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Mayor’s Views of Renting in London


Accreditation

The Mayor believes that now is not the time for further regulation of the PRS. Any further changes would bring instability and costs to the sector at a time when new investment is what is required. The case for further regulation is weaker still when the poor use and enforcement of existing legislation is taken into account. The Mayor will continue to promote the better use of existing legislation and enforcement powers to deal with the worst standards in the sector.

The Mayor remains committed to significantly expanding the number of accredited landlords and agents in London.  The single badge of accreditation will be key to improving consumer awareness of accreditation and promoting the London Rental Standard.

It is important that these proposals are delivered in a way that doesn’t compromise on standards, is enforceable and sustainable, and can include all accreditation schemes. The Mayor has set out a plan to deliver the London Rental Standard and a single badge of accreditation, whilst also supporting a significant expansion in accreditation. In summary:

  • the GLA and the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme (LLAS) will work together to deliver the London Rental Standard and will ‘license’ other compliant schemes to use the single badge of accreditation
  • significant investment in LLAS will ensure that it is capable of expanding its membership and better targeting its services at a wider variety of landlords
  • the Mayor will support a major public awareness campaign, lasting at least one year, which will be aimed at promoting accreditation to tenants, landlords and agents
  • the boroughs will be asked to continue their support for accreditation and to explore how they can encourage local landlords and agents to sign up to the London Rental Standard – this includes offering incentives and working with landlords with whom they already have a relationship.

New housing supply

The single biggest housing challenge facing London is increasing the supply of new homes. The private rented sector and buy-to-let landlords in particular, are central to dealing with this challenge. Around two thirds of new market housing supply is private rented housing, demonstrating the scale of investment by landlords in the capital’s housing stock. In the future, the Mayor wants to see even more new supply of good quality private rental homes, to meet public demand and reduce price volatility. The £1 billion Build to Rent Fund was launched in January 2013 and is designed to promote institutional investment, by long term professional landlords, in our private rented sector. The GLA is working with government to ensure that as much of this investment as possible comes to the capital.

There is very little evidence that landlords keep a large number of their homes empty – though the wider issue of empty homes is, of course, very important.

Letting agents

The Housing Covenant also applies to letting agents; changes through this consultation will include letting agents and management agents being subject to the same ‘fit and proper person’ tests as landlords. It committed to ‘explore proposals to encourage competition and transparency in the letting agent market’, and consequently the Mayor supported a campaign to ensure the letting agents are forced to join a consumer redress scheme. This has now been adopted by government and is being implemented.

The estimated average cost of accessing the PRS in London is now £2,166, consisting of a deposit, upfront rent and various letting agent and landlord administrative charges. The Housing Covenant identifies this as a major barrier to entering the private rented sector and moving within it, worsened by a lack of information for both tenants and landlords about what all the charges are for. The London Rental Standard includes standards related to transparency of fees and charges, collection of rent and the operation of a complaints procedure.

Quality of housing

Promoting standards is a key tenet of the Housing Covenant, with particular emphasis on energy efficiency and preventing the conversion of illegal outhouses into ‘beds in sheds’.

In terms of design issues, the Mayor intends to bring forward GLA-owned and other sites specifically for purpose-built PRS schemes and these schemes will be designed with the needs of renters in mind. We will work with design experts and advisors, including representatives from RIBA, and ensure that additional weighting is given to the design element of bids.

Deposits

The London Rental Standard reiterates the minimum legal standards for the protection of tenants’ deposits. They must be held in a secure deposit protection scheme and tenants must be informed how their money will be kept.

Affordability

The Mayor recognises and is seeking to address the affordability issues facing London’s private tenants, not least through a range of measures to increase housing supply in the capital. However, the Mayor does not support rent controls as an answer to these issues, which are essentially a function of housing supply. Experience of rent controls in the UK points to a smaller, poorer quality tenure and their reintroduction would be disastrous for investment in London’s PRS, which already has some of the lowest yields in the country.

On-going Mayoral policy promoting the London Living Wage across London’s businesses works to ensure that every hard-working Londoner can earn enough to afford a home that meets their needs.

Source

Map London Flats for Rent

If you know the area that you are flat-hunting in there is now a new excellent way of finding a flat in the place you want it to be. RentHouseMap.co.uk collects information about rental properties from the most popular portals in the UK including Zoopla, Rightmove, Gumtree, Adzuna, VivaStreet, NetHousePrices and displays them on a single and interactive map that allows users to easily browse their only wanted properties.

You can type in the name of the place you want to search for or click on one of the popular cities below. You can then set simple sliders on your map to filter requirements such as number of bedrooms, price, landlord direct (no agent). Their is another map for sharers showing flats already occupied, but looking for another person to join the group.

