Another week gone, what news do we have?
Problems and opportunities
Reports on the BBC show that many landlords are struggling with mortgage arrears.
Apart from the increasingly high taxes, landlords also have the problem that they are forced to continue housing tenants who do not pay rent, until they have got a Court Order for possession, which can take six to ten months or more.
The government it seems is considering housing courts to speed things up but it is not expected that these will be launched any time soon.
Partly due to this and the taxation changes there is according to the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) a big drop in buy to let lending and an increasing number of landlords are planning to sell up. Worryingly, research by broker Mortgages for Business found 54% of landlords had not taken advice on how they could be affected by the tax changes.
On the other hand Landlord Today reports that property remains a popular investment choice. So long, that is, you have a good tenant.
There are numerous reports about the problem of who is to pay for the cost of recladding blocks with fire safety issues. A recent case reported by GIles Peakder in Nearly Legal found that in one particular case the cost was recoverable by the landlords.
Giles Peaker commented that there
will be extended disputes over the extent to which landlords can carry out fire safety work within the demised property – and even over who can replace flat entrance doors to be fire safe – and this is likely to be messy, difficult and inconclusive.
Watch this space.
It looks as if planning regulations may be changed to make it easier to build upwards on existing buildings. Housing Minister Sajid Javid has announced plans to allow up to two stories to be added to a building, so long as it was in keeping with the roofline of other buildings in the area. Javid said
“The answer to building new homes isn’t always an empty plot, or developing on a derelict site.
“We need to be more creative and make more effective use of the space we already have available.
“That’s why we are looking to strengthen planning rules to encourage developers to be more innovative and look at opportunities to build upwards where possible when delivering the homes the country needs.”
They will be consulting on draft legislation in due course.
Band C rather than E?
Landlords are worried about the change in rules requiring a minimum EPC rating of E for many properties in April, but MPs are looking to require all propeties to have a C rating by 2035.
Sir David Amess, Conservative MP for Southend West, proposed the Domestic Properties (minimum energy performance) Bill during a Ten Minute Rule Motion the other day.
He claimed that it was “Dickensian” that elderly people were now living in just the one room that they could afford to heat and said that instead all those living in fuel poverty – defined as households paying above the average energy costs who would be pushed below the poverty line by paying their bills – should have support to bring their homes to an EPC rating of C by 2030. Save where it is prohibitively expensive such as in stately manors.
Comments on the Property Industry Eye report however are doubtful that it is possible to bring many older properties up to this standard, particularly those which are listed.
MPs however have backed the motion unanimously and it will have a second reading on March 16.
Be careful who and what you authorise
Ben has drawn my attention to this article which reports on a Court of Appeal decision in a planning case, where it refused to overturn a fine and £4m-plus proceeds of crime order (plus an eight years prison sentence in default of payment of the confiscation order and fine) simply because the defendant was impersonated by his agent at the hearing.
Ali Bahbahani, who lives abroad, had given a general authority to conduct legal proceedings on his behalf.to Saad Maki Abdul-Jalil who had represented him and he personally had had no knowledge of the case until after his conviction.
He sought an order that his trial was a nullity because of this and also that the sentence proceedings were an abuse of process once it became known that he had not personally appeared in the magistrates’ court.
However the Court of Appeal said it had no power to do this. Mr Abdul-Jalil was not someone without authority, but Bahbahani’s trusted agent.
“There is no merit in the applicant’s criticism of the refusal to stay the proceedings as an abuse of process. He was himself the cause of the very matters of which he complained.
“To the extent that the process was abused, it was by Mr Abdul-Jalil in a way which was initially endorsed by the applicant for his own advantage.
Another reason why you need to be careful who you use as agent and what you authorise them to do.
You will find the cas,e R v.Bahbahani, reported here.
- New Gas Safety Regulations are expected in April – although the amendments will help landlords not hinder them
- Ombudsman Services has quit the housing sector claiming that this is because the housing sector is ‘broken’ although it is suspected that this may be to make it easier for The Property Ombudsman to be the sole Ombudsman in the sector.
- A letting agency which was involved in renting a property in order to then sub-let it as a HMO without the landlords’ knowledge has been hit with substantial fines totalling nearly £40,000.
- Changes to the Property mark qualification for agents mean that it is now easier to obtain
Newsround will be back next week.