Abbey Independent Inventories

News & views from the Abbey

Rogue landlords: 90% of local authorities fail to issue fines

Guardian On line Article 29th November 2018 Almost 90% of local authorities failed to use new powers to fine rogue landlords last year, in the latest finding to suggest tenants are being failed by a lax enforcement regime. It follows a Guardian and ITV News investigation in October, which revealed a string of weaknesses in the legislation governing the private rented market and which also raised questions about the rigour with which certain counc...

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UK house prices pick up amid 'subdued' market Values rise by 0.3% in November – but few predict rapid growth in short term

Article guardian on- line 30th November 2018

London and the south-east are dragging down house price growth.
House prices inched ahead in November but Brexit uncertainty has left the property market “relatively subdued” according to Nationwide building society.

The average UK home rose in price by 0.3% month-on-month, pushing the annual rate of inflation up to 1.9%, up from 1.6% the previous month. The average home now costs £214,044.

However in cash terms the average price of a home in the UK actually fell by nearly £500 on the month, but because of seasonal adjustments used by Nationwide, its index recorded a rise.

The direction of house prices will be heavily dependent on the outcome of the Brexit vote on 11 December and what emerges after that. Nationwide said that if the uncertainty lifted, then prices were likely to spring back.

Its chief economist, Robert Gardner, said: “If the uncertainty lifts in the months ahead and employment continues to rise, there is scope for activity to pick up through next year.

“The squeeze on household incomes is already moderating and policymakers have signalled that, if the economy performs as they expect, interest rates are only expected to rise at a modest pace and to a limited extent in the years ahead.”

But the Bank of England’s warning this week that house prices could tumble by 30% following a no-deal Brexit is already having an impact on the market, according to property experts.

Jonathan Hopper, managing director of Garrington Property Finders, said: “While the ‘armageddon’ scenarios run by Mr Carney will be brushed off by many as unlikely, they will further sober the thinking of over-optimistic sellers and cautious buyers.

“For now, his comments have served only to dial up the uncertainty - and the pattern of subdued business-as-usual continues.

“Despite the shortage of homes for sale, a steady stream of strategic buyers are pouncing on buying opportunities that may not be around if the market normalises in 2019.”

Nationwide highlighted how the supply of housing was improving after a decade in which Britain had not built sufficient housing for a growing population.

It said: “After falling by almost 60% in the wake of the financial crisis, there has been a significant pick-up in construction in recent years. New-build completions in England in 2017/18 reached 195,300, around 3% below 2007/08 levels.”

It added that once additional dwellings were counted – particularly from the wave of office-to-residential conversions, then housebuilding has virtually returned to peak 2007 levels. In total, 1.9m dwellings have been built in England since 2007, representing an 8.5% increase in the total stock of homes.

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Be prepared for HMO changes in England

ARTICLE PUBLISHED ON ARLA WEBSITE FRIDAY 14 SEPTEMBER 2018  In England on 1 October, the criteria for what kind of House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) needs a mandatory licence is being extended and agents will need to ensure they’re keeping landlords up to date with the incoming change in legislation and making sure that applicable properties are licensed. The UK Government announced in May 2015 that it would be changing the criter...

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Section 21: Changes in England from October

ARTICLE PUBLISHED ON ARLA WEBSITE MONDAY 17 SEPTEMBER 2018   The Deregulation Act 2015 made changes to prevent ‘retaliatory evictions’ and all new tenancies starting on or after 1 October 2015 had to adhere to new guidelines as to when and how a landlord can serve a Section 21 notice.This October all remaining Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) will be subject to these rules, regardless of their start date. With the new rules,...

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Tenant Fees Bill reaches the House of Lords  

Article published on ARLA website MONDAY 17 SEPTEMBER 2018   The controversial Bill that will ban most charges set by landlords and letting agents to tenants in England has started its journey through the upper chamber. The Tenant Fees Bill was introduced into Parliament in May of this year, and it has since completed its stages in the House of Commons and moved swiftly into the Lords for further scrutiny. The First Reading in...

