Training for Professionals News


  • Oct 19/2020

    COVID-19

    We plan to continuously add updates here about the Corona Pandemic and how agents can mange and survive it. Check back daily to see the latest. The most recent news will appear at the top of this thread to make it easy to find.

    19/10/20
    The Welsh Government have announced that from Friday 23/10 to Monday 9 November Wales will have a national "lockdown". As all non essential retail will be required to close lettings and estate agents offices will have to close. This is pretty clear for the actual sales and lettings but the ongoing management of existing properties will presumably have to continue (even if managed from home) to avoid a tenant being without heating and hot water for over two weeks. FAQs here https://gov.wales/coronavirus-circuit-break-frequently-asked-questions

    7/10/20
    The Welsh Government announced they were going to provide tenant rent loans to help the rent arrears situation. Details of the scheme have been announced and can be found at  

    https://gov.wales/scheme-help-tenants-affected-coronavirus-launches-wales

    The guidance is here https://gov.wales/apply-loan-help-pay-your-rent-arrears-due-coronavirus


    1/10/20

    The guidance on working in other people's homes has been updated. The revised guidance can be found here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/homes

    28/9/20
    New legislation laid before the Welsh assembly today making changes to the rules for notices in Wales. This includes the anticipated change that 6 month notices do not cease at the end of September but continue till 31 March 2021. It also changes the rules around possession for anti-social behaviour by reverting ground 7A and 14 to the position that existed before the Coronavirus Act came into force. Notably, regardless of the level of rent arrears six months notice is required. Whilst this seems very serious, to mitigate it they have provided the rent loans. Full details can be found here https://www.legislation.gov.uk/wsi/2020/1044/contents/made

    22/9/20
    The Government have announced that from Thursday, 24/9 all retail workers will have to wear face masks. Currently shoppers have to wear masks but the staff don't. This is now set to change and it will affect most letting agents as they will fall into the definition of retail. Minister have confirmed their intention that agents should comply. This will make having more staff working from home attractive as they will not need to wear masks. We await sight of the actual legislation. The legislation is here https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/1029/regulation/2/made

    Chris Pincher MP has confirmed the bailiff "truce" will be from the 11 December till the 11 January.


    21/9/20
    The courts open today but with very different rules. make you sure don't commence or continue action without being sure you know and follow the new rules. The courts are not likely to be very sympathetic as all the restrictions are in place to protect tenants.

    New guidance for people who are a contact of someone with a confirmed case of Coronavirus, including a legal obligation to self isolate from the 28 September 2020. The guidance can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-contacts-of-people-with-possible-or-confirmed-coronavirus-covid-19-infection-who-do-not-live-with-the-person (last updated 20/9/20)

    Last week new guidance was put out for possession actions, it can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/understanding-the-possession-action-process-guidance-for-landlords-and-tenants/understanding-the-possession-action-process-a-guide-for-private-landlords-in-england-and-wales (last updated 17/9/20)


    18/9/20
    The justice department have release information about how the courts will work after they open on Monday. This is an update on the guidance mentioned two days ago. The new arrangements can be read about here https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Possession-Proceedings-Overall-Arrangements-Version-1.0-17.09.20.pdf     They have also issued a range of notices and documents, including a sample reactivation notice. The reactivation notice is not a prescribed form so this one does not 'have' to be used, but it would make is easy. These documents can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reactivation-notice-for-property-possession

    16/9/20
    As predicted the Welsh Government have confirmed that the longer notices will apply till the end of March 2021, matching the length announced for England. The actual legislative details are not yet available.

    Further details of how the courts will prioritise cases have also been released. Anti social behaviour will feature highly as will rent arrears of over 12 months' rent (or nine months' rent arrears if the rent amounts to over 25% of the landlord's total income) and domestic violence. As an added delay hearing will need to first have a ore trial "review". 21 days notice is required of this review date and then there must be a further 28 days before the actual hearing. Other rules apply too. The courts may open but this is far from business as usual.

    There is also announced a "pre action protocol" produced by the NRLA about what landlords should do to manage arrears and avoid possession claims. This give 9 golden rules and lists five steps that should be taken before notice is issued. MHCLG and HMCTS will both provide further guidance documents in the coming days.

    14/9/20
    New court form N5B is now up on the web site again. This is not the previous one made available again as the previous one was dated 04/20 and this one is 08/20.


    11/9/20 
    1412. The new limit on gatherings of 6 people do not apply to work so do not apply to offices.

    1100. A new press release has been issued and can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-sets-out-comprehensive-support-for-renters-this-winter It promises "protection for tenants over the winter" and contains some interesting comments. As a press release it has to be read a little less accurately compared to legislation but still interesting. The first point is the interrelation between unlocking the courts and local lock-downs. It makes it clear local lock-down takes priority and not evictions will take place during lock-down(note evictions not court cases). It also explains evictions will not happen where there are restrictions on meeting in peoples homes. Considering there will be a restriction in all areas from Monday, limited to 6 people, how are they going to define what a restriction is?

    Secondly, it says there will be no evictions over the weeks of Christmas, though "weeks" is not defined and both of these measures seem to be regardless of the reason. The paragraph explaining that they will now allow court cases for anti-social behaviour is interesting for the little comment at the end "The only exceptions to this are the most egregious cases, including where tenants have demonstrated anti-social behaviour or committed fraud, and the landlord rightly would like to re-let their property to another tenant." Note the link to landlords who want to re-let, not those wanting to leave the market. This may be a press release loose phrasing but interesting.


    3/9/20
    1221
    An examination of the new prescribed form regulations shows that the new prescribed from is the same as the version MHCLG issued on the 2/9/20. The new Prescribed From, which can be found here https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/924/contents/made. It has been updated from what was issued Friday to remove the cross reference to the notes. The check is that in para 3 it should not have the bit that says “(see notes accompanying this form)”. This change also removes any doubt about which version of the notice to use as there is a new prescribed form.


    1030
    A new form of prescribed section 21 notice was issued yesterday. This change is "official" in that they have actually issued a new prescribed from and suspended para 12(2) of the Coronavirus Regulations which made the previous amendments. This is exactly why we warned not to serve these notice at this time. We don't expect any major changes but will update.

    2/9/20
    Today MHCLG have uploaded a revised section 21 notice (yes revised since the one they issued Friday!) It is a small correction where they had left a cross reference to some notes that have been removed. For TFP tenancy agreement subscribers a revised version is on the web site for downloading.

    1/9/20
    The guidance on moving home has been updated to include information on wearing face coverings. It can be found here (Last Updated 29/09/20)  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak?utm_source=51131f88-4c29-4928-b400-e18c2734a314&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=daily#history

    29/8/20
    For users of the TFP documents we have uploaded revised versions of the section 21 and section 8 notices this morning. Remember that what counts is the date of service so if a notice was posted Thursday or Friday it would need to have been the new notice so may need reserving. Just to repeat our advice at this uncertain time, we recommend you avoid serving notice and get the solicitor doing the court work to serve it as part of the process.

    Revised technical guidance on notice serving is here.
    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/913301/Technical_Guidance_on_Eviction_Notices_August_update.pdf

    28/8/20
    Today legislation has been laid before Parliament amending notice periods for section 8 and section 21 notices. It can be found here https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/914/contents/made. A press release can explaining it can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-has-changed-the-law-so-most-renters-have-a-6-month-notice-period.
    In simple terms the section 21 notice has been extended to 6 months and the section 8 notice has been altered so that different grounds have different notice periods. These are now anything from no notice (ground 14 anti social behaviour) to six months long. 

    26/8/20

    A small revision to the practice direction on possession has been issed and can be found here http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/cpr-124-pd-update.pdf It simply replaces the August court dates with the September ones. It does not change the 3 August date after which the reactivation notice was not needed.

    25/8/20
    The Welsh Government have issued updated guidance around the extension of the court suspension till 20 September. It happens through the same legislation as England. The updated guidance is here https://gov.wales/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-landlords-and-managing-agents-in-the-private-rented-sector-html?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=SocialSignIn

    21/8/20  1700 
    The Government have announced that notice periods will be extended to 6 months until 31 March 2021 in England. Again we are awaiting the details and we will update this page when we have them.

    1250

    Looks like court possession dates have been pushed back to the 20 September. Not got the details yet but it is very much as we expected in some form.

    20/8/20
    We were made aware last Friday (14/8/20) that the N5B court application form for accelerated possession had "disappeared" from the internet. We initially thought this was purely administrative. We contacted MHCLG but have not yet seen any response and the form is still missing. The question has to be is this related to the "further measures" the Housing Minister referred to in his comments that we reported on the 27 July, below? Watch very closely in the next few days leading up to the courts reopening on Monday.


    12/8/20

    On 11 August the Welsh Government announced that from September 2020 they are introducing a scheme to help tenants pay any arrears dating back from 1 March 2020. Once the tenant has applied, and if successful, the loan will be paid directly to the landlord. The tenant will have up to 5 years to pay the 1% interest loan back to the provider. This will mean that landlords will not be able to evict the tenant for serious rent arrears. 


    27/7/20
    On the 20 July Robert Jenrick, the Minster for Housing, Communities and Local Government replied to a question from Wera Hobhouse, an MP for Bath and said he hoped to make an announcement  in the coming weeks to further help renters facing eviction. He said:

    “For several weeks I have been in exactly those sorts of conversations with the Lord Chancellor who holds the relationship with the judiciary and with the Master of the Rolls.

    “The Lord Chancellor has already set out some initiatives today and I’m hopeful that further announcements will be made shortly to provide exactly the kind of protection that she’s asking for.”

    This supports our view that the practice direction changes announced last week are not the end of the matter, but rather the first step in a range of measures.

    On the 10 July new regulations were laid in respect of working during Corona virus in Wales. They repealed the previous version of the regulations and basically rewrite the rules. They were amended again on the 27th July and importantly the rule about only doing viewings on accompanied properties has been removed allowing viewings in Wales of occupied or unoccupied properties. (updated 28/7/20)

    24/7/20
    With the introduction of the requirement to wear face coverings in "shops" as from today the question arises as to whether this applies to agents premises. The regulations, The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place) (England) Regulations 2020 can e found here https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/791/contents/made. Whilst there is no definitive answer we believe it does apply as the guidance covers shops and "branches" and lists things like banks and post offices. See regulation 2 where shops are defined as "any building, room or other indoor establishment which is open to the public in whole or in part and is used wholly or mainly for the purposes of retail sale or hire of goods or services, but not including the premises listed in Part 2 of the Schedule". Agents are not listed in Schedule 2. Essentially we see the difference being a question of if in normal times you would expect people to walk in off the street (even if fee paying entry) whereas the office guidance is for locations where staff or the occasionally arranged visitor comes. Those working in shops are not required to wear face coverings but it is recommended. Offices where staff cannot be spread out sufficiently may already be wearing face coverings. This is not about the wearer "catching" something it is about the wearer wearing it to protect other people so clearly it would make sense for staff to wear face coverings to show they care about those who visit the premises.

    Yesterday (23 July) new regulations were laid is Wales that say that any section 21 notice served from today (24 July) has to be at least six months long. A similar rule applies to section 8 notices unless possession is being sought on grounds 7A or 14, when it remains at 3 months. It does not affect notices already served and still only applies up to end of the "relevant period", currently 30 September 2020, but the Coronavirus Act allows for this time  "relevant period" to be extended (the act covers a period of 2 years!).

    22/7/20
    Following on from the announcement on Friday about court hearings from the 23 August, yesterday the draft practice direction was published. Claims made before 3 August (and that don't yet have a final possession order in place) are immediately stayed and will need a "reactivation notice" before they recommence. The reactivation notice will have to be served for 42 days and be served after 23 August (an immediate 6 week delay). It must be accompanied by an up to date rent history of the last two years (or presumably since the beginning of the tenancy if less than 2 years) and information about the impact of Coronavirus on the tenant (for example if they were furloughed. lost their job, were vulnerable and shielding etc. This notice asks the court to proceed with the claim and a copy must be given to the court and the tenant. If the reactivation notice is not served by 29 Jan 2021 then the cases will be automatically stayed.

    For claims made after 3 August 2020 the reactivation notice won't be necessary but will have temporary rules till 28 March 2021 (unless extended). These temporary rules, for example, remove the normal requirement to hear a case within 8 weeks. This allows a much longer potential delay till a hearing. Though the reactivation notice is not required the landlord will still be required to set out what he knows about the impact of Coronavirus on the tenant. This applies for section 8 claims and accelerated possession claims. As we have said before, during these times our advice is that landlords who have to go to court engage a competent solicitor to carry out the whole process.

