Martin began his landlord journey 15 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 6 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.

The long-awaited renters reform bill was finally published this month with much discussion of the extension of the Decent Homes Standard to the Private Rental Sector, the banning of Section 21 'No fault' evictions and the much needed tightening of rules for social housing landlords.

The content of the bill will change as it makes its way through the Parliamentary process, but the wording relating to the removal of Section 21 and related items will cause chaos in the student rental market unless it is radically changed. In its current form, landlords will not be able to let for a fixed period, so come February when normally students choose their accommodation for the next year, landlords will have no certainty that current tenants will leave when the summer term ends and as a result, will not be able to advertise their properties.

The impact for students is that they will have to fight for whatever becomes available in July / August, rents will be higher as a landlord stuck with 1 tenant or worse an empty house will recover those now unavoidable void periods with higher rents when he or she is able to find tenants and there will be a lot less property available as landlords inevitably move to more reliable income sources.
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Portsmouth's stringent standards for HMO's have already caused a local affordable housing shortage – shown both by rents increasing faster locally than elsewhere and the slower rate of population growth. 

This trend looks to be taking a turn for the worse as, based on our estimates and initial feedback from members, we expect proposed increases in the standards expected of HMOs to take at least 1,000 rooms out of circulation in the city – further pushing up rents and increasing homelessness for those at the very bottom of the ladder.

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 With Portsmouth creating a self-induced homelessness crisis and threatening to remove over 1,000 HMO rooms (see our HMO Standards article) and demand for shared accommodation higher than it has ever been, we are predicting HMO median rents to rise 45%. (See our 'Economics of HMO's' paper for full explanation).

The trouble is, if you want to cash in on this you will find it hard to create an HMO which meets the city's rules – so this article explains 4 simple ways to completely legally create an HMO to ensure you can benefit from this growing market.

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Former electrician and local landlord, Graham Castellano has highlighted a change in electrical regulations which will hit HMO landlords initially and all landlords eventually. 

If you are an HMO landlord with an EICR due in the next 6-9 months, it is worth getting it done before the end of September.   If you are a Social Housing landlord - no need to worry - there is no legal requirement for you to check electrical installations in your property...

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Many of you will be familiar with the 'Couch to 5k' apps and training schedules which get you from 'couch potato' to competent runner able to complete a 5k run, well our own Matt Hinks has a variation on that having progressed from an ICU bed in the Queen Alexandra Hospital Portsmouth to having raised £2,000 to help with critical care funding. 

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There are now nearly 30k homes connected to the ultrafast broadband network and another 20k a year are planned for the next two years at least.

In the last ten weeks approximately 3k additional homes have been added to the network. Members are entitled to a special price as landlords which includes landlord specific support - more details here: PDPLA Announces Broadband Deal With Digital Home - PDPLA News - Portsmouth and District Private Landlords Association
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Sadly, after highlighting the plight of a member last year whose triple glazed upgrades were criticised as being out of keeping in a conservation area where 80% of windows were already uPVC, the windows have now been removed and replaced with lower grade double glazing. 

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There's been a wholesale lifting in standards of investment and quality in the private rental sector thanks to landlords, and in particular there's been an improvement in energy efficiency.

The news comes from a survey of 900 landlords by the Paragon Bank, a specialist buy to let lender, which says the energy performance of the sector has improved with a 272 per cent increase in rented homes with an energy rating of C or above since 2009. 

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Reproducing this NRLA blog item here from 'London Property Licensing' as it clearly describes the processes to be followed and the hurdles passed when introducing Additional Licensing. 

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Portsmouth have announced their consultation on Additional Licensing which runs until the end of July. If you have properties in the city, we recommend you respond and over the next few weeks we will be sharing full details on what is proposed and what we believe are the implications. Read on for details of Council organised 'drop-in' sessions 

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 After this months Portsmouth Council Planning Committee meeting, the answer to that question is easy – but whether to be a local councillor is a much harder one to answer.

Should we praise our public spirited citizens who put themselves forward to represent the people they live among and who endured 6 hours of debate on whether 12 HMO applications were to be approved or not, or should we be asking why they chose to start this process and override the advice of planning officials and ignore the view of planning inspectors in the first place?

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Unlike your MoT, gas safety certificates last 1 year from when they are issued - so if you get the checks done a week before they are due (always wise in case there is an issue or delay), then your renewal date will come forward by 1 week each year. Annoying for student landlords who try to get it all done during the void period of August and more expensive than it needs to be if you need to renew every 51 weeks instead of 52.

The good news is  the HSE has seen sense and brought it into line with other testing - you can now renew ahead of your renewal date while preserving that date, so you get 52 weeks usage for your money.

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Matt Hinks, PDPLA member and local landlord is going for a walk and wants payment for doing it!

But the good news is that it is all for a good cause - he is walking around Portsea Island on 30th May to raise money for the critical care unit at QA where he was in a coma last year... 

Update: Walk successfully completed, over £1,900 raised,  not too late to give, lets get Matt past £2,000...

