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First rental eviction prompted by tighter EPC rules takes place in Midlands

An 80-year-old disabled woman is being evicted from her home after more than 60 years because her property won’t pass tighter new EPC rules, a case which is believed to be the first of its kind.

Thoresby Estate which owns Anne Marsh’s property in Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire (pictured), says it is no longer viable to rent it out, leaving the pensioner two months to find somewhere else to live.

A report on BBC East Midlands Today explained that although Newark & Sherwood Council is trying to find her a new home, it’s proving difficult as Marsh needs somewhere to park her valuable mobility scooter.

62 years

“I’ve been here 62 years – why do I want to go anywhere else?” she told the programme. “I will be isolated somewhere else and that’s very difficult for an old person – that’s what kills old people off.”

A spokesman for Thoresby Estate says it deeply regrets the situation. “However, the recent law changes with regards to energy performance certificates has made it no longer viable for us to rent out houses like this. Our sympathy goes out to everyone in this and similar situations.”

The NRLA, along with many other groups, has been urging the government to announce more financial help for the PRS to make energy efficiency improvements ahead of looming new rules that could see all tenancies forced to have a C EPC by 2028.

Just the start

 mick robertsNottingham landlord Mick Roberts (pictured) believes this eviction is only just the start. “The government needs to sort this out,” he tells LandlordZONE.

“Half of my properties won’t get to a C band without spending £30,000 and that isn’t happening when tenants are paying 70% of market rent. Some have had a new boiler and double glazing and are still a D rating.”

Adds Roberts: “It should be up to tenants – I’ve asked some and they are quite happy with their houses and don’t want anything done because they don’t want to pay more rent.”

Original Post from landlordzone.co.uk

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Chadwell Heath rental home gets a whopping 52 offers

queue property

In a display of competitiveness in the rental market, one Chadwell Heath home reportedly received 52 offers last week.

The landlord for the two-bedroom house in Cornshaw Road was spoilt for choice as 162 viewings were booked for the property, flooding the street with a long queue of interested parties.

Adeel Hasnain, a prospective tenant, had travelled all the way from Harrow for the viewing. He was stunned to see the amount of people who had gathered for it like him, and posted videos of the crowd on social media.

Adam Picton, the local lettings expert for the agency Purple Bricks that arranged for the viewings, shared with this paper that the location and the characteristics of the home were the main crowd-pullers.

He said: “First of all, the price compared to most two-bedroom houses near the station was somewhat generous.

“It’s pretty hard finding a property that ticks every single box, but when it’s within your budget, has a garden, has two double bedrooms, a driveway, is close to the station, is within school catchments, a decent sized kitchen and a shed for storage…most tenants would give an arm and a leg for all that.”

The house ended up going for a price that was £150 above its original asking rate, and some tenants were reportedly offering to pay more.

Adeel told this paper about his struggle to rent a home in London. He said: “Nowadays it has been very difficult to get a suitable house at a price you can afford. I have been looking for more than a month but still haven’t made much progress.”

Original Post from romfordrecorder.co.uk

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Leading economics expert says ‘enough is enough’ for bruised landlords

david smith

Sunday Times’ economics editor David Smith has expressed sympathy for private landlords who he believes feel bruised by increasing regulation in the sector.

He says higher mortgage rates might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for many, with some already selling up and financial institutions moving in by building homes to rent and becoming bigger property owners, often adapting models seen in successful student accommodation.

Speaking on the Talk Property with Ian Collins podcast, Smith said the big changes began during George Osborne’s stint as Chancellor and would continue under this government with the end of no fault evictions and updated energy performance certificate standards.

“The government was under pressure from generation rent who felt they weren’t well treated,” he told Collins. “The effect such as rent controls in Scotland is now limiting supply of rental property particularly for young people and there is a great danger of unintended consequences with these interventions.

Enough is enough

“It’s been one thing after the other for landlords who feel quite bruised by it – for some of them, enough is enough.”

The economics expert predicts that we might have to get used to higher interest rates for some time, however, he is convinced the housing market is robust and predicts that in the next 12 months, prices will only drop by 5 or 10% – or even less.

“After the mini Budget when mortgage rates went up, people got scared, appetite and interest went away for a few weeks,” he added.

“There’s currently a standoff between buyers who are a bit scared of higher mortgage rates and sellers who don’t want to sell into a market they don’t see as very strong – but there are signs buyers are coming back.”

