Another Friday, another Newsround. What do we have for you?
Possession Proceedings and the Courts
Well, the courts are now processing eviction claims again and have been since Monday. It looks as if most claims are going to take a very long time, though.
For example, Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action tells us that his firm has been given a trial date in December 2021 for one case! No doubt many other landlords will have similar delays.
Notwithstanding this, opposition parties have been calling for the eviction ban to be reinstated. Calls which, for the moment, have fallen on deaf ears.
Housing Minister Christopher Pincher said:
It is the courts themselves that wish to reopen. There have been 3,022 applications made to courts for evictions, that’s 89% down on same period last year.
Landlords are acting responsibly and talking to tenants to avoid such action.
Going on to say that the judiciary will prioritise the most serious cases and won’t look kindly on landlords behaving egregiously.
You can say that again. I spoke to a solicitor recently who told me a Judge had admitted to her that they would be throwing out cases on the slightest opportunity.
Don’t forget also that although there is no specific ‘pre-action protocol’ for private sector evictions, there is the overarching practice direction on pre-action conduct and protocols which says that parties must try to negotiate and resolve matters without going to court.
Judges will not look kindly on those who don’t and who take an aggressive approach.
Timothy Douglas, policy and campaigns manager for ARLA Propertymark, said:
No-one wants to see anyone unfairly evicted from their homes, but where necessary access to a swift, efficient, and cost-effective justice system is a key component of a successful lettings industry.
Calls to block evictions will do nothing to improve the situation for tenants and landlords dealing with rent arears built up because of the impact of coronavirus.
Efforts must be focused on ensuring the UK Government introduce emergency financial help to tenants in England who have fallen into arrears due to the pandemic. This is the only way to support those who are struggling and sustain tenancies.
As to that, we are still waiting.
Help for landlords?
New financial support for businesses was announced by the Chancellor yesterday but there is little help for landlords.
This article points out that most private landlords only have a few properties, most only have one, and that on the whole, they have not been eligible for support from any of the government schemes.
Many tenants are of course paying rent and so their landlords are in a good position. However, those who are not put their landlords in a difficult position.
David Alexander, joint managing director of Apropos, said:
If these individuals are not supported then the risk is that they will exit the private rented sector (PRS) in large numbers which will cause enormous problems for tenants in the coming year. Supporting this vital group within the renting sector is essential and must be addressed immediately.
The trouble is most people tend to think of landlords as ‘rich’ (and therefore ‘grasping’) and so help aimed at them is politically unpopular.
Letting agency expelled after phishing attempt investigation
I was interested to see an article on LandlordZONE reporting an agency which has been expelled by the Property Redress Scheme after what looks like phishing email – ‘phishing’ being an attempt to obtain personal information which can be used for ‘various purposes including identity theft and credit fraud’.
What interested me was the comment below which said
The company appears to have disappeared – there is no trace of its office, website, or portal listings online.
This reminds me of Ben’s post here where he explains how criminal businesses use false companies and names so they can disappear without trace.
Looks like they are still doing it.
Airbnb in Scotland and Wales
I reported a while ago that some landlords were switching to ‘proper’ lets with the coronavirus pandemic having reduced the number of holidays being taken.
However, it looks as if this is not the case in Wales where holiday homes are so popular that it is hard for locals to buy a home in their own town or city.
As a result, there are calls in Wales for them to be banned, Plaid Cymru’s candidate for Aberconwy in next year’s Senedd election, Cynghorydd Llanrwst councillor Aaron Wynne, saying
It’s just not sustainable to have so much of our housing stock out of the reach of the people who want to and need to live here. The Welsh government needs to act and change the planning rules so homes can’t be turned over to be used for commercial interests that do not benefit our communities.
Adding that holiday homeowners are using Airbnbs as an extra source of income which damages the Conwy tourism industry.
Meanwhile, in Scotland, it looks as if compulsory regulation of Airbnb short-lets in Scotland could be only 18 months away, with legislation expected to go live by April 2021. If they are voted through the Scottish parliament. The article goes on to say
Scotland is now consulting on the final version of these proposals, which will enable councils to licence short-lets as well as introducing control areas where planning permission will be required to change whole properties into Airbnb rentals to manage short-lets densities.
Also, the Scottish government intends to ensure Airbnb hosts and landlords pay tax on their earnings in a way that makes an ‘appropriate contribution to local communities’.
So what about England then?
- Cover up! Face coverings will be required in agents’ offices
- Westminster launches new strategy to raise standards for tenants in the PRS
- Landlords are paying the price for the eviction ban
- Reimagining Rent: Report on the future of the private rental sector
- An increase in illegal evictions is worrying the authorities
- Nearly 8,000 unclaimed estates in England and Wales – worth £1.7bn
Newsround will be back next week.