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Time To End Green Levies & Grants

The idea is simple, add a small amount to everyone's energy bill to contribute to a fund which can be used to improve energy efficiency across the country – the bad news is that it does not work and what we really need is something more like the American system.

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Licensing Deja Vue

Exactly 10 years ago, we sent a letter to the then leader of Portsmouth Council, copying the Cabinet Member responsible for Housing, outlining our doubts about the need to introduce Additional Licensing and why we did not think it would work.

Here we are, same council leader, same Housing Cabinet Member (in their defence there have been others in between), same concerns about the proposal to introduce Additional Licensing.  Read what we said then and judge whether we were right.... 

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HMO Rents Set To Rise 50%

 As part of our response to the consultation on Additional Licensing, we asked our Vice Chair, local landlord and long established letting agent, Alwin Oliver to outline the economics of HMO's from the perspective of the tenant, the landlord and the city – as we are convinced everyone just assumes we are making huge profits at the expense of all around. We were not surprised to see Alwin's analysis prove this to be untrue – we knew that already – but what did surprise us was the fact that if Additional Licencing drives the smaller HMOs and landlords out of the market, the median renter will now find him or herself in a much more expensive 'Super HMO' which is why we believe the median rents will rise 50%.

Don't believe us? Then read on and Alwin will explain….

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Landlord Tip Of The Month - August

Don't forget that from October (1st) rules for carbon monoxide detectors change - so make sure you have one in any room with a boiler, not just those with solid fuel burning devices.

"Because carbon monoxide is slightly lighter than air and also because it may be found with warm, rising air, detectors should be placed on a wall about 5 feet above the floor. The detector may be placed on the ceiling. Do not place the detector right next to or over a fireplace or flame-producing appliance."

Landlord Tenant Mediation Works

Views within the PDPLA have been split – there are those who argue vehemently that we need a mediation option to avoid the high cost associated with obtaining an eviction and those who say it is a nice idea, but how could it work when the relationship has reached a stage where eviction is inevitable and anyway, it can never be a relationship between equals, so how could it work?

Well – the good news is that the proof is in the pudding and so far, it does appear to be working. The pilot, initiated by our own Alwin Oliver working with Portsmouth Mediation Service and latterly, PCC, appears to be bearing fruit.

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The C3/C4 Planning Conundrum

 When the Article 4 Direction was introduced in Portsmouth 12 years ago, we recommended that members with smaller HMOs change the planning status of their properties to mixed use (known as C3/C4) so that they could switch between family lets and HMO letting without breaking the rules. Those C3/C4 approvals were only for 10 years (though many were not told so at the time) – but now, when owners come to renew, many are getting confused as you need to apply for planning permission to change from 'mixed use C3/C4' to 'mixed use C3/C4' which appears illogical.

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EPC C or D by 2025?

As many landlords worry about how they will achieve EPC ratings of C or better by 2025, the largest accreditation scheme for energy assessors is telling its members that 'C' is unachievable and that they should be advising clients to plan for 'D or better' in that timefame. See their PDF explanation of MEES including these timeframes below. 

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Property Age Linked To Energy Efficiency

It does not take a rocket scientist to work out that older buildings will be harder to heat than newer ones, but new research from the ONS based on VOA data quantifies the problem.  Almost all homes built since 2012 have a high efficiency rating whereas only 1 in 8 of those built before 1900 does.

Given that most of Southsea and Old Portsmouth comes into the latter category are you one of the majority with no plans to do anything about it?

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Rogue Tenants Plague Local Rental Market

Fortunately, rogue tenants are uncommon but, like bad landlords, it only takes one to affect everyone's perception. This month we have seen 2 – one was jailed for the damage he caused and the other, just left the landlord with a huge mess to clear up and moved on to blight the life of another landlord and their new neighbours.

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PDPLA Newsletter - July 2021

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: 

Leasehold Property Insurance

One of our members used our 'questions@' service to seek advice on insuring his leasehold flat in case, for example, there was a leak in the flat above.

Read on to see the advice given by Steve Cox of insurers Boswells... 

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Beware: Criminal Rental Scam

Unfortunately, we have seen another example this month of a potential tenant duped into parting with a considerable sum by a criminal impersonating a bone fide landlord. This particular example used NLA sourced paperwork and logo's to establish credibility and used the Covid-19 lockdown as an excuse to do everything via social media. Before you ask how people can be so gullible, have a look at some of the detail and see if you would have fallen for it.  

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New UK 10-point Climate Change Plan Weak On Housing

Over recent months we have heard much talk of the governments 10-point climate change plan and have seen elements of it, such as the introduction of the Green Homes Grant (see our comments on that here). This month, we finally have the full list of 10 areas of focus. Read on for our explanation of the plan and what it means, if anything, for landlords.