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The PDPLA list of recommended suppliers is one of our most popular member benefits – only local landlords can recommend suppliers and members rate and recommend individuals and companies, so when looking for a trader or supplier you know that if they are on the list, it is not because we make money from them or they pay to be there – a PDPLA recommended supplier is only recommended if a PDPLA member has had a good experience using them.

This month we have a new supplier for solar PV installations, for EV (electric vehicle) charging points and for battery storage solutions plus we have added Digital Home (an omission on our part) and highlight several others.

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The March Housing Cabinet saw the price of an HMO licence hiked by 30% to £1,150 – the highest in the south of England.  

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Views within the PDPLA have been split – there are those who argue vehemently that we need a mediation option to avoid the high cost associated with obtaining an eviction and those who say it is a nice idea, but how could it work when the relationship has reached a stage where eviction is inevitable and anyway, it can never be a relationship between equals, so how could it work?

Well – the good news is that the proof is in the pudding and so far, it does appear to be working. The pilot, initiated by our own Alwin Oliver working with Portsmouth Mediation Service and latterly, PCC, appears to be bearing fruit.

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 When the Article 4 Direction was introduced in Portsmouth 12 years ago, we recommended that members with smaller HMOs change the planning status of their properties to mixed use (known as C3/C4) so that they could switch between family lets and HMO letting without breaking the rules. Those C3/C4 approvals were only for 10 years (though many were not told so at the time) – but now, when owners come to renew, many are getting confused as you need to apply for planning permission to change from 'mixed use C3/C4' to 'mixed use C3/C4' which appears illogical.

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Many new PDPLA properties have signed up for the exclusive Digital Home 'landlord deal' in the past few weeks - do consider it if the network is now available at any of your properties, we only need a few more to reach our target.  

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Rents for family let small houses are at record highs, demand for student accommodation is hitting a cyclical low, costs are going through the roof  and the process to introduce Additional Licensing for small HMO's has started – our recommendation is to sell up or switch to family lets.
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You pay stamp duty when you buy a house - so we were really surprised when PDPLA member, Debra Chappelow, pointed out a little known rule which means long term tenants may be liable to pay stamp duty. 

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Members have long bemoaned the fact they feel like criminals when they receive a letter from the housing team at PCC and this is something we have raised on their behalf regularly since at least 2012.

Well, the new team at Private Sector Housing appear to be listening and have started a process of updating the standard communications to ensure that whilst they still convey the appropriate legal warnings, they are worded in a less threatening style. Well done PCC. 

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The Government has given local authorities special funding to keep tenants in their homes where their circumstances have changed and they are struggling to pay the rent. Portsmouth City Council still has some of this funding available for this financial year. The application for assistance needs to be made by the tenant but can be supported by their landlord.

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As many landlords worry about how they will achieve EPC ratings of C or better by 2025, the largest accreditation scheme for energy assessors is telling its members that 'C' is unachievable and that they should be advising clients to plan for 'D or better' in that timefame. See their PDF explanation of MEES including these timeframes below. 

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 Following on from the 'Heads For Tails' briefing paper we shared last August (see it here), members are asked to complete a short survey. Read more for full details.

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It does not take a rocket scientist to work out that older buildings will be harder to heat than newer ones, but new research from the ONS based on VOA data quantifies the problem.  Almost all homes built since 2012 have a high efficiency rating whereas only 1 in 8 of those built before 1900 does.

Given that most of Southsea and Old Portsmouth comes into the latter category are you one of the majority with no plans to do anything about it?

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  Most people will have seen the TV and news coverage of the problems at Windsor House. Water running down walls, damp, mould and other conditions which no one should have to live with. Portsmouth Labour Housing lead Councillor Cal Corkery wrote to The News suggesting that the solution would be to introduce landlord licences for all rented properties in the city and as a result avoid problems such as this.

In subsequent days, there were a flurry of letters in response on both sides of the argument – read on for a summary.

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As a local landlord association, our primary aim is to educate and inform local landlords to help them ensure they meet all of the necessary regulations and offer homes that are safe and comfortable for those who live in them.

However, many of us occasionally come across properties that we would be ashamed to let if they were ours.  If it were to belong to a fellow member, we would hope to be able to help them understand what they need to do - but typically it is not. What can you do about those landlords who have no regard for their tenants, spend no money on their properties and get us all a bad name and also, who would never consider joining a local or national association? We finally have an answer...

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If you are of a mind to respond, amongst the plethora of requests for your input, there are a number of surveys this month which you probably need to be aware of…..

One which we believe is a wasted opportunity and which will not produce any usable results comes from Portsmouth City Council and one which we recommend you do complete from the Department of Levelling UP, Housing and Communities which is probably worth the effort but it is a little lengthy. Then there is the PCC 'Health & Wellbeing Strategy' and of course, the quarterly NRLA one which is always worth completing as it helps build a comparative dataset over a period of years.

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Members will be pleased to hear that we have bought an infrared camera which any member can borrow to check the energy (thermal) efficiency of their properties. We will operate the scheme using the same format as our PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) equipment.

