We publish one day late this month in order to include the 'Heads For Tails' campaign which we had to keep secret until now - read on for more detail. Also on the central government front, do try and find time to read thru the NRLA 'white paper' - some very sensible suggestions in there on how to solve some of the long running issues in our industry.
Elsewhere in the news, we have some good offers for members this month, 2 meetings which will be worth attending if you can and some updates on local issues (see 'In Other News' for several of these) plus what may be the greenest building in the city.
When you have read all of that and feel you need a rest, spare a thought for Charlotte who probably needs a bigger rest than you do - though it is all her own fault.
Lots of local and central government news from around the area this month - not all bad but easy to end up with a persecution complex if you are so inclined.
The best way to avoid it is to know that your properties are of a high standard and your tenants are happy and that you are able to prove it. Yes, we are talking about accreditation again - please read Charlotte's blog and let us know what you think.
And if you have cavity wall insulation and the inevitable mould spots on the cold corners, or the same problem without the insulation, see our pictorial guide on using insulated paint. Yes, it is a thing and it does work!
Landlord Breakfast 'In Person' meetings returned in June. No viral aftermath reported so we plan to do it again in July, but this time we are going to North Hayling, so a must attend for those landlords who don't normally join us due to the challenges of getting to Southsea for 9am.
No evening monthly meeting in July though – we had planned to meet in person for our AGM but given the extension to lockdown, that will now happen in August, more details next month.
Quite a broad range of topics in this newsletter – hopefully there is something for everybody. If you are experiencing problems because of the Covid crisis, do please let us know.
And please note the landlords checklist has been updated to reflect latest electrical requirements – see it here:https://pdpla.com/documents/landlords-checklist
Some great discounts here for members using their PDPLA member TradePoint card. If you don't have one or have lost yours (or need another), get it here: B&Q Tradepoint discount card (pdpla.com) And remember, this is in addition to your normal 10% discount.
If you have a problem with mice in any of your properties, try WD40.
It will not get rid of them, but it will stop them squeaking.....
Much going on this month - our next meeting may be our last big Zoom meeting with more expert speakers than we have had in a long time, followed only 2 days later by the resumption of our Landlord Breakfasts (rules permitting) at a new venue: The Florence Garden. See you there!
Also see our thoughts on the need for a more 'joined up' approach to planning and PCC's latest bloody nose in their fight to stop development of much needed HMO's. And if you prefer something lighter to start the month, see Charlotte's blog - you will be amused and horrified in equal amounts. Video footage has been withheld in the interest of public decency.
I hope you are enjoying the Spring Bank holiday – shame the weather is not better but at least the short term let market seems to be recovering fast. As a student landlord, I was pleased to see Charlotte's confirmation that end of tenancy cleaning really is as big a task as I thought it was (see her blog on the topic).
We have agreed in principle, a deal with Digital Home to provide broadband to Portsmouth landlords at very favourable rates – so if you are considering switching, do wait until later this month or talk to us first.
If you missed our last meeting, see our summary article or better still, watch the recording in the 'members area' of the website and if you have not yet registered for our May meeting please do so – we have 3 guest speakers covering mortgages, legal changes for landlords and also, the NRLA director responsible for campaigns to talk about his focus and what they are working on with government. This will be another joint PDPLA / NRLA meeting – so lets hope we get a bumper attendance.
When lockdown started, we cancelled meetings and sat at home waiting for a couple of months and then, in May of last year we thought we would try holding one of our meetings using Zoom. Since then, we have been amazed at attendance – often with more attendees than we had at our in-person meetings. Some members have already asked that we continue with Zoom meetings even when we start to meet in person again, hopefully later this year.
Whether we do or not, there is definitely a benefit from being able to watch the recording later, whether you attended or not and that is something we hope to continue. Last month we had 2 excellent speakers (see the recording here), our own Alwin Oliver updating us on Mediation and also, Nick Watchorn from LNPG.
As there are so many useful tips elsewhere in this newsletter, we thought we would end with some humour instead this month: I was walking past the rent office yesterday, when a woman came running out out screaming and wailing, she had a £20 note rolled up and stuck in her left ear and a £10 note rolled up and stuck in her right ear, I asked her friend what was wrong with her, she said she's upset because she's £30 in arrears
If you don't want anymore 'humour' like this, do please send us some tips for future newsletters... :-)
Lots of news this month, hopefully something for everybody - we have a reverse April Fool article that you will not believe but it is true. Plus we have updates on everything from house prices to taxes (see Charlottes Blog - some people will need to do some careful tax planning as a result of Covid), from issues with local authorities to student rents and updates on green issues.
