Blog - Page 2 of 7 - HAS Property Management


How will new HMO licensing rules affect landlords?


In early March, 2018, the Government introduced new rules regarding licensing of houses in multiple occupation.

From October 1st, 2018, there will be an extension to the scope of mandatory licensing requirements for HMOs, under section 55(3) of the Housing Act 2004.

This means that more properties will require a licence before they can be let.

From October 2018, HMOs occupied by five or more people must have an appropriate mandatory licence, with the number of storeys no longer a consideration.

The changes go further; HMO licensing will also now apply to purpose-built flats where there are up to two flats in the block.

HMOs that currently require a selective licence, will be subject to mandatory licensing from October 1st, 2018.

Landlords will have to obtain a mandatory licence where their property meets the following criteria:

• It is occupied by five or more persons;
• is occupied by persons living in two or more separate households; and meets—
• the standard test under section 254(2) of the Act;
• the self-contained flat test under section 254(3) of the Act but is not a purpose-built flat situated in a block comprising three or more self-contained flats; or
• the converted building test under section 254(4) of the Act.

A licence is valid for five years and a separate licence must apply to each HMO property.

Jorden Abbs, director of operations at Commercial Trust Limited, commented: “It is absolutely essential that you keep up to date with the changes taking place and ensure that you have the relevant HMO licence, if this is required. In the first instance, you should speak to your local council to learn if a licence is necessary and if so, what you must do.

“The changes coming in will impact on a number of London’s landlords, but represent a further effort to improve standards with the private rental market.

“Lenders already adopt differing approaches to investors who are looking to finance an HMO.

“If you are looking to obtain financing for an HMO, come and talk to us. We work with a broad range of buy to let lenders offering landlords a wide choice of products. With a telephone conversation, we can help to identify the best buy to let mortgage to fit your circumstances.”

Tackling the housing crisis- what’s next?

In Autumn 2017, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that by the mid 2020s, an extra 300,000 homes would be built annually to try and tackle the housing crisis. This would require an investment of at least £44 billion over the next 5 years. Additionally, the removal of Stamp Duty applied to purchases below £300,000 was introduced to encourage more first-time buyers. This was particularly aimed at encouraging millennials who had been predominantly renting rather than buying property. The newly released Spring Statement 2018 has no new major announcements but offers a few more initiatives aimed at tackling the housing crisis. The chancellor confirmed that the government was on track to hit their targeted number of new homes.

The Spring Statement outlined new investments plans:
– An investment of £1.67 billion to build 22,000 new homes by 2021/22 in London to tackle the housing crisis.
– 215,000 new homes to be built by 2031 in the West Midlands facilitated by a £100 million grant from the land remediation fund.
– Additionally, the House Growth Partnership was doubled to £220 million in order to support the smaller household builders.

The build to rent initiative is a potential solution to the chronic housing shortage with the current younger generation finding it increasingly harder to climb onto the housing ladder, seeking rented accommodation as the only option left to them. Investors and developers have therefore become interested in purpose-built blocks of rental homes as the market is extremely buoyant and reliable in contrast with the unpredictability of the standard housing market. A successful example of this Build to Rent scheme is the East Village in Stratford where 3,000 homes were built by Delancey and Qatari Diar.

In 2018, the government announced that 133 council led projects would receive funding under its Housing Infrastructure Fund thus paving the way for 200,000 new homes to be built helping to meet the required 300,000 homes by the mid-2020s.

The £866 million fund is part of the £5 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund that has been established to increase the speed at which new homes are constructed and help alleviate the current housing shortage.

This investment finances 133 council led infrastructure projects to build essential services and resources such as roads, cycle paths, flood defences, energy and water supply and land remediation work. Allowing for expansion and making housing developments viable in some of Britain’s highest demand areas. The former housing secretary, Sajid Javid, explained that without this financial support, these projects would take years to get started and may struggle to even get off the ground at all, thus further delaying the homes that communities desperately need.

