Recent news items of interest to local landlords, use the search option above to find specific topics.
Many letting agents who manage properties in Portsmouth are asking landlords to apply for HMO licenses for their houses as the agents don't want to be named on the licence as the responsible party should there be a problem.
At this month's meeting of the Portsmouth Housing partnership, council officers made it clear that it does not matter whether a landlord or his managing agent are named on the licence. If there is a problem resulting in court action, prohibition orders or whatever, any paper will be served on BOTH parties.
A recent article in Property Week highlights claims by a London property manager that up to 60% of leaseholders and this includes residential landlords, are being 'ripped off' and are paying inflated building insurance premiums. Chainbow, which manages sites across the south-east, said building insurance scams are one of the most widespread examples of malpractice by managing agents and freeholders.
The HMRC makes a clear distinction between 'repairs and renewals' for a property and capital expenditure or 'improvement' and many landlords find this an area of confusion.
"I think a lot of landlords don't realise the difference between the two types of expense and just see all costs as legitimate expenses that they can offset against their income tax, but we have to sit them down and explain there's a difference," says Sudipta.
What may seem trivial can easily become critical. A blown light bulb one week could be a multi-million pound law suit the next. A loose bannister could lose you your savings.
Keeping your properties safe and free from health hazards may sound obvious but the reality is that they can be too often ignored, often with disastrous results.
The head of one of the three mandatory redress schemes in the rental sector insists that, contrary to suggestions from some in the industry, "a significant proportion" of letting agents have yet to join. Sean Hooker, property ombudsman at the Property Redress Scheme - one of the mandatory schemes alongside The Property Ombudsman and Ombudsman Services - says confusion over how many agents have signed up to one or other of the schemes is down to a continuing lack of clarity over who is regarded as an 'agent'.
With an election coming next May, we all need to do what we can to balance some of the rubbish being pushed out by ALL political parties in search of votes.
The sidebar page comes from the newsletter of local LibDem councilor Lee Hunt but we also have Conservative leader at PCC, Donna Jones giving TV interviews saying ALL students should be housed in Halls and we are increasingly seeing Labour calls for rent caps, mandatory registration of landlords, longer tenancies and a number of other potentially costly reforms.
What can you do?
Portsmouth City Council licensing team have started inspecting all houses thus far licensed. We have questioned the value of this but apparently, part of the reason for the high cost of the scheme compared to, say, Southampton, is that they costed in these checks.
We have had some good reports of houses passed without problems but also, some inconsistencies - some inspectors are happy for the licence info to be 'somewhere in the house' whereas others specify that it must be hung on the wall in the entrance hallway somewhere.
Many of us have had 'free' cavity wall insulation installed over the past few years. The council part funded the work but the main funding came from the energy companies who were legally required to support these initiatives.
Whilst obviously a worthwhile concept, the practice may not have been as effective as intended.
Over the years I have had many debates with members about whether they use inventories, whether they create their own or use an agency, how they support them with photos or videos and whether, at the end of the tenancy they are of value in agreeing cost sharing for any remedial works or cleaning required.
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