40 people in the South West find homes with help from The Lantern Trust and The DPS Fund

Earlier this year we were delighted to hand over a cheque for £10,000 to The Lantern Trust, an independent charitable incorporation founded in 1983 to benefit vulnerable and marginalised people in the borough of Weymouth and Portland. In partnership with Dorset County Council the Trust provides a specialised Housing and Resettlement Project for those in housing need, "endeavouring to meet the complex needs of our customers with a flexible and holistic approach."

Using the money from The DPS Fund, The Lantern Trust has begun to find homes for 40 people across Weymouth and Portland. This donation will help The Lantern Trust provide interest-free loans towards rent deposits and rent.

Daren King, our Head of Tenancy Deposit Protection, said: “We’ve donated over £200,000 to good causes over the last three years, and we’re delighted to extend our support to the Weymouth and Portland area.

"The Lantern Trust does excellent work supporting socially excluded and marginalised people as well as reducing homelessness, and we’re glad that this donation is going to such an excellent project."

Mike Graham from the Lantern Trust said: “Parts of our borough are among the poorest in England and we need to work together and with organisations such as The DPS that are willing to lend a hand. We’ll put this generous donation to excellent use, reducing homelessness locally and benefiting not just those individuals housed but also the wider community."

We’ll return to the Lantern Trust in the future to find out more about how our donation has helped people in need, so keep an eye on our website.

Bringing about real change in the community with ECYHT

Recently, Ben Toms of our Account Management team visited the East Cleveland Youth Housing Trust (ECYHT) to hand over a cheque for £19,990 from The DPS Fund, and find out more about how they used our award.

What is the East Cleveland Housing Trust?

ECYHT works to help young people improve their lives in the community through offering a diverse range of opportunities and experiences.

The aim of the Trust is to provide 16-25 year olds living in the rural communities of East Cleveland with:

  • A network of affordable, supported accommodation for young people who are in housing need;
  • Local training opportunities in the construction industry through the renovation of empty properties and other community work; and
  • Opportunities for personal development and support to develop life and social skills

 

Account Manager Ben Toms (right) presents Andy Pettersen of ECYHT with the cheque

Account Manager Ben Toms (right) presents Andy Pettersen of ECYHT with the cheque

The Trust is developing in response to an identified need to tackle youth unemployment and lack of affordable housing. ECYHT sees itself as a solution to some of the training and housing issues that face young people who are at risk of becoming the most disadvantaged members of the community.

Naturally such noble causes are at the heart of everything The DPS Fund stands for, and we’re thrilled to know such innovative and community-spirited work is going on; not only to solve people’s housing problems, but also to work in overcoming their personal ones.

What did they do with their donation?

The ECYHT team renovated the Crown pub in Brotton, North Yorkshire, and used our award to complete the project. Now it’s finished, the property houses four new tenants.

 

The finished property

The finished property

Each tenant will receive regular one-to-one support from their Tenancy Support Worker, who will help them develop their financial knowledge, as well as reduce any isolation they’re feeling, and assist with emotional guidance. In turn, this will help them to have a successful tenancy, and ultimately empower them to take control of their lives.

Rents are set at an affordable level so that when a tenant moves into work and comes off benefits, they’ll be able to keep their home based on the national minimum wage.

What’s special about the renovation?

This is community spirit with a difference. The renovation provided construction-based employment and training opportunities to local people, in order to give them valuable experience, and thereby improve their employability and self-confidence.

Throughout the course of the project, it:

  • Generated over 12,500 hours of construction training and education
  • Created 7 apprenticeship positions
  • Became a place of work for 17 volunteers offering between 3 days and 5 months of their time
  • Delivered pre-tenancy work to 8 young people looking for affordable housing

Andy Pettersen, Social Business Manager at ECYH, said: “What an amazing contribution. Every penny has moved us closer to completing the largest housing project we've ever taken on.

“The apprenticeships we offer help prepare young people for the transition into the world of work. They provide NVQs in construction and ensure that essential Maths and English qualifications are gained, at a level of C grade or above. Further to this we offer a variety of certified courses such as First Aid, Health & Safety and Asbestos Awareness.

“Our focus is on helping to prevent homelessness and addressing young adults leaving care. The most common issues ECYHT are approached for help with are financial, employment based, associated with health and well-being matters or a mixture of these issues.

“The size of this project will increase ECYHT's capacity to train and accommodate disadvantaged young people. As well as this; the project will recycle and preserve existing housing stock, and reduce anti-social behaviour such as vandalism, graffiti and fly tipping. By doing this we are helping to create a more safe and secure neighbourhood and promoting pride in the local community.”

