The Stone Foundation seeking new CEO

The Stone Foundation is a charity (set up 2015) to help people moving on from supported housing to gain confidence and life skills. They also provide and manage supported housing across Suffolk.

They are looking for a new Chief Executive Officer with a wide knowledge and understanding of Landlord & Tenant legislation and the Voluntary Sector to manage this small but evolving organisation.

They are based at Sproughton near Ipswich and their website is at The Stone Foundation – Reg. Charity No. 1162893

Please contact   if you are interested in this position.

Recording of HMO webinar by Fosters & Supporting Refugees

The recording of the HMO webinar by Gurpal Singh and Serena Djiakouris of Foster’s Solicitors held on 31st January is now available. If you would like to listen to this or have a recap, the recording of the meeting can be found here – HMOsand the Passcode is   5V*ZCiLiPlease note you will have to type in the passcode rather than copy and paste.Support with refugeesWe have received the following request from Juventas Services based in Norwich :My name’s Matthew, and I work for Juventas Services in Norwich as a senior support worker. We look after asylum-seeking and refugee young people in and around the Norwich area. We’re struggling somewhat to access private rented accommodation for our young people when they turn 18 and have their refugee status: whilst they’re waiting for their refugee status, our young people aren’t allowed to work, claim benefits, or build up any kind of credit score, and this, understandably, leads to landlords being generally hesitant to let to them. However, as they are supported by the local authority, the local authority are able to act as guarantors, and provide up to two month’s rent in advance. I was wondering if any landlords in your association would be willing to meet with us to discuss how best to support these young people in accessing private rented accommodation. Our young people would make stellar tenants, and we hope to break down some of the concerns private rented landlords may have about letting to them. Any help you could provide would be very much appreciated, and I thank you in advance for your consideration of this email. Please contact : Matthew McKenzie, Senior Support Worker – Juventas Floating SupportTel: 07960 368 107

Notice periods, HHSRS survey, EICRs

Six month notice periods for possession extended to 31st May 2021
The Government has announced that the requirement for landlords to provide 6-month notice periods to tenants before they start court proceedings will be extended until at least 31st May.

HHSRS national survey launched
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) was developed in the 1990s and has been in place for approximately 15 years. In that time, building technology and knowledge about risks and hazards in buildings have advanced.

The HHSRS is a tool for assessing risk relating to health and safety matters arising from deficiencies within the dwelling. Please take a look at the landlords survey here with a closing date of 31st March for completion.

Electrical Inspection Condition Report (EICR) deadline 1st April
An extension for the 1st April deadline for electrical safety standards checks is unlikely to be extended.

If you are in difficulties because your tenants are refusing to allow access, it is essential that you keep proper records to prove this.

To cover yourself, Creating a paper trail of communication between tenants, landlords and electricians will safeguard agents and landlords against any enforcement activity where work could not be carried out during the pandemic.

Chancellor’s Spring Budget 2021 – How Does It Affect The Property Market and PRS?

On the 3rd March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the Spring Budget for 2021. The Budget unveiled the government’s tax and spending plans for the year ahead, including a series of measures to support businesses through the pandemic and assist the UK’s long-term economic recovery.

Among these plans are tax changes, extensions to Stamp Duty and new mortgage schemes – but how will these measures affect landlords and the wider property sector?

Stamp Duty Holiday Extension
Rishi Sunak announced that the Stamp Duty holiday, initially introduced in July 2020 will be extended for another three months. During this time, purchasers will pay no Stamp Duty below £500,000.

The Spring Budget also noted that Stamp Duty rates will not go back to ‘normal’ until 1st October 2021. Instead, there will be a interim period from July to September where the threshold is lowered to £250,000. After this point, stamp duty rates will return to their original thresholds.

Corporation tax increases
Incorporated landlords and letting agencies will face a significant corporation tax increase in 2023.
The chancellor has announced that corporation tax will remain at 19% for now, but will be increased to 25% in April 2023.

