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Will Landlords Be Safe Under New Rental Rules?

Will Landlords Be Safe Under New Rental Rules?

Tenants Charter could put tenants in a

stronger position over PRS landlords

Regulations which hand private rented sector tenants more power and rights to request longer leases have been greeted with cautious optimism, although the new code of practice, intended for launch by the Government, would bring in much-needed protection for many tenants from rogue and inexperienced landlords.

The proposed Tenants’ Charter, could mean honest and hard working landlords are at a disadvantage and could be put off from renting out properties.

The results of the introduction, could lead to another shortage of available rental stock for the UK property market leading to rent increases and landlords becoming trapped by more stringent legal binding agreements.

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Superstrike Case Causes Confusion

Superstrike Case Causes Confusion

Lord Justice Lloyd delivered judgement on an appeal from Wandsworth County Court for the case of Superstrike Ltd v Marino Rodrigues on the 14th June 2013 and since then conflicting advice has been offered by different landlord associations.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) told its members that they will be issuing updates shortly, after they have sought advice from its deposit protection partner the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).

By contrast, the National Landlords Association (NLA), who have business links with MyDeposits and the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) have condemned the speculation and online reporting of the case.

The NLA issued advice to members stating that the Superstrike case also only relates to landlords within a particular timeframe, who used Section 21 notices. In reality the case will have little effect on landlords and insist that the ruling only pertains to tenancies started before April 6, 2007, and which have subsequently become periodic.

The NLA are discussing the matter with officials responsible for tenancy deposit protection (TDP) legislation within the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and legal professionals.

It is important to understand that appeal judges only consider the case presented to them, not a similar set of circumstances, or a variation on a theme.

The precedent they set is therefore only applicable to cases subject to the same set of circumstances. This fact is crucial in this instance as the case of Superstrike Ltd v Rodrigues is not representative of all landlords or private tenancies.

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NLA and UKALA Call For Clarity Over Tenancy Deposit Protection Law

NLA and UKALA Call For Clarity Over Tenancy Deposit Protection Law

NLA And UKALA Call For Clarity Over
Tenancy Deposit Protection Law

NLA / UKALA press release:

The National Landlords Association (NLA) and the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) are jointly calling for clarity amid speculation about the impact of the recent Court of Appeal judgement in the case between Superstrike Ltd and Marino Rodrigues.

The judgement of 14 June 2013 is the latest in a long line of appeal cases to cast doubt on landlords’ responsibility to protect tenants’ deposits.

In the case of Superstrike Ltd and Marino Rodrigues, the Lord Justice Lloyd’s conclusion has raised significant questions about the status of long-term periodic tenancies which began prior to the introduction of tenancy deposit protection (TDP).

Richard Lambert, CEO of the NLA, said: “It is understandable that landlords are concerned about this case, and the potential impact it could have on those who find that they have unintentionally failed to comply with tenancy deposit protection legislation as a result of Lord Justice Lloyd’s ruling. However, they must remember that this judgement only applies to a very specific set of circumstances, meaning that most landlords will be unaffected. Although it is likely to affect relatively few tenancies, the NLA’s real concern in this matter is that, once again, professional landlords, following government guidance on how to comply with the law, have been caught out by the unintended consequences of the Housing Act 2004. The Government must act swiftly to reassure the industry that law-abiding landlords will not face sanctions as a result of this new interpretation of the rules. We’ve written to the Housing Minister calling on him to take urgent action to re-assert the spirit of the law on tenancy deposit protection and restore fairness to the system which was designed to ensure it.”

Caroline Kenny, UKALA Chief Executive, said: “UKALA is troubled that once again tenancy deposit protection rules appear to have been thrown into disarray by the Court of Appeal. Landlords and their agents simply trying to understand and comply with the law will be rightly disillusioned by yet another reconsideration of ‘the right way to protect a deposit’. We hope to see this matter taken to the Supreme Court so that clarity can be achieved once and for all. In the meantime, the industry is in desperate need of guidance from the Government about how to treat affected deposits.”

Landlord Possession Orders And Tenant Evictions Increase

Tenant Eviction Figures Increase Again

Tenant Eviction Figures Increase Again

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of PRS landlords seeking to evict bad tenants and the volume of possession orders doesn’t look like abating any time soon according to data released by the UK Government.

Government figures show that there were 103,329 landlord claims for tenant eviction and orders for possession made last year, the highest recorded rate over the last five years and continues to represent an upward trend.