We’re delighted to be able to help get this valuable project over the line, and we’ll be sure to return to North Yorkshire in the future to find out how our donation is continuing to help young people in need.

Want to know more?

Look at this in-depth summary of how the project developed over the last 18 months.

Are you saving operating costs by using free deposit protection?

Recent years have seen continual change within the PRS, with increased taxation for landlords and investors, discussions about how to make housing more affordable for tenants in the face of continued rising rents and, most recently, the government’s consultation on the banning of letting agent fees paid by tenants. Although the preferred option within the industry would be to place a cap on fees, it seems a complete ban is the most likely outcome.

Letting agents could be forgiven for thinking the future looks a little bleak. However, there is one way to save on operating costs.

Custodial deposit protection with The DPS - a simple way to reduce your outgoings!

Insured deposit protection schemes charge a small fee to protect tenants’ deposits, with some also charging annual membership fees and renewal fees. Include bank transaction charges and administration costs onto these fees, and the price of insured protection can start to mount up.

Our Custodial deposit protection is free, and we don’t charge membership fees to any of our customers. You pay the deposit to us at the start of the tenancy, and we hold it for the duration of the tenancy, returning it directly to the agreed recipients when the tenancy ends. As we hold and manage the repayment of deposits, it will save on your administration costs and you may also see a reduction in your banking costs.

Multiple deposit submission and repayments

Need to protect or repay multiple deposits at once? Our multiple deposit submission tool, means you can send us as many new deposits as you need to in one transaction, reducing the amount of time you spend administering your deposit protection. You can also repay full or part deposits to your tenants with our simple multiple repayment service.

Paying deposits in instalments

You can also allow your tenants to pay in instalments or add an additional amount to an existing deposit, using our Incremental Payment facility.

The latest Tenancy Deposit Ratings are out!

Avid readers of our blog and anyone who follows us on Twitter will remember that earlier this year we released our second official Tenancy Deposit Ratings.

For anyone who doesn't remember, every three months we crunch the numbers and calculate the average tenancy deposit for 100 post codes across England and Wales.

So what's new this quarter?

It's probably unsurprising that most places have seen very little change. While London saw a drop of about £75, residents of the capital will still have to part with an average of £1,750 when they begin a new tenancy.

Likewise, anyone beginning a new tenancy in Cambridge will have to pay an average of £82 less for their tenancy deposit, but the average there is still over £1,100.

Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester, Bristol and Newcastle upon Tyne all saw very little change, but the average did go down slightly in all of those post codes.

Where was the biggest change?

Overall, Colchester saw the biggest increase, with the average tenancy deposit rising more than £300 from £576 to £905.

Bournemouth also saw a sizeable leap from £780 to £1,032, while Enfield (where the average tenancy was already £1424) saw a rise of £215.

Why such big changes?

Many things can affect the average tenancy deposit of a town or city. Places with a large student population for example will usually see bigger changes at either end of the academic year. One reason that deposit averages can differ in the last two quarters of the year is because of the timings of the postcode’s returning student population, whose deposits are often cheaper. This can also make the leap back up in the following quarter more pronounced. In addition to which, higher deposits are often linked to increased rents, as many landlords set them proportionately.

How does my post code compare?

Take a look at this table to see how the average tenancy deposit has changed where you live.

SAFEagent week is here again, and we’re right behind it

From 15-19 May, letting agents and organisations from across the UK will once again come together in support of SAFEagent Awareness Week. SAFEagent was set up “by the industry, for the industry” to protect landlords’ and tenants’ money. Naturally, as a company that is committed to protecting tenants’ deposits, we’re fully behind it.

During last year’s SAFEagent week, and throughout the year, they highlighted the importance of choosing a letting agent that is part of a Client Money Protection (CMP) Scheme. In an industry that’s estimated to be worth £2.7 billion, it’s vital that our customers’ deposits are safe. Of course, since then, the government has announced that CMP is to become compulsory for letting agents. This is a significant development within the industry, and thanks in no small part to the tireless work of SAFEagent.

John Midgley, Chair of the SAFEagent Steering Group, says:

“We were delighted when the Government announced that inclusion in a Client Money Protection Scheme will become mandatory for all lettings and management agents but obviously there is some time to go before it is implemented and therefore the SAFEagent campaign continues. We believe that SAFEagent contributed in no small measure to the Government’s decision and it demonstrates what agents working together can achieve.”

We’d like to encourage all letting agents to become members of SAFEagent. The blue and black SAFEagent ‘mark’ gives tenants and landlords the peace of mind that their money is protected.

