Welcome back to the Landlord Law Blog after the Christmas and New Year break.
And what a world we have come back to! Rampaging coronavirus in our country (surely it couldn’t be because of allowing households to mingle over Christmas?), hospitals on the edge of breakdown, and protestors storming the American Capitol urged on by their President.
But we are here to discuss landlord and tenant related news so let’s start with:
This seems destined to remain until the vaccines have come into effect so could be with us for some time. Lockdown guidance has been issued by the government and can be found here.
Happily, for the property sector, house moves are still allowed and the housing market in England will remain open. The national guidance on house moves has been amended to take into account the current lockdown so if you are involved in house moves you need to read it.
Here are some of the points made in the guidance, with some comments from me:
- Viewings should be done virtually – but tenants need to be aware of the possibility of fraud and should be very careful about paying money for a property they have not seen personally
- Face coverings should be worn at all times when visiting agents offices or properties and social distancing should be practised
- When viewing properties – be careful about touching anything and wash hands or use hand sanitiser frequently
- If someone is viewing your home, open all internal doors (and ideally if you can bear the cold, windows) and make sure all surfaces such as door handles etc are cleaned after each viewing – see cleaning guidance here.
- The guidance suggests you vacate the property – however, you need to be careful about strangers coming into your home unaccompanied. NEVER allow people viewing properties to be given keys as they may be criminals who will copy keys and then use them for scams.
- If you are self-isolating or suffering from COVID follow the guidance here.
- Landlords and agents should follow government guidance on working safely on other people’s homes.
- Remember that right to rent checks are still required but follow the temporary arrangements described here.
- When moving, try to pack up your things yourself and clean your belongings and avoid contact with removal men maintaining a distance of 2 metres where possible
Overall – be careful.
The Rent Debt Crisis
Research by the NRLA says that more than half of landlords have lost rent due to COVID 19. According to the CAB around half a million private tenants are behind with their rent with the average owed more than £700.
This is not going to get any better with this new lockdown and a joint statement has now been issued by organisations including the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), ARLA Propertymark, the Nationwide Building Society, Shelter, and StepChange Debt Charity.
This calls for a package of measures to help renters pay off arrears, saying:
Many thousands of private renters and landlords across the country now face rent arrears due to the impact of the pandemic.
Ministers have failed to address the core problem of debts which have built despite the financial package put in place so far. Indeed, the chancellor confirmed that housing benefit will not be linked to the cost of renting for future years.
Renters, landlords and letting agents cannot be expected simply to muddle through indefinitely where they face these financial difficulties. The government needs to develop an urgent package to help renters in paying off arrears built since March last year.
Without further action, debts will continue to mount, making it far more difficult to sustain tenancies and keep renters in their homes after the pandemic.
We shall see if this government takes any notice.
Long lease changes
genuinely impressive as a first major step towards the eventual end of leasehold and replacement with commonhold. Though there is a long way to go, it has to be said that these are the most impressive and serious proposals for leasehold reform that have been seen for a very, very long time.
Although the Leasehold Group considers that the proposed reforms do not go far enough.
Green Homes Grant change
It looks as if this scheme is going to be easier to use as changes have meant that sub-contractors are no longer required to be TrustMark registered and certified with Publicly Available Specifications (PAS) or Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). Although any sub-contracted work must still be carried out in accordance with the relevant PAS or MCS requirements.
The deputy director of campaigns at the National Residential Landlords Association, Meera Chindooroy, said that this
is good news for landlords. We have had an incredible amount of interest from our members following the Green Homes Grant announcement. However, we heard from a large proportion of members who said they were having huge problems finding local installers with capacity to carry out the work and this was causing a backlog.
The scheme has also been extended to March 2022. Landlords can claim up to £5,000 per property.
- Property guardians, exclusive occupation and non-domestic rates
- Covid-19 changed many things. It should change housing policy too
- Sex-For-Rent: Landlords named and shamed in newspaper sting
- Additional and selective licensing schemes in Southwark, south London, expired on December 31
- Majority of agents do NOT support decision to allow branches to stay open
- A free guide on sustainability
- Call to provide shelter for rough sleepers over UK winter lockdown
- Amazon pledges $2 billion for the construction of affordable homes in 3 USA cities to help ease the housing shortage
Newsround will be back next week.