Browsing all articles from July, 2021

Landlord fined after blaze reveals eight tenants living in unlicensed HMO

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A blaze at an unlicensed HMO prompted officials to discover a dire lack of fire safety measures and the landlord to be prosecuted and fined.

Eight people were believed to be living in the four-bedroomed semi-detached house in Uxbridge Road, Wexham, when an electrical fire broke out in one of the first-floor bedrooms in the early hours of 8th October last year, causing serious damage.

An investigation by Slough Council revealed inadequate fire safety measures in the house including no fire alarms or fire doors. There was also a lack of safety features including a handrail leading to the attic room along with no safety certification of the gas and electricity systems.

The HMO was unlicensed, and an emergency prohibition order was issued preventing anyone living there until the safety issues had been addressed.

Landlord Nadeem Khan, 40, admitted five offences at Reading Magistrates’ Court and told magistrates he had borrowed money to rectify all the problems.

He added that he had been unable to evict non-paying tenants due to coronavirus regulations. Khan, of Warwick Avenue, was fined a total of £900 and ordered to pay £3,000 costs and £90 victim surcharge.

Councillor Balvinder Bains, cabinet member for regulation and public protection, says: “This could have had a very different outcome. A fire in the middle of the night with no fire alarms could have resulted in much more serious consequences.

“The reason there are landlord licences is to raise the quality of privately rented homes so tenants are in a compliant environment.”

Read more about Slough Borough Council.

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – Landlord fined after blaze reveals eight tenants living in unlicensed HMO | LandlordZONE.

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Tenant demand for properties across UK rises to highest level for five years

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More than a third of landlords (39%) have witnessed increased tenant demand during the past three months – the highest figure since 2016.

After climbing by eight percentage points since the previous quarter, the increase continues a rising trend for demand from the low of 14% recorded in the second quarter of 2020, according to Paragon Bank. 

The survey of more than 750 landlords, carried out by research consultancy BVA BDRC, also showed a dip of two percentage points in the number of landlords reporting a fall in tenant demand compared to the first quarter of the year.

Landlords who are unsure about current levels of tenant demand also saw a small decline, falling by three percentage points.

London revival

With the exception of central London, all regions have seen a year-on-year increase in landlords reporting a significant increase. Yorkshire and The Humber saw the biggest rise after 65% of landlords reported increased tenant demand.

This was closely followed by Wales and the South West where a rise was reported by 64% and 63% of landlords respectively.

moray hulme paragon

Moray Hulme, Paragon Bank director of mortgage sales, says quarter two of 2020 was a time of real uncertainty and this was reflected in the record low levels of demand that landlords saw.

“Demand bounced back the following quarter and has been rising ever since,” says Hulme. “This highlights the resilience of the private rented sector and suggests that a growing number of people have turned to it at a time when the stability of a good quality home is ever important.”

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – Tenant demand for properties across UK rises to highest level for five years | LandlordZONE.

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LATEST: Council secures UK’s first ever ‘ASBO’ against 29-year-old rogue landlord

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A rogue landlord who harassed and tried to illegally evict his tenants has been slapped with the first anti-social behaviour injunction against a landlord.

Camden Council secured the injunction against Mohammed Ali Abbas Rasool, 29, of Manor House Drive, at The Royal Courts of Justice.

Working with the Met Police, Camden brought the case against Rasool after he repeatedly attempted to illegally evict and harass tenants at a property in Kilburn.

The injunction includes an exclusion zone around the house, which remains until 14th May 2022. Rasool can be arrested if he enters this zone.

Multiple complaints

Following a disclosure request made by the council to police, the court heard of similar reports made against Rasool by tenants in other boroughs. Camden’s private sector housing service is also investigating the safety and management of other properties operated by Rasool in the borough.

