More news for you on a Friday.
It looks as if the governments Green Homes Grant is popular with landlords, research by lender Paragon showing that just under half are planning to take up the offer of £5,000.
However, if you want to do this you need to hurry up as there are only 650,000 vouchers available (to both homeowners and landlords), and the vouchers must be redeemed and the work completed by 31st March next year. Which is a very short time scale.
The popularity of the scheme probably has something to do with the Mandatory Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) that went live on April 1st this year. These require a property to have an energy efficiency rating of at least E. We have an article on this here.
Note also that government is planning to raise this level to C – or higher – from April 2025 for new tenancies and from 2028 for existing tenancies.
According to Ben Beadle writing on LandlordZone:
According to the English Housing Survey, 33% of homes in the PRS were built before 1919 so are likely to have solid walls, making insulation much more difficult. Listed status can also affect landlords’ abilities to make changes.
More broadly, there is also the issue of ‘moving goalposts’. If the government wants to go ahead with this plan, and make no mistake, it is committed to this direction of travel, there needs to be clear, long-term proposals for the trajectory of change along with a package of funding to support landlords.
This will help us to plan changes and improvements to our properties over the next 10 -15 years and how to fund them.
The Government is looking to move to ‘low carbon-heat ready’ in the private rented sector by 2030, which means making as many changes to the fabric of buildings as is possible in anticipation of the phasing out of gas boilers, as has already been announced for new-build homes.
So be warned.
National Licensing of landlords?
This apparently is ‘on the horizon‘ according to Mark Hayward, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents Propertymark organisation, and a member of the RoPA working party which reported 18 months ago.
The RoPA report, which aimed to make the industry more transparent, give recommendations which included mandatory qualifications and licensing for lettings and sales agents, a new code of practice, an official regulator and various changes to the consumer-facing aspect of agency activities.
Private landlord licensing was not a part of this but Hayward thinks it could be coming although not any time soon as
it’s a vast piece of work to find out who [private landlords] are, where they are and how they could be regulated.
So far as the agency regulation recommended by the report is concerned, Hayward’s view is
It’s still very much on the agenda. It’s just the precise timing that’s the issue. It’s something that the government wants to move forward, it’s got cross-party support so it will happening. It just needs primary legislation, and finding time for that is difficult.
So not now folks but almost certainly in a few years time.
Rogue letting agents have to pay up
Victims of letting agency Crestons will be pleased to learn that three directors, whose crimes included keeping tenancy deposits, have now been ordered to pay up some pretty eye-watering sums.
The directors were convicted in December 2018 of carrying on a business for a fraudulent purpose and were later each sentenced to 28 months imprisonment and disqualified from acting as directors of a company for eight years.
Last week there was a confiscation hearing at Inner London Crown Court, where
- Ahmed Ali Syed was ordered to pay £72,035.12 in compensation to three victims, and had a further £2,709.12 of criminal proceeds confiscated
- Mohammed Rayn Mashuk was ordered to pay £21,717.46 in compensation to seven victims, and had a further £47,919.04 of criminal proceeds confiscated.
- Mohammed Ibrahim Ali was ordered to pay £5,137.46 in compensation to two victims and had a further £21,329.47 of criminal proceeds confiscated.
All orders must be paid within three months. In cases of default of payment, Syed and Mashuk would each have to serve an extra 12 months’ imprisonment and Ali nine months’ imprisonment.
Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development, said:
This confiscation order is a major victory for private tenants and landlords – not just in Islington, but right across the country.
It is only right that these men surrender the money they duped from unwitting victims. Thanks to the determination, tenacity and hard work of our Trading Standards and legal teams, all those who were ripped off are now due to get their money back.
Prosecutions and confiscation orders like this are rare but vital in the fight for better standards in the private housing market, where tenants often spend large proportions of their income on rent and tenancy deposits. The court ruling sends the message loud and clear that we won’t let rogue letting agents get away with ripping off their clients.
Right to Rent rule changes from 2nd November
Just to let you know that things may be easier next week as The Immigration (Residential Accommodation) (Prescribed Requirements and Codes of Practice) (Amendment) Order 2020 introduces an online service.
There is also a new code of practice which you ought to check out. I can’t find a link to the new online service but no doubt there will be announcements about this next week.
Bailiffs refusing to enforce possession warrants – challenge?
It looks as if government ministers have asked bailiffs and High Court Enforcement Officers not to enforce warrants of possession in areas with Tier 2 and Tier 3 lockdowns. However, this is not the proper way to deal with this and is probably unlawful.
David Smith of JMW Solicitors has said
This approach flies in the face of the new structures created around the re-opening of the courts for possession. Of course the government can prevent evictions if it wishes to. But it should do so lawfully by making regulations under the appropriate legislation and allowing Parliament to review them, not through backdoor letters to enforcement bodies. I have offered to seek judicial review on this on a “no win, no fee” basis for affected landlords.
Anyone wanting to take David up on this offer can contact him here.
- Nearly Legal on rough sleeping and deportation
- Tenant dies in HMO fire – private landlord sentenced
- Letting agents urged to prepare for changes to referral fees system
- Coronavirus firebreak: Welsh Agency branches likely to close again next year
- One in 10 BTL landlords plan to add to portfolios
- Pandemic flat-sharing boom under way as locked-down tenants seek companionship and lower bills
Newsround will be back next week