With leaseholders paying on average 42% more than the published management fees, a simple change to legislation requiring the landlord to disclose extra details on commissions, contractors and insurance policies could make a huge difference. This is why Urban Owners has once again written to MPs and the Government calling for a change to the law.
A response from Communites and Local Government (CLG) to previous lobbying activity rejected the need for such a change, but a discussion in the House of Lords has since been tabled to debate the issue. There are approximately 1.8 million leasehold properties in the UK and Continue reading
Steve Wylie, director of Urban Owners, comments: “The St George Wharf versus Peverel case illustrates why it is essential to ensure leaseholders are fully informed on what is happening within their development and the impact this may be having on their service charges.
“Urban Owners is lobbying for simple changes to service charge account disclosures, which will bring this information to the attention to leaseholders and help them decide whether their landlord or managing agent is levying reasonable charges.
“I hope this case highlights for leaseholders how large the level of unreasonable charges, commissions and the use of related group companies for financial Continue reading
There are an estimated 1.8 million leasehold properties in the UK*, meaning that millions of flats and their occupants are potentially at risk from injury or illness. National statistics show that fire and smoke are among the top three causes of death in the home and annual domestic accidents involving electric currents can reach close to 3,000.
By law, any block of flats with common areas should undertake health & safety and fire risk assessments, typically on an annual basis and have electrical installations assessed every five years. The property must also be surveyed for the presence of asbestos and, if found, Continue reading
There are approximately 1.8 million private leasehold flats in the UK1, meaning that across the country, flat owners could be needlessly paying out a total of over £700 million per year.
Flat owners often pay thousands of pounds each year in service charges for maintenance and repairs to their block, yet do not necessarily see value for that money. Slow responses from managing agents, shoddy or expensive repairs and a lack of transparency and accountability are frequent complaints.
However, under the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act (2002), leaseholders have the power either to buy the freehold or to acquire the ‘Right to Manage’ Continue reading
Almost 350 private residential landlords responded to the question: "Are you more or less confident in the rental market than last month?"
Many of those who said they were less confident cited finance as an issue.
One respondent said: "All 55 houses are on standard variable rate. I can’t remortgage because I’ve only got about 15% equity across the portfolio, now banks want 25%. If interest rates go up 1% I will find it hard.
"A 2% base rate will bankrupt me, forcing me to default on a £6million portfolio. I wonder how many landlords are in this Continue reading
However, the average amount of outstanding rent arrears has dropped significantly from £978 in Q1 to £799 in Q2. This could indicate that financial pressures on tenants have started to ease as the fragile economic recovery continues.
Chairman David Salusbury said:
“Rent arrears are a serious problem for landlords all over the UK. It is good to see the latest data which represents a small improvement in that more tenants are keeping up with their rent payments and not putting pressure on their landlords who may well have mortgage repayments to consider. It is critical that tenants and landlords communicate and work together Continue reading
"The Government promised before the election that they would tackle the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rent arrears waste which is running into the millions. It is an easy step to introduce choice for LHA tenants and enable them to have their LHA payment made directly to their landlord, if they wish to.
"The National Landlords Association (NLA) is only asking Ministers to give LHA tenants the same choice available to most people when they set up a direct debit or standing order for their rent."
LHA is one of the most important, and potentially damaging, issues currently facing the private-rented sector. Introduced in Continue reading
The lack of choice of property at the time meant that tenants were often forced to rent substandard accommodation.
But driven by a raft of legislation and having being hit hard by the recession, Graham Kinnear from Landlord Assist, believes the industry now enjoys a much better reputation.
He says: “The credit crunch has forced more and more people to turn to rented accommodation over the last 18 months. This has helped to remove bad landlords from the UK rental market and made those remaining much more socially aware, with affordable accommodation and high quality customer service becoming a priority.”
“Reams of legislation have Continue reading
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) was introduced for new tenancies in April 2008 when it replaced the old housing benefit system. Under the new rules, instead of rent being paid directly to private landlords to cover housing costs, it now goes straight to the tenants who are responsible for passing on the rent money to their landlord. In practice, many tenants are failing to make these payments and this is causing major problems. In the most serious cases, landlords are refusing to let to tenants who are in receipt of Housing Benefit because of rental arrears.
David Salusbury, NLA Chairman, commenting about the Continue reading
One in five – 20 per cent – said that legislation was the most challenging aspect of becoming a landlord, more so than finding a suitable tenant. It is believed that falling house prices over the last 12 months have led to a deluge
of new landlords in the private rented sector.
Many of these landlords can be deemed ‘accidental’ – homeowners who would rather have sold up but who could not stomach making a loss on their property.
Kevin Firth, director of The Deposit Protection Service, said: “The private rented sector has held up relatively well and becoming a landlord can be Continue reading