The council’s work to protect private renters is one of the most enthusiastic in London; it has registered more than 50 landlords on the Mayor of London’s rogue landlord checker, secured the capital’s first ever rogue landlord banning order and has now given out three of the four landlord banning orders in the capital.

meric apak camden

Councillor Meric Apak (pictured), cabinet member for better homes, says its HMO licensing scheme and rogue landlord taskforce continues to improve the standards in Camden’s private housing sector, empowering renters to take action and helping good landlords to run successful businesses.

He adds: “The legal action taken in this case was a necessary last resort. Our message to landlords and letting agents is that we are here to work with you; to provide advice and assistance first of all and to ensure you can meet your obligations.” 

Read more about rogue landlords.

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – LATEST: Council secures UK’s first ever ‘ASBO’ against 29-year-old rogue landlord | LandlordZONE.

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Clooper is LandlordZONE’s Official Property Management Platform Partner

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We are excited to announce Clooper as our Official Property Management Platform Partner.

To celebrate the partnership, Clooper are offering LandlordZONE readers a 30-day free trial for using the code CLLZ0001, which expires on September 30th, 2021, and includes free rent processing, free property advertising, and more. Additionally, for those who sign up to an annual plan – you will also get a free exclusive Clooper t-shirt!

This just made DIY lettings and property management easier.

Property management can be time-consuming and inconvenient. Clooper streamlines the process by connecting landlords to tenants, and tradespeople. With a wide range of cost-effective solutions, the self-service online platform saves you time and money. You retain control by accessing everything in one place.

If you own a property or are looking to rent one, Clooper makes it easier to connect with all the relevant property stakeholders. You can use digital signatures to manage legal documents, receive secure online deposits and rent payments, and also receive timely notifications. In addition, stay compliant with statutory obligations and manage your income and expenditure. As a result, you’ll have healthier relationships and more free time.

Clooper is a cost-effective platform for advertising your property, finding the right tenant, and managing maintenance and repairs. The platform facilitates direct communication between landlords, tenants, and trusted tradespeople. You can schedule viewings, screen potential tenants, manage tenancy applications, connect with local tradespeople, arrange repairs and more.

Clooper charges landlords from only £9.49 per month per property (large portfolio landlords can discuss rates).

Clooper connects landlords to local tradespeople, allowing them to easily sort out all of their maintenance needs. Clooper offers tradespeople a platform to network, grow their business, and reputation with a personalised business page that increases their visibility and credibility at no cost. They can provide estimates for upcoming projects, set up appointments, and accept secure payments.

With access to a variety of property listings, tenants can now save time and rent a property faster and easier. They can source repair quotations or submit maintenance requests directly to the landlord for approval, without the need to pick up the phone.

Chief Executive Officer/ Founder, Toks Adebiyi, said “As Clooper is an all in one lettings and management platform that was created by progressive landlords for landlords, I am delighted to partner with LandlordZone which I feel is the best forum for landlords out there. It’s a natural partnership and I believe our synergies will continuously help us deliver a better service to landlords”.

Paul Shamplina, Chief Commercial Officer of LandlordZONE and the wider HF family says, ‘We are delighted that Clooper have become our partners at LandlordZONE as our official property management platform . A platform that saves landlords time, money, keeps them your date with their property and can make them compliant is a great benefit to landlords.’

Save time and stay in control with an all-in-one platform that is easy to use.


©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – Clooper is LandlordZONE’s Official Property Management Platform Partner | LandlordZONE.

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LATEST: High Court intervenes dramatically in rent-to-rent sector over RROs

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The High Court has intervened dramatically in the rent-to-rent sector after three judges ruled that a landlord who sublets their properties via this kind of scheme are not liable for Rent Repayment Orders (RROs).

The ruling overturns a previous decision by the Upper Tribunal in Rakusen v Jepson, which ruled that an RRO application could be made against any landlord of the relevant property for the relevant period of the relevant offence.

Leaseholder and landlord Martin Rakusen granted a tenancy of his flat in Finchley Road, London, to Kensington Property Investment Group Ltd (KPIG) in May 2016, introduced by agents Hamptons. KPIG then entered into separate written agreements with the four tenants.

