On Friday 28th November MPs debated the Tenancies Reform Bill. This sought to ban so-called retaliatory evictions by limiting landlords' use of section 21 notices where tenants had lodged property condition complaints with the local authority.
The discounted fees for accredited landlords and those taking benefits claimants were removed in the annual review of fees. PCC's argument being that most landlords who have yet to apply are late in doing so and thus not deserving of special treatment.
We often see debates or assertions that because tenants are on individual AST's you are operating a bedsit like hostel and you are liable for all taxes / charges whereas if the tenants are all on a joint AST, they are obviously a group of friends sharing a house and they are liable for any taxes or charges. We all know that in reality, there is no link whatsoever between how we choose to contract and how the house is managed.
A landlord who flouted the law, has been ordered to pay a £280k fine for ignoring orders to demolish an outbuilding. The building was deemed as not fit for housing and was built without any planning permission. The landlord turned an outbuilding of his property into six tiny flats over 5 years ago. In the same year the council told him to stop using the outbuilding as flats and to remove the bathrooms and kitchens.
Many letting agents who manage properties in Portsmouth are asking landlords to apply for HMO licenses for their houses as the agents don't want to be named on the licence as the responsible party should there be a problem.
At this month's meeting of the Portsmouth Housing partnership, council officers made it clear that it does not matter whether a landlord or his managing agent are named on the licence. If there is a problem resulting in court action, prohibition orders or whatever, any paper will be served on BOTH parties.
A recent article in Property Week highlights claims by a London property manager that up to 60% of leaseholders and this includes residential landlords, are being 'ripped off' and are paying inflated building insurance premiums. Chainbow, which manages sites across the south-east, said building insurance scams are one of the most widespread examples of malpractice by managing agents and freeholders.
The HMRC makes a clear distinction between 'repairs and renewals' for a property and capital expenditure or 'improvement' and many landlords find this an area of confusion.
"I think a lot of landlords don't realise the difference between the two types of expense and just see all costs as legitimate expenses that they can offset against their income tax, but we have to sit them down and explain there's a difference," says Sudipta.
What may seem trivial can easily become critical. A blown light bulb one week could be a multi-million pound law suit the next. A loose bannister could lose you your savings.
Keeping your properties safe and free from health hazards may sound obvious but the reality is that they can be too often ignored, often with disastrous results.
The head of one of the three mandatory redress schemes in the rental sector insists that, contrary to suggestions from some in the industry, "a significant proportion" of letting agents have yet to join. Sean Hooker, property ombudsman at the Property Redress Scheme – one of the mandatory schemes alongside The Property Ombudsman and Ombudsman Services – says confusion over how many agents have signed up to one or other of the schemes is down to a continuing lack of clarity over who is regarded as an 'agent'.
With an election coming next May, we all need to do what we can to balance some of the rubbish being pushed out by ALL political parties in search of votes.
The sidebar page comes from the newsletter of local LibDem councilor Lee Hunt but we also have Conservative leader at PCC, Donna Jones giving TV interviews saying ALL students should be housed in Halls and we are increasingly seeing Labour calls for rent caps, mandatory registration of landlords, longer tenancies and a number of other potentially costly reforms.
What can you do?