We have been following the legal battle over HMO licensing between Nottingham City Council and one of their student landlords with some interest. In the latest instalment, the Supreme Court removed conditions applied by the Upper Tribunal in an earlier appeal which confirms our view (and contradicts a view held by PCC during the 5 years of Additional Licensing just ended), that you can take the type of tenant into account.

A simple example, is that gaps between spindles on stairs (balustrades) need to be 4 inches or less to prevent small children falling through, but in a house which will only be let to adults, is this relevant?  PCC always argued they could not guarantee the type of tenant or their visitors, so all rules should apply to all properties.  The new ruling shows that this is not the case and allowances can and should be made based on the type of tenant.

We often recommend members challenge or appeal decisions by inspectors, partly because they are inconsistent from one house to the next, but also because many of them are inappropriate given the type or usage of the property in question. So if you are asked to do something the benefit of which is not obvious, do consider challenging it before you spend your hard earned cash on what may be unnecessary alterations.

There is a Private Members Bill making its way through the Houses of Parliament which has almost universal support - however, some people are expecting it to solve problems that it cannot and we also see statements which do nothing to reduce the bad press landlords get considering the amount of time and effort we expend helping those most in need and most vulnerable.  Read on to see our explanation of some of the considerations that we sent to Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan and his positive response.

Portsmouth, like many councils, has outsourced collection of council tax to a private company with a view to maximising their income and thus reduce the impact of cutbacks on the services they provide. This is commendable, but when it comes to student accommodation, we fear it may hurt students, the University and the council itself in the longer term.

We have acquaintances who have a property they rent in the US. It had been successfully let to a young woman who lived with her partner until earlier this year.

Then the couple split, the partner moved out and then came back and burnt the house down.

A terrible experience for a landlord (and the tenant of course) wherever it happens - so why are we reporting it here? Well, it is different in America...

As landlords we struggle to get a fair hearing, it is easy for the press, media, councillors and politicians to 'win points' by going after 'nasty landlords'  when the reality is that a higher percentage of private sector tenants are happy with their homes than social sector tenants, we house more than 1 in 4 of the local population and we do it without subsidy or support while contributing strongly to the local economy.  This occasional newsletter item asks members to do their bit to change attitudes and help start changing perceptions.

This month we have a campaign on Universal Credit below plus the item on B&Q and Shelter, elsewhere in the news. Please do your bit to support both as appropriate.

In the past couple of weeks, since the PDPLA decided to withdraw from B&Q"s Tradepoint scheme as the new terms were unfavourable for most landlords, B&Q has been hit by threats of a boycott from various landlord groups because of B&Q"s donations to activist group Shelter.

After a challenge from the Southern Landlords Association, Brighton and Hove have shelved their plans to introduce Selective Licensing in February after support for the scheme was withdrawn by the Secretary of State.

The challenge related to the lack of evidence to support the proposal and the flaws in the logic as to why the scheme was needed.

With letting agents demanding hundreds of pounds in payment before prospective tenants are allowed to view properties for rent, changing energy providers in order to get kick backs and charging ever more, what should we be doing as landlords? Maybe more importantly, with the legislative changes that will prevent them charging tenants as they do today, will any survive?

Our annual Christmas party was different from usual for a number of reasons. Firstly, the new venue appeared to be much better appreciated than previous ones and also, we normally distribute left over food to the local homeless, but this year there was no left-over food.

The good news is that we raised considerably more for local charities than normal and at the same time, a good time was had by all.

It seems only a month ago that we advised members to cut up their B&Q Tradepoint cards as the discounts were no longer worth having (actually, it was 2 months ago. Last month we reported on another association boycotting B&Q because of their support for Shelter - see an update on that elsewhere in this newsletter). Well, it appears they listened and the new deal offers 5% on everything (small print applies!) and 10% if you spend £500 during a period (current period runs until end of March).

Read on for more details....

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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