In November 2018, Hamptons told Rakusen that KPIG wanted to apply for a licence but none was granted and Rakusen did not renew KPIG’s tenancy in May 2019. The tenants then applied for, and won, RROs totalling £26,140.

Significant difference

Giles Peaker (pictured) at Anthony Gold Solicitors says the judgement will make a significant difference to those seeking RROs against less than salubrious landlords.

He adds: “A crumb of comfort is that the Court of Appeal accepted the policy intent and the ‘on the ground’ situation with dodgy rent to rent/intermediate landlords may both merit the extension of RROs to superior landlords. But the Court of Appeal consider that is now a matter for parliament.”

Tim Frome (pictured), MD of Property Redress Scheme, says the decision limits a tenant’s options if they have a case for a RRO against an intermediary landlord, particularly if that intermediary landlord has subsequently gone out of business.

“At the Property Redress Scheme we have a number of members who undertake rent to rent tenancies and we regularly assist both the agents and their consumers to come to resolutions on complaints,” adds Frome. “We’ve also been in regular dialogue with the government on the growing rent to rent industry and they are looking carefully at whether it needs further regulation.”

Read the full judgement.

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – LATEST: High Court intervenes dramatically in rent-to-rent sector over RROs | LandlordZONE.

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LATEST: Judge tells landlords ‘ignorance of HMO rules won’t prevent huge fines’

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A judge has advised landlords not to rely on other people to keep them abreast of licensing requirements after handing out a whopping £47,000 rent repayment order.

Landlord Karen Merricks tried to argue that she was twice given the wrong advice by Tower Hamlets Council when inquiring about HMO licencing, but a First Tier Property Tribunal threw out her argument and had also relied on her letting agent’s advice, ruling that her ignorance was no excuse.

Her seven tenants who lived at the property in Tomlins Grove (pictured), London, will now share out £47,256 after living there for two years from September 2018.

The tribunal heard that Merricks phoned the council around 2017 when someone in the planning department allegedly advised her that she did not need a licence for the property so she made no further enquiries and took no further advice.

The judge ruled: “The advice she supposedly received was clearly wrong on the first occasion and may well have been wrong too on the second occasion.

“There is a significant possibility that either the respondent gave the wrong information or misunderstood the information she was given. The respondent’s ignorance does not amount to a reasonable excuse.”

Keep abreast

It added: “Landlords and their agents would be expected to keep abreast of such matters as the licensing requirements through professional memberships, mailing lists, newspapers, specialist publications.

“The respondent said she relied on agents to keep her abreast of any obligations but such processes are clearly insufficient as she did not pick up on the licensing requirements.”

orla shields kamma

Kamma CEO Orla Shields (pictured) tells LandlordZONE that many councils are now taking the opportunity to target tenants through the incentive of RROs.

She says: “I think the real lesson for landlords here is that they have to be on top of their compliance. We work with a number of great agents who do a superb job of keeping their landlords informed, but we know that others don’t see it as a priority. Our advice is to work with only the best agents, and give serious consideration to NRLA membership.”

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – LATEST: Judge tells landlords ‘ignorance of HMO rules won’t prevent huge fines’ | LandlordZONE.

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LATEST: Minister confirms plans for huge shake-up of tenancy contracts

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A serious shake-up of assured shorthold tenancy (AST) contracts is on the cards when the Renters Reform Bill is published this autumn, the government has confirmed.

In answer to a Parliamentary question about how the PRS benefits the economy, Housing Minister Lord Greenhalgh (main pic) said the government was committed to delivering a package of reforms.

“A key part of our future PRS reforms is to ensure the flexibility of private rental tenancies is retained, whilst balancing increased security for those tenants who need and want it, alongside driving an improvement in the quality and standards of PRS accommodation,” he said.