Original Post from landlordzone.co.uk

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Landlords warned over Section 13 rent rises after Court of Appeal decision

appeal court

The Court of Appeal has dismissed the case of a landlord who tried to evict a tenant in arrears after getting the date wrong on a Section 13 notice.

Tenant Victoria Whiteland had lived in her cottage in Llanbydder, Carmarthenshire, since May 1991 but although the rent was due every Monday, had always paid on the preceding Friday of each week.

However, when landlord Christopher Mooney bought the property in 2017 and served a notice proposing an increase in the weekly rent from £25 to £100, this stated that the new rent should take effect from Friday 7th December, rather than Monday 10th December 2018.

Typically, if a tenant doesn’t take the matter to a First Tier Property Tribunal, the increase takes effect automatically.

The landlord argued that as she had not done this, it was too late to challenge the validity of the notice.

He believed a reasonable tenant would understand that the landlord meant Monday and not Friday, however, the Court of Appeal disagreed. It also dismissed his argument that the correct date was a Friday because he had already pleaded that the proper date was Monday.

Renters Reform changes

david smithDavid Smith, property lawyer at JMW, explains: “It is quite likely that the Renters Reform Bill will make Section 13 notices the only way to increase rent. If so, then it will be important that agents and landlords are getting the dates on them right.”

Smith adds that the s13 process no longer exists in Wales as it was removed by the Renting Homes (Wales) Act on 1st December.

“The judgment remains valid in England though and is an odd example of the curious effects of devolution in that a case about a Welsh property has changed the law for England but not that for Wales.”

 

The judges ruled that a tribunal is there to determine the proper rent for a property and can also determine the validity of a notice.

His tenant did not accept the validity of this notice and maintained a previous landlord had told her that the rent would be £25 per week for as long as she lived at the property. Mooney then started possession proceedings.

Read a guide to Section 13 notices.

Original Post from landlordzone.co.uk

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BTL landlords welcome landmark ruling from the Supreme Court

Buy to Let

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has welcomed a landmark ruling from the Supreme Court which provides vital clarification about the responsibilities of so called ‘rent-to-rent’ companies.

The ruling in the case of Rakusen v Jepsen will have important implications for the private rented sector as a whole.

In the case, the landlord, Rakusen, agreed to let a flat to a rent-to-rent company. The property required a licence, but the company did not apply for one.

As a result of the failure to be licenced, the former tenants of the flat sought a Rent Repayment Order against Rakusen rather than the rent-to-rent company – even though he had not received rent directly from the tenants.

Rent-to-rent companies take over the running of a property for a landlord.

At an initial tribunal it was ruled that the Rent Repayment Order could be applied for against Rakusen. The Court of Appeal however later overturned the decision and ruled in Rakusen’s favour.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court has ruled that where rent-to-rent companies take over the running of a property, they cannot shirk responsibility and expect to leave the landlord to pay for their legal failings.

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, said: “This case has never been about whether legal obligations should be met, but about who should be responsible for them in rent-to-rent cases.

“We therefore welcome today’s ruling which accepted many of the arguments made by the NRLA and provides important clarity for landlords and tenants alike.

“The ruling makes clear that it is the responsibility of rent-to-rent companies acting as a landlord to ensure that relevant legal requirements are met, since it is they who receive tenants’ rent. It is simply not right that such companies can take money from people without any responsibility for the property they are running.”

Original Post from propertyindustryeye.com

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A Thriving PRS is Vital to A Vibrant Economy

Exclusive new research commissioned by the NRLA shows a vibrant PRS is vital to the social and economic wellbeing of the country.

Here, in his regular column for Property Notify®, Ben Beadlechief executive of the NRLA, explains the importance of the findings – and what the Government needs to do next.

Soaring costs, rising interest rates and the promise of yet more regulation up ahead make this a difficult time to be a landlord and as a consequence, a tenant.

The gap between the supply and demand is growing, with latest figures from property platform Zoopla showing supply has fallen by 38%, while demand is up 46%.

At the same time more and more landlords are planning to sell off at least some of their properties – just over a quarter according to the NRLA’s latest survey.

This is bad news for everyone – especially tenants.

We commissioned Chris Walker, of economics consultancy form Chamberlain Walker, to produce a research report going right back to basics, examining what the PRS in this country looks like, what its function is and who lives in it.

Chris, a former Head of Housing at thinktank Policy Exchange and ex-Government economist, concluded the sector is playing a vital role in supporting labour markets and providing much-needed homes for people who are actively choosing to rent, as well as those for whom home-ownership is out of reach.

