Tailored Housing Solutions

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1 Tailored Housing Solutions Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council s Empty Homes Private Sector Leasing Scheme An information guide for owners with empty properties What is Private Sector Leasing and how does it work? Private Sector Leasing is a scheme that a number of local authorities in the UK have adopted in recent years to help breathe new life into empty properties, which may otherwise be left standing empty for a number of years. Under the scheme, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council can arrange to lease an empty property from their owner for a minimum term of five years, up to a maximum of ten years. During this period the owner of the empty property will receive a guaranteed set rent from the council. The council will find suitable tenants to live in each property and then manage their tenancy and all ongoing repairs and maintenance needed at the property for the duration of the lease. At the end of the lease the owner will receive their property back in a condition suitable to let or sell according to their wishes. In order to bring the property up to the Decent Homes Standard, so that it is suitable to lease and then let out, the council can contribute up to 13,000 of funding per property to help meet this standard. The 13,000 contribution is recoverable through the rental income that will be generated by the council letting each of the properties out, and no interest is charged on this. If the property requires more works than the 13,000 contribution from the council the owner would need to meet these costs themselves. The only cost to the owner is a management fee of 7% of the rent charged to the tenant which is automatically deducted from the amount the council will pay the owner. The management fee covers all of the ongoing repairs and maintenance costs at the property as well as comprehensive building insurance. The guaranteed set rent paid to the owner is calculated as follows: Guaranteed rent paid to owner = { Monthly rent charged to tenant 7% Management fee Council s renovation cost contribution Worked examples of this calculation can be found on pages

2 What is Tailored Housing Solutions? Tailored Housing Solutions is the name Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council have used to brand the Private Sector Leasing Scheme. The name embodies what the Private Sector Leasing scheme is all about tailoring housing solutions to empty homes. As the scheme gains publicity and reputation, it is envisaged that Tailored Housing Solutions will be recognised in its own right. What are the advantages to property owners? A hassle-free service Tailored Housing Solutions will take away the hassle of bringing an empty property back into use and letting it out on the open market. Your property will be renovated to the minimum Decent Homes Standard We will work with you to agree what works are needed to bring your property up to meet a minimum of the Decent Homes Standard and make it attractive to rent. Throughout this process your property will be professionally managed by the council s Private Sector Housing Team. Where appropriate and with your agreement it will be re-designed to make the best use of the property. There are no fees to pay for this service, potentially saving you thousands of pounds on project management costs. The Private Sector Housing Team will oversee whatever works have been agreed and ensure that all relevant Building Regulations applications and plans are submitted and permissions obtained. Professional property management We will not only arrange and carry out all of the works to the property, we will also use our expertise as a housing provider to manage the property and tenants for the entire duration of the lease. Guaranteed rent We guarantee to pay you an agreed rent every month of the lease, even if the property becomes empty during that period. Preferential access to qualifying grants and loans Where there are applicable grants or loans that could be of use we will streamline your application, should you, your property or the tenants qualify for such assistance. One simple management fee of 7% which covers: On-going repairs For all on-going maintenance and repairs that are not covered by the property insurance. This includes all annual gas safety checks and electrical safety inspections (where appropriate). All repairs are carried out by in-house contractors or suitably qualified and competent external contractors who have been procured in accordance with European procurement rules. Damage by the tenant This includes accidental damage or wilful damage which we will rectify, then recover the cost from the tenants. However, owners should expect fair wear and tear of the property. As well as managing the tenancy, we will compile a thorough inventory of the condition of the property at the start and end of each tenancy. This will help us determine fair wear and tear and tenant damage. Building insurance The building will be insured under the council s block housing insurance policy at the estimated re- build cost of the property. This will include specific perils covering fire, hail, flood, theft, lightening and explosion. 2 continued next page

