I love you, you pay my rent

OK, so we only pay one person’s rent at a time but that person gets to live rent free for a whole month. Pretty good eh?

So, who is it this month? It’s Maryline.

maryline

Maryline lives in Streatham, SW16, so it’s another London winner (and another female winner!). Maryline’s prize, based on the average rent for a double room according to SpareRoom’s Room Rental Index, is £537.33. Maryline won with one of her loyalty entries (additional free entries we give out to people who regularly enter the competition or encourage their friends to enter).

Maryline says:
“The timing is so perfect that it is hardly believable: I am just ecstatic!!! I currently live in Streatham, and have just returned to work as a teaching assistant in my local school after 9 months of maternity leave, during which credit card debt had started to pile up. My son, my husband and I currently live in a shared house until we are able to afford a bigger place or decide to move to a cheaper location. I have used SpareRoom in the past and I enter the competition every month when I don’t forget about it. I generally share the link on Facebook for friends to join as it is so easy to enter.”

Don’t forget, for your chance to win a month’s rent enter SpareRoom’s Live Rent Free now

A free course for landlords

We don’t generally do much promo on the blog for other people’s stuff but, every now and then, we spot something we think will be of use to our users and make an exception. This is one such exception (no financial interest on our part, we just thought it was worth promoting).

School for Landlords is a free email course from Tessa Shepperson, who is an experienced solicitor and specialises in landlord and tenant law. All you need to do is enter your email address and you’ll get a weekly installment direct to your inbox.

Tessa says:

We constantly hear in the news how new and ‘accidental’ landlords make unnecessary, and sometimes costly, mistakes due to lack of knowledge of the laws which apply to rented property. My free course will help landlords understand what is involved and give them the background knowledge that they need.

To sign up for the course visit schoolforlandlords.co.uk

How to offset the shock of an increase in SVR

More than 1 million UK homeowners got a shock last week when 4 mortgage providers (Halifax, the Co-operative Bank, Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire bank) increased their standard variable rates. NatWest also pushed up the rate on its One Account, affecting a further 100,000 customers.

With many homeowners already living on frozen salaries, and with tightened belts, this further increase in outgoings could be critical.

The general advice in this situation is to speak to your mortgage lender in the hope that they may be able to help. The earlier you let your mortgage lender know if you think you’ll struggle the better.

One practical way to offset increased outgoings is to take in a lodger. Not only will the £4,250 you can charge tax free under the Rent a Room Scheme be a huge help in these circumstances, you may also benefit in other ways. Having someone to water your plants or feed your pets while you’re away, for example. Friendship is often a happy consequence of taking in a lodger, and we’ve even heard about one or two marriages that resulted from it too!

Make sure you speak to your mortgage provider first, but taking in a lodger could give you the breathing space you need as SVRs increase. Visit http://www.spareroom.co.uk/lodger for more information.

New Tenancy Deposit regulations for Scotland

New regulations are coming into force this summer to introduce a Tenancy Deposit Scheme in Scotland. The scheme(s) will be run by independent 3rd parties and will protect tenants’ deposits until they’re due to be repaid.

The regulations are set to come into force on July 2nd 2012. Under the new system landlords in Scotland will be required to:

  • Pay tenancy deposits into one of the approved schemes
  • Provide their tenant with information about the tenancy and the deposit

One scheme has been approved already and two further alternatives are being considered with the aim of having all 3 in place by July 2nd.

What you need to to depends largely on when the tenancy began (or will begin). Here are the key dates for deposits to be paid into one of the schemes (according to scotland.gov.uk’s tenancy deposit page):

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1. Deposit received prior to 7 March 2011 and where tenancy renewed on or after 2 October 2012 and before 2 April 2013 (Regulation 47(a))

Within 30 working days of renewal

In any other case (Regulation 47(b))

By 15 May 2013

2. Deposit received on or after 7 March 2011 and before 2 July 2012 (Regulation 48)

By 13 November 2012

3. Deposit received on or after 2 July 2012 and before 2 October 2012    (Regulation 4)

By 13 November 2012

4. Deposit received on or after 2 October 2012 (Regulation 3)

Within 30 working days of the beginning of the tenancy

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All sounds a bit confusing doesn’t it. The key thing to note is that, once the scheme is up and running and bedded in (after October 2nd by the looks of things), then the rule is 30 working days from the beginning of the tenancy.

For more information (including details of events you can attend to learn more about how this works) visit scotland.gov.uk

Housing minister announces taskforce to end back garden ‘shanty towns’ in UK

Housing minister Grant Schapps has announced a taskforce to put an end to the growing number of ‘beds in sheds’ rented out by unscrupulous landlords. According to the Communities and Local Govenrment website thousands of beds are being rented out in sheds and outbuildings, mostly to immigrant workers (many of whom are in the UK illegally).

Schapps said:
“It is a scandal that these back garden slums exist to exploit people, many of whom are prepared to return voluntarily to their home country but instead find themselves trapped into paying extortionate rents to live in these cramped conditions.

“I want to see a crackdown on these criminal landlords. So today we are launching a national taskforce, made up of the police, local councils, the UK Border Agency and HM Revenue and Customs to close down these ‘beds in sheds’, help those living there to be reunited with their families and ensure their so-called landlords feel the full force of the law.”

Many of these illegal dwellings are visible on Google Earth and most fall way short of the minimum standards for rented accommodation in the UK, with sanitation being one of the main issues.

The first step of the process took place yesterday when Shapps and Immigration Minister Damian Green held the first in a series of cross-Whitehall summits with representatives from the police, the UK Border Agency and local government.