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Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Alarm Legislation Warning

Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Alarm Legislation Warning

New Smoke And Carbon Monoxide
Alarm Legislation 
Comes Into Force
On 1st October

On October 1st 2015 the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations are supposed to come into force meaning that landlords or their appointed lettings and property managing agents must install a smoke alarm on every floor of a rental property used for accommodation and fit Carbon Monoxide alarms in any room that contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance, and all alarms should be in good working order.

However, there are calls for this legislation to be delayed due to lack of notice and ambiguity of the actual legislation.

The introduction of the new legislation is intended to save lives, we are already aware of the dangers that a potential fire in a residential rented property can cause, however, many landlords remain oblivious to the danger posed by Carbon Monoxide.

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Government Issue Response To Tax Relief Petition

Government Issue Response To Tax Relief Petition

Government Issue Muted Response To Tax Relief Petition

The Government has published a response to the online petition that opposes the proposals to change the amount of tax relief on buy to let mortgages announced by the Chancellor, George Osborne, in the post election summer budget.

From April 2017 onwards landlords will only be able to claim the basic rate tax relief rather than the higher rate tax relief on buy to let mortgage payments. It is widely feared that the move will severely affect the profitability of the private rented sector (PRS).

The online petition to reverse the planned tax restrictions on individual landlords has attracted more than 23,600 signatures since being posted.

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Will The Housing Crisis Win The Election?

Will The Housing Crisis Win The Election?

The Politics Of Housing

It is still generally acknowledged by all political parties that there is a housing shortage in the UK, and each political party wants to offer the public alternative methods of tackling the problem in an attempt to win electoral favour.

Most political parties see the housing crisis in the UK as a possible election winning issue and each party’s election manifesto promises the general public many things, including further private rented sector (PRS) reforms and the introduction of additional legislation. There isn’t much offered by any political party for landlords, except for the promise to put an end to the private rental sector.

A recent survey by Ipsos MORI research published in January 2015 discovered a confusing conundrum, in that:

  • 75% of the public agree that there is a housing crisis in the UK
  • 48% of the public disagree there is a housing crisis in their locality

The publication of each political party’s election manifesto is intended to give the public a clearer indication of the housing priorities of the UK’s next parliament.

However, despite claims of a housing shortage nationally there are still some UK regions that have large proportions of derelict and abandoned properties, many still in a habitable condition.

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Referrals To The Property Ombudsman Increase

Referrals To The Property Ombudsman Increase

Huge Rise In Referrals To
The Property Ombudsman

There was a 42% increase in the number of referrals to The Property Ombudsman (TPO) last year, according to The Property Ombudsman’s Annual Report for 2014.

The latest publication of The Property Ombudsman’s annual report shows that six months after the introduction of new legislation, making it a legal requirement for UK letting agents and property managers to join one of the three government approved redress schemes, the number of letting agencies and property management companies signed up to the TPO scheme has reached 12,915, a new record level.

The 42% increase in registered property lettings and estate agent businesses brings the total number of UK estate agents and property lettings offices offering free, independent route to resolve property and tenancy disputes to 26,735.

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Government Manage To Lose Housing Minister

Government Manage To Lose Housing Minister

Government Reshuffle Does Away With

Housing Minister Position

Mark Prisk, the (now former) Government Housing Minister and Conservative MP for Hertford and Stortford, lost his Government position after the cabinet reshuffle last Monday.

 

New Under Secretary of State - Kris Hopkins will be responsible for Housing

New Under Secretary of State – Kris Hopkins will be responsible for Housing

Housing will now be part of Conservative MP for Keighley, Kris Hopkins responsibility as he steps into a new Government role as Under Secretary of State, rather than Housing Minister and he will be deputy to the Secretary of State.

Mr Hopkins is another former leader of Bradford Council, like his ministerial counterpart, Eric Pickles.

News of the ministerial reshuffle was broken last week via the Government’s Twitter site and also by Mark Prisk himself via Twitter, however on the Conservative Party website it was alleged that Mr Prisk had been asked to step aside due to his reluctance to undertake media interviews rather than his actual work.

Government Manage To Lose Housing Minister

Government Manage To Lose Housing Minister

The Conservative MP tweeted “Been asked to step aside for Housing for a younger generation. Disappointing but its been a great eleven years on frontbencher”

Reflecting on the property market recently, the Hertford and Stortford MP commented: “As a Government we have worked hard and prioritised limited financial resources to help the housing market through one of its toughest times and create the right conditions for it to flourish.”

Mr Prisk inherited the Housing Ministers job from Grant Shapps, who was promoted to Conservative Party Chairman, in September 2012. His previous roles included working on the Government’s Construction Strategy at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Richard Lambert, Chief Executive Officer of the National Landlords Association (NLA), commented on the cabinet reshuffle stating: “The NLA is pleased to welcome Kris Hopkins as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State. We hope the incoming minister will take a proactive and holistic approach to addressing the issues facing the housing sector exacerbated by the shortage of housing supply. However, it is extremely disappointing to see the Coalition reduce the significance of housing within Government. Given the significant challenges facing households throughout the country it is essential that housing takes centre stage in political debate. We hope the apparent demotion of the housing portfolio from Minister of State to Under-Secretary of State does not reflect a change in priorities from the Government ahead of the General Election in 2015.”

