What Have We Learnt In 2020?

We are hoping to have Jonathan McDermott from TPX at our next meeting but we are still working the details. Whether we manage to get him or not, we thought you would like to see his summary of the year, taken from his Facebook post... 

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New UK 10-point Climate Change Plan Weak On Housing

Over recent months we have heard much talk of the governments 10-point climate change plan and have seen elements of it, such as the introduction of the Green Homes Grant (see our comments on that here). This month, we finally have the full list of 10 areas of focus. Read on for our explanation of the plan and what it means, if anything, for landlords.

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Personal Landlord Data – PCC Do The Right Thing (Finally)

Members will know that we have been campaigning for the past 8 years to convince Portsmouth City Council (PCC) to stop sharing HMO landlords private addresses and contact details with any one who asks. We have had some successes, but also recent setbacks – but the good news is that PCC finally seem to have got the message and are fulfilling their duty to protect our personal data.

PCC Quote: "disclosure would cause us to breach the First Principle of the Data Protection Act. On this basis, we are unable to disclose this information as part of your request"  Thank You PCC!

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Could the cladding scandal be the right target for an economic stimulus?

In this guest blogpost, Charlie Jameson, a leaseholder affected, discusses the cladding crisis, and identifies a need to assess the costs/ benefits of a 'Fire Safety Remediation Plan.'

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B&Q TradePoint January Offer

If you missed it, don't forget that B&Q Tradepoint are offering 20% off kitchens, bathrooms and some other items for members using their PDPLA Tradepoint cards.

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The Path To Carbon Neutral

Fareham Council followed Portsmouth, Southampton, Reading and others last month in stating that it wanted all of its activities to be carbon neutral by 2030. Portsmouth City Council has been on this path for a while, installing solar panels on schools and other public buildings, housing blocks and other properties throughout the city since 2016.This month, Portsmouth became the proud owner of the UK's largest operational Tesla Powerwall installation.

But what is a Powerwall, should you care and what does it mean for local landlords? 

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Landlord Licensing Data Still Being Abused

Many local landlords are receiving letters from unknown businesses in direct contravention of GDPR regulations stating, "we got your details from the Portsmouth HMO register" even though the landlords no longer have Licensed properties and never gave PCC permission to share their data.

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Fire Safety - Landlord Sentenced After Tenant Death

We have no evidence of any similar landlords locally, but recent cases nationally serve as a reminder that fire safety is not something any landlord should be casual about - it would be nice if the rules were clear and up to date but there is no excuse for ignorance or lax interpretation of those rules as one Luton landlord found after a tenant died in a fire in his HMO.

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Ensuite HMO's Taxed As Individual Dwellings

A member and owner of a shared (HMO) property in London Road, Portsmouth has lost an appeal against the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) decision to charge Council Tax separately on each room in the property.

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Green Grants Impossible To Access

We have had several members complaining about the difficulty of finding an installer to undertake work under the Green Grant scheme and PCC  have confirmed that installers are focussing on ECO  to get 'quick wins'.

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Flat Roof Insurance Issue Sorted

After raising the issue of new insurance checks on flat roof surfaces back in August (see it here), we are pleased to say that, via our preferred broker Alan Boswell, we have convinced insurers to change their approach on this issue.

We recommend members check the wording on their renewal 'Schedule', especially if you have an Aviva 'property owners' policy. 

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LADS funding available for heating and insulation

If you have a property that is EPC band E or worse and the tenant/s income in that property is no more than £30,000 per year, then you really need to take advantage of the Green Homes Grant. We have stated before that for most homes this appears to be targeted at too narrow a segment, but if you have a property that falls into that segment you really do need to take advantage of it.  

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HMRC Goes After Airbnb Hosts

HMRC have announced that Airbnb has agreed to share data about its hosts and their earnings. We see this as good news as the 'amateur' hosts have flooded the market with property at marginal prices, making it harder for professional landlords, who incur all the costs of running a business professionally as well as paying taxes on revenue or earnings, to compete.  

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Premium Student Halls Take Covid Hit

It was no surprise when the Serviced Accommodation and Holiday Let sectors bombed during lockdown, but local landlords have been waiting with bated breath to see who suffered in the wider market - especially those of us who are student landlords.

Now we know the answer, it was the top end of the independent student halls market,  with the Registry in St Michaels Rd and the old library in Elm Grove both filing for change of use from student halls to interim accommodation for the homeless.

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HMO’s – Can 139 Local Residents Be Wrong

 It was with some incredulity that we heard that there had been 139 objections to the conversion of 2 derelict shops in Stamshaw to HMO's. We consider it hypocritical that the local authorities know they need shared housing in the city, the Local Plan talks about 'mixed and balanced' communities, Housing Options place formerly homeless tenants in them yet councillors continue to encourage the demonisation of HMO's by local residents and do nothing to explain the bigger picture or allay their fears.

This against the backdrop this week of a property in Cosham, much needed to house overseas nurses drafted in to cover staff shortages due to Covid, also sitting empty due to issues with the 'change of use' required before it can be used as shared accommodation.
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