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Study reveals rise in children raised in squalid rental homes

Article written by Robert Booth, appeared in Gaurdian 10th September 2018 One in three homes in England at lowest rents are classed as non-decent, analysis shows A quarter of a million families bringing up babies and infants in England are living in privately rented accommodation that fails to meet the decent homes standard, it has emerged. The number of households bringing up children aged under four in squalid conditions, which c...

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10 Essential Landlord Tips for a Successful Tenancy

Upad, have written a guest blog on their top 10 essential tips for landlords to help create successful tenancy. Whilst we can’t put our hands on our hearts and guarantee you a totally stress-free tenancy, these 10 tips should make your life a lot easier. 1. Vet your tenantsRun credit checks and get references from their current employer (permanent or temporary contract) and, more importantly, from their previous landlord. Ask how well they treate...

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Rents in UK will rise for next five years, experts predict RICS says falling supply of rental properties and increased demand will lead to 15% rise

Article by Julia Kollewe - Thu 9 Aug 2018 06.01 BST Gaurdian        Rental signsExperts say reduced supply of rentals will mean higher rents unless more social housing is provided. Photograph: AlamyUK rents are expected to climb by 15% over the next five years, as the supply of rental accommodation dwindles while demand from tenants continues to go up, according to a survey. Rents are expected to increase by nearly 2% across t...

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ARTICLE PUBLISHED BY RESIDENTIAL LANDLORDS ASSOCIATION REPRODUCED BY AII JULY 2018 What documents do I need to give to my tenant?I have protected my tenant's deposit, what documents do I need to give my tenant? Each deposit scheme requires you to give your tenant and anyone who has contributed to the deposit, the following documents: Copy of the deposit protection certificate/receiptPrescribed InformationThe deposit protection scheme leaflet for ...

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Airbnb lets may be unsafe, MPs warn

Published by James Tapper-Gaurdian Sat 14th July 2018   Boom in unregulated short-term rentals is fuelled in part by unscrupulous businesses posing as private owners   Lettings offered online through firms such as Airbnb have boomed. Unlike conventional hotels and b&bs, none are safety regulated or vetted. Lettings offered online through firms such as Airbnb have boomed. Unlike conventional hotels and b&bs, none are safety regul...

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England: 1.75m private renters believe they will never buy house

ARTICLE PUBLISHED BY GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER JULY 2018 About 1.75 million people who rent their homes do not believe they will ever be able to buy, an increase of 50% since 2010. Analysis of the official English Housing Survey by Labour shows the number of households renting privately that don’t expect to be able to buy in the future has increased by 585,000 since the Conservatives came to power. Renters’ pessimism has grown despite a s...

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Setting-up a “bullet-proof” tenancy in 2018

Article published by Landlord Zone 14th march 2018 Assured Shorthold Tenancy: Under new rules introduced over the last couple of years, setting up a “bullet-proof” AST in 2018 is a bigger challenge that in the past, but it need not be all that difficult if you know exactly what’s required. Get it wrong though, and you could be permanently lumbered with a bad tenant if you have problems, and in the unfortunate event that you need to...

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Joseph Rowntree Foundation offer three models to improve PRS