It is estimated that between 67% and 80% of claims led to a possession order being granted by the courts.

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30 Day Tenant Deposit Registration Deadline

New Rules Mean All UK Tenant Deposits Must be Registered Within 30 Days Of Reciept

New Deposit Protection rules are now in force and the deadline for landlords and letting agents for the registration of a tenant’s

deposit, for every single tenancy, must be completed within 30 days of 6th April 2012, therefore, the deadline will be the 5th May 2012

This Affects All PRS Landlords If They Have Never Previously Taken Action To Protect Tenant’s Deposits

Following the introduction of the Localism Bill on the 6th April 2012, the over-complicated Deposit Protection rules have changed.

These changes will impact heavily on all UK landlords, property management and letting agents, however, many landlords are still unaware that rule changes regarding mandatory tenant deposit protection have occurred.

The new rule changes could result in landlords being left with sitting tenants in their rental properties, that they are unable to gain possession from or they could face being liable to pay THREE times the amount of the original deposit back to the tenant, regardless of any damage to the landlords rental property!

Legal 4 Landlords are aware that the new rules regarding mandatory deposit protection could prove to be a big surprise for unaware landlords and have listed the main changes that came into effect on 6th April 2012 below:-

  1. 1. Deadline for Registration

Under the current rules landlords/agents must register a deposit within 14 days from the commencement date of the tenancy.

THE NEW LAW The Localism Bill has proposed that this time limit be amended to 30 days giving the landlord or property managing agents more time to fulfil the registration requirements.

However, it means that Landlords can’t claim an administrative oversight for any delay in registering the deposit for protection.

Prescribed Information

THE NEW LAW Landlords or their appointed property managing agents must complete and supply to the tenant(s) a Prescribed Information Form within 30 days of receipt of the deposit.

This may require tenant signature and asks for contact information and details of the Landlord and the amount of deposit paid.

  1. 2. Late Registration

If a Landlord or their managing agent does not register the deposit within the prescribed 30 day deadline, then the loophole supplied in Universal Estates v Tiensia will no longer be available. The Landlord/Agent will not therefore be able to register the deposit after the 30 day deadline.

THE NEW LAWThis change has serious implications for landlords and property managing agents:-

a) The tenant will be able to bring a claim against the Landlord and /or their managing agent for failure to register the deposit and under the new rules the court may fine a landlord/agent up to three times the amount of the deposit.

b) Without the deposit being registered a valid Section 21 notice for possession cannot be issued on a tenant and a landlord cannot therefore take back possession of their property.
This basically leaves a Landlord with a sitting tenant and with very limited circumstances in which they can get them out.

The rule changes therefore affect any new tenancy in the UK private rented sector and also any current tenancy where the deposit has not previously been registered (such as tenancies which started before the introduction of the 3 Government backed Tenancy Deposit Schemes) and will mean that the deposit will need to be registered for every single tenancy within 30 days of 6th April 2012

There are still some landlords who have forgotten to register the tenant’s deposit or thought they could register the deposit only if requested to do so by the tenant.

These landlords will be massively affected by the change in law and could end up severely financially penalised. Ignorance is no defence.

Failure To Act Will Cost Landlords Money And Cause Problems Getting Tenants Out!

#deposit protection

Landlords do have legal responsibilities over electrical safety

Confusion over Landlord's Electrical Safety obligations

The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) have highlighted some confusion over electrical safety between PRS Landlords and tenants in private rented sector properties.

30% of landlords did not realise that they were responsible for the electrical safety within their Buy-To-Let properties, according to the ESC’s survey.

This potentially could lead to very dangerous consequences for both landlords and tenants.

If a landlord is found to be negligent over electrical safety they could be liable for a fine of up to £5,000 (GBP).

The ESC’s found that 38% of landlords were not aware of any penalty for failing to maintain an adequate level of electrical safety within their rental properties.

Those landlords could be putting their tenant’s lives at risk!

Being a landlord can be both financially and mentally tough sometimes, and finding a variety of landlord products and services to aid a profitable property rental business can be challenging. Tenant referencing and landlord insurance may incur costs at the start of a tenancy, but the peace of mind and financial safety net those services provide can be a real benefit for landlords.

Why should electrical safety be any different? Ensuring that all the electrical devices in the rental property are safe and fit for purpose may also incur financial expense at the start of a tenancy, but what price can you put on someone’s life?

