How to prepare for a storm

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Watch Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance’s video on how to protect your rental property from severe weather

Extreme weather events are becoming more commonplace globally. As the temperature around the world increases, so does the intensity of storms.

This can be particularly troublesome during the winter months, when storms are even more likely to hit the UK. Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance reports that storm damage is their second most common insurance claim, with the average cost being £2,310.

So, what exactly can landlords do to protect their rental property against storms? Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance has prepared a video to help you find out.

Visit Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance’s expert guide to find out more information on how you can protect your rental property against storms.

Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance has also put together a helpful advice sheet for tenants which includes tips on how to reduce the likelihood of damage to your property in the event of severe weather.

For further guidance on getting your property ready for the winter months visit Get winter ready – everything you need to protect your property.

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – How to prepare for a storm | LandlordZONE.

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Latest HMRC statistics show a significant rise in house sales

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The impact of both the coronavirus pandemic and the HMRC Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday have together produced significant changes to seasonal property sales trends during the financial year 2020 – 2021.

Perhaps surprisingly, the provisional seasonally adjusted estimates from HMRC of the UK’s residential transactions in December 2020 is 129,400, a figure which is a staggering 31.5% higher than December 2019 and 13.1% higher than November 2020.

Following these just released monthly transaction statistics, David Whittaker, CEO, Keystone Property Finance has commented:

“Demand for property continued to surge up until the end of the year, fuelled by the stamp duty holiday as the industry battles to get borrowers over the line before the March 31st deadline.

“Traditionally, we would see transactions plateau in December as homebuyers wait until the new year to move, however, 2020 was anything but traditional and bucked the trend with volumes standing at 13.1% higher than November, a 31.5% increase year on year.

“The buy-to-let sector has been buoyant in recent months and new data from Moneyfacts.co.uk highlights the optimism in the market with nearly 2,000 buy-to-let mortgage products available, the highest number since the start of the pandemic.

“However, challenges remain for buy-to-let investors as they navigate recent regulatory changes. Mortgage brokers will play a vital role in helping landlords understand the market and the find the right mortgage for them and we are committed to working with brokers to ensure the market meets the unique needs of every buy-to-let landlord.”

One example of the bouncy in the property market is that in Manchester which has just seen its busiest December in a decade.

New listings were 8.87% higher compared to this time last year, says estate agents Bentley Hurst:

Despite a difficult 2020, Bentley Hurst says its December “Manchester Property Index” reveals that the property market in Manchester continues to show “tremendous resilience”, with record levels of sales being agreed in December.

Manchester has seen an abundance of new homes emerge onto the market, with 2,882 new listings in December alone, up 8.87% on last year. The city also saw 1,732 sales agreed, as homebuyers endeavoured to make the most of the stamp duty deadline in March.

Buyer enquiries were 11% higher than they were at the start of 2020, despite almost a year of tough tier and lockdown restrictions.

In addition the rental market has continued to boom, with rental property enquiries up 22% from the start of 2020, and rental values are projected to increase by 5% over the next five years, meaning there’s never been a better time to consider letting a property.

This comes after research from Zoopla found that tenants are paying up to £984 PCM for one-bedroom properties in Manchester, £1,200 PCM for two-bedroom properties, and £1,699 PCM for three-bedroom properties.

James Favas, director at Bentley Hurst, says:

“The property market in Manchester is busier than it has been in a long while, and we have a lot to be excited about as we move into 2021.

“December is notoriously a quiet month in property, so to see new listings outperforming our usual seasonal trends just goes to show the strength of the market. Even lockdown and tough tier restrictions haven’t slowed the market down.

“Capital growth is increasing year on year with a projected growth in the region of 20% over the next five years, so we see this as only the beginning of a property boom in the area.”

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – Latest HMRC statistics show a significant rise in house sales | LandlordZONE.

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Phew! Minister says ‘substantial rent arrears’ evictions rule will stay at nine months

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Housing minister Christopher Pincher has confirmed that the government won’t amend the definition of ‘substantial arrears’ back to six months.

Landlords in England had been allowed to enforce possession orders with the county court bailiffs against tenants with more than nine months’ rent arrears, as long as these had been accumulated before the first lockdown on 23rd March.

However, the government made amendments to its Covid laws earlier this month, changing the definition of ‘substantial arrears’ so that rent accrued since the start of the pandemic would no longer be excluded – a move that the the NRLA heralded as as a reasonable balance as many landlords struggle with non-paying tenants.

The changes meant that tenants who were up to date with rent payments, but lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic and have been unable to pay rent, could now be evicted – a move which housing charities and Labour MPs including Jeremy Corbyn have labelled, “cruel and disgraceful”.

evictions caroline lucas

In response to Green MP (pictured) Caroline Lucas’s written question asking Pincher to restore the definition to nine months, he said there were no plans to do this but that the measures were being kept under review.

He added: “The government believes that it is proportionate to widen the rent arrears exemption to the ban on the enforcement of residential evictions to cases where a court is satisfied that a possession order was granted on the grounds of rent arrears and where more than six months of rent is outstanding.

“This change is intended to balance the effect of the ongoing restrictions on landlords with the need to continue to protect tenants.”

Read the latest government guidance to landlords.

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – Phew! Minister says ‘substantial rent arrears’ evictions rule will stay at nine months | LandlordZONE.

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NW council re-starts selective licencing consultation year after Covid scuppered plans

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Oldham Council is pushing ahead with its consultation on a new selective licensing scheme nearly a year after its plans were scuppered due to the pandemic.

