Rentshield Direct fundraising activities provide welcome donation to local lifeboat station.

Employees from Rentshield Direct gathered at Teignmouth’s RNLI station to present the team and members of its lifesaving crew with a cheque for £725, raised by the company in 2019.

As Rentshield Direct’s nominated annual charity, the team organised a number of events and charity days throughout 2019 to raise funds for the local lifeboat station as a way of showing their appreciation for the life-saving work the RNLI undertake.

Mark Tidridge, Head of Rentshield Direct commented; “We have been a local business here in the town for over 15 years and like to support and give back to the local community as much as possible. The RNLI plays such a crucial role in the south west and particularly along the south Devon coast. We are delighted to be able to present our donation to the Teignmouth RNLI station and provide their fundraising arm with healthy cash boost at the start of 2020. This is a small token of our appreciation for all the amazing work they do, putting their own lives at risk in order to save others.”

Barrie Behenna from the fundraising at Teignmouth Station commented; “Teignmouth RNLI very much appreciates gestures of support from our community, in which it plays an integral part, and the generosity of Rentshield in naming us their charity of the year in 2019 is warmly appreciated. The money will be spent in support of ongoing crew training.”

The cheque was presented to Barrie Behenna and members of the Teignmouth RNLI team during its practice training exercises on Sunday 5 January 2020.

       

Part of Barbon Insurance Group, the largest tenant referencing and specialist lettings insurance company in the UK, Teignmouth-based Rentshield Direct have over 15 years’ experience in providing comprehensive tenant referencing services and insurance products to the lettings industry and private landlords market.


Rentshield Direct fundraising activities provide welcome donation to local lifeboat station.

Welcome to the Rentshield Rental Index, November 2019 edition. Here you can find our latest figured on rental amounts, variance levels and rent to income ratios throughout the UK.

Key headlines from the November 2019 Rental Index

  • Rents in the UK rose by 3.2% in November compared to the same month a year ago; the average monthly rent now stands at £947 a month
  • Rents in London increased by 3.2% in November this year compared to November 2018; the average monthly rent in the capital now stands at £1,648 a month
  • When London is excluded, the average UK rental value was £784 in November 2019, this is up 3.2% on last year
  • Rentshield’s November Rental Index reveals that rents rose in all 12 of the UK regions covered in the research

Click here for the full report


The November Rentshield Rental Index

Our Christmas and New Year Opening Hours

Christmas Eve 9am – 1pm
Christmas Day CLOSED
Boxing Day CLOSED
Friday 27 December 9am – 5.30pm
Saturday 28 December CLOSED
Monday 30 December 9am – 5.30pm
Tuesday 31 December 9am – 1pm
New Year’s Day CLOSED

Our normal business hours resume on 2 January 2020. Season’s Greetings from everyone at Rentshield Direct.


Our Christmas and New Year opening hours

Welcome to the Rentshield Rental Index, October 2019 edition. Here you can find our latest figured on rental amounts, variance levels and rent to income ratios throughout the UK.

Key headlines from the October 2019 Rental Index

  • Rents in the UK rose by 2.7% in October compared to the same month a year ago; the average monthly rent now stands at £953 a month
  • Rents in London increased by 2.8% in October this year compared to October 2018; the average monthly rent in the capital now stands at £1,665 a month
  • When London is excluded, the average UK rental value was £788 in October 2019, this is up 2.6% on last year
  • Rentshield’s October Rental Index reveals that rents rose in all 12 of the UK regions covered in the research

Click here for the full report


The October Rentshield Rental Index

 

Legislation update – Right to Rent and Brexit

 

When Brexit actually happens, if at all, is still up in the air, with the snap December general election (the third in five years) leaving a number of options on the table – from a clean break Brexit to leaving with Boris Johnson’s deal, a second referendum or no Brexit at all.

Despite this ongoing uncertainty, the government has for a long time been asking businesses and individuals – including letting agents and landlords – to prepare for life outside of the EU.

This has included updated guidance for the controversial Right to Rent policy in a post-Brexit world.

Here, we explore what that guidance said as well as analysing the latest goings-on with Brexit and the December poll.