Rishi Sunak explained that this tax increase was part of the government’s plan to get borrowing “back under control” and put the economy in a better position for the future.

A new “small profits rate” will maintain the 19% rate for firms with profits of £50,000 or less, meaning around 70% of companies (1.4 million businesses) will be “completely unaffected” by the tax hike. Beyond this, there will be a tapered increase of corporation tax up to 25% for profits from £50,000 to £250,000, and then a flat rate of 25% for £250,000 and above.

Lovewell Blake accountants have provided an overview of all the key points in the Spring Budget. See the link here – Budget 2021

News – Bailiff evictions & Southend Selective Licensing,

This will be a regular news update for members in order to keep up with changes in legislation and relevant news items for landlords.

Extension to bailiff evictions
There has been an extension to the ban on bailiff evictions, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced on 14 February 2021. The ban on bailiff evictions – which was introduced at the start of the pandemic – has been extended for another 6 weeks – until 31st March 2021- with measures kept under review in line with the latest public health advice.
Exemptions remain in place for the most serious circumstances that cause the greatest strain on landlords as well as other residents and neighbours, such as illegal occupation, anti-social behaviour and arrears of 6 months’ rent or more.

Disagreement over wording of ‘Anti-Landlord’ consultation
Southend Council are looking to introduce Selective Licensing in certain areas of the Borough. Southend Council leader Ian Gilbert has told local media that areas in the centre of the town had  “persistent and significant” problems caused by crime, antisocial behaviour and poorly-managed accommodation.
But the local landlord group – SEAL – claims the consultation is geared against landlords.

Judith Codarin, SEAL secretary, tells the Southend Echo: “There were questions with basically one answer like would you like to improve your home and would you like less antisocial behaviour? There is only one answer to questions like that. No one is going to say they want worse housing and more antisocial behaviour.
We’ve tried to move forward on this but the way they have done it is totally political. Everyone wants these things but the way it is being pushed through is very inappropriate timing when we are all trying to catch up with issues around the pandemic.”

SEAL was initially formed to coordinate a response to Southend council’s plans. It had entered into a partnership with the council to improve the standard of privately rented properties, and reduce anti-social behaviour throughout SEAL managed properties.

Prior to the dispute over wording, the landlord body stated on its website: “SEAL has its own Code of Conduct to follow as well as a Complaints Procedure in conjunction with Southend Borough Council. Being a member of SEAL already gives agents and landlords huge benefits in this unique partnership, an innovative landmark initiative, being closely monitored by other Councils around the country. “SEAL also benefits the tenant through the identification stickers that Members put into their rented or managed properties. The tenant or resident is able to contact SEAL using the phone help line to tackle ASB at the property”.

News – Green Homes Grant, Right to Rent, Access for gas safety & EICRs

This will be a regular news update for members in order to keep up with changes in legislation and relevant news items for landlords.

Green Homes Grant

If you’re a homeowner or residential landlord you can apply for a Green Homes Grant voucher towards the cost of installing energy efficient improvements to your properties. Improvements could include insulating  to reduce energy use or installing low-carbon heating to lower the amount of carbon dioxide that is produced.

Originally when the scheme was launched there was a six-month time limit to get any work done, but this has since been extended to 31 March 2022. Providing you are eligible, the government will provide two-thirds funding up to £5,000, or up to £10,000 for low-income homes. The homeowner, or landlord, must pay the other third.
This Government web page tells you about the scheme, what work the voucher covers, how to apply and getting the work done.

Changes to Right to Rent process

Government guidance states that private landlords will need to carry out Right to Rent checks in the same way they do at present until June 2021. This includes performing checks on prospective tenants from the EU, EEA and Switzerland. They can still provide their national ID card or passport as proof of their right to rent even though the Brexit transition period has been and gone.

In June 2021, new guidance will be published covering how landlords can perform right to rent checks for  EU citizens. They are required to apply to the Home Office EU Settlement Scheme in order to carry on living and working in the UK now the Brexit transition period and freedom of movement has ended. According to provisional Home Office figures to the end of January, 5,060,600 applications have been received.