If you are looking for a flat to rent in Pimlico here is a map of all the flats currently available.

Rent House reduced

 

 

10 Top Tips For London Tenants to Save Money

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has turned his attention to tenants and come up with 50 fabulous tips for saving money when you are renting a flat. Here are his top ten with appropriate links to his website where he fills in with more detail.

1. Renters have a right to switch and save on energy (even prepaid). If you pay the gas & electricity bill directly (not via landlord), you can and should compare and switch. Don’t stick with the previous tenants’ supplier as often it’s costly. Always do a meter reading as soon as you move in.

Speedily find your cheapest tariff: The MSE Cheap Energy Club checks you’re on the cheapest, and if not, compares across the market to find it (check the ‘top picks’ tab for fixed deals which guarantee no price hikes). After, it monitors your tariff and lets you know when to switch again.

What if I don’t know my usage? Cheap Energy Club can estimate for you.

What about prepaid? You can still switch supplier and save (seeCheapest Prepaid Energy). Yet switching from prepay to a normal meter sadly usually needs your landlord’s permission, as it physically changes the property.

2. Beware joint bank accounts with flatmates. Shared bank accounts for bills can mean you’re credit-linked – even if you hardly know each other. Then, when applying for products, their history can be taken into account. If it’s poor, it hits you.

If you used to have a joint account, but don’t any longer, apply for a notice of ‘disassociation’. See How Credit Scoring Works for more.

3. Is your deposit protected? A fifth of private renters don’t know if their deposit’s been protected (source: Shelter), so check. By law, for most private renters who moved in after April 2007 in Eng & Wales, your landlord must use a Govt-backed deposit protection scheme – giving you rights. See Is Your Deposit Protected?
4. Landlords must ask before entering. Landlords may need to come in occasionally for repairs and inspections, yet they should arrange a time with you. If they enter without asking, you can ask them to stop. If it continues, it can be considered harassment. Contact Citizens Advice or a solicitor for help, or the police if you feel threatened.
5. Cheap contents insurance. If you rent, your landlord is responsible for buildings insurance, so you only need contents (essentially the stuff that’d fall if you turned your home upside down).

Only you / your family live in the home? To get cheapest cover combine comparison sites Confused.com* & Compare The Market* to bag the max quotes in min time, then Aviva* and Direct Line*, which they miss. Better still, try the full Cheap Home Insurance guide where some get PAID for cover.

If you live in a houseshare. Getting cover from mainstream insurers can be tricky (a locked room helps, so ask for one). Confused.com*,Gocompare* & MoneySupermarket* say they provide flatshare quotes, but double-check the policy allows it – comparison sites are very flaky on this. You may find a specialist such as Home Protect* or a local broker viaBIBA easier.

6. Furnish for FREE – sofas, beds, TVs & more. If you’ve gone unfurnished or part-furnished, then online giveaway sites can help you for nowt. Hundreds of top-quality goodies are available daily for free from web communities – some’s tat, but some’s treasure. See Furnish for Free tips.
7. Don’t redecorate without the landlord’s permission. You generally need to return property in the state you got it (minor wear and tear’s allowable). So get the landlord’s permission in writing to put up shelves or repaint, unless you want to have to undecorate before you leave.

Beware putting pictures up. Don’t get hammer-happy – it destroys walls and deposits. Forumites recommend specially-designed picture strips to hold up pics without using damaging nails. See full Rental Decoratinghelp.

8. Letting fees can be perverse and nasty, check. Renters can be hit by huge and unfair fees. Some reported to us include £120 for permission to buy a dog or £60 for photocopying a contract.

Sadly there’s little regulation over these charges – but at least make sure you know what they are so you avoid them. There are growing campaigns for stronger rights. For more (limited) options, see Beware Unfair Fees.

9. Does every renter need their own TV licence? In shared homes, this usually depends on the tenancy agreement. Joint tenants can usually share, but if you’ve your own tenancy you need your own licence. For exact rules (incl lodgers), see TV Licence help.
10. Are you eligible for help? If you’re on a low income and struggling to pay rent, check if you’re eligible for housing benefit/grants. See Extra Cash Help.

London Flat Rents Expensive

London Wheel - London

London Wheel – London (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Renting a home in Greater London is now 85% more expensive than anywhere else – the largest difference ever recorded!

Average rents in the capital have increased by 8.4% over the past year and now stand at £1,260 per month, whilst across the UK the average cost of renting a home now stands at £789 per month representing a 2% increase on the same period last year.

The majority of regions, however, have seen either a decrease or minimal increase in average rents during the past 12 months. Regions that saw the largest drop are the North East and South West where rental costs lowered over the same period by 2.6% and 2.4% respectively.

