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Martin began his landlord journey 18 years ago, while working in an international role for a global telecommunications company. Since retiring he has extended his portfolio, which he manages with his wife, but has always focussed on the ‘small student HMO’ sector preferring to offer homes in the community for small groups to the more common ‘pack them in and take the money’ mentality. He has chaired the PDPLA for the past 9 years and has overseen the Associations transition from small local self-help group to a much larger and more professional institution which is recognised and listened to nationally. Alongside his PDPLA role, he also has leadership roles in a number of other local organisations – bringing his unique perspective, driving for change and increased use of technology while respecting the history that brought us here.

Portsmouth HMO Licensing Update

There has been much angst over the introduction of Licensing in Portsmouth, both Additional and the transition of Mandatory to the same process. Whilst we continue working to encourage PCC to improve their solution there are obvious restrictions on what we can or should publish, but a short update on the current situation does seem appropriate.  

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Landlord Insurance - Why?

We have talked about insurance many times, most recently in September last (Better, Best, Boswells - PDPLA News - Portsmouth & District Private Landlords Association)  but an incident this month brought my objectives into clear focus.

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If Only People Understood Section 21 Reforms

We publish here an exchange between Roger Bell the South Hampshire Chair of iHOWZ Landlords Association and someone called Jake responding on behalf of Secretary of State, Michael Gove 

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HEATIO Partnership To Deliver Low-Carbon Technologies Subscription

Heatio has partnered with E.ON and Energy Systems Catapult to provide its Energy-as-a-Service solution (EaaS).

As part of the Green Home Finance Accelerator (GHFA) announced last week, the initiative will eliminate upfront costs for consumers considering heat pumps, solar PV, or battery storage via a 20-year subscription service, with monthly payments expected to be around £150 per month. The solution will also integrate a bespoke E.ON Next energy tariff, further reducing home energy costs by up to £70 per month.

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The Secret Of Property Investing

We all see professionals, experts, gurus and charlatans purporting to be able to help you succeed with property, but do any of them really know the answer or are they all just after your money?  Seven years ago, I saw the perfect answer to how the property market works and what you need to do to profit from it.  Here it is.... 

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  149 Hits

Have You Registered For Property Alerts

Since 2015 we have warned members 6 times about the risks of property fraud and the need to register their properties with the Land Registry so that they get alerts of any potentially fraudulent activity - but it still seems that some members have yet to register.  It takes seconds, it gives you peace of mind and it could be the difference between losing a property or not. Do it today!

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  131 Hits

Portsmouth Hates Landlords

Portsmouth has been one of the worst places to operate as a private landlord for many years owing to the anti-landlord policies of Portsmouth City Council, but recent events have taken the problem to new levels - forcing many of the poorest tenants out of the city. 

Gerrymandering? Probably not. But could it be? Yes, definitely.

Read our formal complaint to the council. 

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  531 Hits

Licencing Angst

So many landlords see PCC as dark overlords who will hit them with massive fines if they so much as forget to check a fire alarm, they go out of their way to give PCC no cause to admonish them.  And what is the result, the landlords in question experience stress and financial pain and PCC add to their incorrect statistics of how  many rogues they have sorted and how many homes they have improved, when in reality all they have done is wasted the time of local people, pushed up rents and been a drain on the local economy 

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  475 Hits

Portsmouth Landlord Applies For HMO Licence In Less Than 1 Hour!

You would think it was not news – but we have been arguing for 3 months since the new licensing application software was introduced that it is badly written, hard to use and asks for too much information. We have members who have spent 2 weeks trying to get a single application completed. The PCC response has been to largely ignore us and tell us it only takes an hour and then it is done – even when members take all the necessary documentation in and sit and watch while PCC staff perform the task it takes them 2 hours per property.

Well, we need to apologise – after 3 months training and extensive practice, one of our members completed their final application in just 59 minutes and 44 seconds. 

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  429 Hits

Right to Rent Landlords' Code of Practice

It is funny, they call it a 'Code of Practice'  but it is actually a newly published draft of the list of things a landlord must do to avoid a civil penalty and a list of exemptions that let everyone else off the hook. 

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Additional Licensing Deadline Looms

Owners of small HMOs and many 257 properties in Portsmouth will need to get their Additional Licence application in by the end of this month. Be warned that the application process is immensely burdensome and is not something you can quickly flash through at the end of the month.