    19/7/20
    On Friday evening new regulations were published that start the process of amending how courts will wok after 23 August. We don't yet have all the details but these will no doubt come out in the coming weeks. If you served notice or had a case running before the lock down you will have to serve a reactivation notice. The regs we do have can be found here https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/751/made. Expect limited access to courts and more delays. Claimants will have to identify the impact of Coronavirus on their tenants. This is clearly an unusual situation and all landlords would be well advised to have a solicitor carry out the whole process, from serving notice to court action to ensure these new rules are followed.

    Probably the most useful read is the explanatory memorandum. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/751/pdfs/uksiem_20200751_en.pdf 


    13/7/20

    We have been made aware of this link to Coronavirus guidance in many different languages.

    https://www.doctorsoftheworld.org.uk/coronavirus-information/ 


    10/7/20
    As we head to a time when the courts open the question of which section 21 notice to use will become important. First the MHCLG advice is that agents and landlords should avoid serving notice if possible. Although the courts will start hearing case from the 24 August, there is a working group looking at this and they may not hear all types of case. For example, they may not hear mandatory rent arrears or section 21 cases, to allow the judge discretion. Secondly, if you do have to serve notice we always say that the safest thing is to get the solicitor who will take it to court to serve the notice as then they will be happy with the notice and how it was served. As it is unclear if the Coronavirus Act actually changed the notice or simply changed how the notice should be read (the language in the legislation). Users of the TFP tenancy pack will have to decide whether they want to use the old, the new, or both, notices if they serve them themselves. Sadly interpretation of legislation is usually through court cases but with all court cases suspended there is no way of getting clarification till it is too late. Thirdly, with section 8 notices, we are now about two and a half months till the Coronavirus Act expires (assuming it is not extended). Therefore from the latter part of July onward it may be better to not serve section 8 for three months but to wait till the end of September and then just serve 14 days notice for rent arrears. Your choice but at least consider the best option. Obviously for section 21 notices this will only apply from the beginning of September.

    30/6/20
    We have uploaded some new coming out of lock down and Covid 19 documents to reflect some changes in the guidance (2 metre rule could be one plus, and other changes). The revised documents are R1-3 in the Coming out of lock down info and R2-5 in the Covid 1 documents.


    26/6/20
    On the 23/6/20 the Government put out guidance about businesses that will be allowed to open from the 4 July. This does not affect agents who are already allowed to open. However the guidance says all businesses should keep a record of people visiting their premises for 21 days. We had previously suggested 14 days. It would be wise to update the privacy policy and systems to follow this extended time period. The advice can be found at (last updated 24/09/20) https://www.gov.uk/guidance/opening-certain-businesses-and-venues-in-england-from-4-july-2020

    22/6/20
    From today house moves in Wales will gradually open up. It is not a complete unlocking, rather an easing. Purchases that were already arranged can go ahead. Viewings of unoccupied properties can take place and people can travel further than 5 miles in order to undertake move related activities. The guidance says initial viewing should be online and only really allows viewings and letting of empty properties. These are all permitted through changes brought in by the 6th amendment to the coronavirus legislation.
    Updated guidance can be found here https://gov.wales/moving-home-during-coronavirus-pandemic (last updated 13/08/20)


    11/6/20

    We have updated the Coming out of Lock down and COVID-19 documents packs. You will find Advice and guidance for a householder R1-2 and Advice and guidance for working in office R1-2 in the Coming out of Lock down folder.
    In the COVID-19 folder, the updated files you will find are: COVID-19 Advice for agents R2-4, COVID-19 Email for tenants R2-4 and COVID-19 Information for landlords R2-4.

    8/6/20
    As we expected, the Government has extended the suspension of possession proceeding by two months. This means that there will be no court action for tenants living in private and social housing until after 23 August.

    www.gov.uk/government/news/ban-on-evictions-extended-by-2-months-to-further-protect-renters


    1/6/20
    The Coronavirus Health Protection Legislation has been amended as from today by the amendment number 3 regulations. This completely rewrites regulation 6. Some of the guidance has also been updated. We are currently working through what has changed.


    20/5/20
    The Welsh Government have issued guidance about self isolating if you live in a shared house. Whilst strictly for Wales, many of the principles will apply to England too. It is an area we have raise with MHCLG that guidance is lacking for England. It contains some "interesting" advice including the very logical advice not to share toothbrushes!! (Last updated 29/09/20)
    https://gov.wales/self-isolating-your-shared-home-during-coronavirus-pandemic

    There is also guidance for those struggling to pay their rent. (Last Updated 29/08/20)
    https://gov.wales/problems-paying-your-rent-during-coronavirus-pandemic

    Yesterday there was updated guidance put out for working environments. It is difficult to find so we have a link below. It can also be found if you go to any guide and where is says updated 19 May then "See all updates". This link will take you to the 19 May update and the 5 steps that should be taken. (Last updated 01/10/20)
    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/5-steps-to-working-safely


    13/5/20
    Today is the day the The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 come into force. They change the lockdown rules in several ways but the important part for sales and lettings is sub para (L) that now reads:
    l)to undertake any of the following activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property—
    (i)visiting estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes;
    (ii)viewing residential properties to look for a property to buy or rent;
    (iii)preparing a residential property to move in;
    (iv)moving home;
    (v)visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property;

    From this it is clear the property business can A) reopen the offices, B) do what is necessary to sell or let properties. Agents have always been able to travel to properties but this now says that the prospective tenants and purchasers can also go.

    It does, of course, raise some interesting points. An empty house may not present too many problems but what if the property is currently occupied? It is not uncommon that tenants do not want viewings before moving in a normal market and we can only assume this would be even more likely in the current climate. Then what about the situation where the current tenant is shielding? The Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974 is not changed and under this legislation: "It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety." This is the start of section 3, section 2 imposes the same basic responsibility for employees.  A member of staff does not even have to fall ill for the agency to have committed an offence, the fact there is a risk is sufficient to commit and offence. Restarting working will have to be done under social distancing rules with sufficient precautions in place to make sure all reasonable steps to avoid harm have been taken. The guidance says social distancing "must" be observed.

    The guidance on moving home has also been updated and they make the point this is NOT a return to normality. They talk about "vacating your property whilst others are shown around" and highlight moves should be planned with the possibility for another lockdown or a delay caused by someone self isolating. The guidance makes it clear those self isolating or showing symptoms should not be viewing or moving (nor presumably having viewings done in their home). Practical advice includes leaving doors open, not having children on viewings if possible, limit the number of people on the viewing, no open house viewings, cleaning surfaces and door handles before and after a viewing. The latest information can be found here: (Last updated 29/08/20) https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

    Previous guidance said properties should not be put on the market but this new guidance changes that to say you can, with appropriate precautions, put a property on the market.

    Slightly confusingly the guidance talks about washing your hands frequently as though during a viewing people are expected to to this and it even suggests paper towels be provided. Having strangers looking around a property can feel intrusive enough, asking them to wash their hands several times during a viewing may be more than many will accept. The guidance talks about the homeowner having to clean all the surfaces and door handles before and after viewings and as this logically would apply to the current tenant. One can see there is likely to be some resistance to allowing viewings till after the current tenant leaves.

    The guidance says agent should have an appointment system for visiting the office, not a general open office. They and anyone on the viewing should wash their hands or use sanitiser immediately on entering a property.

    Though the moving home guidance has been updated the specific guidance for landlords and tenants does not appear to have been updated as the edit date is still the 28 March.

    Yes we are open for business but not in any normal sense of the words.

    Yesterday in Parliament Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced and extension of the furlough scheme till October. Though the principle seems ot have been extended it appears the revised scheme may be slightly less generous with the employer possibly being asked to contribute towards the money the furloughed employee receives. It is also unclear about the transition between the current scheme and this revised proposal.

    On the 11 May the guidance about working in other people's homes was released. It contains the following important point about PPE when working in someone else's home: When managing the risk of COVID-19, additional PPE beyond what you usually wear is not beneficial. This is because COVID-19 is a different type of risk to the risks you normally face in a workplace, and needs to be managed through social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering, not through the use of PPE.

    This makes it pretty clear it is not a requirement to wear PPE just because you are in someone else's home. The full guidance on working in someone else's home can be found here (Last Updated 01/10/20) 
    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/homes.

    The same comment is made about working in offices here: (Last updated 01/10/20) 
    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/offices-and-contact-centres and for shops here: (Last updated 01/10/20) https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/shops-and-branches


    12/5/20
    Yesterdays guidance on loosening the lockdown does not make any specific references to estate or letting agency. In fact it simply restated the principle that was already in the legislation, work from home if you can and work from work if you have to but in a social distancing way. Other potential changes are further in the future. Guidance is promised about how businesses should operate with staff at work.

    There was a Court of Appeal case on if the Practice Direction 51Z (stopping almost all property possession claims) was lawful. Judgement was handed down yesterday and the mortgage lender who brought the case lost on all grounds. This simply confirms that the current 90 day ban on court cases still stands and is enforceable.


    28/4/20
    Guidance for social landlords on when it is reasonable for people to move. (Last Updated 29/08/20)
    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak#social-landlords

    22/4/20
    On the 17 March the Welsh Government issued updated guidance for landlords and tenants. The revised guidance can be found here https://gov.wales/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-tenants-in-the-private-rented-sector-html


    21/4/20
    The practice direction that prevents normal housing claims has been clarified that it does not include claims against trespassers and that it does not exclude injunction claims (like getting in to do a gas safety check) only possession. (Last updated 11/06/20)
    https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/part51/practice-direction-51z-stay-of-possession-proceedings,-coronavirus


    20/4/20
    Today is the first day for making a claim for the money spend paying furloughed workers. New guidance on this was issued on Friday and can be found at (Last updated 28/08/20) https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme


    16/4/20
    It have been suggested that if a property is empty and cannot be re-let due to Coronavirus restrictions then you should try claiming a Class G exemption. Class G includes:

    Occupation prohibited by law.

    • The property must be unoccupied and unfurnished.
    • Occupation must be prohibited by law (including a closing order or demolition order) or kept unoccupied by reason of action taken under powers granted by or under any Act of Parliament with a view to prohibiting its occupation or to acquiring it such as a compulsory purchase order).
    • The exemption does not apply to actions between individuals or companies under contract law such as restriction orders and does not apply if the property is occupied by squatters who choose to occupy even though prohibited by law.
    As the coronavirus regulations make it against the law to let the property unless the move is "reasonably necessary" then it would seem to fit the criteria. I expect most councils will not have thought of this and being different there may be some push back but got to be worth trying.


    9/4/20
    1121
    Guidance has been produced for different business sectors and how they can work complaint with the social distancing requirements in the work place. It can be found here:(Last updated 01/10/20) https://www.gov.uk/guidance/social-distancing-in-the-workplace-during-coronavirus-covid-19-sector-guidance It includes retail, construction and maintenance in peoples homes.


    8/4/20
    1117
    With a large dose of irony, MHLC have just put out an updated model tenancy agreement, just we we should not be setting up new tenancies unless "reasonably necessary"! They say it is updated for COVID-19 but it still refers to two months notice for section 21 (and rightly so or the landlord would have to give three months' notice even after the temporary rules are relaxed).

    1024
    This confirms that the rent announcement by the Government is not a holiday but a deferred payments scheme. IE the tenant does have to pay the rent but can pay it later by agreement with the landlord (and possessions require three months notice and are delayed for three months so even if there is no actual agreement, there is little the landlord can do). (Last Updated 29/5/20) https://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2020-03-18.HL2766.h&s=rent holiday#gHL2766.r0 However, importantly, the full rent is legally due.

    Whilst on the subject, let us add a comment about rent deferment. It is important to understand three things about this. Firstly any rent deferred is not legally due so will not count towards a ground 8 rent arrears claim. This could delay the point at which the ground 8 trigger happens and therefore delay the possession action. Our advice is that you do not agree to defer but equally you assure the tenant that due to the current circumstances you will not be actively seeking possession for any rent arrears.  you might add that "as long as you are convinced they are paying what they can" or other caveats. This better preserves you position. Secondly do not agree deferment without the agreement of landlord and any rent guarantee insurance company. Not getting agreement could invalidate rent guarantee insurance. Thirdly, it would be wise to get the agreement of the guarantor. This is because anything that increases the guarantor's liability could see them off the hook so make sure they agree as a precaution. (The increased risk might be argued to be from allowing thousands of pounds of rent arrears to accrue).


