Some landlord and tenant news items from the past week. First:
Tenant evictions stayed until 23 August
We speculated about this in the last Newsround and indeed very shortly after it was published we learned (via an announcement in twitter) that the stay on evictions at the Courts was to be extended a further two months.
Landlords, needless to say, are very unhappy about this and fear it could damage the rental market.
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, said:
This decision means that some landlords will now be facing five months without receiving any rent as they can take no action against tenants who were not paying before the lockdown started.
It also means more misery for tenants and neighbours suffering at the hands of anti-social tenants and will also cause exceptional hardship for a number of landlords, including many who depend on their rental income to live, for which there is no assistance.
We have every sympathy with tenants who face genuine difficulties because of a loss of income due to the coronavirus crisis.
Nearly all landlords are working with tenants who are struggling to keep them in their home.
The Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland, is aware of this and has admitted to Parliament that he took the decision despite knowing that many smaller landlords would have to subsequently deal with anti-social tenants without the power to evict them, saying that were ‘other measures’ to deal with antisocial behaviour during the crisis.
However, as Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action has pointed out:
the ‘other measures’ Buckland is referring to is that landlords can issue an injunction against an injunction who is behaving anti-socially but that’s both expensive, time-consuming and difficult to achieve on a good day.
You need to get crime numbers, sometimes the police won’t get involved and you have to collect evidence and get a solicitor involved. So landlords are really stuck – particularly if the antisocial behaviour is within an HMO, as the threats and violence often prompt the other tenants to move out.
This just goes to illustrate the enormous importance of choosing tenants carefully before they are allowed into a property. I suspect that had landlords known that they were going to be unable to evict for six months or more, many problematic tenants would not have been allowed in.
Problems when evictions re-start
The Law Society has called for legal aid to be available for tenants in eviction hearings as it will be very difficult if not impossible for the duty solicitor scheme to operate if hearings are being dealt with remotely – as we discussed in an earlier Newsround.
Needless to say, if vulnerable tenants are unable to access legal help, they are far more likely to suffer evictions.
It would be tragic if, after all the efforts that have been made to house the homeless, they were simply replaced with people newly homeless whose homes could have been saved had they had access to legal help.
New ‘Number plate’ system for all UK homes gets the go-ahead
The Lettings Industry Council has revealed that from 1 July the governments Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) system will be made public.
So what is the UPRN?
Matt Hancock MP has described it as
the jewel at the heart of the addressing system. It links address data across a diverse range of systems and services facilitating greater accuracy and immediate data sharing.
Here is a longer description
Unique and authoritative, the UPRN is like a National Insurance number for physical objects. Everything in Great Britain can be identified with a UPRN.
This authoritative ‘code’ can be used to create trusted connections between disparate sources of information sharing a common characteristic: location. Even if there are other issues with the datasets, the UPRN is a simple and unique reference point.
Crucially, when organisations add the UPRN to any kind of data, they can link matching records in different databases together. This means fewer errors in data exchange and communication, but far greater efficiency in all kinds of operations.
Many technologies can be used to share the UPRN, including spreadsheets, databases, XML/GML schema and linked data. Groups already using the UPRN include local and central government bodies, the emergency services, insurance providers, and utility companies.
The Lettings Industry Council (TLIC), which has been working on a property passport for the rental sector over the past few years, is hopeful that the dataset can eventually be used so tenants and local councils can check the health and safety requirements of rental properties.
Theresa Wallace, Chair of TLIC said:
This will give tenants the peace of mind that their property has passed all of its checks and the Local Authorities the transparency they need for improved enforcement
So, good news then.
Class legal action against investment ‘guru’
If you have suffered losses after attending expensive classes run by investment gurus, you may be interested in this class action which is being brought by Jarmans Solicitors on behalf of dozens of former trainees of evangelical-style guru, Samuel Leeds.
Jarmans says of the property courses:
The format is well-known: fledgeling property investors are lured to attend courses via flashy marketing and promises of a property empire within months, if the lessons imparted are followed. Hundreds attend. Past attendees are present and throw away their novice crutches with cries of “I’m rich; this has changed my life.” It’s all easy, right? No-brainer? Just follow the formula and you can’t go wrong?
Hardly. The property courses ratchet up in cost. The so-called sacred lessons can be easily researched online. There is no guarantee. Most victims – sorry, devotees – make no money at all and indeed lose money as they are often sued for the remaining fees once they are locked into the system.
In such scenarios, there are several potential causes of action, including misrepresentation and / or breach of contract.
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