The government highlighted some infrastructure development projects including:

• Manor Cluster in Sheffield, where £3.6 million of funding for drainage works, new roads and footpaths will help unlock more than 400 homes by 2025.
• Ashton Green in Leicester, where 3,300 homes are in the pipeline following a £10 million investment for new roads.
• Botley in Hampshire, where 1,000 properties will now be constructed due to a by-pass.
• Ilfracombe Southern Extension in Devon where 750 new homes can be unlocked thanks to £6.5 million funding for a new primary school.

This Infrastructure Fund is just one of the main Government schemes introduced to boost the development of new homes. Other initiatives include reducing time waiting for planning permission, changing rules to accommodate the conversion of agricultural or industrial buildings into housing, and providing extra cash for the Home Builders Fund which helps small developers access finance.

Rental sector remains resilient amid gloomy housing market

The latest data and analysis from HomeLet has revealed rental prices across the UK have shown a modest rise in the first quarter of 2018. Overall, rents have risen by 0.9% in the last twelve months, equating to an average monthly increase of £3 per property.

Martin Totty, chief executive of HomeLet, had this to say: “Rental price inflation was much more stable over the whole of 2017 compared to 2016, when rents rose at an annual rate of more than 4% in the first half of the year, before dropping back in the second half. So far, we are seeing this more stable market continue to prevail in 2018.

Accoding to the latest figures from HomeLet, average rents in the UK are now £912 – up by 0.9% on the same time last year. When London is excluded, the average rent in the UK is now £759, this is up by 0.1% on last year.

Rents in Scotland are showing the highest year-on-year increase at 5.6%. The region with the largest month-on-month decrease was the North East, showing a 2.1% difference between February and March 2018.

Martin continued:“The data also shows the sensitivity of the rental market to factors other than simply location. Last year, we saw rents in the areas surrounding the commuter belt to the south of the capital rise during a spate of rail strikes. The rate of growth has now slowed in this area as the strikes have ended. However, in the first quarter of 2018 rents in the central and eastern regions of London rose, which coincides with Crossrail nearing completion and suggests commutability into London has a real-time impact on the rental market.”

During the first quarter of 2018, house prices across the UK rose by 2.7%, whilst the rental market increases have been nowhere near as significant, rising just 0.3% (from £909 to £912), showing much more stability, which has characterised the rental sector over a long period. As well as this, overall rents have risen much slower over the last year than consumer price inflation, which was 2.5% in February.”

Martin concluded: “This data shows that a year into the three year phasing-in of changes to buy-to-let landlord taxation, rental inflation so far has remained steady rather than increasing as some commentators had predicted.”

Whilst March’s average increase reflects higher rents recorded in 10 of the 12 areas of the country HomeLet monitors – Wales and the North East bucking the trend – the pace of rental price inflation has slowed from 1.2% in February.

Friday 13th – unlucky for some landlords?

It’s Friday 13th, and whether you are superstitious or not, we all know that accidents can and do happen. In 2017, Total Landlord Insurance (TLI) paid on average £759 for accidental damage claims, reminding landlords of the importance of having insurance cover and ensuring it is up to date.

According to TLI, the most common causes of accidental damage claims in 2017 were flooding due to tenants leaving bath taps on, tenants dropping the shower head and cracking shower trays and spillage up walls and on carpets e.g. tenant walking across the hallway, falling and spilling red wine up the walls.

Damage caused by children (e.g. children kicking a football and accidentally smashing the policyholder’s window) came in 4th.

The highest ever accidental damage claim received by Total Landlord Insurance was worth £19,000. The tenant left the taps on and went to work only to return at the end of the day to find the property flooded. The brand-new kitchen work surfaces, doors, hob/cooker and vinyl flooring were all warped. The building was soaked throughout, and the ceiling and walls had bulged, along with the light fittings and smoke alarms which were destroyed. The tenant was unable to use the property whilst the property was repaired so loss of rent was also paid out.

