Scottish Landlords criticise Treasury over tax changes
The Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), representing 30,000 private landlords across Scotland, England and Wales, are working together to campaign against Government changes that could see rents rise and leave tenants facing homelessness. An e-petition opposing the Government?s Summer Budget Proposals to change tax relief on finance charges for private residential landlords, which attracted over 20,000 signatures, has drawn a response from Government. The Government maintains the move will affect fewer than 1 in 5 landlords, that residential property is a passive investment like shareholding, and that the interest relief is unfair as it is not available to homeowners. However, the RLA and SAL assert that the move will affect many more landlords and tenants than claimed, forcing up rents, cutting supply and damaging the Private Rented Sector (PRS). Scottish Association of Landlords chief executive, John Blackwood, said: ?The Government has failed to do its homework. It is clear that these changes will affect many more landlords than suggested, and more importantly, many more properties and therefore tenants. By taxing gross profit many small landlords will be pulled into a higher tax bracket and others will be forced to pay tax when they have made a trading loss.? ?We are disappointed that the UK Government seems to have failed to understand the damaging affect this could have on the PRS across the UK. Recent surveys confirm that over half of landlords are considering raising rents as a result of this policy, while others are considering selling properties, leaving tenants homeless. The supply of private rented housing will shrink, forcing rents up further and leave already-struggling local authorities unable to cope with housing demand.? ?In Scotland, the report recently published by the Commission on Housing and Welfare makes several very helpful suggestions that landlords, letting agents and investors can help tackle the strategic housing crisis and was broadly welcomed by all sides and political parties in Scotland. The report proposed measures such as involving private landlords in new-build programmes and attracting institutional investors to provide funds for new houses for the private rented sector, rather than just for house-buyers. The move by the Chancellor can only decrease the extent to which the PRS can and will invest in these ways in Scotland and we would urge the UK Government to change its position.? Alan Ward, chairman of the Residential Landlords Association added: ?The Government continues to peddle the line that letting out residential property is a passive investment, while piling on new regulations and responsibilities like immigration checks, minimum energy efficiency standards and licensing. It is a false comparison. The letting of residential property needs to be recognised as the trading business it is and be allowed to offset legitimate business costs, including mortgage interest.? ?Equally bogus is the comparison with homeowners. As the Institute for Fiscal Studies has demonstrated, buy-to-let landlords are already taxed more heavily than homeowners. Unlike homeowners, landlords pay income tax on rental profits and capital gains tax when a property is sold. If the Government is going to make these sort of comparisons they should be honest and fair.”
Education begins with homes
Education begins with homes landlords and letting agents tell students Students should demand good service from landlords and letting agents As university and college students move in to new accommodation across Scotland, landlords and letting agents are urging people to educate themselves about the service they should expect and how to spot rogue operators. Students, especially those with no prior renting experience, are often a prime target for rogue letting agents or landlord who are breaking the law, resulting in high costs and tenants staying in sub-standard and sometimes dangerous accommodation. The Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL), along with sister organisation, the Council of Letting Agents (CLA) is urging new and returning students to watch for signs to ensure that they are working with a credible landlord or letting agent who is working within the law and to the highest professional standards. In particular, students should look out for: Professional Membership: Make sure your landlord or letting agent is a member of a professional body such as SAL (landlords ? scottishlandlords.com) or the CLA (http://www.counciloflettingagents.com/). No upfront fees: The agent should not charge tenants anything in connection with the grant of a lease other than rent and a security deposit. If an agent asks for any additional fees, do not pay and contact SAL, the CLA or your local students association immediately for advice. Deposit: Agents or landlords should lodge all deposits with a tenancy deposit scheme and should provide you with information about which one they will be using. Be wary of agents who say they don?t take deposits, particularly if they demand take large sums of rent in advance. Services: Clarify what services the landlord or agent is providing. Sometimes they will be involved in managing the property from the start to the end of the tenancy; sometimes the landlord will take over once the tenants move in. In particular, make sure you are clear who is responsible for paying bills such as utilities or Council Tax. Paperwork: Ask to see a copy of their standard lease before you commit to the property & check you are happy with the terms. Read these documents carefully and do not sign until you are content. If you are unsure, then check with your student association before agreeing. Insurance: Whilst a landlord or letting agent may offer contents insurance or urge you to get some, they cannot insist you purchase it. Recommendation: If you have friends who?ve had a good experience of using the agent this is a great sign. Accreditation: Check that the agent is accredited with Landlord Accreditation Scotland (LAS) (http://www.landlordaccreditationscotland.com/). This is suggested for all landlords and letting agents in Scotland. John Blackwood, Chief Executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords said: ?Whilst renting privately is a very different experience to using college or university accommodation, students should still expect the process to be simple and transparent and carried out with a high level of customer service.? ?For too long students have been ripped off by rogue letting agents or landlords. It is critical that they are aware of their rights, what level of service they should expect and how to ensure they can find a reputable landlord or letting agent.? ?SAL and the CLA have a responsibility to work with other bodies to eradicate rogue practice which threatens to undermine the whole of the Private Rented Sector in Scotland. We hope these simple tips will help students? spot rogue letting agents and landlords quickly and easily. If someone suspect they have been dealing with someone operating outside the law, they should inform either ourselves or their local student association as soon as possible so we can investigate and take any additional action required.? ?In addition to these tips, more information is available from our website and if anyone has further questions we would urge them to get in touch.
New EPC Legislation
As from 9th january 2013 all properties advertised for let must include an energy rating in the advert. The only way of finding the Energy rating is by having an Energy Performance Certificate for the property.
Tenancy Deposit Scheme
All of Fife Letting Services tenancy deposits have been lodged with Safe Deposit Scotland, All tenant information letter have also been sent to our tenants. It is now a legal requirement to protect a tenants deposit, this has now been done for all existing tenancies and will be completed for all future tenancies as they occur.