We hope you can make it to the next FREE Sandwell Landlord forum.
If you are wondering about the graphic, the question you can guarantee myself and Liz will get asked at forums is – ‘Why don’t we get biscuits with the coffee anymore?’ So with great resourcefulness and some financial wizardry, not at the Council Tax payer’s expense, Liz has secured biscuit funding.
The forum, co-hosted by the National Landlords Association will be on 21st March. Following several requests from landlords, as an experiment, it will be an evening session. Depending on the turn-out, we will then look at whether we might want to have future forums in the evening. Also please note the change of venue from Sandwell Council House at Oldbury to Smethwick Mencap Social Club.
The agenda hasn’t been finalised yet – but the star turn will be Mary Latham of the National Landlords Association talking about changes in the law and housing regulations. Biscuits or not, its worth coming just to hear Mary, not just because she’s an excellent speaker, but there is an awful lot happening in housing that landlords need to know about and Mary is the person to cover it.
We will post the final agenda closer to the date. Hope to see you there.
The Housing and Planning Act 2016 amended the Housing Act 2004 to provide an alternative to prosecution of any offences as outline in the 2004 Act. The amendments allow a civil penalty to be imposed by a local housing authority. The amount is to be determined by the local housing authority with a maximum set at £30,000.
The proposed charging system therefore specifies a civil penalty of £5,000 for a first offence rising to £30,000 depending on the circumstances of the case. The consultation is taking place to receive your views on the proposed charges to view the full consultation please see here.
For example, a landlord with no previous convictions who failed to comply with an improvement notice where the tenant was vulnerable or significant harm occurred as result of housing conditions, would receive a basic penalty of £5,000 with a £2,500 premium because of the impact on the tenant. If the landlord could demonstrate their income was less than £440 per week the £7,500 penalty would be reduced by 50%. If the landlord repeated the offence the basic penalty would be £15,000 plus £2,500 impact premium.
At the upper end of the range of penalties, a landlord who failed to obtain a licence for a house in multiple occupation would receive a basic penalty of £10,000 for a first offence, and a second offence would attract a penalty of £30,000, with a 50% reduction for income below £440 in either case.
We blogged a little while ago about major changes in European Union Data Protection law which come into effect this May. These are known as GDPR. They affect just about anyone who collects or handles people’s personal data. But we don’t think the message is getting through, so here is a not very subtle reminder.
GDPR will have massive implications about how you collect, receive, store, share and handle information about your tenants and clients. The penalties if you get things wrong can be massive. If you handle people’s data (and that can be very broadly defined!) you really should familiarise yourself with these changes.
It’s a massive subject – and will affect different types of organisations, companies and private landlords in different ways, so I’m not going to even try and summarise it. But here are some links to start you off. For companies – the Informaiton Commissioner’s Office is probably the best first step. For smaller, private landlords (even if you own just one property) – please see here though I should make our standard disclaimer that as this one is not a government or council website, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information it contains. Most of the professional landlord organisations or trade groups for lettings/estate agents are starting to put information up on their respective websites –so there is plenty of information out there. Get googling.
The changes will also have major effects on how we do things at the council. We are cuirrently working hard to get all of our procedures and practices up to date in readiness and we will use the blog to let you know what this means for you and your tenants as the information becomes available.
Apologies for being repetitious – but this one is important. We blogged recently on the proposed changes in the licensing rules for House in Multiple Occupation.
Although we are still awaiting confirmation (and we are trying very hard to get this) it seems that the changes might take effect more quickly than expected, with the licensees being introduced in April this year. Primary legislation is not required so the government may be able to implement the changes more quickly than we were expecting. However, there is likely to be a six month grace period, which means you can apply for a license from April, but will only start facing penalties for not possessing one from October 2018. I would stress though (please note the emphasis here) that the grace period itself is still subject to confirmation so watch this space.
I know that it’s not the best practice to put out information, without having the facts but we do need to try and raise some awareness. So if you are an HMO landlord – apologies for the lack of hard detail for now – but do please start thinking about this issue. April (or even October) is closer than you think and you might need to start factoring license costs (even if annoyingly we don’t yet have any figures for what they might be) into your immediate financial planning. And you should definitely be thinking about room sizes right away if you have an HMO with smaller rooms or are in the process of planning one. The standard will be:
Rooms used for sleeping by 1 adult will have to be no smaller than 6.51 square metres, and those slept in by 2 adults will have to be no smaller than 10.22 square metres. Rooms slept in by children of 10 years and younger will have to be no smaller than 4.64 square metres.
There is a very good article looking at the background of the room size issue here . I have to say that as this link is not to an official council or government website – we can’t vouch for accuracy and do not necessarily agree with the author’s opinions – but you will probably find it worth read.