Welcome to Friday and the Friday newsround. Let’s see what we have for you.
2.45 pm ** Stop Press: Eviction Ban to be extended by one month.**
Will the eviction stay end be reversed?
As you will probably know, particularly if you have a tenant who is anti-social or failing to pay rent, the has been a stay on evictions through the courts since March.
This is due to end on Monday. However, there are many calls for the stay to be extended, as has happened in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Everything is ready for the lifting of the stay on Monday – new rules are poised to come into force the effect of which are that the vast majority of tenants are unlikely to face a bailiffs appointment for many months yet and plans have been made for fewer hearings due to the need to social distance – which means that there will massive delays in listing hearings.
I also understand that Judges will be prioritising cases involving anti-social behaviour, domestic violence and rent arrears pre-dating the COVID disaster, meaning other cases will be even more seriously delayed.
A landlord who issues proceedings for possession on Monday may not be able to actually recover possession through the courts for six months to a year or maybe more. So the ‘tsunami’ is unlikely to happen in the next few weeks. Although no doubt over the coming year there will be a large number of evictions taking place.
I suppose it is still possible for the government to do yet another ‘U turn’ and order a further stay – despite the fact that Ministers have denied this. We shall have to see. Although –
What about the banks?
People tend to forget that many evictions are brought by mortgage companies and banks and they have also been affected by the eviction stay and have no doubt been agitating for its removal.
They will be unwilling to lend further money on buy to let if their right to possession on default by the landlord is stayed any longer – which will affect the opening up of the economy. Which may be a reason why the stay lift on Monday will be going ahead.
The National Landlords Association and agents such as Belvoir are calling for hardship loans to be made available to tenants struggling to pay, which would be paid direct to landlords.
Dorian Gonsalves, chief executive of Belvoir, said:
Now that there is official confirmation that the UK has fallen into recession, and the furlough scheme is due to end in October, we believe that it is more important than ever for the Government to introduce a loan scheme similar to the one operating in Wales.
Such a scheme will ensure that tenants will be able to pay their rent, and landlords can continue providing much needed housing for the private rented sector (PRS). …
Home owners with a mortgage who have been financially impacted by Covid-19 have already been able to access a mortgage holiday, and we believe it is only fair that tenants have access to a loan scheme similar to the one operational in Wales.
What about mediation?
As we reported in earlier Newsrounds, there are two new mediation schemes available. It looks from the report here that many of the mediations carried out under the PRS scheme are successful.
The PRS say 45% of its mediation requests sent out by landlords and letting agents to tenants were ignored but of those who did engage, half of the cases were resolved. ‘Successful mediation’ meaning a repayment agreement, or the parties reaching their own solution after using the service.
Sean Hooker, Head of Redress for the Property Redress Scheme, said:
In just a short space of time, we have created a ‘softer’ solution than the formal legal process, with the added bonus of reducing conflict and saving unnecessary costs and court time.
As this process develops and our mediators learn more about the most common issues raised, and subsequently the best ways to engage with tenants, we expect the numbers to continue to improve.
We had a post on mediation and gave links to the schemes here.
Two views on the eviction issue
An interesting post on Property Industry Eye features two opposing views of the situation.
Director of Benham and Reeves, Marc von Grundherr considers that landlords have been penalised long enough:
Unfortunately, it isn’t the responsibility of UK landlords to take this financial hit on behalf of their tenants and to expect them to continue to is somewhat unfair, considering they have already done so for some months having had no choice in the matter.
Those tenants who have found themselves in financial hardship due to the coronavirus have now had time to seek alternative living arrangements without the pressure of eviction. In any other scenario, it’s unlikely they would have been afforded this luxury.
It’s also incredibly unfair not to consider the landlord in this scenario as many are reliant on rental payments in order to survive and have had no choice but to swallow this loss of income due to the eviction ban.
The other view is from Jacob Stringer, a housing researcher and campaigner, and a member of London Renters Union whose article is headed ‘As courts re-open, Britain’s renters must confront the power of landlords, saying
The reason the rent strike has not taken off can be summed up in one word: fear. Private renters in London have learned to fear their landlords, even when courts are closed and possession orders can’t be issued. In the same way that fear of the boss at work can be qualified by the notion that ‘you can just get another job’, fear of the landlord is qualified by market relations that say there is always the option to move house…
But one of the many problems of London’s exploitative rental market is that it isn’t that easy to move …
Going on to talk about changing ‘the balance of power between renter and landlord’.
I suppose the view you take on this will largely depend on your personal life experience.
John McDonnell comments
Which brings me to the recent comments made by former shadow chancellor John McDonnell who is looking to “end landlordism and restore housing as a right”.
His proposals include:
- extending the evictions ban by another six months to the end of March next year
- an increase in capital gains tax for second homes
- a legal limit on the number of properties that individual landlords can own
- a ban on the purchasing of homes through companies, and
- cancelling rent arrears caused by Covid-19.
I wonder if he has run them past Kier? They would involve quite a lot of primary legislation including, I suspect, amending the Humen Rights Act.
Top UK homelessness adviser steps down
Although I don’t think the evictions problem will be quite as bad as some would have it, there is no doubt that at some time down the line (as the evictions ban cannot stay in place forever) many people are going to lose their homes.
So it is worrying to see that Dame Louise Casey has said that she is stepping back from her role advising the government on homelessness, which involved leading a specialist taskforce set up in May to prevent a return to widespread rough sleeping after thousands of people were helped off the streets in March and April.
Jon Sparkes, the chief executive of charity Crisis, has said.
We urge ministers not to leave a leadership vacuum. With the economic impact of the pandemic pushing more people into homelessness, we must redouble our efforts, otherwise, we risk rates of rough sleeping rising with all the human misery this entails.
- Letting agent and police officers attacked with fire extinguisher spray
- Airbnb UK clamps down on party houses with limited ban on under-25s booking whole properties
- Five critical points for letting agents to check on the client accounts
- John Lewis launches furniture rental service for frequently moving millennials
- Property management platform launches FCA-regulated landlord bank account
- Guild of Property Professionals updates lone working policy
Newsround will be back next week.