Eddie Hooker, CEO of Total Landlord Insurance, comments “Buildings and contents insurance needs to be based on rebuild or replacement values. Landlords should base their contents insurance on the cost of replacing all household contents, including all furniture and appliances provided to tenants such as fridge/freezer, television and sofa. Landlords should be mindful they need to be as accurate as possible to ensure they have sufficient cover, and if you have a new kitchen fitted, for example, keep hold of the invoices so you can prove its value in the event something gets damaged.”

Universal Credit claimants to get ‘rent boost’ from the government

The government has announced that people in receipt of Housing Benefit will receive an extra 2 weeks’ support with their rent when they move onto Universal Credit.

New Universal Credit claimants already getting support with their housing costs will continue to receive Housing Benefit for 2 weeks after their claim ends, to help them transition onto Universal Credit.

This non-recoverable extra support is worth an average £233 and is set to help around 2.3 million people when they move onto Universal Credit.

Work and Pensions Secretary of State Esther McVey said: “Universal Credit has been specifically designed to be simpler and provide better personalised employment support. It ensures all benefits get paid in one monthly payment, so you won’t be getting separate amounts from different agencies for housing or tax credits.

However, we understand that moving onto Universal Credit can be a big change for those used to the previous benefits system – especially the monthly payment, designed to reflect the world of work. So this week, extra rent support is being made available to allow people to adjust from fortnightly Housing Benefit payments to monthly Universal Credit ones.

Universal Credit removes the barriers which prevented people from taking up work in the past, most notably the 16 hour cut off rule and the prohibitive tax rates should someone start work. Instead, Universal Credit ensures it pays to take on extra hours of work, and provides additional employment support to not only help get you into a job but also progress up the career ladder.”

Tops Tips To Improve Your EPC Rating

You need to know that starting from April 1, 2018, it will be unlawful to rent a property that does not comply with the minimum performance rating. The minimum is set at E. Here are some top tips for improving your rating:

  • Replace your halogen, or non-low energy lighting, with light emitting diodes (LEDs), or compact fluorescent light
  • Install roof insulation, and make sure it is at least 270mm in depth
  • Check your walls for cavities. Make sure to fill and fix the cavities, so that there is no risk of air infiltration
  • Control your temperature, by installing modern controls, such as a room thermostat, or individual, thermostatic radiator valves
  • Replace your old and inefficient boiler with a central heating system
  • Try to replace your appliances with higher energy ratings. For example, if your appliances are ranked B, look for some that are ranked A++
  • Pay attention to the windows. Without properly insulated windows, your home will lose 10% of the heat
  • Consider renewable technologies, such as solar panels

Still looking for an answer to the ‘how can I improve my EPC rating’ question? Let’s take a look at why spray foam proves to be the best insulation solution long-term.


Why Spray Foam Insulation’s a Prime Performer

We mentioned previously that one way to improve your EPC rating is by installing insulation. There are different insulation types and materials. But we firmly believe spray foam to be the best among them. Here are seven reasons why:

  • You can use spray foam for your walls, but also for your windows
  • Closed spray foam insulation has the highest R-value on the market at 7 per inch. That makes spray foam the most powerful insulator on the market
  • Spray foam has an expansive nature, allowing you to seal all nooks and crannies in your home. With other insulation materials, these might stay exposed
  • Spray foam reduces your energy bill by 50%. No other material can offer such savings
  • Spray foam is the only insulation material that provides air-tight seal of all holes, cracks, and cavities in your home. Spray foam is 24 less permeable to air infiltration than any other type of insulation
  • In addition, spray foam prevents moisture. Spray foam is not just an air barrier, but also a moisture barrier. By preventing moisture, spray foam effectively combats mould and other problems
  • But most importantly, spray foam insulation has long life span of 20+ years. And it is eco-friendly, further reducing your carbon footprint. Thanks to the inert polymer that spray foam is compromised, the insulation has indefinite lifespan. You invest in insulation once, and have yourself set for life.

All being said, spray foam is your answer to the question how can I improve my EPC rating.

How Can I Improve My EPC Rating?

