Jenrick extends ban on evictions and notice periods

The ban on evictions extended for another 4 weeks and new 6 month notice periods to be in place until at least 31 March 2021.

Renters affected by coronavirus will continue to be protected after the government extended the ban on evictions for another 4 weeks, meaning in total no legal evictions will have taken place for 6 months, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced on the 21st August 2020.

The government also intends to give tenants greater protection from eviction over the winter by requiring landlords to provide tenants with 6 months’ notice in all bar those cases raising other serious issues such as those involving anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse perpetrators, until at least the end of March.

The government will keep these measures under review with decisions guided by the latest public health advice.

When courts do resume eviction hearings they will carefully prioritise the most egregious cases, ensuring landlords are able to progress the most serious cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour and other crimes, as well as where landlords have not received rent for over a year and would otherwise face unmanageable debts.

The government has taken unprecedented action to support renters during the pandemic, preventing people getting into financial hardship and helping businesses to pay salaries – meaning no tenants have been evicted since the start.

As a result, according to independent research, 87% of tenants have continued to pay full rent since the start of the pandemic, with a further 8% agreeing reduced fees with their landlords.

The vast majority of landlords have shown understanding and leadership, taking action to support tenants.

With coronavirus still posing an ongoing risk to public health, the government will continue to take action where necessary to further protect households in both the private and social rented sector are supported over winter, helping to keep them safe.

Today’s extension to the stay and 6 month notice periods will ensure those most at risk are protected. If tenants are unable to afford their rent we encourage them to speak to their landlord to agree a solution, and some households may decide to consider moving.

Government will continue to work with the judiciary and stakeholders to ensure that the courts are prepared for eviction cases to be heard safely.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said:

I know this year has been challenging and all of us are still living with the effects of COVID-19. That is why today I am announcing a further 4 week ban on evictions, meaning no renters will have been evicted for 6 months.

I am also increasing protections for renters – 6 month notice periods must be given to tenants, supporting renters over winter.

However, it is right that the most egregious cases, for example those involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse perpetrators, begin to be heard in court again; and so when courts reopen, landlords will once again be able to progress these priority cases.

Further information

Case listing, including prioritisation, is a judicial function and we are working with the judiciary through the Master of the Rolls’ Working Group on possession to consider the categories of serious cases that would be prioritised when hearings resume. Further detail on those categories will be set out in due course and we will engage with key stakeholders on this.

Independent polling for the National Residential Landlords Associationrecently found that 87% of private tenants have paid their rent as normal throughout the pandemic so far. An additional 8% said that they had agreed a reduced rent, a rent-free period or made some other agreement with their landlord or letting agent.

The extension to the ban on evictions and prioritisation of the most serious case applies to courts in England and Wales

The intention to extend notice periods to 6 month applies to England only.

On 5 June the government announced that the suspension of housing possession cases in the courts had been extended by a further 2 months.

To support those on Universal Credit or Housing Benefit in the private rented sector, Local Housing Allowance rates have been set to the 30th percentile of rents in each area. For those who require additional support Discretionary Housing Payments are available.

As announced at the spending round for 2020/21 there is already £180 million in Discretionary Housing Payments for Local authorities to distribute for supporting renters with housing costs in the private and social rented sectors.

We remain committed to bringing forward reforms to provide greater security to tenants, but it is only right that this is balanced with an assurance that landlords are able to recover their properties where they have valid reasons to do so. This is vital to ensuring the future supply of good quality housing in the rented sector.

We will bring forward legislation in due course, once the urgencies of responding to the pandemic have passed, to deliver a better deal for renters and a fairer more effective rental market.

SOURCE: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/jenrick-extends-ban-on-evictions-and-notice-periods

IPM welcomes new director, Sarah Parkyn

NEW DIRECTOR APPOINTMENT AT IPM

IPM is excited to welcome Sarah Parkyn as a new director of Inspired Property Management effective from the 1st August 2020. The appointment will expand the board of directors from three to four independent directors, bringing valuable experience and insight to the board. This appointment will enable the board of directors to enhance its commercial experience and operational insight, particularly within property industry.