Also, sadly, once you get your draft licence, you will find the licence conditions to be heavily loaded against you – considering any infringement is a criminal offence, that is not good news. We have asked PCC for clarification but sadly, we have been ignored and thus will need to resolve these issues at greater cost to all involved (which ultimately will feed through to rents and impact even more of the most vulnerable in the city). 

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  357 Hits

Univ of Portsmouth Re-Opens Langstone Campus

At a Neighbourhood Forum meeting in Milton this month, University of Portsmouth Director of Estates and Campus Services, Tahir Ahmed outlined plans to bring nearly 250 student rooms back into use at their 'Langstone Village' campus at Milton Locks in the city in an attempt to ease the student housing crisis which sees students commuting to Portsmouth from as far as Leeds this year.  

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  475 Hits

Disaggregation Dies!

The government has finally seen sense and decided to end the unfair and discriminatory practices of the VOA (Valuation Office Agency) in arbitrarily disaggregating some HMOs into individual units for Council Tax purposes. Congratulations to member and local activist, Daryn Brewer, for championing this issue at the highest levels and achieving this excellent result.  

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  229 Hits

Fire Safety – It’s in the detail

At the start of October, new rules on Fire Safety were introduced – post Grenfell, everyone appears to be regulating and regimenting every aspect of fire risk. Obviously, this is good if it saves lives – but how do you know when enough is enough.And who is competent to make that decision?  

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Green Housing Goes Into The Red

With the threat of increased EPC's hovering between 2025 and 2028,  decent homes standards and the like just around the corner and no help for landlords likely, it is with some relief we heard government ministers back pedalling on commitments as 'people could not afford to spend £10-15 thousand per house at the moment, bringing them up to standard.'  - one has to ask, did you only just realise?

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Fire Safety - What You Need To Know

Social housing providers have a lot to answer for – poor practice, inadequate systems and undertrained staff leave families living in damp, mouldy properties, whole estates going without necessary gas safety checks and sadly, disasters like Grenfell. Unfortunately, given that most of these organisations do the minimum they need to comply with the rules, each time one of these events happen, new rules are created and each time, the private rented sector gets painted (tainted?) with the same brush.

Fire safety is no exception and the attempt to 'systemise' solutions has led to some daft interpretations of some well-intentioned rules – so here we run through some of them and hopefully, help explain what you should and should not do. 

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  382 Hits

Better, Best, Boswells

What is better than best? Grammatically one would argue that best cannot be bettered, but as landlords, we suggest that the English language be changed to show that the new order has Boswells as better than best!

Why, well apart from all the awards and our longstanding endorsement – PDPLA chairman's wife, Karen, has decided to pay £800 more than competitors to insure the family property portfolio with Boswells. 

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  302 Hits

Do Single Men Watch Love Island Together?

Sounds like a Philip K Dick story but this was one of the big questions answered by local Chartered Surveyor and landlord, Josette Knight, at our August meeting when she passionately exposed PCC policy on communal space and lounges as unrealistic and unnecessary and pleaded for help for her 'boys' who had been homeless when PCC placed them with her, but who she now must evict because of PCC policy.

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EPCs on 257s

Several members have reported that they are being asked to supply an EPC for their 257 property as part of their Portsmouth Licensing application. Is there such a thing? We asked an expert...

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PCC Plan Licensing Increases

Landlords of 'Mandatory HMOs' in Portsmouth received a nice questionnaire asking if they thought it was a good idea that good landlords were charged less for their licence than bad landlords.

We were surprised at the number of members who complained to us about the 'loaded question'  

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  327 Hits

Portsmouth Rents Rise

Across the country the cost of a single room has jumped significantly – Portsmouth has seen a below average 12% increase with median rents rising to £576 per month. We predicted Additional Licensing would be the final straw after tax changes, mortgage increases and utility bills which would drive small HMOs out of the market, leaving them to be replaced by the much more expensive 'Super HMOs' and student halls.  Sadly, this does appear to be the case.

The national average jumped 17% in the 2nd quarter to over £700 per month – so there is no doubt of the direction of travel locally.  

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  260 Hits

You don't have to be mad to work here...

But on Portsmouth's Planning Committee, sanity is definitely not required. In fact, imagine a pack of wild dogs with the scent of blood and that is much like what happens when they hear the word 'HMO'. 

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  417 Hits

Small HMO Licensing: Nearly But Not Yet...

If you are one of the few landlords who still has 3 or 4 bed HMOs in Portsmouth, you will need to get an Additional Licence if you wish to continue to do so. The scheme starts in September but our advice is not to apply now, but to wait until later in the year - you have until December to apply without penalty and it could save you thousands. 