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Back in 2015 when the anti-landlord tax changes introduced by Tory ex-chancellor, George Osborne started to be introduced - we produced a simple calculator for landlords to help them understand the step by step introduction of income taxes on their expenses as well as their income.

Now those changes are complete and ALL of your finance charges are taxable, we have simplified and updated the calculator so it works in todays taxation environment.

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Lots of items at 20% off this month. Use your Tradepoint card and the extra 10% gives you a net 28% saving.  If you have lost, mislaid or need a new card, click here.  (The brochure is also available under 'Useful Documents' in the PDPLA members area)

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The rollout of coverage of ultrafast internet by Digital Home is accelerating with fourteen thousand homes to be added in the next couple of months as the rollout in the north of Portsmouth gains pace. Members can benefit from 2 months free subscription if they install 3 properties in January 2022.

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A useful document for other local authorities, businesses and interested parties to use as a base for education, planning and understanding of how to get houses (both new and existing) to 'Net Zero' has been jointly produced by West Oxfordshire District Council, Cotswold District Council and the Forest of Dean Council.

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The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) For Healthy Homes and Buildings met this month, primarily to discuss updating the Decent Homes standard for the Social Rented Sector but one of the outcomes could be greater regulation of the Private Rented Sector (PRS).

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Commissioned by the Greater London Authority and written by the Carbon Trust, this report is not surprisingly very supportive of heat pumps but what it does do better than most previous attempts is to identify what government (both local and national) needs to do and also, how building owners - whether landlords like us, social housing providers or local authorities need to do to get heat pumps in place, how they should go about it and what the benefits of doing so will be. 

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The question of how to bring historic buildings up to modern energy efficiency standards is a tough one - especially in conservation areas (of which Portsmouth has 30+) where heat pumps hanging on the side of buildings is probably not a desirable outcome but where something has to be done.

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Fortunately, rogue tenants are uncommon but, like bad landlords, it only takes one to affect everyone's perception. This month we have seen 2 – one was jailed for the damage he caused and the other, just left the landlord with a huge mess to clear up and moved on to blight the life of another landlord and their new neighbours.
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The good news is that the government has finally published its 'Heat and Buildings Strategy' and answered the big question about whether we will use heat pumps or hydrogen. The bad news is that it will cost us all a lot of money (but we always knew that it would)  

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Get your tickets for one of the sessions at this 2 day event at Portsmouth Guildhall on Tuesday & Wednesday, 9th and 10th November, 

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Our friends at Portsmouth Mediation Service have a new 'restorative' service for landlords and tenants caught up in disputes. Read on for more detail. 

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PCC periodically produce an email newsletter for local landlords. This goes direct to the few landlords registered with their 'Rent It Right' scheme but if you want to receive it directly  then drop an email to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. asking to be added to the distribution.

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See this months newsletter from the Switched On Portsmouth team at PCC 

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Remember as a landlord, you can offer 900Mb broadband with industry leading whole home WiFi in your properties at discounted prices using our solution agreed with Digital Home. This month lots of new roads in the Somerstown area and the 'ladders'

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Members may have seen the sensationalist coverage of a possible 'tsunami of evictions' in the local press. Even though several key PDPLA members had their say, the overall feel of the coverage was that landlords were once again portrayed as the villain of the piece. So, what are the facts?  

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Having missed the target to get new legislation passed by over a year, HMRC have had little choice but to delay 'Making Tax Digital' for landlords until 2024. Our message to landlords remains unchanged - do nothing until it is clear what is required and even then, do not change the way you do things just to comply with HMRC. 

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The consultation for the Portsmouth local plan is underway and its findings will affect us all – from now until 2035 – so it is worth spending 10-15 minutes looking at what is proposed and sharing your views.

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  After reluctantly approving the 591 student bed development in Arundel Street in August, Portsmouth councillors are now being asked to approve a further 59 bed development in Staunton Street. The good news is that this new development is wholly comprised of standalone 'bedsit' studio apartments, ranging from 28-34 sq metres – so if student demand is insufficient, these units will be perfect for the homeless and most vulnerable that the Council is working so hard to get into appropriate housing in an area already densely occupied with similar residents (as we all know that PCC's definition of 'Mixed and Balanced Communities' typically means everyone in the street having the same tenure as everyone else).

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I need to move urgently / I cannot do references because (insert daft reason here) / I just need somebody to give me a fresh start / I have lived in lots of places in the last few years /  I stopped paying my rent at the last place because (insert daft reason here) - If you hear any of these excuses, ever, alarm bells should ring.

If you want to know why, you obviously missed Alwin Oliver's presentation at our September meeting.

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A report suggesting improvements to the Tenants Fees Act to make it easier for tenants with pets to find homes has been sent to the government (MHCLG) supported by a wide range of organisations including the PDPLA.  Why is there a problem with this act?

- 1 in 5 landlords have stopped allowing pets since the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act 2019. 

• 55% of landlords impose blanket No Pets clauses in rental contracts 

• Only 7% of landlords actively market their properties as pet friendly 

• Rescues seeing more pets surrendered because of rental issues

See the full report below... 

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