    7/4/20
    1500
    In no way related to Covid 19 but there has been a new N5B court application form issues. Something of an irony when the courts are closed for part 55 claims so you can't use it for three months! Massive warning, it has ballooned to 18 pages and wants copies of all the gas safety records and tenancy agreements the tenant has had. You might need 3 months furloughed to work out the new form. It is likely to increase the cost of possessions as there is a lot more preparation work to be done.


    6/4/20
    1515
    Guidance has been issued for landlords and managing agents of properties in Wales here (Last Updated 24/07/20) https://gov.wales/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-landlords-and-managing-agents-private-rented-sector

    Guidance has been issued for tenants of properties in Wales here https://gov.wales/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-tenants-private-rented-sector

    Guidance has been issued for local authorities enforcing housing standards (Last Updated 02/07/20) https://gov.wales/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-local-authorities-enforcing-standards-rented-properties
     

    1453 
    Late Friday we spotted MHCLG has changed then notes document they produce to accompany the Form 6A section 21 notice. We don't usually track this document but notices the "last updated" date had changed for the page and this was what changed. The guidance can be found here (Last Updated 29/08/20)  https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/878101/Form_6a_Notes_revised_01_04_2020.pdf


    3/4/20
    1150
    New guidance was issued yesterday clarifying that estate agents and letting agents do qualify for business rate relief schemes. Previously they had been on a list of exemptions. Unlike the rates grants, which have a rateable value cap, this benefit is available regardless of rateable value. You will find letting agents listed on page 6 (Last Updated 19/05/20) of https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/877758/Expanded_Retail_Discount_Guidance_02.04.20.pdf

    0900
    New guidance on EPCs and Coronavirus. As the Government don't think people should be moving then there should be no reason to commission an EPC. If the move is necessary the the EPC can be conducted following social distancing rules. They do say EPCs can be conducted where a property is vacant  (only if the move is unavoidable) but should not take place where anyone is self-isolating, sick or shielding. The full guidance is here (Last updated 19/05/20) https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-energy-performance-certificates?utm_source=28b60fef-9398-4f38-9b6a-519b343effa2&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate


    1/4/20
    1544
    House of Commons Briefing paper on support available during the COVID-19 outbreak. (Last Updated 20/09/20)  https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-8867/

    1440
    Guidance for small business grant (Last updated 08/20) guidance https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/877286/small-business-grant-fund-and-retail-guidance-v3.pdf


    31/3/20
    1007
    Right to rent checks are modified during the Coronavirus outbreak. You have always been able to use a live video instead of face to face but they are allowing that you see copies of the documents, not the originals (not normally allowed). The full guidance can be read here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-landlord-right-to-rent-checks

    Note, these checks are temporary and full checks will have to be undertaken when this temporary measure is reversed. As the guidance is that moves should only take place if they are absolutely necessary, there should not be many checks to do. They also reference the fact that some tenants may need a "follow up check" (end of 12 months of their right to rent) and these should be done retrospectively after the temporary changes brought in for COVID-19 have been lifted.

    0900
    We have updated our COVID-19 documents. If you are a Tenancy Agreement, Management Forms, Support Pack subscriber or you have purchased the live or recorded COVID-19 webinar you will be able to download the updated documents from your account on this web site. The documents and recording can be purchased in the web site shop, follow the link at the top of this page. If you are not sure how to access your online account please ring the office on 01258 85 85 85.


    30/3/20
    1050 (Last updated 08/20)
    I thought it might be useful to bring all the COVID-19
    links together. So here the relevant ones are:
    Guidance for landlords and tenants
    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/876500/Consolidated_Landlord_and_Tenant_Guidance_COVID_and_the_PRS_v4.2.pdf

    Main Coronavirus page
    https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

    Support for businesses (Last updated 01/10/20)
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

    Guidance on claiming Universal Credit
    https://www.gov.uk/how-to-claim-universal-credit

    Guidance to the courts on prioritising applications to adjourn (Last updated 19/3/20)
    https://www.judiciary.uk/announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-message-from-the-lord-chief-justice-to-judges-in-the-civil-and-family-courts/

    Technical guidance on possessions for landlord (this contains a few errors so be careful) (Last updated 08/20)
    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/876502/Technical_Guidance_COVID_19_PRS_v3.pdf

    General guidance for landlords and tenants (Last updated 21/09/20)
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-and-renting-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-landlords-and-tenants
    Enforcement guidance for local authorities (Last updated 21/09/20)
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-and-renting-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities/guidance-for-local-authorities

    Further guidance on repairs and property visits (Last updated 24/09/20)
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance#work-carried-out-in-peoples-homes

    Stay at home guidance (Last updated 22/09/20)
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing

    Guidance on cleaning the home to avoid contamination
    useful for contractor visits for cleaning before and after (Last updated 15/07/20)
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings

    Guidance on  shared accommodation and possible infection (Last updated 28/09/20)
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

    Gas Safe Register advice (Last updated 30/09/20)
    https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/covid-19-advice-and-guidance/

    Guidance on moving home (Last updated 29/08/20)
    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

    Guidance on self isolation (Last updated 28/09/20)
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

    Right to rent guidance (Last updated 30/3/20)
    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-landlord-right-to-rent-checks

    Guidance for small business grant  guidance (Last updated 08/20)   https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/877286/small-business-grant-fund-and-retail-guidance-v3.pdf

    House of Commons Briefing paper on support available during the COVID-19 outbreak. (Last updated 20/09/20)
    https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-8867/

    Guidance on EPCs and Coronavirus. As the Government don't think people should be moving then there should be no reason to commission an EPC. If the move is necessary the the EPC can be conducted following social distancing rules. They do say EPCs can be conducted where a property is vacant  (only if the move is unavoidable) but should not take place where anyone is self-isolating, sick or shielding. The full guidance is here.      (Last updated 19/5/20) 
    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-energy-performance-certificates?utm_source=28b60fef-9398-4f38-9b6a-519b343effa2&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

    Guidance clarifying that estate agents and letting agents do qualify for business rate relief (Last updated 02/04/20) schemes.  https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/877758/Expanded_Retail_Discount_Guidance_02.04.20.pdf

    Guidance has been issued for landlords and managing agents of properties in Wales here (Last updated 24/07/20) 
    https://gov.wales/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-landlords-and-managing-agents-private-rented-sector

    Guidance has been issued for tenants of properties in Wales here (Last updated 06/07/20) https://gov.wales/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-tenants-in-the-private-rented-sector-html

    Guidance has been issued for local authorities enforcing housing standards (Last updated 02/07/20)
    https://gov.wales/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-local-authorities-enforcing-standards-rented-properties
     

    MHCLG notes document to accompany the Form 6A section 21 notice. The guidance can be found here (Last updated 29/08/20)
    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/878101/Form_6a_Notes_revised_01_04_2020.pdf

    Guidance has been produced for different business sectors and how they can work compliant with the social distancing requirements in the work place. (Last updated 01/10/20)
    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/social-distancing-in-the-workplace-during-coronavirus-covid-19-sector-guidance 


    0903
    Welcome to week two of COVID-19 lockdown. Over the
    weekend MHCLG put out another guide for landlords and
    tenants. It can be found here (Last updated 08/20) https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/876500/Consolidated_Landlord_and_Tenant_Guidance_COVID_and_the_PRS_v4.2.pdf
    Usefully it makes it clear that tenants should expect to
    pay their rent and to utilise support available to do that.
    It say local authorities should adjust their enforcement 
    due to the limited ability of landlords to do works. It says
    where safe and reasonable the tenant should allow 
    contractors access to inspect or remedy urgent health and
    safety issues. They include a non exhaustive list including
    roof leaking, boiler broken, no washing or toilet, fridge or
    washing machine broken, security issues and equipment
    relied on by a disabled person. This is really helpful and
    the link could be emailed to tenants.
    Reassuringly the guidance makes it clear that if the landlord
    has taken all reasonable steps to comply they will not be 
    considered in breach (bottom of page 19). Keep a log of
    all activities to prove reasonability.


    29/3/20
    1115
    The Welsh Government have issues their own COVID-19
    lockdown advice. This can be found here (Last updated 25/08/20) https://gov.wales/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-landlords-and-managing-agents-in-the-private-rented-sector-html


    28/3/20
    1717
    Yesterday a new Practice Direction 51Z for the Civil 
    Procedure Rules (CPR) was issued. It suspends all Part
    55 possession claims and enforcement. Part 55 is the 
    part landlords use for possession under section 8 and
    section 21. This applies to enforcement (bailiffs) as 
    well as current and new court cases. There is a 90 day
    suspension from the 27 March. Strangely Practice
    Direction says it lasts till 30 October, one month after
    the change to the section 21 notices, but presumably as
    the suspension is 90 days from the 27 March the October
    date is only relevant if they decide to extend the 90 days.



    27/3/20
    1613
    The world moves fast, if not backward! New movement
    restriction legislation has been passed. It can be found
    here. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/350/introduction/made

    Of note is regulation 6 (2)(L) which explains the reasons people
    are allowed out of the house including the "moving house
    where reasonably necessary". This is not defined but is the
    law (note this is law not advice).

    Earlier in (2)(a) leaving the house for essential maintenance
    and upkeep is allowed. and (f) allows trades people to travel
    to jobs "where it is not possible" for that person to work
    from home.

    Schedule 2 lists business that must, by law, close. However
    Letting agents are not listed but any responsible agent will
    minimise any such office activity, especially if it involve staff
    and public transport

    Interesting these regulation were made at 1300, were laid
    before Parliament at 1430 and became law at 1300 (before
    Parliament!)

    On a lighter note, if you have not seen this it is genius
    and worth sharing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KPbJ0-DxTc 

    Enjoy and have a safe weekend


    0810
    The court service have suspended all housing possession
    cases. This will include all cases where notice has already
    been served, expired and a claim has already been lodged
    with the court. Full details are here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-support-available-for-landlords-and-renters-reflecting-the-current-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

    0740
    The government have issued clarified guidance about
    maintenance workers effecting repairs. It can be found
    here (Last updated 24/09/20) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance Essentially it says the work is allowed if it is
    a direct risk to the safety of the household. This will
    obviously include doing the gas safety checks. They
    should not do works if the household are self-isolating,
    shielding or sick unless it is of an emergency nature
    (gas leak for example). Shielding is where someone
    with a vulnerability lives and is avoid all contact, for
    example they are elderly with a chronic lung condition.

    The engineer should not do any work if they are showing
    any symptoms, however mild. Even if work is done, the
    social distancing should be maintained with the residents
    staying well away from the contractor and both parties
    ensuring cleanliness of the site where the work is being
    undertaken before and after the works.

    Guidance was also issued about moving house. Essentially
    the message is avoid  moving if possible and only move
    where it is essential. The full guidance can be found here (Last Updated 29/08/20)
    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak 

    If you do have to have a move then social distancing
    rules should be maintained as far as possible.

    In both of these cases this is very much the advice we have
    been giving all week. Avoid where possible, Be careful and
    keep your distance, Complete only if necessary, ABC!


    26/3/20
    1717
    Without going into the technicalities of why, the Coronavirus Act means that even though have to serve 3 months' notice under section 21, but the normal notice (now three months) still only remains valid for 6 months giving you one month less to take court action after expiry of the notice. A small trap for the unwary.

    1615
    We have just uploaded the latest version COVID-19 documents to the account of subscribers to the Tenancy Agreement, Management Forms, the Support Pack or who attended Wednesday's paid for COVID-19 webinar. The changes are in the documents now call R2-1. There is a new "Agreement to Lease" Document for England that reflects the fact we may not be able to d the move in due to COVID-19 lockdown. We are working on a version for Wales as the Welsh version includes the specified information. We will upload it as soon as possible for clients in Wales. We have also edited the information to Landlords, specifically to ask them not to agree rent deferment without talking to us as it could jeopardise things like rent guarantee insurance. We have also updated the information for agents to explain the section 21 "non changes" explained below.


    1540
    We have decided that we will use this space to tell you about updated documents too. Therefore, while we are in a state of rapid change (documents changing daily) we will not email out telling you documents have been updated but we will log them here.

    We are getting a lot of calls about "new section 21 notices". As below there is no new notice and secondly the courts are not going to give you possession anyway! Please read the post below to explain why it is not a new notice.

    0900 amended 1540
    The Coronavirus Act 2020 received Royal Assent last night. You can find the act here (Beware it is 358 pages so a long read!). Section 81 provides protection for residential tenancies though the implementation of Schedule 29.

