Here we are with another Friday and another Newsround for you.
The Evictions Ban
Last week most of the Newsround looked at this, as the Courts were due to open on Monday, only for the post to become largely redundant later in the day as news of the further 4 week stay leaked out in twitter and was later formally announced by the Government.
The announcement was two-fold:
- That the stay on possession proceedings in the courts would be extended until 20 September, and
- That the possession notice periods would be increased to six months, and that this would last ‘at least’ until 31 March 2021.
The announcement also confirmed that when possession proceedings did start up again, Judges would be prioritising ‘the most serious cases including those involving anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse’. Although we already knew that would be happening.
Why did they extend the ban?
I think it is a combination of reasons:
- Dire warnings from tenants organisations predicting massive numbers of people being made homeless within a short period of time
- Warnings by Doctors saying that if this were to happen it would cause a public health crisis
- Panic on the part of the government, and possibly
- A desire to have the matter brought before Parliament when it resumes in September
A few years ago I heard a talk by Nick Clegg at the ARLA Conference where he told us that in government everything tends to be referred upwards with most decisions being made by the ‘knackered individuals’ at the top – in the coalition government this had been himself and David Cameron.
Who I wonder is making the decisions now? Boris has been largely invisible and is probably suffering more from the aftereffects of coronavirus than we are being told.
What do any of the cabinet really know about the issues in housing and housing law? Surely they are just lurching from one crisis to another, without a proper plan.
What is going to happen?
About the ban? Goodness knows. Statements from Government appear not to be worth the paper they are written on. After all, several Ministers promised that there would be no further stays after 24 August, and here we are with a further stay.
If you want a good summary of the various stays, court rules and where we appear to be now, read this post on Nearly Legal. It is the best summary you are likely to get at this confusing time. There is no point in me writing it all up again.
Things are certainly not looking good for those landlords whose tenants are not paying rent. Happily, it seems that many are paying rent, or if not, have been able to reach some sort of arrangement with their landlord. However, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has warned the government that the ban could leave some landlords without any rent for two years.
Particularly as it seems that rent arrears claims will not be treated as a priority until tenants have built over a year’s worth of rent arrears.
The NRLA has pointed out in a letter to the Prime Minister that the vast majority (94 per cent) of private landlords are individuals, renting out just one or two properties. They are not property tycoons with deep pockets able to subsidise rents indefinitely but ordinary people who rely on this income to pay their living expenses.
As Giles says in his article, I would not be surprised if Judicial Review proceedings were not brought on behalf of landlords at some stage.
Organisations unite to demand help for tenants
In the meantime, while writing this article, I have just learned that Shelter, ARLA Propertymark, the National Association of Residential Landlords, Crisis, Generation Rent and Citizens Advice have all this morning said Ministers must introduce a short-term package of emergency grants and loans worth £270 million to help renters who have lost out on income or been furloughed as a result of the pandemic.
Let’s see how our chaotic government react to that one. Will a united front force them to do anything?
Westminster Council’s HMO Checker
Turning (with relief) to another story, Westminster Council has launched online services to help tenants in HMO Properties, in particular an HMO Checker service you can use (if you live in Westminster) to check whether you would be eligible for a Rent Repayment Order.
If your landlord is in breach you will be referred to organisations who can help you.
Landlords outraged by this further attack on their pockets can immunise themselves by making sure that they have licenses for all properties which require one.
New Fire Safety Regulations in the pipeline
An article on LandlordZONE has information about new fire safety rules (prompted by the Grenfell disaster) which are being planned to apply initially to all new multi-occupied residential buildings over 18 metres high, or six storeys, in height in England.
With a view to bringing all existing buildings within the parameters of the new legislation on a phased basis.
Described by housing secretary Robert Jenrick as “the biggest change to our building safety regime for 40 years”, the provisions will be contained in a Building Safety Bill.
The new rules will, it is said, provide a complete regulatory overhaul of buildings fire safety and bring in a new era in the way buildings are constructed and the products used to build them.
Let’s hope so.
- Council takes action against student accommodation company fined £80,000 for HMO breaches
- Rent guarantee agency kicked out of TPO over £6,374 unpaid award
- Britain’s most notorious landlord says he has served eviction notices on all his tenants
- Agents not giving landlords ‘clear opportunity to positively consent’ to energy switching should amend Terms of Business
- Architects hope to tear down garden fences of England’s future homes
- Guardian interview with Labour shadow housing minister Thangam Debbonaire