To find out more about SAFEagent and the work they do, visit their website

A decade of The DPS

Today marks 10 years since the introduction of Tenancy Deposit Protection and the birth of The DPS.  We’re delighted to reach this milestone and are looking forward to the next 10 years, but in the meantime we thought we’d take the opportunity to look back at a decade of protecting tenants' deposits and reflect on how we’ve grown.  Click here to read our story.  Here’s to the next 10 years!

Major step forward for CINTRE Reachout SouthWest following a DPS Charity Fund donation

It’s been over a year since The DPS Charity Fund awarded £5,000 to CINTRE Reachout South West, helping people with a range of learning difficulties to live independently in their own homes.

cintre.jpg

 

We were delighted to support an initiative aiming to allow people to develop and retain their independence in a supportive environment. Let’s catch up with them and see how the donation helped.

Neil Baker from CINTRE explains:

“We aimed for the £5,000 donation to allow us to secure a long term let on a 3 bedroom property for a minimum of 6 months, which would benefit 3 service users at any one time.  It’s very difficult to secure accommodation for our client group, despite having the funds available to guarantee deposits, rents and maintenance. So while we  originally thought about applying for £5k to obtain a 3-bed property on a long-term let, we struggled to find any agents or landlords willing to work with us. Consequently, we decided to ask for £5k towards something far more long lasting and sustainable.”

“In January 2016 CINTRE took a major step forward in its ambitions by making a significant investment in the purchase of a 5 bedroom family home in Bristol for the sole purpose of providing a supported living service to those young people in CINTRE’s target group. The service will be called CINTRE ‘In-Via’ which translated means ‘moving on’.”

“The capital purchase would not have been entirely possible without the generous donation of £5,000 from The DPS.”

“Beneficiaries of this service will include young adults in Bristol and South Gloucestershire who wish to live with other like-minded individuals. They would live in an environment that offers light touch support to learn the skills to enable the young person to realise their dreams of ultimately living independently.”

“The property is currently undergoing an extensive refurbishment that started in November 2016 and is due to be completed by the end of April 2017.”

Well done to all involved at CINTRE for this tremendous achievement, and good luck for the launch of the service.  We look forward to hearing more in the future about how the lives of the residents have changed for the better.  

Remember, if you know of a charity operating in the housing sector; tell them to apply to The DPS Fund!

"Keys for keeps" scheme gives permanent homes in Colchester

Here at the DPS, we love to give back to the community through our Charity Donations Fund, by donating to charities that focus their work in the housing sector.

In the summer of 2015, we awarded £10,000 to the Colchester Emergency Night Shelter (CENS) to help them in their work supporting homeless adults. CENS offer help in a number of innovative and practical ways, from CV writing to providing emergency accommodation. They also concentrate on helping people who currently use the shelter to find and retain a long-term rented property. Throughout the first year of a new tenancy, CENS will guarantee rent payments, provide conciliation services if things go wrong, and continue to support the tenant to become an active member of the community.

Marina Woodrow from CENS tells us a little more:

“We have used our DPS funding to start our ‘Keys for Keeps’ scheme. So far we have helped 7 people into their own private rented accommodation. We are very pleased to say that they have all maintained their tenancies and are still in situ. We have worked tirelessly to establish good working relationships with our landlords and this has had a very positive effect on our ability to support their tenants. Our landlords know that they can contact us with any concerns and we will, in turn contact the tenant to address the problem.

“Upon admittance to the Nightshelter, we assess each individual to identify their support needs. As well as offering emotional support, we offer a range of practical courses to help people in their daily lives. We offer cookery courses, which include menu planning, budgeting, shopping and healthy eating. We also run a Job Club, where service users are taught how to job search online in order to fulfil the criteria for Universal Job Match. In addition, we work on budgeting with our Service Users to ensure they’re capable of managing their money when they move on. We also arrange for service users to attend first aid courses.

We work hard to build up good relationships with our service users whilst they are at the Nightshelter once they’re re-housed, our Tenancy Sustainment Officer keeps this going. If our service users are struggling with any element of living independently, we encourage them to drop into the Shelter at any time during the day to see us for support.

As an example, they may have received a letter they don’t fully understand or know how to deal with, and this is where the Tenancy Sustainment Officer (TSO) would offer guidance on how to deal with issues that may arise. The TSOs also carry out home visits to ensure that our users are maintaining the properties appropriately, and in accordance with their tenancy agreements.

Marina tells us about a real life example of how our donation made a difference to someone’s life.

