Its the middle of August and the ‘silly season’ but we managed to find a few landlord and tenant related news items for you.
There is still a big dispute going on about whether or not there is going to be a ‘tsunami’ or ‘cliff edge’ of evictions coming after the stay ends after 23 August.
Generation Rent, Shelter and the CAB are claiming that there is with landlord associations and letting agents saying that there isn’t.
The latest survey comes from Safeagent. They have surveyed 100 of their members and say that most agents rejected claims of widespread evictions as a result of the pandemic –
- 36% of those quizzed said they didn’t believe any tenants would be evicted after the ban ends,
- 57% said it would be less than 10% of renters
As regards arrears:
- 74% of agents said that the proportion of their tenants who haven’t been able to pay their rent over the past three months was less than 10%
- 10% said it was between 10-20% of tenants, and
- 8% said none of their tenants were in arrears
Isobel Thomson Safeagent CEO said:
Agents are not seeing high numbers of tenants in arrears and they are reporting landlords being sympathetic and willing to work with their tenants to find solutions.
Mind you that does not mean that there will not be massive evictions undertaken by agents who did not take part in their survey or landlords who were not a part of a similar survey undertaken by the National Residential Landlords Association.
It seems unlikely though, but we will find out over the next few months.
In the meantime, I tend to agree with Thomson when she says
safeagent is concerned about the rhetoric around evictions which does tenants no favours and only raises their levels of anxiety at an already difficult time. Instead of demanding a halt to all evictions, shouldn’t we all be working together to find solutions that support tenants to stay in their homes?
Where are forms N5B?
In the meantime forms, N5B (the ones used for the accelerated procedure) seem to have vanished from the government website. Could this be a new way of controlling the number of evictions going through the courts? Making the forms unavailable until the ‘tsunami’ has died down?
Or is it to correct a number of errors which have been pointed out to them?
Hopefully, they will re-appear at some stage.
Switching Utility Provider
An interesting article in Property Industry Eye looks at Countrywide who apparently have a clause in their agency agreement which allows them to switch the utility supplier to Spark Energy for an undisclosed commission.
It seems that a number of people have contacted Eye complaining about this. That article was then followed up by this post saying
The key issues are that the consent sits in the body of the terms and conditions, is not highlighted, and is not flagged up by agency staff when they speak with the client.
More contentiously, the landlord is deemed to give consent to allowing Countrywide to change the utility provider unless they opt out.
Going on to quote TPO Ombudsman Katrine Sporle saying:
Landlords should be presented with the opportunity to actively opt-in to use the service. Requiring landlords to actively opt-out of any additional or recommended service should be avoided.
I have to say that I agree.
I think it’s likely that these clauses will be void under the unfair clauses rules in the Consumer Rights Act (which applies to protect landlords in agency agreements who are not professional landlords) and may also be in breach of agency law where agents are not supposed to make a ‘secret profit’ from their clients.
Don’t Ignore Staff Safety
Finally, if you have staff, please take a look at this excellent article which has some guidance on staff safety, particularly with viewings of empty properties.
- TSB will no longer lend on buy-to-lets that do not meet minimum EPC standards
- Top 10 property features to attract tenants in London
- Brothers opened fire in terrifying attack on estate agency in revenge for eviction Notice
- Homeless people mustn’t be abandoned to life on the streets again
- Camden Council renew their additional landlord licensing scheme
Newsround will be back next week.