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Our regular round-up of news items for you. This week, we look at the new tax imposed on holiday lets and Welsh second homes as well as more industry reactions to the Ukrainian conflict.  But first:

Hope for landlords on cladding issue

The NRLA has been campaigning against the proposal that buy to let landlords who rent out more than one property should have to pay for or towards the removal of unsafe cladding in high rise buildings.

Landlords will therefore be encouraged by the publication of a committee report which says it is unfair for buy to let landlords to be landed with expensive bills for something which was not their fault.  Saying

Buy-to-let landlords are no more to blame than other leaseholders for historic building safety defects and landing them with potentially unaffordable bills will only slow down or prevent works to make buildings safe

Ben Beadle of the NRLA responded saying

Ministers now need to stop dragging their feet on this issue, accept the Committee’s conclusions and end its unjust and inexcusable policy

ARLA Questions Property Tax hike for Welsh second homes and holiday lets

This week, ARLA have questioned the property tax rise in Wales despite the public consultation which argues that increasing tax would have little effect on altering the current problems.

The Welsh Government has announced a new council tax premium for second homes, as well as a new tax for holiday lets. Effective from April 2023, local authorities will be able to set a premium council tax up to 300% compared to current figures on second homes and long term empty dwellings. The Welsh Government is hoping this increased revenue will give local authorities more money to spend on affordable housing.

In regards to holiday lets, currently, properties are available to let for at least 140 days, and that are actually let for at least 70 days, will pay rates rather than council tax. The change will increase these thresholds to being available to let for at least 252 days and actually let for at least 182 days in any 12-month period.

However, this has drew criticism from ARLA Propertymark’s policy manager Daryl Mcintish who questioned the decision by saying:

The Decision… is somewhat surprising, given that 79 per cent of respondents to the consultation felt that the powers had ‘very little or no effect’ in tackling housing issues.

Many within the industry believe the only affect this will have is increasing rental price for tenants and holiday-goers.

Labour calls for Windfall tax on Giants in a bid to reduce energy bills

This week, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer has called for the Government to impose a tax on Energy companies in a bid to reduce bills amid the energy crisis. Starmer argued that this new tax would be able to help the most vulnerable in society pay the inflated energy bills.

Instead, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has pledged to provide most households with £350 to help with rising energy costs, comprising of a £150 discount on council tax bills for 80% of homes and £200 off energy bills in October. However customers will have to pay this back over the next five years.

In response, Prime minister Johnson has argued that Starmer’s approach will only increase energy prices and also slow down the process of energy companies divesting from Russian imports.

Industry worry over retrofitting midst the energy crisis

The Chartered Institute of Housing says it is concerned about the impact of rising gas and energy prices on tenants and landlords.

Figures published by the Consumer council show that 900 litres of home heating oil cost consumers an average of £465.91 less than three months ago. Today, the same volume of oil costs on average £758.11.

The Northern Ireland division of the institute says that members are increasingly describing the energy crisis as one of the most pressing issues facing tenants.

The Chartered Institute of Housing has called for a new fund to retrofit energy-efficient measures in order to help tackle fuel poverty.

More action within the PRS to help Ukraine

This week, there has been more action by Industry heavyweights to either distance themselves from Russia or assist Ukrainian Refugees. Here are the main headlines:

  • Savills Estate Agents and Knights Frank have cut ties with their Russian Partners at least temporarily. The Agreement of both estate agents groups has been suspended.
  • Brown & co, an estate agent in East Midlands & East Anglia is donating £50,000 towards the Ukrainian refugees in Poland and the surrounding countries. Brown & Co has businesses in both Poland and Ukraine.
  • Arun Estates has also donated £50,000 towards Humanitarian Support for Ukrainian Refugees.

Landlord finds Snakes, Spiders and Scorpions in recovered property

We hear of a property recovery nightmare from a landlord whose property became infested with various different creepy crawlies.

Landlord Phil Tewkesbury, following a period of six months of rent arrears, was finally able to repossess his property in Kendal, Cumbria. On inspecting the property, amidst the strewn litter and other damage was 4 snakes, two alive as well as fish, scorpions and tarantulas within the property, as well as an infestation of bugs.

According to Mr Tewkesbury, the tenant was an animal rescuer, which is the likely cause of the presence of these rare animals. The RSCPA has since intervened and captured the animals.

It took the landlord, his partner over 50 hours and almost £2,000 to clear the rubbish, rip the soiled carpets out and dump it in a skip.

This is one of the worst cases or recovery of property in recent years for landlords and acts as a reminder to make sure you properly vet your tenants before any tenancy is granted.

Snippets

Newsround will be back next week.

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