Monthly Archives: April 2016

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Landlord’s Must Prepare for Universal Credit Roll Out

The roll out of Universal Credit continues apace, with tax expert Bill Irvine warning landlord’s they must be prepared if they have tenants who rely on benefits to pay their rent.

The Department for Work and Pensions has announced that the digital system will be rolled out from May this year in Bath, Newcastle, Rugby, Bridgewater and Lowestoft.

A further 25 Job Centre plus (JCP) areas will be added between July to December, with the expectation that all JCP areas will be completed by June 2018.

The move is significant, in that in most areas claims have been restricted to single “working age” adults, whereas the digital system deals with all claimant types including couples, couples with children, single parents, people with disabilities and those working full and part time.

So far in areas where Universal Credit has been introduced a significant number of landlord’s – 50-60% have been able to negotiate direct payments. However full implementation of the system could see problems arise around a range of issues, from Alternative Payment Arrangements, backdating of claims and over payments to situations arising from couples splitting up and household combining.

Bill, who delivers training courses on Universal Credit on behalf of the RLA said: “Clearly, this represents a major step forward for DWP and Universal Credit’s future.

“Social and private landlord’s, in the areas identified, can expect a significant increase in Universal Credit claims from all tenant types, as the “gateway” conditions that currently apply to restrict claims to mainly single men are effectively removed.

Bill said that many social and private landlord’s in Manchester, Liverpool and Wirral areas, where Universal Credit is already in operation, received only one months notice before implementing and has advised landlord not to get caught napping.

He said: “Being prepared should now be a priority if you’re a landlord heavily engaged in Local Housing Allowance type tenancies. You need to be fully conversant with these new and sometimes very complex issues.

“Don’t anticipate assistance DWP, as to date, it has operated at arms-length, is quite ambivalent to tenant/landlord enquiries/complaints and recently banned landlords from utilising its “Complaints Process” when trying to secure compensation for wholly avoidable rental loss


New Energy Efficiency Regulations in Force from 1st April 2016

From the 1st April 2016, new regulations allow private tenants to request their landlord’s consent to carry out certain energy efficiency improvements, such as installing insulation and improved heating controls.

The new rules, introduced under the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Sector) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015, are part of a series of measures aimed at improving energy efficiency in the private rental sector. It is important all NALS members are aware of these changes.

A tenant can request energy efficiency improvements by writing to the landlord, explaining the proposed measures and how they will be funded – whether directly by the tenant or through an energy efficiency scheme. The landlord is not required to pay.

The landlord cannot unreasonably refuse consent and must provide a response in writing within one month. The regulations provide scope to issue counter-proposals and also specify situations where permission can be refused, such as if the proposed improvements would reduce the market value of the property by more than 5%.

The tenant can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal if they are not satisfied with the landlord’s response.

In a series of further planned reforms, a new minimum energy efficiency standard for private rented homes will be set an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of ‘E’:

From 1st April 2018 landlord will be unable to issue a new tenancy for rented property with an EPC rating of ‘F’ or ‘G’, subject to certain exemptions.

From 1st April 2020 the restriction on renting out properties with an EPC rating of ‘F’ or ‘G’ will apply to all existing tenancies in a domestic private rented property, subject to certain exemptions.

From 1st April 2023 the restriction on renting out properties with an EPC rating of ‘F’ or ‘G’ will apply to all existing tenancies in a non-domestic private rented property, subject to certain exemptions.

NALS licensed firms are being encouraged to help landlord identify their ‘F’ and ‘G’ rated properties so they can explore options for upgrading energy efficiency before the new tenancy restrictions come into force.