Getting Your Deposit Back

Moving In

When you rent a property, you should do your own inspection as soon as possible, taking note of any existing damage and reporting it to your ARLA Propertymark letting agent or your landlord. Be sure to take dated pictures, the day you move in, of even the most insignificant damage and check the small print before you sign an inventory check-in.


The number one cause of disputes over the return of deposits is down to cleaning and the condition of properties at the end of the rental period. For many people, cleaning is an after-thought, but leaving a property either untidy or dirty can result in heavy deposit deductions.

The easiest way to avoid losing out is to keep on top of your cleaning and maintain your accommodation throughout the year. Think about setting up a cleaning rota, or getting stuck into monthly deep cleans with your housemates.


If you do decide to leave it to the last minute, make sure to do a full and thorough clean before you leave, and don’t forget to tidy the garden if you have one. However, if you don’t fancy getting your hands dirty, you can always hire a professional cleaning service to help you out.


Accidents do happen, so if the property does become damaged, you should report it in writing to your agent and landlord as soon as possible – don’t wait until the end of your agreement to flag it.

Remember, money can’t be deducted from your deposit for general wear and tear; this includes minor signs of use such as worn carpets, minor scrapes and scuffs on the walls and faded curtains. If your landlord tries to charge you for this, you should contact your tenancy deposit protection scheme who will put you in touch with their dispute resolution service.

Your landlord is required to hold your deposit in a registered tenancy scheme and give you written confirmation of which scheme they are using within 30 days of receiving your deposit. This means that you and your money will be protected throughout your rental period. If you are unsure which scheme to contact however, check your tenancy agreement paperwork as the deposit service your landlord is using should be detailed in there.


You are probably going to want to add a bit of personality to your new home, but remember, if you want to redecorate the house or flat you’re renting, you should always get the landlord’s permission first. If you have already made changes, for example, painted a wall or put up a shelf, make sure to return the property to its previous state when you leave.

When removing pictures or posters, take care not to remove layers of paint and plaster, or leave holes and stains on walls that your landlord will have to redecorate over.

Paint Brushes

For ideas on how to make your rented house feel like home, take a look at our landlord-friendly design tips.


It is important to keep hold of any documents, information and correspondence during your lease until your deposit is returned. Make sure you have a copy of the following:

  • Your tenancy agreement
  • Details of your tenancy deposit protection
  • A copy of the check-in inventory that has been signed by both you and your landlord
  • Check-in and check-out photos of any damage or wear and tear
  • Records of any correspondence between you and your agent or landlord. If you made phone calls to your agent or landlord, make notes of the date, time and what was discussed and follow up any phone calls with an email


It is important to stay on top of your rent payments throughout the year, but if you’re struggling to make them, talk to your landlord or agent as soon as possible – don’t just ignore the problem.

Your landlord is entitled to deduct any unpaid rent from your deposit if you still owe money when you move out, so keep an eye on your monthly finances and remember to budget for your monthly rent costs.

If you think your landlord or letting agent has made unfair or unjustified deductions from your deposit, you can raise it with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), who will act as independent adjudicators to try find an amicable resolution.

Agents welcome mandatory qualification, new regulator and code of practice

Letting agents have responded with enthusiasm to the government’s announcement over the Easter weekend that the industry would in future have to abide by a mandatory code of practice and individuals would have to achieve a nationally-recognised qualification.

The government caught some sectors of the industry by surprise when it revealed on Sunday that  criminal charges would be brought against those letting and managing agents who break the code, and said that a new regulator will be set up to police the code.

Agents failing to comply will be barred from trading, while those who commit serious code breaches will face prosecution.

Former RICS residential faculty chairman Jeremy Leaf said on Twitter: ”Excellent long overdue news which should compromise rogue operators and enhance customer confidence, but must be properly enforced.”

But he added: “We need firm dates for delivery as all a bit wishy washy in that regard at the moment.”

Kristjan Byfield of London agency Base Property Specialists also took to social media to say: “In principle this is good news … How this is legislated, funded and enforced will be pivotal. However, with it taking 18 to 24 months for the government to configure a letting fee ban this could be a slow task.”

