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Liverpool Council to crack down on rogue landlords

The issue of rogue landlords is becoming extremely serious recently, especially as there are a number of people in the UK who are living in properties that are a danger to themselves and others around them. For example, one woman in north Liverpool had her entire front room floor eaten away by rats, while other homes in the area were found to be infested with a type of mould known to cause cancer. This investigation was carried out by the housing charity Shelter, and the shocking results have led to Liverpool Council considering bringing in mandatory registration for all landlords. Continue reading

London landlords not taking electrical safety seriously

It has been reported today that a substantial number of landlords in the London area are not taking the electrical safety of their properties seriously enough, which has led to many housing bodies voicing their concerns. Ensuring all electric fittings are safe is a legal requirement for all landlords, but according to a study conducted by the Electrical Safety Council nearly a quarter of tenants in private rented accommodation in London are at risk of being harmed due to faulty electrical wiring. Continue reading

New Spanish Law for Landlords

Many Britons in recent years who have retired have headed to Spain for a new life as well as those who are investing in a home to rent out to generate some extra income. However the Spanish government have planned to come down hard on unlicensed holiday lets which means those migrating to Spain or hoping to rent out a property there may be completely put off, advisors have warned. Continue reading

Landlords warned to register deposits in schemes

By law, all landlords in the UK must register their tenants’ deposits in a certified scheme so that the money is safe and if there are any disputes the deposit protection agency will step in and ensure that any decisions are fair. Until a few months ago, this type of scheme only applied to landlords in England and Wales, however with the increase in dependency on private rented accommodation the Scottish government also decided to implement a deposit protection scheme of their own. Continue reading

Deadline day for Scottish landlords and deposit protection

If you are a landlord in England or Wales you will already know that once you take a deposit from a tenant you must by law place it in a deposit protection scheme within thirty days. You must also give your tenants information about the scheme that you chose, and provide them with a copy of the paperwork, or you could be eligible to pay a fine of up to three times the amount of the original deposit. Continue reading

Changes to disputes between Landlords and Leaseholders over repair bills

Due to the fact that many people living in the UK are struggling to get on the property ladder the popularity of right to buy programmes has increased dramatically, which is where those living in social houses are allowed to purchase their property after living there for five years at a discounted price. However, during the first five years the property is still owned by the landlord who can make decisions when it comes to maintenance and repairs for the property as long as they consult their leaseholders first.

There have been many disputes over the years between landlords and leaseholders over the cost of property repairs and who should pay how much, a large amount of which have even ended up in court. One such case that has been discussed in the press recently involved the property giant Daejan Investments and the tenants of one of their properties who claimed that the landlord failed to consult them before undertaking repairs on their building. Originally, the courts sided with the leaseholders meaning that they no longer had to pay the sum of £56,000 each, but just the minimum amount of £250 instead.

Now, the UK’s most senior judge, Lord Neuberger, has overturned the decision as he felt that even though the landlord was guilty of not consulting with its tenants properly, the amount the tenants now had to pay was too low. This decision has caused widespread shock across the legal world, as before now courts were known to side with leaseholders over landlords during this type of dispute, and this new decision will change the whole way that these types of cases are resolved.

Discussing the decision, a partner at the law firm Devonshires, Nick Billingham, said: “Lord Neuberger said it wasn’t a charter to ride roughshod over the rules, but that we need to come up with a structure with which they [landlords] have to comply, but if they don’t comply then tenants shouldn’t get a windfall.”

This is good news for social landlords as it means that they will no longer either win or lose in this type of case, but find a new middle ground which is fair for both them and their tenants. It will also be interesting to see how these legal changes will not only affect social landlords, but also private landlords, tenants, landlord insurance providers and other industries that are connected with the rented accommodation sector.

Residential Landlords Association warns Landlords to handle Deposits correctly

In April last year legislation changed concerning Tenancy Deposits, and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has stated that they are concerned that some landlords are still not entirely sure what is required of them, which could lead to them ending up in court. The recent case of Ayannuga vs. Swindells has highlighted the importance of landlords handling their Tenancy Deposits correctly, especially as the landlord eventually had to pay £950 to the tenant.

The court heard that the landlord had not stuck to regulations as he had not provided an information leaflet to the tenant concerning how the Tenancy Deposit scheme worked, even though he had undertaken the other regulations set out by the government. The current rules state that all landlords that take a deposit for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy must firstly protect the deposit in one of three government approved schemes within thirty days of receiving the money.

After this, landlords must issue the tenant (or whoever has paid the deposit on behalf of the tenant) two documents within thirty days – the first being a completed copy of the Prescribed Information including any scheme leaflet, and the second a copy of the tenancy deposit protection certificate. Finally, landlords have to set out clearly in their tenancy agreements how the deposit is being protected and where.