Financial outlay to ensure continued electrical safety can be minimised by regular checks and maintenance.

With this in mind here are a few tips from the Electrical Safety Council for UK landlords.

  • Landlords are responsible for making sure the electrical installation is safe in a property

This responsibility applies at the start of a tenancy and the property must be maintained in a safe condition throughout its duration.

Landlords should carry out basic visual checks to ensure that the installation has no hazards, including broken accessories (such as sockets and light switches), signs of scorching around sockets due to overloading, damaged cables to portable equipment or trailing cables/flexes.

  • Have a regular periodic inspection and test carried out on the property

Landlords of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), have a legal obligation to have a periodic inspection carried out on the HMO property every 5 years.

If the property is not an HMO, there is no current legal obligation to have the installation inspected and tested on a periodic basis.

However, the ESC recommends that a periodic inspection and test is carried out by a registered electrician on private sector rental properties at intervals not exceeding 5 years, or on a change of tenancy.

They will then issue an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) which details any damage, deterioration, defects or conditions within the installation that give rise, or potentially give rise, to danger.

  • Make sure that your property has adequate RCD protection

Since 2008 the UK standard for the safety of electrical installations, BS 7671, has called for almost all electrical circuits installed in homes to be RCD protected.

An RCD is a life-saving device which protects against dangerous electric shock and reduces the risk of electrical fires.

  • Use a registered electrician for any work on your property

By choosing a registered electrician, you will have the peace of mind that comes with knowing the work is being done to the UK National Standard, BS 7671.

  • Carry out Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) on appliances provided as part of the rental agreement

As a landlord you are required to take reasonable steps to ensure that the appliances you provide for a tenant’s use are safe.

Portable Appliance Testing is one way of doing this and it should be carried out before a new tenancy starts or have appliances checked annually for longer tenancies.

Home insurers and the UK’s coalition Government are still arguing over paying for flood protection, meaning Millions of homeowners and Buy-To-Let Landlords are facing uncertainty over house prices, mortgage availability and the validity of their insurance policies.

Buy-To-Let Property Owners In Flood Risk Areas Fear Worst

UK Landlords With BTL Property In Flood Risk Areas Fear Worst

If the UK Government fails to meet the demands of insurers to reinstate flood protection cuts then insurance cover for millions of homes, including buy to let rental properties, could be withdrawn from June this year.

Although insurers pledged to offer insurance premiums for properties at risk of flooding, it was on the proviso that the UK government would invest money in flood defence protection.

The agreement is set to run out on July 1st 2013, but Millions of pounds have already been cut from flood defence budgets earmarked for improving sea walls and river banks.

Insurance policies starting at the end of June 2012 could be withdrawn for properties in high flood risk areas if an agreement isn’t reached, as the policies would be in force after the date the current agreement ends.

Flood defence protection is a priority for all residents living near to waterways, lakes and rivers, many people in flood-prone areas now have the added worry that their properties may be difficult or even impossible to insure later this year.

Some insurers are already warning that property owners in high flood risk areas, might not be able to renew their cover after the end of June this year, because their new insurance policy will extend beyond the 1st July 2013 agreement cut off date.

Not being able to obtain insurance cover will blight property values in many areas, as mortgage lenders may not offer funding and in many cases the properties will be very difficult to sell on.

Many home owners and buy-to-let landlords could also risk breaching stringent mortgage conditions that require them to have buildings insurance in place for the life of their mortgage loan.

Business Development Director for SearchFlow, Richard Hinton, said “Buyers will be able to obtain flood insurance for the next few months, but the long-term prospects of properties at risk of flooding are potentially bleak. Buyers purchasing in high-risk flood areas face the possibility of very high premiums, significant reductions in value, less access to mortgage finance and even action taken by the mortgage lender due to breach of the mortgage agreements.”

Check if you have a property at risk by going to the Environment Agency flood pages

A new report is urgently calling on the Government to regulate residential Letting Agents to the same standards as Estate Agents and reckons that UK tenants are being ripped off by cowboy agents in the booming PRS rental market.

The Resolution Foundation, an independent think tank which focuses on lower income groups, says tenants are paying significant upfront costs, whilst agents’ fees are variable and there is a lack of transparency around charges.

The organisation carried out a mystery shopping exercise of 25 unnamed letting agents in three cities – London, Cheltenham and Manchester. It found the range and type of fees charged varied enormously.