ARLA was also supportive with David Cox, chief executive, saying in a statement: “We are hugely supportive of these proposals. After 20 years of campaigning, the government has finally listened to our call for proper regulation of the industry. For the last two decades, successive governments have passed significant amounts of complex legislation on landlords; none of which have been properly policed or adequately enforced.”

He continued: “These announcements demonstrate a very sensible shift towards focusing on the root cause of the issues affecting the sector rather than trying to find legislative solutions to individual problems. For landlords, their rental property is usually their biggest asset after the home in which they live; and for tenants, it’s their home.

He continued: “These announcements demonstrate a very sensible shift towards focusing on the root cause of the issues affecting the sector rather than trying to find legislative solutions to individual problems. For landlords, their rental property is usually their biggest asset after the home in which they live; and for tenants, it’s their home.

“It must be the right of every landlord and every tenant to have a letting agent who knows what they are doing, is professionally qualified and the money they entrust to their agent is protected. This is a huge step towards creating a level playing field across the industry, and we look forward to working with the government on this.”

NALS also backs the measure, with chief executive Isobel Thomson saying: “We welcome the government’s recognition of the current contribution that lettings and management firms play within the Private Rented Sector. Creating a level playing field will eliminate the poor practice and dishonesty that currently tarnishes the sector and ensure a safe and fair experience for tenants and landlords. Agents who already submit to self-regulation should have nothing to be concerned about.”

The government’s announcement reads: “With thousands of renters and leaseholders suffering at the hands of rogue agents every day from unexpected costs, deliberately vague bills or poor quality repairs, a new mandatory code of practice is proposed to stop managing and letting agents from flouting the law.

“To further professionalise both sectors, letting and managing agents will be required to obtain a nationally recognised qualification to practice, with at least one person in every organisation required to have a higher qualification.

“A new independent regulator responsible for working practices of agents will be given strong powers of enforcement for those who break the rules – and agents who fail to comply will not be permitted to trade. Criminal sanctions could also be brought in for those who severely breach the code.”

Housing minister Heather Wheeler says: “Most property agents take a thorough and professional approach when carrying out their business, but sadly some do not. By introducing new standards for the sector, we will clamp down on the small minority of agents who abuse the system so we can better protect tenants and leaseholders who find themselves at the end of a raw deal.”

Other proposals to be brought in under the code include:

– a new system to help leaseholders challenge unfair fees including service charges;

– support for leaseholders to switch their managing agents where they perform poorly or break the terms of their contract;

– a requirement for all letting and managing agents to undertake continuing professional development and training.

The new code will be developed by a working group comprising representatives of letting, managing and estate agents, as well as tenants and regulation experts. The government says the group will be established as soon as possible and is expected to draw up the final proposals early next year.

The group will also look in greater depth at unfair additional charges for freehold and leaseholders and whether they should be capped or banned. This includes the use of restrictive covenants, leasehold restrictions and administration charges.

The government has also published its response to its consultation on the introduction of mandatory Client Money Protection schemes for letting agents, with legislation to be brought forward to introduce privately-led schemes and civil penalties of up to £30,000 for agents who fail to comply with the scheme.

According to industry estimates, £2.7 billion in client funds is held by letting agents at any one time.

“Making this scheme mandatory is vital to ensure every agent is offering the same level of protection, giving tenants and landlords the financial protection that they deserve, and will mean they are reimbursed if their letting agent is fraudulent or goes bankrupt” says the government’s statement.


Can Build to Rent fill the Buy to Let vacuum?

The UK is in desperate need of more homes. As the shift from owner-occupied homes to rented homes continues to be the new normal, the number of rented homes available needs to expand.

The problem is, the punishing additional 3% stamp duty on buy to let homes means that 69% of landlords have been put off investing in further rental property, according to the Residential Landlords Association.

Jonathon Ivory, Managing Director, Atlas Residential, says: “Just as the UK needs more rental homes than ever before, the stamp duty change has significantly dented investors’ interest in providing those homes.

