Here is this weeks Newsround, starting with the state of the sector report from the NRLA as well as their recommendations on changes needed as we leave this period of lockdown.
NRLA state of sector report
The NRLA state of sector report has been released this week with evidence that backs up what landlords have been saying regarding the crisis within the private rented sector. Here are the headlines in terms of numbers:
- 60% of landlords feel their lettings have been negatively affected as a result of the pandemic
- 34% of landlords said their rental income has been affected with 13% having experienced an increase in properties being empty as a result of lockdown.
- The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has noted that over 400,000 private rented households have either been served a notice for a property to be repossessed or had it indicated to them that the landlord may do it.
In response to this, the NRLA have set out some policy responses which they hope will help landlords tackle rent arrears of their tenants as well as their own income shortfalls which have occurred due to the pandemic:
- Tackling Rent arrears through the development of a hardship loan scheme which will support tenants who are ineligible for benefit support. This will be used to pay off rent arrears which have been accumulated since lockdown measures started last year
- Court reform with a focus on making the court process quicker for legitimate possession cases.
- Covid Recovery Plan. The NRLA have released a five point recovery plan which includes increasing Local Housing Allowance support and creating access for landlord & tenants to a reconciliation and mediation service over possession cases (more on this later!).
The report seems to mirror many of the complaints and issues raised by landlords to the government for some time now. Many landlords have invested their pensions and their future livelihoods into a property and are being expected to shoulder the cost of rent arrears.
Eviction ban news
Two items here. First, Wales has extended the six months notice period, which was due to end at the end of this month. The six months notice requirement in Wales has now been extended by another three months. Ben Beadle of the NRLA has commented
This announcement reinforces the urgent need for the Welsh Government to take rapid action to address the mounting rent arrears crisis unfolding across Wales.
The expansion of long notice periods will only worsen this and prolong uncertainty for all involved.
Landlords in Wales cannot continue to wait an average of 15 months to regain repossession whilst trying to deal with non-payment and anti-social behaviour making lives miserable.
The section news item is that the government has extended the eviction ban for commercial tenants until March 2022. This has gone down like a lead balloon with Generation Rent who ask why commercial tenants are being given protected denied to residential tenants.
Baroness Alicia Kennedy, the director of Generation Rent saying
The difference in the government’s treatment of businesses and private renters who have been hit by the pandemic could not be starker.
It could be that a far higher proportion of landlords of residential properties are ‘small landlords’ who are less able to carry the financial loss of up to a year or more of unpaid rent.
Government refuse permission for new licensing scheme in Croydon
In a statement made by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government this week, the proposed selective licensing scheme for Croydon has been refused.
In a letter, the Secretary revealed that the reason the licensing scheme was refused was due to the council’s failure in:
- Demonstrate how the proposal was consistent with the council’s overall housing strategy
- Show how the creation of these designated areas where the scheme would apply would significantly assist them to achieve their objectives
- Comply with the 2015 selective licensing order with respect to poor housing conditions
Whilst the council could ask for an appeal and a review of the decision, it seems unlikely that this will pass through. More likely is that the council will have to reduce and review where the selective license will apply within their authority. This will have to go through a consultation period, so therefore it is more than likely any new licensing scheme will be in force until at least early 2022.
Full article can be found here
Changes Right to Rent checks from 1st July
The freedom of movement, which is a well-known European Union principle is set to end in the UK on 30 June 2020. This will bring about changes within the right to rent checks that landlords and letting agents must comply with.
In basic terms, landlords and letting agents will now have to check the immigration status of prospective tenants rather than just their nationality. No longer is national identification to an EU country enough.
Most citizens will have made an application to the EU settlement scheme, which provides digital evidence that they are legally allowed the right to rent. Landlords should accept this as evidence.
Full article can be found here