Here we are with another Friday Newsround for you. Starting with the news that
Section 21 is to remain until the pandemic eases
Housing Minister Chris Pincher has confirmed in an answer to a written Parliamentary question that the Renters Reform Bill – which is set to remove landlords right to ‘no-fault’ eviction under section 21 – will not happen until after the pandemic is ‘eased’ saying
Repealing Section 21 represents the largest change to renting in 30 years and it is only right that the reforms are taken forward in a considered manner.
It is important that providing tenants with greater security of tenure is balanced with an assurance that landlords are able to recover their properties where they have valid reasons to do so. This is vital to ensuring the future supply of good quality housing in the rented sector.
We will bring forward the Renters’ Reform Bill in due course once the urgencies of responding to the pandemic have passed
Note that Ben Beadle and I will be discussing this with barrister Justin Bates in the next episode of our Landlord & Lawyer podcast to be published shortly.
Bailiffs ban now until 11 January
Mind you, landlords rights under section 21 are not a lot of use to them at the moment. Massive delays due to the coronavirus stay in eviction proceedings earlier this year mean landlords face delays of up to a year or more for all but the most serious cases.
They now learn that bailiffs and High Court Enforcement Officers will not be enforcing orders until after January 11. Meaning that evictions cannot actually start, due to the need for 14 days notice, until 25 January at the earliest.
This has now been set out in a statutory instrument. Previously the government had hoped to deal with this by way of a letter from the Lord Chancellor to the bailiffs and sheriffs organisations. However, after David Smith of JMW Solicitors sent the government a pre-action protocol letter on behalf of two landlords, challenging the legality of this approach, the statutory instrument appeared.
So no evictions now until 25 January save for the ‘most egregious’ cases, such as anti-social behaviour, perpetrators of domestic abuse in social housing, and extreme rent arrears (equivalent to nine months’ rent discounting arrears accrued since 23 March) which are exempt.
An impending ‘right to rent’ disaster
ARLA has written ‘a stark letter’ to the Home Office warning that its Right to Rent scheme could face major problems after the pandemic ends.
The reason is the temporary change in the rules brought in after COVID struck, allowing landlords and agents to complete status checks without having to meet tenants in person.
The regulations say that once Covid is over, these tenancies will have to be re-checked for Right to Rent within eight weeks of the pandemic ending. This however is going to be difficult as thousands of tenancies have been set up using this system. It is going to be impossible for all those tenants to be re-checked without eight weeks. Also
- It is likely that many tenants will object to being re-checked and will refuse to co-opeartate
- There will be a digital compliance storage problem for landlords and agents who will need to capture duplicate paperwork.
- Landlords and agents are also going to have to cope at the same time with the additional extra work checking EU citizens who have not yet applied for Settled Status.
The ARLA letter asks
On behalf of our members, I ask that you consider the benefits to tenants, landlords and letting agents of removing the need for retrospective, duplicate checks in order to ensure that landlords and letting agents can meet their legal requirements and support moves to the new points based immigration system through the first half of 2021
You can read the full letter here. Hopefully, the government will take a sensible view on this.
Green Homes Grant voucher scheme extended
Landlords now have extra time to get their green homes work done as the time has been extended until March 2022. Which will make the scheme more workable as in many areas landlords were facing long delays as accredited builders are in short supply.
Sadly the original budget has not been extended. However, if we are to meet our net-zero obligations something is going to have to be done about Englands uninsulated homes. So more money will have to be available for this or other schemes in the coming years.
London Property Licence Checker for tenants
Landlords in London are going to have to up their game and make sure they are properly licensed in London as the mayor has just launched a new checking tool for tenants.
Described by the Negotiator as a ‘snooping tool for tenants’ it also offers tenants help in obtaining a rent repayment order if their properties are unregistered (always assuming they are licensable HMO properties).
The Mayor, however, sees it as a tool to
redress the imbalance of power that currently exists in the London private rented sector
Tenants will find it here.
- Government to consider bringing Airbnbs up to same fire safety standards as traditional lets
- MP launches bill to clamp down on ‘shadow’ HMO hostel sector
- Tribunal upholds civil penalty notice and fine on Fenland landlord
- TDS Resolution is free for one month only
- Letting agents advised to review their banking and payment systems
Newsround will be back next week.