    Please read carefully paragraph 6 and 7 of Schedule 29. IT DOES NOT say that the prescribed forms have been changed. It says the forms are "to be read" as if the references are to three months. We stress this as MHCLG have produce revised versions of their forms 3 and 6A (more later) on the MHCLG web site that no longer match the versions in the legislation. Our advice is stick to the forms we provide as this is what the legislation says the form should say. To show what a mess has been made, they uploaded the revised form 6A into the Form 6. This was amended about 10 o'clock this morning. The new form also makes reference to commencement 27 March 2020 (tomorrow as I write this) when it is already in force! (should that be "farce"?) (This has also now been corrected).

    The actual wording of the relevant paragraph for the section 21 notice (para 12(2), 11 is the section 8 notice for Wales as there is no prescribed form for section 21 in Wales) says:

    (2)The Schedule to the Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England)
    Regulations 2015  is to be read, in relation to notices given under section 21(1) or (4) of the Housing Act
    1988 during the relevant period, as if in Form 6A (notice seeking possession of a property let on an
    assured shorthold tenancy)—

    (a)in the section headed “What to do if this notice is served on you”, in the second paragraph—

    (i)for “two months’” there were substituted “three months’”, and

    (ii)the words “if you pay rent quarterly, you must be given at least three months’ notice, or,” were omitted, and

    (b)in paragraph 3, for “two months’” there were substituted “three months’”.


    (Apologies for the formatting, copied and pasted). Note the  3 phrases in red text. 1)"is to be read" It does not say the regulations are changed, it says you read it in a certain way. 2) "As if in Form 6A" again is does not say it is change and indeed if it was changed you would not need to read it "as if" as it would be actually changed. 3) Remember we are "read this ", "as if" the 2 months were substituted for three months. Again not changing it but telling you how to read it. The reason is obvious and simple. this change is for 6 months till 30 September 2020. If they changed the prescribed form they would have to change it back again. This way they don't have to make any changes (now or later) and it is just read in a special way. It is unclear if this actually changes the notice or is just read in a different way. Users will have to make a decision as to whether to use the existing version of the MHCLG version, or even to serve both as a precaution.



    25/3/20
    Today the Government have made two relevant announcements.

    Firstly, they have confirmed that the business rate relief announced for restaurants etc will apply to estate and letting agents for 2021. This is very welcome news.

    The full article can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/covid-19-estate-agents-lettings-agencies-and-bingo-halls-to-pay-no-business-rates-this-coming-financial-year.

    Secondly, the Government have effectively confirmed the advice we have been giving on moving house. It should be  avoided if possible and if it does need to take place it should be undertaken with the "social distancing" rules. This will require a little creativity but it is not beyond the wit of man to come up with ideas.

  • Jul 20/2020

    Electrical Gudiance

    Unclear guidance
    In June updated guidance was issued, and withdrawn. This was because the guidance contradicted itself. However it has raised an issue that is worth exploring and to do this we need to go back to the legislation, not the guidance.

    The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 are the relevant piece of legislation. In regulation 1 it says they come into force for "new specified tenancies" from the 1 July. So far so good and for all existing specified tenancies from the 1 April 2021.

    Regulation 2 gives us the definition of a "new specified tenancy" and this is any tenancy granted after the regs came into force. The regs came into force on the 1 June 2020. This creates a small anomaly that tenancies starting after the 1 June have to have a check by 1 July.

    Reading further regulation 3(1)(c) says that "new specified tenancies" have to have a check before the tenancies commences. 
    We therefore have three elements and it would be possible to match two of them but not all three. It would be possible to have "new specified tenancies" (commenced from the 1 June) and requiring an electrical safety check by the 1 July, but then you cannot also require the check before they commenced. If read to mean that they apply to any new tenancy granted after 1 July, the it is quote possible for the check to be done before the tenancy commences. It is not clear how all three requirements can be met for tenancies granted from 1 June. Although originally it was believed these tenancies would not require any check till April 2021, readers may want to choose the cautious route and get one done now to make sure they are covered.

    Therefore the reason the guidance has a problem expressing the requirements of the legislation is that the requirements in the legislation are pretty impossible to reconcile with themselves. Although the Government have reverted to the original guidance which is very clear that it applies to tenancies signed after 1 July, the NRLA state that the government have confirmed to them that they intend it to apply to tenancies signed from the 1 June and those tenancies had till 1 July to comply. Comply is an interesting word as, as explained above, this still leaves you in breach of regulation 3 as this requires the check done before the tenancy, not afterwards! If this is the government view we would have expected them to update the guidance. Don' be fooled by the "signed" word as the legislation talks about "granted" and this clearly covers statutory periodic tenancies arising after the legislation came in even though nothing is signed. Agents will have to decide which interpretation they want to follow but as all properties will need such a check why not get t done sooner rather than later.

    The TFP tenancy agreement as provided does not go statutory periodic so this last point is not a problem for our tenancy agreement subscribers.

    There is also some confusion about checks done before 1 June 2020. The 18th edition came into force in January 2019 but was available from June 2018 (hence why it s BS7671:2018). However, the 18th edition does refer back to work done under the previous edition and says this is acceptable unless it is a significant safety issue, this is why the guidance says that a check done in the last five years is acceptable unless the previous report said another check was needed in less than 5 years. In respect of new builds, the installer has to make sure it complies to the 18th edition and will produce a certificate to say that it complies, needed to get building regulations sign off. Therefore the building regulations sign off is a report confirming it meets the 18th edition with no faults.

  • Jan 10/2020

    Money Laundering Day

    Today is the day the 5th Money Laundering Directive required individual nations to have implemented the 5th Money Laundering Directive. European directives require legislation in each nation whereas European regulations do not, they are directly enforceable. And don't think that in leaving the EU we won't still comply. Firstly because in order to work with Europe they will require the same sort of standards but also because it was the uK who was pressing for better money laundering rules in the first place!

    However, in reality, for the lettings market this really is a "non event". Don't be fooled by reading about letting agents have to register for money laundering and do due diligence on their clients. Indeed this is what the law says, but you have to read the definition of letting agent and this is where it only applies to a letting agent  who is letting a property in excess of 10,000 Euros a month (about £8,300). This will therefore be a tiny percentage of properties and agents. Searching Rightmove for the whole London area and properties over £8,000 a month today (10/1/20) it finds 2,797 properties listed over £8,000 a month. Outside London you find far fewer. The point is that you are not considered to be a letting agent if the rent is under 10,000 Euro.
    For some agents they may already be registered for sales and any money laundering compliance will be a small step. For the vast majority they will not need to do anything different as they simply don't rent any properties over the 10,000 Euro threshold.

  • Nov 27/2019

    LEGAL UPDATE 2020

    As usual Training for Professionals will be running their hugely popular Legal Update course for 2020 after the New Year. This year we have made the decision that it is best run a little later than usual and we felt it would be helpful to explain the reasoning.

    Obviously we have the general election, being held at an unusual time of the year, with a very uncertain outcome. The new Government will then have to organise itself and decide on a legislative program. There are few changes due by April 2020 and we felt we could provide better quality information by delaying the course a couple of months. Therefore, instead of running February/March time we will plan to start a little later. This will ensure we can include the latest updates and will be more likely to know, for example, if the new government will take the regulation of property agents forward and in what form. There is more chance of having an official response to the Section 21 ban consultation and other legislative plans will have become clearer.

    We are aware Money Laundering regulations will change in January 2020 with the implementation of the 5th Money Laundering Directive, having some implications for some lettings agents. However, even these we are waiting for decisions from the Government about the monetary threshold they will choose. We can provide updates on our web site or by email.

    All in all it seemed to us that we could provide a more useful and beneficial course by a small delay and just wanted to reassure you that you had not missed your favourite annual training event, it will just be a little later to make it better.

    Our Welsh Legal Update courses are set to run mid to late February dates and locations to be announced early 2020.

  • Oct 24/2019

    Electrical Safety Standards

    Provisions were made in the Housing and Planning Act 2016, for the Secretary of State to make regulations about electrical safety standards for properties let by private landlords. (Commencement No. 11) brings sections 122 and 123 into force for future regulations to be written.

     

    As of 25 October 2019 the Secretary of the State has the power to make the regulations which will provide the electrical safety standards to be met by all residential landlords.

     

    The Secretary of the State will be looking into enforcing regulations for the standards of electrical installations including appliances provided by the landlord, who is defined as qualified, how often the checks should be carried out, ensure a valid certificate is issued to the tenant or prospective tenant and for the local housing authority to enforce any works or fines that maybe required if the landlord is not compliant.

  • Aug 16/2019

    Welsh fee ban guidance

    The Welsh Assembly have released the guidance for landlords for the upcoming tenant fee ban in Wales. It can be accessed here.

    Much of it is unsurprising and lays out the basic requirements contained in the legislation in slightly simpler form. However, the language also seems to imply that they will be bringing in the ban without having set a cap on deposits and some other elements we are awaiting for regulations (like default payments).

    For those operating in Wales, the biggest danger lies in what you read in the media as this is mainly about the law in England. The Welsh law, while very similar, has some significant differences. For example, Wales has 8 permitted payments, England has 10. Wales has not included variation of the contract and early termination in their list of permitted payments, though the guidance contains some interesting information.

  • Jul 18/2019

    Regulation of agents

    This group, chaired by Lord Best, has produced its recommendations for the way forward for the regulation of property agents. One of our concerns is trying to lump all "property agents" into a single scheme. Several of the comments in discussions were not appropriate for some areas of the market.

    They have made a number of recommendations, still to be formally agreed by Government. Essentially they will introduce an agent licensing scheme with a requirement that the staff within an agency are also trained, qualified to at least level 3 and licensed. A list of regulated activities is planned and if any of these activities are undertaken by a member of staff they will need to be regulated. By having individual members of staff licensed it will make it easy for them to work in more than one agency or to change jobs.

    They propose a regulator to oversee compliance. The details of this will be important as there is a danger of yet another regulator or body. With redress schemes, local councils, local Trading Standards, The National Trading Standards team in Bristol, deposits schemes, trade bodies and now another regulator, the chances of a tenant being able to know to whom they should complain is limited. As an alternative, but this is probably dreaming, why not merge many of these bodies into one single regulator and start a scheme of joined up thinking in the market.

    All pigs fuelled and ready to fly!

  • Jul 17/2019

    Tenant Fee Ban

    The Tenant Fees Act 2019 has passed all the Parliamentary hurdles and now in force (from the 1 June 2019).

    The CMP provision came into force on the 1 April when CMP became mandatory. This part just made some technical changes for the CMP being introduced under separate legislation.

    There are transitional provisions in section 30 about what happens with fees already in a tenancy in existence before the law is passed, but essentially it will be fully in force by 1 June 2020 following a 12 month transitional provision.

    There are a number of surprises (like if the landlord charges a fee he cannot serve a section 21 notice but if the agent charges a fee this does not prevent the use of a section 21 notice). Although talked about (and named) as tenant fees, it also bans requiring the tenant to pay a third party for services or enter into a contract for services. The most obvious issue here will be tenancy agreements used to require professional cleaning of a property, this will be illegal under the tenant fee ban.

    The final guidance has also been produced and can be downloaded the the internet. We have our concerns about a couple of points in terms of their accuracy so be careful with what it says.

  • Mar 01/2019

    Defective Premises

    In the case of Rogerson v Bolsover District Council, a lady stepped backwards while mowing the lawn and fell through a large manhole cover in the grass. The manhole was actually owned by Severn Trent water and was part of the main sewer system, even though it was on the landlord’s land. The lady won her case in the county court, lost on the appeal and appealed to the Court of Appeal. The tenant won in the Court of Appeal and the landlord was liable to pay damages for the accident. There are two significant things to come out of the case.


    Firstly the property had been inspected in 2013 just before the tenant moved in and again in 2014 as part of a standard 10 year asset management inspection. However, there were no meaningful records of either visit and members of staff involved were not longer working for the local authority by the time of court hearing limiting access to first hand evidence. Therefore, the first lesson is that visits to the property should leave an audit trail that remains even after staff changes or the business is sold.


    The second lesson is the consideration of what should be reviewed when visiting the property and the “technical” understanding of the person who did the inspection. Section 11 repairs generally need the tenant to notify the landlord of the need for repair before a liability arises. This claim was under the Defective Premises Act. Two significant differences between this legislation and section 11 are that Defective Premises Act applies to the whole property (not just the house) so included the drain in the garden, and there is no need to be notified of the problem. This lack of the need to be notified is a great example of why periodic visits to the property are an important part of the management. This is not just about seeing the carpet is vacuumed or the flower beds weeds, there are some serious technical building issues to consider and someone with appropriate knowledge should undertake them.


