Portsmouth is changing – after 20 years in which the University campus has consolidated, from Foster Hall and QEQM Hall in Milton and 60’s architecture like Mercantile House to the new Eldon Building, the Dental Academy and the New Theatre Royal studios. The campus area south of the Guildhall is very much changed. The University has grown from a dated Polytechnic with a mishmash of acquired buildings spread across the city into a large and popular modern University with facilities to match.
We are now seeing a similar change in the way students are housed. For too long the 3,000 halls places available for the 4-5,000 new students each year has been a negative for the University even though local landlords have been happy to take up the strain at the expense of other types of tenant in Southsea.
At our February members meeting, Martin Silman re-iterated the advice given in the December newsletter that we:
- Accept that, although the council has already been recompensed by central government for the loss of council tax in student houses via the Formula Grant, we will increasingly be asked to pay council tax for short voids and periods when students cease to be students (for example after graduation)
- He recommended that we contract for 11 months (or 12) so that non-final year students can be shown to be in residence (and thus council tax exempt) for that period
- We also need to accept that in these times of constrained revenues, the council will no longer honour the ‘1 month exemption’ previously allowed between tenancies and will now charge for the empty/void period regardless of whether the house is being refurbished or not
- We should also consider a move to joint tenancy agreements (as in that case PCC accept that any liability is the tenants not the landlords) or, if we continue to follow the Uni preference and offer individual contracts, we make clear in those contracts that any CT liability during the period of the contract is the tenants responsibility. This latter situation does not automatically solve your problem, but does give you legitimate grounds for debate
- We should also consider asking new student tenants to sign 3rd party consent forms allowing us to discuss their situation with the University and the Council should issues arise.
We would like to announce the appointment of Pauline Wilson, our new Association Secretary. Pauline will attend meetings and manage the administration of our activities and can be contacted via email at email@example.com
Pauline has many years of experience in the letting industry and we hope she will help us become a more professional organisation – however, she is part time so don’t expect instant responses or support. Please say hello and introduce yourself at future meetings and join us in welcoming her to the PDPLA.
Several members have mentioned that they find it difficult to work out how to contact the PDPLA, so with that in mind, a simple summary of the 4 ways to contact the PDPLA by email follows:
When I first started letting to students, I diligently followed the University guidelines and kitted out each room with the full list of specified components – bed, desk, chair, chest of drawers, wardrobe, etc.
In the past few years I have noticed that the average student actually needs quite a different room layout. They prefer double beds, but this is nothing to do with promiscuity or restless sleeping – it is simply because ‘studying’ does not happen at a desk, one gets comfortable on one’s bed and then arranges books and laptop on the 2m square surface around you. What you end up with is a much more comfortable and much larger work area than you could have at even the largest desk. Think of it as studying in the Japanese style.
We received the following request from PCC: "Got a basement? Please let us know
You can help the city fight flooding – by letting us know if any of your properties have a basement."
(We are guessing this refers to your tenanted properties and not your collection of fine wines).
When Michael Faraday postulated in 1851 what would happen here on earth if the sun was moved, say, 10 feet he started a chain of thought which resulted in Einstein’s General Theory which predicted, among other things, the existence of gravitational waves. Faraday’s logic was that the sun and earth are connected in some way by gravity and if one body moved, that would be detectable at or by the other. It wasn’t until Einstein’s General Theory was published in 1915 that a construct for how this might happen was explained – and he named it gravitational waves.
Property for Sale
These items all come from the Eastern Landlords Association this month (and thanks to them for sharing):
Councils and Evictions
Buy to Let – News and Age
Rental properties with Private Water Supplies
Landlords who are also MPs
Half a Million Homes
Discretionary Housing Payments
Since the Chancellor, George Osborne, was released from the fetters of the coalition last May he appears to have started a concerted assault on landlords. Whether this be a sensible way to deleverage part of the economy, reduce overall debt levels and stop house prices over heating or alternatively, a pernicious attack on historic Tory voters with a view to winning some easy popularity, collecting more tax from a community that will garner little support from the wider populace while replacing small landlords with easier to deal with corporate bodies is much debated.
We have discussed various elements of the changes in these pages several times over the past few months but whatever your personal view - unless you fully understand the impact of these changes on your personal situation, we do urge you to consult an accountant and make sure you understand the detail, as all of us will be affected in some way.