 Obey Gas SafetyLaws Or Face Prosecution – Landlords Warned

Gas Safety Is A Legal Responsibility

Gas Safety Is A Legal Responsibility

UK Landlords need a better understanding of the many laws and regulations regarding the safety of tenants in private sector rental accommodation, or they may find that non compliance with any of the prescribed regulations can make them liable for prosecution and will render their Landlord Insurance invalid.

UK Landlords have moral and legal responsibilities regarding the safety of all tenants living in private rented sector (PRS) rental accommodation, occupied under a lease or licence, which includes, but not exclusively:

  • Residential premises provided for rent by local authorities, housing associations, private sector landlords, housing co-operatives, hostels
  • Rooms let in Houses of multiple occupation (HMO’s), private households, bed and breakfast accommodation and hotels
  • Rented holiday accommodation such as chalets, cottages, flats, caravans and narrow boats on inland waterways.

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 outlines the landlords’ duties to make sure gas appliances, fittings and flues provided for use by tenants comply with all the latest UK safety regulations and are not hazardous to the health of the tenant.

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To Let - Legal Obligations Apply

To Let – Legal Obligations Apply

 

There are numerous rules and regulations which you must abide by when letting your house. It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the property which is being let out is fully compliant with all relevant safety regulations. As well as safety regulations, landlords must also be certain that they carry out any duties which are outlined on the tenancy agreement, if the landlord did not draft this agreement themselves, all clauses and responsibilities must be read and fully understood. It is always recommended to have a proper tenancy agreement in place at the start of each tenancy as this can act as protection should any disagreements between landlord and tenant arise.

A tenancy agreement can also outline the tenant’s responsibilities during the tenancy period and what they are required to do, this is mostly common sense but having this in writing with signatures from both the tenant and the landlord means each party have read the agreement and understands what is required of them.

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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.

Landlords Should Be Aware Of Their Responsibilities and Legal Obligations

Landlords Should Be Aware Of Their Responsibilities and Legal Obligations

A large number of private residential properties are being rented out to tenants because the owners have moved out but found it difficult to sell the property on.

In fact, according to the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), many people are choosing to rent out homes they cannot sell.

This has led to an influx of reluctant or “accidental” landlords to the Private Rented Sector, who just want to have enough income coming in from the property to be able to afford the mortgage payments.

These reluctant landlords have little or no knowledge or understanding of the PRS, the legislation or regulations governing safety and often don’t know how to get the best out of the asset they have.

Ignorance is no defence in the eyes of the law and landlords who do not comply with the 70+ pieces of legislation currently in force in the UK can face large fines and even imprisonment. Even reluctant landlords have duties, responsibilities and obligations and the law demands that these are not ignored.

Legal 4 Landlords offers reluctant landlords the following advice:

All Landlords need to protect their property investment and along with regular maintenance should always take out comprehensive landlord insurance for the good of both the property and the tenants living in it.

The Gas Safety Regulations 1998 requires landlords to have all gas appliances checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer and attain an annual CP12 certificate. Failure to comply will lead to a heavy fine.
• Gas safety compliance is vital and a lack of a valid safety certificate could mean the property is left empty for a prolonged period of time, rather than occupied by paying tenants.

Smoke alarms also need to be fitted to ensure the safety of tenants and should be installed on every floor and tested regularly.
• Contact your local fire service to enquire if they are involved in any fire safety incentive schemes and it may not cost anything – some well resourced fire services do fit smoke alarms for free in properties occupied by tenants claiming certain types of benefit.

Protection against thieves is paramount to preserving a no claims bonus on landlord insurance.
• Locks ought to be fitted on every door, with door chains for extra security. Padlocks are also recommended for sheds, garages and gates.
• Double glazing and burglar alarms also add to the safety of a property

To get the best out of short-term lettings landlords should always thoroughly tenant reference all would be tenants on application.
• Landlords need to ensure that the tenant are who they claim to be, have a sound financial history, no undisclosed criminal convictions, are employed at where they state they are employed and are solvent enough to be able to afford the rent and associated bills that come with a home.

Making sure the rent comes in on time every month is a real concern for many landlords and could cause them financial stress paying the mortgage on the rental property if rental payments are either late or not forthcoming.
• Many landlords are now using Rent Guarantee insurance to ensure their rental cashflow remains uninterrupted, insurance cover is subject to terms and conditions.

Get educated and learn how to be a better landlord
• Find out what other successful landlords in your area are doing and copy them.
• Attend local landlord groups or property networking events and learn from like minded people who can help with problems or share knowledge that could take a reluctant landlord and turn them into professionals who profit from property whilst providing quality homes for tenants.

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