We’re in danger of seeing a real vacuum in the buy to let market – many of those submitting their tax returns this April and May will be thinking carefully about alternative ways to make money. Thankfully, the build to rent sector is growing rapidly, providing the UK with the means to fill that vacuum.”

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, just 25% of those born in the late 1980s owned a home by the age of 27, compared with 43% of those born in the late 1970s. The situation is not going away, but the buy to let landlords are.

The changes are setting the scene beautifully for an influx of build to rent developers looking to create the next generation of rental homes. Packed with purpose-built facilities for socialising and working from home, build to rent schemes elevate rented housing to the next level.

Build to rent is still in its infancy in the UK, with just 105,000 units either complete, underway or planned, compared with a UK population of 65 million people. However, with buy to let rapidly losing its charm in investors’ eyes, it’s time for the build to rent sector to grow up fast.

Jonathon concluded: “Build to rent provides an unprecedented opportunity to put renters’ needs first. Renters can enjoy premium facilities that have been shaped around the contemporary urban lifestyle. Demand for homes in the UK is stronger than ever and the build to rent sector is ideally positioned to meet that demand. It is also well placed to adapt to the changing needs of the market. As the build to rent sector in the UK evolves, family homes are starting to take shape.”

Three things to consider before you take the plunge into property investment

According to the latest figures released by IMLA, new investment in the buy-to-let market has fallen by £20bn in the last two years, so it may seem that putting your money into property is no longer a wise move.

Recent changes in legislation and greater scrutiny from lenders have meant that many buy-to-let investors are no longer expanding their portfolios as rapidly as they once were. However, if you do your homework, property can still be a good, solid long-term investment, providing excellent annual returns and appreciation rates.

If you are looking to take the plunge into property investment, or even if you have already built up a portfolio, here’s what you need to know about the latest legislation …

landlord key

1: Allow for stamp duty surcharges

If you have a pot of money put aside for a second property make sure you do your sums first, factoring in all the charges you are likely to incur in addition to the price of the property itself.

Changes in stamp duty land tax mean you will have to pay 3% on top of the existing stamp duty rates currently paid on main residences. This will apply even if your existing home is abroad and you are purchasing your second property in the UK.

Furthermore, unlike the tiered stamp duty rates, which are applied proportionately to the value of the property, the 3% charge applies to the entire purchase price. For example, if you are buying a property for £300,000, you will pay 3% on the full amount and then the standard rates of 0% on the first £125,000, 2% of the value between £125,001 to £250,000 and 5% for the remaining portion of £251,000 to £300,000. To put it into context, if you were purchasing the property as your main residence you’d pay £5,000 in stamp duty charges, but as a second property it will cost you more than double the amount at £14,000.

Once upon a time a landlord was able to claim tax relief on rental income by deducting both mortgage interest and other allowable costs associated with a let property. However, changes being phased in since April 2017 mean this relief is being significantly reduced over the next few years until it is replaced with a new 20% tax credit system in 2020.

Therefore, 100% of any rent you receive will have to be declared and added as income on top of any income you already earn from other sources. For example, if you are already in paid employment earning an annual salary as a basic rate taxpayer at 20%, you could end up tipping the scales into the higher rate tax band of 40%, which will also affect your personal savings allowance.

3: Should you set up as a limited company?

Limited companies are not subject to the same set of tax relief rules as sole traders, so setting one up might seem like an ideal solution. However, investors should do their homework before jumping straight in. Research has suggested that using a limited company for property investment is only worthwhile if you’re buying four or more properties, and in the case of existing landlords this could be a lot more.

For example, rates on mortgage loans are usually a lot higher than for personal borrowers so this could offset any potential savings. And if you do decide to move an existing property portfolio over into company ownership you could be in line for a hefty bill in the form of capital gains tax and stamp duty payments.

What next?

Whatever you are planning, before making any final decisions always make sure you seek professional advice from a tax specialist and independent mortgage adviser. They will be able to fully assess your situation and provide you with information so you can be armed with the full facts before taking the plunge.