Fire Door Safety Week: Shutting the door on fire and smoke

Article Written by Sally Walmsley for the RLA – 24th September 2018 Thousands of fire doors across the UK are ‘ill-fitting, propped open or damaged’ putting lives at risk, according to the organisers of the annual fire door safety awareness week. Fire Door Safety Week, which starts today, aims to stamp out bad practice and raise awareness of the important role that fire doors play. Organisers the British Woodworking Federation is urging landlords and tenants to familiarise themselves with the fire safety system of their building. Research carried out by the organisation and released today to mark the launch, found that almost three quarters (72%) of flat tenants would ignore guidance to ‘stay put’ if there was a fire in their building and their particular flat was not affected by fire or smoke. When residents were asked why they would not follow the stay put advice, 39% said they do not have confidence in their building’s ability to stop the spread of smoke and fire, 28% said they do not understand why the “stay put” advice is in place and 61% stated they would rather take matters into their own hands. Lack of confidence Hannah Mansell, spokesperson for Fire Door Safety Week said: “Our research reveals tenants’ widespread lack of confidence and knowledge in the current “stay put” or fire safety measures of their building . “Seeds of doubt have been sown and tenants no longer feel able to trust the systems in place.  They would rather risk their own lives, and the lives of others by trying to get out of a burning building than seek refuge in their flats. “We need...

Deregulation Act and HMO changes next week-make sure you’re prepared

Article Written by Victoria Barker for the RLA – 24th September 2018 HMO mandatory licensing, new minimum room size requirements, and the extension of the Deregulation Act to apply to all tenancies. There are several changes coming into play on Monday 1st October which you need to be aware of. With a week to go, here we have compiled our articles and guides on the topics in one convenient. Don’t forget our training courses will keep you up to date with the law. Check out our full range of courses on our Training Academy website, including our HMO landlord training programme Changes to minimum room sizes In a nutshell: As of 1st October 2018, it will be unlawful to rent out a house of multiple occupation (HMO) unless it meets brand new minimum room size requirements. What’s new? A HMO licence granted under Part 2 of the Housing Act 2004 (that is pursuant to mandatory and additional licensing schemes) must contain conditions requiring the licence holder to ensure that any room used for sleeping accommodation is: Not less than 6.51 m2 for one person over 10 years; Not less than 10.22 m2 for two persons over 10 years of age; and Not less than 4.64 m2 for one person aged under 10 years. Learn more: You can read a helpful guide on the new minimum room size requirements here. Changes to mandatory licensing In a nutshell: More HMOs (an estimated 177,000) will be required to have a mandatory licence in order for them to be let out lawfully. What’s new? What is known as the three storey rule is now going to be scrapped, and the changes will require landlords who let a...

Labour conference: Healey says party would abolish Section 21

Article Written by Sally Walmsley for the RLA – 24th September 2018 Labour “will control rents, end no-fault evictions and put a stop to the tyranny of rogue landlords” should the party come into power following the next election. Shadow Housing Secretary, John Healey MP made the statement in a speech to the Labour Party Conference today, pledging the party would fund renters unions to ‘support and defend’ tenants. He told delegates in Liverpool that in the first year of a Labour government, Ministers would “legislate for new renters rights to control costs, improve conditions and increase security.” He said: “We know that our rights are worthless when we can’t enforce them, in the workplace or in the housing market. “So I can announce today, that the next Labour Government will back new unions for renters, and fund them in every part of the country – so renters who feel helpless in the face of this housing crisis can organise and defend their rights.” Responding to his speech the RLA has stressed that the vast majority of tenants are happy with their accommodation and that landlords use Section 21 to regain possession due to a court system which is not fit for purpose. In fact, the English Housing Survey report on the Private Rented Sector for 2016/17 shows that over the last three years, 90% of private sector tenancies were ended by the tenant. David Smith, RLA Policy Director, said: “Many landlords resort to Section 21 notices because the alternative procedures take too long to process through the courts. “To address this, the RLA is calling for a new housing court to bring justice more quickly...
Long term tenancy consultation: The RLA response