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  599 Hits

House Inspection Hints & Tips

Our relationship with at least one of our local authorities is very poor and we do not want to make it worse, but conversely, if members are being hit with unnecessary expenses, we have a duty to help them avoid those costs. Thus, in this article several members give their views on recent examples of overly keen house inspections and, if it should happen to you, what the legal position is should you wish to challenge them. 

(Note views shared here are those of individual members and form a small subset of those who responded - specifics have not been checked with qualified EHO's)

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  600 Hits

Government Ends University Visa Scam

The government has announced that foreign post-graduate students on non-research courses will no longer be able to bring family members to the UK. Regardless of your views on whether politically this is good or bad news - locally it will take a lot of pain, administrative workload and unnecessary hassle away from landlords and will reduce the pressure on local accommodation. 

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  404 Hits

2023 Energy Schemes for Landlords

There were lots of questions for Tyler and Antonia from PCC when they presented to us at our May member meeting. They have been kind enough to answer them and have discovered some of the 'constraints' discussed at the meeting no longer apply.

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  306 Hits

Incorporation – What Is It and Should I?

As an association, we are often asked to find a speaker to talk about 'Incorporation' and whether it is a good thing or not. Over the years we have had various speakers selling their specific solution but never managed to get a good discussion on the subject, until this month, when PDPLA member Richard Hemingway shared his experience of the process.

Unfortunately, we were unable to film at this meeting and several members have asked if any notes are available so, hopefully, this article will help…. 

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  357 Hits

St George, The Dragon, Portsmouth Planning and HMOs

Two events in April surprisingly had much in common – the St Georges Day celebration of a Roman soldier from Turkey who died in Palestine and who apparently killed a dragon and the Portsmouth Planning Committee reprimand for their behaviours toward HMOs.  

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  606 Hits

EPC Upgrades Could Force 2/3rds of Landlords to sell

That was the heading of one of the many articles summarised in this months 'Retrofit Review'  (Retrofit being the term for bringing older dwellings up to current energy standards).   

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  283 Hits

Charles Burns RIP

It is with great sadness that we share the news of Charles passing. A stalwart of so many organisations and institutions in Portsmouth - he provided the grease that made things happen, if the city stops working as a result, it will not surprise many of us. 

Charles - you will be greatly missed.

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  612 Hits

Reasons To Stop Aquind

As local landlords and possibly residents too, you may have seen all the commotion about plans for the Aquind interconnector and wondered what all the fuss is about, We know someone who can answer that question...

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Portsmouth Among Worst Performing Local Authorities

Portsmouth City Council has been ranked the eighth worst in the country for its enforcement of private sector housing, according to a recent report compiled by the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA). They evaluated all 326 local authorities in England based on the number of hazards in private rented accommodation and the enforcement action taken by the council to address these issues.  

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  575 Hits

Where you can stick your smoke alarms!

We had a query from a member with a 5-bed HMO asking about fire safety requirements after a Licensing inspection. Do you know what your property needs, even if it is not an HMO?  

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  437 Hits

Huge Health Benefits From Retrofitting Homes

Implementing net zero policies would result in substantial reductions in mortality by 2050, according to a modelling study by researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) that was published in The Lancet Planetary Health. 

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  318 Hits

Portsmouth Planning Horror Show

There is little debate about whether local councillors like HMOs or HMO landlords, but the Portsmouth Planning Committee excelled themselves this month strongly implying one of our members, who has spent millions improving local property, was a rogue and rejecting other properties due to the lack of a downstairs toilet (nowhere does it state a property must have a downstairs toilet and in both cases, they had only been removed to meet the excessive local space requirements).

Read our complaint to the chair of the Planning Committee.. 

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  503 Hits

Great Landlord Cleans Up Dirty Tenants

PDPLA member, Warren Somerset had an HMO with a serious bin problem and a bunch of tenants who all denied responsibility for the mess in the forecourt. After investing in CCTV and doing a bit of conscientious landlording, problem solved. 

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  517 Hits

Hundreds of Portsmouth Residents Face Eviction

When the details of the LibDem inspired Additional HMO Licensing Scheme in Portsmouth were announced we surveyed our members. 2 out of 3 respondents plan to leave the Portsmouth HMO market this year, reducing their portfolios by 348 rooms – extrapolated to the whole Portsmouth market, that could easily see 1,000 less homes in the city by year end.  

