Category Archives: Landlords
IN-HOUSE COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE
We are committed to providing a professional service to all our clients and customers. When something goes wrong, we need you to tell us about it. This will help us to improve our standards.
If you have a complaint, please put it in writing, including as much detail as possible. We have eight weeks to consider your complaint. If we have not resolved it within this time you may refer your complaint to The Property Ombudsman, quoting our membership number NO1900.
What will happen next?
- We will send you a letter acknowledging receipt of your complaint within three working days of receiving it, enclosing a copy of this procedure.
- We will then investigate your complaint. This will normally be dealt with by the office manager who will review your file and speak to the member of staff who dealt with you. A formal written outcome of our investigation will be sent to you within 15 working days of sending the acknowledgement letter.
- If, at this stage, you are still not satisfied, you should contact us again and we will arrange for a separate review to take place by a senior member of staff.
- We will write to you within 15 working days of receiving your request for a review, confirming our final viewpoint on the matter.
If you remain dissatisfied, you can then contact The Property Ombudsman to request an independent review:
The Property Ombudsman Ltd
43-45 Milford Street
01722 333 306
Please note the following:
You will need to submit your complaint to The Property Ombudsman within twelve months of receiving our final viewpoint letter, including any evidence to support your case.
The Property Ombudsman requires that all complaints are addressed through this in-house complaints procedure, before being submitted for an independent review.
The Provision of Service Regulations 2009
Whites Independent Lettings have taken on new CMP cover to safeguard the money they handle for landlords and tenants.
You will probably have heard that the government plan to suspend evictions during the current COVID-19 situation.
We realise this will cause many landlords concern, with the potential loss of income. Many of you will have a mortgage to pay. It was previously discussed that homeowners should get a three month holiday on mortgage payments if COVID-19 was causing hardship. This has now been confirmed to apply to buy to let landlords as well. It is not yet clear if this will be enforced in legislation, like the possession suspension, but time will tell. If it is a voluntary code then the court would be likely to refuse possession during such a recommended suspension.
It is important to stress that the rent and mortgage rules “suspend” payment but do not remove the obligation to pay. In other words the money will accrue as a debt.
With tenants, landlords may not be able to seek possession on the basis of rent defaults in the short term but once the moratorium on section 8 notices is lifted then presumably landlords will give the tenants time to pay but a failure to pay may result in section 8 notice seeking possession and/or a Money Claim Online for the arrears
We will continue to persuade your tenant to pay what they can to avoid storing up a bigger problem for later. If your tenant loses their work as a result of the current situation, we will encourage them to seek to apply for whatever benefits they are entitled to. This will again reduce any arrears accruing.
If a tenant is unable to work due to self-isolation or illness, and as a result are not being paid, then this is the scenario that the Government are trying to assist with. They have taken away the waiting days before sick pay can be paid and they have clarified that self-isolation qualifies as being sick. Of course self-isolation lasts only a fortnight (although there may be multiple periods of self-isolation if other family members show symptoms or are ill) after which they will presumably be able to return to work and start paying the ongoing rent again. We will endeavour to agree a payment plan to pay off any arrears. Some tenants may have a better sick pay regime than the statutory one and may remain on full pay for a period, reducing the reason for arrears.
If a tenant is ill then, of course, how long someone is ill or incapacitated will depend on age and whether or not there are any underlying health conditions.
Clearly this is a fast moving situation and things may yet change which may mean more people unable to work with further consequential problems. For example if the country ends up in full lockdown. The Government though may come up with further plans to deal with these issues.
We acknowledge this will be something of a risk for landlords. You should plan to cover as much of the mortgage payments as you can afford so that if there are rent arrears your debt to the mortgage lender is as small as possible.
At this stage many things are unclear and it may be that rent guarantee policies will cover the rent payments, even if they then seek the money back from the tenant. If you think you may have problems keeping completely up to date with mortgage payments we would encourage you to engage with the lender at the earliest opportunity.
As the situation develops the new rules may be applied. The government have said a suspension of court possession claims for three months but there is nothing to say that if the problems lasts longer than this that they may not extend the restriction. We would encourage you to plan for a prolonged restriction and be glad if it ends sooner.
We will obviously be staying in touch with your tenant and yourself during the situation.
Wishing you all the very best in these difficult times.
Compulsory electrical safety inspections set to be required in all private rental homes
Electrical safety checks will have to be carried out in all private rental properties in England, according to Regulations now laid in Parliament.
