Piggybank News

December 11, 2013

MK Housing & Communities Select Committee Meeting

Filed under: Property — nspresources @ 6:42 pm
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Steve Jarman of the ORS was  given 15 minutes  at this meeting on 10/12/2013 to present the Executive Summary of his report on the results of the Public Consultation into Selective and Additional Licensing. Several members of the MKPLA Committee were present to hear his presentation.

Basically, his report will say that there is no evidence to support introducing Selective Licensing and, although there may be some evidence to support Additional Licensing, there is not enough to actually justify doing it. He said that this evidence could empower MKC to conduct a further, more in-depth consultation on HMO’s, but his evidence in itself cannot be used to justify bringing in Additional Licensing without it being challenged. MKC must demonstrate ASB problems and a direct causal link to HMOs and low demand for housing.

Steve Jarman also stressed the point that MKC must show that they have taken a number of other measures to tackle ASB in HMOs before they can introduce Additional Licensing under Section 57 of the Housing Act 2004 … and to date they haven’t done enough.

He stated very early in his presentation that his evidence shows a stronger correlation between high ASB and high density of social housing, compared to PRS housing. However, it does show a correlation between high ASB and high density of HMOs. 80% of complaints received by MKC are in relation to HMOs.  He did however say that, overall, MK has a very low ASB problem compared to other areas. Only 6 wards in MK have ASB higher than the average for MK as a whole.

The full draft report won’t be finished for another 2 or 3 weeks and MKC must then allow stakeholders 1 month to comment on the draft report before ORS submit their full report to MKC.  MKPLA will continue to contribute to this process and keep members informed of developments.  We would also like to thank those members who took the time to respond to the Public Consultation and ensure that ORS received a balanced view.



October 25, 2013

Buckinghamshire Landlord Property Investment Show


Above is a link to the booking page of the Buckinghamshire Landlord Property Investment Show.  This is running on Thursday, November 14, 2013 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM at Jurys Inn, Midsummer Boulevard, Milton Keynes MK9

Tickets are free and the organisers are promising to have key speakers from the industry who will cover topical industry news on legislation, vetting tenants, landlord services etc as well as a number of stalls and displays to browse.


October 2, 2013

We want you to talk to your tenants!

MKPLA has been working hard over the last few weeks to ensure that residents of Milton Keynes get a fair chance to respond to the not so public consultation that the council have commissioned into Additional and Selective Licensing.  We believe strongly that this is a decision that will affect EVERY resident and that because of this, regardless of whether their views coincide with ours or not, they should be allowed to have a say.

Unfortunately neither the Council, nor ORS have been very proactive in contacting residents and although the consultation document has been online since July it is not that easy to find, even if you are looking for it!

So MKPLA are asking that you send a copy of the consultation to each and every one of your tenants in time for them to complete it prior to the closing date of 11th October.  To make this easy for you we have written a covering letter which you can enclose that explains why they are being asked to do this.  this letter can be downloaded by clicking here.

All you need to do is download a copy of the survey from the council website from the link below, print it out and post together with the cover letter to each of your tenants.  Return of the form to ORS is FREEPOST so you may want to include an addressed envelope as well to make it as easy as possible for your tenants to participate.


Please note that this is a NEW link as the original one no longer works.  The council has been having work done to its website and this has interfered with the hosting of consultation documents.


October 1, 2013

Report on MK Landlords Forum 30/9/13

Last nights Landlords Forum at the Civic Offices focussed on the current consultation being undertaken by ORS, on behalf of the council, into licensing in MK.  Needless to say this issue completely took over the meeting and the two other proposed topics of discussion were put off for future meetings.

It was evident that many landlords and letting agents had not been made aware of the consultation until invited to this meeting and were sceptical about both the council’s intentions and the accuracy of any data gathered.

Steve Jarman from ORS did an excellent job of fielding a large range of questions and maintaining a neutral stance throughout.  Housing Manager Linda Ellen also provided information on a number of specific areas.

