Next Meeting – Tuesday 2nd February 2016

Dear Member

You are invited to an open meeting at:

Bolton Arena

Middlebrook Leisure & Retail Park

Arena Approach, Horwich, Bolton BL6 6LB

ON TUESDAY 2nd FEBRUARY 2016 AT 8.00 PM

YASMIN ALI – LLOYDS TSB PLC – Relationship Manager

Yasmin and her team will give us an update on the Benefits offered by Lloyds Bank to our members.

Yasmin is a dedicated member of the North West Landlords Association and is also a member of the NWLA Committee.

IAN ORGILL –  COWGILL HOLLOWAY –  FCCA – Director

Ian will explain in detail the latest regulations affecting the finances of our portfolios.

  • Increase in Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) for buy to let mortgages.
  • Reduction in Income Tax Relief for loan interest on residential buy to lets.
  • Use of limited companies for your buy to let portfolio.

 We will of course have the last 30 minutes for time to network with tonight’s speaker, guests and other members.

Tea, coffee and biscuits will be available from 7.30 pm the meeting will start at 8.00 pm prompt.

*If you wish to attend this meeting then please can you inform the office either by email: admin@northwestlandlords.com or by ringing the office on 01204 495 595 to book your place*

Yours sincerely

Harold Lever – Chairman

Questions and Answers by Sharon Betton

Questions and Answers by Sharon Betton

Q: I have full electric central heating, with an electric boiler, electric shower.  I keep the property in good order but have had an EPC which only gave it an E rating.  The Inspector has advised me to rip out the system and install gas.  Would you agree?

A: No, I would not.  Much of the new accommodation being built by social landlords has electrical systems installed, so it is an acceptable form of heating.  As a private landlord, your properties must be rated at E or above from 2018, so yours does.  However, this does seem disappointingly low.  This is because the rating system is designed to show what is the most efficient and cost-effective method of heating.  Gas is the cheapest method of heating so anything that is not gas, will automatically score lower (i.e. lower than an E) than a comparable gas system.  Cavity wall insulation will add nothing to the score as it is not accessible to allow assessment.  There are understandable benefits from electric systems; no gas safety checks needed; electric systems likely to take up less space; no need for carbon dioxide monitors, so don’t be put off by an E rating.

Q:  I took a tenant who said he had a Guarantor.  He’s now fallen into rent arrears and I made a courteous contact to the Guarantor.  He said he had no intention of paying anything as he didn’t sign an agreement.  Is this correct?  Surely a gentleman’s word should be enough?

A: I am afraid that if you have no agreement, signed by you both, he is under no obligation to pay anything.  Always get the Guarantor to complete the Guarantor’s form which is part of the NWLA tenancy agreement.  Then do a credit check (we have a discounted rate with Equifax) on both the tenant and the Guarantor.  Try and meet the Guarantor; discuss what he would be expected to cover, should debts accrue or damages occur.  Only if you are completed satisfied should you start a tenancy.

Q:  I have a tenant who provided a Guarantor at the start of the tenancy.  All has gone well for 12 months, but the Guarantor has now said that he wants to be released from the agreement.  How long does a Guarantor’s agreement last?

A:  As far as I’m concerned, to the end of the tenancy.  You allowed the tenancy on the basis that should anything go wrong, you had some security for your investment.  You may feel that you now know your tenant well enough to release the Guarantor – that is your choice, but would depend on how he manages the tenancy, whether inspections of the property have indicated any problems that you may wish the Guarantor to address and how the rent payments are made – i.e. regularly, in advance, by standing order.  If there are any factors which mean you are not able to be confident that a Guarantor is needed, then you need to keep the Guarantor agreement live.

 

Bolton Landlords Meeting Tues 6th October 2015 – Bolton Arena

Dear All

You are invited to an open meeting at:

Bolton Arena Middlebrook Leisure & Retail Park

Arena Approach, Horwich, Bolton BL6 6LB

ON TUESDAY 6th OCTOBER 2015 AT 8.00 PM

The Annual General Meeting will be held at the beginning of the meeting and should take approximately 15-20 minutes.  All members have been notified of the information relating to the AGM. This meeting is FREE to attend and non-members are also welcome to join us!