Do read about the proposed changes to EPC's, the recent retrofit conference and look at the statistics on take up of green initiatives, some of them will surprise you.
Hopefully we will be able to resume Landlord Breakfasts and face to face meetings soon, but until then, put the date for our April (Zoom) meeting in your diary.
March again. One member mentioned that it has been March for the past year... Maybe this month, it will finally end…
Anyway, in the interim a real mixed bag – Charlotte talks about the effects of a never-ending March in her blog, while Mary worries about whether she should let to unvaccinated tenants. In 'normal' news, we look at some of the facts behind homelessness locally and review recent planning activity. If you are buying electrical appliances, be aware of the changes in ratings starting today and if you have a property that needs solid wall insulation, do see the new scheme available from Portsmouth for properties right across the area, not just in the city.
If you normally join our Zoom meetings, do put this months in your diary – a different format to usual but we hope it will be a good one and also, look out for details of the Retrofit Conference later this month (16-18th) and keep those mornings clear in readiness. And if you are planning any improvements this month, don't forget to use your PDPLA B&Q Tradepoint card.
A member was worried about a potential tenant from Greece who offered his driving licence as proof of EU citizenship. Was that enough / how long is EU citizenship sufficient to meet the governments 'Right To Rent' checks?
The simple solution is to complete this questionnaire for each and every potential tenant: https://www.gov.uk/landlord-immigration-check
Do ensure that you tenants understand what you insure and what they need to insure.
This is prompted by the sad case of Edge Igbibi who was out on News Years Eve when a stray firework went through his bedroom window in Hester Road, Eastney. The resulting fire destroyed all of his belongings but fortunately, the fire door prevented further harm elsewhere in the property. After the event, Edge said, "I have lost £15,000 worth of goods" - unfortunately he assumed the landlord had insurance which covered contents owned by tenants.
A range of topics this month – an example of a criminal rental scam and comments from Charlotte in her blog about increased activity from this sector of society, so do beware; students asking for rent reductions and the changing face of accommodation in that sector; and PCC finally come into line with other city authorities and check whether the tenant has spoken to the landlord before throwing the book at him or her.
Our meeting this month is a joint one with the NRLA and you need to register – so please do so; and next month Portsmouth hosts a conference on 'retrofitting'(making existing homes greener)- it is free, so put it in your diary and book your place.
Missed the 31st Jan deadline for filing your tax? With over three million people yet to file, HMRC has announced it will waive penalties for late tax returns until 28 February – but the deadline to pay the tax you owe is still officially 31 January.
So pay up quick if this is you and then make some time to finish the paperwork
End of tenancy cleaning causes more disputes between landlords and tenants than any other issue.
So it pays to make sure everyone knows their rights. These include what the landlords responsibilities and obligations are, what level of cleaning is required, what constitutes fair wear and tear, and who should pay for what.
While landlords need to get their property spic and span for new tenants, those departing must leave the property as clean as they found it to avoid losing part of their deposit.
We reproduce this excellent guide published by Alan Boswell Group which covers end of tenancy cleaning, taking you through the process from start to finish, with everything both landlords and tenants need to know.
One of the main causes of tension between landlords and tenants is a misunderstanding of the landlord's right to inspect or view properties that they own. When it comes to both landlord rights and tenants rights in England & Wales, it can sometimes feel as if the rights you both possess are in direct conflict with each other, yet provided that both you and your tenants understand your positions, disputes can be avoided and any tension quashed before it arises.
Lots of member activity this month - whether it be raging against the imposition of Council Tax or adding common sense to our insurers policies, hopefully some useful information for all.
We do hope to see you at our Christmas Party - and just because it is via Zoom does not mean you can just turn up, we expect even better costumes and outfits than usual plus you need to bring your own cakes and a suitable tipple. There will be prizes! And restrictions permitting, we will be back to Watkins & Faux for breakfast on the 16th, so do please add it to your diary.
And finally, if you have not been on a desert island for the past month, you will have noticed that green initiatives are coming thicker and faster than ever. Expect this drumbeat of progress to speed up, so if you are not on the bandwagon yet - start reading our Green section and get your plans in place...
A lot going on this month, so hopefully something of interest for everyone in this newsletter whether your interest be Airbnb, Green funding, HMO's, Student Halls, Tax, the new TradePoint discount or the University position on Covid. Read on…
If you have not planned your transition to providing carbon neutral housing yet – now is the time to start. Firstly, if you have an EPC band E property you really need to get moving and if the tenant's income is less than £30K pa, then you can get up to £10K funding to help – see the item on LADS for detail. Have a C or D and wondering where to go next, Warren has some thoughts on that – maybe it is time to sell or better still, listen to Andrea at our next meeting.
