Raising Rented Housing Standards in the East Midlands

Landlord ‘Buy-to-Let’ awards 2009: Public Service Winner


News Archive : Jan - Jun 2008

South Derbyshire Landlord Fair - 19th May 2008, Newton Park Hotel

South Derbyshire District Council will be hosting a Landlord Fair on 19th May 2008, 1-8pm. The event which takes place at the Newton Park Hotel near Burton-on-Trent, welcomes all landlords and agents who let properties in the region.

The aim of the fair is to inform landlords of the East Midlands Landlord Accreditation Scheme (EMLAS) that will soon be avaialble in Derbyshire. Tom Toumazou, Project Manager at Decent and Safe Homes will be presenting the scheme and its benefits. During the event, delegates will be able to speak to exhibitors about the services on offer to them, as well as make contact with other landlords and key council staff. Refreshments will be provided and the event is free.

Landlords and agents who would like to come along to the event are asked to confirm attendance with Liz Dakin on 01283 595967.

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Landlord Fair ~ 30 April 2008

LANDLORDS can pick up free advice on a range of new initiatives being provided by Charnwood Borough Council at a specialist event later this month.

The Authority's Strategic Housing and Health directorate, supported by DASH (Decent and Safe Homes), is hosting a Landlords Fair at Loughborough Town Hall on Wednesday April 30th and is encouraging property owners who privately rent out accommodation and agents to attend.

Information on three new services being offered by the Council - Tenant Finder, Fresh Start and a Landlord's frequently asked questions website - will be available during the event, which takes place between 1.30pm and 6.30pm.

Tenant Finder helps landlords through the process of finding tenants through to signing the tenancy agreement, while Fresh Start will provide advertising space for property owners to sell their houses. The houses must have been empty for 6 months or more and must be in need of significant modernisation.

There will also be presentations between 2pm and 3pm on a regional Landlord Accreditation Scheme that may be introduced in Charnwood and forthcoming changes to Housing Benefit Payments.

Information on Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licences, gas safety, insurance and mortgages will be available throughout the afternoon.

Cllr David Slater, Charnwood Borough Council's Cabinet member for Housing and Health, said it promised to be a one-stop shop for landlords. He added:

"This promises to be a very informative event and I would encourage landlords to come along and find out more about these new initiatives being introduced in Charnwood.

There will also be advice on everything a landlord needs to know about privately renting out properties and making the whole experience a less stressful one. So even if you can't make the presentations, it will definitely be worth popping along to find out more."

All landlords and agents are welcome to attend but are advised to book places in advance for the presentations between 2pm and 3pm by calling Russell Clarke, Charnwood Borough Council’s Homelessness Resources Officer, on 01509 634937.

Further information on the event is also available through the Charnwood website link.

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East Midlands Regional Affordable Warmth Event ~ 23 April 2008

A one day conference is being held at the Quality Hotel, Loughborough on Wednesday 23 April to look at the issues facing affordable warmth and planning the reponse for the 2008-09 year.

The event opens at 9.30 with an address from Christine Darville, the East Midlands representative of the National Landlords Association. A look back over recent achievements will be made before discussing the main issues of:

The afternoon will see delegates split into smaller groups to discuss the actions that should be developed into an action plan for the year.

To book your place at the Affordable Warmth Event, please fill in this Booking Form and return to dash@derby.gov.uk

If you would like any further information about this event please call Richard Murrell on 01332 255317.

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Nottingham 8th Annual Conference

Nottingham City Council is hosting their 8th annual conference at the Council House, Nottingham on Thursday 10th April 2008, 9am to 4.30pm.

Around 200 landlords from the City and beyond will gather to hear speeches from key professionals and to exchange views, ideas, and tips to assist them in operating their business.

Nottingham City Council have for many years worked with landlords to ensure safe and appropriate housing is available for the wide range of people who choose to live and work in our vibrant City and this event is not to be missed by any landlord or person intent on becoming a landlord in this City.

For delegates wishing to attend please email public.health@nottinghamcity.gov.uk, indicating the number of delegates who wish to attend.

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Collecting Rent Efficiently

Late and non payment of rent has always been a problem in student accommodation. As personal finances tighten and students get used to being in debt, on-time rent collection becomes more and more difficult and late payment can sometimes mean no-payment. Many institutions are finding it increasingly difficult to collect their rent on time and bad debts are increasing.

This one day seminar has been specifically designed to explore rent collection options for institutional and private sector operators of larger student accommodation portfolios.

The day will look at the options available to try to ensure that:

The day will also look at the mechanisms open to institutions in either threatening to take or actually taking legal action to recover debts and some of the issues that collecting bad debts will raise. The seminar has been structured to look at a number of different models available in collecting rent and to provide sound legal advice on how to approach the more serious cases where some action is essential.

See the Unipol website to book a place at this event.

