Thursday, 28 August 2014

Council bills rogue landlord £10,000 after it tears down his £750-a-month ‘bed in a shed’

A London landlord who let out an outbuilding as a “bed in a shed” for £750 a month has been billed the £10,000 cost of knocking it down by the council.

Hillingdon council gave the rogue landlord three months to evict the couple who lived there and pull the building down himself.

When he ignored the request the council demolished the property, in Hayes, after the tenants voluntarily moved out. The council estimates the cost of the work at £10,000.

A council spokeswoman said: “Hillingdon council has demolished another illegal outbuilding that was being used as a ‘bed in a shed’ after a rogue landlord failed to comply with a planning enforcement notice. The council’s planning enforcement officers took action to demolish the outbuilding at the rear of a property in West Drayton Road, Hayes, and will recover the costs incurred.

“An enforcement notice had been served on the owner and occupier of the outbuilding, and they were given three months to comply. They were ordered to stop illegally renting [it] out and to then demolish it.

“After failing to do so the council intervened and took on the work, after the people living there voluntarily moved out.

“This enforcement work is part of an ongoing project to clamp down on beds in sheds. The council has a special taskforce of officers dedicated to investigating and taking action against rogue landlords.”

Councillor Keith Burrows, cabinet member for planning, transportation and recycling, added: “The council takes these matters very seriously and we will not sit by and watch rogue landlords making an illegal profit by offering such pitiful accommodation.”

Click here to read the original article: "Council bills rogue landlord £10,000 after it tears down his £750-a-month ‘bed in a shed’"

Friday, 22 August 2014

Landlords evict for good reason

A major new survey has put paid to the stereotype that landlords are keen to evict tenants, proving that they do so only for significant reasons.

Despite recent publicity in relation to ‘retaliation evictions,’ in which landlords allegedly evict tenants out of spite after they have asked for repairs, the new research by the Residential Landlord’s Association (RLA) suggests that landlords are far more reluctant to evict tenants than they are made to seem. 

The survey of 1,760 landlords found that 56 per cent were forced to evict tenants from their properties. 

However, the majority of these were for reputable reasons. 90 per cent carried out evictions for rent arrears, whilst 40 per cent did so for damage to the property. 20 per cent of landlords had to evict tenants due to drug related activity.

Whilst 30 per cent of landlords did evict tenants in order to gain repossession of the property, this was done largely for personal reasons as opposed to revenge, thus showing that landlords aren’t the villainous figures they are often portrayed to be.

RLA chairman Alan Ward said: ‘We have been very concerned about claims that retaliatory eviction is a widespread practice, when there is very little hard evidence to back up those claims. 

As our survey underlines, the vast majority of evictions are down to rent arrears or anti-social behaviour. 

Landlords are being threatened with more regulation which would simply make it harder for them to evict bad tenants when they need to.’

He also expressed concern about the potential removal of Section 21 notices, which allow landlords to gain possession of a property at the end of a shorthold tenancy. 

Ward continued: ‘If landlords see Section 21 under threat they will withdraw from the sector. Landlords are frightened that they cannot evict tenants who are in rent arrears or who are guilty of anti-social behaviour easily and cheaply. We still have complaints that even under Section 21 there are costs and delays involved in obtaining possession.’

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Large number of renters have never met their landlord

30% of private tenants deal only with their letting agent and have never met their landlord, new research conducted on behalf of mortgage and loan broker Ocean Finance has suggested. 

In comparison, nearly a quarter of these respondents (24%) work primarily with the letting agent but have met their landlord, and 46% deal with the landlord directly on issues concerning their home.

Across the country, London renters were among the most likely to only work with a letting agent, along with residents in the North East (36% and 38% respectively). 

The capital is home to the highest percentage of renters in England and Wales at 50% of all households in the city.

Ocean Finance says renters may want to speak with their landlords directly if there is a problem with the property, rather than having to wait to go through the letting agent to reach them. 

They may also see good communication with their landlord as part of the service they are paying for. 

On average, private renters spend 40% of their income on their rent, compared to the 20% of a homeowner’s income that goes on their mortgage.

Respondents aged between 18 and 24 years old were the most likely to rent their home and the most likely to have not met their landlord. 

38% of private renters in this age bracket revealed they only deal with a letting agent, compared to 15% of over-55s.

Ian Williams, spokesman for Ocean Finance, said: “It’s surprising that such a significant proportion of Brits who privately rent have never met their landlord. 

“Being able to get in touch with the person who owns their property may provide additional peace of mind to renters that they know where to turn for a speedy response should there be a problem with their home.”

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Landlords warned they may be required to check immigration status of tenants or face £3,000 fine in plan to tackle 'beds in sheds'

Landlords may be forced to check the immigration status of prospective tenants before allowing them to rent a property from next year or face a potential hefty fine, under rules in the new Immigration Bill.

The Government says it will enforce the stricter rules on one location in the UK in two months' time to check a tenant's right to be in the country - the location of which is yet to be announced. These rules could then be rolled out across the country.

Those who fail to check a new tenant’s immigration status could face a fine of up to £3,000 if the slip-up means they have someone in their property who is in the country illegally.

The measures are part of the Government’s work in tackling rogue landlords who provide substandard or illegal accommodation, with stories of low-paid immigrants living in ‘bed sheds’ rife in certain pockets of Britain. 

Office for National Statistics data shows 85 per cent of migrants who have been in the UK for less than a year end up in private rented housing.

The rules may come as a shock for some landlords, particularly the army of 'accidental landlords' that has emerged following falls in house prices after the financial crisis that meant some owners could not sell and instead chose to let their property.