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published three policy options together with costed findings, aimed at incentivising improvements to the private rented sector.
The findings come after carrying out an international review to identify incentive-based policy interventions used elsewhere in the world that may be transferable to England and subsequently holding a number of roundtables with a project advisory group of which ARLA Propertymark was part of.
Other representatives making up the group came from across a broad spectrum of bodies, including various landlord associations, Government departments, JRF and universities. 
A shortlist of potential incentives to improve the private rented sector for people in poverty was then produced. The focus was on incentives that have the potential to improve: access to housing, affordability, housing quality and security of tenure. 
In their report, JRF say that the costs of each of the proposals are much lower than the £808 million annual increase in tax revenues by 2021-22 that the Government anticipates making from restricting finance relief for landlords to the basic rate of income tax.
The three costed options to try and tackle the shortcomings of the PRS in England are:
Option 1
Introduce a Rental Incentive Allowance, enabling landlords to offset a proportion of their rental income against tax if they let their property to households in receipt of Local Housing Allowance.
Costed at: £354 million per year
Landlords would be encouraged by tax breaks to let to households in receipt of LHA and charge rents that are no higher than LHA. 
In England, the tax deduction could be set as a proportion of rent received from LHA (such as 20% to 100% of LHA), incentivising landlords to let to households in receipt of LHA and reflecting the difficulties that households receiving LHA currently have in accessing the private rented sector. 
The registration body would register individual tenancies, assess the level of LHA (or the housing component of Universal Credit) for that property, and hence the tax deduction due to the landlord in question. Landlords would confirm occupancy by tenants in receipt of LHA to the registration body, which would have powers to check and verify this.
Option 2 
This proposal aims to boost incentives to improve the quality of property by allowing specified improvements to properties to be tax deductible against income tax, rather than Capital Gains Tax.
Costed at: £36 million in the first year, rising to £86 million after nine years.  
In order to maximise the incentive to improve housing for people in poverty, it is proposed that landlords can offset the following improvements to their properties against rental income for tax purposes:
• up to £10,000 per year per property, on improvements that result in an increase in the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) energy-efficiency rating
• up to £20,000 per year per property, on improvements that increase the quality or liveable space of the housing: 
(a) for properties where the current occupants are in receipt of Housing Benefit/Universal Credit, or 
(b) where the landlord agrees to let the (currently vacant) property to a household referred by the local authority, at rents not exceeding LHA, for at least two years.
There would be a voluntary landlord/tenancy registration scheme, which would assess when landlords had met the terms for tax-deductible expenditure on specific properties.
Option 3
This proposal would improve access to housing by enabling local authorities to issue vouchers to priority households, guaranteeing the payment of rent.
Costed at: £170 million per year. 
The scheme would be centrally funded but administered by local authorities. Local authorities would have discretion over who received vouchers within the parameters of national guidelines and within a budget constraint.
Local authorities would set their own budget constraint, which would be determined by a combination of funding available from central government and any local funding that the authority decided to allocate to its voucher initiative.
Landlords accepting vouchers would have to offer rental contracts for minimum periods, with the principal incentive to be a guarantee that rental income would be received for the full period of the tenancy.
Whilst at the moment the three proposals are for England, these options could also be applied to other parts of the UK. 
In their report, JRF also highlight current policy and disincentives to helping those in poverty. These include welfare cuts, restrictions placed on landlords with mortgages by their lenders which prohibit them from letting to tenants receiving benefits, costly HMO regulation and licensing and recent tax changes, which some landlords recoup by increasing rents. 
Housing costs are higher as a proportion of income for more disadvantaged households, and as we pointed out in our written response, there are low levels of income growth generally which also affect people's ability to pay rents.
The report highlights the fact that landlords are also aware of the LHA limits and the risk of arrears from tenants receiving benefits, and are therefore often unwilling to let to low-income tenants who they fear will be unable to pay their rent.
With so little local authority housing available and long waiting lists, the new proposals aim to tackle some of the problems with the current status quo which makes it difficult for those in poverty to secure affordable, quality accommodation in the private rented sector
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Proposed Legislation for Minimum Room Size

Article published by Letting Agent Today on 2nd January 2018  The government has announced new minimum space requirements for private lettings in a bid to reduce problems of overcrowding.                                                                        &...

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Using photos and video as evidence A guide for landlords and agents

Article published by My Deposit Scotland 8th February 2017   Inventories - to photograph or not to photograph? Even in this digital age, where social media and the way in which we receive information has made visual content appear more important than ever before, the use of photographs in inventory reports remains a somewhat contentious issue. Our Head of Dispute Resolution, Suzy Hershman, considers whether photographs and videos are useful ...

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(ARTICLE PUBLISHED BY ARLA/PROPERTY MARK)MONDAY 05 FEBRUARY 2018  A London council is planning to crack down on AirBnB type lets after receiving a string of complaints where homeowners have rented out their properties for more than the maximum 90 days.Kensington and Chelsea council are considering piloting a licensing scheme after receiving 91 complaints in the last two years, which would require homeowners to apply for a permit – at an...

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