More news items for you on a Friday.
Vouchers for landlords to fund energy efficiency improvements
Most people are pretty underwhelmed by the Chancellors mini-budget on Wednesday but he did at least promise some help with much needed green upgrades to properties.
Namely, a two billion grant scheme that promises landlords (and home-owners) vouchers worth up to £5,000 per household to spend on making properties more energy-efficient, while for those on the lowest incomes, the scheme will fully fund energy efficiency measures of up to £10,000 per household.
Which. could, the Treasury claim, support more than 100,000 green jobs and help to strengthen a supply chain that will be vital for meeting the target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The measure has been welcomed by the NRLA, Ben Beadle, chief executive saying:
Improving the energy efficiency of rental housing is good news for tenants, landlords and local economies.
We encourage all landlords to make use of this as it will mean housing standards are improved, tenants will save money and it will reduce carbon emissions across the whole sector.
Peter Earl, head of energy at comparison website comparethemarket.com, said:
Building greener homes is an essential part of creating a more sustainable future, and this grant is a tentative step in the right direction.
Lower household bills, annual savings for millions of households, and a greater focus on measures that help our planet are all welcome news for households across the UK.
However, it’s important to put the amount pledged into context; whilst it is enough to upgrade 650,000 homes, this only represents 2% of all households in the UK.
Quite. We need more of this.
It looks as if you will be able to apply for your voucher from September.
Other mini-budget benefits for landlords and agents
Landlords looking to buy will be pleased at the news of a temporary suspension of SDLT for property transactions up to £500,000, which will apply to a large percentage of property, maybe up to 90%.
So that will reduce expenses and encourage people to buy now.
Agents and landlords with staff who have been furloughed will be able to claim a £1,000 bonus in the Chancellors job retention scheme. To be eligible employees will need to:
- earn at least £520 per month (above the Lower Earnings Limit) on average for November, December and January
- have been furloughed, and at any point and legitimately claimed for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- have been continuously employed up until at least 31 January 2021.
Payments will be made from February 2021.
Nice if you were going to keep them on anyway but maybe not sufficient to persuade you to keep on staff you were going to let go after the furlough scheme ends.
Welsh landlords cannot serve possession notices if unlicensed
This is the case of Jarvis v. Evans which confirmed that Welsh landlords must be properly licensed under the Rent Smart Wales system to be entitled to serve a valid possession notice on tenants.
We published a report on this here written by one of the barristers in the case so I will say no more here.
Prohibition order served on jailed former agent
A prohibition order has been served on convicted and jailed fraudster Andre Peter Montaut which will prevent him from ever working in estate agency again. Prohibition and warning orders are valid indefinitely unless varied or revoked.
Montaut had run a sophisticated scheme where he stole deposit money to prop up his failing business. The Judge, when sentencing him in August 2019 had said
his was a sophisticated fraud. You hoodwinked the staff at the My Deposits scheme, and produced and signed false bank statements. You were doing this for personal gain, in that the money was used to prop up the company you were working for.
You thought nobody would lose out, but as you know, in business things can change quickly, and a lot can go wrong in 18 months.
I am therefore sentencing you to 25 months in prison, which cannot be suspended. I am further barring you from holding a directorial role in any company for five years.
So good news that a crook has been rightfully punished. The question still remains of why it took so long to bring him to justice.
Leading Tory speaks up for landlords and the rental sector
Landlords will be pleased to learn that at least one politician understands their problems and does not view them all as massively wealthy and so able to live with no income.
Baroness Altmann of Tottenham (Ros Altmann) has written on the Conservative Home website that while she supported the eviction ban in principle she has recognised that this has created problems as well as provided solutions, saying
I do wonder whether the Conservatives need to do more to show support for some of the landlords (especially small ones who own only one or two properties).
Many may have been relying on rental income for their retirement or other purposes and are struggling to pay their own bills, while their tenants are not paying rent, or are causing damage and disturbance. Even in such cases, all landlords are currently powerless to take action to protect themselves.
She makes a number of suggestions:
- Government should “clearly re-state ” that rent should be paid and not encourage tenants to withhold rent due the pandemic, pointing out that “denying people any income from their properties is unsustainable, and possibly illegal”
- Government should offer landlords and tenants additional support, to help prevent evictions
- Government should urgently consider Court reforms so that possession cases are heard more effectively and speedily, and finally
- have clear plans to deal with the rental market if localised lockdowns are required to combat future Covid-19 outbreaks
She ends by saying
Conservatives … need to bear in mind the political realities, and must avoid causing long-lasting problems for landlords.
How an agent speaks to you is influenced by your accent
This is the unsurprising result of research by the University of Sheffield’s School of Languages and Culture who tell us that there “could be a level of unconscious bias in the way estate agents deal with their customers”.
At least among the 300 agents, the researchers called in Sheffield.
Its seems that agents are more likely to be friendly if you have a British or French accent and least likely to engage if you are from Romania (unless perhaps you are a nurse in the NHS).
The research was among estate agents but I suspect letting agents won’t be any different.
So if you are a Romanian looking for property in Sheffield and having a hard time, maybe get some speech training to improve your accent and see if it makes any difference. I bet it does.
Kind landlord gives bonus to tenants
A story about a landlord, John, who gave his tenants a £50 bonus with their returned deposit at the end of their tenancy to spend on ‘something nice’ as a ‘thank you’ for looking after his property so well has it seems gone viral in twitter.
Proving that not all landlords are nasty.
However, the trouble about this sort of thing is that tenants will then start to expect it …
- New app helps keep lone workers safe
- Government urged to rethink rules on insurance policy pay-outs
- Wouldn’t it be great for British town centres if people could just move into closed shops?
- £40,000 fines for unlicensed HMOs as council hunts for offenders
- Cartel director disqualification – judgement published and costs awarded
- Government urged to give young renters a break
Newsround will be back next week.