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The blog is back from its summer holidays

We have a busy period with a lot of important changes in housing coming up, which we are going to try and cover in as much detail as much as possible at the next landlord forum on 28th September.

Those issues include:

  • The extension to HMO licensing
  • A new regime of civil penalties for landlords breaching the law
  • Possible selective licensing for private rented accommodation (not just HMOs) This could mean your properties.
  • The long awaited roll-out of Universal Credit in Sandwell, which is happening this November.

We will have experts from the DWP present to answer your questions about protecting your rent money and what to do when things go wrong.

The forum will be 2pm until 4.30pm 28th September at Sandwell Council House in Oldbury. I hope you can make it. (We realise that on a Friday afternoon, some people might not be able to stay till the end – if you need to sneak out early, that’s fine. We’ll still be very happy to see you).

I also want to mention a change for landlords who currently have tenants receiving Housing Benefit who might have an overpayment. Where a tenant is overpaid, but continues to receive HB, we will recover the overpayment by deductions form their ongoing entitlement. However – if their entitlement stops – we will send them an invoice. They can pay back the debt by instalments and we now offer them the facility to do this by Direct Debit.

Setting up a Direct Debit means they are far less likely to miss a payment – so they can keep up to date, which is in everyone’s best interests.

If you are a landlord or a housing or advice worker dealing with tenants you have an overpayment issue, please direct them to our webpages where they can see all the repayment options.

And of course it’s always best for everyone if the tenant tells us promptly about any changes in their circumstances so that the overpayment doesn’t happen in the first place!

Oliver

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Gas safety – and the blog’s going on summer holiday

We are fast coming up to Gas Safety Week, which is a key reminder about really essential safety issues for any landlord with a property using gas, which means just about every landlord.

I’m not going to go into detail here, I’ll just shout out the key reminders:
• Only ever use a Gas Safe registered engineer
• Make sure your gas safety certificate is always up to date
• Never put off dealing a with any safety issue concerning gas. Just don’t!

For more information though, please see the Gas Safe Register website.

On a happier note, your two blog editors, myself and Liz are about to go on our summer holidays so you won’t see any blogs for a week or two.

Just for clarity – our respective holidays are in two separate countries!

Oliver

Houses in multiple occupation

This is a technical post on the new legislation about Houses in Multiple Occupation. If you’re not interested in HMOs –stop reading now, just as long as you are certain that none of the properties you are responsible for won’t come under the new law.

If you are interested in HMOs – keep reading.

The government has released a guide for local authority staff who will be responsible for enforcing the new legislation on HMOs. It’s a publically available document on Gov.UK that any one can read. I had intended to write a short summary of the guide, picking out key points, but I think that any HMO landlord will probably find it worthwhile to see the whole thing.

That does get me out of doing some work for you – but the guide is quite short and clear. So please do have a look.  You can find it here

It covers everything just about everything you need to know but one thought to take away – and I’ve copy and pasted directly from the guide . . .

“Landlords of HMOs that fall under the new definition will be committing a criminal offence if they fail to apply for a licence or a temporary exemption by 1 October 2018.”

Oliver

 

 

Forum reminder

Just a reminder, our next landlord forum is on Wednesday next week. (Please see flyer below).

The agenda includes Mary Latham of the National Landlords Association (who are joint hosts  or the event). Mary will be talking about changes in housing law and the general picture for our sector. If you have heard Mary before – you’ll know just what a good speaker she is. If you want to stay informed about what’s happening in housing – you need to listen to Mary.

We will also be talking about the General Data Protection Regulations – which represent a major change for landlords of whatever size. This is an issue you simply must make sure you are informed about or you could face some really serious consequences. The other big change covered is the Homelessness Reduction Act and our response.as council.

Please note the change from our usual venue (on flyer below)  – and that this will be an evening session. It will start from 5.30 and formally kick off at 6.00.  If you are able to come, please confirm you attendance by email to Tina Dolan tina_dolan@sandwell.gov.uk  Look forward to seeing you there.

At the same venue, starting earlier in the afternoon and leading into the forum, , landlords are also invited to a separate event hosted by our friends at Brushstrokes. If you don’t know them, Brushstrokes are a leading local charity offering support to migrants – include support with housing and they are interested in the views of private landlords on this issue. For more information – contact Megan Megan@brushstrokessandwell.org.uk

Oliver