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East Midlands Landlord Accreditation Scheme

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e-Bulletin Issue 5

Welcome to the fifth edition of the Landlord eBulletin.

A service for EMLAS landlords bringing you news and information on housing issues, legislation and training opportunities which we think you may benefit from.

Not an EMLAS landlord but want to receive the Bulletin, then to join our mailing list.

Note: EMLAS does not endorse products and services, but at times may bring to your notice services which may be of benefit or interest to landlords.

Ask the expert

Every issue, through our Ask an Expert feature, EMLAS landlords will be given the chance to ask a panel of experts their specific questions relating to all housing and property issues such as - landlord legislation, possession, tenancy deposits, property investment and tenancy management

EMLAS has teamed up with the Landlord National Property Group, some of you may already know from their Landlord Forum events. They have a wealth of experience in property investment and management and will be happy to share their expertise with our landlords.

To start the ball rolling here’s one question received by the EMLAS team and their response:

Question: I wonder if I could ask if you have any idea where I can find out the "rebuild cost per square foot" for a terraced house in Derby. My property insurance is due for renewal and it seems that this is the only 100% accurate figure for the value of the house, as opposed to current market value, but nobody seems to know how to find it.
I''m hoping you may be able to give me a lead!

Answer: There is lots of contradicting information out there but the only safe way to be sure is to get a surveyors report. If you bought your property using a mortgage this figure should be on the surveyors report or mortgage valuation.
I liked this quite easy to use website: http://www.home.co.uk/guides/mortgage_glossary.htm?calcre

However I have also been told the following:
a general rule is thumb is £125 per square foot outside the M25 or £150 per square foot inside the M25.
Hope this helps

So why don’t you put a question to our panel of experts. We will feature at least one per issue of the e-Bulletin

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Are you prepared for the new Benefits System?

April has seen the introduction a number of changes to benefits. Some of these changes will have an impact on Local Housing Allowance (LHA), which is used to assess new Housing Benefit payments to tenants.

Key changes introduced in April 2012

  • Five bedroom rate removed
  • Removal of excess payments
  • Increase in non-dependant deductions
  • Additional room for a carer
  • Cap on maximum LHA - £400
  • Shared room rate – age limit up to 35 years old

It is important for landlords who let to people reliant on benefits to keep the following points in mind.

Examine your options: ending a tenancy where benefits will not cover the rent may not be a good long-term solution. If you have no other option than to end the tenancy, make sure you explain this to your tenant and take them through the possession procedure.

Make sure you adhere to the legal procedure laid down in the Housing Act 1988 – it isn’t an option to ask a tenant to leave because they cannot afford to pay the rent nor to wait until the end of a fixed term contract and refuse to let them stay.

Illegal eviction carries severe penalties for landlords.

If you can absorb some or all of the rent loss:

  • try to find an alternative property for your tenant – either your own or from another landlord
  • or give your tenant time to look for alternative accommodation themselves
  • or accept the lower rent payment as a good tenant paying a lower rent might be a safer bet than one who could fall into arrears.

Landlords are going to face some hard business decisions over the coming year. In the meantime EMLAS will continue to represent the private rented sector views with Local Authorities, landlord organisations and Government bodies– to find ways to make sure the private rented sector survives because, without landlords, many more people will be homeless and that’s not good for anyone.

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New-look EPCs launched.

The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which has remained largely unchanged since its launch in 2007 has now undergone a major transformation in April 2012.

The major change has been to link the Green Deal message into the certificate. This means that it will now be clearer to consumers how to obtain finance to deliver long-term cost savings by installing energy-saving measures into their homes. A new feature details the top three actions that will make the biggest difference to the property’s energy efficiency and more importantly make the biggest savings. Green and orange ticks against each option will highlight whether Green Deal Funding will be available or not.

The new certificate must be used from April 6 onwards and there are a number of requirements for landlords in providing an EPC certificate for their properties. Below is an outline of these:

When must an EPC be obtained? An EPC is required for the following:

  • Individual house/dwelling - a self contained property with its own kitchen/bathroom facilities.
  • Self contained flats - each behind its own front door with its own kitchen/bathroom facilities (one EPC per flat).
  • Shared flats/houses - letting of a whole flat or house to students or young professionals.
  • Mixed self contained and non self contained accommodation – one EPC for each self contained flat/unit but no EPC for the remainder of the property.

An EPC is not required for:

  • Individual room in a flat or house (e.g. where a tenant rents a room so he/she has exclusive use of his/her bedroom and shared use of the kitchen toilet and bathroom)
  • Self contained accommodation such as bedsits
  • A room in a hall of residence or hostel
  • A lodger who occupies under a licence arrangement
  • Short term holiday accommodation

Please be aware that these definitions are subject to change by the Government. A landlord should check before deciding if an EPC is required.