    Whilst the fact of this case were a little unusual, in having a main sewage tank in the garden, the underlying principle about liability under Defective Premises Act is very real. Other cases where the same legislation has been used include gas safety (before the Gas Safety Regs, but therefore could be used for oil fired or solid fuel heating) and a garden wall falling over and causing injury. Thorough checks and details records are the only defence. At the end of the day some things may be impossible to detect and this is probably the most important reason landlord’s should always ensure they are adequately insured.


  • Feb 11/2019

    Fitness for Human Habitation

    The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 was passed on the 20 December 2018. It starts taking effect three months later from the 20 March 2019. Basically any new tenancy granted after this date, including renewals and statutory periodic tenancies arising, will have to comply with the legislation from the renewal. If the tenancy was running periodic from before 20 March 2019 then you will have to comply with the new rules from 12 months later, i.e. the 20 March 2020. If a fixed term tenancy is running before 20 March 2019 then as long as the fixed term tenancy continues it remains outside of the legislation, regardless of the fixed term (see the next point though). The rules for when this new rule applies very closely mirror the section 11 repairing obligations (and it is, of course, in the same legislation). therefore it does not apply to fixed terms of in excess of seven years, provided the landlord cannot break the fixed term before seven years. Also the landlord is not required to keep fit for human habitation any thing the tenant has damaged, fire, flood etc and things the tenant is entitled to remove from the property.

    As the TFP tenancy counts as a fixed term tenancy (based on Goodman v Evely [2001] EWCA Civ 104) this should mean that those on TFP tenancy agreements before 20 March 2019 will have for as long as those agreements last before having to comply.

    This will new law will require a landlord to let, and keep a property fit for human habitation (regardless of rent level). In addition to the old list in section 10 of issues that would make a property not fit for human habitation they have now added the 29 HHSRS hazards as reasons for not being fit for human habitation. It is this latter point that causes the most concern as there is no prescribed standard, e.g. it must not have any category one hazards. This means that a landlord will not have any certainty about committing an offence until the judge decides if it is fit or not.

    The rules remain unchanged in Wales, meaning effective the fitness for human habitation concept does not apply (due to the very old rent thresholds).
    We will be talking about this on our Legal Update 2019 course.

  • Dec 03/2018

    New Form 6A advice

    Law can be very complex and a superficial reading of it can be dangerous. For some months we have been working on the effect of the Deregulation Act 2015 when we get to October 2018. Section 41, dealing with the transitional provisions, states that section 33-38 and 40 come into force for pre-October 2015 tenancies from 1 October 2018. This is what we are all expecting.

    However, it is not as simple as this. Section 33 and 34 deal with retaliatory evictions, and these will come into force on the 1 October 2018 for tenancies created before 1 October 2015.

    Section 35 deals with the periodic notice not needing to expire at the end of a period of the tenancy. This will come into force for all assured shortholds from 1 October 2018. Section 36 deals with not serving in the first four months and though technically it will apply, it will have no practical effect.

    Section 40 deals with the requirement for a pro rata rent refund if the section 21 notice expires part way through a period for which rent has been paid. This will apply to pre-October 2015 tenancies from 1 October 2018.

    Section 41, the transitional provisions, specifically exclude section 39 from ever applying to the pre-October 2015 tenancies and as this is the requirement to give the How to Rent Guide, this makes sense.

    The tricky bit is sections 37 and 38 as both of these are "prescribed" items. 37 is the prescribed form, Form 6A, and 38 is the prescribed legal requirements (currently gas and EPC). The important thing with these is that the regulations that prescribe these two things start by saying the regulations only apply to post October 2015 tenancies, therefore excluding all the pre-October 2015 tenancies. We have been in dialogue with MHCLG about this for some months, even suggesting how to edit the Form 6A (which specifically says it doe snot apply to pre-October 2015 tenancies), and how they might edit the regulations. With Parliament in recess and little legislation being passed in September when the party conference season is on, time was running out to resolve this. We have now been told that there is no intention that the Form 6A and gas/EPC requirements will apply to pre-October 2015 tenancies come October 2018. This is something of a change in understanding and will bring its own confusion. Much as many agents are expecting the changes to apply to pre-October 2015 tenancies from October 2018, so are many solicitors and probably judges too. It will be important for agents to be able to explain why they do not apply (because the regulations say they don't apply) if it is questions in court or by the local authority.


     

  • Nov 05/2018

    Domestic Energy Efficiency

    From 19 December 2017 to 13 March 2018 a consultation was run to amend the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 was run. It received 198 responses. The Government have now release the responses to the consultation and given in indication of their thinking of how they will make changes.

    The consultation proposed a range of amounts of money a landlord would have to fund to get a property out of band F or G. The maximum figure they discussed was £5,000, though they were talking about £2,500. Following the consultation the amount they are suggesting seems to have been increased to £3,500 per property. There are currently around 280,000 properties in bands F or G. If each property spent £3,500 (and they won't all need this much spent on them) it would total just shy of a billion pounds of spending.

    Where landlords can obtain funding from things like Green Deal, they will not have to contribute their own money unless the external funding is not enough to get out of band F or G. Then the landlord would only have to spend the amount of the shortfall.

    84% of respondents agreed that  some sort of funding by landlords should be introduced. This probably gives a good indication of the strength of feeling on the issue.

    This information indicates that this policy is very likely to come into force and it is only a question of when. As it only needs regulations it will not take long but first the Government will produce their full response to the consultation (giving the details) and then the regulations have to be drafted and passed. The originally planned date for this was April 2019 and this may still be possible.



  • Aug 22/2018

    New Court Forms

    All landlords and agents should be aware that there are new N5B, N5 and N119 Court forms on the Court service web site. The update seems to be about now containing a data protection statement with information about their use of personal data.

    Whilst the change may not be considered significant in the content of the form, there is a very real risk that if you use an out of date form your case could be rejected. Always use the latest forms available from the HMCTS web site.

    The new forms say they were uploaded 13 August 2018 and carry the date 0718 in the footer of the first page. Looking at the update history for the N5B is says the following:

    1. Updated N5B Form.
    2. Updated form N5B.
    3. English version updated
    4. That is a pretty interesting revision history if they have uploaded four versions over 16 days.
    5. The N5B for a property in Wales has not been updated as of today (22/8) and neither has the bilingual version of the N5B for houses in England (contains English and Welsh side by side).
    6. The N325 (application for a bailiff) has not been updated, but this is possibly because long before you come to enforce a judgement you will have issued the N5B so they will already have the privacy information.

  • Aug 06/2018

    Client Money Protection

    If you have not already done it you might be interested in reading the draft client money protection regulations. The requirement to belong can be found here  and the rules for the schemes can be found here.

    Agents would be well advised to study this legislation as it contains some interesting provisions. For example, it comes into force on the 1 April 2019 and agents will have to pay any interest earned back to the owner of the client money, this may make insured deposit schemes much less attractive.

    Scheme members will have to have a written procedure on client money and this will have to be displayed in the office and on the web site.

    Not being a scheme member carries a maximum penalty of £30,000 and not displaying membership carries a maximum penalty of £5,000. The penalties can be used by the local authorities for general enforcement work in the private rented sector.

  • Jul 10/2018

    Another new How to Rent Guide

    The How to Rent Guide is the prescribed information stated in the Deregulation Act 2015. This act, via subordinate regulations, required that the document "entitled ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’, as published by the Department for Communities and Local Government, that has effect for the time being" is given to the tenant before a section 21 notice can be served. This makes getting this right very important as failure to get it right could jeopardise possession claims.

    The guide was updated without fuss or comment in January 2018. Another update was provided on the 26 June and a previous news item refers to that. However, the revised version had some concerns. Most particularly the name of the document got subtly changed and this raised concerns as to if the new guide, with a different name, matched the requirements under the Deregulations Act 2015. It introduced another confusion in that the  file name of the PDF said it was the Jun18 version, the last edit date on the MHCLG web site stated 26 June 2018, though the bottom of page two of the PDF version of the guide said it was July 2018 (the HTML version now says updated 9 July).

    This has created a great deal of confusion about which version should be issued in which situation. It should also be said that there are no clear answers till a court of record makes a decision on some of the points. For example, there is a potential that the 26th June version is considered not valid because of the name not matching the regulations (but we won't know till a court decides!). This could mean that for a tenancy starting the 30th June the Jan 2018 guide would have been the one that should have been served at the time. However, in the quote in the first paragraph you will see that the version for the guide to give is "that has effect for the time being". Now what is not clear is if this is the version that had effect when it should have been served or when it was actually served. Again a point without a court judgement to make it clear. Therefore for that tenancy starting 30th June (or, of course, for the statutory periodic tenancy arising after the fixed term), it is not clear if the guide that should have been give was the one from the 26 June (as it was valid), the one from Jan 2018 (as the June one was not valid and Jan 2018 was the last correct guide at the point the obligation to give it arose), or indeed the July 2018 edition as this will be the version that will the current at the point the guide is actually given.

    All this only makes getting the tenant's consent to email the PDF even more important!!

    Obviously users of Training for Professionals' model agreement have the problem for the new tenancy but they do not run statutory periodic so the problem is reduced.

  • Jun 29/2018

    New How to Rent Guide

    On the 26th June 2018 the Government launched a new "How to Rent Guide". This is important as this must be given to all new tenants at move in. As a new guide has been issued you must also remember that if a renewal tenancy is signed, the new How to Rent Guide must be issued. This requirement also applies in the situation where a statutory periodic tenancy arises after the fixed term.

    There are some other changes, notifying the tenant of the online benefits calculator, telling tenants to ensure the property has  a licence if this is required, telling tenants of their rights around EPCs, gas safety records and deposits and explaining the requirement for a minimum EPC band E property, or a registered exemption.

    Additionally it has become one of a suite of guides with information now provided for tenants (this guide), two for landlords, one on legislation and one on safety and one for leaseholders. We have long said that landlords would have to raise their game if tenants ever got to understand their rights and these guides may have this effect, if the tenant ever reads them.

  • Jun 14/2018

    New HMO Licensing Regs

    The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018 amends the description of which propertiesfall within Mandatory Licensing. The previous rule was where five or morepeople from two or more households in a building with three or more storeys.

    The new rules basically leave the people andhouseholds unchanged but require houses in multiple occupation on any number offloors to be licensed. There is an exclusion that if the property is in apurpose built block of flats of three or more flats, then it is not covered bythe requirement to be licensed under Mandatory Licensing.

    This means that if you have five people from two ormore households in a two storey house, this will now fall into mandatorylicensing.

    Transitional provisions clarify that if the property isalready licensed under additional licensing, this licence will continue tillexpiry and the property will not need to re-license

  • May 01/2018

    Licensing of agents

    In October 2017 there was a 6 week call for evidence about regulating all agents. On the 1st April 2018 MHCLG release a press release explaining what they see as the way forward.

    This will involve an independent regulator and a standard code of practice for letting and managing agents. Letting agents will have to achieve a recognised  national qualification, presumably all staff as it goes on to say "with at least one person in every organisation required to have a higher qualification". Linked to this will be a requirement for all agents to undertake continuing professional development (a certain amount of training annually) in order to continue to practice.

    A working group will be looking at the proposals with final recommendations expected in early 2019.

    MHCLG have also published the response to the consultation on client money protection with legislation to be brought forward to require membership of schemes and define sanctions (£30,000 civil penalty)

  • Apr 03/2018

    Energy Efficiency Consultation

    The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy launched a consultation on the 19th December 2017 about modifying The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015.

    Current legislation, as confirmed in the recent 97 page guidance issued, requires that all energy improvements must be at no cost to the landlord. If improvements cannot be achieved at no cost to the landlord then the landlord can register the band F or G property on an exemptions register and for 5 years they are then OK to be letting the property. This will probably be the biggest single reason properties will be registered on the exemption register. However, it will also mean a lot of energy inefficient properties continue to be let and continue to be producing more carbon emissions than necessary. This consultation suggests that they may change the rules, possibly at some time during 2018, and require a landlord to spend an amount of money, up to a cap, in order to improve the energy efficiency. Only having spent this money would the property be allowed on the exemption register for further improvements not being available at no cost to the landlord.

    This is quite a significant change and could certainly costs landlords with a significant portfolio in bands F or G, a lot of money. Original proposals had been to cap the spend at £5,000 but this has now been reduced to £2,500, though the amount of the cap is one of the points in the consultation.

    Data from the 2014 English Housing Survey showed that here are an estimated 280,000 private rented properties in bands F or G. It should be remembers (and this is restated in the consultation) that the plan is to make all private rented properties a minimum of Band C by 2030.

    The consultation can be found https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/669198/PRS_Minimum_Standards_Consultation_2017.pdf.