In the consultation document – A New Deal for Renting – the government said landlords who evict tenants for rent arrears or anti-social behaviour using ‘no fault’ grounds masked valid reasons for eviction, which fuelled a culture of mistrust and uncertainty.

No practical purpose

“The ability to use section 21 rests in the assured shorthold tenancies regime. The government is of the view that, with section 21 removed, the assured shorthold regime no longer serves a practical purpose as the ability to create fixed-term tenancies already exists in the Housing Act 1988.”

With section 21 removed, all future tenancies would be assured, either as fixed-term assured tenancies or contractual periodic assured tenancies.

It would mean the default position will be that a tenancy is a periodic assured tenancy unless the landlord and tenant have agreed a fixed term in writing.

A tenant under an assured tenancy won’t be evicted unless the landlord can provide grounds under Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 or at a break point in the tenancy contract where a break clause has been agreed between them.

Read more about the Renters Reform Bill.

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – LATEST: Minister confirms plans for huge shake-up of tenancy contracts | LandlordZONE.

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Shocking photos of unlicenced HMO released following £20,000 landlord fine

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Criminal landlord Besnik Halaj has been fined £20,000 for housing vulnerable tenants in an unlicensed and dangerous HMO.

Shocking photos show bedsits in a terrible state, a double plug socket completely removed from the wall with exposed wires and a major mould problem on the kitchen ceiling.

In a case brought by South Derbyshire District Council, the 47-year-old admitted four offences under the Housing Act. 

Problems at Halaj’s property off Elmsleigh Drive, in Midway (pictured) were first investigated by environmental health officers in May 2019, who told him it needed a licence and to ensure that it met safety standards.

A follow-up visit during late 2019 with the police international liaison office found it was still in use as an HMO and now posed a serious risk to the tenants’ health.

Defects discovered

They discovered a deficient fire detection system, lack of fire doors, electrical defects, no hot water, no gas safety certificate and a kitchen in a poor state of repair.

Magistrates said the offences were so serious that the landlord had put people’s lives in danger. Along with the fine, they awarded costs to the council of £1,427 and a victim surcharge of £181.

Councillor Steve Taylor, chair of the environment and development services committee, says: “Halaj wilfully ignored the law and the advice of our officers and tried to profit from the vulnerability of his tenants.

“We will investigate and take action as necessary and any landlord who thinks that they can rent unsafe housing in South Derbyshire had better think again.”

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – Shocking photos of unlicenced HMO released following £20,000 landlord fine | LandlordZONE.

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Not so rich after all! Official data shows 70% of private landlords pay basic rate tax

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New government figures show that more than two-thirds of landlords pay the lower rate of income tax – a picture far removed from a sector full of rich investors painted by some housing campaigners.

Treasury minister Lord Agnew of Oulton revealed the numbers declaring income via self-assessment for letting property in 2019/20 showed that 1,519,000 landlords paid the basic rate of tax, 560,000 paid the higher rate of 40% and 106,000 paid the additional higher rate of 45%.

He was responding to a Parliamentary question from Lord Carrington.

lord agnew tax landlords

Lord Agnew (pictured) added that the figures didn’t include certain categories of BTL property owners including Scottish taxpayers, those with income below the £1,000 property allowance, those with property income between £1,000 and £2,500 who would declare this via PAYE, and some who did not fall into any of the tax bands as their income would be within their personal allowance.

Lord Agnew added: “During the pandemic, the government has put in place a substantial financial package, backed up by billions of pounds, which is supporting renters to sustain tenancies and to afford their housing costs.

“The government is supporting landlords by providing tenants with extensive financial assistance to continue paying rent.”

He said the forthcoming Better Deal for Renters was designed to help the rental market work better for both tenants and landlords.

Last year, Rentround’s survey of 20,000 landlords showed 20% of landlords were looking to leave the sector, while 33% were unsure about their future.

They blamed uncertainty around property prices post Covid-19, concern about future tax hikes and fear of further rent defaults when the furlough scheme ends.