“Arthur* was previously in a supported housing project but was asked to leave. He then stayed in bed and breakfast establishments until his money ran out. Then he became street homeless. He had an acute psychotic episode and was hospitalised for 4 days. He also had a severe issue with alcohol. Arthur was eager to be admitted to the Nightshelter as he believed our policy on breathalysing all residents known to have a drink problem every night would help him to abstain. He attended Alcoholics Anonymous regularly and one of the conditions of his stay was that he continued to attend.

Arthur completely embraced the philosophy of Colchester Nightshelter. He was here for about 3 months and in that time he only failed the breath test once, which resulted in him being asked to stay out for the night. He attended every meeting that he was asked to and engaged wholeheartedly with the support and courses offered by the Nightshelter, attending cookery club, first aid, job club, and many more.

We found a lovely private rented flat for Arthur and used the ‘Keys for Keeps’ fund to pay the deposit. We supported Arthur to make the change in benefits to his new address and helped him out with a starter kit of basic kitchen equipment and bedding. The flat was fully furnished so he did not have to worry about any major expenditure.

Arthur has now found work and is happily settled in his flat. He still visits us regularly, but more on a social basis rather than because he needs support. He says he did not imagine when he was rough sleeping in Clacton last April that he would have achieved so much in less than a year.

We are very grateful for the funding received from The DPS Fund. It really has made a difference to our ability to source and fund private rented accommodation for our service users and also enables us to fully embrace and take advantage of the Tenancy Sustainment role which complements ‘Keys for Keeps’ perfectly.”

 

*name has been changed to protect the individual’s identity.

Alexander Road gets a new lease of life with the help of The DPS

At The DPS we’re always excited to hear back from the charities we’ve supported and how the Charity Donations Fund has helped those less fortunate in their community.

So when we caught up with Y Supported Accommodation (YSA), who received an award in 2015 - we were thrilled to hear that our £15,000 donation has allowed them to continue refurbishing their Alexander Road site; a place 20 vulnerable young people can call home, if only for a short period of time.

The refurbishment programme has been extensive, with new boilers, bathrooms, kitchens, flooring, furniture and fire and electrical systems all being fitted, and the feedback has been fantastic…

YSA have found that people will respond positively to a caring, clean and supportive environment. Having pride in their room, appearance and achievements improves their confidence and self-esteem. 

Tom’s story

Tom, a former resident at the Alexander Road showed a remarkable change in his behaviour after being told he may be able to move into a newly renovated flat. 

During his previous stays he was neglectful and damaged the property whilst under the influence of alcohol. But after being given a sneak peek of one the new flats, he began to maintain his current flat to a much higher standard, and more importantly there were no more incidents of vandalism. And after eight weeks, Tom moved into his new place as arranged. 

Tom simply said “it may be homeless accommodation but for me it’s my space and I’ve never had that before especially when everything is new.”

Tom now lives in his own council tenancy, and has been given a lot of practical advice and support by his case worker, including budgeting and paying bills.

Stories like Tom’s are really gratifying to hear, and the reason we started The DPS Fund. We can’t wait to hear more from YSA in the future.

If you work for or know of a charity that could benefit from the DPS Charity donations fund, please don’t hesitate to apply for funding right here.

 

Average tenancy deposits in the UK hover just below £1000

Our latest tenancy deposit ratings are out now. Every three months we crunch the numbers and calculate the average tenancy deposit for 100 cities across England and Wales.

Our sums have revealed that the average tenancy deposit for England and Wales is £970.18 – continuing to hover just below the £1,000 mark.

While the rest of the country maintains a certain level of consistency, London postcodes set a new all-time peak, averaging £1,831.14, which is more than double the figure for the rest of England and Wales (£883.21 without London).
 
To give you a clearer picture of what’s going on in your region, we’ve compared the 100 cities to the national average. How does your city stack up? Click here to find out.

Our Managing Director, Julian Foster said: “…tenancy deposits can be demanding sums for tenants to raise when they move.

“However, both parties can have peace of mind over the money when it is protected with The DPS…” 

It’s clear that these are challenging times for the Private Rented Sector and whether you’re a landlord, tenant or letting agent we’ve got some helpful tips and advice to help you get the most from your tenancy.

Over 65 homeless people given a warm bed thanks to StopGap and The DPS

Here at The DPS, we love to hear how our Charity Fund donations have helped those less fortunate. We were thrilled when one of our previous award recipients, StopGap, told us that our donation meant over 65 individuals have been given a warm bed and a chance to establish more permanent housing.