Sarah is an award-winning property manager with over 20 years’ experience in the property management. In 2019, Sarah won two awards for achieving the most outstanding exam papers in both the Associate and Membership exams for the IRPM, resulting in her MIRPM and AssocRICS qualification. Sarah will continue her role as Director at Resident’s Quarter alongside her new appointment.

Sarah Parkyn, director at Inspired Property Management, said: “It’s a huge honour to have been appointed as a director at IPM, especially during these challenging times as this shows IPM’s continued commitment to growth and leadership for the business. I’m excited about working closely with Danielle Parker and David Poppleton to contribute to the strategic leadership and management of the company. IPM provide a fantastic service for their customers, and are highly regarded as professional leasehold block managers.”

“Having worked as the director of Residents Quarter Limited with Danielle and David over the last three years, I have witnessed first-hand their dedication to making IPM, one of the leading Property Management agencies in the Country. I’m thrilled to be joining them to lead the team and take the next steps for future growth at the company.”

Danielle Parker, director at Inspired Property Management, commented: “I am delighted to have Sarah join us at this important and exciting time. As we have previously worked with Sarah, we understood her drive and experience within the industry and felt this was a good fit as part of the leadership team to continue with the expansion plans for the business.”

“Sarah is an exceptionally qualified and experienced director who will utilise her vast knowledge to ensure the further development of IPM through the next phase of growth, she will have my full support and that of our other directors. I am excited for what we will achieve now and in the future.”

How to spot structural problems in apartment blocks

How do you know whether your building is showing normal signs of settling, or sinking dangerously into the earth on which it’s built? It’s a fine line, and as a landlord it’s worth being able to spot the warning signs. If you manage a property or properties in a residential block, then you are responsible for the maintenance and ongoing safety of the building.

What are the types of structural problems on buildings?

Any structural issue should be dealt with urgently and serious problem that can have dangerous implications for a building, so it requires constant attention if it becomes evident.

What is subsidence?

When the ground on which a property is built collapses or subsides, it can take the foundations of the building with it, and compromise the whole structure, causing one side of it to sink.

This causes major cracks to appear and puts the entire building at immediate risk of collapse. Subsidence can happen to buildings of any age, as it is a problem resulting from the ground and soil.

Change in the texture or makeup of the ground underneath your property can cause subsidence. While there are a number of reasons why this may occur, weather is often a major factor. Excessively hot and dry spells can cause the ground to subside and crack as it loses its moisture, especially if your property is built on clay. Equally, large amounts of rainfall can wash away soil and soften the ground to such an extent that it loses its integrity. Other causes of subsidence include nearby plants and trees – when these are too close to a building.

What is heave?

When the ground underneath all or part of a property begins to move upwards and expand this is known as heave. It can cause significant damage to a building and is often linked to changes in soil moisture.

The most common reason that heave occurs is the removal of nearby trees or other vegetation, which causes the ground to gain moisture and swell.

What is landslip?

The term landslip refers to the gradual or sudden movement of soil on a slope. Landslip is usually caused by nearby works which undercut a slope, removal of walls, redirection of a water channel or the overloading of debris at a higher point.

What are the signs of structural problems in a residential apartment block?

Cracks are the biggest indicator of structural problems, but it is important not to assume that all cracks are evidence of a serious issue. Hairline cracks occur in walls as a normal part of a new building’s settling process, as walls naturally swell and shrink slightly according to temperature.

However, more prominent cracks are a sign of serious problems. Cracks are likely to be caused by structural problems if they are:

  • More than 3mm wide (i.e. thicker than a 10p coin)
  • Visible on both sides of the wall
  • Close to doors and windows
  • Wider at the top than at the bottom, and run diagonally

There are other signs to keep an eye out for:

  • Doors and windows beginning to jam as their frames warp
  • Wallpaper crinkling where it meets the ceiling or floor
  • Cracks where an extension joins the main house

Any one of these signs of structural problems is a cause for concern and should be investigated thoroughly without delay. As a landlord you should carry out regular inspections of the exterior and interior of the property in order to spot them before they become a problem.