The findings

The resulting report, A housing market that works for everyone: Rethinking the role of the private rented sector’ proves the PRS is a tenure of choice for many renters.

Of the 2,000 renters interviewed, while many agreed they would like to own a home one day – 76 per cent, just 17% of that figure said that – given the option they would have already taken that step. The remaining 83% per cent want to be there.

This confirms what we at the association already know. That rental homes fill a vital need. People rent for all kinds of reasons.

They may want to strike out and try out life a new town or city, move in with a new partner for the first time, flat share with friends after leaving university.

Without the PRS their only option would be to take on a mortgage they neither want or need.

And, contrary to the messages in the media, we found the vast majority are satisfied with what they pay, with 80% of private renters that consider their rents fair, good or excellent.

For those who cannot afford to buy their own home – and are not eligible for social housing the PRS is their only option.

Yet they are the very people the Government, in its blinkered attempt to boost home ownership by punishing landlords, is hurting the most.

Fewer landlords mean fewer properties to choose from and higher rents.

This is turn makes saving for a deposit even more challenging.

The PRS should not be treated as a poor relation to owner occupation, and in fact often acts as a springboard to home ownership, a stopgap for many, between leaving home and buying their own place.

What happens next?

The findings of the report, which can be accessed in full here will inform NRLA campaigning for pro-growth policies from the Government to encourage landlords to remain in the sector and continue to invest.

This includes the reversal of Section 24 changes to mortgage interest relief.

Chris concludes that a high quality PRS is ‘likely to be a good thing both socially and economically’, and I couldn’t agree more.

The report makes clear the positive and vital role the rental market has to play in the economic and social life of the country.

  • Copies of the report have now been forwarded to Government officials in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, HM Treasury and Number 10, along with invitations to discuss the findings.

Original Post from propertynotify.co.uk

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Farewell radiators? Testing out electric infrared wallpaper

Look carefully and you will notice there is something slightly different about Kris Bilski’s house in Hull.

It has no radiators.

Yet even on a -2C winter’s day, it’s nice and warm inside.

This is because Kris is an early adopter of electric infrared wallpaper.

Thin, metallic sheets are hidden behind the plaster of his walls, which are connected to the mains electricity of his house.

These sheets emit heat by infrared waves.

Heat camera

Radiators in a central heating system heat rooms by what is known as convection heating, warming up the air in rooms, which then circulates.

This infrared technique warms up solid objects in the room directly, including us humans.

It also means you can easily choose to heat only one room at a time, using an app. Why also heat the bedroom, for example, when you are going to be watching Happy Valley in the sitting room for the next few hours?

Kris, 31, runs a video production company and lives at the property with his wife. He heard about the technology through a colleague, and as a tech enthusiast he decided to become an early adopter.

He ripped out his gas-powered radiators before fitting the wallpaper. At the moment the new method of heating his home isn’t any cheaper, but he plans to install solar panels on his roof to power the wallpaper, which he thinks will make his home greener, and save him money, in the long term.

“It makes me happy that I don’t rely on gas,” says Kris. “It’s a new technology that should help us as a country.”

The wallpaper system that he is using was made by a local firm called iHelios. As well as being available for private installation, the company is currently trialling the technology with landlords that provide social housing in Hull, and also housing groups in Wales. These organisations want to save money and meet green targets.

iHelios paper

Around 23 million homes are currently connected to the gas grid in the UK. But the government wants all homes in the UK to have phased out gas-fired boilers by 2035. Homes currently account for about 17% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, and this fossil fuel-based way of heating our homes is responsible for much of it.

As well as not requiring gas, electric wallpaper is also thought to produce better air quality in properties. It doesn’t dry out the air so much and generates less mould, for instance around windows. Poor air quality has been linked to health problems in some social housing properties.

Philip Steele is future technologies evangelist at Octopus Energy. Part of his job is to test out new gadgets, and he has been looking at another version of the wallpaper, made by British company Nexgen Heating .

“Electric wallpaper is a really good way of heating your home,” he says.

“It has two copper strips down each side of it and then a graphene layer, and when it’s powered [with electricity] the graphene emits infrared, which is like the heat you get from the sun.”

The graphene material he refers to is a thin layer of carbon atoms that can conduct electricity, first discovered by researchers at Manchester University. The version in Hull, which has also been used in other parts of Europe, like Scandinavia, uses a carbon paste layer to similar effect.

With the aid of a thermal-imaging camera you can see the hidden wallpaper, warming up and in turn heating up other objects in the room. It can heat objects within a range of about 2 to 3 metres.