ALLAN HOWCROFT – Senior Sales Manager – Land & Property Asset Management

Allan will inform us on all the latest news on availability of Grants towards central heating boilers etc.

NICK SYMES – Head of Property – Vista Insurance Brokers Ltd

Nick will give an update on the Members Only Insurance Scheme and answer questions from members.

Waste Recycling Officer – Bolton Council

Bolton Council will talk about the forthcoming new changes relating to bins and general waste disposal within the community including the changes to the new bin sizes.

We will of course have the last 30 minutes for time to network with tonight’s speaker, guests and other members.  Tea, coffee and biscuits will be available from 7.30 pm the meeting will start at 8.00 pm prompt.

*If you wish to attend this meeting then please can you inform the office either by email: admin@northwestlandlords.com or by ringing the office on 01204 495 595 to book your place*

Yours sincerely

Harold Lever

Chairman

 

Landlord Regulations Continued….

Mandatory licensing

Mandatory licensing was introduced by the Housing Act 2004 and came into force on 6th April 2006, to improve standards in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s);  it is mandatory in HMO’s where there are 3 or more storeys and are occupied by 5 or more tenants forming two or more households

Selective licensing (referred to as additional licensing in the 2005 summary)

Selective licensing is for areas decided by the local authority and is used to tackle anti-social behaviour and low demand for properties in specific areas.  This is not popular, landlords arguing that the good are hit with the same penalties as the bad in that all must pay a hefty licensing fee.  When originally introduced, a selective licensing area had to be approved by the Secretary of State and a good case made for it.  In 2010 this was changed and local authorities could designate a licensing area anywhere they chose.  This led to Borough-wide licensing schemes in several areas.  Another change was put in place from 1st April 2015 and local authorities must now make an application to the Secretary of State for any selective licensing schemes which exceed either 20% of an authority’s geographic area or 20% of the private sector in that area.

In both Mandatory and Selective licensing schemes, failure to obtain a license for a property that should be licensed, without a reasonable excuse for doing so, is a criminal offence; it attracts very heavy penalties and the landlord would not be allowed to use a s.21 to end the tenancy.

Accreditation Schemes

  • These are voluntary schemes run by local authorities for reputable landlords; there is not usually a cost, though some works may be requested to bring properties up to the standard they have set.  This could mean a professional electrical safety certificate (which is not yet a legislative requirement) and sight of the safety certificates which are a mandatory requirement.  These schemes can offer good support to landlords, help with referencing and tenancy documents.  These schemes are favoured by the Government as they seem to establish better relationships than had previously existed between local authorities and private landlords.

Houses in Multiple Occupation

Houses in Multiple Occupation are subject to licensing if they are 3 stories or more and are let to 5 or more people who make up 2 or more households.  Local authorities can decide to extend licensing to other HMO’s that would not otherwise meet the criteria, if they feel this is necessary. All landlords should be in contact with the local authority to ensure their properties meet the standards required of them.

Whilst self-contained properties will always attract their own council tax bill, where there are shared facilities, the landlord would expect to pay the Council Tax on the whole building.  Some local authorities are now seeking to rate even a bed-sit as an individual unit.  Since April 2014, local authorities have been required to devise local council tax schemes; there is no uniform manner in which authorities have decided what discounts (if any) they will apply for void/refurbishment periods.  Check with the local authority what has to be paid and when.

Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994

There is no mandatory requirement for safety testing of any of the electrical system but there is a duty of care on all landlords to ensure that the system/equipment is safe.

Landlords should do a careful inspection as:

  • Live parts should not be accessible;
  • Leads should not be worn or frayed;
  • Correct plugs should be fitted and correctly fused (electrical appliances now will have fitted plugs);
  • Avoid trailing leads and multiple plug adaptors as they are a safety hazard;
  • Plug sockets should be firmly fixed to the wall or skirting;
  • Moving parts should be serviced;
  • Washing machines and cookers should be serviced and in good working order;
  • Microwaves and cookers should be clean and free from corrosion
  • Any major electrical work should be notified to the local authority.  Work must be done by a member of one of the certified bodies, for example NICEIC, who must comply with BS7671.