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Councillors Campaign for Balanced Communities ~
the agenda for change

A conference is being organised by Nottingham City Council and Unipol Training entitled The Councillors' Campaign for Balanced Communities - The Agenda for Change. The conference takes place at the Council House in Nottingham on Thursday 13th March 2008.

The event is strictly for Councillors, local authority officers (£25 per delegate) and Community Activists (Free). Delegates working in the area of community liaison, strategic housing, planning policy or neighbourhood management will benefit from attending.

The agenda brings together views from councillors, local activists, educational administrators and MP's, all of whom are committed to the continuing development and strengthening of the concept of the balanced community focusing on the impact that students and student housing have.

For further information, the full agenda, and details of how to book on to this or any other Unipol Training event please visit the Unipol website or call 0113 2053404. Alternatively you can e-mail conferences@unipol.leeds.ac.uk.

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Leicester Landlord Forum ~ 4 March 2008

If you are a Landlord or Letting Agent of a privately rented property within the East Midlands, or someone with an interest in housing issues, you will be interested to attend the annual Landlords Forum on the 4th March 2008 at the Hilton Hotel, Junction 21, Leicester.

The event is Free of charge and will have number of seminars from housing professionals on the forthcoming topics:-

Tenancy Deposit Schemes Christine Darvill (National Landlords Association) will be updating Landlords on the scheme which is now a legal requirement for all Landlords and Letting Agents and its effect on eviction procedures.

Property Auctions Lal Sangra (Shonki Brothers) will be discussing investing in commercial and residential properties as well as advantages and disadvantages of buying and selling properties at an auction.

Local Housing Allowance (Housing Benefit payments) - comes into affect from April 2008, and will affect all Landlords and Letting Agents. The presentation will cover implications for Landlords, property types and local rents, how housing benefit is calculated and paid, rent arrears.

Renting Procedures & Safeguards Toyin Davidson-Ero (Landlord Support Services) will give an overview on Landlords and Tenants rights, serving notices, inventories, rent arrears, defaulting tenants.

Tenant Issues Adrian Wray (Association of Residential Letting Agents) will be giving an overview on how Local Authorities can assist and help Landlord and Letting Agents in resolving rent arrears, abandonment, anti-social behaviour and other tenant issues.

Accreditation Schemes The Decent & Safe Homes team will be discussing improving standards in the private sector and the role of Accreditation Schemes in achieving this.

The Landlord Forum will also give Landlords and Letting Agents an opportunity to raise any concerns they may have regarding the Housing Act 2004 or other issues that affect them.

Should you wish to take advantage of this free event, please contact vj@blaby.gov.uk.
Alternatively you could register your interest by telephone on 0116 2727770.

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Migrant Worker Housing Conference

~ Park Inn hotel, Northampton

The DASH 12th Local Authority Conference took place on 22 January 2008. The theme of the conference was Migrant Worker Housing and aimed to look at solutions as well as problems faced by housing officers.

Gill Green, a Senior Research Manager with the Audit Commission, opened the presentations with Crossing Borders - responding to the local challenges of migrant workers. Migration for work and study is increasing rapidly with international migration being the main driver for population change in the UK. While future numbers are hard to predict, economic and demographic trends make it likely that a high level of migration for work and for study will continue for the foreseeable future. Some local areas have been particularly affected by recent changes. In areas with little history of population change and diversity, even a relatively small number of migrant workers can bring new challenges, and are more noticeable to existing local populations. Different areas of the country face a different combination of circumstances. Local authorities need to understand these changes and respond locally to specific issues. View the presentation Changing Borders [1.54mb] to understand the local population changes.

The Trades Union Congress believes that there are many benefits of migration including filling skills gaps and aiding economic growth. The Migrant Impact Forum has collected evidence from practitioners on the impact of migrants on public services and local communities. The aim is to gain evidence on the social benefits, identify and share good practice in managing any adjustments in services, bring together existing evidence about the impacts of migration and offer a forum to advise ministers. See the presentation [149kb] by Sean Bamford, TUC Policy Officer, to discover the impact on Health, Education, Housing, Crime and Community Cohesion.

Dr Jenny Phillimore presented the preliminary findings of the research carried out on behalf of DASH by the Centre for Urban & Regional Studies at Birmingham University. The research centres on Housing and A8 migrants in the East Midlands. Information and data has been collated from the 40 local authorities in the region, as well as consultation with NGO's, landlords, Fire Services and the Police. The objective of the study is to identify the A8 populations, outline future trends, determine the housing needs and impacts on Local Authorities and to reccomend best practice methods for meeting these needs. View the preliminary results of this study in the presentation [508kb]. The full resport is expected to be concluded by the end of March 2008.

