NRLA to back landlords over ‘unnecessary and unjustifiably expensive’ licensing schemes

18 May 2020

Recently-arrived Chief Executive says one of the organisations first jobs will be to look at whether selective and additional property licensing schemes truly deliver the benefits claimed for them, based on the facts.

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has said that it is to focus its efforts on persuading ministers and local authorities that property licensing schemes do not raise standards and that, particularly for HMOs, they are thinly disguised revenue raising efforts.

Ben Beadle, the newly-formed organisation’s recently-arrived Chief Executive, made the comments during a webinar held by property legal expert Tessa Sanderson as part of her ongoing online conference.

“The UK seems hell bent on introducing legislation to regulate the housing market when often the measures are already in place,” he said.

“Take licensing – all of the things that landlords need to do in order to get a licence are already legal requirements including gas, electrical, fire safety and smoke detector rules – so why do you need a licence to hold it all together?

“The argument is that licensing raises standards and makes it easier for local authorities to enforce the rules, but I don’t really see an evidence to support this claim and the NRLA will be taking a very close look at licensing and assessing the impact, based on the facts.”

Beadle also says that landlords have become an easy target for legislators including licensing, despite many local authorities claiming it’s ‘not about the money’.

“If it’s not about the money, why does it cost up to £1,000 per property for a licence within some schemes,” he says.

“This is a source of great contention for landlords and it’s an issue that the NRLA is absolutely going to pick up and run with.”

Link to original article

Ready, Steady, the Letting market is open for business!

14 May 2020

Rental market reopens today after travel restrictions are lifted for landlords, tenants and agents

Short but hugely important changes were made to the key travel ban legislation last night, allowing tenants to move home again.

The government has pushed through legislative changes that will see the rental market re-open today.

In an obscure update to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, landlords will now be free to let their properties and tenants now have the green light to move home.

This bill has been – and continues to be – used to restrict travel during the Coronavirus crisis and includes a short list of exemptions such as travelling to a hospital and to buy food.

This list has now been joined by five new exemptions that enable members of the public to visit both sales or lettings agencies, developers’ sales offices and show homes; view properties for sale or rent; prepare properties prior to moving in; and move home.

Agents and landlords are also allowed to visit any rental property to get them ready for sale, which means appraisals, property valuations and photography.

The new travel exemptions also apply to the sales market, and landlords will therefore be able to begin buying investment properties once more too.

“It’s great news for consumers and the industry that the housing market is being opened up and people can let, rent, buy and sell properties again,” say David Cox, Chief Executive of ARLA Propertymark and Mark Hayward, Chief Executive of NAEA Propertymark in a joint statement.

“Safety of course will be paramount, and we would encourage everyone to ensure that they follow Government guidelines closely to protect others and themselves.”

Link to original article

Six common appliances that cause house fires

11 May 2020

“If you have a fire in your home, the most important thing you can do is get out immediately.  A home can be completely engulfed in flames within a couple of minutes. The safety of you and your family is more important than your possessions.”

We’ve ‘borrowed’ this article from a US website because it tells us all – and especially landlords – some incredibly important information.

Our homes today are filled with electronics and appliances that make our lives easier and provide us with entertainment. DVD players, big screen TVs, video game systems, and cable/satellite TV boxes overload our electrical outlets and fill up our entertainment centres.

If you bought a new appliance lately, you’ll see that technology has changed them, as well. Our new washer and dryer consists of a few buttons and touch screens. While the touch screens look cool, there’s more circuitry in them, which could lead to a fire.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency(NFPA), 501,500 structure fires were reported in the U.S. in 2015. These fires resulted in 2,685 deaths, 13,000 injuries, and $10.3 billion in property damage; $7 billion in property losses were caused by home fires. Based on these statistics, a fire was reported every 63 seconds.

Here’s a list of common appliances and how they can be start fires in your home.

Common Appliances

  1. Dishwashers. Have you ever opened your dishwasher immediately after it finished its cycle? The heat that shoots out when you open the door can be overwhelming. A dishwasher contains heating elements that dry your dishes. These heating elements get wet, heat up, and cool down every time you use the dishwasher. Old or faulty elements can start a fire. Never turn on a dishwasher before leaving your home. While it’s nice to return to clean dishes at the end of the day, it’s not worth the risk.
  2. Dryers. I’ve written a couple safety articles about lint buildup in a dryer and the importance of cleaning it often. To see how fast a lint fire can start; check this link. Preventing dryer fires: Experts say keeping your lint trap clean is just part of the safety cycle. 
  3. Microwaves. Microwaves are very convenient. Warming up leftover meals can be a big timesaver when the family schedule is hectic. They also can be very dangerous. There have been many complaints about microwaves starting on their own and causing a fire. If you hear your microwave running, and you didn’t turn it on, unplug it immediately. Microwaves: a fire hazard in your kitchen 
  4. Refrigerators. One might never think of a refrigerator being a fire risk; however, an overheated compressor or an electrical short can cause fires. In addition, a light that stays on all the time can be hazardous.
  5. Toasters. In 1913, Westinghouse debuted the first two-sided toaster. Toasters have electric elements inside that are used to brown your bread or bagel. If the toaster fails and doesn’t turn off, a fire can start. Never leave a toaster unsupervised and remove the crumbs on the bottom of the toaster regularly. In addition, inspect the electric elements for stuck crumbs.
  6. Portable heaters. As a retired  Fire Captain i would like to see space heaters on this list. 
    I saw and responded to many fires involving space heaters with a multitude of reasons. Most commonly being too close to furniture or window coverings but also worn out or frayed cords.

