And in Other News (October)

And in Other News (October)

PDPLA Seeks New Treasurer

Council Tax Exemptions Ended in Portsmouth

Housing Benefit On Two Homes

Is Gas Safety Certification Just Another Scam?

RLA Affiliation Progresses

New Charges For Dumping Waste

Accommodation Requests shared using questions@

Spermwatch!

PDPLA Seeks New Treasurer

Malc has managed our accounts diligently and with great dedication since sometime last century. I am told that when he started, calculators were yet to be invented and our accounts were transacted with stones and slates, but this is all hearsay and it is hard to tell the fact from the fiction. What is definitely true is that he has done a fantastic job over this period and we have been very lucky to have such a dedicated and trustworthy supporter for so long. We had hoped we could rely on him to do this for a few decades more but the past few years of also supporting a team down in League 2 have taken its toll, and he now lacks the humour and enthusiasm that used to come so naturally.

With this in mind, we are looking to replace him in this important role.

The good news is that with the forthcoming RLA affiliation, the demands will be far fewer (a handful of receipts and payments each month) and we promise that any volunteer need only serve a short fixed term if they wish.

Benefits of this role include being involved in the key decisions which affect the PDPLA and honorary membership (ie the annual fee is waived).  If you have a couple of hours a month to spare and might be interested, in the 1st instance please contact the chairman, Martin Silman or one of the other committee members.

Council Tax Exemptions Ended in Portsmouth

It used to be the case that if you had an unfurnished property which fell empy, you would have 1 months 'grace' before PCC would levy Council Tax.  (The logic being that the administration cost involved in invoicing and billing for one month outweighed the monies collected).  Now automation and efficiency probably invalidate that argument and the councils need to make up shortfalls due to cuts from central government mean that every opportunity is being taken to increase Council Tax returns.  

Accordingly, since March of this year, the 1 month exemption is no longer allowed and any property that is empty will be liable to pay council tax from the day it becomes empty.

Housing Benefit on Two Homes

At the meeting with PCC this month, to discuss the cap on Housing Benefit (see earlier article), we were alerted to availability of housing benefit for a second home when a tenant is moving. A tenant offered social housing may have to commit to an offer before their notice with you expires. In these circumstances or whenever they may be required to move suddenly they can apply for benefit for the second home for up to 4 weeks. Forms are available from Housing Offices.

Is Gas Safety Certification Just Another Scam?

Last month we had gas safety week and we were all burdened with news items about the importance of landlords having gas safety certificates but is it all a scam?  I had a toilet fitted under the stairs in one of my houses 3 years ago, and as part of the process, the gas meter was 'turned round' so that it was in the same place (avoiding the cost of getting the gas company to move it) but readable from the other side where a new access door was added.

Each year it has been tested by a different gas engineer and a certificate issued. To the untrained eye - all of the tests appeared diligent, each engineer tested the gas pressure at the meter and other similar checks, so when a new tenant complained the cupboard smelled of gas I thought nothing of it, it only being one month since it was certified. However, SSE had contacted me to say they needed to physically check the meter to ensure its safety, so I contacted them and arranged a visit. When the inspector came, we asked about the slight smell of gas and he said, 'nothing to do with me, you have to call this number...'    - you have to ask, if the man from the gas company doing gas safety checks cannot identify gas leaks, what does he do?

Anyway, the number was called and a man duly arrived, identified 3 distinct pinhole gas leaks in the joins of the pipework on the gas meter and repaired them.  So why did I pay £80 a time for gas safety checks on a setup that had obviously been leaking gas very slightly for the past 3 years? And if they did not notice this, what would they notice?

One more example of regulation with debatable benefit?

RLA Affiliation Progresses

Discussions with the RLA continue and to date, everything seems to be progressing without major hitches.  There will be a signficant challenge for both teams to come up with a solution that allows our members to access the RLA web site and vice versa without too much difficulty - but assuming this can be resolved satisfactorily, we are hopeful that as of January we can start to use the RLA services such as their help desk and their standard documents at no extra charge and as memberships come up for renewal, they will be at the £79.95 rate and will allow full membership of both organisations.

New Charges For Dumping Waste

Just a reminder if you missed it in the local press:

From 1 October 2016 the following new charges will applyat waste recycling sites in Hampshire including Port Solent and Havant.

· soil and rubble: £2.50 per part or whole 30 litre bag, and £2.50 per individual item (for example, sanitary units such as wash basins and toilets).

· plasterboard: £6 per bag or £10 per sheet

· cement-bonded asbestos: £12 per sheet

Cash and card payment options are available at all HWRCs.

Soil, rubble and plasterboard are accepted at all HWRCs.

Soil and rubble includes construction and demolition materials such as stone, rubble, clay, concrete, bricks, blocks, sand, tiles, paving slabs, and ceramic bathroom suites. There will be no charge for crockery or clay/terracotta flower pots. The limit of six bags of soil and rubble per household per month will be lifted.

Cement-bonded asbestos will continue to be accepted at Andover, Basingstoke, Efford, Netley and Portsmouth HWRCs. Other types of asbestos are not accepted. More details.

We recommend that you be more vigilant than usual of any alleyways or similar on or adjacent to your properties as we expect fly tipping to increase significantly as a result of these changes. If you do find waste dumped on or near your property, please report it to the City Helpdesk (if in Portsmouth) or the appropriate local authority if not.

Accommodation Requests shared using questions@

This week members will have received a summary email of the 34 requests for accommodation we have received in the past 2 months.  These requests have arrived without prompting or advertising - a potential tenant looking for accommodation who stumbles across our website will see an 'Accommodation Wanted' button and if they select that and fill in the form, the request comes in and we share it with any landlords who we know have property available.

Typically, we have far more requests than we have landlords with accommodation available - typically 4 per week, even though we never promote or advertise the 'Accommodation Wanted' service on pdpla.com, so this week we collated all of the requests into one email and shared it with the whole membership.

Was it useful or was it annoying? Would you like to receive these on a regular basis or would you rather we revert to the prior method of distribution?  Tell us what you think at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   

(And remember, we prompt for as much detail as possible so you can be selective when identifying potential tenants but we do no qualification and we urge you to fully check and reference any potential tenant, whatever source they come from, prior to offering them accommodation - that is why we often end these emails with these words, "This Email is for information only and does not imply that PDPLA approve or have vetted the potential tenants in this communication (nor does it imply that they are not suitable).

PDPLA strongly recommends that members take up references and get credit checks for all prospective tenants and in the case of professional tenants, members are encouraged to use a referencing agency. Where you can, you should also obtain references and credit checks for any guarantor as required. PDPLA has the following companies on our approved supplier list:

www.fccparagon.co.uk & www.landlordreferencing.co.uk

It is normal practice to ask the prospective tenants to pay these fees, including fees for referencing any guarantor, if required. In fact the webform contains the statement "though we may charge a referencing fee of up to £60 to successful candidates"").

Spermwatch!

No, not a piece directed at student landlords - but a request from scientists at the University to help them understand the sex lives of lugworms. You know you want to know more - so read about it here.

Written & oral information and advice from the Portsmouth & District Private Landlord's Association is given in good faith, but no responsibility whatsoever is accepted by the Association or it's officers for the accuracy of it's information & advice nor shall the Association be held responsible for the consequences of reliance upon such information.

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