'No DSS' Court ruling declares discriminating against housing benefit is unlawful

14 Jul 20

In a highly significant court hearing it has been found "No DSS" rental bans are against equality laws as by "rejecting tenancy applications because the applicant is in receipt of housing benefit was unlawfully discriminating on the grounds of sex and disability".

The case may have been heard in England but the same approach will be taken by the Courts throughout the whole of the UK.

What is clear from this decision is;

'DSS' has not existed for many years

Agents or landlords should not have standard policies of 'no DSS’ ‘no benefits’ or ‘no Universal Credit’ and there should be no advertising that tenants paying by way of benefits will have their application rejected.

Landlords are entitled to rent their properties to the tenant they consider fits best

Telling a prospective tenant their application is rejected because they are paying by way of benefits is discriminatory.

Housing charities and tenants groups will be targeting agents and landlords looking for discriminatory adverts.

Landlords and agents who continue to refuse to rent to housing benefit claimants face the risk of legal action.

 

LBTT threshold raise commences 15th July 2020

10 Jul 20

The Scottish Government have confirmed the change to the nil rate band for LBTT residential property transactions will take effect from Wednesday 15th July and remain in place until 31st March 2021.

 

Scottish Government update previously published guidance

10 Jul 20

After the announcement that Scotland will officially move to Phase 3 of the route map for easing COVID-19 restrictions the Scottish Government have updated some of their previously published guidance.

The guidance that has been updated are below and can be found in the COVID - 19 section of our website. 

  • Guidance on moving home
  • Guidance for private landlords and letting agents
  • PRT Model Tenancy agreement easy read notes.

LBTT threshold to be increased from £145,000 to £250,000.

9 Jul 20

Kate Forbes MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance has today announced the threshold at which LBTT is paid is being raised from £145,000 to £250,000, meaning 80% of house buyers will be exempt from the charge.

The date of implementation was not announced and it was also not confirmed whether the changes are temporary in order to boost the economy. The measures appear to be a knee jerk reaction to the announcement by the Chancellor changing SDLT rates in England and Northern Ireland. 

As well as the relative legislation amendments to introduce the new rates, Revenue Scotland also need to ensure their system is ready for the changes.

Stamp duty holiday for England and Northern Ireland

8 Jul 20

The chancellor has announced a temporary holiday on stamp duty on the first £500,000 of all property purchases in England and Northern Ireland.

The tax threshold has been temporarily raised until 31st March 2021 to boost the property market and help buyers struggling because of the coronavirus crisis.

The changes have come in with immediate effect.

Letting agent and private landlord guidance updated

29 Jun 20

With the restrictions on home moves in Scotland being eased from today, 29th June, the Scottish Government have published updated guidance to help private landlords and agents with a safe return to the market.

Details of the guidance can be found here

Guidance for landlords and letting agents

Scottish Government guidance on moving home released

23 Jun 20

The Scottish Government guidance on moving home released today contains advice to ensure that every person involved in the transactional process of moving home can remain safe during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Scotland.

Details of the guidance can be found here 

Moving home guidance

House moves from Monday 29th June in Scotland

18 Jun 20

The Scottish Government announced that Scotland will move to phase 2 of the coronavirus lockdown exit plan from Monday 29 June 2020 and this means a relaxation on restrictions on housing moves.

 

 

Northern Ireland Housing market re-opens 15th June

11 Jun 20

The First Minister has today announced the re-opening of the housing market in full from Monday 15th June.

Acknowledging the effect of the economy the property sector provides Northern Ireland, including a large number of those employed/working in the sector the re-opening includes sales and lettings and the full end to end process from viewings to securing a mortgage and the house move. 

Guidance for all property professionals to adhere to during the COVID-19 period has been produce by the Department of Communities and is available on the COVID-19 section of our website. 

 

RICS issue GDPR guidance on processing COVID 19 symptoms lawfully

3 Jun 20

Government guidance on home moving during the coronavirus outbreak advises agents to ask whether any party is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or has been asked to self-isolate before going ahead with any viewing, or visits to offices and also that anyone vising another person’s home can do this safely.

Meaning agents are gathering personal data relating to health data on their staff as well as clients/occupiers.  

Personal data relating to health is more sensitive and classed as ‘special category data’ so it must be carefully protected. This means that firms must meet one additional ‘special category’ condition for processing health data.

The RICS have published guidance on how to keep the data safe and measures that should be in place.

The guidance can be found here.

RICS GDPR guidance

 

Rent controls proposed for Scotland

2 Jun 20

The Fair Rents (Scotland) Bill was introduced to Scottish Parliament on June 1st

The Bill proposes:  

  • to introduce a general cap in Scotland on rent increases for PRT’s at no more than the annual consumer prices index ("CPI") plus 1%.
  • provide tenants under PRTs with the right to apply for a fair rent to be determined no more than once in any 12-month period;
  • require private landlords to disclose the rents they charge for each property when they register or renew their registration on the Scottish Landlord Register;
  • require the Scottish Ministers within 3 years from the commencement of the proposed legislation to publish a statement on the impact of the Bill

 

in addition, there are also proposals for:

  • Scottish Ministers to be empowered to vary the additional percentage to be applied to CPI in the fair rent CPI cap either upwards or downwards, including a negative percentage
  • any fair rent determination by a rent officer of the First Tier Tribunal could not be increased from the proposed rent figure that is being appealed against.
  • the rents registered in the Landlord Register to be in the public domain

The Bill, which will affect PRT's only is intended to be introduced into law no later than May 2021

Full details of the bill can be found here.

Fair Rents (Scotland) Bill

What does Phase 2: Relaxation on restriction of housing moves mean for Scotland's property sector?