They explained that the consultation period has been running since July and is due to end on 11th October. They have posted the consultation document to a list of Residents Associations, Parish Councillors and Social Landlords but no Private Landlords other than those with licensed HMO’s.  In addition they have targeted a sample area of MK based on areas of high rental housing AND high antisocial behaviour in order to test the apparent correlation between the two.  In total just over 3000 ( approx 1% of residents) questionnaires have been sent out in addition to the two hundred or so responses they have received online.  Mr Jarman defended this as a “statistically robust” sample size.

Many landlords challenged this process both in terms of the size of the sample and the fact that, despite having an email list of Landlords, and easy access to details of Letting Agents, neither of these central stakeholder groups had been contacted.  They also pointed out that holding the meeting at such a late date left only 2 weeks for responses from these sectors to be gathered.

Ms Ellen and Mr Jarman explained that the final report should be completed by December, with recommendations being placed before Cabinet around March 2014.  They made it clear that whilst ORS are providing the evidence, any recommendations would be made by council officers based on this evidence and would not come direct from ORS.  However, ORS would be able to highlight areas of concern as well as whether the evidence would support action based on the current legislation and the experience of other councils they have worked with (some of whom have had to defend the scheme at judicial review).

The primary issues raised by landlords were as follows…

1) Is licensing just seen as a cash cow? How will the money be spent?

2) How can licensing remedy the problem of anti-social behaviour? It is the problem landlords and tenants that need to be dealt with and penalizing the decent ones won’t help with this because problem landlords won’t bother to apply and the council is already in contact with the rest.

3) Are the council dealing with the problems of antisocial behaviour amongst its own tenant base? Is there any evidence at all to suggest that the problem originates in the private sector instead?

4) Police and council have the powers and training to deal with antisocial behaviour.  In what way do landlords have more power than the police, environmental health or social services?

5) As enforcement costs cannot come from license fees where is the extra money going to come from?  It cost Manchester £500,000. What will be the effect on other vital services whose budgets are already being stretched?

6) Landlords will pass the costs of licensing onto the tenants and this will see an increasing number of benefits tenants squeezed out of an already shrinking supply of housing.



September 12, 2013

Download the MKPLA Presentation about Selective Licensing and what it could mean for you.

Thanks to everyone who attended the recent MKPLA Members Meeting; it was great to see so many people in the room!

We were almost at full capacity, which shows the level of concern felt by so many of us in light of the Council’s proposals to introduce Additional or Selective Licensing.

Committee Members Alex Caravello,  Nikki and Jim Parsler and Zaid Rashid,  jointly delivered a very eloquent presentation full of rather complicated material, and John Socha helped all attendees to understand the ‘hidden meaning’ behind many of the questions asked in Milton Keynes Council’s Licensing Consultation questionnaire.

For those of you who were unable to attend, you can download a PDF copy of the presentation here >> http://tinyurl.com/MKPLApresentation130815.
I hope this helps you to get to grips with the enormity of the problem that faces us all if this licensing proposal is introduced.

We discussed al length whether this proposal is already a ‘done deal’, or whether there is anything we can do to influence the outcome. We discussed several things we can all do to provide this influence, as follows…..

Promote public response to the Consultation

MKPLA is already involved in providing a ‘corporate response’ to the consultation. Our response will identify issues such as:

  • Cost to the Council budget of implementing licensing
  • Reduced inward investment by good landlords in an area that is seen to suffer from burdensome Council red tape and unnecessary costs
  • Restrictions placed by mortgage lenders and insurers in an area labelled by the Council as a ‘hotbed of anti-social behaviour’, low demand for housing, poor quality housing and poor management standards – mortgage availability will reduce and insurance premiums will rise
  • Downward pressure on property values, as a result of the above
  • Upward pressure on rents to cover the additional time spent dealing with the red tape and unnecessary costs

However, our response will only count as one response, regardless of how many members we have, or how many landlords and tenants we represent. It is therefore essential that you make your views heard and respond to the consultation. You can do this online, or by post by visiting the Council’s website at this shortcut >> http://tinyurl.com/mklicensing.

