Here we are with a roundup of the news this week. Although if you want a proper update, today is one of the last days you can book to go on our Annual Conference.
Breathing Space Regulations
However in an extra twist, which as is their tradition was only announced by the government last Friday (after our Newsround had been published) the Section 8 Notices in England were amended to refer to them. So the old section 8 Notices are no longer valid and if they are served on a tenant after 4 May your claim is likely to be thrown out by the Court.
Courts are able to accept that a section 8 form is ‘substantially to the same effect’ as the ‘proper’ form, but will the courts do this here? As Giles of Nearly Legal says:
So, as far as I can see, the MCHLG published form is not actually lawful. Whether it will be accepted as ‘substantially to the same effect’ is going to be a matter for individual judges, and as such, a bit of a gamble. This is not what one needs from an ‘official’ form.)
So if you use the official form there is a risk that it could be rejected by the Courts.
My feeling is that it may be best to delay proceedings until this has been sorted out. Bearing in mind that if your case is chucked out it could be after up to a year of waiting for your case to be processed at court. Perhaps give mediation a go.
Pre August 3 2020 Reactivation Notices cannot now be served
If you issued possession proceedings prior to 3 August 2020 but have not yet served a ‘re-activation notice’ you have now lost your chance. You will need to start again.
However, the good news (for landlords) is that after 31 May you should be able to instruct bailiffs once again to remove tenants who have failed to vacate after a possession order has been made.
The Government Guidance has now been updated to reflect the changes and can be viewed here.
An interesting comment on the Negotiator page says
The delay in the legal process for possession has been nothing short of sequestration of private rental property by government to off-load the welfare state provision onto private individuals.
I’m sure Generation Rent don’t see it like that! What’s your view?
Is the tsunami coming?
There have been conflicting views over whether we are to have a massive wave of private sector evictions after the eviction ban is lifted on 31 May. Assuming it is actually lifted of course.
Professor Christine Whitehead, Emeritus Professor of Housing Economics at LSE and co-author of the report, said:
Most evictions remain on hold until after the 31 May. Depending on what the government announces will happen after this, many tenants could be vulnerable to being asked to leave their homes.
However, we do not expect an immediate surge in evictions since, in many cases landlords and tenants have found ways of coping through rent holidays and lower rents during the crises, and some renters have moved in with family or friends.
Let us hope so.
However, the article goes on to say, as have others, that more help should be given to both landlords and tenants, saying
So far nothing has been done to help landlords facing significant losses from rent arrears. Already a third of NLRA members say they have lost more than 10 percent of their rental income and NRLA data also suggests over 30 per cent of landlords are thinking of reducing their investment in rental properties or leaving the market altogether.
Dr Nancy Holman, Associate Professor of Urban Planning and co-author of the report, said:
Unfortunately, these solutions are partial. In a crisis of this magnitude there are no easy answers. Even if there is a rapid transition back to normality, the long-term arrears and loss of credit-worthiness among tenants and loss of income and confidence for landlords will continue to scar both individuals and the private rented sector for many years to come.
One in five households in England rent*, with many having no other option. If we are to avoid catastrophic problems in the future, we must ensure that the private rented sector remains sustainable.
Landlords – compliance is critical
An article here citing ‘No Letting Go’ is warning about a crackdown on compliance by local authorities and their Trading Standards offices. Fines have ranged from £48,000 to £330,000 – not something you will want if you are a landlord!
Nick Lyons of No Letting Go recommends regular inspections as the key method to ensure compliance, and recommends that they be carried out every three to six months:
Tenants generally report serious issues, but often fail to report minor issues until it’s too late, That’s why it’s crucial that agents and landlords carry out regular inspections. What’s more, evidence of inspections through mid-term reports can be invaluable if tenants are not looking after the property and further action is needed, or if the local authority is considering taking enforcement action.
He advises landlords to keep photographs and notes on the condition of the property, to check who is living there, whether there is any maintenance that needs doing, and whether there is smoking or pets in the property.
Note that we have a very popular Property Inspection Kit which will help with this unpopular but essential task.
- Letting agent ordered to pay almost £13k for potentially ‘putting lives at risk’
- Major housing associations launch 300,000-home partnership to tackle decarbonisation-housing
- Having a politician living in your street is a price worth paying
- Landlord’s plea: Why won’t police help me evict drug-dealing tenant?
- Rental market to take two years to recover from Covid
- Landlords warned to expect court delays as 100,000 evictions pile up
- Message to government: Help landlords and support private renting, or else
Newsround will be back next week.