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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

“Devastating” - fears for industry after government U-turn

One of the leading figures in the lettings industry has described the government’s eviction ban U-turn as “devastating.”

Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, says: “This is absolutely devastating news for those landlords who already had possession cases ongoing prior to the pandemic. 

“It means those landlords with problem tenants who have been causing anti-social behaviour or withholding rent for reasons unrelated to Covid-19 face a further delay in regaining possession of the properties.”

Shamplina echoes many in the industry with his exasperation at the late U-turn.

“Why have they left until the Friday before the courts re-open to give a further extension? ... In my view, the government needs to seriously consider offering landlords, whose tenants have fallen into arrears relating to Covid-19 and can prove loss of employment, some financial support, for example three months of rent contribution.”

Timothy Douglas, policy and campaigns manager at ARLA Propertymark, adds“Now that the ban has been extended, the government must use this time to introduce further guidance and prepare the sector.

“Given the backlog of cases already facing courts, it’s key that the government introduces sufficient guidance during this period to enable eviction proceedings to begin again smoothly and fairly when the ban is lifted.”

Meanwhile not-for-profit accreditation service safeagent has set out demands which it believes the government should enact. These are:

- An existing tenant whose income is reduced should immediately inform their landlord/agent and claim Universal Credit;

- The housing element of any UC claim should be paid direct to the landlord/agent from day one;

- Where UC is not covering the rent in full, and a mortgage is in place, the lender must agree to a reduction in mortgage payments for a specified period;

- A payment plan is then drawn up between the tenant and the landlord, supported by the agent where necessary taking account of any UC direct payments and shortfall;

- Any changes to the tenant’s circumstances are dealt with via a new payment plan;

- If necessary, the landlord/agent claims government grant to cover any debt built up due to the agreed reduction in mortgage payments.

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    Instead of plugging gaps in a landlord's income, why don't we address the root of the problem and start offering some proper protection to tenants? We have a huge problem with poverty and homelessness in the UK and we're entering into a massive recession. Payment plans are only there to support landlords but what good will a PP be come October when furlough ends and x00,000's of people have no jobs/income barring a UC payment that 1) doesn't even cover their rent never mind feed their kids and 2) is paid in 5 week arrears. Maybe if the current government pulled their fingers out and finally found a formula for turning claps into currency, we can just clap for landlords each week and get them paid.

    In the instance a UC payment doesn't cover the rent, why should lenders agree to a reduced payment but the tenant still have to pay the full amount of rent?

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    A large lender can afford to offer a payment holiday whereas many landlords are dependent upon the income. They rarely get government support, are taxed more harshly than any other sector in the UK and yet, cannot even get justice on removing tenants who have broken their contracts. All the legislation to bash landlords eventually filter down as rent rises. Why won't the government realise that if landlords were treated equally with other businesses rents would go down?

    Worst still, if you don't pay for your shopping in the shop you get arrested and charged. You see the Court within 2/3 weeks. If you don't pay for your housing you get governments effectively rewarding you for what is now going to be 12 months. A shop doesn't have to pay for a prosecution. Let' see some fairness.

    Housing costs as a percentage of income are historically low. There is no reason other than political interference for the high level of arrears and massive losses sustained by landlords.

    Algarve  Investor

    'Housing costs as a percentage of income are historically low'

    While I agree with some of your comment, I have to pull you up on this one. What is your evidence for this? I thought housing costs as a percentage of income were actually very high, with renters in some cities paying nearly half of their wages on rent in some cases.

    That is mostly the case in high-cost cities like London, but renting is generally more expensive in the UK when compared with other countries in Europe.

     
  • James B

    ARLAs comments quite typical of these so called landlord Associations , scared to stand up to government on behalf of their customers .. Why not commence some kind of legal case on government rather than saying ‘oh well can you prepare now for next time it’s allowed to proceed’. Useless bunch

    Mark Wilson

    Why would you think that Government would even listen to trade associations with their own self interests to promote?

     
    James B

    Mark Wilson
    I doubt they would listen to them but my point is why aren’t they even shouting the odds for landlords instead of hiding in the corner ... they would at least get some recognition from their own customers for trying .. but them seem to pander to government like they do for tenants

     
    Mark Wilson

    If you want to think you are being consulted by Government you can't argue too much or be too radical, otherwise Government wont let you think you are being consulted. As a general rule Government is not really interested anyway and proceeds regardless. When it comes to BTL, with its low rating in society, it is dreaming to think anything said will matter or change their position.

     
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    Does this government really believe that the feckless tenants will vote for them - ever? Not going to happen!

    Now, it will take a lot to make me vote conservative again.

    Algarve  Investor

    But who will you realistically vote for instead? The Tories bank on the landlord vote, and Boris and co know they can go after Generation Rent - which is very much the domain of Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens - while still relying on most landlords voting blue.

    Ukip are beyond a joke these days, even more so than they were before, and the Brexit Party has had its time and served its purpose. You surely aren't going to vote Labour, and the Tories know that, which is why they know they can come down hard on buy-to-let landlords - who aren't exactly held in high esteem by the general public.

     
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    @Algarve Investor
    I will NOT reward the conservatives by giving them my vote. On their current form I might as well vote Labour.

    If there is an Independent candidate then I will vote for them and Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party are not yet done with politics.

     
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    As a member of safeagent I find their current proposals ludicrous. If the government are concerned about homelessness they must not make the landlord responsible by withholding their right to evict a tenant for rent arrears when the government can easily rectify the problem by guaranteeing the rent. The idea that you should involve mortgage lenders who would happily give a mortgage holiday whilst adding on the additional interest is stupid, as is this idea of payment plans which everyone knows will amount to nothing if the tenant does not have the money. Let me make it very clear MRC operate a charity whereby we give support to the homeless, but this does not entitle anyone to make a landlord responsible for tenants rent arrears or to ask agents to carry out additional administrative duties with payment plans and thereafter chasing money tenants do not have.

    Also, any money for rent paid in the form of Universal Credit must be used for rent otherwise it is fraud and should be treated as such as it is out of the public purse

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    Even if the Government agreed to a consultation process about how best to handle the PRS sector, from my experience of being involved in previous government consultations it wouldn't make a great deal of difference. Strong advice can be given to them from multiple stakeholders, but they usually do whatever they had decided prior to the consultation which is very frustrating.

    A case in point is the forthcoming changes to the EPC Central Register. This has been held by Landmark since 2008, but is migrating to a 'dot gov' website in September. OK this hasn't happened yet so I haven't been able to test-drive the new system, but I know for certain the government didn't take any notice when asked to continue providing useful aspects which are now available to assessors via the Landmark website. Several of them have been scrapped with the Accreditation Bodies being left having to explain what feels like (and almost certainly is) a step backwards.

    I fear we are stuck with whatever they throw at us as LL, although the comments about lack of support for us from LL associations are a recurring theme in these comment pages, and it would be gratifying if they 'muscled up'.

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