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Landlords Forum NUNEATON AND BEDWORTH BOROUGH COUNCIL - APRIL 2018

Welcome to the 2nd landlord forum eNewsletter - which we hope will be useful to you. All the information presented at the forums will be available via the links in this eNewsletter.

Shared Private Sector Housing Service

Nuneaton and Bedworth and North Warwickshire Borough Councils are now operating a Shared Private Sector Housing Service. If you have properties in either area then all inspections, licence applications and queries will be dealt with by Nuneaton and Bedworth.

Please contact 02476 376376 or privatesectorhousing@nuneatonandbedworth.gov.uk if you wish to speak with us.

It is hoped this will make it simpler for local landlords by only having to deal with one team and one set of uniform standards which will be harmonised over the coming months.

HMO Licence Fees & Extension of Licensing

The Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council HMO Licence Application fee has increased little since its introduction over 10 years ago. A proposal to review fees is shortly going out to consultation with it being proposed that the mandatory HMO licence fees are increased to cover the cost of issuing the licence.

An extension of the HMO mandatory licensing scheme also comes in to force from 1st October 2018. All properties will be subject to mandatory licensing if they meet the following criteria:

  1. It is occupied by five or more persons;
  2. is occupied by persons living in two or more separate households; and meets
  3. the standard test under section 254(2) of the Act;
  4. the self-contained flat test under section 254(3) of the Act but is not a purpose-built flat situated in a block comprising three or more self-contained flats; or
  5. the converted building test under section 254(4) of the Act.

This removes the current criteria that properties need to be at least three storeys before they become eligible for licensing and will encompass one and two storey HMO’s which meet the above criteria. Converted blocks of self-contained flats to which Section 257 of the Housing Act 2004 applies will continue to be exempt from the mandatory licensing scheme.

If you have any questions on whether this will apply to your property please contact the Private Sector Housing Team. The team will be writing to landlords who we believe may be affected by the change to ensure they submit their applications before October however the onus is on you to ensure you apply in time.

Civil Penalty Charges

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 introduced the concept of issuing civil penalty notices against Rogue Landlords who fail to comply with housing legislation as an alternative to criminal prosecution through the Courts. The amount of these civil penalties is due to shortly go out to consultation before adoption by Cabinet but is capped at a maximum of £30,000. These penalties are already in use in many parts of the Country and will be applied across all Warwickshire Authorities.

Minimum Energy Efficiency Regulations

Rented properties are required to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) completed within the last 10 years. A minimum EPC Band E must be achieved for new tenancies commencing after 1st April 2018 and for continuing tenancies after 1st April 2020. Privately rented domestic accommodation which has an EPC Band F & G should not be let after these times.

Landlords who flout this law will be subject to a fine of up to £5000 unless a valid exemption is entered into the PRS Exemptions Register. A consultation which recently closed proposed a Landlord Cap of £2500, a consultation response is currently being compiled by the Government.

If you are interested in training on this change there are companies available offering this service.

One of these is Elmhurst Energy

The Council have access to all EPC data throughout Nuneaton and Bedworth and North Warwickshire. We will be writing to those rented properties which are within Bands F & G to encourage them to improve the property before they are subject to a ban.

Mandatory Electrical Checks

A government consultation is currently open on electrical safety and the introduction of mandatory 5 yearly checks for privately rented properties. The consultation and further details can be found on the Government website.

New Enforcement Policy

An updated Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy covering Nuneaton and Bedworth is due to go to its Cabinet in May. A consultation will be issued shortly to which you are invited to review and comment. The Council will continue to work informally with landlords to try and resolve issues wherever possible. Landlord Banning Orders and Rent Repayment Orders will be considered against Rogue operators to ensure they do not have an unfair advantage over the majority of professional landlords we have in our local sector.

Rogue Landlords Database

A National Database of Rogue Landlords has been introduced which will allow local authorities to collate information on housing, immigration and various criminal offences. The information stored however will not be available to the public.

If you have any questions on anything described above then please feel free to get in touch with the Private Sector Housing Team - 02476 376376 or privatesectorhousing@nuneatonandbedworth.gov.uk who will be happy to assist.

General data protection regulation (GDPR)

Data protection is about to change dramatically with the introduction of the GDPR, and the housing sector needs to be aware of the implications.

Landlords and letting agents who handle and process personal data from tenants will need to understand their new responsibilities under the regulation.

Below are some links to further information on GDPR:

Preparing for the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) – 12 steps

Guide to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Residential Landlord Association guidance information on GDPR

Homeless Reduction Act update

From April 2018 the new Homelessness Reduction Act increases the requirement for Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council’s duty to help all eligible customers – rather than those with a ‘priority need.’

DWP – Universal Credit update

  • From January 01/01/2018 claimants can request a 100% advance of the initial monthly payment – this is repayable over 12 months
  • Since January 2018 requests for managed payments to landlords do not require authorisation from the claimant unless the claimant states they are in dispute with the landlord
  • From 14/02/2018 the initial 7 waiting days have been removed from Universal Credit
  • From 14/04/2018 claimants transferring to Universal Credit from Housing Benefit will receive an additional two weeks award of Housing Benefit to prevent possible arrears at the beginning of the claim and where a previous managed payment exists this will be put in place
  • Arrears requests have always been possible from landlords where there are 8 weeks or more worth of arrears. Applying for managed payments to landlords electronically is in development. The details can be found in the autumn budget statement in fig 7.3.

Preventing homeless improving lives (P.H.I.L)

The P.H.I.L project (Preventing Homelessness Improving Lives) was set up with the aim to identify tenants at risk at 2 months or more prior to eviction. The DCLG (Department of Communities and Local Government) have provided funding for this project and in part it will look to support individuals and families already in tenancies in the Private Rented Sector with the aim to sustain their tenancy and help tenants if they are experiencing difficulties whether it be personal or financial.

For further information there is a leaflet on the project and a flyer with information for landlords.

Properties to rent

If you are a private landlord or letting agent and have a property you are looking to advertise for rent, particularly that is suitable for customers on low incomes or claiming Universal Credit, please contact our Landlord Liaison & Development Officer on 02476 376300 or email - landlordforum@nuneatonandbedworth.gov.uk

We will soon be able to add the properties to a new website where customers can then contact you directly and we have a variety of options to assist with people accessing private rented properties.

National Landlords Association representative

Our NLA representative Mandy Bygrave who has been a great help over the years at the forums and helping provide speakers has unfortunately left the organisation.

I have been told we will get a new representative in due course and I will keep you posted.

You can still join for free as an associate member which is highly recommended.

Created By
Paul McArthur
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