3 On-going management In addition to the repairs, the 7% fee covers all of the council s costs of managing the tenants and property for the duration of the lease. This includes finding and vetting suitable tenants and covers any void periods in between lets. Other benefits include: If you participate in the scheme you will no longer be liable for council tax, or gas, water and electricity standing charges. All of these will be transferred to the council who will pass them on to the new tenants to pay. The council will no longer pursue you over bringing the property back into use. Bringing an empty property back into use as affordable housing helps ease the national housing crisis and will be beneficial to the local economy. What will the property be used for? The council will use the property for housing accommodation and let the property out at an affordable rent to people in need of accommodation. Affordable rent under this scheme is rent charged at 80% of the typical market rent. Persons in need of accommodation may include persons on the housing register, persons who are in receipt of benefits and persons who may be at risk of homelessness. Tailored Housing Solutions will make best use of the property to meet the needs and demands of people seeking the support of the council. We will always try to ensure the property is being let to appropriate tenants who will use the property in a proper tenant-like manner. Should we find that the property isn t being properly used by the tenant or they are failing to pay their rent, we will deal with this by enforcing the conditions of the tenancy agreement. How to be accepted onto the scheme In general, your property will be accepted on to the scheme if: It has been empty for at least six months It meets the housing need of the council It will be easy to let once renovated It can be improved to meet a minimum of the Decent Homes Standard at a reasonable cost (see pages to find out what the Decent Homes Standard means) Evidence of ownership is provided Written consent from the mortgage lender is provided where the property is not owned outright Written consent of the head landlord is provided in the case of leasehold properties You consent to the agreed renovation works and costs (which will be recoverable through the rent, recovered by the council from the tenant over the duration of the lease) You agree to the council charging an affordable rent to the tenant. An affordable rent is 80% of the market rent You agree to certain health and safety works being carried out such as the installation of mains powered fire alarms Please be aware that the scheme will be run on a first come, first served basis as it is reliant on a limited government grant. The lease details further acceptance requirements for the scheme. An example lease and licence for agreement to lease is available at your request. 3

4 What else will Tailored Housing Solutions do? Arrange regular inspections of the property and ensure it is being looked after whilst tenanted Carry out regular internal and external checks on the property if it becomes empty Handle complaints and repairs raised by the tenant Collect the rent from the tenants Ensure that the tenants are acting in a proper tenant-like manner and deal with any nuisances that may be caused At the end of the lease return the property to the owner with vacant possession and in a good condition (subject to fair wear and tear) How do I apply to lease my property through Tailored Housing Solutions? Once you ve had a look through this guide, please complete the attached enquiry form and return it to us. We ll then give you a call and ensure all of your questions have been answered. If you re happy to apply we will then send out a formal application form to you with an example Lease and Licence, and Agreement for Lease. What happens after I ve applied? When you ve returned your application form to us, your application will progress as below: 4 We will check over the application If complete, some basic background checks will be carried out looking at the size and suitability of the property for the scheme If all is well, we will make an appointment with the owner to carry out a survey of the whole of the property An outline of the renovation works will then be drawn up. If any alternative grants or financial assistance are available this will be explored. The likely renovation costs will then be calculated as well as the rent levels for the property once renovated A meeting will then be organised with the owner to discuss the renovation works and costs. If the property is suitable for the scheme, at this stage the owner will be presented with the options of the lease (such as the length of lease that could be offered and how much rental income the owner will receive) The owner will be asked to consider the lease options on offer and come back to us within two weeks if they re happy to proceed with the lease The owner will then have to seek the written permission of anyone else with an interest in the property (such as the mortgage lender) Once permission has been obtained, a Licence and Agreement to Lease will be signed with the owner We will then ensure all Building Regulations applications and plans are submitted and permissions obtained The renovation works will then be carried out on the property Upon completion of the renovation works, the lease with the owner will be signed The lease will last for five to ten years, during which time we will take care of all management, maintenance and tenancy issues. We will also pay the owner the agreed rent every month from the commencement of the lease until the end of the lease At the end of the lease, we will ensure the property is returned back to the owner with vacant possession in a clean and tidy state

5 Frequently asked questions If you re considering the use of Tailored Housing Solutions you will probably have a number of questions. Below are some of the most common but please feel free to contact us should your question not be addressed in this guide. How much rent will be paid to the owners? This depends on the amount of work needed in the property, the length of the lease and other factors like the size and location of the property. As a rough guide to costs some typical examples have been provided on pages 8-9. How will rent be paid to the owner of the property? You will be paid directly into your bank account every month. How long will the process take from application to the lease being agreed? This will depend upon a number of factors such as the amount of work needed to be done to the property and how quickly you supply all of the required information. We are typically aiming for a three month turn-around. How many empty properties are you looking for? The funding we have received from the Homes and Communities Agency is to be spent on bringing 40 empty properties back into use. However the scheme has been developed with sustainability in mind so we hope to bring even more empty properties back into use than the initial 40. How has the council received the funding to run the scheme? The council made a successful bid to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to run the scheme and were subsequently awarded 522,000 to bring 40 empty properties back into use by the end of March This equates to approximately 13,000 of funding per property. What if my property needs more than 13,000 of repair work to bring it up to the Decent Homes Standard? On rare occasions we may have some more funding available to help owners bring their long term empty properties back into use. However we cannot guarantee this. If we cannot help with any additional funding, the owner would have to contribute to the additional costs themselves. We will also always try and point owners in the direction of available grants which may help offset some costs. Will I need to furnish the property? No, the property should be left unfurnished and must be clear of all possessions upon commencement of any works. What should I do with my white goods? If they re in good working order you can leave them in the property and gift them to Tailored Housing Solutions, who will pass them onto the new tenant should they want them. However, we cannot guarantee that gifted items will remain in the property. Will I need to clear the property out? Yes. The whole of the property, including loft spaces, sheds and cupboards must be entirely cleared out. If any possessions are left, these will be disposed of and you will either be charged for them separately or the cost will be recovered from the rent. What is fair wear and tear? There are no precise rules on what fair wear and tear means. The House of Lords defines it as: Reasonable use of the premises by the Tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces. This is the model that we will be working towards, and giving consideration to length of tenancy, the number and age of occupiers and the quality of the accommodation. 5