If found guilty of not adhering to all of these regulations, landlords can find themselves having to pay out three times the amount of the initial deposit – which is what happened to the landlord in this case. The RLA have therefore said that it is important for all landlords to make sure they talk to the provider of their deposit protection scheme in order to make sure that they do not miss anything out.

If you do forget to place your tenants’ deposit in a government scheme, or issue the correct paperwork before the thirty day deadline, then you will be subjected to a fine unless you are lucky and given some leniency as long as you fix the situation immediately. Also, be aware that some landlord insurance providers may also have clauses in their contracts that state that they will not cover you if you do not comply with the Tenancy Deposits regulations, so you could end up having to pay for the fines out of your own money.

Majority of landlords are thinking about signing up to the green deal

Research has claimed that just over half of private landlords are seriously considering taking up the Green Deal initiative. According to the NLA (National Landlords Association) their latest Landlord Panel survey shows that 63% of landlords say they are aware of the Green Deal and 56% are considering taking advantage of it.

Under the Green Deal which is due to start on October 1st, private landlords will be able to get an upfront amount to make energy-saving improvements to their properties such as installing insulation or a brand new boiler. The loan for the improvements will be repaid through utility bills by the tenants. All privately rented properties with an F or G rated Energy Performance Certificate will be banned from the market after 2018 and if landlords do not act they will be eventually left with a property that cannot be legally let in six years time, even if it is protected with landlord insurance.

David Salusbury, chairman of the NLA, said “Whilst our research shows that many landlords are keen to take advantage of the Green Deal, a third of landlords are not yet aware of the initiative. We encourage landlords to become familiar with the Green Deal as the private-rented sector has a key role to play in ensuring Britain meets its energy targets. Furthermore, it is imperative that landlords future-proof their properties and their investments.”

The Green Deal is a private landlord’s opportunity to improve the quality of their properties and it also demonstrates their ability to work with the Government on initiatives which will make life better for tenants throughout the United Kingdom. However the RLA (Residential Landlords Association) are unhappy that tenants must repay a loan given to the landlord under the Green Deal scheme. They believe that some tenants will resent this, and will also not be very happy that they will have to pay higher utility bills until the loan is paid off. The RLA is asking the coalition to change the scheme so that it is the landlord who repays the Green Deal loans themselves.

Criminal tenants weeded out

A landlord in the South West got something of a surprise when he paid a surprise visit to one of his tenants last week.

The landlord, from Bridgewater in Somerset decided to do what landlords are advised to do at all times. He paid an unannounced call on one of his tenants to check if everything was all right with the property. To his amazement the flat had been turned into a greenhouse with row upon row of plants.

The property was being used to grow cannabis plants using hydroponics, a type of agriculture where plants can be grown without soil and where forced growth is accelerated by artificial light and nutrients. It is becoming a growing problem for landlords, who are well advised to ensure they have landlord insurance which will certainly help when their property is damaged from misuse by a tenant.

The police seized almost 500 plants as well as a number of bags containing plant leaves, which they suspect are cannabis leaves. The tenant fled when he realised his scheme had been uncovered and police are still searching for him. They strongly suspect the crime may be linked to a similar case in Taunton where a rented property was used for exactly the same scheme.

The tenant in that case was apprehended and is now awaiting deportation back to South East Asia.

The situation with drugs is becoming a nightmare for many landlords who in most cases will have no idea that their tenants are breaking the law. Surprise visits and regular interaction with people housed in their properties will help residential landlords build up a good relationship with good tenants and possibly expose shady goings on with those that are not so good.

Scottish housing bill targets bad landlords

Rogue landlords in Scotland will have more to worry about than where they can obtain cheap landlord insurance in the future, as they have been targeted in new legislation that will be welcomed by tenants and good landlords alike.

Scottish housing minister, Alex Neil, unveiled the proposals in the Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Bill and explained that the legislation will improve how landlords are registered and help councils identify and deal with bad landlords.

The proposals introduced at Holyrood on Monday are aimed at rooting out landlords who charge exorbitant and sometimes extortionate rents without providing a good service. The bill will demand tenants are provided with a pre-tenancy information pack explaining their rights and the landlords obligations. The rules around ‘fit and proper person’ to be a landlord will be tightened up to possibly include landlords providing a criminal record check.

The new bill has been welcomed by many organisations in Scotland including, Shelter, the housing charity, the Scottish Students Union, the Liberal Democrat political party and the Private Rented Strategy Group whose chairman, Douglas Robertson, said “We are pleased that the government fully took on board our proposals for ensuring transparency for both parties in relation to tenancy conditions through the introduction of a tenancy pack.”

Minister Neil emphasised that good landlords had nothing to fear from the bill and went on to say “We want to encourage a vibrant and responsive private rented sector, which provides good-quality and well-managed accommodation. I see the private rented sector as more important than ever in providing good-quality accommodation, given the economic challenges that face the public sector.”

The bill will be backed by fines of up to £50,000 and can ban landlords from operating rental businesses for up to 5 years.