Of course homes also need hot water for washing up and showers. In homes that use exclusively electric wallpaper, this can be provided by an electric immersion heater.

So is this potentially a greener and cheaper way to heat our homes?

Dr Tina Fawcett of the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute is not so sure.

“It could certainly be greener, especially as we use more renewables [like solar and wind power] to generate electricity,” she says. Currently gas is used to generate a significant proportion of our electricity supply.

“But I think the running costs could be quite high, as electricity costs three to four times as much as gas,” she says.

She points out that air source heat pumps are a more efficient way to use electricity to heat the home.

Heat pump

However, these pumps come with higher upfront costs than electric wallpaper and are not always straightforward to install – there can be issues with planning permission, for instance.

Some versions of the electric wallpaper, on the other hand, can be fitted while a tenant is still living in the property, making refurbishment easier.

 

The cost: Electric wallpaper or air source heat pump?

An electric wallpaper system would cost around £4,000 to install in a typical three-bedroom home, according to Nexgen Heating, a British manufacturer of the paper. However, you also need to factor in the costs of removing the existing central heating system and investing in an electric immersion heater for hot water.

In comparison, an air source heat pump would cost on average around £8,000 to install in a typical three-bedroom home, according to Octopus Energy, though depending on your type of property and the area where you live, it could be significantly more. However, you may be entitled to a £5,000 grant towards that from the government. In some cases you may also need to invest in bigger radiators to make the system work.

New-builds, of course, can be purpose-built for these systems. The housebuilder Redrow recently announced it will switch to air source heat pumps in its new developments, while Barratt has trialled electric wallpaper in its show homes.

Presentational grey line

Individual homeowners as well as councils, providers of social housing and developers will have to take all these factors into account.

This infrared, electric wallpaper technology may not be particularly glamorous or visible – but it could potentially have a big impact on the UK’s carbon footprint and ability to meet climate targets.

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NEW: Gove sets sights on scrapping leasehold ownership

Housing Secretary Michael Gove has promised to scrap most leaseholds in England this year.

The government will make it much easier for leaseholders in flats to take over their buildings and bring them into common ownership, avoiding high management fees and ground rents.

It is also preparing to scrap rules that prevent owners from buying the freehold to their property if a small part of the building is given over to commercial use, including shops.

Speaking on Sky News, Gove said it planned to introduce legislation in the final parliamentary session, later this calendar year.

He explained: “The fundamental thing is that leasehold is just an unfair form of property ownership. In crude terms if you buy a flat, that should be yours. You shouldn’t be on the hook for charges which managing agents and other people can land you with.”

Feudal system

Gove described leaseholds as “an outdated feudal system” following growing criticism of the rules after the Grenfell cladding scandal.

Many homeowners have faced crippling bills and cannot sell their properties after buying leasehold flats that the freeholders refuse to make safe.

The government tasked the Law Commission to study the sector in 2020, which had, “far too many problems including disproportionate costs to extend leases; poor value property management; and a slow and costly sales process”.

Its subsequent report proposed an overhaul of the right to manage process and suggested that landlords’ legal costs should not be passed to leaseholders, blaming costs as the prime reason why applications fail.

Since then, solicitors have reported a rise in the number of enquiries from leaseholders about taking over their freeholder’s management functions under The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002, better known as right to manage or RTM claims.

Original Post From landlordzone.co.uk

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Mortgage guarantee scheme extended: initiative to help buyers with small deposits will run until December 2023

The mortgage guarantee scheme — the initiative designed to turn generation rent into generation buy by helping first-time buyers get a foothold on the property ladder — has been extended for 12 months, the Government has announced.

Launched in April 2021, the scheme protects lenders against losses when lending to first-time buyers and movers with low deposits.

It enables buyers to put down five per cent of the total value of a home worth up to £600,000 as a deposit, while the remaining 95 per cent is covered by a mortgage.

The initiative, launched during the pandemic as lenders cut back on low-deposit loans, is designed to help households with good credit who are struggling to save for high deposits. It offers a financial guarantee to lenders on a portion of the mortgage.

The scheme was originally due to run until the end of December 2022 but ministers have now delayed closure until the end of 2023.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen said: “For hard-working families facing today’s challenging economic conditions, it is right that we continue to help them secure their first home or move into their dream house.

“Extending this scheme means thousands more have the chance to benefit, and supports the market as we navigate through these difficult times.”

The Government added the scheme has helped over 24,000 households get on the property ladder so far, with 85 per cent of buyers being first-time homeowners.