We don’t just need landlords to respond to the consultation; we need all MK residents, so please ask everyone you know (tenants, homeowners, friends, family, etc) to respond to the consultation.

We also need business owners and operators in MK to respond to the consultation, to ensure that MKC understand the potential impact on business of this proposal. If you have links with business networking groups, or work for a large organisation that can promote the consultation to its staff, please do get in touch.

Raise public awareness of the licensing proposals

Similarly to above, we need to get our message out to as wide an audience as possible. We need the general public to understand the potential implications of licensing, as experienced in other local authority areas. We need the public to understand that this could heavily impact on everyone, not just those who are landlords or tenants, but everyone that needs housing … which is everyone! If mortgage availability reduces, house prices drop, rents go up and insurance premiums rocket, we’re all going to be affected.

To this end we desperately need your help to try to get this message into the papers, on the radio and TV. If you have any links with the press, a good working knowledge of social media campaigns, or work in media and public relations, please do get in touch.

Request information from Milton Keynes Council

We believe that MK Council considers Additional or Selective Licensing will be 100% self-funding and cost-neutral on the Council budget. However, the evidence gathered from other Local Authorities around the country that have implemented Additional or Selective Licensing tells us that this is not the case.

We need to be asking questions of MKC to find out whether they have adequately assessed the implications of licensing on other Council services, such as Environmental Health, Homelessness, Adult and Child Support Services, Anti-Social Behaviour, etc.

The Council has stated its understanding that the Housing Act 2004 makes it clear that, in order to bring in licensing there has to be a low demand for housing, but that doesn’t ring true with everyone’s experience of housing in Milton Keynes.

Additionally, in order to bring in licensing there has to be “evidence of a significant and persistent problem caused by anti-social behaviour … in the private sector.” However, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) figures for ASB in Milton Keynes identify a 29.46% reduction in ASB between December 2012 and February 2013, when compared with December 2011 to February 2012.

You therefore need to be asking these questions of the Council under the Freedom of Information Act, to make sure that, if they do introduce Additional or Selective licensing, it is done for all the right reasons, with all the relevant information to hand.

However, in order to ensure that the Council is not repeatedly asked the same questions, or asked questions to which they have already provided answers, we urge you to contact MKPLA with your questions so that we may assess them before you use the FOI Act procedure. Please direct your questions to foi@mkpla.org.uk.

Anything else!

Finally, if you have any good ideas on how we should tackle this threat, please do let us know. We have done an awful lot so far, but we as an organisation are still limited by our time, knowledge and experience, so please don’t assume we have all the answers! If you want to share, or discuss anything, please do get in touch.

September 6, 2013

MK Landlords Forum

Filed under: Property — nspresources @ 3:28 pm
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Milton Keynes Council are holding thier next Landlords Forum on 30th September at the Civic Offices, 1 Saxon Gate East, MK9 3EJ between 6pm and 9pm.

They will have representatives present from the firm ORS who are conducting the consultation on proposals to introduce Selective Liscensing into Milton Keynes.  They are allowing time for questions and round table discussions on this topic.  If you wish to attend please email get.involved@milton-keynes.gov.uk or call Simon or Paula on 01908 253264 or 253756.

In the meantime please could you click on the link below to complete MKPLA’s own little survey.  It’s only 3 quick questions and we would be interested in written feedback that we can present to the consultants. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LN8VB3T

August 1, 2013

Deposit Protection Services issue guidance document

Filed under: Property — nspresources @ 3:12 pm
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I apologise to those of you that have already had links to this document mailed via alternative sources but I feel it is important enough to be posted as widely as possible.