6 If I have a mortgage in place, who will be responsible for paying it? That responsibility still rests with the owner of the property. Should the owner stop paying the mortgage the lease will still remain in existence; however, the property is likely to be repossessed by your mortgage lender. The council will also have recourse to take legal action against the owner under the terms of the lease should it incur costs. Who is responsible for paying the ground rent or service charge on the property? Both these costs remain the responsibility of the owner and must be paid when required. Evidence of payment of these must be sent to the council within seven days of payment. Can I sell the property or pass it on to a family member during the lease period? It may be possible for you to sell or pass the property on to someone else during the lease period. However as the lease is a legally binding agreement, the council will remain the leaseholder of the property until the term of the lease has expired. Can I claim my property back before the end of the lease? We do not normally return a property until the end of the lease, so you should plan to lease it to us for the full term. We recognise that circumstances can change unexpectedly, so if you need your property urgently we are available to discuss your needs. When does the council become responsible for the property and bills? The council will become responsible the day after the signing of the lease. What checks will you do on the tenants? We will carry out the same checks on tenants moving into leased properties as we do on tenants who apply for council housing. This will involve checking past circumstances and their history of renting. We also have access to check whether a tenant has been involved in matters of anti-social behaviour and so determine the most appropriate persons to let the property to. How often will you inspect the property when it s leased? We will inspect the property within the first six weeks of the tenancy starting and then at least every six months after that. If there are any issues we will endeavour to inspect the property more frequently and we will always come out should there be any repair issues that need attention. If during the lease period the property becomes empty for any reason, we will carry out an external inspection of the property every week and an internal inspection at least once a month until the property is re-let. What happens at the end of the lease? We will endeavour to return the property to you by the end of the lease; however sometimes it can take a little longer for the tenants to move. Under these circumstances we would continue to pay the rent until the property is returned to you. If we anticipate that this may be the case you will be informed of this before the end of the lease. Either way, this will be no more than six months after the end of the agreed lease. What sort of condition can I expect my property to be in at the end of the lease? All of the initial renovation works will have been carried out, but the property will have since been lived in so you should expect fair wear and tear. If there is any tenant damage this will be addressed before handing the property back. The property will be returned to the owner having been cleaned to a professional standard and empty of any possessions. What type of gas and electricity meters will be in the property when it s returned to me? There may be either standard meters or pre-payment meters installed. It should always be possible to have the gas and electricity meters changed back to whatever type of meter you require. However, if a water meter has been installed it may not be possible to change back to un-metered bills. When the property is returned to you we recommend that you check with each utility supplier to ensure there are no outstanding debts at the property. 6

7 Will smoking and pets be allowed in the property? Realistically some tenants will want to smoke and have pets. In terms of pets the tenancy will limit tenants to one dog and one cat if the tenants have exclusive use of a garden. Will I be able to meet the tenants or go back to the property during the lease period? As the property will be leased to the council you will not (unless there are exceptional circumstances) be allowed to enter into the property whilst it is under the lease. Likewise, you will not have access to any information about the tenants. Who is responsible for informing HM Revenue and Customs (Tax)? You will be responsible for informing HMRC about the rental income that you will receive from the council as part of the lease agreement. Am I able to apply if I do not live in the UK? You will be able to apply if you are a non-resident landlord. You must, however, appoint a legal Power of Attorney so that we know who to contact in this country concerning your property. You must also provide evidence that you have complied with the Inland Revenues requirements (See HM Revenue and Customs Form NRL 1). 7

