Another Friday and another Newsround. What do we have for you?
Rental campaigners claim almost 700,000 renters face eviction
A press release from various rental campaign bodies has claimed that nearly 700,000 have been given notice to move out. This is the result of a survey undertaken with 1008 UK tenants which you can read about here.
I am sure that I have read somewhere that surveys are not statistically significant unless there are at least 1,000 respondents. However even so I am always a bit suspicious of claims based on a small percentage of the total. There are I understand around 4 million tenants in the UK so 1,008 is a very small percentage indeed.
The press release told me
Survation asked its sample of private renters in England if their landlord had asked them to move out since March 2020. 8% of respondents had received a Section 21 notice from their landlord, which would represent 694,000 private renters across England. A further 3% had received a Section 8 notice, which involves the landlord providing a reason, while 7% were asked to move out without formal notice.
Going on to quote Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, saying
A Section 21 notice pulls the rug out from under you. As long as the landlord serves it correctly, you have to move out. That means very few tenants challenge it in court. And because landlords don’t need a reason for eviction, it also means that many tenants live in fear of losing their home and families throughout England have no confidence to put down roots in their local area.
That is misleading, as tenants do not ‘have’ to move out until their landlord has obtained a court order for possession and a bailiffs appointment, which due to the current delays in the courts, could take up to 18 months or more.
So there is no reason for tenants to move out on the date given in the notice. And if the landlord tells them this, that could constitute harassment which is a criminal offence.
It is also a fact that many notices are served as a precautionary measure by landlords who have no intention of following them up with court proceedings. So I do not think things are quite as bad as pictured by the rental campaigners.
However, there is no doubt that there is a big problem building up, due largely to the government’s failure to provide proper support to tenants and leaving it up to private landlords to take the loss. Which is hardly fair on them.
Note that we are currently trailing a kit which can help landlords and agents source grant and other funding for tenants in arrears of rent, allowing them to remain in their homes, which you can read about (for the moment) here. If you find the page is offline, this will be because we have withdrawn the product for further development but if you are interested feel free to contact us about it.
The rental campaigners are calling on the government to bring forward the Renters Reform Bill, although I suspect this will not be possible for some time due to all the other pressures on government time.
Privacy issues raised by online virtual tours
An interesting post on Negotiator flags up what could become a major headache for agents when 3D virtual tours online are not checked properly and reveal personal details of the occupiers.
The article refers to a BBC news item which found that a virtual tour uploaded to Rightmove included blurred pictures of financial documents belonging to the owner – including.
- a dividend cheque
- an insurance policy document, and also
- family photographs
All of which could be used by identity thieves. Other things to watch out for include
- door numbers,
- car registration number-plates,
- personal documents,
- any reference to names of occupants,
- personal photographs
- and even items picked up in reflections.
No doubt criminals are scouring these online tours to find data that they can use. If personal data is not picked up before it goes online, agents, so far as I can see, will have two major headaches:
- They will be in breach of the data protection legislation and so may face enforcement action by the ICO
- If the occupiers suffer issues such as identity theft, they may face claims from occupiers for compensation
So if your agency provides 3D tours you should put in place procedures to check these thoroughly. You should also check your insurance cover.
Landlords! Are you declaring your rental income to HMRC?
If not you need to do so pronto. As the government is setting up a specialist task force to hunt for landlords who have not been declaring their rental income.
For example Donna McCreadie, a buy to let specialist at Perrys Chartered Accountants warns
Penalties for undisclosed income can be hefty, ranging from 15 per cent up to 100 per cent of the rental income in some cases.
However, all is not lost. For landlords who haven’t yet had the opportunity to declare previously unreported income, the [HMRC] Let Property Campaign is giving landlords the chance to get their tax affairs in order.
The ‘Let Property Campaign’ gives landlords an opportunity to ‘fess up’ to undisclosed income and provided they sort out and pay any tax due within 90 days, penalties will be minimal.
New additional HMO licensing scheme in Salford
If you own or manage rented property in Salford which is lived in by three or four unrelated sharers, your property will be classed as an HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) and you will need to budget for an additional licensing scheme fee of £1,085 under a new additional licensing scheme which is due to start shortly.
If the property has five or more occupiers you should already have a license as it will be subject to mandatory licensing.
The new scheme will come into force on 19 July and landlords will have three months to register before the Council start taking enforcement action. This can take the form of a fine or civil penalty notice, plus tenants (or the Local Authority if the tenants’ rent is paid by benefit) will be able to apply for a rent repayment order.
Mind you landlords everywhere should check to see what the licensing requirements are for their local Council – and even if your property does not require a license you will (if you rent to three or more unrelated sharers) be bound by the HMO Management Regulations.
If you are unfamiliar with the law relating to HMO’s we have a short free ‘HMO 101 Kit‘.
- Revealed: What it’s like when activists attack your lettings agency
- Two London Landlords face bill of over £60,000 over multiple housing offences
- Police seize more than 100 cannabis plants from rented house in Eastbourne
- It’s time the government clamped down on unregulated ‘property gurus’
- Dog-bite Britain: the problem with the pandemic puppy explosion
- Consumers warned to be aware of dissolved firm now trading as Property Solutions Wales Porth
- All Change! How the pandemic has shifted tenants’ demands
Newsround will be back next week.