Data from the HomeLet Rental Index

Renting Law Changes (April 2012)

Apart from the passing of the 1988 & 2004 Housing Acts by Parliament I have never experienced such a collection of changes to renting a flat all in one go. The following Legislation has just become effective (April 2012).

  • Tenancy Deposit Protection information must now be provided within 30 days or you may be fined and invalidate your right to evict a Tenant by issuing a S21 notice.
  • An EPC must be commissioned before a property can be marketed and the EPC must actually be issued within 7 days of marketing.
  • In 2018, rental properties with the two lowest EPC scores are due to be banned from the market, meaning that landlords must have improved them by then.
  • DHSS allowances for Housing Benefit (LHA) change dramatically.
    • The age limit of the Single Room Rate (SRR) rose from 25 to 35 years old. Anyone under 35 yrs will only get Bedsit LHA
    • The five bedroom Local Housing Allowance rate has gone so that the maximum level is for a four bedroom flat.
    • Local Housing Allowance rates are reduced so that about 3 in 10 properties for rent in the area should be affordable to people on Housing Benefit, rather than every 5 in 10 properties as before.
    • Local Housing Allowance weekly rates in any area cannot exceed:
      • £250 for a one bedroom property
      • £290 for a two bedroom property
      • £340 for a three bedroom property
      • £400 for a four bedroom property
    • Local Housing Allowance (Housing Benefits) will be set in line with the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) instead of the Retail Prices Index (RPI)
  • Small-shared houses or flats occupied by between 3 and 6 unrelated individuals who share basic amenities were reclassified under planning laws from “C3 Dwelling Houses” to “C4 Houses in Multiple Occupation“. Depending in which part of the country you are you may need Planning Permission to rent these.

So from today the tenancy agreements that you use should be different to the ones that you used to use. The way that I keep up to date with legislation is through my membership of the Guild of Landlords which costs me £80 p.a. and provides me with current documents and a legal advice line to advise me on their use.  I chose the Guild because it was strongly recommended to me, and I appreciate the personal nature of the organisation. However the other landlord organisations have their own supporters, and I don’t think that it is important which one you join, just that you do join one of them.

Guild normal logo

London Rents Are Rising and It’s All My Fault.

Excited for my medical terminology class today...

Photo credit: LibraryatNight

I was ill – I caught a debilitating disease for which the medical term is Domii Pauci – my G.P. identified the problem and got me an appointment with a specialist who had devoted his life to curing people with this complaint. I prepared a wet fish, and finally the day came for my appointment and I marched into his surgery and announced:

“You bloodsucking leech! How can you live off the misery of your patients! How dare you sit in your comfortable surgery, taking taxpayers money? I am going to make sure that you never practise medicine again! Then I hit him round the face with a wet fish. I don’t think we will see HIM in surgery again!

At least that was the message that I got from today’s Independent in their story:

A new era of house building could create jobs, stimulate growth, and help the poor. So why won’t Cameron do it?

It’s a great story with a lousy message.

Yes there is a problem, especially in London: a modest two-bedroom place in London’s Zone 2 – a standard monthly rent is indeed £800, even £900. The Independent reports hundreds of furious Londoners bombarding with their renting horror stories. One had a 35 per cent rent hike imposed on them at Christmas; another was forced to desert their Stockwell flat after a 40 per cent increase. “My tiny flat in the East End went up by £200 a month for the next occupants when I left”. Clearly the patient is sick, sick with Domii Pauci – a housing shortage.

The Independent’s solution is the wet fish: “Private landlords can do as they please, of course. Having a roof over your head is a basic human requirement and, when there is a lack of houses to go around, it is a need that can be exploited. A landlord knows that, if their tenants don’t like an outrageous rent hike, their only option is to put themselves back at the mercy of the ever more pricey private renting market. According to Shelter, annual rents in inner London went up by 7 per cent last year – or just under £1,000 for a two-bedroom house. When people’s wages are flat-lining, that’s a big hit.”

As a Landlord of some 20 years I have seen this coming, indeed it’s why I am a Landlord. The strange thing is that the Government hasn’t seen it coming, and still doesn’t understand why it is happening, and getting worse. The fixed costs of being a Landlord are increasing exponentially – Pimlico Flats has had to take on an employee solely for the purpose of administering deposits, council tax, utilities. Computerisation has enabled big corporations like Westminster City Council to remove thinking from their activities and leave automated mailshots. New regulations require building work to prevent such things as “death by only having one lock” ……. again, many of the new initiatives are good, and contribute to tenants well being, but some don’t. And all carry a cost, and at the end of the day the tenant bears that cost,  not government, or the landlord.

It’s time for Government and Shelter to examine what leads to higher rents, and what leads to lower rents, and to act accordingly.

Meantime don’t be surprised if Landlords leave the Planet saying thanks for all the fish.


 

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July 2015

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