Weekly landlord news digest: Issue 12

Not got time to filter through various news outlets to find the latest property news? Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance recognise that landlords, despite being busy, want to keep up to date with the latest property industry news!

With this in mind this week’s landlord news digest focuses on the removal of mortgage restrictions for landlords, the introduction of mandatory client money protection, and we also explore the Welsh letting fees ban that is on the horizon.

The Co-operative Bank removes restrictions for landlords who wish to let their property to tenants in receipt of housing benefits

Landlords will be able to let their buy-to-let properties at their own discretion after the Co-operative Bank lifted barriers for landlords wishing to rent to this demographic.  Previously, under the traditional terms and conditions for UK buy-to-let mortgages landlords were unable to let to tenants that claimed housing benefits.

“We are glad to be able to remove this condition to the benefit of our landlords and prospective tenants who previously may have been restricted from taking up tenancy due to the inclusion of this letting condition in our mortgage terms and conditions.”

– Co-operative Bank managing director, Gordon Soutar 

The Co-operative Bank follows the move made last month by NatWest who also lifted these restrictions after mounting pressure from buy-to-let landlords.

“Our charity partner, Centrepoint, have raised this issue and the potential impact that this condition of let could have on the young people they work with.

“This is not a condition that we want to continue to include in the mortgages that we offer, and we will no longer enforce these clauses in our mortgage terms and conditions.”

The bank said that they will no longer enforce the old clauses that refer to the exclusion of housing benefit tenants from 1 April and will completely remove this condition from all of the processes and systems completed on 19 May this year.

As a result further banks and mortgage lenders may now also adapt their policies to make them less restrictive for landlords.

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Government invite views on changes to Capital Gains Tax lettings relief

The government has released a new Treasury consultation paper to invite views on changes to Capital Gains Tax lettings relief and the final period exemption announced in the Budget 2018.

“Private Residence Relief (PRR) is designed to keep out of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) those gains or losses that arise when a person sells or otherwise disposes of a dwelling that has been used as their only or main residence. This relief is supplemented by ancillary reliefs that aim to deal with other situations where imposing CGT would lead to undesired outcomes. The government remains committed to this policy.”

– The Government description in the consultation 

In addition, they explain that the government commits to regularly reviewing the tax system to ensure that exemptions and reliefs are properly targeted.

They comment that in order to keep in line with ongoing commitments, two of the ancillary reliefs mentioned during Budget 2018 would be changed to better target PRR.

This includes:

  • Reducing the final period of exemption from 18 months to nine months
  • Lettings relief will be reformed so that it only applies where the property owner has shared occupancy with a tenant

“Lettings relief extends much further than the original policy intended and also benefits those who let out a whole dwelling that has at some stage been their main residence,” says the consultation.

“The reform to lettings relief announced at Budget 2018 will limit the availability of lettings relief and restrict it to those who share occupation of their house with a tenant for all disposals made on or after 6 April 2020.”

The consultation, which closes at 11:45pm on 1 June 2019, is of interest to individuals affected by the changes, advisers, law firms and representative bodies; and tax professional and representative bodies says the government.

Read more about the open consultation here.

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Landlord cash protected from letting agent misuse at last

From 1 April, 2019, letting agents in England must offer landlords and tenants client money protection (CMP) by law, or risk being fined up to £30,000.

Client money protection is designed to help protect the client money that is held by property agents.

Client money protection schemes offer financial protection for landlords and tenants that their money is secure. In the event that an agent misappropriates client monies, client money protection helps return these monies to the affected parties.

The recent case of letting agent Clifford Wheatcroft, who ran Real_Est8 Property Solutions in Bournemouth, highlights the problem regarding misappropriated client money.

His business closed owing over £350,000 to landlords and tenants in 2013, which they had no way to recoup without taking him to court.

Despite this a judge has made him repay just £1 because he has no assets to claw back, however he will have to pay more should he come into money.

“He is not getting away with just paying £1 and it’s important that is known at a public hearing. A change of finances could include a chance win, inheritance or also legitimate employment, should he receive a boost in his financial circumstances it will be allowed for some of the money to be reclaimed to pay off the debt.”

– Judge, Stephen Climie

 

In September, Wheatcroft admitted eight theft charges at Bournemouth Crown Court. He was jailed for 17 months suspended for two years and ordered to undertake 250 hours of unpaid work.

Find out more about the importance of client money protection.