Almost two years ago, StopGap Sheffield applied for £5000 to help them extend their reach and make sure more homeless people can escape the threats of violence, hunger, bad weather and health problems that can so often make their lives a misery. StopGap does this by providing an emergency short-term overnight accommodation scheme for those who might otherwise have to sleep rough.

Ruth Grayson from the charity explains how our donation made a difference:

We arrange and pay for bed and breakfast, one night at a time, for clients referred to us by our voluntary sector partner agencies. This (donation) enabled us to provide approximately 140 beds in private B&Bs in the city, benefiting between 65 and 70 individuals. Although the average length of stay is only 2 nights, this gives both client and agency a bit of breathing space and time to seek other solutions.

Ruth was also able to tell us about some of the real people the money benefited. 

Andy was referred to StopGap by one of the nightly soup runs in Sheffield.  He had been sleeping rough in a disused school building for some time. After losing his job, he was thrown out by his partner - who remained in the family home with their children. Andy wanted to stay nearby, so he could see his children on their way to and from school, but without an address of his own, he was forbidden access to them by the courts. After just one night in StopGap accommodation, which gave him a shower and laundry facilities in addition to a good night's sleep and a cooked breakfast, Andy gained the confidence to go and apply to the city council for housing. In due course this was successful and Andy managed to establish his own home and eventually regain regular access to his children. Just one night in safe, warm accommodation made all the difference in his case.

Another client, Brian, who had also lost his job and subsequently fallen into rent arrears, was referred to StopGap by one of the day centres working with homeless people in the city. After a couple of nights in a warm bed, the welfare officer at the centre was able to find him supported accommodation at Emmaus Sheffield where Brian is now said to be doing well. He has regular work and is making friends with some of the other residents.

Christina found herself in a desperate situation when her partner suddenly became very aggressive toward her. She had come with him to England from Bulgaria after he got a UK work permit. Being from Bulgaria, Christina was not able to access public funds and so she was not eligible for help in a refuge for victims of domestic violence. When homelessness seemed like a certainty, StopGap was the only organisation in Sheffield able and willing to keep her safe and off the streets while longer term arrangements could be made.

These are just some of the examples; there are so many other similar cases. The DPS donation has been invaluable, if not an actual life saver, in all these instances.

If you work for or know of a charity that could benefit from the DPS Charity donations fund, please don’t hesitate to apply for funding right here. 

Christmas Opening Hours

On behalf of everyone at The DPS, we'd like to wish you a very merry Christmas.

Our Customer Service Centre will be open at the following times over the festive period:

Monday 19 December - 8am – 6pm
Tuesday 20 December - 8am – 6pm
Wednesday 21 December - 8am - 6pm
Thursday 22 December - 8am - 6pm
Friday 23 December - 8am - 6pm
Saturday 24 December - Closed
Monday 26th December - Closed
Tuesday 27th December - Closed
Wednesday 28th December - 9am - 5pm
Thursday 29th December - 9am - 5pm
Friday 30 December - 9am - 5pm
Saturday 31 December - Closed
Monday 2 January – Closed
Tuesday 3 January - 8am - 6pm (Business as usual from now on).

Congratulations to Back On Track Housing

For the past two years, the DPS Charity Fund has been assisting charities in the housing sector in their aim to fight homelessness and to support those in need of help to live independently. 

This quarter, we were delighted to support Back On Track Housing in their mission to “help rebuild lives” through the development of greater mentoring and training opportunities for clients.

Back On Track Housing works to prevent homelessness, alleviate poverty and provide employment and training to those in need of support.

Daren King, Head of Tenancy Deposit Protection at The DPS, said: “Back On Track Housing does fantastic work supporting vulnerable individuals and their families. 

“We’ve given over £170,000 to housing charities since the launch of our fund, and we’re really happy to be able to assist such crucial work across the country.”

Congratulations to everyone at Back On Track. We're looking forward to catching up with you and finding out how the grant helped.

Rent Smart Wales

If you’re a landlord or letting agent, you’re probably aware that the Welsh Government has begun implementing separate rules and regulations for the Welsh Private Rented Sector (PRS), under The Housing (Wales) Act 2014.  

The main change is mandatory registration and licensing through their Rent Smart scheme.  The deadline for landlords and agents to register was 23 November 2016 and now, if you’re operating in Wales without a licence, you may be breaking the law. 

To help you make sure you’re compliant with the legislation, we’ve summarised the relevant information you need to know. 

Essentially, there are two parts to the process: the registration and the licence application. You’ll need to go on the Rent Smart Wales website  to register and apply for a licence. 

