After over a year of negotiation, the PDPLA and the RLA will affiliate. Both organisations will still be separate and independant entities, but from January 1st 2017, any member of the PDPLA will also become a member of the RLA and any RLA member in the Portsmouth area will become a PDPLA member.
If you plan to issue a Section 8 'Notice to Quit' you need to make sure you are using the new form prescribed by the government. It changed on 1st December and has been updated to reflect the new ground, 7b, introduced in the Immigration Act 2016.
In his Autumn Statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond announced that tenants can no longer be charged fees associated with the arrangement of a tenancy. This appears to include the cost of referencing, inventories and the like – so if you have charged for anything of this nature in the past when letting a property, you will now no longer be able to do so (depending on the precise wording when this becomes law).
This is obviously a vote winner – no one enjoys handing over hundreds of pounds to an agent for no apparent benefit and outlawing it, on the surface, appears to please many and cost nothing.
Unfortunately, there are costs involved. Landlords will need to increase rents to recover these fees during the term of the tenancy, tenants will have to pay more as the increase will stay with them for the life of the tenancy rather than just the 6 or 8 months it takes to recover these costs and the higher rents will feed through into an increase in the 30th percentile rent level which Housing Benefit is based upon, so the government will see its £25Bn Housing Benefit bill increase accordingly.
We had a panel of finance experts at our November members meeting organised for us by Carol McFadden of Abacus Financial Options.
All of the presentations from that night and some of the supporting materials are available in the members area of the PDPLA website.
A motion at a recent Portsmouth City Council 'Full Council' meeting was raised to 'further limit the growth in the number of new Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO's).'
The logic, in our view mistaken, is that Portsmouth has enough HMOs and allowing more will not be popular or beneficial. It is true that with 7,000-8,000 new student halls rooms being built, the mix of housing usage in the city will change - but to assume that properties will switch from student HMO usage to family ownership is misguided. For those that have HMO's, their property values will continue to be at a significant premium (currently 30%+) to comparable non-HMO properties due to the constraints imposed by the council - so measures such as this will ensure properties with an HMO designation retain that designation and landlords let to whichever alternative type of HMO tenant they can best cater for.
Some will move to 'serviced accommodation' and high end professional lets, others to the more vulnerable (moving the problem recently reported in Waverley Road across the rest of Southsea) and the vast majority will stay with students as we still expect to see a need for homes for around 10,000 students in the Private Rented Sector in Southsea even if all of the planned student halls are built.
We could have chosen a better day for our first breakfast event, being the morning after the US election and one which saw a cold, wet and windy day in the UK - but those who attended enjoyed a good breakfast and discussed a wide range of topics from late paying students and whether to sell or keep a particular flat with a lifetime tenancy to the life expectancy of a landlord and how that should be factored into ones overall business plan.
The publication Property Week has been forced to withdraw a category from their student accommodation awards, after a handpicked panel of students refused to choose a winner in protest over increasing rent prices. Whilst more halls rooms are needed in the city, we have long worried that a business model designed to recoup the outlay in 10 years and potentially leave the block derelict and unfit for any other use soon after is not a good one for any of those affected.
At the Governance Meeting this month we learnt of ongoing enforcement activities and also agreed some changes to the process to reduce the workload of the staff involved at PCC.
Three properties in Waverley Road (where the recent murder occurred) are getting a lot of attention. They have been used to house some of the most vulnerable tenants in the city. Unfortunately, the condition of the houses was poor – which in a way is understandable with these tenants, if they repeatedly break locks, where is the incentive to replace the damaged doors? Also and more importantly, the management of the properties was not of the required standard.
We have received a request from the RLA that anyone adversely affected by the changes to mortgage interest relief get involved in their lobbying activity - full details below and as in so many previous newsletters, we do urge all members to check the impact of these changes using our simple calculator on our home page as many landlords continue to think they will be unaffected only to find that the changes will push them into a higher rate tax band and potentially, taxes could be greater than profits.
Who knows whether Flick Drummond and Alan Mac, our local MPs, were influenced by the PDPLA's plea for support delivered by our own Tony Athill, but on Friday (28/10) they helped vote the Bill on to its next stage. If and when enacted, the bill will stop our Local Authorities advising tenants issued with a section 21 repossession order to sit it out and make us get a court order and perhaps even employ bailiffs.
(Note the picture above was taken recently outside the council offices in Portsmouth's Guildhall Square - all other photos in this article were taken in the same vicinity)
The government is running a new consultation to get feedback on its proposal to extend mandatory licensing to all properties with 5 or more tenants (today a property needs to be spread across 3 or more floors to need a mandatory licence) and also, to impose minimum room sizes on tenanted accommodation. The consultation runs until 13th December and you can make your views known here.
Tenancy agreements are being broken by one in seven renters breaching one or more rules according to Direct Line company. From its research it also claims that 11% of tenants were unaware of whether they had in fact broken any of the rules outlined in their agreement.