    Responses have to be in by 13 March 2018 with any changes not expected to be in force till April 2019.

  • Jan 02/2018

    HMO Licensing

    On 28 December 2017 Alok Sharma, the Housing Minister, announced that the Government would make amendments to the houses in multiple occupation that need licensing. Currently set at HMOs that have 5 or more occupiers and are on three or more qualifying storeys, the new rules will require all HMOs with five or more occupiers,regardless of the number of floors, to get a licence. It is estimated that this will bring another 160,000 properties into mandatory HMO licensing.

    Other changes include introducing minimum space requirements for each room of 6.51 m2 for a single person and 10.22 m2 for a couple.

  • Dec 20/2017

    Lots of change

    The private rented sector seems awash with new legislation and consultations. The draft tenant fees ban has been published, with the surprise that fees will not be banned for all tenancies. We have the huge issue of the General Data Protection Regulations steams down the track and we have the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards due to start from April 2018 (banning properties in  bands F and G). 

    The Government are consulting on introducing mandatory Client Money Protection Insurance and there has been a call for evidence on ideas for regulating the whole letting sector. This would effectively mean some sort of licensing of agents and all landlords being required to join a redress scheme. For agents the discussion has started as to if there should be a single redress scheme to make it less complex for consumers wanting to complain.

    Draft legislation has now been laid bring in banning order offences, where a landlord or agent is guilty of a list of offences, including unlawful eviction, failure to comply with improvement notices and a range of other breaches, then they could also be banned from working in lettings. If banned it would be a for a minimum of 12 months but could be permanent. If that was not enough they are reviewing the Right to Rent and Smoke alarms regulations for effectiveness.

    To tackles all these issues (and others) we will be running out Legal Update 2018 courses starting in January 2018. We are starting early this year as there will plenty to do for many agents before some of these items come into force later in the spring. Go to the "Training" link above to find the venues and dates. This really is an event to to be missed.
    We will explain what you have to do to comply with GDPR, we will explaining how you could delay the impact of MEES by up to two years and we will explain which tenancies you can still charge fees on, plus lots lots more.

  • Dec 04/2017

    Banning order legislation

    The draft legislation for banning orders for landlords and letting agent has been published. It can be found here.

    These draft regulations are planned to come into force from 6th April 2018.

    The Schedule contains the list of offences proposed to be banning order offences. These include unlawful eviction or harassment, violence to gain entry to a property, not complying with an HHSRS improvement notice or prohibition notice, Offences relating to the licensing and management of HMOs and other properties, breaching overcrowding notices, offences under fire safety, gas safety, right to rent offences, fraud, proceeds of crime offences, anti social behaviour, drugs offences theft offences and proceeds of crime offences.

    The list is lengthy and comprehensive and will, in each case, potentially make a conviction more serious as it could involve a ban.

  • Nov 01/2017

    Slow Progress

    Despite the Housing White Paper and even legislation, like the Housing and Planning Act, legislation change seems to be moving slowly. Yes there are plenty of hurdles to cover and indeed we would much rather have "right" legislation, carefully thought out, than "fast" legislation, so full of holes that if has to be edited. However, with the focus on Brexit and the weakness of a coalition government to boot there are real problems changing laws.

    The normal policy is to only introduce new legislation at the beginning of April and October each year unless there are extraordinary factors (like urgency or EU commencement dates). The law needed for the tenant fee ban is, apparently, being drafted if the Housing Minister is to be believed. However, they say the delay is partly caused by over 4,500 responses to the consultation which they have to work their way through. In fact if they were meaningfully working through responses one might have hoped that they would NOT be drafting legislation but waiting till they have read the consultation responses first?

    In Scotland the legislation was in force from 1984 and the 2012 legislation was simply clarifying what was already in place. For England (Wales will pass its own legislation, which is also being consulted on) it will require primary legislation (an act of Parliament). This receives full Parliamentary scrutiny meaning that it can take quite some time to get through, depending on the size of the bill, how controversial it is and the size of the government majority. Whilst the government majority is weak the bill is not likely to be controversial across the major parties and whilst it will take time to "process" it is not likely to suffer undue delay. Crucial to the speed through the system will be whether it is in a bill on its own or it is part of a larger bill that may contain more controversial elements in it. It might be in for April, but this would be quite swift, and October 2018 is probably the best guess.

    There is another reason why October 2018 would be a "good" date for it to start, and this is advanced payments. If you do student lettings then from October this year onwards you might start letting properties and charging tenants fees, perfectly legitimately. If the new legislation in introduced in April 2018, what would be the position of all the fees paid before the ban for agreements starting after the ban? Whilst this could be a massive problem for student letting providers it will affect all agents to some degree unless enough warning of the implementation is given and having clear transitional provisions will be important if we are to avoid having to refund money.

  • Nov 01/2017

    Banning Orders

    The Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Commencement No. 6) Regulations 2017 bring further provisions of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 into force from 3 November 2017. Specifically the ability to make regulations to bring banning orders into force and other issues need to make banning orders work, like the database of banning orders. Whilst this does not in itself bring banning orders into force, it shows it will come into force and this is preparatory work. Since the October date for new legislation has been missed it is a fair bet this will go live for April 2018.

  • Oct 20/2017

    Call for Evidence

    There are three calls for evidence about the PRS currently seeking views.

    The first can be found here and is about the powers of local authorities have to enforce legislation already in force. Do they have the capacity and is it effective at dealing with rogue landlord? They also seek views on if selective licensing is effective in promoting higher quality accommodation, what steps local authorities have taken to promote affordable accommodation in their areas and if complaint mechanisms are effective.

    The second consultation can be found here and is about protecting consumers in the letting and managing agent market. Essentially this is the call for evidence around agent licensing including views on minimum entry standards, training rules of conduct etc.

    Both of these could have a significant impact on our market so you are encouraged to engage with them.


    The third call for evidence is about the Right to Rent checks and it can be found here. Whilst not examining any unintended consequences, the call for evidence is looking for those with experience of right to rent checks from the planning for it through to what amounts to success and the sanctions related to it.

  • Oct 01/2017

    Licensing to come

    At the Conservative party conference in Manchester it has been announced that they plan to bring in a requirement for all private landlords to join an ombudsman scheme and for all letting agents to be licensed.

    They see the advantage of of the ombudsman as being that it will give quick and easy dispute resolutions for issues like repairs and maintenance. This will bring landlords in line with what already happens with the agent market.

    They also suggest that all agents will have to be regulated in order to practice, and that the regulation would include minimum training requirements. and an industry wide code of practice. They do not make it clear about who will do the regulation, it simply says "an appropriate organisation".

    The announcement confirms the intention to ban fees charged to tenants and also suggest that there are discussions with Treasury about incentivising landlords to offer longer tenancies (at least one year). 

    These changes will only apply to England as Wales produce their own housing legislation.

  • Sep 25/2017

    A Lettings Industry Voice makes a call for Regulation.

    The Lettings Industry Council wasformed in 2015. It was set up to help improve the PRS by finding ways to makerenting and letting better for all concerned without the need for legislationand where legislation is required, giving housing policy makers access torepresentatives across the lettings industry including tenant support groups;landlords; agents; redress and deposit schemes; professional and trade bodies;trading standards and suppliers ranging from inventory professionals through toNAPIT and UK Finance (previously CML)

    Theresa Wallace from Savills, thechair of the group said, “We have grown organically and have more than 65 membersof the group and we are delighted with the support to date.  This membership group make up various workingparties as required which address key issues that face the industry, landlordsand tenants today. For example, tenant fees, property rental standards,understanding how to make renting easier for tenants and the lettings fee ban,where TLIC are preparing a paper with the intention of sharing with DCLG on theeffects of a fee ban and the other services agents offer. We are in the processof completing this and it will be issued shortly.”

    Currently the TLIC has workinggroups on Tenant Fees, Property Standards, Licensing and Regulation.

    The Regulation group has beenmeeting with stakeholders in the industry over the summer to establish anoverall framework for how regulation could work. The group believes it has thebasis of a workable solution and calls on all agents and stakeholders to joinin the discussion.

    “Piecemeal regulation is not theanswer,” said Glynis Frew, chair of the Regulation group, “it is ensuring consistentenforcement that will make the real difference. As an industry, we have beenasking for regulation for years now, but our requests have gone unheeded but nowthere seems to be a concerted momentum for change. It is really exciting to seeso many industry and tenant groups in favour of it.”

    While most agents and landlords signup to member bodies which advocate high standards in the PRS, the group believethat the biggest cause of complaints from tenants, and indeed landlords is poorknowledge and education coupled with rare instances of rogue practices that mustbe eradicated.

    Now it has an initial propositionon agent regulation, the Regulation Group calls on all agents, both large andsmall, that would like to have a say to come forward. Please contact any of thefollowing member agents of the Regulation group if you would like to beinvolved.

    Glynis Frew Glynis.Frew@hunters.com; AndrewCulverwell culverwella@hamptons-int.com;Nicola Thivessen nicola.thivessen@chestertons.com


    The next TLIC meeting will beheld on October 12th in London from 2pm to 4.30pm, if you feel youwould like to learn more or join then please contact Theresa Wallace twallace@savills.com

  • Aug 25/2017

    Identifying and filling the legal gaps exposed by the Grenfell fire

    The University of Bristol has been awarded a grant by Shelter to conduct this research project.  The project team is Dave Cowan (Bristol), Helen Carr (Kent), Ed Kirton-Darling (Kent), and Ed Burtonshaw-Gunn (Bristol).

    Summary of the project

    This research project uses a survey method to address three objectives:

    • To set out clearly the gaps in current legislation which may make housing less safe and/or prevent households from remedying problems
    • To set out where lack of enforcement undermines existing legal protections
    • To identify legal remedies to strengthen protection for tenants.

    We are seeking evidence from renters and owner-occupiers, lawyers, other professionals involved in looking at the conditions of accommodation, and landlords (social and private).  Findings from this research will be used to produce a report for Shelter and other academic work.  This report and other work will not identify you, your household, or your business/place of work.


    At Training for Professionals we have long held that the biggest issue lies in a lack of enforcement and so we are delighted that this is finally being looked at. You can have your say by clicking here.

  • Aug 24/2017

    Welsh Tenant Fee Ban Consultation

    The Welsh Government have launched their own consultation on banning tenant fees in Wales. For those with an interest in the area this is a great opportunity to ensure the voice of the industry is heard. The document is not too long or complex so well worth contributing to the discussion if we want to influence the outcome. 

  • Jun 21/2017

    Grenfell Tower

    Many of our readers will probably manage some multi-occupancy properties. You might be interested in this letter from DCLG to consider what it is recommending and if it is relevant to any of the properties you manage.

    https://goo.gl/Eqpn6q

  • Jun 01/2017

    Deposit case

    An interesting case around deposit compliance has just been heard.

    The case is around the need for landlords and agents to comply with the“initial requirements” of the deposit scheme they choose to use. The legislation does not talk about “protecting the deposit” but rather says that the landlord/agent has to comply with the “initial requirements” of the deposit scheme. It goes on to clarify that the “initial requirements” of a deposit scheme are the requirements the scheme imposes.

    The need to give prescribed information within 30 days is listed in the Housing Act 2004, but for the MyDeposits scheme the need to give the prescribed information within 30 days is also listed as an “initial requirement”. Under the legislation if the prescribed information is not given in 30 days a section 21 notice can be served, provided the prescribed information is given first. However, if an “initial requirement” that is not completed within 30 days only allows for the section 21 notice to be served after the deposit has been refunded to the tenant.

    In this case the prescribed information was given late, ie after 30 days but before the section 21 notice was served. The question was did the “initial requirements” of the deposit scheme, which included giving the prescribed information within 30 days, create the higher level of burden to refund the deposit before the section 21 notice could be served.

    The decision of the court was that the “initial requirement” of the scheme had not been complied with and therefore the section 21 notice was not valid. The landlord needed to refund the deposit before the section 21 notice could be served.

    This case very much hinged on the wording of the specific deposit scheme being used but it is a clear warning to agents to ensure they know the rules of which ever schemes they are using and to be sure to follow them. It could also be said to be a warning to the scheme not to make the initial requirements too onerous as this simply risks disadvantaging their members. Had this case been in respect of another scheme they would been alright as the schemes rules do not make serving the prescribed information within 30 days and initial requirement.

    We have long warned about this risk and encouraged the deposit schemes to keep the rules, but particularly their initial requirements, as simple as possible. This is only a county court case so is not binding on other court. We are not aware if this judgement will be appealed (as it may be cheaper and easier to give the deposit back and reserve the notice than to appeal).

