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More Calls For Smoke Alarms To Be Compulsory

More Calls For Smoke Alarms To Be Compulsory

Fire Service Calls For 2013
Smoke Alarm Law To Be Enacted

The Government passed a law back in 2013 requiring private rental sector (PRS) landlords to provide smoke alarms in all UK rental properties.

However, this new bill is still under public consultation and as yet it has not been brought into force and some local authorities claim that this is putting tenant’s lives at risk.

Now there are further calls from the fire service for more new laws to be introduced to make sure all landlords, both social and private sector, install smoke alarms in all rented properties.

Mandatory smoke alarms are among the key issues to be discussed at the Local Government Association’s (LGA) annual fire safety conference due to be held in Gateshead next month 10th – 11th March 2015.

The call for UK landlords to install smoke alarms in rental properties forms a central part of the LGA’s key report ‘The Fire and Rescue Service: Making our Nation Safer’, which was launched on Saturday 7th February 2015.

The report highlights a series of proposals on how UK fire services can improve fire safety for tenants, including calls for electrical wiring in rented properties to be inspected annually, the same way UK PRS landlords are obliged to obtain gas safety certificates (CP12’s) every year.

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RLA Argue Over Wording of Immigration Bill

Government Listen To Reason Over Immigration Bill

Government Listen To Reason Over Immigration Bill

 The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) have won a victory for private rental sector (PRS) landlords after raising concerns that it would have imposed a double penalty on landlords and effectively legalised squatting.

The RLA had a meeting with Immigration Minister, Mark Harper on 17th October and highlighted the concerns of its landlord members over the wording of the Bill.

Clause 17 of the proposed Immigration Bill was originally ambiguously worded and the RLA have argued that unless the specific wording of Clause 17 were to be left as it was, it would see landlords facing a double penalty for breaching legislation. Landlords would face hefty fines and be unable to enforce the payment of rent and they would be unable to take back possession of the property, allowing the tenants to reside in rental properties rent free.

Under the current wording of Clause 17, landlords could argue against the fine by checking identity documents that were not obvious forgeries but they would lose the right to claim rent for the property because the tenant was residing illegally in the country pending deportation or an appeal.

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Government Set To U-Turn On Immigration Checks By Landlords

Government Set To U-Turn On Immigration Checks By Landlords

Immigration Checks Unworkable Say Critics

There could be a moral victory for common sense on the cards as the UK Government are set to perform yet another U-Turn on policies as they are forced to back down on requiring landlords to conduct immigration checks on all tenants.

The Government plan was announced in the Queen’s Speech back in May and intended to force private rented sector (PRS) landlords to check their tenants’ immigration status or face fines of up to £3,000 (GBP).

Under the intended reform, all UK landlords and letting agents would be forced to check the immigration status of every tenant and tenants would have to produce documents showing they have permission to be in the UK.

There are also been concerns raised about landlords’ ongoing responsibilities for tenants already in their rental properties whose status may have gone from legal to illegal. Under the proposals, first-time offenders could face fines of £1,000 (GBP) per illegal immigrant in their rental properties. Landlords who failed to make proper checks within the last three years could also be fined £3,000 (GBP) per tenant.

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Labour leader, Ed Miliband says Labour plan to crackdown on rogue landlords and grant local authorities greater powers.

Labour Leader Plans Crackdown on Rogue Landlords

Labour Leader Plans Crackdown on Rogue Landlords

Politicians are usually reticent to discuss the UK private rental sector (PRS) because political conflicts could easily arise. Landlords are, of course, great taxpayers and contributors to the economy, where tenants are seen to be the ‘ordinary man’: in reality, both have their place and their way of working. 

However, Labour party leader Ed Milliband was keen to make clear his plans to protect tenants from rogue landlords in a speech delivered earlier this week, in favour of longer tenancy agreements.

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Despite the exorbitant claims about lower LHA rents and the acceptance of them by private rented sector, (PRS), landlords made by the coalition government Prime Minister David Cameron in Parliament on January 11th. Only a handful of landlords with tenants on Local Housing Allowance are actually accepting lower rents in exchange for getting rent paid to them directly.

The claim by the Prime Minister David Cameron that private rents are falling as a result of welfare reforms was wrong!

Mr Cameron had claimed in Parliament on January 11th 2012 that: “rent levels have come down, so we have stopped ripping off the taxpayer”. Apparently he was quoting rental data from LSL Property Services, which had only been quoting falling private sector rents.

The data published by LSL Property Services does not take into account LHA rents.

In an attempt to get landlords to lower rents, councils have temporary powers to pay landlords, rather than tenants, the LHA in exchange for lowered rents.

A later statement from 10 Downing St said: “Private landlords were reducing rents – lessening the impact of benefit cuts – in return for local housing allowance being paid directly to them.

The prime minister made his wildly inaccurate claim in the middle of the Welfare Reform Bill’s rough ride through the House of Lords at a time when his government was desperately seeking to convince peers that the package of reforms would not increase homelessness as tenants would be left struggling to meet their rents under the new benefit caps.

Mr Cameron’s claims that private rents are falling as a result of the governments welfare reforms were difficult to swallow for a number of property professionals, prompting one magazine to take action.

The same data was quoted again on 30th January 2012 by Housing minister Grant Shapps, who seized on the same survey by estate agency LSL Property Services, citing it as the evidence Mr Cameron had used to support his claims.

The survey did indeed show rents fell by 0.8% in December – the second successive monthly fall.

However, if the data is examined correctly, the figures reveal the seasonal drop in private sector rents before Christmas was actually less than the 2.3% drop in December 2010 and rents overall had actually risen 4% year-on-year.

The magazine Inside Housing, used the Freedom of Information Act to request information on LHA rents from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), and every local authority in England following Mr Cameron’s claim in the House of Commons.

204 local authorities responded, with only 36 reporting any rent reductions in return for direct payment of LHA. Of the 36, 12 reported a combined total of 65 landlords cutting rents, an average of fewer than six landlords in each area.

The DWP says it has ‘no data records’ of how many landlords have reduced rents, but it has collected ‘anecdotal evidence’ from around 80 councils.

It states: ‘The majority have reported that they have used the new safeguard to help claimants negotiate down rents and all plan to use it during 2012 as transitional (payment) protection runs out.

The Inside Housing survey suggests that most PRS landlords are not even remotely tempted to accept lower rental payments for their properties, either directly from local authorities or not.

The National Landlords Association (NLA) and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) have each disputed the claim rents are falling and believe landlords are more likely to reduce the number of tenancies let to benefit recipients, warning that landlords would rather re-let their properties at the full market price to working tenants, and are able to do so in the current climate of high rental demand.

Labour’s shadow housing minister, Jack Dromey, has already written to number 10 about the issue but received no response and will raise the matter in parliament demanding that Mr Cameron corrects his statement or justifies it.

Mr Dromey said: “Now we know the truth. The nationwide Inside Housing story exposes the reality of rising rents in most areas of the country and explodes the myth that rents are falling”.

 

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