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HMO’s – Can 139 Local Residents Be Wrong

 It was with some incredulity that we heard that there had been 139 objections to the conversion of 2 derelict shops in Stamshaw to HMO's. We consider it hypocritical that the local authorities know they need shared housing in the city, the Local Plan talks about 'mixed and balanced' communities, Housing Options place formerly homeless tenants in them yet councillors continue to encourage the demonisation of HMO's by local residents and do nothing to explain the bigger picture or allay their fears.

This against the backdrop this week of a property in Cosham, much needed to house overseas nurses drafted in to cover staff shortages due to Covid, also sitting empty due to issues with the 'change of use' required before it can be used as shared accommodation.

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Another Great Landlord Lost To Portsmouth

It was with some sadness we said goodbye to Joannie Goldenberg at our last meeting. She stepped down from our committee after 14 years service at our AGM in September as she moves forward with her plan to retire to a villa in Portugal  with a garden full of nut trees - I guess that after being surrounded by nuts for so long, it is not something one wants to change....

But seriously, Jonie will be sorely missed. For most, she was the 1st person they met when they joined the PDPLA, the person who introduced them to like minded landlords, who managed their membership, arranged the Christmas parties, produced detailed minutes of all of the meetings and arranged for them to be posted to members. An impossible act to follow - thank you Joannie.

Read on for her response and some thoughts of others...

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Pace of Change Increases

We had hoped the MEES (Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard) consultation would be launched in time for this months newsletter, but while it is imminent, it is not out yet.

What we can say is that the pace of change is increasing. In our heading block above, we talk about EPC C or better by 2030, yet over the past month we have heard government suggest that this may be brought forward to 2028 and we have also heard suggestions that gas boilers will need to be phased out completely in a similar timeframe.

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Portsmouth PRS Strategy Consultation Starts

 Members may remember meetings earlier this year when we discussed the PCC draft strategy for the private rented sector (published in January, see it here). It contained 9 proposed strategic objectives, 14 actions which could be taken without external involvement and 9 more that would need the help of others including us.

A consultation has now started to try to assess the relative importance of each of the 9 proposed strategic objectives and also, to gain the views of the general public on the need for and the likely effectiveness of some of the proposed actions.

Patrick Lee, who will be at our October meeting to answer questions, said "Consultation on the draft strategy was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but we're now at a stage where we are looking to consult with anyone interested in the issues surrounding the private rental sector in Portsmouth. This information will be used to inform and develop the final strategy and subsequent action plans."

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August 2020 News

Sad news – we lost Julian Clokie this month, our thoughts and condolences are with his family. Zoom has proved popular in the absence of face to face meetings and this month, we have 2 speakers including Patrick Lee from PCC talking about the need for our input on their strategy for the private rent...

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B&Q Trade Point August Offers

In addition to the normal 5-10% discount received by members, there are a range of additional offers this month including a further 10% off of kitchens - so a compelling offer for anyone in the market for a kitchen.

Full details below and do remember to use your PDPLA Trade Point card when you shop, as we get a very small commission when you do so.  (And if you don't have one or have lost yours, do let us know This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)  

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New Electrical Regs – What Landlords Need to Know

As of July 1st 2020, ALL RENTED PROPERTY (not just HMO's) will need a current electrical certificate showing the property has been tested within the past 5 years and was safe and met the required standard at the time it was tested.

For most landlords, this is more than just getting a new certificate – it is a requirement to upgrade the electrics in their properties. In this article we look at what that will mean for many of us  (This article is a shortened version of the full guide in the CPD section of the PDPLA Members Area)

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Wanted: Slow and Expensive Builder/Tradesman

As landlords we are all equally guilty – how cheaply can you fit a kitchen? Can you get the bathroom done next Monday/Tuesday? We never say, could you take a little longer and do it better or, OK that sounds good but what if I paid a bit more? So it is our fault that very few trades people have the time to take pride in the quality of their work or go the extra mile to do a better job. But does it matter as long as it is good enough you ask? Well, yes it does,you could save money if you ask for a better job. Let me give you some examples….

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April 2020 News

April again. Last year, in the April edition, we opened with: "Normally in April we include an 'April Fool' article but we break with tradition this year and include only real news – several reasons for this: in previous years we have had members who read and believed the articles, following up some months later for updates but also, with events in the news at the moment, anything we make up is likely to be less bizarre and therefore more credible."Looking back,  it is a struggle to view last April as anything other than very normal. Hopefully, when we look back on this April it will not be so.

