Landlords responsible for the prevention of Legionnaires disease

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“let’s talk”

newsletter

FOR THE PRIV

ATE RENTED SECTOR

ISSUE 33

33

Welcome to the 33rd edition of “Lets Talk”, the

newsletter for the private rented sector in East Ayrshire.

This newsletter contains important information that you need

to be aware of as a private landlord or agent.

Please note that

in future this newsletter will only be sent by e-mail and made

available on East Ayrshire Councils website. Please therefore

ensure that we have your e-mail address and that you keep this

up to date.

If we hold an e-mail address for you, all landlord

registration renewal notification will be sent by e-mail.

You can check or change your e-mail address by accessing your

registration application using your user

name and password or by contacting the

Private Sector Housing Unit on 01563

554584,554560 or 576878. Please

always ensure that your contact name

and address held on the landlord

registration system is accurate. Please

ensure you check your e-mails and avoid

important notification from us being missed.

Private

Landlord’s

Forum

The next meeting of the East Ayrshire Private Landlord Forum will be at the Burns Monument Centre, Kay Park, Kilmarnock, KA3 7RU on Wednesday 25th March 2015 from 6.30pm until 8.30pm.

The Agenda will be as follows: 6.30 Welcome & Introduction,

Karen Walker, Private Sector Housing Unit

6.40 Presentation covering electrical safety information and new legislation, Stuart McKelvie SELECT

7.00 Presentation regarding Community Involvement Opportunities

7.15 Tea and Coffee

7.30 Presentation covering welfare benefit reform from Debbie Wright from the Department of Work and Pensions.

If you would wish to attend the Forum please contact either Karen Walker or Liz King on 01563 554560 or 576878 to confirm attendance as places are limited.

New campaign

launched to stop

illegal evictions

A new campaign targeting the criminal practice of illegal eviction by private landlords has been launched by Shelter Scotland.

Illegal Eviction – Know Your Rights will visit several towns and cities across the country to raise awareness among landlords and tenants that illegal eviction is a criminal offence and a matter for the police.

Landlords

responsible for

the prevention

of Legionnaires’

disease

Private landlords must take suitable precautions to prevent or control the risk their tenants contracting Legionnaires’ disease.

For further details please visit

www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/what-you-must-do.htm

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Garden Maintenance and Uplifts

East Ayrshire Council’s Private Sector Unit is dealing with a number of complaints regarding the lack of garden maintenance with some private lets.

Although most landlords will have a clause in their lease agreement to make their tenant responsible for the general upkeep of the garden it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that their tenants adhere to this clause and to inspect the property to ensure that the garden is in an acceptable condition.

Steps to put in place:

• Ensure that your tenant knows that it is their responsibility to maintain the garden;

• Ensure that they know what area of the garden is their responsibility; • Establish an inspection programme;

this is particularly important if you have a number of properties; • If the garden is found to be in an

unacceptable condition, letter your tenant requiring action to be taken within a specified time.

In terms of landlord registration, landlords have a duty to manage their properties appropriately. If there are persistent management failures this may jeopardise a landlords registration.

In future, Cleansing Services may be instructed to remove items of furniture etc from private lets if the landlord has failed to arrange for their removal. Landlords will be recharged for this uplift. Landlords should make their tenants aware that East Ayrshire Council provides two different types of a Special Uplift services for East Ayrshire residents:

• bulky uplifts

• kitchen and bathroom uplifts

Bulky uplifts are for larger items such as household furniture, carpets and electrical items. Garden furniture and sheds cannot be uplifted as part of a bulky uplift. With the exception of white goods - cookers, washing machines, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers and tumble dryers - uplifts are free to residents.

In any calendar year, a maximum of 5 special uplift requests will be provided per household, with a maximum of 6 items included per request. If a household requires more than six items to be uplifted at the same time, a maximum of 12 items will be collected, and this will be recorded as two uplift requests.

White goods are charged at a cost of £15.45 per item. Households where all residents are over the age of 65 will be exempt from this charge. Residents can deposit white goods free of charge at local Recycling Centres.

Please note that kitchen units and bathroom suites are not accepted as eligible items in Special uplifts - Bulky items. Please check East Ayrshire Councils website for further information on these items..

To arrange for a special uplift tenants should contact their nearest office. They will process any payment, where required, take their name, address and details of the items they wish to have collected. They will be advised to place their items within the property boundary as close as possible to your usual collection point. Cleansing Services aim to collect items within 7 working days.