Few landlords now provide other than basic furnishings, but if any portable electrical appliances are included in the tenancy, then Portable Appliance Testing is necessary.

Croydon win their case to license in Croydon by Sharon Betton

I reported last year that Croydon were attempting to block-license  all private sector landlords.  This was delayed following a request for a judicial review by Croydon Property Forum, a group of small Croydon landlords who used as the basis of their request the fact that they felt the authority had not “taken reasonable steps” to consult all interested parties.

A ruling last December, following a case brought by a local landlord, was that Enfield had not consulted sufficiently.  This halted licensing for the time being, but I had a feeling this would not be the last of it, that Croydon would appeal.  They did and the case was heard on 4th August 2015.

Sir Stephen Silber QC, at the Royal Courts of Justice in London refused the application for the judicial review.  Naturally, the deputy and cabinet member for home, regeneration and planning sees this as a way of raising housing standards and dealing with anti-social behaviour.  As anticipated, the plans for borough-wide selective licensing will proceed from 1st October 2015.

Licensing to be restricted (slightly!)

Since 1st April 2010, local authorities have had carte blanch to designate licensing schemes wherever they wanted,  with no independent scrutiny to agree that a case has been adequately made to introduce this measure.  This has led for borough-wide licensing schemes, Newham and Liverpool being just two, though it seems difficult to believe that the whole of the Private Rented Sector in a borough could be so badly affected by anti-social behaviour and low demand that this was the only way to combat it.

It was originally introduced by part three of the 2004 Housing Act and came into force from 6th April 2006 and until 2010 it was necessary to seek approval from the Secretary of State.  Reasons for a scheme were specific – it should be an area with a high incidence of anti-social behaviour and be an area of low demand.  Landlords had to pay a fee to obtain a license for each property, which was a big drain on their profit margins.  It is unpopular with landlords and not just because of the money; good landlords are being hit with the bad.

From 1st April 2015, this will change.  Where an authority wishes to impose borough-wide licensing, they will require Government approval for this.  Schemes will have to be smaller than 20% of the geographical area of a borough, or 20% of the private rented sector.

This is good news for those, like me, who feel that borough-wide licensing cannot be necessary; however, we all know that where an authority believes that selective licensing is the panacea to cure all ills, they will continue with the schemes, but now they will ensure that the numbers are such that they can continue without let or hindrance from Government.

We can, however, hope that this restriction and the challenges being made about licensing, will cause authorities to think very hard before they go ahead with more licensing schemes, which  landlords dislike and where their efficacy has been challenged.

By Sharon Betton

Landlord’s Responsibilities Beyond the Boundary

All landlords are aware (or should be!), that they are liable for injuries their tenants sustain due to disrepair within a private rented property.  They will also understand that this applies to areas within the curtilage of the property – within the garden or yard area.  But how many know that they should also be looking for disrepair of any areas which provide access to the property?  I would hazard a guess – not many.  However, a ruling in Edwards v Kumarasamy (2015) has changed that.

The tenant lived in a second floor flat.  Disposal of rubbish was in communal bins, which were in the car park.  To access the bins, there was a path from the front door; it was on this path that an uneven paving stone caused him to trip and damage his knee.  Most landlords may think that this path constituted more of a highways issue than a landlord responsibility, but not so.  The Court awarded the tenant £3,750 in damages.

This clearly shows that landlords need to be as aware of potential hazards in the areas leading to the property as in the property itself.  This could also call into question the view expressed in many tenancy agreements, that until a repair is notified, there is no responsibility on the landlord to undertake repairs if they have not been notified to him.

Landlords are advised to include a careful inspection of the exterior in their regular property inspections and do whatever is possible to alleviate the risk.

It seems that there are more and more responsibilities being levied on Private Sector landlords but in this litigation obsessed society, take the advice and do what you can, or face large claims in court.

