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Red Ed Calls For Rent Controls As Part Of Election Campaign

Red Ed Calls For Rent Controls As Part Of Election Campaign

Red Ed Calls For Rent Controls As Part Of Election Campaign

Labour leader Ed Milliband has called for a European style rent indexation to be introduced as part of the political party’s election rhetoric.

The re-introduction of rent controls under the new guise of a newly titled Rental Price Index, designed to stem excessive rent increases, is intended to be one of Labour’s biggest vote magnets

The current coalition Government decided late last year that they wanted private rental sector landlords to act as unpaid members of the UK Border Agency, controlling and reporting on the immigration status of tenants, in order to avoid excessive financial penalties. This legislation is due to come into effect later this year after passing through Parliament and the House of Lords without too much fuss from MP’s, despite lobbying from landlord associations and heated debates with lettings industry professionals. 

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HMRC Want Landlords To Get Tax Affairs In Order

HMRC Want Landlords To Get Tax Affairs In Order

HMRC Want Landlords To Get Tax Affairs In Order

UK property investors and private rental sector landlords are being offered tax training online by Her Majesties Revenue and Customs (HMRC), in order to make it easier for them to understand when and how to pay tax on property assets.

The computer-based training tutorials are aimed at property investors and private rental sector landlords who are renting out property and have not registered to pay tax, or have under-declared their rental incomes or have under-paid tax.

The tax training is part of HMRC’s Let Property campaign, and it is understood that HMRC are also in discussion with various landlord associations in order to make the training available to their members.

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Government Want Transparency Over Letting Agent Fees

Government Want Transparency Over Letting Agent Fees

Government Plan For Transparency Of Letting Agent Fees
Welcomed By Landlords

The Government announced last week that they intend to improve the transparency of fees charged by letting and property management agents as called for by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).

The move comes after the Labour party’s general election posturing early last week by attempting to seek an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill, ending charges paid by tenants to letting and property management agents,

Whilst the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) currently only requires letting and property management agents to list compulsory charges to the tenant upfront in advertisements, proposals announced on Tuesday 13th May 2014 will require letting agents to publish full details of all fees charged, on websites and prominently displayed in their offices.

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New Proposals Could Critically Damage The Private Rented Sector In Wales

New Proposals Could Critically Damage The Private Rented Sector In Wales

New Proposals Could Be Costly For
Landlords With Properties In Wales

There Residential Landlords Association (RLA) have released alarming news that will cause major concern for landlords who own rental properties in Wales

Cardiff city council released two new consultations before Easter 2014,

  • Considerable change in planning guidance
  • The extension of additional licensing to Plasnewydd

Rent controls appear to be quite a crucial political issue and with another general election looming the RLA feel that it is imperative that the facts are understood by landlords with rental properties in Wales.

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Selective Licensing Of PRS Landlords Set For Liverpool

Selective Licensing Of PRS Landlords Set For Liverpool

Selective Licensing Of PRS Landlords Set For Liverpool

Liverpool City council are currently researching proposals to implement a city-wide selective licensing scheme on private rented sector (PRS) landlords and are seeking input and feedback from local landlords prior to taking the proposal further.

Licensing consultation responses are being collected by Liverpool city council as the consultation opened on 24th March 2014 and is expected to close on 16th June 2014.

The local authority insist that the licensing of all private rental sector landlords in the city will help improve the overall standard of accommodation in the borough’s private rented sector (PRS) and will also help to tackle low demand.

The city council’s consultation documents reference anti-social behaviour (ASB), but do not position anti-social behaviour as a primary reason for the scheme.

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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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Tenants Charter Proposals For Longer Tenancies Breach Mortgage Lenders Current Buy-To-Let Mortgage Terms

Tenants Charter Proposals For Longer Tenancies Breach Mortgage Lenders Current Buy-To-Let Mortgage Terms

Industry welcome to weak tenants’ charter that could see UK PRS landlords at odds with

Buy-To-Let Mortgage Lenders

The new tenants’ charter was announced by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (CLG), Eric Pickles, last Wednesday, allowing tenants to ask for longer tenancies and better transparency of letting agents’ fees.

