Weekly landlord news digest: poor student living conditions, capital gains tax and the pros and cons of rent control

As a landlord it can be hard to find time to keep up to date with the ever changing property industry. With this in mind our property experts at Hamilton Fraser hand pick the key news that you should know about each week!

This week we take a look into student living conditions reported in a recent survey by the National Union of Students, consider whether you may be paying too much capital gains tax and investigate the pros and cons of rent control.


Students living in hazardous homes infested with rats

Thousands of students rent shabby homes riddled with damp and infested with rats, according to a survey by the National Union of Students.

The NUS asked more than 2,000 students about their living conditions and received an appalling list of complaints.

The data revealed 42 per cent of students live in homes with damp and mould problems while 20 per cent are renting properties infested by rats, mice, slugs or other vermin.

Another 16 per cent of students have issues with electrical safety, while a further 9 per cent complained that gas safety was not up to scratch.

Fewer than half were given tenancy agreements or safety certificates, despite the legal obligation on letting agents and landlords to do so, while 37 per cent lacked paperwork to show their deposits were protected.

“Students are living in appalling circumstances in some of the worst housing stock in the country. They have been taken advantage of by bad landlords who rely on students not knowing their rights or what to expect when they rent their first home. Living in damp and dangerous properties is not a rite of passage for students coming to college or university.

We are calling for better enforcement of the law to protect tenants’ rights, because it’s no use educating tenants about their rights if landlords aren’t forced to improve standards.”

Eva Crossan Jory, NUS vice president for welfare

Read the full NUS Homes Fit For Study 2019 report

Are you a student landlord? Let us know your thoughts at @TotalLandlord

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Are you paying too much CGT tax?

The tax man picked up a record £6.8 billion in capital gains tax (CGT) in January 2019 – but many couples could be paying more than they need to.

Richard Needham, personal finance specialist at advice firm NFU Mutual, said: “Capital Gains Tax receipts are on course to hit record levels this year with £6.8 billion already in the Treasury’s coffers and billions more expected in February and March.

“Many people paying CGT could have significantly reduced or eliminated any tax bill by sharing the burden with their husband, wife or civil partner.

“One big advantage that married couples and civil partners have over everyone else is it’s much easier to swap assets and drastically reduce CGT bills. Giving assets such as shares or property to anyone other than your spouse or civil partner could trigger a tax bill.

“Savvy couples make sure both individual allowances are used up and some if not all the tax bill is paid by the partner paying the lowest rate of income tax.

“Anyone who isn’t married can still potentially reduce a CGT bill by selling over the course of two tax years and making use of two lots of annual exemptions. Financial advice is as important for those selling an asset as it is for people buying.”

Find out how to share assets tax efficiently from HMRC.

You can also find out more information about filling in your tax return here.

Pros and cons of rent control

Rent controls are all about money, according to a new briefing paper for MPs published in the House of Commons library.

The impartial research explains the history of rent controls and compares laws in the UK with other countries in Europe.

The data is aimed at briefing MPs on the arguments for and against the policy.

The key thread is that rent control is closely linked to housing benefits – with benefits providing support to tenants who cannot afford market value rents.

But, argues the paper,  as the gap widens between rents and affordability, more money to pay benefits comes from public coffers and politicians looks at ways to stem the flow – including rent controls.

Private rented housing: the rent control debate is available for free online.