National Landlords Association

Encouraging renting

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How effectively do you manage your rental income?

Incoming Chairman Carolyn Uphill

“With proper planning and financial protection in place many could turn a failing business into a success and we’re urging landlords to explore the range of support the NLA can offer to help run a successful and profitable business”. – Carolyn Uphill, Chairman, NLA

Carolyn Uphill, NLA Chairman discusses the importance of planning and financial protection

Having looked at our recent research it is quite worrying that more than a quarter (27pc) of landlords who let out a single property break even or run at a loss, but with some good financial management and appropriate safety nets in place this can be avoided.

There are various reasons why a person becomes a landlord, from it being an investment opportunity to it being more beneficial financially to let a property than to sell. However if they are barely breaking even or are actually running at a loss landlords should step back and reassess how they are managing their business. It should be stressed that taking a professional approach to letting property and using all available help can make a huge difference.

Managing your portfolio

Keeping an eye on the outgoings as well as the income can be very useful in pinpointing any shortcomings. One of the many services that the NLA offers is our online rent management solution, Rent Manager. Like all of the NLA’s services, Rent Manager is designed by landlords, and aims to make the task of rent management much easier, saving you both time and money, no matter the size of your portfolio.

Using Rent Manger, which is free to full NLA members, allows you to:

  • Set-up different tenancies for all tenant and property types e.g. HMOs, student lets, LHA tenancies, full property lets etc.
  • Create rent schedules for tenants in properties/rooms
  • Enter and keep track of full and partial rent payments
  • Receive rent arrears alerts
  • Record all tenant communications

To see how the software can benefit you, watch a demo here or for more information about Rent Manager visit

Safety nets

After having put in place a rent schedule it will be much easier to act quickly and address any issues such as arrears. Leaving arrears for even a month or two without addressing it could come back and bite you as debt could potentially mount up to an unmanageable level leaving you out of pocket and with an even more difficult task of rectifying the problem without any further costs. We recommend that all landlords should budget for 10 months’ rent in a year in order to cover any periods of voids or arrears.

A tenant who can’t, or won’t, pay the rent is every landlord’s worst nightmare. Even when including a two month buffer in your budget, a landlord could still be faced with arrears, which is all the more concerning if the profit from the rental income is relied on for mortgage repayments. This is where a service such as the NLA’s Rent Protect could prove invaluable as it protects you if a tenant fails to pay the rent.

Rent Protect covers landlords for up to £2500 per month in unpaid rental income and it covers legal costs to help you in the recovery of unpaid rent.

This gives you peace of mind that you won’t lose out if your tenant can no longer pay the rent and will give you the time to consider your options.

For more information about Rent Protect visit

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Local council websites and the chamber of secrets

Rebecca Lambert Neu, on her brief time temping in the NLA’s Policy Office…

Who knew local council websites could be so frustrating? After spending a day and a half with the Policy Team at the NLA I could happily testify in a court of law to this fact.

I arrived at the NLA with a clear task: I had two days to compile a list of the Housing in Multiple Occupancies (HMO) licensing fees set by the various local councils across England. This was essentially googling every council in England’s mandatory licensing fee and putting it into a spreadsheet, which sounds pretty straight forward, no?

However, at least a third of the 300 plus council websites I had to look at did not have the licensing fee listed at all, or it was deeply entrenched into the site and listed with all other types of council fees. Now I’d like to think I’m not particularly stupid, and as a 16 year old I have grown up with the internet and generally can find my way around websites with relative ease. But after the 5th council website I got to where I could not find any relevant information about HMO licensing fees, I began to despair for those who were less technically minded than me, or those who didn’t know specifically what they were looking for and would be forever ensnared in their local council’s website.

So after my adventures online, I resorted to phoning councils themselves. This managed to take just as long as searching through the websites and in fact some councils seem to do as much of an extraordinary job at hiding their contact details as they do with hiding other important information. Once you find the number, the normal call-queue wait to be spoken to by a real person ensues. Apparently, very few general enquiry workers have actually heard of HMOs, and even fewer know which department to put me through to when I explain it. The average call was about six minutes, transferred through various departments and explaining again each time what a HMO was.

Why on earth would councils have such impossible websites?! Surely it’s in everyone’s best interest for information to be listed clearly?

So I issue a big thank you to England’s councils and highlight this as a prime example of just how vital good e-communication is in today’s world. As for the council phone call void, I don’t have a solution, merely a request for no pan flute music on holding lines any more.

