Private Rented Sector: Looking Back and Moving Forward

Rajiv Mehta, Asset Manager – Business Development, Young Group

Rajiv Mehta, Asset Manager – Business Development, Young Group

As 2014 is drawing to a close this PRSupdate article will focus on what has been happening over the past 12 months in housing and the Private Rented Sector, as well as a brief look ahead to 2015.

House Building

While the lack of housing stock is a current hot topic it has been encouraging to see statistics, released by the Government, which shows that house building has steadily been on the rise since the financial collapse of 2008.

The number of private dwelling construction starts for 2014 is set to exceed the 2013 levels by at nearly 25,000 units (106,750 in 2014 compared to 81,980 in 2013).

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‘Right To Rent’ Pilot Starts

'Right to rent' checks rolled out in West Midlands

‘Right-to-rent’ checks rolled out in West Midlands

Back in September the Government announced that, from December 1st, the West Midlands would be used as a testing ground for the new ‘right to rent’ checks.

From yesterday a landlord (or their lettings agent) who lets out property in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton will need to conduct ‘right to rent’ checks. This new initiative is part of the new Immigration Act 2014 and failure to comply – and thus let to a tenant who has no right to be in the UK – will result in a £3,000 fine per breach.

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Housing Minister Rejects Mandatory Client Money Protection

SAFEagent

SAFEagent

Following a request by SAFE Agent, urging the Government to amend the Consumer Rights Bill to include mandatory membership to a Client Money Protection (CMP) scheme for all lettings and management agents, the Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, has responded by stating that he has “…no plans to make CMP compulsory.”

A statement released on the SAFE Agent website, by John Midgley the Chair of SAFEagent, stated: “We are disappointed and will continue with our campaign…”

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Another Successful RESI

Cathy Fuller, Head Of Events at Property Week

Cathy Fuller, Head Of Events at Property Week

On September 10th the property industry’s best and brightest descended upon the Welsh countryside to attend the UK’s biggest property event, RESI 2014.

Once again we had more than 1,000 delegates in attendance networking, discussing the current state of the residential property sector and enjoying a full conference programme of opinion and debate, Chaired by Mark Eason, the BBC’s Home Editor.

Leading developers, researchers, financiers and politicians took to the stage to talk about the key issues facing the sector and I have collated some of the biggest talking points to come out of this year’s conference.

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Campaigning to Improve Electrical Safety in the Private Rented Sector

Phil Buckle, Director General of Electrical Safety First

Phil Buckle, Director General of Electrical Safety First

With an estimated 9 million people living in private rented accommodation, the Private Rented Sector (PRS) is a major and expanding element in England’s housing market. But such rapid growth brings its own problems, with safety a key concern and electrical safety a particular priority.

Around half of all domestic fires in Great Britain arise from electricity, killing one person each week, and well over a quarter of a million (350,000) are seriously injured by electricity each year.

In the PRS, if a landlord fails to ensure electrical safety in their rented properties then they can face significant financial risks from fires and invalidated insurance claims. Yet the regulations surrounding electrical safety are piecemeal and ambiguous – and poor electrics are often ‘invisible’, lying undiscovered until a serious accident occurs.

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In Conversation With… Bill Hughes

Bill Hughes, President of the British Property Federation

Bill Hughes, President of the British Property Federation

We are regularly in conversation with a plethora of leading figures in the property, investment, finance and charity sectors, many of whom are guest authors for PRSupdate. The purpose of this feature is to get them to discuss the topics and issues that are currently affecting the Private Rented Sector.

If you would like to take part in an In Conversation piece then please do get in touch with us.

Today we are in conversation with Bill Hughes, President of the British Property Federation.

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Landlords Lack Awareness of their Agent’s Professional Memberships

Property Academy Landlord Survey

Property Academy Landlord Survey

A Property Academy survey, which questioned 2,948 landlords, has turned up some interesting information in regards to landlord awareness of what professional memberships their chosen lettings agent hold.

Over half (55%) of the landlords that use a letting agent did not know whether that agent was a member of a professional body. Only 37% were aware if their agent was a member of the Association of Residential Letting Agents, the largest membership body in the lettings sector.

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Supporting Gas Safety Week 2014

Gas Safety Week 2014

Gas Safety Week 2014

Yesterday the Gas Safe Register kicked off their annual ‘Gas Safety Week’, a nationwide campaign designed to raise awareness of gas safety for the UK’s 23 million gas fuelled homes.

Gas Safety Week 2014 will be backed up with national advertising and media coverage as well as various events throughout the week.

The campaign hopes to get across its gas safety message as September is the time when many people will be turning on their boilers for the first time in preparation for winter.