New Right to Rent guidance provided

Back in in May, the UK government outlined new guidance on Right to Rent checks for EU citizens after Britain leaves the union. It stated that until January 1 2021 EU, EEA and Swiss citizens would continue to be able to prove their Right to Rent in England as they do now – by showing a passport or permitted identity documents either on their own or in combination.

When this guidance was issued, the government – then still led by Theresa May – made a cast-iron promise that this situation would remain the same regardless of whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal.

In addition, the guidance made clear that letting agents would not be required to check whether tenants who are EU nationals arrived before or after the UK left the EU, or if they have status under the EU Settlement Scheme or European Temporary Leave to Remain (Euro TLR).

Further to this, letting agents would not be required to retrospectively check the status of EU, EEA or Swiss tenants or their family members who entered into a tenancy agreement before January 1 2021. Irish citizens, meanwhile, would continue to have the right to rent in the UK and prove their right to rent as they do now, for example by using their passport.

Industry guidance

In September, ARLA Propertymark, urged its member agents and the industry to make to be up to speed with how Right to Rent is likely to work on November 1, the day after Britain was due to leave the EU until the recent extra extension.

The industry has now been given some more breathing space with the delay to January 31 2020, but there has been no updated guidance since May 2019 – and nothing from the Boris Johnson-led administration – which means that landlords and letting agents could lack clarity over what exactly their responsibilities are if and when Britain leaves the EU.

ARLA provided useful guidance on how to plan for Right to Rent for November 1 and beyond, which could still prove handy for those operating in the lettings sector, but a fresh update from the government would be welcome in the lead-up to the election. Otherwise letting agents and landlords – who some argue have been acting as de facto border police as a result of Right to Rent – will continue to battle confusion and uncertainty.

With the election campaign now in full swing, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) recently released its six-point manifesto, with point three being: ‘End Right to Rent – ending the Right to Rent scheme would end the discrimination that has emerged as a result of the stringent checks’.

There have been regular calls for the controversial policy to be scrapped ever since it was rolled out across England from February 1 2016, and the new government will continue to face these calls after the election.

 How did we get to another election?

It’s a question weary voters may well be asking themselves as they are dragged to the polls for a fourth major vote since 2015, but Boris Johnson’s failure to get his Brexit deal through Parliament by his ‘do or die’ Halloween deadline meant he was forced to ask the EU for a further extension to January 31 2020.

He also, in an effort gain a majority and break the Brexit impasse, pushed hard for an election – which, at the third time of asking, he was successful in achieving when Labour (satisfied and reassured that no-deal was effectively off the table for a few more months) agreed to the poll on December 12.

Party members, activists and politicians are all now out on the campaign trail as they try to gain votes in the first pre-Christmas election since 1923. It’s set to be the most unpredictable election in recent times as long-held loyalties are tested, with Labour’s Leave-voting northern heartlands threatened by the Conservatives and the Brexit Party, the Tories facing wipeout in Scotland, and the Lib Dems hoping to build on its recent surge in support with ambitious plans to gain more than a hundred seats.

There has been much talk of tactical voting and Leave or Remain alliances, but there is every chance we could be back to where we are now – with a hung parliament and a deeply divided House of Commons reflecting a country that is effectively split in half on the biggest political issue of our times.

For now, the rules surrounding Right to Rent remain the same, but in a fast-changing political arena this could change fast so landlords and agents need to make sure they are sticking to the regulations when granting new tenancies – even if further guidance from those at the top would be very welcome.


Legislation update – Right to Rent and Brexit

Landlord licensing update – overview for letting agents

As a letting agent, it’s your duty to ensure your landlords remain fully compliant with all regulation and legislation.

One area which might potentially slip under a landlord’s radar is licensing – which is broadly split into three categories: selective licensing, HMO licensing and additional licensing.

Here, we briefly explain what each type of licensing involves, analyse the attempts to strengthen landlord licensing even further and explore some case studies of places where landlord licensing has been introduced.

What are the different types of landlord licensing?

Under the Housing Act 2004, selective licensing – designed to try and stop socially unacceptable behaviour from occurring as well as stamping out rogue landlords – and licensing for certain houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) were introduced in April 2006 in an effort to raise standards in the private rented sector.

There is also what is known as additional licensing – introduced on a discretionary basis by some councils to cope with the issues caused by HMOs that are not covered by mandatory licensing.