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Right to rent checks are being rolled out – how will you be affected?

Matthew Oliver, NLA’s Parliamentary Officer, outlines what the changes will mean.

Matt Oliver, NLA Public Affairs Officer, explains the Immigration Act Landlords Scheme

Matt Oliver, NLA Public Affairs Officer, explains the Immigration Act Landlords Scheme

In a written ministerial statement, the government yesterday announced the areas where they will be piloting the Immigration Act Landlords Scheme.  This is the scheme where landlords are required to check the immigration status of tenants, as prescribed in the Immigration Act.

What do you need to know?

From 1 December 2014, landlords in these areas will need to check that someone has the right to live in the UK before letting a property to them. This includes landlords who take in lodgers or sub-let property.

Therefore, the right to rent checks will only apply to:

  • landlords in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton
  • all adults aged 18 and over living at the property (children under 18 will not need to be checked)
  • only new tenancy agreements starting on or after 1 December 2014

Landlords will need to see evidence of a person’s identity and citizenship, for example a passport or biometric residence permit. Copies of the documentation will need to be taken as evidence the checks have been carried out and retained for one year after the tenancy ends.

Importantly, if landlords let a property after 1 December to someone who doesn’t have the right to rent, then they could be fined up to £3,000.

The landlords code of practice

The Home Office have released guidance to support landlords with the changes. The Landlords Code of Practice explains:

  • if your property is affected
  • if any exemptions apply
  • how to carry out a right to rent check
  • what documents individuals can show you as evidence of their right to rent
  • when and how to request a right to rent check from the Home Office

Our thoughts

We have to take a practical approach to the issue and it would be fruitless to make any more sweeping statements about our opposition to the plans – we’re far past that point.

However, right to rent checks bring about significant changes for landlords, so we hope that the pilot roll-out provides an opportunity for the Home Office to test the changes and to understand the implications they will have on the process of securing private rented housing.

Combatting illegal immigration is important, but we’ve always been concerned that if landlords are made responsible for making initial immigration checks then the process must be simple to carry out. And on the face of it, the system for checking and verifying a tenant’s right to rent seems both practical and workable, but only where someone’s right to rent is clear cut. Where there is doubt, landlords will need to check with the Home Office which could take up to two working days.

The changes could therefore make it harder for tenants with question marks over their eligibility to rent property in the UK, regardless of their legal status to remain,; any delay to verifying the immigration status of a given individual will hinder the usually expedient process of securing a home in the private rented sector, thus making them less desirable to let to.

What’s next?

The Home Office expects to continue with the phased introduction of checks across the UK next year.  To advise the implementation and evaluation of the measures, the Government is convening a Consultative Panel, consisting of key stakeholders, including the NLA.

We trust that our presence and feedback to the panel on the first phase of the roll-out will be thoroughly evaluated and considered to ensure a smooth transition for landlords.

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Our new Housing Minister is keen to stress the positive role of the PRS

Pity the minister re-shuffled in July.  While you or I spent our summer holiday reading for pleasure, they resign themselves to packing a stack of briefing papers next to the must-read political biography and the highly recommended literary novel that they told the Sunday heavyweights were on their summer booklists.

CEO Richard Lambert on the NLA's meeting with the Housing Minister

CEO Richard Lambert on the NLA’s meeting with the Housing Minister

The new Minister for Housing and Planning Brandon Lewis doesn’t appear to have been tempted to slip a couple of thrillers surreptitiously into his suitcase.  When NLA Chairman, Carolyn Uphill and I met him yesterday, he was well on top of the subject – interested, engaged and keen to stress to us the positive role he saw the private rented sector playing in the provision of housing.

This was very much an introductory meeting.  We wanted to ensure Mr Lewis could put faces and names to the NLA when it came up in future, and that he had a sense of who we represent and what we are trying to achieve. Equally, we wanted to get a feel for how Mr Lewis was approaching the issues and to put some thoughts into his mind for the future.

Retaliatory eviction

We hoped that we would get some pointers on the Government’s attitude towards Sarah Teather’s private member’s bill on retaliatory eviction.  However, the Minister was carefully non-committal, saying that the Government was “not yet ready” to declare its position on the Bill.  Questioning whether there was the evidence that retaliatory eviction was as widespread as is often perceived, Carolyn Uphill stressed the importance the NLA and landlords in general attached to the no-fault possession procedure, and expressed our concerns over any call to reduce the flexibility section 21 gave to the market without good reason and sound evidence.

