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PDPLA 2016 AGM Reports - External Activities

PDPLA 2016 AGM Reports - External Activities
  • BPF
  • Housing Benefit
  • Universal Credit
  • Two Saints Bond Scheme

BPF

The British Property Federation exists (amongst other things)

            •             To support and defend the interests of all landlords.

            •             Formulate policy and agree action plans.

            •             Produce evidence to support the above.

            •             Respond to Government consultations, as a group and / or individually.

            •             Work with other organisations that relate to the PRS to represent our interests (ie CML, ARLA, Shelter, Crisis etc)

Formally the BPF represented all those involved in property investment in the UK and were steered by committees representing the various sectors. With similar representatives from around UK I represented PDPLA on the "Residential Property Committee".

Influential top dogs in the BPF now see supporting this group as conflicting with the interests of big corporate landlords and their build to rent agenda. They want us out. 

A number of us have told the CEO of the BPF that we think this is a retrograde step for the BPF  but the corporations contribute much more to the BPF finances. 

Thus our "Residential Property Committee" is about to review its objectives and how they can best be achieved. We also need to rethink the group structure, financing, secretariat etc. Currently the only option on the table is for the RLA to provide the secretariat. We meet on April 13th.

Over the last year we have discussed, lobbied and submitted papers or consultation responses on the following:

We have been largely ignored on:

  • the stamp duty changes
  • the mortgage interest relief changes
  • capital gains tax
  • Universal Credit

We are waiting to hear on:

  • The extending of HMO licensing
  • The proposed block on HMO rooms under 6.5 sq m
  • The Housing and Planning Bill currently being debated 
  • EU and Bank of England moves to control buy to let lending

We have had some success in;

  • changing the Right to Rent legislation so landlords that find themselves with tenants who do not have the right of abode through no fault of their own are not criminalised.
  • changing the way some buildings were unfairly treated by the EPC methodology

Who knows what joys the Government has in store for us next. 

The good news from our man at the BPF is that:

"The worst of the attack on the PRS I think is over. The chap who led a lot of this bile against the smaller landlord, an adviser at no. 10, has moved on". The new chap is more pragmatic and doesn"t hate the PRS. However, in case you have not noticed "David Cameron and George Osborne, are not as supportive of the PRS as many of their predecessors." 

Tony Athill

Housing Benefit

Landlords need to take a very pragmatic view on accepting tenants on benefits:

  • LHA is lower than market rent and there are more than enough tenants able to pay market rent.
  • The risks of rent defaults, antisocial behaviour and property damage are higher.
  • There are major uncertainties regarding the future of Universal Credit (the new benefits payment system) and how reliable rent payments will be.
  • Government attempts to get people off benefits and into work result in the less able and less motivated being sanctioned by having their benefits withdrawn for a period. 
  • Government attention is on home ownership at the expense of poorer tenants who will never be able to buy. 

        

However

  • There is a huge market out there for tenants on benefits and low incomes.
  • The tenancies are in general be much longer term 
  • Housing low income tenants can still be profitable if the property is in the right area and tenants are very carefully selected. There are a number of support agencies that can smooth the landlord and tenant relationship. 
  • Housing the needy can be very rewarding other than financially. 
  • The tenants can be much less demanding. 
  • Following extensive lobbying Local authorities have been instructed not to advise tenants to sit it out when landlords commence legal repossession proceedings. We have yet to see if housing officers will change their ways and understand that if they are fair to landlords, more will offer their clients homes.

Should PDPLA push to encourage PCC to offer more support to landlords housing those on low incomes and make accreditation work for them as well as the better off? How far should we go to support the few members who hold rents low to keep people off the streets?

Allan has been working hard on our behalf on a scheme to assist some tenants at the bottom of the housing ladder to provide their landlords with a bond that gives them better protection than the current Local Authority scheme. This is covered in his report.

Universal Credit

The Portsmouth area is fortunate to be the last to commence the placing of tenants on the new benefits system: Universal Credit (UC). PCC estimate that for the remainder of 2016 only 15 households per month will commence or be moved to UC as this will initially be only for new single, working age claimants and those moving from Employment Support Allowance (ESA) to Jobseekers Allowance (JSA). A few tenants moving from another area may come in receipt of Universal Credit. Some of those seeing UC for the first time will be tenants who will need support from their landlord or the local authority. These landlords may need training beyond the overview being given by PCC and DWP. At this stage, as we estimate few landlords will need training, I am suggesting that they get it themselves from the RLA or other providers. At a later stage we may organise something locally. Should this be financed by the landlords or the association? 

We cannot offer much assistance to landlords on this issue but need to know if problems are arising and may be able to guide you to the experts. 

Tony Athill

Two Saints Bond Scheme

We have worked with Two Saints to extend the limited bond scheme offered by PCC into something that will meet the needs of local landlords and thus make them more likely to house the tenants that Two Saints supports.

Currently, the PCC scheme only underwrites a deposit of £500 and then only for 6 months - we have agreed to underwrite bonds to an initial limit of £3,000 which will allow Two Saints to guarantee higher deposits for longer periods.  We have also offered 1 years free membership to any landlord who uses this scheme who is not already a member and agreed to provide a free inventory and ongoing support to the landlord in the same way that Two Saints does for the tenant. In this way, working together, we hope to increase the success rate of landlords and tenants in this scheme and thus improve provision for the most needy in the city.

We are concerned that this is a Portsmouth only scheme and continue to encourage Two Saints to work more closely with other authorities in an effort to remove the current perceived barriers between authorities (so for example they cannot house a Portsmouth person in Gosport under current practice).

Allan Wadsworth

 

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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