The cost of online registration for landlords is £33.50, rising to £80.50 if done on a paper application form. After that, the landlord licence fee is £144 for online applications and £186 for paper application forms. 
The fee for landlord registration doesn’t vary depending on the number of rental properties included in the registration. However, a separate registration is needed for each different joint landlord arrangement that a landlord is part of. 

For letting agents managing fewer than 20 properties and not undertaking “let only” activities, landlord fees apply. They also apply when the letting agent only manages their own and / or properties owned by a relative and do not employ staff for letting and management purposes. For all other letting agents, the fee will reflect the size of their portfolio (read the full pricing structure here). A discount will apply if they are a member of either: UKALA, ARLA, RICS or NALS.

Licenses granted by the government last 5 years, and some training is a prerequisite to obtaining one. If you’re unsure whether you need a licence, here’s an explanation of which landlords need a licence. The same is available if you are a letting agent

The cost of training is separate to the licensing fee and will depend on which training you decide to undertake.

Landlord? Here’s your checklist:

•    You must complete an application providing relevant information, including contact details.
•    You must provide the names and dates of birth of all “connected persons” who work on the letting/management of a property. Generally speaking, these will be your employees.
•    You must pay the licence fee (online application = £144, paper application = £186)
•    You and your “connected persons” must be trained to the landlord standard. You can find out more about the training options on the Rent Smart website.
•    You must make a fit and proper declaration

After you submit your completed application, Rent Smart can take up to 8 weeks to determine whether to grant a licence or refuse it.

If you’re a letting agent, the list is slightly longer:

•    You must complete an application providing relevant information, including contact details
•    You must provide the names and dates of birth of all “connected persons” who work on the letting/management of a property. Generally speaking, these will be your employees.
•    You must pay the licence fee, which depends on the size and type of your agency.
•    You and your “connected persons” must be trained to the landlord standard. You can find out more about the training options on the Rent Smart website.
•    You must make a fit and proper declaration
•    You must upload a list of all your managed properties in Wales, including the details of all the client landlords. If you’re a ‘let only’ agent then you must make a declaration to this effect.
•    If you have Client Money Protection, Professional Indemnity Insurance and Membership to a Redress Scheme, you must provide evidence when you apply.*

After you submit your completed application, Rent Smart can take up to 8 weeks to determine whether to grant a licence or refuse it.

*Please note: if an agent does not have these business safeguards in place when they apply, the licence can be granted on the condition that they get them within 6 weeks. It will be revoked if the agent fails to comply with this condition. Only in exceptional circumstances (e.g. when a person is looking after a rental property for a direct family member) would this condition not be part of an agent licence). 

If an agent is part of an agent membership body such as the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) or the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), they should already be part of a Client Money Protection Scheme, have professional Indemnity Insurance and be a member of an independent redress scheme such as The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services Property or the Property Redress Scheme.

To find out more about the scheme and to ensure you’re compliant, go to www.RentSmart.gov.wales

 

Success for The DPS at the Negotiator Awards!

We’re delighted to announce that we took the Silver award in the Supplier of the Year: Professional Support category at this year’s Negotiator Awards, held at London’s Hilton Hotel on Park Lane.

The Negotiator Awards are among the most prestigious in the property industry and just to be nominated was a huge honour, so we’re incredibly proud to have won the Silver award. We’d like to thank all our clients who provided us with supporting testimonials and evidence. It reassures us that all the hard work we’re doing to deliver great customer service and streamline our processes is having an impact.

We also sponsored the award for Medium Lettings Agency of the Year (4-11 branches). We’d like to congratulate winners, Breckon & Breckon Letting Agents who received their trophy from our MD, Julian Foster. Our congratulations also go to Thomas Morris (Silver) and Martyn Gerrard (Bronze) and all the other companies on the shortlist.

See you all there next year!

How can landlords end an assured shorthold tenancy

Recently, there’s been some discussion in the lettings community about serving notice to end a tenancy, resulting in a range of responses with no clear view. To help landlords understand this complex issue, we’ve invited Tessa Shepperson from Landlord Law to explain how landlords can end tenancies. 

Please note: Comments regarding amendments arising from the Deregulation Act 2015 apply to tenancies in England only, not Wales.

How can landlords end an assured shorthold tenancy?

There’s generally a lot of confusion about the service of notices and whether they actually end a tenancy in the eyes of the law.

Before we explore this further, let’s take a look at the original form of notice that we used to use – a Notice to Quit.

Notices to Quit (NTQ)

An ‘NTQ’ is a special type of common law notice that will completely end a tenancy after the notice period. It’s not the same as, say, a section 21 (s21) notice, even though an s21 is a notice asking your tenant to leave!

