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Are They Making Landlords April Fools?

As we enter the month of April and a new tax year on April 6, there are a few changes which will come into effect and have an impact on landlords within the UK. These changes include:

Wear and Tear Allowance
Landlords who let furnished residential properties will now lose the wear and tear allowance as we know it. This allowance will be replaced with a new system from April 2016. The past allowance allows landlords to deduct 10% of their rental income in calculating taxable profit to allow for wear and tear. This allowance will now be replaced by a system allowing landlords to deduct only the actual costs incurred on replacing furnishings in the tax year. It will also enable all landlords of residential dwellings to deduct the costs they actually incur on replacing furnishings, appliances and kitchenware.

Further information can be found at the link below.

Stamp Duty Surcharge
A little reminder. As informed in our February Newsletter, the stamp duty surcharge on buy-to-let properties and second homes will increase by 3%. This new increase will be in full effect from the April 1.

Rent a Room Relief

The Rent a Room Relief for householders with existing or those taking on new lodgers, will rise from £4,250 to £7,500 a year. This will provide for tax-free income that can be received from renting out a room/rooms in an individual’s only or main residential property. Those with a Rent a Room income greater than the previous level of £4,250, the measure will also reduce and simplify their tax and administrative burden. The increase allows the government to deliver the objective of supporting individual’s living standards.

Further information can be found at the link below.

Martin Brookes are one of the few agents within the North London area who let rooms and HMO properties. We have a strong clientele of potential tenants who are ready to move in and if this is something we can assist with. 

We Are Happy to Help!

In Other News!!!!

Buy-to-let landlords Facing Affordability Tests

There has been recent reports that The Bank of England have proposed landlords should face affordability tests and new limits on the amount they can borrow. The Bank of England would prefer for lenders to consider landlords wider financial situation instead of just their rental income. If the proposed rules are adopted, this can lead lending to landlords to be reduced by 20% over the next 3 years, as reported by BBC London, 29 March 2016. 

We will keep you updated with the latest news in regards to matter.


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7 Tips to Avoid Condensation

During the cold season we all want to keep warm and opening the windows to let some fresh air in, is probably not top of your wish list. The problem is, that good ventilation is even more important when it’s cold. 

Condensation is the most common form of dampness in the home. The warning signs are peeling wallpaper, damp patches on walls and moisture on windows. Without treatment or measures to avoid further condensation it could lead to mouldy walls, curtains and upholstery. Not only does the black mould look unsightly, but it can also cause health problems. Remember, just by breathing we release moisture into the air. 

Here are seven tips to help you to reduce the moisture in your home and avoid condensation. 

Tip One 

Open your windows at least once a day to ventilate the rooms, whatever the weather. We all need fresh air and so do your rooms, and 5-10 minutes will work wonders. Keeping the drip vents in your windows open will also help the airflow. If you actually see condensation on your windows, there is almost certain to be condensation in the walls and elsewhere too. 

Tip Two 

Try to maintain a constant temperature in your home, especially in the winter. When cold air comes into contact with warm air, moisture is released, so if the temperature is the same throughout the home, damp air will not be a problem. 

Tip Three 

Whenever you are cooking, have the lids on all pots and pans to keep the moisture inside. Without lids the moisture will rise in the form of steam and you will have condensation on any cold surfaces. The moisture is always there even if you can’t see it. 

Tip Four 

Have your extractor fan on high to remove any steam that does escape from cooking pots and pans. Keep it on for a while longer than the cooking time as all the steam will not have been removed even if you can’t see it. If you don’t have an extractor fan or for extra ventilation keep the kitchen window open. 

Tip Five 

When taking a bath or shower have an extractor fan on and/or a window open, to stop condensation forming on the walls. Again leave it on for a while longer. Keep the door closed for as long as possible so that the damp air doesn’t escape to the rest of the house. 

Tip Six 

Unless you use a tumble dryer, it is best to dry wet washing outside. If you have a dryer, be sure the ventilation pipe goes outside or that the window is open if it is a condensation dryer. When wet things do have to be dried inside, keep the door closed and the windows open to avoid any damp air remaining in the house. 

Tip Seven 

Always leave a small gap (50mm) between your furniture and the walls, so that air can circulate. If the air gets trapped it could condense and result in black mould on the walls. 

If you are buying a house, damage from condensation might not yet be visible to you, however, if you haven’t already done so, getting a Homebuyer survey or a Building survey done by a reputable RICS qualified surveyor will bring any problems to light. 

The best plan of action once you move into any property is to take steps to prevent condensation, but it is never too late to start. Keep these tips in mind and your home will remain condensation-free! 



Act now on new alarm legislation

Smoke alarms

During any period beginning on or after 1st October 2015 while the rental property is occupied under a tenancy (or licence) the landlord must ensure that a smoke alarm is installed and working on each storey on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. 
Note that Heat detectors are not a replacement for smoke alarms.

Carbon monoxide alarms

A carbon monoxide alarm must also be provided by the landlord in any room which is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and which contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance e.g. wood burning stove or an open log or coal fire, solid fuel Aga. 

Checking the alarms

For new tenancies beginning on or after 1st October, the landlord is required to check that smoke alarms or carbon monoxide alarms are in proper working order on the day the tenancy begins. 
Even if the tenants were in occupation prior to 1st October, the landlord must still install the alarms.
After the landlord’s test on the first day of the tenancy (or on the first day the alarm was installed), tenants should take responsibility for their own safety and test all alarms regularly during the tenancy to make sure they are in working order.
The landlord or agent has a duty to ensure that the alarms are checked periodically, making sure that they are in working order. The government guidance recommends that the tenant checks monthly.

Hard wired or battery powered? What type of alarm should you install?

The Regulations do not stipulate whether the alarm should be hard wired or battery powered, but suggest that the landlord should make an “informed decision” to choose the best alarm for their properties and tenants.
Local fire and rescue authorities have a limited number of alarms for free distribution to landlords, and can also offer appropriate installation advice. Some authorities may be able to install the alarms on the landlord’s behalf. See the link at the end of the article for details of how to contact your local fire authority.

Penalties and enforcement

The local housing authority is responsible for enforcement of the new rules and can levy a civil penalty charge on the landlord of up to £5,000 if they are not complied with. The authority will be able to issue a remedial notice requiring a landlord to fit and/or test the alarms within 28 days.

Exemptions and other legislation

Social housing and Licensed houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are the main exemptions, where separate regulations apply.
Top tips
  • Make tenants aware of the need to check alarms regularly, and report any faults.
  • Agree between landlord and agent who is responsible for installing and checking the alarms, for all new and existing tenancies.
  • Get the tenant to sign the inventory when moving in to record that they are satisfied that the required alarms are in working order and have been tested by the landlord.
  • Review management procedures and systems to record that alarms have been correctly checked by the tenant or agent throughout the tenancy.
  • To reduce the problem of batteries being taken out and not being replaced, the Residential Landlord’s Association recommends landlords fit ten year, long-life, tamper proof alarms.
  • Ensure that there is adequate buildings and contents insurance in place. If you rent out a flat, ensure that you have property owners liability – contact LetRisks for further information.
Useful links
Find your local fire authority (Chief Fire Officers Association):
Property Portals