The last Newsround of August. What do we have for you?
RLA / NLA Merger Proposed
The big news this week is the surprising but welcome announcement that the Residential Landlords Association and the National Landlords Association are to merge to form one new organisation The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).
The two Chairs, Alan Ward (RLA) and Adrian Jeakings (NLA), said in a joint statement:
After more than 20 years of friendly competition, the time is right to create a single organisation to represent and campaign for landlords.
With so much of our work done in parallel, there are major benefits to be gained for our landlord members.
We will be stronger together when presenting a unified voice to government both nationally and locally about the importance of supporting the majority of landlords who do a good job providing the homes to rent the country needs.
This is excellent news for landlords. With all the changes going on, landlords need a strong voice to represent their interests to government.
It reminds me of similar statements over ten years ago when sadly a similar merger did not go ahead due to director squabbling. However, thankfully this merger looks likely to be an amicable one. I wish them all the best and look forward to working with them in the future.
I am reminded by Fixflo that their annual survey launches today. Here is what they told me about it
The PRS has had a tough year. Now’s your chance to have your say in the Fixflo Lettings Survey and shape legislation with your observations on the front line of the industry. Your input will allow you to benchmark your business with the rest of the industry. You can also win one of five £50 Amazon vouchers.
The survey is open until 27 September 2019. You’ll also receive a copy of the Fixflo Lettings Report when it is first released.
You can find the survey here.
Landlords being interviewed under criminal caution
An article here on Property Industry Eye looks at Wirral Council who it seems are conducting interviews with landlords suspected of being in breach of HMO licensing under criminal caution (known as PACE). This means that the interviews, which are normally recorded, can be used against the landlords in subsequent prosecutions.
The article quotes David Kirwan, of law firm Kirwans, saying that many landlords, because they do not understand what is involved, fail to take a solicitor with them, and as a result risk harsher penalties and prosecution. Commenting
The preferable option, and one which is open to local authorities, is to work with landlords failing to comply, to offer advice and support, educate them about their duties and responsibilities and help to create a reliable pool of landlords instead of imposing swingeing penalties or criminal prosecution.
At a time when the UK is facing a critical rental shortage, council support and education would be of far more benefit to landlords and tenants alike than turning to these overly harsh sanctions.
Unfortunately, I have not seen a great deal of evidence to suggest that that is happening.
Our advice to landlords is – ALWAYS take legal advice if you are contacted by the Council about possible non-compliance. It may be better not to attend the interview at all but to answer questions by way of a written submission which you can discuss with your solicitor.
However, you need to be careful about your choice of solicitor as landlord and tenant law, and in particular, the HMO regime is a bit of a specialist area. I don’t know Kirwans but they sound like a good choice, as are Anthony Gold solicitors who landlords can consult via our HMO Hotline service.
Agent jailed for fraud
Those of you who read our item in last weeks Newsround on the fraudulent agent Andre Montaunt will be pleased to learn that he as now been jailed for two years and one month.
You can read the police report here.
Call for rights for houseboat residents
An interesting article in the Guardian looks at houseboat residents and their lack of legal rights comparted to householders and normal tenants.
The article features the fight by David Waterhouse on behalf of houseboats residents at Tideway VIllage in Vauxhall which was threatened by eviction by a developer. His campaign was eventually successful but is concerned for the future, saying
We are at the mercy of whoever owns the ground rent of the development alongside us, and we have no real security beyond that.
As the article goes on to say, even mobile homeowners have more protection. The article also highlights houseboat residents who have lost everything due to sudden demands made by leaseholders.
Tenants often complain about their lack of rights, but they have far more rights than houseboat owners. With an increasing number of people turning to live in houseboats, this is a scandal. The government, however, has said it has no plans to introduce new protective legislation any time soon beliving that houseboats owners rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2105 are sufficient to protect them.
- Fake agent who conned backpacker facing trial on fraud charges
- 24 Housing looks at how housing associations could be lead housebuilders within a generation
Newsround will be back next week.