People sometimes make the mistake of using the term NTQ to end their tenancies. Although NTQs are still used for common law and unregulated tenancies (such as company or resident-landlord lets), they’re invalid for the majority of residential tenancies.

Section 5 (s5) of the Housing Act 1988, which regulates assured tenancies (ATs) and assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs), states that landlords’ NTQs are of no effect, as:

> They can’t be used to end a fixed term early; and
> They can’t be used for ATs or ASTs!

If a landlord is able to use a NTQ (for example if they don’t have an assured or an assured shorthold tenancy), they’ll need to act quickly to issue proceedings to evict their tenant, as accepting another month’s rent from the tenant can resurrect the tenancy - meaning that they’ll have to serve another NTQ to end it again!

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that AT and AST tenants can still serve an NTQ - for example to end a periodic tenancy.

So, if an NTQ is useless for ending the vast majority of tenancies, what should landlords use instead?

Ending a tenancy under the Housing Act 1988 

The Housing Act 1988 governs most tenancies created since 15 January 1989. It put into place new rules about ending tenancies, set out in s5 of the act, and says that tenancies can only be ended in the following ways:

1. By a landlord getting a possession order from the Court AND the order being ‘executed’ – e.g. by a County Court bailiff physically removing the tenants - s5(1)(a); or

2. Where the tenancy agreement allows the landlord to end the tenancy - normally by exercising a ‘break clause’ - s5(1)(c)  (although it should be noted that if the tenant stays in occupation, a ‘periodic’ tenancy will then come into being, under section 5(2), meaning that the tenant will still have a tenancy.); or

3. By ‘a surrender or other action on the part of the tenant’ - s5(2)(b). This will normally be:

> Exercising a break clause;
> Moving out at the end of the fixed term;
> Serving a tenant’s NTQ during a periodic tenancy; or
> Surrender (which normally needs to be agreed with the landlord).

The Housing Act 1988 notices

There are two notices to be aware of here:

> Section 8 (s8) - landlords can use this when they want to base their claim on one of the grounds for possession set out in Schedule 2 of the Act.  The most common ground is ground 8, the mandatory rent arrears ground; and
> Section 21 – this is for when landlords want to use the ‘no fault’ ground for possession.

It’s clear from the legislation that serving these notices doesn’t actually end the tenancy in the same way as an NTQ.  They do, however, entitle the landlord to obtain an order for possession if they go to court.

The tenant can continue to live in the property and will be liable for the rent.  If the landlord doesn’t issue proceedings, the tenancy will continue indefinitely - unless the tenant leaves of their own free will.


What happens if the tenant leaves early?  

Does this ‘end’ the tenancy? This is an important point as the tenant is only liable for the rent while the tenancy exists.  

The legislation does not actually say anything on this point, and currently there is no guidance available from the courts.  Therefore, the requirement for the tenant to serve notice if they wish to end the tenancy remains. Whilst section 40 of the Deregulation Act 2015 adds a new section 21C to the 1988 act providing for landlords to refund any rent paid in advance where:

“as a result of the service of a notice under section 21, the tenancy is brought to an end before the end of a period of the tenancy”

This would appear to be limited to any overpayment received as a result of the landlord no longer being required to serve their notice to coincide with the rental due date, which may result in an overpayment of rent.

So far as s8 notices are concerned, information is limited to a point at the end of the prescribed form, which says:

“Your landlord cannot make you leave your home without an order for possession issued by a court. By issuing this notice, your landlord is informing you that he intends to seek such an order. If you are willing to give up possession without a court order, you should tell the person who signed this notice as soon as possible and say when you are prepared to leave.”

The important point to understand here, is that the tenant needs to inform the landlord if they wish to end the tenancy after the service of a notice. I do not think that the tenant can unilaterally end the tenancy by moving out after the service of a notice without doing this first.

To help illustrate the point, here are a couple of scenarios. Imagine a landlord has served an s8 notice on 23 May:

Scenario 1
The tenant just ups and leaves on 4 June, taking all his possessions and putting the keys through the letterbox. The landlord doesn’t find out until he visits the property on 23 June.

Scenario 2
The tenant tells the landlord that he will be moving out on 4 June. He moves all his property out on that day and gives the keys back to the landlord.

> In the first scenario, the tenant is liable for the rent up until the 23 June because they didn’t inform the landlord they’d be moving out on 4 June.
> In the second scenario, the tenancy ends on 4 June because the tenant let the landlord know. Therefore the tenant will not be liable for any further rent after that date.