    Amak Property Investments (London) Ltd v Laura Sonny

    B01CL657, 15 September 2016, the County Court, Central London.

  • Mar 28/2017

    Client Money Protection

    A review of the consultation on whether the Government should introduce client money protection (CMP) for letting and management agents has now been published. In the review, the working group, recommends that the Government uses its powers in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 to make CMP mandatory.  They claim there is also widespread support from the private rented sector for introducing it.

    Agents will be given a period of grace in which to become compliant, and it is suggested that those who fail to obtain CMP will either be fined or shut down.  Membership of a professional body will not be required and the Government is likely to a pprove a variety of CMP schemes including using the banking sector.

    The new proposals only apply to England.

    Further details of the review can be found via http://bit.ly/CMP_review

  • Mar 20/2017

    Rent Repayment

    The Housing and Planning Act includes provisions to have rent repayment orders awarded against landlords for certain offences. Therefore, from 6 April 2017 a tenant or the local authority (if they have been paying benefits) will be able to claim a rent repayment order if the landlord is guilty of certain offences (note they don't necessarily have to be convicted of the offence). Whilst these offences include unlawful eviction, using violence to gain entry and operating an HMO without a licence, it also includes failure to comply with an HHSRS improvement notice or prohibition order.

    The First tier Tribunal can award up the the previous 12 months rent to be repaid. If the landlord has been convicted of the offence then the tribunal must award the maximum repayment but can choose a lower figure if there is no conviction.

    In addition to the rent repayment orders the commencement order brings in fixed penalties as an alternative to a full prosecution. The list of offences for which a fixed penalty notice can be used are listed in schedule 9 of the Housing and Planning Act. The penalty offered must not exceed £30,000!

    Also commenced is a small change to deposit information in the Housing Act 2004. A new section 212A which requires all deposit schemes to provide information to local authorities to enable them to carry out their functions under parts 1-4 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

  • Mar 16/2017

    Money Laundering

    The EU 4th directive on money laundering is due to be brought into force by 24th June 2017. It was widely expected that the UK implementation of the directive would bring letting agents within the requirement to register and have money laundering reporting officers etc.

    The treasury have now announced that they do not intend to bring letting agents within these requirements. This is not to say letting agents don't have obligations to report suspicious activity etc but the strict requirement about registration and money laundering reporting officers and staff training are avoided.

    The other side of the coin is that the proposed changes to comply with the 4th directive make the requirements slightly more onerous on the estate agency side of any business.

  • Mar 01/2017

    Electrical Safety


    In a very quiet change to the rules, in December 2016 new Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations were passed changing the responsibilities for manufacturers, importers and "distributors". This latter phrase will include landlords and letting agents as they will be supplying appliances in the course of a business activity.

    Whilst quite a lot of the rules mirror the 1994 rules (which are largely revoked by these regulations) there are some additional responsibilities that the letting market is going to have to work out how it will integrate into its working practices.

    Firstly it should be said none of the new rules are believed to affect appliances first supplied before the 2016 regulations came into force, the 8 December 2016. Therefore, if you let a property with a washing machine last year you remain under the 1994 regs in respect of that washing machine, even if there is a renewal or even a new tenancy. However, if a new washing machine is purchased and supplied after 8 December 2016 then the new rules must be followed in respect of that new appliance. From this it can be seen that this will not affect one house and not another, rather it will affect one appliance and not another, making management more tricky.

    The new rules principally cause our market problems around supplying documentation that is now required by law and has to be provided by the manufacturer. For example, in 2020, if you want to rent out a property that used to be the landlord's home with a washing machine purchased in 2017, you will have to have the manufacturer's documentation to supply to the tenant. Obviously, (and presuming it is even available from the landlord), you will want to guard this original information very carefully and it should probably never leave the office with only copies being provided to tenants. Yet again there will be significant value to be added through managing this process through the inventory.

    Breaches of the legislation carries an unlimited fine and or three month in prison.

  • Feb 07/2017

    Government White Paper - Housing

    The long-awaited Housing White Paper was released to the public on 7 February by the Department for Communities and Local Government. This brief summary focuses only some of the key issues for the private rented sector.

    In the foreword, Prime Minister Theresa May reiterates that one of the greatest barriers to building a stronger Britain is the broken housing market. She went on to explain that by building more homes, prices on houses will fall which again will result in a reduction on rent levels for rented property.

    The Government confirms its intention to ban agent fees and hope to bring forward legislation “as soon as Parliamentary time allows”. It also wants to continue building on existing incentives in order to attract major institutional investment in new large-scale housing which is purpose-built for market rent. For these types of build, the Government will work with other organisations to actively promote and encourage three-year tenancies. It will also look closer at how to encourage longer tenancies in private rented property.

    Banning orders to remove rogue landlords will be introduced as suggested in the Housing and Planning Act 2016. Other potential measures under consideration are mandatory electrical checks, client money protection for letting agents and extending mandatory licensing of HMOs. Many of the suggested changes are not really new to the private sector and we will have to await the outcome of the consultation and further legislation. The paper, ‘Fixing our broken housing market’, can be found at bit.ly/HousingWhitePaper2017

  • Dec 01/2016

    Leeds v Broadley

    In a landmark Council Tax case, the Court of Appeal has upheld the use of a tenancy agreement in the same style as the TFP agreement. We changed our agreements in 2010 for a number of reasons, Council Tax being one of them. The point is that if the tenant is granted a periodic agreement (including a statutory periodic tenancy arising) and then leaves the property, the landlord immediately becomes liable for the Council Tax. In this case, the landlord issued a tenancy that included a fixed element and a periodic element (the wording was different but the structure is the same as TFP). Leeds City Council argued that a tenancy had to be either fixed term or periodic, it could not be both. To be valid an agreement must be "certain". For a fixed term agreement it ends at the end of the fixed term and this creates certainty. For a periodic agreement, certainty is created because notice can be given in accordance with the Protection from Eviction Act and common law provisions (generally one month, ending at the end of a period). Leeds argued that by trying to put them together it created uncertainty.

    The court decides that this was a perfectly valid form of agreement, as if there is certainty in the fixed term and there is certainty during the periodic element, there is no reason to feel it creates uncertainty by joining them together. It would amount to saying that one act on its own is lawful, a second act is also lawful, but when together it is not lawful.

    This is a great victory for landlords and confirms the sound logic of the TFP tenancy agreement. Landlords should give thanks to the RLA for taking part in this process and arguing for the landlord's position for the better good of the market.

  • Nov 30/2016

    Update to TFP's Tenancy Agreement pack

    We are pleased to announce that our Tenancy Agreement Pack has been updated to include; revisions to the tenancy agreements to take into account the changes under the Immigration Act 2016, an amended Section 8 notice, updated Council Tax liability letter that takes into account the recent Court of Appeal Decision.  After feedback from clients, we have also taken the opportunity to make the pack more user friendly with less versions of a document and more detailed file names so each document can be easily identified at a glance. Subscribers can download the new version by logging in to their accounts. If you would like to know more about the pack please contact the office on 01258 85 85 85 or email us.

  • Nov 23/2016

    Letting Agent Upfront Fees to be banned

    All media sources are stating that the Chancellor is intending to ban upfront letting agent fees in the Autumn Statement today.  However, as always the devil will be in the detail, and until this is known it's more than likely there will be a 'wait and see' strategy by letting agents.  The decision has come as a surprise, considering the Housing Minister only tweeted three months ago, that banning letting agents fees was a bad idea and his department were looking at other ways of 'managing' the industry.  More updates to follow shortly...

  • Nov 02/2016

    TPO issues new guidance

    Further to the revised code of practice that came into effect from 1st October 2016, The Property Ombudsman (TPO) have issued new guidance to clarify their position in obtaining express consent from a tenant before accessing a property.
    The full guidance can be viewed on their website here.

  • Oct 27/2016

    Changes to the TPO's code of practice

    With effect from the 1st October 2016, The Property Ombudsman (TPO) have produced a revised code of practice for letting agents. If you are a member of TPO, then understanding the changes will be an important part of staying compliant and protecting you and your business from claims of compensation. There are numerous minor changes but TFP would like to flag up two of the more important changes:

    (2d) TPO have clarified that agents have an obligation to inform the landlord of any commission or fees earned from the tenant using a third party associate i.e. insurance.  Failure to provide such information could result in such income being claimed by the landlord as their own.
             
    (8F)TPO require agents to obtain "expressed consent" for access to the property notwithstanding any notice served as contractually required.  Therefore agents will need evidence of such tenant permission before entering the property rather than relying on the common tenancy clause of entering with required notice.

    Click here to download from TPO a document which highlights the changes from the previous revision. Please ensure that you have noted the additional requirements, informed your staff and importantly have evidence to prove compliance should it ever be required.

    As you maybe aware, Training for Professionals do offer a bespoke compliance audit service for lettings agents, which will test your processes and procedures for such requirements.  If you are interested in such a service, please contact Alice or Darrel on 01258 85 85 85 or visit our Compliance Audit webpage.

  • Sep 12/2016

    Letting Agent Fees

    This topic has been in the media spotlight over the last 12 months and will only intensify as politicians return after the summer break.  A private members bill is currently working its way through Parliament with one of the aims being to 'outlaw' letting agent fees from being charged to tenants. Although such a bill is unlikely to succeed, given the current political composition in Parliament, letting agents need to be aware that at some stage it may happen if a deal needs to be struck on other legislation which the Government is struggling to push through because of backbench rebels.   From limited research amongst some of our clients, tenant fees accounted for around 25% of the annual income, which if restricted could be the difference between surviving and closing shop.

  • Aug 02/2016

    New Council Tax Liability Judgement

    The judgement on the Leeds City Council V Broadley EWHC 2016 case was released last week. This High Court decision relates to the “person” deemed liable for council tax, when the property is physically unoccupied but a periodic tenancy still remains in force.  The court decision clarifies the position about which party, either landlord or tenant, holds the 'material interest' and is therefore liable for council tax. 
    The Judge agreed with the reasoning behind the landlords defence and held that the 'wording' of the agreement still allowed for the council to pursue the tenants for council tax even though they were no longer resident.  The importance of the fixed term then continuing as a monthly periodic was the key to the landlord succeeding.  Unlike a statutory periodic tenancy, a 'continuation' periodic tenancy after the initial fixed removes the risk of a landlord being liable for council tax when a tenant leaves physically earlier than the legal ending of the tenancy itself. For those who subscribe to the TFP tenancy agreement pack, you will be pleased to know that our agreements have been constructed in such a way since 2013, therefore protecting your landlords from liability in situations as described. 

  • Jul 13/2016

    Edwards V Kumarasamy – Supreme Court Decision

    Earlier this morning, the Supreme Court overturned a Court of Appeal decision that decided a landlord was liable to compensate his tenant for injuries caused by tripping over a communal paving stone in disrepair taking into account Section 11 (1a) of the Landlord and  Tenant Act 1985.   The Supreme Court overturned the decision on the point that the communal paving stone did not form part of the “exterior of the property”. they also decided that even if the path had been part of the exterior for section 11 to be invoked, the landlord was required to receive notice of such disrepair.  We are currently digesting the full transcript of the decision and will release a more detailed response in the coming days.

  • Jun 15/2016

    Breaking news...Supreme Court Decision

    The Supreme Court has dismissed a claim that the service of a section 21 notice violated article 8 of the ECHR. (As discussed below.)
    The private rented market can breathe a huge sigh of relief...More to follow when more detail is known.

  • Jun 09/2016

    Section 21 - Supreme Court decision due

    The Supreme Court decision on the McDonald v McDonald & Anor case will be made available next Wednesday that could have major consequences upon the ability of landlords/letting agents to use a Section 21 notice to seek possession. This case revolves around the defence by a disabled tenant, that the service of a section 21 notice by the mortgage company (as the landlords had fallen into arrears) was not proportionate action taking into account Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.  The Court of Appeal has already dismissed the tenants argument but it has now found its way to the highest court in the UK. We'll bring you more details next week.

  • May 23/2016

    Supreme Court decision on disrepair due out soon

    On the 5th May 2016, the Edwards V Kumarasamy case was heard in front of five Supreme Court judges.  This was an appeal to a Court of Appeal decision where it was held that the leasehold landlord was liable to pay compensation to their assured shorthold tenant who had tripped on a communal paving stone in disrepair which led to the bin store areas on a block of flats.  The Court of Appeal judge held that under Section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985, no notice was required and the leasehold landlord became liable for disrepair as soon as it arose (on the presumption that they had the right to inspect the common areas without any notice being given to their tenant).
    The tenant was awarded the sum of £3750 for injuries suffered from the trip on the communal paving stone.  The leasehold landlord obviously felt aggrieved so has defended on the following points being; (1) did an easement in the property give the leasehold landlord sufficient interest to be liable under Section 11, (2) did the communal paving stones form part of the exterior of the property to such an extent it fell under Section 11 and finally (3) did the landlord require notice of the disrepair before becoming liable to the tenant under Section 11.  An interesting case, which can be viewed as a recording on the Supreme Court website and we understand that the decision will be released very shortly.

