Here are the news stories we have found for you this week
Up to a quarter of landlords planning to sell up
A news story out from the Residential Landlords Association is that up to 25% of landlords are looking to sell up and move out of the sector. Even our little survey shows that some 17% are considering selling their properties.
Now you may think “good, that’s more properties available for families’ but it probably won’t work like that. Many people cannot afford to buy and need rented accommodation to live in. If there is less of it, then the average rent is likely to go up.
If only the government had not sold off so much social housing this would have been less of a problem. Sadly it did though, so local authorities and housing associations will not be able to house those made homeless by landlords selling up.
Here is David Smith, Policy Director of the RLA:
All the talk of longer tenancies will mean nothing if the homes to rent on not there in the first place.
The Government’s tax increases on the sector are already making it difficult for tenants to find a place to live, with many landlords not renewing tenancies. If rushed and not thought through, planned changes to the way landlords can repossess properties risk making the situation even worse.
Action is needed to stimulate supply with pro-growth taxation and a process for repossessing homes that is fair to all.
Landlord’s costs likely to rise due to the Tenant Fee Ban
Many agents, faced with a drop in their income of some 20% from 1 June after which they will no longer be able to charge fees to tenants, are now increasing their commission and fees for landlords.
For example, one landlord has been told that he will face a £225 compliance and reference charge at the start of each new tenancy; check-out fee of £60; inventory £60; and deposit management fee of £12.
Comments on the Eye post though make it clear that most agents consider the fees are justified by the amount of work that agents do for landlords. Someone will have to pay for it!
The alternative is for landlords to take on the management of properties themselves – and risk fines and penalties for non-compliance with the ever-increasing regulation.
Although landlords considering this should look seriously at joining Landlord Law (where we are now adding step by step guides for landlords and new forms) or one of the Landlords Associations.
ARLA boss warns agents against trying to get around the ban
The tenant fee ban will be coming into force in under a month – but, says David Cox, the CEO of ARLA Propertymark
If you’re trying to find ways around the ban, I can assure you that there are no loopholes.
Going on to warn that
There will be a fine of £5,000 for the first offence and then either £30,000 for second and subsequent offences or criminal prosecution, which is an unlimited fine and a banning order
Agents must, he says,
work on the principle that all charges are banned unless they are specifically permitted payments under the legislation
He also encouraged agents to report other agents they learn of who are breaching the rules.
Note that David Cox will be speaking at the forthcoming Landlord Law Conference where he will be giving advice and guidance to delegates.
Incidentally, ARLA agents have no excuse for getting things wrong as they all have access to a terrific Tenant Fees Toolkit along with compliant documentation. Probably worth the ARLA fees just on its own. There are also open access videos you can watch.
Which investigation shows agents in breach of law over tenancy agreements
The Consumer organisation Which has identified a number of agents who are breaching the law in various respects (reported here on Eye) including
- Requiring tenants to make a payment before they are shown a tenancy agreement
- Including clauses that do not comply with the Unfair Terms regulations including]
- Clauses allowing landlords or authorised workmen access without prior consent so long as 24 hours notice is given
Which claim that even the governments model tenancy agreement does not comply with best practice.
- Zoopla warn against rent controls becoming policy
- DJ Karen Doyle writing in the Law Society Gazette puts the case against having a specialist housing court
- Property firms such as estate and letting agents are now feeling significant financial stress
- See the governments written statement on the PRS and removal of no-fault evictions
- Another story of a tenant trashing a property
- Nearly Legal looks at a recent possession case from Wales
- Apparently, the Lord Chancellor is implying that legal aid advice deserts don’t matter as housing telephone advice is available everywhere