Long term tenancy consultation: The RLA response

Written by Victoria Barker for the RLA – 28th August 2018 The RLA has submitted it’s response to the Government’s consultation into long term tenancies – and the barriers preventing landlords from offering them. The consultation, overcoming the barriers to longer tenancies in the private rented sector, closed yesterday (Sunday) with the RLA response outlining both the difficulties faced by landlords and potential solutions. Previous RLA surveys show that around 40% of our members would be prepared to offer a longer tenancy if it was asked for under the current circumstances. However, they say tenants do not ask and, in some cases, do not desire longer leases. Barriers for landlords Members who responded to our most recent survey raised a number of issues Some landlords feel it is important for them to get to know the tenant first, before offering them a longer term tenancy. Some pointed to restrictions in mortgage conditions and insurance policies preventing them from offering longer term tenancies. And some pointed to the complex court process to regain possession. Overall, over three quarters of landlords (77%) said that they do not offer longer tenancies because of the time and cost to regain possession, although more than half (55%) said they would be more likely to do so if a more efficient court process was available. Demand for longer tenancies As well as there being barriers for landlords in offering longer term tenancies,  recent research from RLA PEARL found, 38% of landlords who responded said tenants don’t want them. Echoing this, reports from mortgage lenders say that they rarely experience landlords who ask for mortgage terms that restrict tenancies of over...
RLA concerns on Right to Rent included in commons briefing paper

RLA concerns on Right to Rent included in commons briefing paper

Written by Victoria Barker for the RLA – 30th August 2018 A briefing paper on Right to Rent published today by the House of Commons Library includes concerns raised by the RLA relating to the policy. The briefing, which you can read here, provides an overview of the Government’s Right to Rent policy, including the impact of its rollout. Under the Right to Rent scheme, landlords are responsible for checking the immigration status of their tenants with the prospect of prosecution if they know or have “reasonable cause to believe”that the property they are letting is occupied by someone who does not have the right to rent in the UK. Implementation of Right to Rent With regards to the implementation of the policy in England, the research briefing mentions a survey that was conducted when the Right to Rent scheme was rolled out in February 2016, which found that 90% of RLA members said that they had not received any information about their obligations under the scheme. Discrimination The research briefing also mentions findings from RLA PEARL from November last year, which demonstrates that the Right to Rent policy is having unintended consequences. It mentions findings from the report; “State Intervention into Renting: Making sense of the impact of policy changes”, that in a survey of over 2000 respondents, 42% of landlords reported that they would be less likely to consider letting to those without a British passport. Roll out of Right to Rent in Wales The briefing also mentions a call from RLA Wales for the Welsh Government to resist the expansion of Right to Rent checks in Wales. Right to Rent judicial review- what’s next? In June, the Joint...

Chartered Institute of Housing backs RLA call to lift LHA freeze

Written by Sally Walmsley of the RLA – 29th August 2018 New research from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) shows that more than 90% of Local Housing Allowance rates across Great Britain now fail to cover the cheapest rents. The institute is warning that rates have now fallen so far behind that private renting has become unaffordable for most low income tenants – putting them at risk of homelessness as they are forced to choose between basic living expenses and paying the shortfall. The organisation is now calling on the Government to review the policy and to end the freeze immediately – something the RLA has also been campaigning on for some time. Frozen LHA rates are meant to cover the cheapest 30 per cent of homes in any given area, but they haven’t been increased in line with local rents since April 2013 and they remain frozen until April 2020. As a result, renters are facing gaps ranging from £25 a month on a single room in a shared home outside London to more than £260 a month on one to four-bedroom homes in some areas of  the capital. Over 12 months, those gaps rise to £300 and £3,120 – making it increasingly likely that renters will be forced to choose between paying for basic necessities like food and heating or their rent. The Government introduced targeted affordability funding in 2014 to bridge the biggest gaps but CIH’s new report has found that its impact has been negligible, covering only a handful of the shortfalls completely. RLA response In a blog post last year the RLA called on the Government lift the LHA...

The landlord media briefing – August 2018

Article Provided by the NLA - 05 Sep 2018 Log in or Sign up to post comments Section 21 and discrimination were the two big topics for us in the media in a busy August. Other topics covered this month include the experiences of families on short-term tenancies and rent controls. Shelter report on discrimination against benefit tenants Earlier this year, a single mother settled out of court with a letting agent who she claimed indirectly discriminated against her by having a blanket ban on ‘DSS’ tenants. It was argued that as more women, particularly single mothers, receive housing benefit, this amounted to indirect discrimination, and also applies to those living with disability. Shelter then researched this further using mystery shoppers found that “five of England’s leading letting agents actively discriminate against tenants on housing benefit”. This generated a fair amount of media coverage, with NLA spokespeople appearing on Victoria Derbyshire, Radio 4 Today, Channel 4, 5 Live, and Radio Kent, among others. Our advice to all landlords and letting agents is to take each potential tenant on merit and treat them as you would any other tenant. Charities want to scrap section 21 Generation Rent has been campaigning for a while now to gather enough signatures on their petition to the Government, calling on them to scrap section 21. When the story ran on Channel 4 they had over 50,000. They say section 21 is the leading cause of homelessness and the reason there’s so much bad practice in the PRS. We said that the majority of landlords don’t evict tenants without a reason – most tenancies are, in fact, ended by the tenant. We also said that...

