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54% of landlords experiencing arrears from Universal Credit tenants

According to research by the Residential Landlords’ Association (RLA), Universal Credit is causing tenants to fall behind with their rent.

It reports that 54% of private landlords who have let to tenants on Universal Credit in the past 12 months have seen them fall into rent arrears.

Private landlords renting to Universal Credit claimants can apply to have the housing element paid directly to themselves when a tenant has reached two months of rent arrears. This is known as an Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA).

The RLA’s research shows that it took landlords an average of almost 8.5 weeks for an APA to be arranged – meaning that landlords can be left with almost four months of rent arrears before they begin to receive the rent they are owed.

The research further found that 36% of landlords said that they had buy-to-let mortgage conditions which prevent them from renting to benefit claimants.

The RLA is calling on the Government to do more to prevent rent arrears occurring in the first place, including:

• Allowing all tenants from the start of a claim for Universal Credit the ability to choose to have the housing element paid directly to their landlord.
• An end to the five week waiting period to receive the first Universal Credit payment.
• An end to the Local Housing Allowance freeze to ensure it reflects the realities of rents in the private sector.

RICS tells government to stop meddling in private rented sector

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has said the Government needs to stop meddling in the private rented sector.

In a new policy statement, the RICS said that the private rented sector has doubled over the last 20 years and is now home to a fifth of all households.

However, it goes on: “Continued government interference in the sector has led to landlords leaving the market, leading to the leakage of stock into sale and decreasing stability and standards for tenants.”

The RICS says that all property agents should be regulated to a single property code, which should be extended to private landlords. But as a private landlord do you think you should be ‘regulated by a single property code’ - whatever that means!

The organisation also warns against rent controls, much loved by Corbynistas, saying these will not alleviate affordability issues as private landlords exit the market.

The new policy paper does however show the RICS’s misguided support for the abolition of Section 21, but the organisation calls for court processes for repossession proceedings to be streamlined before Section 21 is removed from the statute books.

Evicting Rogue tenants can cost landlords up to £40,000

Latest research by a major estate agent shows that landlords across the UK can face a bill of more than £30,000 to get rid of a rogue tenant.

This includes loss of rent, the costs of eviction and fixing the damage to their property once these disgusting people have finally been evicted.

Of course the ‘namby-pamby’ tenant friendly British legal system plays a big part in this, with every possible protection being afforded to tenants. It can often take many months to evict a tenant who has stopped paying their rent and rogue tenants usually know how to play the system. In fact the research has shown that landlords typically lose around nine months’ worth of rent while trying to evict a rogue tenant.

The costs of evicting rogue tenants in prime central London properties are considerably higher, reaching over £40,000.

What’s more, criminal gangs are now renting expensive properties and then sub-letting them on Airbnb at a huge profit. And they know that the stupid legal system will allow them to stay there without paying rent for many months. When will the idiot government ever learn?

There’s no Housing Crisis, there’s a South East Housing Crisis!

All the time you hear people complaining about the shocking rise in the price of UK property and how it’s stopping first-time buyers from getting on the housing ladder.

But this is mainly happening in South East England and one or two other hot spots. There are a number of local housing markets where homes actually cost far less than they did ten years ago! Yes, LESS.

In one part of Liverpool, for instance, the average house price at the end of 2008 was £116,821, but by the end of last year it was £65,178.

Liverpool is one of ten places, all in the north, where house prices in certain local markets have dropped at least 33%.

The average price in parts of Bradford in 2008 was £103,531 but by 2018 it had plummeted to £65,747.

This in my opinion points to the need for government, instead of bashing landlords and endlessly building houses in the Home Counties and pressing ahead with nonsense like Heathrow expansion and HS2, they should redirect infrastructure to the north and offer incentives to private industry to relocate there.

Government blocks council’s landlord licensing scheme

Stoke-on-Trent has been refused permission to introduce a licensing scheme that would have affected some 3,000 rental homes.

In a rare bit of good news for landlords, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has rejected the application, saying it did not meet the statutory criteria.

The plans had been opposed by landlords, but had been put forward by the council following a public consultation.

A council spokesperson said: “We can confirm we have received notification from the government department on this. We are in dialogue with the the ministry about this refusal.”

Local authorities must demonstrate that areas have a high proportion of privately rented homes, and at least one other criteria, including poor property conditions and high levels of crime.

Among authorities planning new money-making licensing schemes are Lewisham and Islington - surprise surprise!

Fees ban has led to rise in rents across the UK

In the wake of the fees ban and landlords being forced out of the market by government legislation, rents have been rising across the UK.

The average time it takes to let a property in the Uk is down to only 20 days, with three bedroom properties moving the fastest.

According to HomeLet, the only English region where newly agreed rents have gone down is the north-east.

The biggest monthly jump in newly agreed rents in July was in Greater London, where there was a 3.4% rise to £1,665.

So, the Law of Unintended Consequences that the current crop of idiot politicians don’t understand has struck again. But at least it is some long-awaited good news for landlords.

Section 21 going but courts failing landlords, have YOUR say

The government is still hell-bent on getting rid of the Section 21 No Fault Eviction process, but has not yet put anything in it's place to help landlords regain rightful possession.

New statistics show that it takes private landlords, on average, 22.5 weeks from making a claim to actually getting possession. This compares to the 21.6 weeks figure for Q1, 2019.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is currently conduction a consultation on the removal of Section 21 and how it should be replaced.