What to do if you suspect structural problems

If you think that your property may be suffering damage as a result of structural problems, you should contact your landlord insurance provider immediately to see if these issues are covered. The first step will be to have a qualified surveyor visit the property. They may decide that the best way forward is to closely monitor the building for a period of time without yet taking action, rather than taking immediate invasive action which could risk further damage to the structure. The foundations of the building may also need to be closely investigated and soil samples might be taken.

How to fix structural problems?

If the cracks are deemed severe enough to need action, underpinning is the most common solution to structural problems. This is a process which reinforces the structural support of the building’s foundations in order to strengthen them.

In more extreme cases, partial demolition and rebuilding may need to take place in order to ensure the building can continue to be safely occupied.

How Digitisation is Impacting Residential Buildings

Like all UK industries, property is impacted by COVID-19 and the effect of the lockdown on the way it works. But despite this ‘new normal’, we cannot ignore our sector’s other key issues. The use of building technology is changing the way we live. In the last decade we have seen a revolution in technology; in particular the way in which data influences our daily lives. It is increasingly being used by stakeholders across the property sector to inform decision-making and digitise both information flow and transactional business.

In response, today the Institute of Residential Property Management (IRPM) publishes the second part of its 2020 Tech Insight programme. Making the right connections: the impact of technology on building management is a white paper highlighting the key issues raised by the impact of technology on the way our buildings are built and managed. From building management systems to resident portals and from repair reporting to the internet of things, there is a myriad of ways in which technology can be used to improve the pace and quality of service delivery.

The IRPM brought together a group of leading industry experts to discuss the impact of data and advances in building technology on the management of residential blocks. The white paper captures this conversation, highlighting the technological challenges for the sector and sets out next steps for the property management profession.

Key points are that:

  • Assets that are digitised will yield higher values.
  • A cultural shift is needed if the property management sector is to reap the benefits of digitisation – and in turn deliver value for residents.
  • If property managers can effectively harness the data they hold and use it to drive innovative customer-facing products, in future this will act as a differentiator between technical competence and technical excellence.

To address these challenges, the paper pinpoints the need for:

  • A platform for tech and software providers to communicate with the property industry.
  • Cross-industry collaboration to determine what is needed by operators and occupiers and avoid development of unsuitable and ineffective solutions.
  • Government intervention to unleash the potential of this market segment.

Launching the White Paper today, Andrew Bulmer, CEO of IRPM said: “These discussions and white papers are pivotal to start the conversation around the ways in which technology is already impacting our residential buildings and will change the way they are built and managed in the years to come.”

Please click here to download the full white paper.

Certificate of compliance: what is this and why do we need to pay for it?

Question: We are buying a leasehold flat and our solicitor says that he needs to get us a certificate of compliance, and we will have to meet the cost of this. What is this certificate?

Answer: In the course of the conveyancing process your solicitor must have discovered a restriction on the title to the flat in favour of the landlord or the management company that would prevent you being registered as the new proprietor or owner unless the Land Registry is provided with a certificate of compliance.

In general, this is a document which confirms that you and your solicitor have complied with the various covenants and obligations listed in the terms of the lease.

Common requirements for a certificate of compliance would be that you have to enter into a deed of covenant with the landlord or managing agent in which you confirm you will observe the terms of the lease.

This deed of covenant should be signed by you and sent to the landlord or managing agent by your solicitor together with a notice of assignment and/or notice of charge, and any fee that is due to the landlord or managing agent for issuing the certificate of compliance.

Once you and your solicitor have complied with the requirements, the landlord or managing agent should issue the certificate of compliance which your solicitor can produce to the Land Registry. The registry will then remove the restriction on the title so that you can be registered as the proprietor.

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

5 Ways to Reduce Stress and Improve Your Mental Well-being

Stress is a natural reaction of your body when it adapts to changes or adjustments that are required in life, this is now more prevalent than ever finding the new ‘normal’ for people. Our body reacts to these changes in multiple ways, some changes can be physical and some changes can be mental or emotional.

A person can experience both good and bad types of stress. For example, “good stress” might result from getting married or having a baby. And “bad stress” might result from the death of a loved on, a break-up, or an unexpected job loss. While the causes and emotions involved can be very different, stress can have similar physical effects no matter the cause.