Model tenancies

We’ve been waiting through the summer for the launch of several initiatives which emerged from the Government’s response to last year’s Select Committee report, and he confirmed that we should see these shortly.  One of these will be a model tenancy agreement.  The Government’s aim was not to trump all existing tenancy agreements, but rather to change tenants’ understanding of how tenancies work, and raise awareness that longer tenancies are possible, and that they can ask for them.  This gave us the opportunity to outline the NLA’s recent campaigns which have highlighted the business benefits of long-term relationships between landlord and tenant.


More generally, we wanted to stress our concerns over the way local authorities are using the power to introduce discretionary licensing schemes.   Over the past year or so, we’ve seen more and more councils propose selective or additional licensing schemes, and some worrying trends have emerged:

  • The growing number of proposals for blanket borough-wide licensing
  • Poorly drafted consultations, based on flimsy evidence, which do not demonstrate how the case for licensing meets the specific criteria of problems caused by low demand or anti-social behaviour
  • The imposition of additional property or management requirements as conditions of licences
  • The absence of an independent check on whether local authorities have made their case and properly justified their licensing proposals, which means that there is no scrutiny of or check on how the powers are used – or in many cases, abused.

Brandon Lewis was very sympathetic to these points and said that he was “very aware of blanket licensing as an issue, especially in London”.  We pointed out that in reality licensing is a burden on the law-abiding, as they are the ones who accept the obligation, and pressed the case for accreditation as a method to filter out the responsible landlords from those who do not comply with the law or standards, who should be subject to more rigorous enforcement.

Further reading

All in all, it was a very useful conversation.  And I’m afraid we are going to add to his reading pile: we promised a couple of recent issues of UK Landlord for his red box.

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Ownership of Properties

Spofforths Chartered Accountants Student Induction Course at Spofforths in Horsham. Staff and student portraitsJo White, Tax Consultant discusses property ownership

I am often asked to advise clients on property ownership. The most common way to own property is in your personal name, whether on your own or with another person(s).  However, it is also possible to own a property in a company or Trust.

Where you own the property personally the profits generated are taxed on you.  Depending on your other income this could be at 20%, 40% or 45%.   A Trust is subject to income tax at a rate of 45% whereas a company is subject to corporation tax typically at 20%.

Whilst the rate of tax payable by a company can be lower than an individual there is a potential double tax charge.  Income Tax will be payable on any profits extracted from the company, however with careful planning your tax liabilities can be minimised.  Companies are also subject to tax on any profits made from the sale of the property at 20% as opposed to 28% for an individual or Trust.  However, the shareholders would then pay a tax charge on the extraction of these funds.

If as a landlord you are looking to reinvest any profits into new properties then it is possible that a company may be of benefit as you will not be incurring a double tax charge.  If you are a basic rate tax payer you may not benefit from the low company tax rate and personal ownership may give you more flexibility on the ultimate sale of the property.

It is also important to be aware of the other non-tax issues surrounding property ownership in different structures.  Raising finance, for example, can sometimes be more difficult in a corporate structure.

Whether you are a new landlord or have a portfolio of properties already it is important to get professional advice to ensure any decisions made reflect your personal circumstances.

Make sure you take full advantage of the tax saving opportunities open to you – call us today on

01403 253 282 or email Jo is presenting at the Worthing and Chichester NLA meetings on 8 October and 25 November respectively. Click HERE for more information.

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Magic Roundabout, or Puss in Boots?

Matt Oliver, NLA Public Affairs Officer, explains the latest government reshuffle

Matt Oliver, NLA Public Affairs Officer, explains the latest government reshuffle

It shouldn’t have escaped anyone’s attention that the Prime Minister recently made his most comprehensive reshuffle to date, just 10 months before Polling Day.  Barring any unexpected ‘events’, it’s clear this is the team that he wants to remain in place until May and convince the public to give the Conservatives a majority at the polls.

With this in mind, the promotion of Brandon Lewis to Minister of State for Housing and Planning, signifies a serious and welcome elevation for housing in current government thinking.

