year after the initial launch.

The NLA Accreditation Scheme is free to local authorities and was launched by the National Landlords Association in April 2010.

The scheme provides local authorities with the means for compliant landlords to self-regulate and keep up-to-date with best practice and legislation.

This frees up vital local authority resources to tackle rogue landlords.

Over 85% of landlords who have completed the Scheme to date have described it as ‘excellent’.

NLA Chairman David Salusbury said “The NLA Accreditation Scheme provides local government with a valuable vehicle to raise standards within the private-rented sector and local authorities are now waking up to its potential. The NLA Scheme provides landlords with a clear way of demonstrating that they are professional by understanding their obligations, as well as the extensive legislation governing the letting of private residential property. The fact landlords can become accredited through the NLA’s Scheme without cost to the public purse is an obvious benefit. We’re very pleased with the feedback from participating landlords; with 85% of those completing the scheme describing it as ‘excellent’. These individual landlords will now be able to promote that fact that they are accredited by the NLA.”

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