The human body is designed to handle stress

Stress is necessary for us, as it keeps us alert and motivated. It’s part of our natural “fight or flight” response that protects us.

But too much of anything is bad for you, and stress is no exception. Too much stress can cause damage both physically and mentally.

In this chaotic world, it is difficult not to get overwhelmed by stress. The struggle of adjusting to the new changed in your work life, managing and supporting your family, and not being able to interact socially with friends can cause an abundance of stress that your body might not be able to handle. That makes it essential to take some time out to address these new changes and relax, reduce stress, and focus on your emotional and mental wellbeing.

Learn to cope with, and reduce, stress in your life

Here are five ways you can reduce stress and live a happier, more relaxed, life.

1. Eliminate unnecessary causes of stress

One of the easiest ways to reduce stress is to find out what’s causing it and eliminate those root causes wherever possible. Is it your work, your school, or your commute? If you can figure out what stresses you, you can work to eliminate those things or make positive changes.

Try to accept that the current situation will not be forever and it’s just for a period of time.

2. Go easy on yourself

You need to accept that you will never be able to control everything. Also you can never do things perfectly no matter how hard you try because perfection lies in the eye of the holder. Learn to accept these realities and stop beating yourself up over these things.

Also, it’s important to maintain a sense of humor. Laughter can go a long way toward reducing stress and keeping you relaxed.

3. Take time for yourself

To reduce stress and find more mental peace, you need to spend some downtime with yourself. Going outdoors, even if this is juts in the garden or for a brief walk will have many health benefits for both body and mind.

Or if you are a music-loving person you can listen to music that relaxes you. Meditation and prayer are also great restful things you can do to reduce your stress while enjoying some peaceful time by yourself.

4. Eat well

Eating a well-balanced meal is an essential way to keep your stress levels low. Eating healthy, fresh, whole foods not only helps your body feel well in general but also reduces stress and can help regulate moods.

Frequently skipping meals or overloading on sugar and junk foods can increase your body’s stress reactions over time and waistline!

5. Exercise

Exercise a vital part of your life. It keeps your body healthy and helps reduce stress. Exercise can help reduce stress because it releases endorphins in the brain and makes you happy. And being happy is the key to reducing stress.

Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce your physical stress and elevate your mood. An average person needs to exercise at least three hours each week to maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce stress. To maximise exercise’s stress-busting effects, choose activities you love. That might include a favourite sport, running, cycling, yoga or you can even get on-line with Joe Wicks PE for the nation.

When you focus on these five things, you should feel less stressed and more relaxed in no time.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advice for residents and tenants

What’s the risk of coronavirus in the UK?

The UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate.

Health professionals are working to contact anyone who has been in close contact with people who have coronavirus.

What’s the risk of coronavirus for travellers?

There are some countries and areas where there’s a higher chance of coming into contact with someone with coronavirus.

See our coronavirus advice for travellers.

Symptoms of coronavirus

The symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a cough
  • a high temperature
  • shortness of breath

But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.

The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.

How coronavirus is spread

Because it’s a new illness, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person.

Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.

It’s very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.

Do I need to avoid public places?

Most people can continue to go to work, school and other public places.

You only need to stay away from public places (self-isolate) if advised to by the 111 online coronavirus service or a medical professional.

How to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus

Do

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

Don’t

  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

Check if you need medical help

NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do.

Use this service if:

  • you think you might have coronavirus
  • in the last 14 days you’ve been to a country or area with a high risk of coronavirus – see our coronavirus advice for travellers
  • you’ve been in close contact with someone with coronavirus
Information: Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Call 111 if you need to speak to someone.

Getting help in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland

  • Scotland: call your GP surgery or call 111 if your surgery is not open
  • Wales: call 111
  • Northern Ireland: call 111

How to self-isolate if you’re asked to

If there’s a chance you could have coronavirus, you may be asked to stay away from other people (self-isolate).

This means you should:

  • stay at home
  • not go to work, school or public places
  • not use public transport or taxis
  • ask friends, family members or delivery services to do errands for you
  • try to avoid visitors to your home – it’s OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food

You may need to do this for up to 14 days to help reduce the possible spread of infection.