The Deposit Protection services have all got together over the Superstrike case findings and published today a guidance for landlords who take deposits.  The document is available to download here – superstrike-vs-rodrigues-guidance-on-implications

Sadly it appears that common sense has not entirely ruled the day and the majority of landlords now face the theoretical risk of being found in breach of Tenancy Deposit Protection Law.  There is a fairly active debate about this  on the Property 118 site.

July 25, 2013

MKPLA Members Meeting – the Implications of Liscensing Proposals for the PRS

The next Members Only meeting of the Milton Keynes Private Landlords Association will be held at the David Lloyd Leisure Club on 15th August 2013.

Buy tickets NOW by clicking this link.

This months meeting will focus on the implications of recent proposals by MK Council to implement Additional and Selective Licensing for all Private Rental Property in the borough. These proposals affect ALL types of property, including single let flats and family homes so the matter is relevant for all landlords in the area.

Your MKPLA Committee have been closely involved with reviewing the initial proposals and will continue to work with the council throughout the consultation process. Members are strongly urged to attend this meeting in order that they can be informed of latest developments on this important local issue and ensure that their views are properly represented.

As well as hearing from our speakers, the evening will give members the opportunity to network and share experienced and challenges. The ticket price includes light refreshments.

Buy tickets NOW by clicking this link.

June 17, 2013

NLA Milton Keynes Branch Meeting

Monday 24 June, 6pm for 6.30pm start to 8.30pm

Abbey Hill Golf Centre, Monks Way, Two Mile Ash, Milton Keynes, MK8 8AA
click here for a map

How to Avoid a Bad TenantPaul Shamplina, Co Founder, Landlord Action
Paul has appeared on BBC’s Inside Out and War at the Door, as well as ITV’s Tenants from Hell and will explain how to avoid bad tenants, how to ensure you find a good tenant and how to avoid large legal bills. He will share with you his experiences, including hair raising and hilarious tales of evictions.

NLA Mortgages – Andrew Rudkin, Regional Sales Manager, NLA Mortgages
Andrew will provide an overview of the buy-to-let market and the different markets to consider for those investors looking to start or expand their property portfolio and information on the best options for financing will also be available.

Discussion Period
Opportunity for attendees to share ideas, network, raise concerns, good practice and discuss future meeting topics.

UKALA: Good News for Landlords and Letting Agents – Caroline Kenny, Executive, UKALA, The UK Association of Letting Agents
The NLA is partnered with UKALA, which was re-launched last year with a comprehensive suite of membership benefits. Caroline will explain what’s special about UKALA from the landlord’s perspective and why, with demands for regulation growing ever-louder, letting agents should join this new-look association.

This meeting is FREE and open to all landlords and UKALA members. No need to book. 

June 4, 2013

The effect of the benefit cap on large families…

I just got off the phone to a lady from the Milton Keynes Council housing team.  We were discussing one of my tenants specifically and the likely effect of the benefit cap on large families in the area.

For those who are unaware, one of the changes to benefits legislation which the government has brought in is a benefit cap.  This is designed to ensure that people are not claiming so much money that they are better off on benefits than in work and was at least partially in response to media reports of very large families living in “millionaires mansions” at the tax payers expense.  It does not apply to families where at least one person is working more than 16 hours a week but of course it would affect very many part-time workers as well as those entirely dependent on benefits.

The cap is placed on ALL benefits which means that whilst benefits are continuing to be worked out based on need, size of family etc; there is a maximum amount per week which can be awarded regardless of this. For families this is £500 per week.

The DWP has identified those families within the borough who are likely to be affected and the Housing Team are extremely busy contacting them all and trying to assist them in working out a new budget.  As part of this process they are recommending that the rent paid should be no more than 30% of their income.

If you work this out at the top income level of £500 per week this means that affordable rent can only be a maximum of £650pcm compared to the current 4 bedroom LHA rate in Milton Keynes of £950pcm and the 3 bedroom rate of £750pcm.  (ie such families will only be able to afford an average 2 bedroom house)  I presume that this scenario is playing out in a similar way across the country.

Is anyone else concerned by this?

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