There are also a number of reuse projects which operate in East Ayrshire. If unwanted items are in good repair, please consider donating items to these projects to enable others to benefit:

Cunninghame Furniture Recycling Company

Operates Monday to Friday each week during office hours. Tel: 01294 475650

The Cumnock & Doon Valley Gift Furniture Scheme

Operates Wednesday - Friday from 11.00am - 2.00pm each week, with a telephone answer machine in operation out with these hours. Tel 01292 550525

If your tenant is elderly or disabled they may be able to get assistance, please contact the Private Sector Housing Unit for further information 01563 576878/554584.

GRAFT Project

needs your

help…

The Kilmarnock based GRAFT project provides low cost furniture packs and home maintenance for vulnerable people all over East Ayrshire. The project is running low on donation stock for the homeless starter packs and desperately needs more items, particularly bedroom furniture, to meet demand.

If you have any unwanted items of furniture please get in touch with the project on 01563 574000 and they can arrange to uplift at a time to suit you. You can also contact the project through their facebook page:

www.facebook.com/GraftProject email: jackie.white@cvoea.co.uk

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HMRC Let

Property

Campaign

HMRC have recently launched a Let Property Campaign and would like Private Landlords and Letting Agents to know about this.

The campaign offers an avenue for Private Landlords to bring their tax affairs up to date, where necessary, and also provides a wealth of useful information on the tax implications around the letting of residential property in the UK or abroad.

Among the information at the website is: • Guidance

• Case Studies • Forms

• An e-learning course

• Contact details for the Let Property Campaign Helpline

For help and advice You can:

• use HMRC’s letting a property e-learning course which includes information on different types of property income, how they’re taxed, key dates, record keeping and expenses

• read more about how to make a voluntary disclosure

• watch the video about HMRC campaigns

Call the Let Property Campaign helpline if you need advice.

Let Property Campaign helpline:

Telephone: 03000 514479 From outside the UK: +44 3000 514479

FREE seminar for

private landlords

Landlord Accreditation Scotland

As landlords operating within the Private Rented Sector in Scotland there is no doubt that you will have found yourself

wondering which areas of new legislation apply to you and the properties you manage. There have been many changes over the past two years and there are still changes to come.

As landlords complying with all of the housing legislation as it comes your way and who seek to provide the best level of service to your tenants, and a high standard of accommodation, there is a way to gain recognition for your efforts whilst ensuring that you understand the legislation and how it applies to you.

Landlord Accreditation Scotland and East

Ayrshire Council

LAS have been working in partnership with East Ayrshire Council since 2009 and have provided over 16 training courses for local landlords and letting agents. LAS and East Ayrshire Council are offering a FREE seminar for private landlords registered with East Ayrshire Council on Wednesday 22nd April 2015. This seminar will provide you with full information on accreditation and a taste of what the training courses involve and how you can benefit from attending. The course is called Becoming an accredited landlord - Understanding the Scottish Core Standards for Accredited Landlords.

This seminar has been devised to guide landlords through the process of becoming accredited with Landlord Accreditation Scotland. The tutor will provide a full explanation of the requirements for accreditation and demonstrate that undertaking the best practice measures that make up the Scottish Core Standards for Accredited Landlords result in well managed tenancies.

There will also be examples from the range of courses that make up Core Standard Training Levels 1 & 2.

Seminar topics:

• What does Accreditation mean for landlords?

• Understanding the Scottish Core Standards for Accredited Landlords • Practical examples of best practice

measures

• Support & training for accredited landlords

• The accreditation checklist & application

This is an excellent opportunity for all private landlords in this area to find out about the support available and to speak to representatives from LAS and East Ayrshire Council about coming along to training & information sessions and also becoming an accredited landlord.

WEDNESDAY

A P R I L

22

Venue: Burns Monument Centre, Kay Park Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire Timescale: Registration and

Coffee: 1.30pm Start time: 2.00pm End time: 4.30pm

To register your interest for this seminar, please email info@ landlordaccreditationscotland.com To see the range of courses available please visit the LAS website: www.

landlordaccreditationscotland.com For further details on any of the information above please contact the LAS Office:

Email: info@landlordaccreditation scotland.com.

Tel: 0131 553 2211

Advertising Private

Rented Property

Reminder to all landlords - you must now include your registration number and Energy Performance Certificate rating in all property to let advertisements.

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Landlord Registration

Discounts and Exemption

Exclusions from registration are limited, in general these include:

• lets to family members (as defined in section 108, Housing (Scotland) Act 2001)

• life rents

• houses for holiday use

• properties used by religious orders and organisations

• accommodation with care • houses subject to control orders • agricultural and crofting tenancies • resident landlords

• transitory ownership (executors, heritable creditors and insolvency practitioners)

Registration fee discounts are available to landlords or agents who are

registered in other local authority areas. To obtain this discount all applications must be submitted online. Please contact the Private Sector Housing Unit if you require any further information.