8 Example rents Below are some typical rent calculations based on estimates. These have been included to give you an idea of what you could possibly expect to receive if you lease your property through Tailored Housing Solutions. Example 1: 5,000 renovation costs paid back over a five year lease when the market rent is 650 pcm Renovation costs 5,000 Market rent of property Affordable rent charged to tenant by council 650 per calendar month (pcm) 520 (this is 80% of the market rent) Management fee (7%) Rent recovered pcm Rent recovered less renovation costs over a five year lease Rent to be paid to owner of property pcm for the duration of the five year lease (renovation costs spread over 60 months) pcm Example 2: 10,000 renovation costs paid back over a five year lease when the market rent is 600 pcm Renovation costs 10,000 Market rent of property Affordable rent charged to tenant by council 600 per calendar month (pcm) 480 (this is 80% of the market rent) Management fee (7%) Rent recovered pcm Rent recovered less renovation costs over a five year lease Rent to be paid to owner of property pcm for the duration of the five year lease (renovation costs spread over 60 months) pcm 8

9 Example 3: 13,000 renovation costs paid back over a seven year lease when the market rent is 550 pcm Renovation costs 13,000 Market rent of property Affordable rent charged to tenant by council 550 per calendar month (pcm) 440 (this is 80% of the market rent) Management fee (7%) Rent recovered pcm Rent recovered less renovation costs over a seven year lease Rent to be paid to owner of property pcm for the duration of the seven year lease (renovation costs spread over 84 months) pcm Example 4: 13,000 renovation costs paid back over a 10 year lease when the market rent is 500 pcm Renovation costs 13,000 Market rent of property Affordable rent charged to tenant by council 500 per calendar month (pcm) 400 (this is 80% of the market rent) Management fee (7%) 28 Rent recovered pcm 372 Rent recovered less renovation costs over a 10 year lease Rent to be paid to owner of property pcm for the duration of the 10 year lease (renovation costs spread over 120 months) pcm 9

10 What is the Decent Homes Standard that my property will need to meet? The Decent Homes Criteria A Decent Home must meet the following standards: It must meet the current statutory minimum standard for housing It must be in a reasonable state of repair It must have reasonably modern facilities and services It must provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort Minimum Standard for Housing The statutory minimum standard requires that all homes provide a safe and healthy environment. The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is the current system for assessing the health and safety risks of homes. It works by assessing the risks of certain home hazards, such as: Excess cold damp and mould growth Fire and electrical hazards Carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products Crowding and space Entry by intruders Noise Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse Food safety Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage Water supply for domestic purposes Structural collapse and falling elements Collision and entrapment Falls associated with baths; stairs and steps; between levels and on the level Reasonable state of repair Properties are not considered to be in a reasonable state of repair if: One or more of the key building components are old and as a result need replacing or major repair, or: Two or more of the other building components are old and as a result need replacing or major repair Key building components External roofs Roof structure and covering Windows and doors Chimneys Central heating boilers Gas fires Storage heaters Electrics Other building components include kitchens and bathrooms. 10

11 Kitchen Minimum requirements for kitchens specifications are; The space provided for the fridge or fridge freezer will be 600mm Kitchen flooring will be provided, either vinyl or tiles. Where this is tiling, tiles will be in good condition and free from cracks Kitchens will be fitted with an extractor fan or passive stack ventilation Bathrooms Minimum requirements for bathroom specifications are; Bathrooms will have serviceable sanitary ware and comprise a wash hand basin, toilet (or separate with additional basin) and a bath or shower Bathroom flooring will be provided, either vinyl or tiles. Where this is tiling, tiles will be in good condition and free from cracks Bathrooms will be fitted with an extractor fan or passive stack ventilation A two course tile splash-back will be provided around the wash hand basin and the bath, or in the case of a shower, the shower area will be fully tiled. Tiles will be in good condition and free from cracking Wooden toilet seats will be replaced with plastic seats Reasonably modern facilities and services The property does not have reasonably modern facilities if it lacks three or more of the following: A reasonably modern kitchen which is no more than 20 years old A kitchen with adequate space and layout A reasonably modern bathroom which is no more than 30 years old An appropriately located bathroom and toilet Adequate insulation against external noise (where external noise is a problem) Adequate size and layout of common areas for blocks of flats Thermal comfort Properties must also have a reasonable degree of thermal comfort, which means it must have both effective insulation and efficient heating. 11

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