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – Not so rich after all! Official data shows 70% of private landlords pay basic rate tax | LandlordZONE.

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What are “Deemed Contracts” and how do they affect Landlords?

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Especially at a time like this, in the middle of a pandemic, when good commercial tenants are hard to find, landlords dread the time when a lease comes to an end, or their tenant goes into administration.

When a commercial landlord loses a tenant, not only do they lose regular rent payments, they also lose all the other payments that their tenants have to find: insurance for the building, business rates, utilities charges and if its a full-insuring and repairing lease, the maintenance costs for the building’s upkeep.

After a 3-month vacancy, in most cases the landlord becomes responsible for paying full business rates, a substantial item which in many cases roughly equates to the rent amount.

Also, because of the increased risk with an empty building, not only does the landlord now take on the cost of providing building insurance, this often approximately doubles in price. Depending on the location the landlord may be forced into taking extra security measures, hiring specialists with alarms, cameras and guard patrols. In some cases it’s even prudent to install live-in guardians.

The Deemed Contract

Something that’s often overlooked is utilities charges and this is where “deemed contracts” come in.

Tenants will often shop around for the best deals they can get from various utilities suppliers, which means that if landlords have several commercial units vacant at any one time they could be dealing with numerous utilities companies.

This may not sound too onerous but that’s deceiving, it can become an administrative nightmare task that takes up a considerable amount of management time.

Who is liable to pay?

Whether the landlords takes back the property because the lease comes to an end, and the tenant does not want to renew, the tenant goes into administration or the landlord decides to forfeit the lease, it is likely that there will be utilities contracts in place.

The law says that even though there is no direct contract between the landlord and the utility supplier, because the tenant signed, a contract is “deemed” to be in place between the supplier and the landlord.

So therefore, gas, electricity, telephone and internet serves and water will possibly all be supplied by way of a deemed contract. Of course, when the property is empty not all these services will be in use, but the supplier will be entitled to invoice for regular (usually quarterly) standing charges.

Also, the landlord may want to retain some of the supplies: electricity for lighting, alarms etc, gas for heating, especially in winter when pipes could otherwise freeze, and water for sprinklers etc.

The Legal Context

The electricity companies rely on the Electricity Act 1989 to give them legal authority, which states that “where electricity is supplied otherwise than in pursuance of a contract, the supplier shall be deemed to have contacted with the occupier (ie., the owner if the premises are unoccupied) for the supply of electricity.” There are similar provisions in place for gas services embodied in the Gas Act 1986.

A quirk of this legislation is that it makes the occupier not necessarily the tenant responsible for the contract. So if the tenant has vacated the premises, even though the lease is still current and in place, the occupier (in this case the owner) becomes liable.

Of course there would be nothing to stop the owner in turn pursuing the tenant for the costs, but as was pointed out above, the whole thing becomes an administrative nightmare for the landlord, especially if the landlord has several units vacant and is dealing with several different suppliers – taking readings, dealing with standing charges invoices etc.

Usually, the financial cost is not great from the individual suppliers, but multiply those costs over several suppliers and property units, not counting the time taken to administer all of this, and the costs mount up.

Complications always arise because the supplying utility companies base their initial charges on previous consumption patterns, so meter readings will need to be agreed and verified and adjustments made to the billing invoices before a void property usage pattern can be established.

Take evasive action early on

When you know that a unit is becoming vacant, or soon after it has done so, you should find out which companies have been supplying the services to the previous tenant.

Makes sure you take accurate meter readings, preferably with photo evidence, so that the charges can be accurately apportioned between landlord and tenant from the day the tenant vacates.

Next step is to contact each supplier in turn and try to negotiate the best deal you can. Leave it to the company and they will probably apply the most expensive tariff, so it’s up to you to ensure that does not happen.

With acknowledgements to Tim Speed of Shakespeare Martineau, Birmingham

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – What are “Deemed Contracts” and how do they affect Landlords? | LandlordZONE.

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