When it comes to selective licensing, local authorities have the powers to implement a selective licensing scheme covering nearly all private rented properties within a defined geographical area. Typically, they will target places with low housing demand or serious/ongoing issues with anti-social behaviour that are directly linked to homes which are privately rented. Some schemes are borough-wide, while other schemes only cover certain problematic wards.

These powers were widened in March 2015, albeit with caveats. Local authorities needed to justify the introduction of selective licensing schemes by satisfying at least one of four criteria: poor housing conditions, migration, deprivation or crime. As well as proving the need is there, councils must also take reasonable steps to consult for a minimum of 10 weeks with everyone potentially impacted by the introduction of a scheme.

In London, where twelve boroughs have introduced selective licensing schemes (both borough-wide and ward-specific) since 2013, new rules were introduced in April 2015 to make it more difficult for councils to implement borough-wide schemes. Central government approval now needs to be received for any selective licensing scheme covering more than 20% of a borough or 20% of the privately rented homes on offer in a defined geographical area.

With regards to HMOs, the original mandatory licensing meant large HMOs – defined as homes with five or more tenants forming more than one household, sharing facilities such as kitchens, bathrooms, and/or toilets, over three or more floors – had to be licensed to be rented out on a legal footing.

This was extended on October 1 2018 to include all large HMOs, regardless of the number of storeys they have.

When the new regulations were implemented last year, predictions suggested that an extra 177,000 HMOs would be subject to mandatory licensing in England, on top of the 60,000 properties that were already under the banner of mandatory licensing.

There are certain exemptions, including student halls of residence owned by the university and situations where the landlord is a resident with up to two tenants. Full definitions of a HMO and exemptions to the HMO regulations can be seen here.

Government review could lead to tighter licensing

The government insisted last year it was committed to improving guidance for letting agents, landlords and local authorities when it comes to selective licensing, and with this in mind it commissioned Opinion Research Services to carry out a thorough review of the existing system.

The review highlighted that selective licensing is an effective tool when implemented in the correct manner, but at the same time there are a number of areas where the operation or implementation of selective licensing schemes could be upgraded.

Such improvements, according to the report, could include the creation of a landlords register, changes to the way licensing proposals are consulted upon and a ‘light touch’ easier renewal of licensing regimes when they expire. The full findings and recommendations from the independent review into the use and effectiveness of selective licensing can be viewed here.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said, when announcing the release of the report, that selective licensing had made a real difference to areas across the country.

“With proper planning, consultation and implementation, these schemes can make a real difference to the quality of homes people live in,” they added.

Further schemes in the offing

Landlord licensing has been in the news plenty of late, with Islington and Enfield councils both opening consultations on additional and selective licensing, while the London Borough of Havering is looking to extend an additional and selective licensing scheme to include the six remaining wards currently not covered – although the RLA has warned this could push up rents.

Meanwhile, a senior Labour politician and campaign group in Sheffield have called for a selective licensing scheme to be extended across the whole city, and it’s been claimed that Nottingham City Council’s 5-year selective licensing scheme has added £40pcm to the average tenancy.

In Nottingham, licensing regimes cover 90% of the city’s privately rented properties, equating to some 32,000 homes – making it the largest scheme by property volume outside of London.

While licensing schemes are at their most common in London – where the private rented sector is huge and the largest single form of tenure – they are also found across England, from Durham to Bristol and Blackburn to Gateshead.

How can you help landlords to be compliant?

You can make sure your landlords are remaining compliant with landlord licensing law by getting to grips with the different types of landlord licensing and working out if a) the type of property they have is licensable and b) if they are in a particular area which requires a privately rented home to be licensed.

The local authority website for the area you cover will provide you with all the information you need on what licensing schemes are enforced. It then falls on you to inform your landlords of how they can remain complaint, or take on this responsibility for them as part of the overall property management service you offer.

On a basic level, if your landlord has an HMO with five or more tenants, it will fall under the banner of mandatory HMO licensing. Meanwhile, if your landlord has an HMO with three or more tenants, you may need an additional licence but this will depend on the location of your property and whether or not your local council has introduced these measures.

If your landlord doesn’t have an HMO but is operating in an area where a selective licensing scheme is in play, they may also need to licence their rental property.

If unsure, contact your local authority for more information.

 


Landlord Licensing Update – Overview for Letting Agents