Access issues for Gas and Electrical Certificates

If your tenant is not allowing you access to carry out Gas Safety certification, the EICR (Electrical Condition Inspection Report), or any other valid reasons for entry you could find yourself in an awkward situation. While tenants hold the ultimate authority to control access, you do have a right to enter to uphold your responsibilities for repairs and maintenance.

The number one course of action should be to negotiate. Even if the landlord has already tried to talk to the tenant with little success, they should try again and log every conversation/communication. Emails are a great way to establish a digital ‘paper’ trail that could work in the landlord’s favour should matters escalate at a later date.

The landlord should mention the liability for costs to the tenant if the property deteriorates because of the lack of access. They should also inform them that they, the landlord, will no longer be responsible for injury to the tenant, or damage to their property, if it results from lack of access. After all, the landlords hasn’t been able to make the necessary repairs to ensure their safety, and they cannot then be blamed for any problems that may arise because of it.

A letter has been received by our Chairman, Charles Clarke from the Minister for Housing, Eddie Hughes MP. This is a reply to an email sent by the ELA regarding landlords and access to their properties in order to carry out their obligations.

News update 1st February 2021

Breathing Space

The Debt Respite Scheme, (also known as Breathing Space), will come into force on 4th May. This legislation temporarily stops landlords from chasing tenants for unpaid debts by offering a period of time to find a solution to their financial problems.

There are two types of breathing space that a tenant may enter into:

  • a standard breathing space and
  • a mental health crisis breathing space.

Both these operate in the same way. Creditors are not allowed to contact them directly to request payment of the debt, or take enforcement action to recover the debt, (including by taking possession of a property).

However, the duration and frequency of the breathing spaces vary. A ‘standard’ arrangement will last for a maximum of 60 days. For a mental health crisis breathing space, the Breathing Space ends after 90 days.

Only Local Authorities providing debt advice and FCA approved debt advisors can grant Breathing Spaces to people in debt. They would be expected to speak to them to establish whether this is the best course of action.

If a Breathing Space is thought to be the most appropriate way forward, their name will be added to an electronic record and their creditors will be notified. The decision can be challenged.
For further reading on this radical legislation please read this article in Landlord Today

Letting with pets
There was a second reading of a Private Members Bill in Parliament on 29th January which aims at stopping ‘No pets’ clauses in tenancy agreements. Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell’s, Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill, does not give an unconditional right to have pets, (aimed at cats and dogs more than others), in the rental property. A responsible owner test would have to be passed with a checklist to be fulfilled. This would include the pet’s vaccination history, microchipping and that the pet is appropriate for the property.

Landlords now cannot take an additional pet deposit as any deposit taken is capped at a maximum of 5 weeks rent. However, the landlord would still need to be financially protected for damage caused by the pet. The landlord will still be able to choose the tenant that they think is suitable for the property.

Budget 2021
Wednesday 3 March the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak will deliver his Budget speech.
Friday 5 March Lovewell Blake accountants will be holding a virtual event hosted by Richard Porritt, Business Editor of the EDP and the EADT. Richard will be joined by Lovewell Blake Tax specialists who will go through the key points of the Budget, which could include:

Potential rises in business and personal taxes
Further extension of COVID support measures
Where tax policy will extend over the coming months

Friday 5 March 2021 timings:

8.00am – Registration
8.05am – Welcome from Richard Porritt
8.10am – Presentation begins
9.00am – Q&As
9.15am – Close

To book your place please email Tracy Cox or visit the events page on Lovewell Blake’s website.


The PM has confirmed the Government will bring in emergency legislative measures to protect tenants unable to cover rent owing to the loss of household income attributable to the coronavirus. It is not yet clear what this will mean in practice, however it obviously suggests that landlords will be prevented from seeking eviction for the time being on the basis of arrears that result from the current situation.