The new tenants’ charter will also aim to force all lettings and property managing agents controlling PRS rental properties to join a compulsory redress scheme.

The Tenants’ Charter, published for consultation, outlines what tenants should be looking out for at every stage when renting a property in the UK’s private rented sector, including lettings agents having to inform customers what all their fees are upfront, before they have committed to anything, including visiting a property.

However, the introduction of these terms under the banner of the tenants’ charter could threaten the business future of large numbers of landlords who would technically be in breach of the strict buy-to-let mortgage terms imposed by many mortgage lenders, which generally stipulate that tenancy agreements are to be for a period of no more than one year.

Secretary Of State For Communities & Local Government, Eric Pickles

Secretary Of State For Communities & Local Government, Eric Pickles

Mr Pickles stated that the Government intend to publish a code of practice setting standards for the management of property in the private rental sector (PRS) along with guidance setting out the role of public bodies in protecting tenants from illegal eviction.

Mr Pickles said: “This government is on the side of hardworking people and the last thing we want to do is hurt tenants and kill (property) investment by increasing costs and strangling the sector with red tape. But tenants deserve better value for money, and dodgy landlords should be under no illusion they can provide a shoddy service with impunity. These proposals will raise the quality and choice of rental accommodation, root out the cowboys and rogue operators in the sector, and give tenants the confidence to request longer fixed-term, family-friendly tenancies that meet their needs”

Mr Pickles also said that the Government will develop a model tenancy agreement which will clearly set out the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords, and ensure families can benefit from longer tenancies, without changing the existing legal framework for the rental market. He said “Longer tenancies will give families greater certainty and security, especially for those with children at school, and reduce costs for both tenants and landlords who will not have to pay letting agents to arrange frequent contract renewals.”

Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee said: “I am pleased that the Government has embraced many of the recommendations in our private rented sector report. The proposals for a tenants’ charter and model tenancy agreements reflect our calls for greater awareness of rights and responsibilities. Far too often the security needed by families is not being provided by the private rented sector. I am pleased, therefore, that the Government has listened to what the Committee said about the need for more family friendly tenancies. It is also welcome that the Government is taking forward our proposal to allow rent and housing benefit to be clawed back when landlords have been convicted of letting out dangerous property. The Committee will be watching closely to ensure that they are translated into action. We will also press to ensure that the Government’s gathering of information on selective licensing leads to action to raise standards. Much remains to be done if renting is to become an attractive alternative to owner occupation. It is disappointing; therefore, that the Government does not see fit to crack down on cowboy letting agents and their rip off fees and charges. It is also regrettable that the Government has declined to give local authorities the powers and freedom they need to improve housing in their areas.”

Tenants Charter Proposals For Longer Tenancies Breach Mortgage Lenders Current
Buy-To-Let Mortgage Terms

Property professionals generally agree with the introduction of the new tenants’ charter but many think that the Government have sidestepped the opportunity to enforce much tighter regulation of landlords in the private rental sector and lettings and property managing agents in particular and many feel that the new measures fall short of what is really needed.

It will be interesting to see if the Government put pressure on the banks and mainstream mortgage lenders to abolish or ignore such limiting clauses, allowing them to deliver on the real aim of the tenants’ charter.

Caroline Kenny, an executive of the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) wants the Government to build on the experience and expertise of those industry bodies which already require higher standards of their members. Commenting “Responsible agents who choose to belong to professional bodies which require client money protection insurance, impartial redress and an adherence to a strict Code of Practice are forced to compete with those who show little regard to professional standards or the needs of their clients. UKLA believe that this package of proposals represents a missed opportunity for the Government to make mandatory the kind of comprehensive protection offered by the UK Association of Letting Agents and other industry regulatory bodies, which are called UKALA & NLAfor by those working in the property industry and needed by hardworking consumers who are unable to differentiate between good and bad letting agents.”

