Another week another newsround. What do we have for you?
Confusion over rent arrears
There still seems to be confusion on how the Covid 19 crisis is affecting rent. As reported here the Citizens Advice Bureau is warning that over 13 million people have already been unable to pay, or expect to be unable to pay, at least one bill because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The most serious unpaid bills being rent as this could lead to eviction once the stay on possession proceedings is lifted.
The National Residential Landlords Association, however, dispute this saying that the CAB has extrapolated the figures from a small survey and that it is unrepresentative.
They point out that research by Hamptons International has found that 70 per cent of tenancies that were due to end in March were renewed – the highest level in any March since 2008 – which goes to show that actually, landlords are supporting tenants.
Indeed this LandlordZONE article indicates that tenants are often negotiating lower rents when renewing.
Chris Norris, Policy Director for the National Residential Landlords Association said:
Clearly, there are many tenants facing difficult times as with all sections of the community, including landlords, but speculating about serious issues based on minimal data does nothing to support or help those in need.
It is a crude simplification and potentially very misleading to extrapolate figures from such a small sample.
Whilst the overwhelming majority of tenants are continuing to pay their rents in full and on time, we continue to call for greater support for those who are struggling to pay.
This should include ensuring benefits cover entirely the cost of people’s rents where they need it and scrapping the five-week wait for the first payment of Universal Credit.
Meaning that if anyone is to pay for struggling ‘tenants rent it should be the government and not, effectively, landlords (most of whom own just one or more properties, often supplementing their pension) by authorising tenants to withhold rent from them.
In the meantime, Christopher Pincher, the Housing Minister has dismissed calls from activists, the Mayor of London, lobbyists and fellow MPs to consider a rent increase ban or cap.
Tenancy mediation service launched by the Property Redress Scheme
As it takes a very long time to get anything sorted through the courts just now, and possession claims cannot be brought at all at the moment, the Property Redress Scheme has launched a mediation service people can use instead.
Sounds like a good idea, although it is not free, and total charges could be £390 although not all at once. However, for larger value claims this could be cheaper than going to court.
Sean Hooker, Head of Redress for the Property Redress Scheme, said:
Mediation is a voluntary, without prejudice, and confidential process, which allows disputes to be resolved much quicker and with less cost than court.
As a landlord, it also enables you to demonstrate to the court that you have attempted to resolve your issues before coming to them.
As an approved redress scheme, with extensive experience in housing matters, we are well placed to provide the expert help and assistance needed for successful outcomes.
It is pointed out also that when section 21 is removed, landlords and tenants may have more need of mediation.
If you want to use the service you will find it here.
Renters Reform Bill?
It seems that Housing Secretary Christopher Pincher has admitted that no work is currently being done on the much-anticipated Renters Reform Bill.
Saying, when responding to a parliamentary question this week, that the Government’s “collective efforts” were focused on “supporting our communities as well as making sure measures to help renters and landlords over the next few months are effective.”
They are still apparently considering responses to its consultation which closed in October 2019 which had almost 20,000 responses.
A challenge to the Practice Direction 51Z
This is the practice direction which has stayed all possession claims (we reported on it here).
The case, reported on Nearly Legal is called Arkin v Marshall and involves two claims for possession on residential mortgages, apparently by a receiver. The challenge is to:
- whether the 3-month stay of possession proceedings in PD 51Z is unlawful/ultra vires
- whether the stay applies to the requirement to comply with case management directions in all cases and
- whether the stay should be lifted in individual cases.
The case has apparently been given leapfrog permission to go to the Court of Appeal. We shall have to see. More details on the Nearly Legal post.
- Agents warned of consumer complaint risks from virtual viewings
- 220,000 landlords and 156,000 properties lost from rental market under Boris, Theresa and David
- A county court judgment on a possession claim, but with a range of interesting issues
- Is this the first instance of police action against physical viewings?
- A change to the accelerated possession claim forms makes eviction more difficult
- Whirpool adds 55,000 washing machines to recall – are they in your tenanted properties?
- Agents urged to make use of ‘poorly promoted’ coronavirus grants
- How Fatcat developers created our housing crisis.
Newsround will be back next week