Many landlords are deciding to leave the shared housing market, but barriers to entry likely mean they can never be replaced. Once lost, rooms in shared housing are gone forever.

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  762 Hits

Private Rented Sector Vital Economically & Socially

The private rented sector (PRS) has an important economic and social role to play across the country, according to a new report published today.

The report, commissioned by the National Residential Landlords Association, is based on a survey of 2,000 private renters in England and Wales by the polling agency Opinium. The results suggest it is wrong to conclude that private renters are trapped in the sector. It finds that fewer than one in ten (six per cent) of private renters want to switch to social rented housing. In addition, whilst three quarters (76 per cent) said they want to buy a home of their own at some point in the future, less than one in five (17 per cent) would have done so already if they could. 

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  381 Hits

Portsmouth Cheapest Place To Live In The South

Contrary to popular opinion, Portsmouth is the cheapest place to live in the south – whether it be other south coast towns, or further afield in places like Bristol, Birmingham, Stratford or Nottingham – Portsmouth is cheaper. This is why so many students flock to the city (coupled with the 10-month contracts whereas other Uni's insist upon 11 or 12 month contracts). This is also why so many people who work outside the city, decide to live in the city.  

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Digital Home / Zybre Now In Havant

Our 'preferred partner' for broadband, Digital Home (now part of and renamed to Zybre) are now providing broadband in Havant. 

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  668 Hits

Tenants With Pre-Payment Meters Need To Use Tokens

Just a reminder from GVJ that anyone with prepayment meters needs to ensure their tenants use their tokens  

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  527 Hits

C3/C4 Confusion

Many landlords with HMOs (C4's in planning terms) applied to Portsmouth Planning dept 10 years ago to get C3/C4 status – meaning they could freely switch between family use (C3) and HMO (C4) without needing planning permission.

At the time, they were not told that the C3/C4 flexibility only lasted 10 years and none realised the implications at the end of the period – but based on comments from Portsmouth Planning this month, many long-term HMO (C4) landlords risk losing their C4 status at the end of the period with no chance of getting it back. 

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  738 Hits

Portsmouth Student Housing Crisis

  With a vast influx of new students this month, we are seeing all the signs that the lack of student housing in the city is becoming a problem.

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  540 Hits

Making Tax Digital For Landlords Delayed Again

Announced in 2016 for implementation in 2020, landlords have dreaded the arrival of Making Tax Digital (MTD) with the need for quarterly tax returns and automated software. The good news is that it has been delayed once more to at least 2026.  

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  354 Hits

Portsmouth Tightens HMO Rules

As expected, Portsmouth Councillors have voted to implement new, stricter HMO standards and enforcement policies applicable to existing licensed HMO's starting today (1st Dec 2022) and to extend this to ALL HMOs in the city by September next year (2023).

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  1983 Hits

Private Landlords Tarred By Social Housing Failings

In the days after the tragic death of 2 year old, Awaab Ishak, due to extensive damp and mould in his parents rented social housing, everyone seems to be trying to deflect their own shortcomings by bad-mouthing private landlords. This triggered a whole range of responses across the various Landlord Associations we work with.

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  571 Hits

Are you CLEUD Up?

No, not a spelling mistake - a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use or Development is what you need if you want to prove that your property is legal and doesn't need Planning Permission. It is commonly asked for by solicitors as part of the conveyancing process to ensure the new owner is not caught out. Sadly, it is increasingly being asked for in relation to HMOs and could well be essential for those running 3-4 bed HMO's from before 2011 who will now need to get an HMO licence

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  500 Hits

Less Than 3 Minutes Before You Die

An excellent fire safety video should any of your tenants (or children) need convincing to take more care. 

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  329 Hits

Disaggregation – Clarification is coming, but not this year

  Members who attended our September meeting will be fully aware of the level of anger and dismay among landlords as ever more HMOs are disaggregated. (See the discussion from that meeting here and the Q&A here). Two items of good news from Parliament this month, firstly Gosport MP Dame Caroline Dineage proposed an amendment to the Rental Reform Bill that would outlaw disaggregation of HMOs and then Dehenna Davison MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Levelling Up announced a consultation on the matter.

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  602 Hits

Heat Pumps - Not Such A Great Deal?

When gas was cheap and electricity not, the case for heat pumps replacing boilers was quite strong - but with the price of all energy rising and the differential between gas and electricity pricing likely to reduce, is that still the case? 

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  779 Hits