Mr Lewis has been promoted from his previous role as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (wonderfully abbreviated to PUSS).  He now combines the roles of former housing minister Kris Hopkins and planning Minister, Nick Boles, which have been separate roles since 2009.  The DCLG has said housing and planning were being combined as they are ‘two sides of the same coin’.  With Labour’s plans for the PRS, it is obvious that housing will be a massive battleground over the next few months, and the NLA welcomes this move by the Government.

At the same time the outgoing housing minister, Kris Hopkins, continues to ride the ministerial roundabout – taking on responsibility for local government and homelessness.

Whilst housing is an issue for which Government seemingly recognise the need to get on the front foot, it’s all change at the Department of Energy and Climate Change.  One of the most passionate advocates of green policy in the coalition government, Gregory Barker, has resigned as Energy and Climate Change Minister.  He is also to stand down from Parliament at the next election.

Despite their determination to “get rid of green crap” there is reason to be mildly optimistic of continued Government support for the Green Deal.  Responsibility for the project has been delegated to a junior minister in comparison, Amber Rudd, the new department’s new PUSS.  However, she has previously spoken highly of the project prior to its launch, and is known to be supportive of the PRS as a whole. It can only be hoped that the PUSS will put her boot to good use by kick-starting the much maligned project into life.

Time will tell…

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Revenge Evictions – The New Crisis That Isn’t

Richard Lambert Chief Executive at the National Landlords Association discusses the reality of section 21 notices

Shelter issued new figures recently suggesting there is a crisis in the private rented sector due to landlords evicting tenants for complaining about standards of their rented property –“revenge evictions” as they now call them. However, if you look more closely at these figures, their argument starts to unravel.

Retaliatory evictions

Shelter’s figures suggest there has been a rise in complaints concerning retaliatory or revenge evictions. The difficulty is how to prove that issuing possession proceedings really is an act of retaliation against a tenant.  Simply serving a Section 21 notice should not be classed as a revenge eviction. There are many reasons a landlord would need or want to serve one, and so long as they do it the right way, it is their right to do so for whatever reason they think fit. 

The overwhelming majority of landlords want their property occupied, rent paid and for their tenants to have a comfortable long-term tenancy. Like any other business they want happy customers and steady income. They’re not out for revenge; we don’t talk about any other service provider seeking revenge from their customers and there is no reason to suspect landlords are any different. 

Landlords want stable tenancies and NLA statistics show that most are. The average tenancy lasts just over two and a half years and in reality the vast majority of tenancy durations are terminated by the tenant, not the landlord.  When the landlord does terminate the tenancy, the cause more often than not is rent arrears. A property will inevitably have some problems during its lifetime as a rental property – indeed, a quarter of landlords’ rental income is spent on repairs and maintenance – but most would think evicting to avoid repairing creates two problems instead of one.  The repairs are still needed, but now there is a void, so no income coming in.

Seeking possession can be an expensive business, often stressful for the landlord as well as the tenant.  Nor is it automatically the best business option.  Ending a tenancy, re-marketing and letting all cost.

Crisis it is not

 We are all worldly enough to know that retaliatory evictions do happen, and it is terrible that anyone should lose their home due to the poor, or even criminal, behaviour of their landlord.  Nevertheless, the NLA does not believe that the figures cited by Shelter represent a ‘crisis’.

Their figure of 7,600 renters at risk of eviction equates to 0.19% of renters in England (9m), implying that that 99.81% are not experiencing these problems. 

Furthermore, the 4,000 renters ‘losing their homes’ represents 0.1% of households in England who rent privately. You have to question whether one tenth of one per cent of tenancies coming to an end is an indication of market failure.

The question remains: is a failure rate of between 0.1 and 0.19% of the market a ‘crisis’? A situation which needs improving, yes, but ‘crisis’ is stretching it too far. 

Councils to tackle the issue

The one thing we can agree with Shelter on is that there are some bad landlords, who may end a tenancy if they think they can get away with a new tenant putting up with the problems, and these landlords need to be tackled. Councils need to target bad landlords and force them out of the private rented sector. It is down to local and central government to prosecute publicly and effectively to make it clear that ignoring property standards is already illegal. 

Public prosecutions can really help to drill home that bad practice is unacceptable and that there are consequences. Unfortunately, in 2012, fewer than 500 landlords were prosecuted; compare this with the 155,000 people prosecuted for not having a TV licence. Councils should also receive a proportion of prosecution fines in order to incentivise future enforcement activity to protect tenants from the few who think they can get away with poor or illegal property practices.


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