Piggybank News

September 25, 2014

Should you be joining a Property Redress scheme?

Most Landlords and Letting Agents will be aware that the government has made it compulsory for all Property Agents to join an authorised redress scheme by 1st October 2014.  There have been quite a few articles flying around explaining this obligation and the potential safety net it will offer to Landlords. Property Purchasers, Vendors and Tenants.  The aim is that anyone who feels they are not being treated fairly will have somewhere to go to voice their concerns, with a chance of compensation.

However, what may not have been quite so obvious is the breadth of the government’s definitions of Letting/Property Management/Estate Agent in this regard.  It’s a serious concern because those that don’t sign up risk being fined up to £5,000, via their local council trading standards office.

Essentially any person or business which accepts money in the course of their business for letting, managing or selling property is covered by this act.  So, for example, if you manage a property for a friend and take even “mates rates” fees then you are affected, there are in fact very few exclusions.  (If you would like a full list of definitions then click this link to the Property Redress Scheme website.)

There are 3 schemes currently approved – The Property Redress Scheme, the Property Ombudsman and Ombudsman Services Property.  Of these the Property Redress Scheme is perhaps the most flexible as, alongside Property/ Management/Lettings and Estate Agents, they are also open for other professionals working in the property industry including cleaners, gardeners and inventory clerks.

j0283695Piggy says “Private Landlords, Sourcing Agents and Property Managers are strongly advised to establish the status of their business in relation to this legislation and register with one of the approved schemes before the deadline of 1st October 2014 if required”.

 

June 10, 2014

Immigration Act 2014 – what you need to know.

Filed under: Property — nspresources @ 11:53 am
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The Immigration Act 2014 has now become law.  Among other things it imposes strict rules for anyone who lets property or rooms to check the immigration status of prospective tenants/lodgers. Fines of up to £3000 can be levied for failure to comply with this requirement.  There has been a lot of speculation in the property news feeds prior to this act becoming law and a lot of fear has been generated that landlords will be victimised for failing to comply with an unworkable law.  After all if government ministers, with all their resources, are unable to be sure of their staff’s immigration status then how on earth can the ordinary landlord do so?

Housing Minister Kris Hopkins has however emphasised that these checks will be ‘as simple and straightforward as possible’ and that the intention is not to catch out ‘well-intentioned landlords for small mistakes’.

So what does all this really mean for you?

1.) Don’t panic: the intended start date for implementation  is October 2014 and there will be full guidelines issued prior to implementation.

2.) This only applies to new tenancies. You won’t have to conduct checks on existing tenants.

3.) The government will create tools to help you, including an online checking resource for landlords similar to that currently available to employers.

4.) Be careful though; these measures will apply to all private landlords, including homeowners who take in lodgers and tenants who sub-let. 

 

May 30, 2014

New Homes in Partnership Scheme

MKPLA Chairman Alex Caravello has been working closely over the last few months to improve the council’s offering to Private Landlords.  MK has an ever increasing gap between those properties available to rent and those needed.  This problem is particularly acute in the LHA market as many landlords and agents prefer not to accept tenants on benefits due to perceived problems in working with this sector.

MK Council appreciates that it needs to offer something more to landlords if it is to attract them back into this market and their new Homes in Partnership Scheme is designed to do this.  Whilst it will not be for everyone, it does go some way to addressing the concerns that landlords typically have when accepting a benefits tenant. Follow the link below for more details.

http://www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/housing/private-housing-and-landlords/landlords

January 31, 2014

MKPLA Members Meeting 20/2/2014

Filed under: Property — nspresources @ 6:47 pm
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The next Members Only meeting of the Milton Keynes Private Landlords Association will be held at the David Lloyd Leisure Club at 7pm on 20th February 2014.  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.

This months meeting will start with a short summary of the final consultation report from ORS on the proposed implementation of Additional and Selective Licensing.

This will be followed by the main presentation for the night which will focus on Fire Safety; the history of Legislation affecting the PRS, how to ensure best practice and some of the common pitfalls and misunderstandings.  Our speaker, Tony Bennett, was for many years a Team Leader for Bucks Fire and Rescue Service and had responsibility for assessing fire safety for MK Council. Since 2011 he has been working as a freelance consultant on both residential and commercial property. All landlords have a basic duty of care to their tenants so this is an extremely important area to understand.

Book your Tickets by clicking here

October 25, 2013

Buckinghamshire Landlord Property Investment Show

https://bucks-landlord-expo.eventbrite.co.uk/

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.

http://www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/consultations/Consultation/265 

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.

 

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

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?

April 19, 2013

Selective Liscensing in MK – have your say.

Milton Keynes Council is proposing to introduce Additional and Selective Licensing of private rented sector properties (PRS) across the entire borough of Milton Keynes. Under the Localism Bill Additional or Selective Licensing should only be implemented if there is evidence of a severe and persistent problem with anti-social behaviour which cannot be dealt with by the use of existing powers or legislation.

  • Additional Licensing would mean that every single HMO (not just 3 storey 5 tenants) in the Milton Keynes borough would need to be licensed. e.g 3 nurses sharing a house would need a licence to do so.
  • Selective Licensing would mean that every single rented property (HMO’s and single/family lets)  in the Milton Keynes borough would need to be licensed.

The implications of this would cost landlords thousands of pounds in license fees and ultimately Tenants hundreds of pounds in rent increases as a result.  All properties would be affected regardless of type, location or how well managed they currently are.

Unfortunately there is also evidence from other areas of the UK, where Selective Licensing has been implemented, that such implementation is regarded as effectively declaring a “blight” notice.  As a result many mortgage lenders are refusing to lend either to investors or residential buyers in affected areas.

No evidence of a problem in the PRS has been presented but the Council clearly views this as a revenue generating strategy.

You can read a copy of the Cabinet report here >> http://tinyurl.com/d93ky7q.

On 15/4/2013 MK council announced their intention to hold a public Cabinet meeting two days later to discuss this proposal.  The Milton Keynes Private Landlords Association Committee attended the Council’s Cabinet meeting on 17/4/2013 and made representations on behalf of local landlords. Despite this, the decision was taken by the Cabinet to go out to consultation starting 01 July 2013 at an initial estimated cost to the tax payer of £25k.

We have the opportunity to overturn this decision, and MKPLA will present a written petition supported by over 50 signatures of local residents on Friday 26 April 2013. This petition will be accompanied by the following statement:

MKPLA Call-In of Cabinet Decision – Statement

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