What news do we have for you this Friday?
Eviction ban extension. Again.
The ban on bailiff enforced evictions in the vast majority of cases has now been extended until 31 May 2021 but it is expected that after this it will be phased out.
In the meantime, the most serious cases, such as those based on anti-social behaviour or fraud will be prioritised and landlords will be required to provide courts with information on how the pandemic has affected their tenants.
However, the government is to consider moving away from emergency protections from June.
Landlords are understandably unhappy that the governments ‘support’ for tenants consists solely on making landlords bear the loss. No financial support, in England, has been made available specifically for rent arrears.
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said:
Given the cross-sector consensus for the need to address the rent debt crisis, it suggests the government are unwilling to listen to the voices of those most affected.
If the chancellor wants to avoid causing a homelessness crisis, he must develop an urgent financial package including interest-free, government-guaranteed loans to help tenants in arrears to pay off rent debts built since March 2020. This is vital for those who do not qualify for benefit support.
Without this, more tenants face losing their homes, and many will carry damaged credit scores, making it more difficult to rent in the future and causing huge pressure on local authorities when they can least manage it.
Franz Doerr, chief executive at flatfair, said:
Since it was introduced last year, the ban on bailiff evictions has only served as a sticking plaster for the rental market. Huge sums of debt are piling up at the feet of landlords who are continuing to unfairly prop up the market.
Instead of merely kicking the can down the road, the government should be scrambling to save struggling renters from plunging further into debt. …
If the government continues to ignore landlords, it risks sparking an exodus from the buy-to-let market, which would only reduce the number of more affordable rental homes available.
Polly Neate – chief executive of Shelter said
These extensions will come as a relief to the frightened renters who’ve been flooding our helpline with calls. While the threat level from the virus is still high, it’s right that renters can stay safe in their homes
But as we follow the roadmap out of lockdown, the destination for renters remains unknown. The pandemic has repeatedly exposed just how broken private renting is, leaving many people hanging onto their homes by a thread. And, although the ban and longer notice periods are keeping renters safe for now, they won’t last forever.
Which is very true.
May elections – make your vote count campaign
Generation Rent are launching a campaign for tenants to ‘demand your rights with your ballot paper’ telling people to
- register to vote
- apply to vote by post, and
- don’t forget to cast your vote
They don’t actually tell renters HOW to vote although presumably, they expect renters to vote Labour.
ARLA has said that rent controls should be off the agenda.
Be warned – a massive Covid-19 Fraud Taskforce is out to get you!
If you have claimed under the coronavirus funding schemes where you were not really entitled, be aware that the HMRC is setting up a huge specialist taskforce to tackle and reclaim money fraudulently claimed.
Andrew Sackey, a tax fraud expert at Pinsent Masons said
The creation of this massive Covid fraud taskforce is a marked shift away from previous more conciliatory lines in HMRC nudge letters which urged firms and individuals to come forward voluntarily, acknowledging that ‘mistakes happen’.
It is a clear message that the government is dedicated to ensuring the hundreds of billions of pounds it has spent on Covid support does not end up in the hands of fraudsters.
If you think you may have inadvertently breached the rules, now is the time to speak to your accountants, and if so advised, arrange to pay back any sums you were not actually entitled to.
In the current climate, it is likely that the government will want to see HMRC using its criminal powers as a deterrent to systematic abuses of Covid schemes.
No extension for Electrical Checks
LandlordZONE have warned that an extension fo the 1 April deadline for electrical safety standards checks is unlikely to be extended.
If you are in difficulties because your tenants are refusing to allow access, it is essential that you keep proper records to prove this. Timothy Douglas, Propertymark’s policy and campaigns manager said:
Creating a paper trail of communication between tenants, landlords and electricians will safeguard agents against any enforcement activity where work could not be carried out during the pandemic.
We gave guidance on this here.
The NRLA have also warned of an inconsistent approach to the regulations by inspectors.
- Scottish BTL landlord ordered to pay compensation to ex-tenant after eviction on bogus grounds
- Rogue tenant fined £9,000 for illegally sub-letting HMO
- Welsh Government must ‘get a grip’ on rent arrears crisis, warns landlord chief
- Activists press Sheffield to get tough on landlords
- Evictions ban is damaging supply as tenants opt to stay put
- Fire safety report reveals shocking ignorance among some lettings agents
- Propertymark finance chief resigns
- Senior church figure stands up for renting as a tenure
- Lloyds Bank plans to become a large private landlord
Newsround will be back next week.