In many cases where tenants leave in this way, the tenants liability for rent is academic as there won’t be any money available, other than by claiming against the deposit. However, it is always a good idea for tenants to minimise their liability to their landlords. 

To put it simply, tenants need to keep their landlords informed if they’re moving out and landlords need to keep a close eye on their properties.

Tessa Shepperson is a specialist landlord & tenant lawyer.  Find more of her writing on the Landlord Law Blog.

 

Struggling to make a debit card payment to us on your Apple device?

If you're having problems making a debit card payment to us on your Apple device, it may be down to the cookies…

Recently, a few of our customers have told us they’ve had difficulty making a debit card payment whilst using their Apple device, and through the Safari browser in particular. If you’ve struggled to make a payment on your iPhone or iPad, here’s how to get around it.

The problem is likely to be due to cookies; tiny pieces of data sent from a website and stored in your web browser while you use the internet. Cookies allow websites to do useful tasks like remembering your username for when you return to the site, or auto-completing a web address you’ve visited before.

 

 

Thankfully, the problem is very easy to put right. Just follow the steps below.

1. Go to Settings

2. Tap Safari

3. Tap Block Cookies under Privacy and Security

4. Tap Always Allow

And that’s all there is to it. If you’ve followed the steps outlined above, you should be able to make debit card payments on your Apple device without any problems. Of course, if you’re still struggling to make a payment, you can always give us a call on 0330 303 0030, and we’ll be happy to help.

Guest blog: Eric Walker shares his thoughts on how Brexit will affect the UK housing market

As election results go, they don’t come much more momentous than Britain’s recent referendum on the European Union. The historic vote to leave the EU has created uncertainty across the UK economy, and the housing market will undoubtedly be affected, though it’s too soon to say whether those repercussions will be positive or negative. To get an expert view on some of the possible implications of possible Brexit, we’ve asked Eric Walker, managing director of Northwood Lettings, to share his thoughts about the impact of the Leave vote in some key areas of the housing market.

DPS: What will happen to house prices and rents?

EW: We saw the property market enter a state of inertia in the run up to the referendum, but that was relatively short lived. This was most likely down to the uncertainty of the outcome. Thus far, however, there seems to have been little in the way of change.

Of course, it’s too early to say how the vote will affect the price of property. Our figures at Northwood show strong growth compared to the same period last year, but it’s impossible to say how the network would have performed if the vote had been to remain.

DPS: Will the fluctuating value of the pound affect the market?

EW: As the move towards our actual exit from the EU gathers pace, the value of the pound is likely to be unstable. However, that’s unlikely to affect the housing market too much. Property is and has always been a long term investment, and as such, short term fluctuations are unlikely to have much impact.

Prevailing market pressures seldom affect the market’s long term position as much as the availability of funding. Property is one of the few investments that can be leveraged; with interest rates as they are, yields are increasingly attractive and a viable alternative to traditional pensions.

DPS: There’s a new Prime Minister and Cabinet. Will housing policy change?

It’s far too early to tell if the new Government’s views on current housing policy and the legislative calendar will be impacted by Brexit, as MPs have only just returned from holiday. I believe that as long as Theresa May shows decisive leadership and offers a clear plan for Brexit, confidence will replace the damaging uncertainty that makes investors nervous. The property market is incredibly robust and where sales may be affected, lettings take over and vice versa.

DPS: What about replacing EU regulations with UK regulations?

EW: EU regulations have little effect on the UK housing market as far as the majority of the public is concerned. Most EU rules have been absorbed and the fact they may cease to exist altogether will make little difference. UK regulations continue to expand, but until they are actually policed and enforced, their influence is limited.

The single most important thing the industry can do is to promote consumer awareness, making sure tenants are aware of their rights, and landlords are aware of their obligations. Renting privately is becoming more challenging but sadly, many landlords - including the best intentioned ones - only discover this to their cost when things go wrong. This can be an incredibly steep and indeed expensive learning curve.

What does a good letting agent look like?

Rogues in the housing sector are a regular theme in the current discourse on the housing sector, so much so The National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) recently published a toolkit designed to help local authorities take action against rogue letting agents, improving standards in the industry and protecting tenants and landlords alike. 

Whilst it only takes a few bad agents to tarnish the reputation of the rest of the industry, good agents can help to increase standards further by following best practice, so they become, well, the industry standard. We’ve pulled together our top tips on what we think makes a good agent great! You can download our infographic here.

What do you think makes a good letting agent?  Why not share your ideas in the comments section below?