Well, here we are with another Friday Newsround for you. What has been happening during this week?
No DSS adverts declared illegal
We have our first case on this (after a number of claims which have been settled out of court).
Not a binding decision as it is a County Court case (in York) and it was an agreed order, but it sets the scene and I doubt that higher courts would disagree.
The Judge, District Judge Victoria Elizabeth Mark made a declaration in the order saying:
The Defendant’s former policy of rejecting tenancy applications because the applicant is in receipt of Housing Benefit was unlawfully indirectly discriminatory on the grounds of sex and disability contrary to sections 19 and 29 of the Equality Act 2010.
So there you are.
What this means is that landlords and agents must not have a blanket policy of refusing to consider any applications on benefit. What it does not mean is that landlords and agents have GOT to decide in favour of benefit applications. And if there are several applicants I suspect the non-benefit applicant is more likely to be chosen.
Most landlords are not actually against benefit tenants per se. The main reasons they are rejected tend to be
- That the amount of benefit is less than the contractual rent
- The long delays before the benefit starts to be paid (at least 5 weeks for Universal Credit),
- The fact that the benefit is paid directly to tenants rather than the landlords, and
- The unhelpful and antagonistic attitude taken by some Local Authority staff towards landlords, plus
- Some mortgages and insurance policies still prohibit benefit tenants (although this may now be considered illegal and unenforceable)
None of these are anything to do with the tenants themselves. Indeed many landlords regret that these issues make it impossible for them to rent to people they acknowledge would be excellent tenants.
So if Government and the Local Authorities really want to deal with this issue they need to look to their own policies and staff.
Still, this ruling is a good one for tenants and let us hope that it makes landlords and agents more receptive to benefit tenant applications.
With the Courts set to open next month and the prospect of a ‘pre-action protocol’ for possession claims, we now have another mediation service (or rather ‘Resolution’ scheme) launched, this time from TDS.
It is believed that the pre-action protocol will require landlords to try to resolve things before issuing proceedings. So if your tenant refuses to engage with the resolution scheme, TDS will provide you with a certificate confirming this to allow you to proceed with your claim.
If the tenant agrees to the mediation, there will be a fee to the landlord of £150.
The TDS Scheme is endorsed by the National Residential Landlords Association and Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, said
We expect that Covid-19 will have a long-lasting impact on the market. Whilst our research shows that the majority of tenants are continuing to pay their rent as normal, we know that some are facing financial difficulties leading to rent arrears as a result of the virus.
In such circumstances, we want to support landlords and tenants to sustain tenancies wherever possible.
The TDS Resolution service will provide an additional, valuable service to help broker a fair arrears repayment plan without the need to go to court.
You may remember that a similar scheme was launched by the Property Redress Scheme a few weeks back.
Problems at Propertymark?
Property Industry Eye have been analysing the Propertymark 2019 accounts and have found that although their membership has gone up slightly, there has been a significant drop in membership revenue. Which seems odd.
If you want to learn more, take a look at the Eye post.
There is also a bit of controversy about leadership.
Eye has learned that the Propertymark board has voted to not allow ARLA Propertymark CEO, David Cox (who has been in post since 2014), to stand for the new role of head of the joint NAEA/ARLA Propertymark organisation when Mark Hayward (NAEA CEO) retires later this year.
Apparently, Cox may, therefore, be leaving ‘imminently’. Which would be sad and most of the people commenting on the Eye post (although not all) thought he had done a great job and should be allowed to apply for the new job.
So watch this space. Or rather follow Eye as they will no doubt announce any news first.
- Getting late legal advice not a ground for set aside of possession order
- Hong Kong flight turns from a trickle into a torrent
- RICS permanently closes most UK regional offices
- Lettings agents earning more than sales as industry pay scales are revealed
- After Lockdown, one-third of movers switch their priorities for future home
- London council wins battle to control estate agents’ boards
- PRS giant says just 0.49% of its 2% rent arrears are due to Covid
Newsround will be back next week.