Richard Lambert, Chief Executive of the National Landlords Association (NLA), said: “The NLA has long argued that private renting can be far more flexible than commonly perceived, and we need to tap into this potential to meet the changing needs and expectations of those who rent. We look forward to working with government to make a success of these proposals. However, we believe that the Government has missed an opportunity to require greater professionalism of letting agents. While the requirement to belong to an approved redress scheme is a step in the right direction, it does little to protect the financial interest of landlords and tenants working with unregulated agents.”

Residential Landlords Association

Join The Residential Landlords Association

Alan Ward, Chairman of the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) welcomed the Government action to improve tenants’ understanding of their rights and responsibilities saying: “Tenants take more trouble buying a second-hand car than renting a house” Ensuring that tenants and landlords each understand clearly their rights and obligations to one another ensures a balanced relationship and enables them to hold each other to account based on the large number of laws already in existence. It will also play a vital role in rooting out those willfully criminal landlords who reap misery on tenants. We look forward to working with Ministers on the Charter as well as on how to best get this information to tenants.”

RICSPeter Bolton King, RICS global residential director, said “The long overdue announcement was definitely a step in the right direction. The lettings sector has for far too long been the Wild West of the property industry, with many tenants having absolutely nowhere to go should they wish to complain about shoddy service. The introduction of a code of practice specifically covering those managing rented property should certainly improve standards.”

Chief Executive of the Housing & Homelessness charity Shelter, Campbell Robb said “This announcement is recognition that current private renting arrangements are not fit for families with children, who need greater long-term stability. This is a welcome step in the right direction, and ministers now need to consider how to make longer tenancies a real choice for the families desperate for a more stable place to live.”

The announcement of the new Tenants’ Charter was good news for consumer champions, Which? Who have been campaigning since 2007 when they first called for an amendment to the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007 requiring letting agents to join an approved complaints scheme, just as property sales agents are. The consumer groups investigations also discovered earlier this year that major letting agents are acting unlawfully by not being upfront about the fees charged to clients.

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, looks set to be implemented in Spring 2014, giving all landlords and tenants access to a complaints scheme. This will mean that 40% of agents who currently aren’t signed up to a redress scheme will have to become members

Which? Executive Director, Richard Lloyd, said: “Renting is now the only housing option for millions so we’re pleased to see the Government taking steps to address problems in the lettings market. Making charges clear upfront will enable people to shop around more easily, and longer tenancies could mark the end of unnecessary renewal fees. The new legislation giving landlords and tenants access to a complaints scheme now needs to be brought in as soon as possible and there must be strong action taken against any agent in breach of the scheme.”

  • Do you think the proposals go far enough?

Take our Poll on the Tenants Charter or leave a comment below!

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Warning Over Gumtree Rental ScamsNational Landlords Association issues warning
over rental scams posted on Gumtree

The National Landlords Association (NLA) say they been contacted by a number of tenants who have become victims of fraud after a new wave of rental property scams started to appear on Gumtree, the free listing website. The NLA has issued a fresh warning to would be tenants concerning the number of rental scams posted online by fake landlords.

Would-be tenants from overseas are being lured to apply for a number of attractive rental property opportunities across the UK advertised among genuine listings on the website, and after a brief email and/or postal exchange, the applicants are then asked to send money directly to the landlord in order to secure the rental property.

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More Red Tape For LandlordsRed Tape Increases For Private Sector Landlords
Despite Government Promises

Despite numerous promises to reduce the amount of red tape property professionals had to deal with, there are now even more legal requirements to let and manage rental properties.

The coalition Government started an initiative called the Red Tape Challenge, aiming to reduce the time and associated financial costs incurred by businesses and consumers in complying with unnecessary legislation.

However, recent Government announcements will increase the amount of red tape and infuriating processes that landlords and letting agents have to deal with

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) say there are currently over 100 national regulations governing the letting of a rental property in the private rental sector.

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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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