Read more coronavirus self-isolation advice.

Treatment for coronavirus

There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus.

Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses.

Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.

You’ll need to stay in isolation away from other people until you’ve recovered.

More information

You can find more details about the advice from Inspired Property Management here in their Corona Virus Advice download.

Have you reviewed your property insurance?

It’s important you have the right insurance in place for the properties you manage, is it up to date and are you are getting the right cover and best value for you, your leaseholders and residents?

Here are the top 7 insurance tips to consider when reviewing your property insurance:

Specialist advice

Specialist and experienced property insurance providers are best placed to provide the right cover and price. They should be able to search a panel of reputable UK insurers to find the best solutions for you.

Risk Management

Residential managing agents need up-to-date safety and compliance risk management solutions to help clients save money, lives and mitigate risk. Access to expert Risk Management advice should be an integral part of the service offered by your insurance provider.

Insurance Regulations Change

Your insurance provider should keep you up-to-date on any change to regulations, especially after the UK exits the EU.

Specialist covers

Obtain advice on whether the properties you manage need specialist covers such as Directors  & Officers Environmental Liability, Professional Indemnity, Terrorism and where there’s a lift, Engineering.

Client Money Protection

All firms operating within the Private Rented Sector (PRS) in England and Wales are required by law to hold a government approved Client Money Protection scheme membership but there are key differences for managing agents. Letting agents hold around £500,000 of client money whereas residential managing agents may typically hold over £6m and not actually be covered by their lettings CMP scheme.

The “levy schemes” currently available pool the premiums paid by members to pay claims from other members. This works well within the PRS as claim amounts tend to be small, however one claim from a managing agent could cost the premiums paid by all members.

Managing claims

One aspect of insurance that often gives managing agents a headache is having to track the progress of claims which can be time consuming and stressful. The claims management process should offer a 24/7 service for you, leaseholders and residents alike, leaving you free to spend your valuable time elsewhere.

Protect Directors and Officers

Many people don’t realise they can be held personally responsible for errors or omissions when they agree to become a Director of a Residential Management Company or Right to Manage Company. Directors and Officers insurance provide defence costs and compensation if they are held personally liable for a wrongful act whilst working on behalf of leaseholders.

Having the correct level of insurance is essential and should be reviewed on an annual basis.

How to get the most from your Property Management company

GETTING THE BEST FROM YOUR PROPERTY MANAGING AGENT

It is critical to future management arrangements to establish at the outset the role and responsibilities of the property managing agent:

  • what responsibilities and authorities the agent will have;
  • how much service charge money they can spend without your authority;
  • response times and other timescales for action; and
  • the authorised lines of reporting and communication.

Both the individual leaseholders and the agent should be clear as to from whom instructions are to be received. An agent cannot work if expected to receive instructions from all lessees. The usual and most effective arrangement is for the agent to attend, and report to, meetings of the Board of the RMC. In between meetings the Board could nominate one of its directors to be the main point of contact. By treating the agent as a form of general manager, he or she will provide useful input to policy and take overall responsibility for day-to-day affairs. Meetings should be properly organised and the Board’s instructions to the agent clearly minuted. The Board should set clear lines of communication, understood and observed by both sides.

Remember that the agent cannot take instructions from the Board that would put him in breach of any landlord and tenant law, code of practice or other statutory guidance eg health and safety legislation.

The Board should also establish how the agent is to respond to questions from individual residents and his/her accountability to those individuals. The residents should be clearly informed by the Board of the identity of the agent, duties and limits of authority. Although the agent will be working for the residents as a whole, the employer is the Board, and the residents must be clear that the agent carries the authority and support of the Board in respect of all his/her actions. The agent should not be placed in any position of ambiguity in dealing with individual flat-owners and, of course, cannot take instructions from them.

IPM are members of the Institute of Residential Property Management, RICS, ARMA, the property ombudsman and other highly regarding business accreditations. If you’d like to find out more information about our property management service for your development or block of flats, please get in touch on 01302 729 500.