Delegates had the opportunity to take part in two workshops in support of this research. The first session looked at the kind of impact the arrival of A8's have had on housing and neighborhoods in their area. Delegates were encouraged to show the differences between rural and urban areas and share examples of practices and initiatives. The second session looked at the resources needed and how provision could be made for the future.

The work of the Institute of Community Cohesion focuses on building positive and harmonious community relations. In this light Harris Beider from ICoCo presented Working with Agencies to Ensure a Joined Up Approach [282kb]. The presentation centred on the fact that research and practice is often based on historical action from collated data. Services are being developed without effective consultation, particularly with emerging groups. Agencies needed to identify the common issues in order to resolve them. It was recommended that links be built with community organisations, who are much more likely to be trusted by migrants. Community contacts know the issues and needs and can be aware of trends in migration at a local level.

Addressing issues for new migrant workers [7.52mb] in accessing and sustaining accommodation was the title of the presentation given by Tom Toumazou, Project Manager of Decent & Safe Homes. Tom stated that the Citizens Advise Bureau received 20% of enquiries are from non-british people. As it is estimated that only 10% of the population is non-british, this reflects the disproportionate need of migrants. Good and effective partnerships along with better and robust community cohesion policies will mean that we are more able to adapt and accommodate influxes and change. The result will be better communties for all.

David de Verny is the Ecumenical Chaplain with New Arrival Communities in Southeast Lincolnshire and spoke on his perspective of Migrant Workers, Housing and Mental Health [42kb]. In David's experience migrant workers have no decent accommodation that one would expect for a normal worker. Gang masters are still the largest group of landlords and inspite of legislation and increased awareness by authorities, there has been no change. Migrants are often given few rights and no protection in the law. Access to services and medical care isn't easy because their English often isn't good enough. Migrants try to keep in touch with home via the internet or mobile phone - but there are few houses in multiple occupation with internet access and mobile phones are expensive for the low waged. There is a significant number of workers who are lonely and isolated leading to an increase in mental health problems. Being unable to articulate their distress in a foreign language just increases the pressures.

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DASH 13th Local Authority Conference ~ Accreditation & Regulation

The 13th Local Authority Conference organised by Decent and Safe Homes was held on Thursday 20th May 2008 at the Thistle East Midlands Airport hotel, Castle Donnington.

Over 40 delegates from Private Sector Housing departments across the East Midlands attended the event which was based around the theme of Accreditation and Regulation. The Conference was opened with an introduction from DASH Project Manager, Tom Toumazou who outlined the benefits of accreditation and introduced the coming East Midlands Accreditation Scheme – EMLAS. The EMLAS scheme is based on the quality of the landlord and rewards them for good property management and property standards. To find out more about the scheme see the East Midlands Landlord Accreditation Scheme [1.66mb] presentation.

A marketing campaign is set to proactively promote the benefits of the accreditation scheme to landlords, potential tenants and the general public with the reassurance of quality of management and their housing standards. Sarah Jenkin-Jones is the Co-ordinator of the campaign and took the delegates through the timetable of press releases and media relations work which will culminate in the official scheme launch in October. View the presentation Marketing of the Scheme [209kb] for more detail.

Local Scheme Operators from Unipol Student Homes and West Lindsey District Council were invited to share their experiences of running an accreditation scheme with the delegates. Delegates were interested to hear about the inclusion of support to landlords with anti-social behaviour from tenants. See the presentations from Faye Powell, Unipol DASH Code in Nottingham [95kb] and the West Lindsey District Council Accreditation Scheme [92kb] presented by Martin Macpherson-Lawley.

LACoRS, as the local government co-ordinator of regulatory services in private sector housing, has conducted a survey of accreditation schemes to find out whether there is any consistency across the nation and what is the future of accreditation. Ruth Hammond-Laing detailed the process of the survey and stated how the roundtable discussions would be a good opportunity to influence government policy. See the presentation PRS Review and LACoRS/ANUK Accreditation Survey [65kb].

Gamekeeper Turned Poacher [528kb] was the title of the presentation from Neil Marsden. Neil related the landlords perspective on accreditation to the delegates. A number of areas were highlighted such as the fact that civil proceedings are taken against bad tenants, whilst problems with property is a criminal action. Neil explained that there was a need to decrease the fear of enforcement and legislation through training, guidance and consultation with landlords to ensure they understand the standards they are to meet, and that enforcement is effective and targets those not meeting standards.

The Core Values of Accreditation [1.05mb], by Martin Blakey of ANUK, sets out a definition of accreditation through the four values, which should be present in every accreditation scheme to be effective. This is in essence a framework for evaluating the quality of accreditation schemes which ANUK now hopes to develop.

As delegates began to leave it was clear that they had benefited from the day. Please see the responses below taken from the events evaluation sheets on the day.

Excellent conference. It really made me think about the way forward for the Private Rented Sector.

Interesting and thought provoking

A very good day which has changed my opinions on accreditation.

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