Implementation

of the Housing

(Scotland) Act 2014

The Act received Royal Assent on 1 August 2014 and work is now underway to implement its provisions over the next three years. This timescale allows for the consultation needed to develop guidance and Regulations.

The first commencement order was laid in Parliament on 10 October 2014. The Commencement Order will bring into force provisions to enable the Scottish Government to consult on a number of matters relating to the private rented sector, before they are fully implemented. These include: • Electrical safety guidance – draft

guidance now issued for comment • Power to modify the repairing standard • Procedure for third party applications

to the Private Rented Housing Panel • Enhanced enforcement areas –

Consultation closed on 15 December 2014 you can download a copy of SHBVN’s response from our website • Letting agent code of practice • Provisions on the first-tier tribunal

(for private rented housing dispute resolution)

Tenancy Reform

The Scottish Government is consulting on a proposal for a new private tenancy.

This builds on the work of the Tenancy Review Group which recommended that a new tenancy be introduced, replacing the Assured and Short Assured Tenancy, for all future PRS lets. The overall aim of this is to improve security for tenants, and provide appropriate safeguards for landlords, lenders and investors. They are intended to create a modern tenure system that serves the interests of tenants and of landlords, lenders and investors.

The consultation was for 12 weeks from 6 October until 28 December 2014.

You can view the consultation

information on the Scottish Government website.

Don’t gamble

with electrical

DIY…

There are over three million “YouTube” videos that feature DIY in the home so it is perhaps no surprise that more people than ever before are using the internet to access this kind of information and then attempting to undertake work themselves rather than seeking the advice of a professional.

Electrical Safety First, the UK charity dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries caused by electrical accidents has teamed up with SELECT, the industry’s trade association, to encourage “You-Tube DIYers” to think twice before they turn to the internet for advice.

Many people are unaware of the risks of carrying out complex electrical DIY in their homes. Fitting a new bathroom or rewiring a house are among the top five electrical home improvement tasks that many people would feel confident to carry out while following online advice – complicated tasks that by law should be carried out or checked by a registered electrician. By choosing an electrical business which is registered with the Scottish Government’s Approved Certifier of Construction scheme, you are guaranteed that their electrician will have the skills to carry out the work and ensure procedures are in place should something go wrong. Electrical safety is not something anyone should take a gamble with.

For more information visit www.select.org.uk or call 0131 445 5577

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Housing Benefit for more than one property

Housing Benefit can normally only be paid for one property at any time unless the claimant meets certain criteria.

A claimant can be considered to be occupying two homes if any of the following are met:

• they have left their home due to a threat of violence

however the claimant must

intend to return home and we will require evidence that they had to flee their home

• they have an unavoidable rent liability at their old dwelling following a change of address

a maximum of up to 4

weeks can be awarded for 2 properties if the claimant has left their old dwelling, continues to have a rent liability after leaving and has a rent liability at their new dwelling. In order to meet this criteria the claimant has to move straight away and we will look at why they had to move,

if the property they left was relet quickly and if they were obliged to move before liability ended at the old dwelling.

• they have delayed their move to the new dwelling whilst waiting on necessary disablement adaptions

Discretionary Housing Payment

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) are not part of the Housing Benefit scheme but can be awarded to claimants to help those who are in receipt of Housing Benefit but are struggling to pay a shortfall between their rent and the amount they receive for Housing Benefit.

East Ayrshire Council is allocated money from the Department for Works and Pensions to give out awards and we cannot spend over the budget allowed. DHP’s are intended to help for short term periods to allow claimants to either move to cheaper accommodation, find work or deal with budgeting issues. Typically we will only make an award for 13 weeks

and we may not pay the full shortfall. Our funds are limited therefore we will not be able to help everyone and we are unlikely to help where someone has moved into a new property knowing that their Housing Benefit will not be enough to cover the rent. We cannot pay a DHP if no Housing Benefit is in payment.

In order to be considered for an award the claimant must submit an application form – answering some questions and providing full information regarding their income and expenditure. We will not accept an application from anyone other than the claimant. We will make our decision based on the information supplied and where an award is made, payment will be issued with the Housing Benefit award.

If you have a claimant who might benefit from additional help, an application is available for downloading from East Ayrshire Council’s website.