Tenant Fees Bill third reading: The Goverment listens to the NLA on enforcement, deposits and default fees

Article Provided -  by the NLA 06 Sep 2018   Landlords could be set to lose out financially as the controversial Tenant Fees bill passed its third reading at the House of Commons yesterday afternoon, meaning charging tenants fees could soon be banned alongside other regulatory changes.   Through this clampdown on rental fees, landlords could lose out on millions of pounds, under the new default fee provision, a landlord or agent will only be able to recover reasonable incurred costs, and must provide evidence of these costs to the tenant before any charges can be made. The move is designed to ensure that tenants in the private rented sector are not made to pay excessive fees for what is perceived to be minor damages. Other important amendments brought forward in the reading Bill brought include steps by the Government to reduce tenant wait times to receive their money by reducing the timeframe that landlords and agents can pay back charges deemed unlawful. The National Landlords Association (NLA) is pleased to see the cap on security deposits has not been reduced from six weeks. We lobbied the Government on this as six weeks provides a level of flexibility to adjust security deposits when there is potential for higher risk, such as taking on tenants with pets. We also welcome the focus on enforcement and the commitment of £500k towards enforcing regulations. This is an important factor that we feel has been lacking in many areas, which we pointed out in the evidence we presented to the Public Bill Committee in June. We would push for further interventions and a greater level...

Landlords urged to check CO alarms after faults revealed

by Polly Rivers of Urban.co.uk dated 21st June 2018 As a landlord, you’ll understand the importance of having a carbon monoxide alarm in your property - after all, it's the law! With gas safety paramount in the PRS, making sure that you have a working CO Alarm is a vital landlord requirement, and something that absolutely cannot be scrimped on. However, with spiralling costs for landlords, many are turning to cheaper options, available from Ebay or Amazon to fit into their properties, especially if there is a requirement for multiple alarms across a large portfolio. If this sounds familiar, you may want to look at readdressing your alarms, as dozens of alarms have been removed from sale via these online sites, after failing vital safety tests, carried out by trusted product surveyor, Which? Four detectors bought and tested by Which? were found not to sound in the presence of a potentially deadly build up of carbon monoxide, despite all four claiming to meet the British Safety Standard. One, the Topolek GEHS007AW CO, a £14.99 Amazon bestseller, failed to detect the gas in over 80% of Which? Tests. Three other unbranded alarms also failed repeatedly. The four alarms have all been removed from sale by both Ebay and Amazon, and a further 50 have also been delisted. Advice to consumers who have bought these alarms is to replace them immediately – your local council or fire station should be able to assist with a secure, effective alternative – and pursue the online seller for a full refund through their refund scheme. Share...

If you received a noise complaint about one of your tenants – shall you get involved?

by Polly Rivers of Urban.co.uk – dated 11th June 2018 Question My tenants haven’t caused me any problems, but I have had recent complaints from neighbours they are getting a bit too fond of a party – it’s causing upset, and I only expect it to get worse with the World Cup! Is this something I need to get involved with? Answer Noise management is a really difficult issue to address – what is considered unbearable for one person could simply be the radio playing to another. So, this is quite a tricky situation to manage. If your tenants are not causing you any other issues and are otherwise behaving well and treating your property as you would like, it is understandable that you would not want to rock the boat unnecessarily if the problem is not major, however, if they really are causing undue issues, this does need to be addressed. However, how do you assess if the situation has become more than the odd get together, and mores the point, what do you do about it? Have a quiet word If a neighbour has alerted you to the issue, it has become your problem, so you should be putting a plan in place to attempt to rectify the situation of possible. Start by having a casual chat with your tenant, mentioning to them that you have had a report (don’t mention where from!) that things may have been getting a little rowdy. Keep it light and friendly, and ask them to maybe tone it down after a set time so that they don’t disturb the neighbours. Follow this conversation up...