Landlords in Plymouth believe they are sufficient in number to overturn their MP's majority and are lobbying to make it so - though the next election could not be much further away.
One item, known as Clause 24 of the Finance Bill is of great concern for any landlord who has financed some or all of his/her letting portfolio with mortgages or similar borrowings. We received the attached and reproduce it in its entirety here - please make sure you understand what this clause means for you and thus what you need to do as a result.
There has been much discussion recently of the Housing and Planning Bill 2015-16 currently passing through Parliament as it will be the 1st major shake up of Housing law since 2004-2006. Veteran PDPLA member Julian Clokie has taken the trouble to summarise the main points of the bill for us. (And anything in brackets is his commentary, everything else is from the Bill itself)
The Bill will become an Act in the middle of the year. For the detailed timetable and for links to the Bill itself:
PDPLA member Louisa Wearn of Ewemove has allowed us to include this offer for members from her current customer newsletter:
A new book has been published which reveals the 7 costly mistakes most people make when they sell, and a 39 step guide that can help you to sell your house for the best price, in the time frame you want.
The government are proposing to change the system such that instead of filing one tax return a year, you will simply send an extract from your software once every 3 months. For a small business this is probably a simple change and possibly an improvement on what they do today but for most landlords, who don't have suitable software with which to manage their business, this will make the effort of submitting tax returns untenable.
If you agree with this statement, we urge you to sign this petition: "Scrap plans forcing self employed & small business to do 4 tax returns yearly”.
There has been much discussion of the new Right To Rent legislation that came into force on 1st February, which makes it illegal to rent accommodation without first ensuring the new tenant is legally allowed to live in the UK, but what is it the offence?
It is allowing the wrong person to live in your property that is the offence not failing to carry out checks.
As an association, we are attempting to fight off the latest proposed increase in HMO legislation that would increase the number of HMOs requiring licences and renderl roughly 200 small rooms in the City illegal. These are currently let to happy tenants. Tony is the architect of our response to the various bodies involved and following a reminder, Flick Drummond MP has forwarded our concerns to Brandon Lewis, the Housing Minister. The arguments are summarised as follows and taken from our consultation response:
As Portsmouth has one of the highest levels of overcrowding in the UK, we are very concerned that well intentioned Government measures may have unforeseen consequences. Primarily a reduction in accommodation available to single people on low incomes and the vulnerable.
As it is likely that Portsmouth has more small rooms affected by these proposals than other cities we have concentrated on this part of the consultation. We also have seen and endorse the submissions made by the Residential Landlords Association.
As we sit on the local HMO Licensing Governance Board in Portsmouth, a city that is trying to make ‘additional’ licensing work, we can comment from our in-depth experience, being aware that what we see here cannot be unique. Thus we have a few comments to make with regard to extending licensing.
The photos were taken in Portsmouth on 14th December 2015 to illustrate the gravity of the situation. The individuals consented and none appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
One lady landlord has become so incensed by the recent changes that she openly wrote to Grant Shapps, her MP, and her letter has been widely shared on social media. We include it below unedited as she summarises the impacts of recent changes so well.
The Salvation Army are running another local event for private landlords. Michelle White, their project coordinator, said,"I would like to meet private landlords who will accept housing benefits or are thinking of renting to claimants in the Portsmouth or surrounding areas."
The event runs from 10:00-14:00 on the 5th April at The Haven in Portsmouth. For more info, contact Michelle at emailID
We have been informed that Mr Edwin Haddock (Ed) of Taylors Estate Agents formerly operating from 135 London Road, North End, Portsmouth, was made bankrupt on 11th November 2015. We have spoken to the Trustee in Bankruptcy, and they say that at this stage they know very little but are gathering information. There was a client money account which has been frozen by the bank resulting in Tenants rent payments being returned by the bank. Some tenants have been informed that deposits were protected but in light of our experience with other agents who have failed, no assumptions should be made.
You are reminded that Landlords can be held liable where deposits have not been protected by their agent.
If you have property let or deposits taken by Taylors you should contact the Trustee; Susan Casey of J Casey & Co. 023 9249 2325 or firstname.lastname@example.org
PDPLA would also like to hear of any affected members.