The council has confessed that it hasn’t managed to speak to as many residents and groups as it wanted to, and is focusing on gathering views online; it’s launched online focus groups for up to 10 landlords or agents throughout March as well as a survey.

The consultation was hit by Covid just weeks into it started and although it’s been open since then, has now been extended until 18th April, while any surveys completed since February 2020 will still be taken into account, says the council.

In the meantime, any previously awarded selective licences are no longer valid or required. 

Original scheme  

The town’s original scheme, which covers eight areas, started in 2015 and ended last year. Landlords could be faced with a £160 price hike as the proposed fee for a new scheme is £650 per property, up from the previous £490.

Councillor Hannah Roberts, cabinet member for housing (pictured), says: “It’s nearly a year since we launched the selective licensing consultation so it’s only right that we look at it again.”

She adds: “There are still a small number of landlords who fail to provide decent housing. That’s why we originally introduced the selective licensing scheme.

“Last time we asked people for their views, four out of five of the people who responded believed selective licensing would help improve the areas covered. Thankfully they were right as we’ve been able to help out tenants and drive up standards.”

The council believes the introduction of a new licensing scheme is needed in certain areas where rents and house prices are low compared to the rest of Oldham and there’s a higher rate of tenant changes.

Read more about Oldham’s licensing activities.

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – NW council re-starts selective licencing consultation year after Covid scuppered plans | LandlordZONE.

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Legal case: the question of quiet enjoyment and nuisance

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In every tenancy there is an implied right if not an express covenant that promises that the tenant is able to possess the premises, not just without noise, “quiet enjoyment” as the term implies, but in peace and without “without disturbance by hostile claimants”, including from the landlord.

In the case of Jafari v Tareem Ltd (2019), Jafari had a lease of a dental practice located in a building in which the landlord was in the process of redeveloping for other tenancies. As could be expected, this involved noisy works and the erection of scaffolding outside the dental practice, which Jafari claimed affected the dental practice business and operations.

Exactly what constitutes a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment is open to conjecture, a matter of degree and of how permanent the disturbance is likely to be.

Residential tenants also expect and should understand that their leases contain obligations that their landlord owes to them in terms of quiet enjoyment. One of the principal covenants that exists in just about every residential lease is one of “quiet enjoyment”.

Does “quiet enjoyment” mean I am entitled to a quiet property?

A popular misconception by some residential tenants is that quiet enjoyment means that they should enjoy a literally and totally quiet property. Therefore, tenants who experience noise nuisance will often cite their covenant of quiet enjoyment, but unfortunately for them it’s a misinterpretation of what the covenant means.

One cannot take the term ‘quiet enjoyment’ too literally. Lord Denning explained this in McCall v Abelesz: the question is not about noise, but whether the offending object, “substantially interferes with the tenant’s freedom of action in exercising his rights as a tenant”.

Examples of undue interference might be where a landlord:

  • constantly visits the property without prior notice, unless there is an emergency such as a gas leak etc,
  • demands to do inspections without a proper appointment
  • sends in workmen without giving notice to or agreeing with the tenant in advance
  • interferes with the property in some way, for example building work or demolition, or interfering with utilities supplies: telephone, internet, gas, electricity, water etc
  • physically threatens or otherwise harasses the tenant, either verbally or in writing, with the aim of forcing or coercing a tenant out.

Noise nuisance could amount to a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment, but it’s not the only interference that breaches the covenant. It must be so significant that it prevents a tenant from using the property as intended. Mere inconvenience is not what would meet the criteria.

Also, it depends on who is causing the noise problem. If it’s caused by a third party and outside of the landlord’s control, then it would be difficult to come up with a credible argument that the landlord was in breach of the covenant.

It is also difficult to blame the landlord for a nuisance resulting from a pre-existing condition, one in existence before the start of the tenancy, or one which the tenant could easily have been aware of, such as loud traffic noise. For example, bad sound insulation in a block of flats has been held not to be a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment.

Going back to Jafari v Tareem, the landlord had waived the rent for the period of the works as a goodwill gesture in compensation for the disturbance. Jafari, however, claimed that the works irreparably damaged his business’s profitability and withheld further rent payments.

The High Court on appeal examined whether in the case the offer of compensation was relevant to the question of whether a landlord was in breach of the covenant for quiet enjoyment. It concluded that it was and held that the landlord had taken all reasonable steps to minimise disturbance to Jafari.

The rent waiver, the court held, was reasonable compensation for the disturbance in what might have otherwise been an unreasonable situation.

The lessons from this case:

Landlords should be aware that noise nuisance or any other interference with a tenant’s “quiet enjoyment” of a property can have consequences if this is not kept to a minimum. Where appropriate it may require some form of compensation, like a rent holiday or rent reduction.

Landlords often fail to grasp a basic fact of tenancy law: that in effect, and during the course of the tenancy, the tenant is “the owner of the land and property” is entitled to treat it as such, and can exclude everyone, including the landlord.

Landlords when granting a lease, especially in the case of commercial premises, where works are often required in the premises, or those adjoining, should include a “right to build” or “right to refurbish” clause that expressly qualifies the covenant of quiet enjoyment.

Even so, the degree of interference will be open to a court’s determination in each and every individual case, but if an offer of compensation is considered appropriate, and substantial enough, there may well be no valid claim for further damages.

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – Legal case: the question of quiet enjoyment and nuisance | LandlordZONE.

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New 2025 green targets for homes

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All homes and businesses will have to meet rigorous new energy efficiency standards to lower energy consumption and bills, helping to protect the environment, the Housing Minister Chris Pincher has announced.

Responding to a consultation on the Future Homes Standard

The post New 2025 green targets for homes appeared first on Property118.

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