And finally, it may be hidden away in 'Other News' but do look at the Portsmouth Transport Strategy – the success or otherwise of our city and thus our businesses is dependant upon the ability of the city to live and thrive, and it cannot do that if the streets are gridlocked and/or we are paying for multiple schemes which have little real benefit. So do have your say. And talking of grid lock, do look at the road closures in the same section.
Are your downlighters insulated? Should they be? When you last had an upstairs bathroom replaced, did you fit downlighters and if so, did you replace the loft insulation above it?
For loft insulation to work, it needs to be thick (think 11-12 inches, 270-300mm), uncrushed (no good if you store currently unused stuff on top) AND unbroken - if there are gaps or holes most of the benefit is lost.
However, downlighters get hot, even LED ones and should not be covered by insulation. I just had a bathroom done and the electrician left most of the insulation in a heap in the corner of the loft, with the bathroom ceiling almost completely uncovered and he was upset when I covered his newly fitted downlighters.
So what should you do? Well, lets not get technical and avoid talk of fire chimneys and whether you need fire hoods or not, whether you have bulbs or integrated units - each have slightly different needs - but the simple solution is to fit a 'Loft Lid' or similar device over each downlighter (think of it as an upturned flower pot without the holes). This gives room for the heat to dissipate but you can run the loft insulation over the top without losing its benefit. Just search for 'downlight cover' for examples.
This month we have our 1st joint PDPLA / NRLA meeting and Patrick Lee from PCC will also be attending to talk about the consultation on PRS Strategy - so do please attend if you can (and see our initial thoughts below). We are hoping to have our first 'off island' breakfast this month, so do look out for more details on that and do let us know your thoughts on any of the items in this months news.
PDPLA Chair, Martin Silman was on Express FM last month and Vice Chair, Alwin Oliver was on BBC South Today - both talking about some of the challenges facing the PRS at the moment. Do see the 'No DSS' article below and be aware that whilst we have already provided PCC with 9 family properties and 3 HMO's this year, they are desparately in need of more family sized accommodation at the moment - so if you have something that might be suitable do let Janice know or talk to Alwin or Tony Athill about the support you can expect and how successful it has been for them.
Flat Roof Issues – Landlord Insurance: Members appear to have continuing issues after our piece on flat roof surfaces last month (https://pdpla.com/news/new-insurance-checks-on-flat-roof-surfaces ) with some concluding that their only option is to replace flat roof surfaces every 15 years regardless of their condition instead of waiting until they show signs of failure. It seems to be either that or paying £50-100 every year for a 'competent builder' to write a report stating that the roof is in good condition.Do let us know how you plan to handle this.
No blog this month, Charlotte has more important projects underway but we hope to see her back in the New Year.
After we mentioned that silicon mastic in bathrooms could be cleaned with baking powder and bleach - what do you know - one of our Spanish members told us about a lady in Australia who uses almost the same technique on old and discoloured grouting.
Summer is ending and whilst Covid may still be with us, any suggestion of sitting idly at home waiting for it to end has long since gone. Trades people have never been busier or harder to get hold of (do update our recommended suppliers when you use one), evidence of 'sofa surfing' is increasing – so if you have an uninvited tenant do make sure you are on the right side of the rules (though as a couple of members found this month, at present, eviction is not an option). And if you have experienced abuse of the 'no evictions' government policy, like the landlord with a property in Telephone Rd who has 5 students waiting to move in on 8th Sept, but he cannot get rid of last years students as they have concluded that 'no evictions' gives them carte blanche to stay rent free, then do let us know.
A year ago, there was very little activity on Facebook focused specifically on landlords and tenants - then 'Private Landlords - Portsmouth' popped up, it became very busy and then it appeared to have far more than its fair share of scammers - people pretending to be landlords who were not, offering properties that did not exist and illegally taking deposits. As a result, a whole slew of new Facebook sites for landlords locally have appeared with a range of different approaches to identifying and excluding scammers.
The good news is that at present, PCC are not expecting to change the rules due to the Corona virus crisis - students who went home in March will not result in Council Tax bills from that date as their University year and their contracts are unchanged. This comes in a month when we have received calls from a number of members upset by the size of the council tax bills for their student properties.
The University of Portsmouth have confirmed that they have pushed the start of the 2020-2021 student year back to the start of October and we have been told that the year may be compressed (shorter holidays) in order to fit a normal year in but we don't have confirmation yet. Students are being encouraged to move to Portsmouth as usual but a lot more 'online learning' is planned for the year ahead - but we will have to wait and see what that means for us.
It could be that sharing with 3 others in a small house in Southsea is much less worrying than sharing a tower block with 800 others when it comes to social distancing....