National Landlords Association

Encouraging renting


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What do you think of private rental market statistics?

By Gary Trent, PRS Stakeholder Lead, Valuation Office Agency.

Statistics on the Private Rented Sector (PRS) can be an invaluable resource.  They give a real insight into sector trends and the wider market beyond our own experience. However, it’s not often there’s the chance to influence their development. however, an online survey running until the 20 April does just that.

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is running a user engagement exercise on the future design of our Private Rental Market Statistics (PRMS) for England.  We’d like to know what you currently use the PRMS for, and what changes are most important to you. If you’ve not seen the current PRMS then a good place to start is the PRM maps published on Gov.uk. They show median rent levels for studios, 1, 2, 3 and 4+ bedroomed properties by local authority area. A Statistical Summary  explains how we produce them, and what their current limitations are.

The PRMS are based on the rents from around 500,000 new, renewal and statutory periodic tenancies in England. All this rental information is provided on a voluntary, goodwill basis by thousands of letting agents, management companies and landlords; it’s like pulling together the pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle. We’re always keen to hear from anyone who would like to contribute rental information – every single piece of information we receive enriches the data we use to produce the PRMS.

The survey is open until 20 April 2016; you can view it here https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/NJZG6/. Get involved and let us know what improvements would make the biggest difference to you. Once the results are in, we’ll publish a high level summary of them on our Statistics webpage later in the year.

You can also find out more about VOA Rent Officers and the Valuation Office Agency on the VOA website.

 


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The National Landlords Association is on the lookout for two new Board members – could you be the one we’re looking for?

Carolyn Uphill, Chairman of the National Landlords Association (NLA).

The NLA represents private landlords across the United Kingdom, providing advice, guidance, professional development, and working to affect positive change for both its members and everyone involved in the private rented sector (PRS).  We are the largest representative body for private landlords, and currently work with over 66,500 landlords, 31,000 of which are paying members.

About the Role

To improve its effectiveness, market penetration, membership and commercial income, as well as to provide for fresh ideas and successors to the current directors and Chairman in due course, the NLA is seeking to strengthen its Board by recruiting up to 2 new Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) able to contribute to its ambitious growth and development plans.

The role of the Board is to develop strategies that ensure that the NLA is effective, robust, and financially capable of supporting its members, plotting an often difficult course through campaigns, support, advice, and the provision of best practice in the PRS.

NEDs need to remain abreast of legislation and issues affecting the PRS, have rational, independent and timely decision making abilities and to commit between 18 to 24 days per year to NLA business.

Duties will include attendance at Board meetings in London (normally 5 per year) plus associated preparation and fiduciary duties, for which a flat fee of £5,000pa is payable. In addition, NEDs may be co-opted to serve on one or more sub-committees and some special projects or events for which an hourly rate is payable.

About You

Commercial experience at director-level is desirable and the Board is particularly keen to identify a suitable candidate with a strong understanding of IT issues in a services environment.

Candidates will be, or have recently been, active in the private rented sector, preferably as landlords, or in a related and relevant way and be able to demonstrate a strong understanding of and empathy with the private individual landlord.

They must have a working knowledge of relevant company law and corporate governance. Sound presentation skills and media interview experience would be an advantage.

About the NLA

The NLA is committed to raising the standards in the PRS, countering the negative perceptions of the industry and reducing the calls for restrictive legislation which prevents growth, penalises the responsible majority, and adversely affects private renting for both landlords and tenants.

With a head office in the heart of central London and a committed network of regional representatives, the NLA is actively engaged in influencing policy and opinion, as well as building working relationships with the Government and Local Authorities on behalf of private landlords.

NLA members have access to and discounts for its numerous services, from a telephone advice line, landlord information library, as well as courses in professional development, legislation, and how to run an effective lettings business.

How to apply

If you’re interested in applying we’d love to hear what you can bring to the role. Email hr@landlords.org.uk for an information pack. The Closing Date for applications is 11th April 2016.


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Safeguard your rental income and get your Rent on Time

One of the biggest concerns for landlords today is arrears, and the potential income lost due to missed or late rent payments. The business of letting your property relies upon a working relationship between both landlord and tenant, particularly when income is so dependent on others.

Arrears on the rise

Cases of rental arrears are on the rise in the UK’s private rented sector (PRS). According to our research, 37% of landlords experienced rental arrears in 2015, and with a 4% increase in the incidence of arrears towards the end of the year.

In addition, as a recent article published by Property Wire points out, there are now 84,200 tenants who are more than two months behind on their rent. This means that, in 2015, the number of households facing financial difficulties rose by 10,200.