Trinity Finance advisor, Amit Patel said: “This is a much-needed policy announcement that will enable buyers with a smaller deposit to get onto the housing ladder in the turbulent times we are going through. It would have been naive to withdraw the scheme given the dip in housing activity and the prevailing sentiment that house prices will drop in 2023/2024.”

Original Post from standard.co.uk

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Hot water bottle vs electric blanket – which is cheaper to keep warm?

Hot water bottle vs electric blanket – which is cheaper to keep warm?

 

It may be getting colder, but with high energy bills at the forefront of our minds, households are staying away from putting the heating on and instead reaching for the hot water bottle or electric blanket to keep warm. But in a bid to slash costs wherever possible, we compare which one is cheaper – hot water bottle or electric blanket?

With energy bills over double what they were this time last year, keeping energy costs low is a no-brainer, and one of the biggest ways to do it is to refrain from putting the heating on as often as you might like.

So we put hot water bottle vs electric blanket to the test to see which is cheaper to keep warm.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO USE A HOT WATER BOTTLE?

The cost of using a hot water bottle relies on how much it costs to run a kettle.

According to Uswitch, it costs 1.56p to boil 300ml of water (a large mug full) and 7.8p to boil a full kettle of water (1.5L).

The actual costs will vary depending on what kettle you’re using and your electricity tariff.

The average hot water bottle is 2L in size, but you shouldn’t fill it to full capacity for safety reasons.

So if you were to fill the hot water bottle with 1.5L of hot water, that would cost 7.8p to boil that water.

Let’s assume you used a hot water bottle twice a day, then it will cost around 15.6p per day and around £1.09 per week.

According to Hugo Energy App, a hot water bottle stays warm for three hours if you put a cover on it.

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

It’s important to use your hot water bottle safely. Here are some top tips from thehotwaterbottleshop.com.

  • Do not pour boiling water into your hot water bottle as it can damage the rubber; instead, leave it to cool a little and put in ‘hot’ water.
  • Always take the air out of the bottle when filling it up to avoid it bursting.
  • You should use your hot water bottle to warm up your bed for around 20 minutes and not ‘hug’ it.
  • Don’t apply too much pressor siture  on a hot water bottle.

 

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO USE AN ELECTRIC BLANKET?

Consumer savings expert and co-founder of Raisin UK, Kevin Mountford told our sister site Goodto.com: “If you are using your electric blanket (100W) for an average time of two hours every day during the week, over a week you would be using 1.4kWh. That equates to 39.2p a week, and over a year would cost you £20.38.”

Turning it down by just 1°C can actually save you £80 a year, making up for the heated blanket already.”

But every electric blanket will vary in cost depending on how powerful it is- they can range from 50 watts to 300 watts.

Rather than putting the full heating on around the house, an electric blanket is a great, money-saving substitute to keep you warm at night.

Octopus Energy says electric blankets cost around £40, but they are worth the investment in the long run as you can save around £300 per year, over putting the heating on overnight.

They found heating a full home can cost £4 a day, whereas an energy-efficient electric blanket can warm you up for just 2p to 4p an hour.

Before you purchase an electric blanket, look out for the following:

Make sure it has the UK safety standard mark (the kitemark) so you know it’s safe to use.
Check if it is energy efficient. They might cost more to purchase but will cost less to run.
See how powerful it is- the more powerful, the more it will cost. But it should also suit your needs.

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

Here are some safety precautions you should follow from The London Fire Brigade to stay safe whilst using an electric blanket.

  • You should store your electric blanket in a particular way- either rolled up, flat or loosely folded to prevent internal wire damage.
  • Don’t buy a second-hand electric blanket.
  • Check for wear and tear on a regular basis and replace it at least every 10 years.
  • If the blanket gets wet, never switch it on to dry it.
  • Never use an electric blanket if you have an airflow pressure relief mattress, or use emollient creams. You can ask for a non-flammable alternative.

THE VERDICT

Overall, it is cheaper to use a hot water bottle than an electric blanket.

It costs 7.8p every time you boil the kettle to fill a hot water bottle with 1.5L, which can last up to three hours. It costs 2p to 4p per hour to keep the electric blanket on.

If you do opt for an electric blanket, there are ways of cutting costs. For example, do not leave it on all night and switch it off from the mains once you’re done with it. It’s also worth picking an an energy-efficient one.

But whichever you opt for, remember they both come with big safety warnings to follow – the major one being to never use a hot water bottle and an electric blanket together.