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Time is Running Out for Letting Agents to Join a Redress Scheme

Time Running Out for Letting Agents to Join a Redress Scheme

Time Running Out for Letting Agents to Join a Redress Scheme

Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, has confirmed that October 1 is the deadline by which all letting agents in England must have joined an approved redress scheme (the Property Redress Scheme, Ombudsman Services Property and The Property Ombudsman).

It seems there will be no grace period, so agents operating in England (the obligations do not yet apply to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland) that are not already a member of one of the three schemes should quickly rectify that.

In 18 days any agents that has not signed up to a scheme will be breaking the law and can be fined up to £5,000.

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In Conversation With… Phil Buckle

Phil Buckle, Director General of Electrical Safety First

Phil Buckle, Director General of Electrical Safety First

We are regularly in conversation with a plethora of leading figures in the property, investment, finance and charity sectors, many of whom are guest authors for PRSupdate. The purpose of this feature is to get them to discuss the topics and issues that are currently affecting the Private Rented Sector.

If you would like to take part in an In Conversation piece then please do get in touch with us.

Today we are in conversation with Phil Buckle, Director General at Electrical Safety First.

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The Property Ombudsman Launches New Codes of Practice

The Property Ombudsman launches new Codes of Practice

The Property Ombudsman launches new Codes of Practice

The Property Ombudsman scheme has issued a revised Codes of Practice for sales and lettings agents in an attempt to further improve standards across both industries.

The Codes, which came into affect on 1st August August, are said to reflect developments in industry practice and legislative changes.

The Ombudsman applies the Codes of Practice when reviewing consumer complaints to ascertain if a registered agent has breached the required standard, which might result in the Ombudsman directing the agent to pay an award (up to the value of £25,000). The Ombudsman will refer serious Code breaches to TPO’s independent Disciplinary & Standards Committee, which has the power to fine or expel agents and engage with regulators such as Trading Standards and the Competition and Market Authority.

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Private Rented Sector Properties with Low EPC Rating to be Banned

Move to ban rental properties with low EPCs

Move to ban rental properties with low EPCs

In less than four years landlords will have to have made sure that all of their Private Rented Sector stock has been made energy efficient.

After April 1st 2018, as part of a requirement laid out in the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s two consultations on the Private Rented Sector Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard Regulations, a landlord will not be allowed to let out their property if it does not have a minimum EPC rating of an ‘E’.

The consultation also refers to April 1st 2016, from this date tenants will be able to request their landlord to carry out reasonable energy efficiency improvements to improve the properties EPC rating. The landlord can not refuse to carry out the necessary works if requested.

The consultation is currently seeking industry input on how to implement these regulations, which are part of the Government’s plans to reduce carbon emissions.

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In Conversation With… John Grimes

John Grimes, Managing Director, Drummond House Developments Ltd

John Grimes, Managing Director, Drummond House Developments Ltd

We are regularly in conversation with a plethora of leading figures in the property, investment, finance and charity sectors, many of whom are guest authors for PRSupdate. The purpose of this feature is to get them to discuss the topics and issues that are currently affecting the Private Rented Sector.

If you would like to take part in an In Conversation piece then please do get in touch with us.

Today we are in conversation with John Grimes, Managing Director at Drummond House Developments Ltd.

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Changes to Capital Gains Tax Target Non-Resident Sellers

Peter Sarney, Director, Felton Pumphrey

Peter Sarney, Director, Felton Pumphrey

The imposition of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on the disposal of UK residential property for non-residents came as a surprise to many people as the UK government seeks to level the playing field between those who are tax residents in the UK and those who are not.

Unlike many other countries, that tax gains on the disposal of residential property situated in their jurisdiction, the UK has not generally charged CGT on gains made by non-residents. The result of this is that a gain would either be fully taxable in the country of residence or escape taxation entirely.

The UK government considers this to be unfair and has proposed legislation to tax the gains on residential property of those who are non-resident in the same way as gains made by those who are resident.

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Number of Amateur Landlords on the Increase

Rajiv Mehta, Asset Manager – Investment, Young Group

Rajiv Mehta, Asset Manager – Investment, Young Group

According to a new report the level of amateur (part time) landlords, those who use their investment property to supplement their other income, have reached the highest ever levels.

The National Landlords Association (NLA) claims that amateur landlords now make up more than 70% of the Private Rented Sector and that they typically own around four properties.

Due to the current strength of returns seen in the rental market 25% of these amateur landlords are intending to add to their property portfolio with 40% planning to use buy-to-let financing to fund their lettings portfolio.

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