Until the Government outlines in more detail what assistance it intends to offer tenants and indeed landlords who rely on rent to meet the cost of mortgage arrangements, property maintenance, tax liability, plus their own living costs, we recommend the following advice

  1. Mortgage lenders should be in a position to offer ‘mortgage holidays’, meaning structured breaks to monthly repayments patterns – and you will need to contact your lender to see what can be agreed in this respect;
  2. Landlords might consider negotiating temporary reductions in rent with their tenants on the basis a repayment plan (to commence once stability returns) can be agreed up front;
  3. Tenants might be eligible for state benefits that could meet (at least in part) the cost of housing needs, even if on a temporary basis.

The situation is changing rapidly, on a daily basis and realistically things are likely to get worse before we see an improvement. Acting now (for example contacting lenders sooner rather than later), might be the key to riding out the storm.

We will continue to support our members as best we can, and recognise that these are unprecedented times.

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards and EPC requirements

The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) Regulations 2015 introduced from 1st April 2018 states that properties having a new tenancy would require an EPC rating of ’E’ or above. As from 1st April 2020 existing tenancies will need to comply unless a valid exemption has been registered. However, this applies to properties which are legally required to have an EPC with tenancies commencing from 1st October 2008. Any tenancies starting prior to that date and have not been renewed are not legally required to have an EPC. Houses of Multiple Occupation let on an individual room basis (separate agreements) are not required to have an EPC. Those on a joint agreement will, because the property is rented as a whole.

Landlord funding element
Those properties below an ‘E’ rating must have work carried out up to £3500 or obtain third-party funding to meet the costs. The £3500 cap is an upper ceiling, not a target or a spend requirement and if a landlord can improve their property to ‘E’ or higher then they will have met their obligation.

If the cost of the energy efficiency measures required to improve a property to a rating of at least an ‘E’ would cause a landlord to exceed the £3,500 cap, the landlord can register an exemption on the PRS Exemptions Register. The exemption applies for 5 years from when registered and when it expires the landlord would need to try again to improve the property’s EPC rating to meet the minimum level of energy efficiency.

Listed Buildings
These, plus properties within a conservation area will not be required to meet the minimum energy standards  if any improvements would adversely affect the listing with unacceptable alterations. However, if for example light bulbs could be replaced and the loft better insulated then these works could be carried out otherwise the property would be listed as a valid exemption.

The landlord would need to show that reasonable efforts have been made to obtain consent from the tenant. In the case of a Local Authority Planning Department a refusal would exempt the landlord from carrying out the necessary work. In cases where a tenant withholds consent a landlord would have to demonstrate that adequate attempts had been made. Where consent is not granted for improvements then an exemption may be registered. You can view an EPC on the website It can be searched for by postcode or the EPC report reference number.

The following is a list of key improvements that can help to improve your EPC rating:

  • Replacing windows with double glazing
  • Insulating the loft, walls floors with high quality insulation
  • Replace your boiler with a newer, more efficient model
  • Upgrading all lights bulbs to LED light bulbs rather than traditional bulbs
  • Installing low-flush toilets and water-saving showers
  • Replacing older appliances with newer models that come with ‘eco’ or ‘energy saving’ modes.

Is there any value in a property inspection?

First of all what is a property inspection?   A property inspection is where the property landlord or their representative conducts a visit (or visits) during the life of a tenancy. The number of visits will relate to the length of the tenancy and concerns the landlord has. Once during the tenancy of one year is the absolute minimum. It should be noted that a property inspection can also be known as a property visit or interim visit. Sadly the visiting of a property during a tenancy is often treated casually and not given the importance that it deserves.

A property inspection should not be just a cursory visit with little or no notes taken; it should be carried out in a professional manner using a predetermined format, in the required time frame and be of value. A predetermined format will ensure continuity each time a visit is undertaken and can also act as a prompt so that nothing is forgotten.