A new report from AXA has suggested 38 per cent of landlords fail to vet tenants.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors warns the move could create more red tape for landlords and letting agents. The charges may result in even higher administration fees for those moving to a rental home. 

Many private landlords already make checks on tenants' identity and credit status - but not all do. 

Darrell Sansom, managing director at AXA Business Insurance, said: ‘Landlords are under more scrutiny and subject to heavier legal penalties than ever before. 

‘HMRC launched a crackdown on landlords whose tax affairs aren’t in order this March, and May’s Immigration Bill introduced fines for landlords who fail to check a tenant’s right to be in the country. 

‘While legislation toughens, we need to make sure that enough is being done to inform and educate landlords.’

AXA has warned landlords that they are leaving themselves exposed to terrible tenants by failing to carry out basic checks, especially those who are ‘accidental’ landlords.

Its data shows there are 8.3million tenants in Britain, as more people choose – or are forced – to rent in the midst of soaring house prices.

But of this figure, 60 per cent admit to breaking rental agreement terms in the past, with 26 per cent of tenants having paid their rent late at some point, 18 per cent have kept pets without permission and eight per cent have sub-let to someone else, again without permission. 

At the most serious end of the scale, eight per cent of tenants admit to committing a crime on the landlord’s premises and a similar figure say they've had the police called to the property.

Landlords do carry a legal responsibility to ensure that their premises are not used for criminal purposes. Despite the potential for misdemeanours happening in their property only five per cent carry out a criminal record check, while a third never visit during the rental. 

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, landlords can face prosecution if a tenant is found to be producing cannabis or other banned substances on their property.

Last year, we highlighted a case of a landlord who rented out a property - to only be tipped off four months later that it was being used a cannabis factory.

And despite many landlords relying on rental income to cover expenses such as mortgage payments and basic living costs, few of them check if their tenants have the means to pay their rent. Just under a third of landlords carry out a credit check, ask for employer references or ask for references from previous landlords.

Tenancy agreements are also an important part of the picture, giving the landlord a firm foundation to evict non-paying tenants or claim damages for financial loss caused by the tenant. 

AXA found that landlords are getting better on this front – this year’s study revealed that 75 per cent of rentals are now based on a formal agreement, compared to just 52 per cent at the beginning of 2013. 

Darrell adds: ‘During the recession, we saw a significant increase in the number of accidental landlords – people who never expected to rent out their property, but couldn't sell a former home or needed the additional income. With a booming rental market, they aren't going anywhere. 

‘When you first start renting out property, you may not realise all the legal implications and duties involved. Last year, for instance, we found that a third of these landlords are, often inadvertently, breaking laws on safety checks, and a quarter have the wrong or no insurance.’

Elsewhere, AXA built a profile of the riskiest tenant in Britain by analysing the figures – male, aged between 18 and 25, in the £700 to £1,500 per month rental bracket and located in West Midlands.

Read the original article here: "Landlords warned they may be required to check immigration status of tenants or face £3,000 fine in plan to tackle 'beds in sheds'"

Friday, 8 August 2014

Mortgage and landlord possession statistics

Quarterly National Statistics on possession claim actions in county courts by mortgage lenders and social and private landlords.

The bulletin presents the latest statistics on the numbers of mortgage and landlord possession actions in the county courts of England and Wales. These statistics are a leading indicator of the number of properties to be repossessed and the only source of sub-national possession information. In addition to monitoring court workloads, they are used to assist in the development, monitoring and evaluation of policy both nationally and locally.

Click the links below to see the statistics.


Mortgage and landlord possession statistics: April to June 2014

Mortgage and landlord possession statistics: January to March 2014

Mortgage and landlord possession statistics: October to December 2013

Mortgage and landlord possession statistics: July to September 2013

Mortgage and landlord possession statistics: April to June 2013

Mortgage and landlord possession statistics: January to March 2013

Mortgage and landlord possession statistics: January 2011 to September 2012

Read the original article here "Mortgage and landlord possession statistics"

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

HMRC targets landlords

Landlords are set to receive a letter from HMRC if they are suspected of not having paid enough tax this year, writes Charlotte Lloyd.

The Sunday Telegraph reported that the taxman will send 40,000 letters over the next four months asking the recipient to arrange their affairs or risk receiving a large fine or criminal investigation.

Approximately 5,000 landlords have been sent the letters and a 30-day window to respond has been given.

Accountants have said that in the past year HMRC’s approach has toughened. It is understood that more people have been deployed to hunt down £500m underpaid each year.

Last October, a campaign to encourage landlords to come clean was launched by the taxman and accountants said that ten months on from the launch the Revenue has begun gathering information from a wider range of sources.

Mark Giddens, a partner at UHY Hacker Young, told The Sunday Telegraph: “It was not until April this year that the taxman sent out notices to letting agents in which they asked for details to be provided of everyone on their books.

“The housing benefit payments that go direct to landlords are also being monitored more closely. This information can be obtained through the local council’s records. 

“By investing all this time and effort they have certainty stepped up the pressure on landlords who are not declaring enough, and the letters are the next part of that.”

Lucy Brennan, a partner at Saffery Champness, told The Sunday Telegraph: “Those who let out a holiday home will not be registered to vote at that address.

“The Revenue has increasingly been using social media to look into cases where a holiday home is, for instance, being advertised to friends to ensure that the right amount of tax is being declared on that property.”

A spokesman for HMRC said the campaign website has had hundreds of thousands of visits but refused to disclose how many landlords have come forward since the launch.