Energy Saving, Helping the Homeless and Licensing - Our January Meeting

 At our January 2020 meeting our main speaker was Andrew Waggott, from Portsmouth City Council (PCC) working with us to help us understand what is available now and trying to work out how we make the PRS in the city greener and more energy efficient. We also discussed the PCC proposals to get more people from the housing list into the PRS and had a discussion on HMO Licensing in the city.  We have produced short (and long) videos of the event for those who could not attend.

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Portsmouth Votes To Help People Move Into The PRS to Reduce Homelessness

At this months Housing Cabinet meeting Councillor Darren Sanders and other cabinet members supported proposals to widen their bond scheme and the use of a community bank to provide low cost loans, with the aim of getting people off of the housing waiting list and into homes in the private rented sector.   

(This is the topic we discussed at our January member meeting, watch that here

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Student Council Tax - Did The Tide Turn?

As ​government funding for local authorities has been progressively cut, councils have tried to maximise their council tax income by going after student landlords for payment for every day a property contains a non-student or is empty. Our screams of victimisation have been ignored, though we have had a little success in ensuring that student halls get the same treatment as small private landlords.

However, it appears students are now getting upset and the government may well take action as a result.
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Late Filing of your Self-Assessment Tax Return?

The 31st January 2020 deadline has been and gone and you have not yet filed your tax return. Time got away from you or maybe you did not realise that you needed to complete one until now? Whatever the reason you need to be aware of the following;  

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New Electrical Regulations for Landlords

New regulations will soon come into force requiring landlords of all property types to have a current electrical certificate but as seems unfortunately normal of late, the precise requirement, any exemptions and the timing is not yet clear. As a result, there may be a rush as July approaches…

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PDPLA Website Upgrade

After 18 months gestation, we are pleased to announce the PDPLA website has now been completely renewed. Hopefully members will just notice some style updates and minor improvements but under the covers we have jumped 10 years to modern technology with everything changed from the servers on which it runs right through to the tools used to create the content….  

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Landlords Continue To Help The Homeless

PDPLA members have raised nearly £2,000 over the past 2 Christmas’, all of which has been donated to the Society of St James to help the local homeless. It is debatable whether this type of support can end homelessness, and more on that next month, but there follows a thankyou and Christmas update from SSJ. Thank you to everyone who has donated at one of our events or on our JustGiving page:  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/pdpla2018

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How Small Is Too Small?

We have many members who are unhappy with PCC’s rules on communal space in HMO’s – the rules seem to have grown over the past 10 years in an attempt to provide a basis to reject HMO’s which are seen as ‘too densely developed’ by councillors and local residents. We are now at a point where PCC ask for more communal space than any other council in the country (and in many cases, 2 or 3 times more than most councils).

It was thus somewhere between shock and amusement that we heard PCC had lost a case where they tried to stop a very small flat from being let.

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New Energy & Water Strategy for Portsmouth Homes

Portsmouth is consulting on a draft strategy - 'Energy and water at home - a strategy for efficiency and affordability for every household in Portsmouth'.  It looks at how the council can work with others to make homes more energy and water efficient and ensure residents can afford their bills - as we own 1 in 4 of the houses in the city, we will be most affected, so do make time to think about how you will make your properties more energy and water efficient and what help you need, then complete the questionnaire - because if you say nothing, you have no reason to complain if in 2 or 3 years time you are faced with significant bills to bring a property up to a new standard or have to replace or upgrade something you only just invested in.

The strategy is pervasive - obvious things like insulation and reduced water usage but also more futuristic options to get us to near zero carbon status, such as time of day energy tariffs and micro-anaerobic digesters - so do read the summary or attend a meeting if nothing else.

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Who Needs A UTR Number Anyway?

A Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number is required by all sole traders, partnerships and limited companies in the UK. It’s unique to that individual or organisation and remains unchanged forever.

You will also need a UTR if you have other forms of income or expenses that require you to file a Self-Assessment tax return.

If you don’t have a UTR, you won’t be able to submit a Self-Assessment tax return, plus, you may open yourself up to heavy penalties.

So, to help reiterate the importance of UTR numbers and how to correctly acquire your own, we’ve asked Mike Parkes from GoSimpleTax to shed some light on their role in tax return submissions.

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Is It Time To Become SMART?

As we approach the mid-part of the 21st century, is it time to consider providing 21st century properties for our tenants? We know many were built in the time of Queen Victoria, but as landlords each property faces a continual cycle of upgrade, refurbishment and renewal - so as part of that, should we be considering Smart technology, leading edge energy solutions and maybe, even reconfiguring the way people live?

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Landlord & Tenant Survey - What Do You Think?

In support of the new strategy for the Private Rented Sector which may justify Selective Licensing for all landlords in the city - Portsmouth City Council are asking for your views and those of your tenants. It is simple, two page survey (for landlords, slightly more for tenants) and we worry that unless enough people make their views clear, too small a sample may lead to conclusions we are not happy with in the months ahead. So do click the link, do complete the survey and do add comments outlining your views on the need for more or less regulation and what challenges or problems concern you most - it will only take a couple of minutes and could help avoid the many hours and £'s that Selective Licensing will cost you if introduced later this year.

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Is it time for Property MoT's?

At our November member meeting we had a short discussion on the use of Property MoT’s. Is it yet more bureaucracy or might they be useful? It is interesting that the Labour manifesto proposes to mandate Property MoT’s – could this be one area where local landlords agree with an aspect of the Labour Party housing policy?

We actually suggest that we may need to go further and should be thinking about offering Tenancy MoT’s…

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RLA Summarises Landlord Manifesto

As we head toward the final days of the election, the RLA have perfectly summarised the 6 things that every landlord wants from the new government:

  1. Boost supply to meet demand
  2. Support vulnerable tenants
  3. End the Right to Rent
  4. Improve Justice for Tenants and Landlords
  5. Root out Criminal Landlords
  6. Reject All Forms of Rent Controls

In a well articulated statement they demand a more positive approach to the Private Rented Sector, read more here....

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Landlord Licensing - Alwin Visits The Dark Side

After the October PDPLA meeting, I attended the Full Council meeting of Portsmouth City Council and subsequently the Housing Cabinet meeting on 21 October to oppose proposals put forward by Cllr Cal Corkery to introduce selective licensing for all rented properties in the city.

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