Other common causes of house fires

  1. Candles. While candles look nice and add ambiance to your living room, never leave them unattended. From 2007 – 2011, the NFPA reported 10,630 candle fires resulting in 115 fatalities and $418 million in property damage.
  2. Electrical. Electrical fires can start in many ways. Some causes are old wiring, an overloaded electrical outlet or circuit breaker, and extension cords. The next time you plug in that extension cord or new electronic device, pay attention to your outlet. It may be wise to unplug something else or find a different outlet.
  3. Children playing with fire. If you talk to my parents, they’ll tell you they’re glad their house is still standing. Looking back, I ruined quite a few things in their home. Unfortunately, playing with fire made the list. According to the NFPA, an estimated 7,100 home fires occur each year because of children playing with fire.
  4. Cooking. Have you ever left the kitchen for just a “quick second” and returned to a boiling pot overflowing? The number-one cause of house fires is cooking.

General Fire Safety Tips

  • Consider replacing appliances before something goes wrong. A more expensive appliance doesn’t equate to a longer life span.
  • Develop and practice an escape plan with your family.
  • Don’t use water to put out a grease fire.
  • Store matches and lighters out of a child’s reach.
  • Avoid using water to extinguish a candle.
  • Don’t use candles during a power outage. Rely on flashlights instead.
  • Clean your dryer lint screen regularly.
  • Unplug toasters after each use.
  • Inspect your dryer ducts each year.
  • Don’t store a toaster on your counter if you have pets.
  • Contact an electrician if you’re concerned about a wiring issue in your house.
  • Select the right extension cord for the job.
  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets.
  • Avoid storing things in your microwave.
  • Never run an appliance, such as the dishwasher, washing machine, or dryer when you’re not home.
  • Test your smoke detectors regularly. Consider replacing batteries when Daylight Savings Time begins and ends.

If you have a fire in your home, the most important thing you can do is get out immediately. 

A home can be completely engulfed in flames within a couple of minutes. The safety of you and your family is more important than your possessions.

Sources

Mandatory Professional Qualification to be a Landlord says Commission

05 May 2020

A commission investigating affordable homes in the UK has called for annual private sector rent increases to be limited to a new index of income growth and for landlords to pay tenants’ removal costs in some circumstances.

The Affordable Housing Commission also recommends that “charging more than the permitted rent increase would be an offence, with the landlord facing a fine and having to return the excess rent to the tenant.”

The policy would be policed by the First Tier Tribunal, or new Housing Courts as proposed by the Conservatives in the 2019 election manifesto if these are established.

Amongst the commission’s other recommendations is one saying that if private rental sector tenants are evicted because landlords want to sell their property or even move into it, “they should pay the tenants’ relocation costs, to minimise hardship.”

Another says: “The Commission recommends that the government examines the case for a national mandatory professional standard of competency in the private rental sector. Private landlords would have to demonstrate their credibility and a professional standard of management on a similar basis to the regulation of letting agents.”

And another states: “The Commission also recommends that a new national landlord register (run by councils but freely open to the public) is established to improve standards within the PRS.”

The commission includes representatives from Savills, the British Property Federation, the Home Builders Federation, local councils and groups including Generation Rent. 

It is chaired by Lord Richard Best, who also chaired the Regulation of Property Agents working group that reported last year with a string of recommendations for letting and estate agents to be qualified before being allowed to deal directly with members of the public.

The Affordable Housing Commission reported a few weeks ago but its recommendations received little coverage as they came at the start of the Coronavirus lockdown.

You can see the recommendations here.

Link to original article

Massive Pent-up Rental Demand Claims ARLA

04 May 2020

The UK lockdown has been essential for containing the spread of coronavirus, but it is causing major disruption and distress, so when can it be lifted? 

There are huge decisions for the government to make, as it looks to balance saving lives today with long-term damage to society.

But as soon as the lockdown is eased, whenever that may be, there will be a major release of pent-up demand in the letting sector, according to ARLA Propertymark’s CEO David Cox. 

“There’s clearly a massive amount of pent-up demand in the market. Our message is just put everything on pause – don’t cancel it. The first Friday out of lockdown is probably going to be one of the biggest moving days in the lettings industry’s history,” he said during a webinar hosted by Goodlord yesterday.

Cox went on to caution against forgetting wider legislative changes scheduled for 2020. “Sooner or later, the government is going to go back to its normal course of business”, he warned, citing the need to be prepared for the abolition of Section 21, Electrical Safety Regulations on new tenancies – which he noted would still be coming into effect on 1 July – and the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA).

He also believes this crisis will drive further legislative change that landlords and agents must prepare for and urged the industry to be proactive. 

Cox continued: “[Post-crisis] I think they’re going to be looking at more regulation of landlords. I think we will go into a much tougher regime on property standards. We are trying to get out ahead of that with the concept of a property MOT; if we can try and shape what comes next, it’s going to be much easier for the industry to accept than to have a whole collection of laws thrown at us like we have over the past 10 years. Let’s get out in front of it, so we’re on the front foot.”

Long-term, Cox believes this crisis “is going to change the market quite significantly”, with many of the old ways and industry habits falling by the wayside as a result. 

Link to original article

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