1 Jun 20

The Scottish Government have announced that during phase 2, members of the public will be allowed to leave their homes in order to undertake certain activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property which are expected to include:

  • visiting estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes;
  • viewing residential properties to look for a property to buy or rent;
  • preparing a residential property to move in;
  • moving home; or
  • visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property.

This means a home move will no longer have to be reasonably necessary; home moves will be permitted.  Everyone should still comply with the physical distancing and health guidelines but estate and letting agents will be able to go about their daily business, all be it in a slightly different way pre-pandemic.

At present there is no date for the introduction of phase 2

                                                           

Scotland's route map through and out of the crisis

29 May 20

The Scottish Government have eased Lockdown provisions and moved to Phase 1 and have also released the Route map table which sets out, in summary form, the changes planned for introducing each phase.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making document

Property professionals collaborate to produce industry guidance

27 May 20

A group of residential property experts and professional organisations have collaborated to produce industry guidance covering all aspects of the sector for the safe re-opening of the property sector.

The purpose of guidance being to provide professionals with information to enable them to complete home moves while maintaining safety as social distancing measures are eased in line with Government guidelines.

It is relevant to property agents, lenders, mortgage advisers, property lawyers/conveyancers, surveyors, energy assessors, property managers, home removal and associated professionals such as contractors involved in the property development, management and the home moving processes.

The guidance focuses on physical contact points in the home moving process whereby professionals delivering services will need to come into contact with people and/or enter private residential properties.

It is recommended that all those involved in the sector are familiar with the guidance and are operating in a safely for all of those involved.

The guidance can be found here

Covid 19 - reopening the property market safely

The First Tier Tribunal Housing and Property Chamber closed now until 9th July

25 May 20

With the current uncertainty of the duration of the COVID 19 outbreak and uncertainty surrounding the requirements for ongoing measures, the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland has ordered a further postponement (or adjournment in appropriate cases where the hearing has started) of all case management discussions/hearings to 9 July 2020

Northern Ireland Executive release lockdown recovery route map

12 May 20

The NI Executive have laid out their recovery plan for Northern Ireland to ease the current lockdown provisions.

Relaxation of restrictions will be based on the following criteria:

  • evidence and analysis, including latest medical/scientific advice, the level of transmission and the impact of relaxations on the future trajectory of the pandemic
  • capacity of the health and social care services to deal with COVID-19 cases as well as the need to resume normal services
  • assessment of the wider health, societal and economic impacts, including identifying the areas where greatest benefit and lowest risk would result from relaxation

There are no dates for when the steps will be introduced.

The summary can be found here

NI Executive approach to decision making summary

Notice to Quit period changes for Northern Ireland

4 May 20

The Private Tenancies (Coronavirus Modifications) Act (Northern Ireland) 2020 was today enacted and this introduced changes to notices to quit given by landlords of private tenancies.

Landlords will now be required to give tenants 12 weeks' notice to quit before seeking a court order to begin proceedings to evict. This is regardless of how long the tenant has been occupying the property.

The rules came into force on 5 May 2020 and are in force until the 30 September 2020 initially.

The Government's job retention scheme portal is now available

20 Apr 20

The government's furlough scheme has opened for applications.

Through the Job Retention Scheme, employers can claim for a cash grant to cover up to 80% of their staff's wages - capped at £2,500 a month.

The portal can be accessed by following the below link

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Chancellor extends furlough scheme to end of June

17 Apr 20

Chancellor extends furlough scheme to end of June

Following on from yesterday’s announcement to keep the social distancing measures in place, Rishi Sunak said the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would now be open until the end of June – providing businesses with the certainty they need.

The scheme, which allows firms to furlough employees with the government paying cash grants of 80% of their wages up to a maximum of £2,500, was originally open for three months and backdated from the 1 March to the end of May.

The scheme will be kept under review and extended if necessary.

HSE release gas safe guidance update

17 Apr 20

The Health and Safety Executive have recently released updated guidance on the requirements for Gas Safety chekcs during the Coronavirus crisis. 

A brief summary can be found on our specific Covid - 19 page and full guidance can be found in the link.

https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/covid-19-advice-and-guidance/landlords/

 

Prescribed notices and forms changes

7 Apr 20

The Scottish Government have issued amended prescribed forms and notices to refelct the changes the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 introduced to the tenancy regimes and have recommend these forms are used whilst the Act is in force.

Let's Comply strongly urge you to proceed with caution when using these forms as they may not be entirely valid and would suggest, if you do intend to serve either of these notices that you use both the old and the new forms. 

 

Notice to Leave - PDF

AT 6 - PDF

 

Not all passports are genuine - just ask Ronaldinho

6 Mar 20

Former Barcelona and Brazilian international footballer Ronaldinho is being held in Paraguay for entering the country using a fake passport.

If there was ever a need to make sure you are carrying out electronic checks on the documents your client has exhibited now is the time.

Make sure you Know Your Client

Tribunal reject application for failure to provide confirmation of title.

27 Nov 19

A landlord’s attempt to recover outstanding rent arrears recently failed after their application to the First Tier Tribunal Housing and Property Chamber Scotland was rejected due to there not being evidence of the landlord’s title submitted with the application.

The tribunal had requested the details on several occasions but as it never materialised the application was rejected.

Unable to recover the arrears through the tribunal process, the landlord will forever remain out of pocket.

Anyone managing a property in Scotland must check the identity of each landlord and also that they are the legal owners of the property.

Full details of the decision can be found here. https://www.housingandpropertychamber.scot/sites/default/files/Eviction_Civil_Decisions_FOLDER/Decision%20%28Rejection%29%20-%201725.pdf