  • Apr 06/2016

    New Prescribed Forms

    From the 6th April 2016 the prescribed forms for section 8 and 13 notices changed for England only. The section 8 changes clarify an ambiguity that has existed since the Deregulation Act changes last Autumn and also some other changes like including the new ground 7A. The old forms, if issued after 6th April 2016 will not be valid so use the new forms.

    The section 13 notice included errors when it was last revised (it cross referenced the wrong notes), this version has corrected those errors and changes some of the other wording (for example "agricultural occupants" has been replaced with "tenants"). Again, use the new version of the form for all rent increases using section 13 from now on.

    Those who subscribe to our model tenancy agreement pack can download the revised notices from your online account.

  • Apr 04/2016

    Rent Smart Wales: Are you a landlord or agent?

    For Wales, we have drafted a guide trying to explain the often complex question about what sort of Rent Smart Wales licence might be required in different situations. There are many people who would normally perceive themselves as landlords, but might need an agent licence (for example helping to manage a property owned by your wife).There are several other issues around licensing and registration included in the brief guide.

    If you would like copies of this information to send to your landlords then do contact Alice by phone or email and she would be happy to let you have it for you to send to your landlords.

  • Apr 06/2016

    New Prescribed Forms

    From the 6th April 2016 the prescribed forms for section 8 and 13 notices changed for England only. The section 8 changes clarify an ambiguity that has existed since the Deregulation Act changes last Autumn and also some other changes like including the new ground 7A. The old forms, if issued after 6th April 2016 will not be valid souse the new forms.

    The section 13 notice included errors when it was last revised (it cross referenced the wrong notes), this version has corrected those errors and changes some of the other wording (for example "agricultural occupants" has been replaced with "tenants"). Again use the new version of the form for all rent increases using section 13 from now on.

    Those who subscribe to our model agreement package can download the revised notices from your online account.


    For Wales, we have drafted a guide trying to explain the often complex question about what sort of licence might be required in different situations. There are many people who would normally perceive themselves as landlords, but might need an agent licence (for example helping to manage a property owned by your wife).There are several other issues around licensing and registration included in the brief guide.

    If you would like copies of this information to send to your landlords then do contact Alice by phone or email and she would be happy to let you have it for you to send to your landlords.

  • Mar 24/2016

    Surcharge on Stamp Duty Land Tax

    From 1 April 2016, property investors will have to pay higher rates of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on the purchase of 'additional' residential property in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. The overall rates of Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (applying to purchases of residential property) in Scotland are different, but the same principle of imposing a surcharge on 'additional' residential properties has been adopted. Throughout the UK, these proposals mean that purchasers face an additional charge of 3% on the purchase of most buy-to-let property or second homes.

    It was widely believed that commercial investors, with more than 15 properties, might be exempted from the new surcharge, but George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has confirmed that 'significant investors' also have to pay the added tax. The surcharge is expected to raise about a billion pounds by 2021 and some of the money will be reinvested in providing homes in areas like Cornwall and London who are said to be "priced out of home ownership". 

  • Mar 24/2016

    Surcharge on Stamp Duty Land Tax

    From 1 April 2016, property investors will have to pay higher rates of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on the purchase of ‘additional’ residential property in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. The overall rates of Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (applying to purchases of residential property) in Scotland are different, but the same principle of imposing a surcharge on ‘additional’residential properties has been adopted. Throughout the UK, these proposals mean that purchasers face an additional charge of 3% on the purchase of most buy-to-let property or second homes.

    It was widely believed that commercial investors, with more than 15 properties,might be exempted from the new surcharge, but George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has confirmed that ‘significant investors’ also have to pay the added tax. The surcharge is expected to raise about a billion pounds by 2021 and some of the money will be reinvested in providing homes in areas like Cornwall and London who are said to be “priced out of home ownership”. 

  • Mar 14/2016

    The ‘Right to Rent’ experience

    The obligation to check the ‘right to rent’ status of new occupiers came into operation on the 1st February 2016.  From discussions with our clients on the helpline and at courses, it has become clear that most customers have found it relatively easy to include the obligations within their current referencing process as historically passports were already being taken.  Obviously, the onus to check any limited time to rent will not be required until at the earliest the beginning of 2017, so we will report back with any feedback on that process.
    One agent was kind enough to send us a letter from the Landlords Checking Service confirming that an applicant had NO ‘right to rent’.  The letter confirmed the date of the notice, the landlord checking reference number, guidance on other pieces of ID which could be used to prove a ‘right to rent’, along with the consequences to the landlord of allowing someone without the ‘right to rent’ into a rented property.

  • Feb 12/2016

    Foxtons Hidden Fees Accusation – An Update

    Many of you will be familiar with the recent newspaper article on the claim from a landlord that Foxtons were making hidden "income" from invoices conducted on his behalf. The landlord also claimed he was unaware of the levels of fees being charged to his tenant (£420) for services provided for by Foxtons.

    Fast forward a few months, and we understand that the solicitors who are currently acting on the landlords behalf (and at least another 150 landlords) have not started claim action but are awaiting an out of court settlement from Foxtons. Will this ever make it to court? Whatever happens, those of you who attended our Law of Agency course in 2014 will be fully aware that case law supports the position of a "client" where an agent has been involved, who has secretly made a profit from other parties without their "fully informed" consent.

  • Feb 01/2016

    Right to Rent live

    ‘Right to Rent’ goes live 1st February 2016 in England. If you’re still unsure of the rules Training for Professionals re-recorded our webinar to clarify the requirements on 29th January 2016. To purchase a copy of the recorded event click here. Please note that the 'How to Rent' guide has been updated to reflect the new requirements. You can download a copy of the new version from the government website.

  • Dec 17/2015

    We are Rent Smart Wales approved!

    Training for Professionals are now approved by Rent Smart Wales as an authorised provider of the necessary training for both landlords and agents applying for a licence with the new scheme (visit www.rentsmart.gov.wales). We are offering a range of innovative and cost effective training for letting agents and their landlords and will be setting some dates for courses in Wales shortly. For further information call us on 01258 858585. In the meantime, don't forget that we recently created a free webinar about the Rent Smart Wales licensing scheme, available to download by visiting the Shop page & clicking on Webinars.

  • Nov 23/2015

    Its Rent Smart Wales day

    On 23 November the new Welsh landlord and agent licensing scheme was launched. The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 introduces a requirement for all landlords who own a property in Wales to register on the Rent Smart Wales web site (or a paper application is available at a higher cost). The online cost is £33.50 and if done in paper form it is £80.50 as the cost of handling paper applications will be higher.

    Landlords will be charged £144 for online landlord licence applications and £186 for paper applications.  Agents will be charged £3,728 for their licence application. The online application is not yet available and the site says the paper application will cost £4,368 once the online application is available. For an agent who does not employ any staff, the licence will cost £144 online and £186 in paper form. This is designed for situations where one person owns a property and their partner is involved in the management.

    In addition to the licence and registrations fees, licensing requires training (which TFP have applied to be approved to provide) and this will cost £100 for landlords and £140 for agents (all customer facing staff in Wales have to attend training). The agent training is 2 hours longer than the landlord training. TFP await confirmation of approval and will be able to offer letting agents a range of innovative and cost effective training for letting agents and their landlords.

  • Nov 09/2015

    More HMO Licensing

    A consultation document has been launched seeking views on extending mandatory licensing to HMOs with five or more occupiers, regardless of the number of floors. As the consultation asks if it should be for two floors, or regardless of the number of floors, it sounds like the decision to change has been made and the only question is what the change will be. The consultation also asks if the section 257 HMOs (blocks of flats converted not complaint with 1991 building regs and less than 2/3 owner occupied) should be brought within the mandatory licensing regime. 

    There are several other changes in the consultation including changes to selective licensing (licensing for non HMOs) and trying to streamline the licence application process.

    The consultation also considers a minimum bedroom size of 6.5 square meters, making some small room unsuitable for letting and potentially reducing landlord's income.

    If agreed the changes would be brought in during 2016. The consultation run till 18th December 2015.

  • Oct 22/2015

    Right to Rent

    The government have announced the start date for the ‘Right to Rent’ rules. From 1 February 2016, all private landlords in England will have to check new tenants have the right to be in the UK before renting out their property. Under the new rules, landlords who fail to check a potential tenant’s ‘Right to Rent’ will face penalties of up to £3,000 per tenant.

    These rules are part of the Immigration Act 2014, which TFP clients will remember that we covered in our Legal Update courses last year. Under the new ‘Right to Rent’ law letting agents and private landlords, including those who sub-let or take in lodgers, must check the right of prospective tenants to be in the country.

    The rules were introduced in a pilot area of the West Midlands and the conclusions of this introductory phase have now been published. Please note, the government has advised that landlords in the phase one area (Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton) should continue to make the checks as they have been doing from 1 December 2014.

    The government has produced a code of practice for Landlords on 
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-rent-landlords-code-of-practice

    TFP recently ran a webinar on Right to Rent rules, to purchase a copy to download and watch visit Shop and click on Webinars.

  • Sep 30/2015

    New Section 21 forms

    On the 29th September the government laid new prescribed forms before parliament that "come into force" on the 30 September. They are not used on the 30th September as they are only needed for new tenancies created after 1 October. These new forms correct an obvious error in para 3 of the form as well as change most of the notes and information on the form. Being a prescribed form it is important to use the new version. The easy way to see if a version of the forms is the new or old version is to look and if the tenant notes are at the top of the form, that is the layout of the new version, the old version having the tenant notes at the bottom.

    This section 21 notice is only used for properties in England. Users of Training for Professionals tenancy agreement can download the new versions of the notice from their account on our website. 

  • Sep 02/2015

    Taxing landlords

    The Chancellor announced in his budget that mortgage interest tax relief would be limited to basic rate taxation. Is this fair or right?

    It sounds fair, with higher rate tax payers paying more tax. However, calculations have now shown that basic rate tax payers could be affected too.

    The argument has been to "create a level playing field" between homeowners and landlords. Homeowners don't get tax relief so why should landlords? However, even this argument fails as homeowners don't pay capital gains tax but landlords do. Therefore to have a level playing field perhaps landlords should be exempt capital gains tax?

    What always seems to get lost in the corridors of power is that landlord don't have to be landlords and will only remain in the market as long as it is attractive. People blame landlords for pushing up the price of property, but is this really true? After all, about 20% of all properties are now in the private rented sector. If all those landlords decide to evict their tenants and sell, what would be the effect. Lots of people turning up homeless at the councils, no available private rented property and, with one in five properties on the market, a slide in the value of properties. Yes, landlords leaving the market en mass would devalue the homes of the very home owners who were supposed to be helped. This would doubtless cause a crisis in lending, negative equity  and repossessions. Maybe that is not somewhere we want to go.

    Of course the real solution lies in curbing demand and increasing supply, but that is still on the "too difficult" pile.

  • Aug 09/2015

    Tackling rogue landlords and improving the private rental sector

    This is an interesting consultation that says it seeks to find ways of more effectively targeting criminal landlords whilst not necessarily affecting good landlords. We would all support that if it can be made to work. They discuss the dismally low level of fines from the courts and ask what can be done, including suggesting that Rent Repayment Orders (currently only available for not having a licence for a licensable HMO) might be extended to other situations including illegal evictions and extreme property disrepair cases.

    This is a great consultation for landlords and agent to reply to supporting the principle of tougher enforcement on the criminal offenders whilst not catching the good landlords and to throw in some good old practical experience. The consultation can be found here:
    http://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/tackling-rogue-landlords-and-improving-the-private-rental-sector
    and it closes on the 20 August (for email submissions) and 27 for the online submissions. We started by trying to use the online version but there were too many questions that were just Yes/No type options without allowing any further comment so we ended up sending an email.

  • Jul 31/2015

    Money laundering - warnings issued

    In the wake of the recent warning by the National Crime Agency that estate agents must not hesitate to report to the authorities is they have any suspicion that a customer is seeking to launder money via the purchase of a property, TFP will be running a webinar on Money Laundering - the Legal Framework on 21st August 2015. For more details see our training page.

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