By Sharon Betton

 

NWLA Meeting Bolton Arena Tuesday 2nd June 2015 – 8pm

Dear All

You are invited to an open meeting at:

Bolton Arena Middlebrook Leisure & Retail Park… Arena Approach, Horwich, Bolton BL6 6LB

ON TUESDAY 2nd JUNE 2015 AT 8.00 PM

EDDIE ARROWSMITH – Regional Manager and PHIL BOYES – Local Engineer from NICEIC – (National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting)

Eddie and Phil will discuss Electrical Safety Regulations within the Private Rented Sector. They will increase awareness of potential risks within your properties and they will answer any questions you may have regarding this subject.

HARRY DEWICK-EISELE – Managing Director – Safelincs Ltd

Safelincs is a leading Fire Safety Equipment provider, offering smoke, fire and gas detection products and advice. Harry will explain the latest Fire Safety advice and regulations and will recommend the correct products to suit your individual needs.

HAROLD LEVER – Chairman – North West Landlords Association

Harold will provide members with any relevant updates.   We will of course have the last 30 minutes for time to network with tonight’s speaker, guests and other members.

Tea, coffee and biscuits will be available from 7.30 pm the meeting will start at 8.00pm prompt.

*If you wish to attend this meeting then please can you inform the office either by email: admin@northwestlandlords.com or by ringing the office on 01204 495 595 to book your place*

Yours sincerely

Harold Lever

Chairman

Manchester Meeting – Tuesday 12th May 2015

Dear All,

You are invited to our open meeting at:

 

Irish World Heritage Centre

1 Irish Town Way, Cheetham Hill, Manchester M8 0AE

ON TUESDAY 12th MAY 2015 AT 7.30 PM for 8 PM START

Irish Heritage Centre Pic

Speakers include:

NICOLA PHILLIPSON – Housing Law Barrister – Zenith Chambers, Leeds

Nicola will present a training seminar on the following subject – Avoiding and Defending Disrepair. The training will cover landlord’s responsibilities and their legal obligations under Section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985.

JASON FIELD – Divisional Business Partner – Trade Point B&Q

Jason will discuss new & exclusive offers within TradePoint including promotions and demonstrations available within store. Jason will also explain the benefits of using your member’s only discount card.

MARGARET COLLIER – Vice Chairman – North West Landlords Association

Margaret will update you on the highly relevant topic of Rent Control within the Private Rented Sector and the effects this will have on ‘Generation Rent’.

*Please can you inform the office either by email: admin@northwestlandlords.com or by ringing the office on 01204 495 595 to book your place*

We will of course have the last 30 minutes for time to network with tonight’s speakers, guests and other members.

We have arranged for tea, coffee and biscuits to be available from 7.30 pm, the meeting will start at 8.00 pm prompt.

Yours sincerely,

Harold Lever

Chairman

 

 

Bolton Landlords Meeting

You are invited to an open meeting at:

Bolton Arena Middlebrook Leisure & Retail Park

Arena Approach, Horwich, Bolton BL6 6LB

ON TUESDAY 7th APRIL 2015 AT 8.00 PM

JOHN BAGULEY – Ombudsman – Ombudsman Property Services (OS)

Ombudsman Services was founded in 2002 to provide independent dispute resolution.  They provide an impartial and cost effective means of resolving disputes outside the courts.

John will update us on all their services available and the introduction of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Directive which comes into force from July 2015.

BARRY WALKDEN – Director – Walkden Group Ltd

Part of the Walkden Group includes power washing which covers all aspects of external cleaning to domestic, commercial and industrial properties.  Additionally they offer a special decontamination and rapid virus response sanitation service. 

JASON CRITCHLEY – Business Development Manager – DCBL Bailiffs & High Court Enforcement

Jason has been asked to speak and update our Bolton members following a successful Manchester meeting.

We will of course have the last 30 minutes for time to network with tonight’s speaker, guests and other members.

Tea, coffee and biscuits will be available from 7.30 pm; the meeting will start at 8.00 pm prompt.

We are situated on the Second Floor Conference Room.

*If you wish to attend this meeting then please can you inform the office either by email: admin@northwestlandlords.com or by ringing the office on 01204 495 595 to book your place*

Yours sincerely

Harold Lever

Chairman