Naturally, the failure of tenants to keep up with rent payments can cause huge problems for them and for your ability as a landlord to operate a successful, profitable business, not to mention the wellbeing and future development of the PRS as a whole.

Secure your rental income with the UKs leading landlord association

To help landlords secure their rental income in the event of arrears, the National Landlords Association has launched a new service, Rent on Time.

When landlords register with Rent on Time, the NLA will manage the rent collection process, collecting rent directly from your tenants and paying it into your account on agreed-upon dates, even if the tenant fails to pay. In the event of arrears the NLA will work with your tenants to resolve any issues and, if necessary, will seek property repossession at no additional fee. Given the possible costs incurred from arrears and legal fees, Rent on Time could save you a potential £3664 a year.

With discounted rates for NLA members, Rent on Time offers a fully automated online ordering system, a dedicated telephone support line, and is available for both new and existing tenants.

Find out more here or just call 0203 819 8900 to discover how Rent on Time can protect your rental income and help your business thrive.

 

Reinventing Renting


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Get the most out of your lettings business with Reinventing Renting

Your ability to earn on an investment has a huge impact on your efficacy as a landlord. A worrying 17% of landlords experience difficulties in covering their costs and, in some of the worst cases, suffer losses. In light of these findings, how can you ensure that your business is successful, profitable, and above all rewarding for both you and your tenants?

At the NLA, we believe in educating, informing and equipping landlords with the very best in tools, advice and expertise to enable your business to grow and flourish. We are proud to support and represent the rights and needs of landlords across the United Kingdom, and all our members enjoy exclusive access to a wide range of services.

By becoming an NLA member you can expect to gain the edge over your competitors, make substantial savings, and gain a complete and thoroughgoing understanding of your rights and responsibilities as a landlord in order to be at the top of your game.

To demonstrate our commitment to helping you achieve success in lettings, we have recently launched our Reinventing Renting campaign. Over the coming months, we will be addressing the key concerns and issues facing landlords today, and will be providing a wealth of materials, guides and presentations to allow you to overcome them.

You will learn how to choose the right investments, improve your financial planning, expand your portfolio, reduce your exposure to risks, manage an effective and mutually beneficial relationship with your tenants and maximise your financial gains to truly get the most out of your business.

Right now we have a number of guides to download and presentations to view, all from topics such as growing your portfolio, meeting financial commitments, how to equip your buy-to-let property, the issue of rising interest rates, preventing loss from arrears, and also key advice and guidance on entering the private rental sector and making an investment that’s right for you.

Find out how we can help you transform your business at:  http://www.landlords.org.uk/reinventingrenting


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Is the grass always greener on the other side?

Matt Oliver, NLA Public Affairs Officer, on more evidence to suggest rent controls simply aren't the answer.

Matt Oliver, NLA Public Affairs Officer, on more evidence to suggest rent controls simply aren’t the answer.

Today’s publication of the interim report from LSE, commissioned by the NLA  debunks the myth that rent control is a golden bullet, easy to implement and guaranteed to work in the UK.

The launch comes on the day that the four Labour candidates aspiring to be leader (and potentially our next Prime Minster) go head-to-head in a live TV debate.  The Private Rented Sector (PRS) and housing is going to be top of the agenda, especially as Labour’s London Mayoral candidates are all advocating some form of rent control in the Capital as they pitch for votes in their separate election primary.  This is all despite the fact the Mayor has no such powers to implement such a scheme.

Rent controls are non-transferable policies

When it comes to the PRS, LSE’s report shows the grass definitely isn’t always greener. For example, the model cited for the policies advocated by Labour during the election was Ireland but, as the report concludes, the controls introduced in the last few years have had very limited effect.  In fact the country is experiencing a housing crisis, with rapidly rising rents and a near-standstill in new housing production.

Ah, but what about Germany?

Yes of course, Germany. This is often cited as the best example of a country with a stable PRS, yet LSE’s report found that the system of indefinite security and in-tenancy rent stabilisation has in the past been cushioned by low house prices and demand, something we don’t have here, whilst initial rents can be well above current market levels in high-demand areas. Meanwhile in San Francisco and New York it looks like the main beneficiaries of interventionist policies are older middle class households, with the young hardly getting a look in.

What’s the moral of the story?

Well, in a nutshell: rent controls sound great on the surface but the evidence points to the contrary. The NLA is a strictly neutral political organisation.  However, as Labour members listen to these proposals for the PRS and contemplate choosing their third leader in eight years, much like some do with Tony Blair (the only Labour leader to win three successive General Elections), they will remember that you often don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

*LSE’s final report, due to be published later this year, will examine London in more detail to see specifically how renters in the Capital would be affected by various proposals for change.


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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.

Licensing

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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