You can have YOUR say here, on the government website.

Courts continue to let down landlords seeking repossession

judges gavel It seems that the kind of cases highlighted in Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords are fairly typical! The Residential Landlords’ Association (RLA) says that 79% of its landlords who had to seek repossession in the courts were very unhappy with the system.

This against the background of the so-called Conservative government working towards removing the no-fault Section 21 eviction process, the main plank of Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) whilst appearing to put little in its place, apart from possible some wider scope of Section 8.

Writing to the new Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland MP, the RLA has warned him that with “Ministers pledged to scrap Section 21 ‘no explanation’ repossessions, the courts are simply unable to cope with the increased pressures they will face.”

The Government has said it will review the grounds for possession to help streamline the possession process, with no mention of overhauling the English court system.

Unbelievably, the change will mean that there may be no absolute guarantee of a landlord being able to recover possession. In addition, with costs and the time involved in trying to obtain possession, even when the tenant is clearly in breach of contract, it may take substantially longer than it currently takes using the Assured Shorthold Tenancy notices.

The RLA says that with the planned changes threatened, “…simply tinkering with the existing system is not good enough.” It is calling on the Government to establish a single, dedicated housing court that is properly funded and properly staffed.

At present, landlords can repossess properties using two routes:
1 – Section 21, which is under threat, enables landlords, after giving two-months’ notice, to regain possession at the end of a tenancy without providing a reason for the eviction. Adverse publicity created by a minority of rogue landlords has led to the media being flooded with stories about landlords terminating tenancies either to replace the tenant with a more “acceptable tenant”, or in revenge against tenants who have raised complaints.
The threat of eviction in some cases has allowed landlords to impose rent increases much higher than the prevailing market rents, on the basis that the disruption to a tenant’s domestic and family life gives them little choice but to pay. The other side of this coin is that a legitimate claim can takes month to progress, judges can award extra time to leave and court bailiffs are slow. And it is common for tenants to request that their landlord serve them with a Section 21 possession notice in the hope that they can convince their local authority that they are being evicted, and therefore the notice will make them eligible for social housing.

2 – Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988. This gives landlords restricted grounds on which they can claim possession, typically non-payment of rent. These grounds are difficult to prove, and unlike a straightforward Section 21 claim, always require a court hearing.

This puts the onus on the landlord to produce compelling evidence of a breach of contract, and would in most cases require professional representation to convince a judge of the veracity of any case. Cases are often adjured and reschedule for more evidence, and cases drag on for months, if not, in some cases years. The outcome therefore in both costly and uncertain. This is the system which the government is suggesting, with some tweaks, it will be relying on in future.

David Smith, Policy Director for the Residential Landlords Association, said “Ministers are proposing some of the most far reaching changes the private rented sector has ever seen. If the new Government decides it wants to proceed with these it is vital that significant and bold reforms are made to the court system.”

Tenants sub-letting rental properties on Airbnb

The Sunday Times reported yesterday that over one half of Airbnb properties in London are being advertised by people with more than one listing. Cities such as Manchester, Bristol and Edinburgh have similar problems.

This has consequences for other residents in blocks used to a few comings and goings finding multiple different tenants who obviously have little interest in the property.

Landlords have to be very concerned as well, as their properties are more likely to suffer deterioration and what’s more, they will be infringing their mortgage and insurance conditions.

The article points out that many of these so-called bona fide tenants appear very respectable. So make sure YOUR letting agent if you use one is on their guard and if you’re letting the property yourself then be very vigilant about referencing.

One London letting agent says he knows of one so-called tenant who is sub-letting 10 homes at around £250 a night and only paying £500 a week rent on each.

And of course the current pathetic tenant friendly legislation means that it can take a landlord many months to get these people out! And the criminals know this.

Fees Ban and The Law of Unintended Consequences

In line with The Law of Unintended Consequences, record rent rises have been reported by ARLA in the immediate wake of the tenancy fees ban which began in England on June 1.

This is obviously driven by landlords and agents seeking to recover the increased costs of referencing etc. The market is tight because blinkered government policies mean that the supply of available rented property has fallen whilst demand has remained constant - another old law, The Law of Supply and Demand. There are reports that 55% of ARLA agents saw landlords raise rents, up from 22% in May – already a record month.

Meanwhile, landlords are continuing to exit the market, at the rate of four per branch during June.

ARLA Propertymark chief executive, David Cox said “Unsurprisingly, rent costs hit a record high in June as tenants suffered the impact of the tenant fee ban. Ever since the Government proposed the ban, we warned that tenants would continue to pay the same amount, but the cost would be passed on to tenants through increased rents, rather than upfront costs.”

Google backs new AI Lettings Agent Assistant

‘Askporter’, a property technology company backed by Google, has raised a further £1.5m in seed funding. It now receiving further investment by others including Henley Investments ‘Askporter’ offers property management software that uses artificial intelligence.

It is to launch a ‘digital assistant’ called ‘Porter’ that can carry out routine tasks such as arranging viewings and chasing rent arrears.

Its CEO, Tom Shrive says, “Looking to the future, well-run properties will largely be managed by an AI assistant that has all the context of an actual manager and complete data transparency, freeing them up to focus on delivering value-added, human-touch experience to occupants.

It is claimed that the application’s technology already reduces the time spent managing a maintenance task from an average of 45 minutes to only three.

So it seems that nowadays no jobs are immune from the predations of AI!

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