Much new news in this edition – hopefully enough pointers and information to help you through any Coronavirus related issues and also a couple of items specific to HMO landlords. Everyone needs to think about the impact on their tenants of the forthcoming update to electrical regulations and how they will handle it and while you are 'staying in' it is worth taking the time to review the PCC PRS strategy as it will affect us all. Also note we have updated the 'Landlords Checklist' on our website to reflect the new EPC regulations now in force.

Did you think of serviced accommodation as high workload / high return / high risk? I did until I read Charlotte's blog this month – apparently there are 3 levels of operation and in the current environment, the highest risk of the 3 is probably unsustainable. Do read it and let us know your view.

And if, instead of 'more news', you would prefer a little light hearted entertainment, here is our April fool item from 2018 (sky hooks for rubbish collection) and also, another classic (urinals in student HMO rooms) from 2015.

Reflections on the current times

I like my small business, it feels good to break free from work, shift for yourself and hear the ker-ching of money you have made yourself. This last 2 weeks has been eerily quiet so a great opportunity to reflect (as well as clean my much-neglected house).

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Coronavirus Advice From iHowz & the NRLA

iHowz (formerly the Southern Landlords Association) have summarised some very useful advice for landlords on everything from how do you go about Gas Safety inspections when a tenant is self-isolating to what are the new rules on eviction. (Thanks to iHowz for allowing us to share) This has been updated with links to the NRLA webinar and information on this topic.

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February Newsletter

Unfortunately, a lot of regulatory news this month – forthcoming electrical regulations, guidance on what to do if you missed the self-assessment deadline and updates on council tax and Portsmouth's Housing Cabinet meeting.

However, if you only read one thing this month – make sure it is our guide on heating rented properties, as a landlord you have legal responsibilities that many may not realise. We have added this guide to our CPD section so you know where to find it in future and we will update it if things change – but do make sure you know your responsibilities, we may test you on your knowledge at the next meeting! And talking of meetings, we have some video summaries of our last meeting, do let us know if this format is useful please. 

Student Council Tax - Did The Tide Turn?

As ​government funding for local authorities has been progressively cut, councils have tried to maximise their council tax income by going after student landlords for payment for every day a property contains a non-student or is empty. Our screams of victimisation have been ignored, though we have had a little success in ensuring that student halls get the same treatment as small private landlords.

However, it appears students are now getting upset and the government may well take action as a result.

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RLA Manifesto for the PRS

The Residential Landlords' Association has launched its own election manifesto focused on improving the lot of both tenants and landlords in the private rented sector (PRS) - including longer tenancies, encouraging sales of rental properties to first time buyers, and tougher enforcement against rogue landlords.

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HMO Rules Reviewed

At this months meeting of PRED (Portsmouth City Council's committee responsible for Portsmouth's Regeneration and Economic Development) various councillors petitioned for the Article 4 Direction which limits the number of HMO's in any area to 10% to be tightened up.

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Update on HMO Licensing / PCC sells landlords addresses

Last month we raised concerns about Portsmouth City Council selling addresses of landlords who own or manage HMO's in the southern half of the city.  The original article can be viewed here.

We subsequently proposed what we believed was an interpretation of the law which would meet the needs of the council and all other users of the HMO register whilst avoiding the issues raised by our members. Unfortunately, the Council have chosen not to accept this interpretation and continue to sell our addresses to anyone who wants them.

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Update on Council Tax for Portsmouth Student Landlords

Following on from our piece last month, entitled Portsmouth Council Tax Student Homes (read the item here), we have had confirmation of some of the details from Ed Woodhouse, Head of Revenues and Benefits at Portsmouth City Council. The key message is that if we have an empty house with no tenants during the summer, or if we use it for holiday lets, then we should be declaring this and paying Council Tax. Conversely, if we have full time students for the whole year, then we are not liable for any Council Tax.

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Small Bedrooms Are OK (Sometimes)

Many landlords have struggled to explain to local councils that small bedrooms are OK and that many people in HMO's are happy to take a small room if it means they pay less in rent. There has been much debate about whether 'guidance' that rooms should be a minimum of 6.5 sq. metres (70 sq ft) should be enforced or not. In a surprising turn, central government in the form of the Department of Work and Pensions has ruled that any room big enough to contain a single bed can be used as a bedroom.

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Update from HMRC on Self-Assessment for Landlords

In last months article on the top 3 areas where landlords get it wrong when making self-assessment submissions for their annual tax return (original article here ) we appear to have made a mistake ourselves!

In section on "Flipping between wear and tear and renewals" we stated that flipping between using the 10% wear and tear allowance to claiming for individual renewals was not permitted but you could still opt to claim for renewals of furniture etc as incurred.THIS IS NO LONGER CORRECT.

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