Scottish Government statutory guidance on electrical installations and

appliances in private rented property

Introduction

The Scottish Government has issued draft guidance which is expected to take effect from the 1st December 2015 in relation to whether a house meets the repairing standard in relation to installations for the supply of electricity and in relation to electrical fixtures, fittings and appliances.

This draft guidance is intended to support the change in legislation which will require private landlords to carry out electrical safety inspections every five years.

Private landlords in Scotland are required by law to ensure that a rented house meets the repairing standard at the start of a tenancy and throughout a tenancy. One part of the repairing standard is that:

• The installations in the house for the supply of electricity, • Electrical fixtures and fittings, and

• Any appliances provided by the landlord under the tenancy are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order. Landlords will be required to:

• Ensure that regular electrical safety inspections are carried out by a competent person, and

• Have regard to this guidance issued by Scottish Ministers on electrical safety standards and competent persons. Once the final guidance has been issued it will be made available on the Scottish Government website. At the

moment the draft guidance has proposed that electrical safety inspections are carried out:

• Before a tenancy starts, and • At intervals of no more

than 5 years. It is proposed that it will not be necessary to carry out a new inspection every time a new tenancy starts, as long as an inspection has been carried out in the period of 5 years before the tenancy starts.

Good Practice Information is available at www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guides-and-advice/for-landlords/.

An officer from SELECT is attending East Ayrshire Council’s forum on the 25th of March 2015 to provide further advice and assistance.

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Factoring Service

East Ayrshire Council is the factor to the 735 owners within the 315 blocks of flats. The Service has just completed the first year of operation.

The Council has a shared interest with you to protect your investment in your property, either as an owner occupier or as a landlord. This shared interest will range from protecting the actual common fabric of the building where your ownership is in a tenement through to ensuring that areas of common interest are maintained.

In the coming year the Factoring Service will be looking to address some of the issues raised within the first year of operation, and this article will detail some changes to the service which have already been implemented.

Factoring Service Overview

The Property Factors (Scotland) Act 2011 came into force on 1 October 2012 and East Ayrshire Council is authorised to act as factor for certain blocks where:

• Owner’s title deeds allow the council to manage common repairs or act as factor while it continues to own at least one property within the block.

• The majority of the owners in the block have appointed the Council to act as factor; or

• The Council has acted as factor for the block by ‘custom and practice’.

The Council’s main function as a factor is to manage the repair and maintenance of the parts of the block and services that are common to residents. Examples of common parts of a block are the external walls, the roof, the close or common entry and any common pathways, drying greens etc.

Title deeds specify owner’s responsibilities in respect of the property and the common parts of the block.

Factoring/service charges

To cover the cost of providing the services detailed above, a management fee will be payable to the Council.

This fee will be reviewed annually and will reflect the cost of providing the service. This fee, together with the proportionate share of the costs of any grounds maintenance, common area lighting/cleaning and any other costs (if applicable) will be invoiced on a Quarterly basis. East Ayrshire Council Factoring Invoice periods: • January – Covering Management Fee period

1st October to 31st December

• April – Covering Management Fee period 1st January to 31st March.

• July – Covering Management Fee period 1st April to 30th June.

• October – Covering Management Fee period 1st July to 30th September.

Common repair charges

In addition to factoring and service charges, owners will also be due to pay a share of the cost of any common repairs, maintenance or authorised improvements to the common parts of the block.

The title deeds for a property will usually specify the arrangements for the management and maintenance of common parts,

the procedure for making decisions and how costs are to be apportioned between owners. Where the title deeds do not make provision on specific points, the Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004 and the associated Tenement Management Scheme will apply. Although it is not possible to generalise for all properties, owners will usually be responsible for an equal share of the cost of common repairs and maintenance of the common parts. For example, owners in a block of six flats will usually each be liable for a 1/6th share of the cost of common repairs or maintenance works.

The Factoring Service commenced on December 2013, so far we have issued four invoices and carried out hundreds of repairs to common elements. We have been contact by many owners and where required we have provided further details of the factoring service and clarified many invoice enquires. We are continually working to improve our billing procedure and are working to include additional detail within the invoices wherever possible.

On any invoices the factoring service have broken down the classification of repairs into 2 categories:

Responsive repairs – These are emergency, urgent or health & safety issues, these will be carried out without notification and they will be added to the quarterly invoices once they are at a chargeable status within our system.

Planned repairs – these are non urgent repairs, these will be inspected and you will be provided with a description of the planned works along with an estimate, you will also be provided with a 28 day notification period. These works will be added to the quarterly invoices once they are at a chargeable status within our system.

Contact details are as follows: call centre number 01563 555555 and email is factoring@east-ayrshire.gov.uk

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