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 look set to become law from April 1 this year, initially applying to all new tenancies. Inspections are likely to be required of electrical installations from July 1.
By April 1, 2021, there would have to be electrical safety checks in all rental properties with existing tenancies.
Safety checks would then have to be done at five yearly intervals.
Copies of the report will have to be provided to prospective tenants on request, and given to new tenants before they move in.
The check-in report would also have to give the results of the inspection. Local councils can also request a copy of the report, which must be provided within seven days.
Any remedial work must be done within 28 days, or sooner if specified in the report.
Enforcement is by the local authority, which can order that work be done. Failure could result in a civil penalty of up to £30,000.
With a large number of mandatory electrical inspections on the horizon, concerns are being raised at how busy – and available – electricians will be.
David Cox, CEO of ARLA Propertymark, said: “We are supportive of this concept and believe it will create a level playing field for all agents and landlords as well as ensuring improved safety standards for tenants.
“Mandating electrical testing should have a limited impact on good professional landlords and agents in the market, many of whom already voluntarily undertake these inspections.
“We did raise concerns about the number of engineers available to undertake these reports by the April 2021 deadline but have received assurances from MHCLG about capacity in the supply chain.”
EPC’s for rented properties were introduced from October 2008. With a life-span of 10-years, this means that they are beginning to run out.
The first and most important thing to understand is that, unlike a gas safety record, there is no need to get a new EPC simply because the current one expires. The law defines when an EPC is needed and one is needed when a property is put on the market for sale or letting.
With an existing letting, as the property is not being marketed, no EPC is required. This even applies if you are arranging a renewal to the existing tenant. The logic behind this is that the EPC gives a standard assessment of the energy consumption of the property whereas the tenant who is living there knows exactly what the energy costs are as they are paying the bills!
Therefore, the first time a renewal EPC will typically be needed will be when the tenant gives notice and the property is to be advertised for sale or a new rental.
The rule about the EPC running out also affects the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) which is based on the requirement to ensure properties reach at least band E or an exemption is registered. If the property is not legally required to have an EPC (even if one was produced over 10-years ago), then MEES will not apply until the property is required to have an EPC.
From 1st April 2018, all landlords of privately rented domestic and non-domestic property in England or Wales must ensure that their properties reach at least an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E before granting a new tenancy to new or existing tenants. The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 establish a minimum level of energy efficiency for privately rented property in England and Wales.
1 April 2018 – It will be unlawful to grant a new agreement with an EPC rating below an ‘E’, including a statutory periodic agreement. From this date a rating below an ‘E’ will be a ‘substandard property’. It is the substandard properties that we are interested in as it will be these properties that may be restricted.
1 April 2020 – Landlords must not continue to let a substandard property, even to an existing tenant. The regulation will apply to ALL residential privately rented property which are required to have an EPC. This will not require all properties banded F or G to be removed from the market.
The key issue to remember is that an EPC is only legally required when a property is being advertised to let or for sale, this is at the point at which the rating will be required to be sufficient to satisfy MEES.
- The minimum energy efficiency standard is set at an EPC rating of ‘E’
- All non-domestic property types are in scope of the regulations, except for those that do not require an EPC under current regulations, such as listed buildings
- The regulations apply to sub-lettings and assignments
Landlords will be exempt from having to comply with MEES if they can demonstrate one of the following:
- All improvements have been made to the property that can be made but it remains a band F or G.
- There is no funding available for the improvements needed. This is due to the basic rule being that improvements needed should not have to be funded by the landlord.
- Consent to undertake works is refused by a third party, such as a Local Authority or the tenant.
- A suitably qualified expert provides written advice that the improvements would result in a devaluation of the property by 5% or more, or that the works would cause damage to the property
- Exemptions last for five years and will need to be lodged on a centralised register created by Government.
- Exemption of 6 months for a new landlord taking ownership of a property. Evidence will be required of the purchase.
- Causing damage to the property, i.e. wall insulation resulting in damage to the wall. Evidence from a specified professional will be required
On 28 December 2017 the Government launched another consultation regarding MEES. The discussion is around whether landlords should be required to fund some improvements and if so, how much should they fund. The current proposal is for landlords to fund improvements to the ‘total value’ of £2,500 per property. ‘Total value’ means that this would be £2,500 including any Green Deal or ECO funding, therefore should £1,000 be available by one of those sources then the landlord would have to spend up to £1,500. This could have a big impact on many landlords with portfolios of multiple properties.’