For example, administrative fees ranged from £95 to £375. Total upfront costs (including deposit, admin fees and rent in advance) for a one-bed property in London were £2,166, around double those charged in Manchester (£1,028) and Gloucester (£1,094).

Just two of the letting agents displayed the costs of renting on their websites and many renters only discovered charges after they had decided to rent a property.

Average deposits for a one-bed property ranged from £487 in Manchester to £1,099 in London.

Many tenants reported difficulties when moving within the private rented sector as they had to hand over a new deposit before they had got their old one back.

Resolution says its findings are particularly relevant given the growing number of households forced into renting for the long term. In 1988 only 14% of low to middle income households aged under 35 were living in rented accommodation, but by 2008 it had tripled to 41%.

The report points out that unlike estate agents, letting agents are unregulated and there is no compulsory membership of an ombudsman service. The report is also backed by the Property Ombudsman.

The Resolution Foundation is calling for:

  • Letting agents to be regulated to the same level as estate agents, so that unscrupulous agents can be banned;
  • All agents to be signed up to an ombudsman service giving redress to tenants;
  • The ombudsmen’s codes of practice to stipulate that agents must display all charges to tenants and landlords on their website and in adverts in a way that is easily comparable across agents;
  • The Government to consider ways to make it easier for tenants to transfer deposits between landlords when they re-tender for the tenancy deposit protection schemes in 2012.

Vidhya Alakeson, Resolution’s director of research, said: “The lack of regulation in the exploding private rented market is of growing concern. We need more transparency so tenants at least know what fees they’re facing and to help create a more competitive market. Given that an increasing number of families have no option other than to rent long term, we need to question why letting agents are not regulated to the same degree as estate agents.”

Christopher Hamer, The Property Ombudsman, said: “This report emphasises the growing importance of the lettings sector for people seeking a home to live in. The Government does not see regulation of the sector as a priority and I, therefore, welcome the recommendation of this report that all letting agents should be required to be registered with an ombudsman scheme so that, at least, landlords or tenants can gain redress where they have been disadvantaged by an agent. Providing clarity and transparency of fees is also very important. As more and more people become tenants or landlords, these measures would assist them in fully understanding the commitments they are taking on and enable them to challenge the agent if anything is unclear.”

Ian Potter, operations manager at ARLA, said: “It’s vital that consumers have full confidence in lettings agents, and the industry must respond to their concerns about bad practice. That’s why in the absence of regulation, we developed our own licensing scheme. All licensed ARLA member letting agents must be covered by a client money protection scheme and hold professional indemnity insurance – which means consumers are protected against negligence. They must follow our strict codes of conduct and have a certain level of training. Ultimately this means that, should something go wrong, there are protection mechanisms in place. We would therefore always advise that consumers use an ARLA-licensed lettings agent. Fees will vary from region to region and will depend on the specific services offered by an agent. However, for landlords and tenants alike it is important to obtain clear, written information from an agent about exactly which services their fee includes – and whether there are likely to be any further costs in the future. This means that, should a landlord or tenant feel the fees were unclear, they can lodge a complaint with ARLA or utilise the Ombudsman Scheme membership, which all ARLA licensed agents are required to hold.”

Legal 4 Landlords spokesman Sim Sekhon said “Landlords who choose Letting Agents to manage their properties need to ensure that the agents act in a professional manner at all times, working positively for both the landlord and tenant. Landlords can take out insurance to protect their property from a bad tenant but there is currently no protection from a bad lettings agent “.

The full report is called Renting in the Dark: creating a lettings market that works for tenants, by Louisa Darian. It forms part of the Resolution Foundation’s programme of work on housing

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With the recent fraud articles published on the MyPropertyPowerTeam.co.uk website it has highlighted the growing numbers of landlords and property owners affected by identity theft.

The article Stop Fraudsters Selling Stolen Houses by Spike Reddington and Donna Jeavons revealed the lengths that some fraudsters will go to in order to rip off their unsuspecting victims and the unwarranted extra expense that it will take to sort out the fraud.

Fraudsters Target UK Rental Market revealed that One in seven tenants reported their post had been intercepted within the last 12 months and this has led to many cases of identity fraud after unscrupulous criminals exploited information and used it for financial gain.

If you are worried about protecting your identity please read these 2 great articles as they contain simple measures that can help you and your identity stay safe from fraudsters.

YOUR IDENTITY IS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT ASSET – PROTECT IT

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