The frequency and timing of a property visit should be undertaken in accordance with the tenancy agreement (which would include the tenant allowing a property inspection and the number). It should not interfere with the tenant’s right to peaceful enjoyment of the property and a consequence of a landlord visiting on a regular basis, even if “just in passing”, could be regarded as harassment.  The industry requirement that twenty four hours notice is given to the tenant should be honoured.

So what is the purpose of a property inspection? Fundamentally to satisfy the following criteria;

Is the property being looked after?

Are there any problems with the property?

Are any of the terms of the tenancy being breached?

Does the property meet current legislation?

There may be other reasons for an inspection and this could be triggered by a neighbour or a tenant. An example would be a property inspection being the result of a complaint made to the landlord (or agent) by neighbours. Alternatively, a tenant may ask for a property inspection if there are concerns about some aspect of the property. High levels of damp or water entering the property are two examples. It should be noted that a property inspection is not a check against the inventory/check in, a survey of the property or an investigation into the living habits of the occupants! Although if there are illegal activities being undertaken …….

So what is being looked at during a property inspection?

There can be many checks that can be made but the main ones include;

How many bedrooms are being occupied?

Are there signs of over occupancy such as a stack of mattresses in one bedroom?

Can each room be used as it is supposed to be?

Are there pets or is there evidence of pets the landlord is not aware of?

Is there evidence of smoking?

Is the property being abused? For example the storing of bicycles in a hallway?

Is there evidence of water leaks eg. stains on ceilings?

Damp caused by condensation, wet laundry drying on radiators?

Are smoke detectors being serviced? No low battery warning noise or battery compartment open.

Have any fire safety devices been tampered with such as detaching self-closers on doors?

Is rubbish being dealt with in a timely basis, no big piles?

Is the garden being maintained according to the season?

Is the property excessively hot?  Has the loft been accessed? (Both indicate potential drug growing) .

This is not an exhaustive list but indicates what should be checked.

But what about illegal activates?  What is an illegal activity?  This can be answered in two parts, those activities which are illegal by law, growing drugs and those that are a breach of the tenancy agreement running a business, subletting.

A property inspection should not just be one sided, the landlord checking his side of the tenancy agreement is being observed. The tenant should also be invited to indicate whether there are any problems or outstanding matters that have been reported and have not as yet been dealt with.

A property inspection will also check for work required to maintain the standard of the property which also takes into account wear and tear such as;

Signs of external damp indicating problems with walls

Plant growth in gutters, which could lead to water overflowing and is often potentially observed as damp on ceilings.

Fraying of carpets (indeed loose carpets on stairs) which could be/or could become a safety hazard.

Evidence of damage to cables, switches, power points or overloading through the use of extension leads

Whether the window frames, fascia boards or external doors require repainting.

Damage to driveways.  The list could go on….

A property inspection could be used to bring to the landlord’s attention any works that may need to be carried out. An example would be, (using one indicated above), the guttering has plant growth which may result in water overflowing and entering the property. Another example is an extractor fan that may not be working (or not even being used) which could result in condensation/damp.

An inspection could also advise the tenant matters that might lead to a charge being made against their deposit. Poor methods used to dry clothing (especially during the winter) which could be easily corrected and thereby preventing condensation. A tenant could be advised that a little work is needed to bring the property up to a more acceptable standard.

A visit should be a two way process which if undertaken in the correct manner can prevent damage to the property and problems at the end of the tenancy.

A well conducted property inspection should have the advantages of;

Making the tenant feel that interest is being taken in their occupation and any problems they may have has been noted.

Advising the landlord with an update of the condition of their property and an indication of any works that may be required either immediately or in the future.

The landlord feeling secure about the state of the property and those who occupy it.

Author: Stuart Edge of Liberator Services.
Liberator Services is a qualified professional inventory specialist, providing comprehensive and detailed reports. They can provide advice on disputes, adjudication and wear and tear. They are independent their signature is accepted as being neutral. There is no emotional tie – the reports are purely based on facts. Protect your investment ensure the documentation relating to property will stand up to be examined.