What must the landlord do before marketing the property for rent?

Landlords who already have existing EPCs on their properties will not have to change them. If not the landlord or agent must commission an EPC before marketing a property. The regulations say that the EPC should be to hand within seven days, but that if this proves impossible, a further 21 days is allowed. Properties should not be marketed for rent or for sale if, after 28 days, there is still no EPC.

What must the landlord do before letting a dwelling?

The landlord must:

  • Commission and obtain an EPC from a registered assessor unless one is already available
  • Make a copy of the EPC available to any prospective tenant free of charge
  • Give the tenant a copy of the EPC before he/she signs the tenancy agreement (again free of charge). This applies even if they have already seen it
  • Prospective tenant/tenants must be shown/given a complete copy of the EPC including the recommendation report

When must an EPC be provided?

A copy of the EPC must be made available to the prospective tenants at the earliest opportunity. This means that they must be given the opportunity of looking at the certificate and reading it through.

As a minimum a copy of an EPC must be made available in this way to a prospective tenant:

  • When somebody requests information about the property
  • When someone makes arrangements to view the property
  • When someone makes an offer to rent the property

A copy of the EPC must be given to the tenant before the rental contract is entered into and the tenancy agreement is signed up.

What about tenancy renewals? An EPC is not required for the renewal of a tenancy with the same tenant. However, if there is a change in the tenants when the tenancy is renewed e.g. because one tenant moves out and is replaced by another. A copy of the EPC should be provided to the new tenant before they sign up.

There are fixed penalties for failing to provide an EPC/make one available when required. Breaching the rules on EPCs carries the risk of &pund;200 fines – probably around four times the price of most EPCs.

The National Energy Performance Certificate Register will be open to public inspection for the first time, enabling potential tenants and purchasers to look at properties that they might be interested in renting or buying. Having a clearer certificate may make it a tool which more tenants use when deciding their property choice.

For further information on the changes to EPC’s see the Government’s publication

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Unregistered gas installer puts lives at risk

An unregistered gas fitter has been prosecuted for illegally carrying out work on a house in Hucknall, putting residents'' lives at risk

Robert Metcalf (trading as Metcalf Plumbing), of Valeside Gardens, Colwick, pleaded guilty at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court to breaching Regulation 3(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and was fined £500 with costs of £200.

Mr Metcalf installed a new gas boiler at the Long Hill Rise property during August and September 2009, but following problems with the new boiler the customer contacted the Gas Safe Register to check his registration status. It was discovered that Mr Metcalf was not registered and should not have attempted to undertake such a job. The matter was passed to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for investigation.

HSE found there were a number of defects on the boiler. There was a lack of earth bonding, the pipework sleeve was not sealed where it passed through the wall and the flue was not sealed on the inside or outside of the building. In addition, the pressure relief discharge pipe was sited above a doorway onto a walkway which could have resulted in hot water being expelled onto the occupants.

In order to work legally in the UK, gas installers must be registered with the appropriate approved body. It is essential that homes and businesses check this before having work carried out to ensure the job is completed to a high standard and most of all, is safe.

Badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause fires, explosions, gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning. Our message to landlords is – check the engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card before letting them begin work and check the details online or by calling 0800 408 5500

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Dates for your diary……..

(please note attendance at any of the events listed counts towards your continual professional development)
  • Monday 16 April 2012. Northampton NLA branch meeting . 6pm at Hunsbury Hill Centre, Harksome Hill, Danes Camp Way NN4 9QX. For more information contact the NLA.
  • Monday 30 April 2012. Nottingham NLA branch meeting . 6.30pm at Novotel Hotel, Bostock Lane, Nottingham, NG10 4EP For more information contact the NLA.
  • Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd May 2012. .Landlord & Letting Show at The Lancastrian Suite, Gateshead. A comprehensive package of exhibition stands, informative seminars and advice clinic for landlords. Visit the Landlord & Lettings Show to book your free tickets.
  • Saturday 12th May.EMLAS Landlord Development Day training day for landlords. 9.30 - 4.30pm at the Kettering Centre Book your place on this free training course for EMLAS members.
  • Tuesday 15th May. Derby Landlord Forum CANCELLED.
  • Thursday 21st June, 6.30pm to 9pm NLA Loughborough Branch Meeting at Charnwood Lodge, 136 Leicester Road, Loughborough, LE11 2AQ. Parking available at venue. For more information contact the NLA.
  • Thursday 28th June.EMLAS Landlord Development Day training day for landlords. 9.30 - 4.30pm at the Denewood Centre, Nottingham. Book your place on this free training course for EMLAS members.

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