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Tess Shepperson Newsround #197 – The Landlord Law Blog

Our regular Friday Newsround – what do we have for you this week?

The end of the eviction ban?

We had new forms come into force on Tuesday which brought the notice periods down and bailiffs can once again physically evict tenants.

However, the evictions tsunami will probably not happen, due to

  • Court delays – due partly to the backlog and partly due to slower processes now due to COVID, and
  • The fact that there are only so many bailiffs and they can only do one eviction at a time.

Still, it’s not a good outlook for many tenants and there is no doubt that many will lose their homes.  It looks as if cases waiting for eviction have reached 11,000 with some 44% being private landlords and 40% social, with the rest being ‘accelerated cases’.

Which is why organisations such as Shelter, Generation Rent, and the National Residential Landlords Association have all been calling for government help to be given to tenants.  The preferred course being a loan paid directly to landlords.

So far the government’s main policy to help tenants is to prevent landlords from evicting them, meaning that the whole burden has fallen on private landlords who have been expected to house tenants and comply with all their legal obligations but with no income.  Clearly, this cannot continue.

Chris Wood, head of policy at Shelter said (during the Jeremy Vine show)

Where a landlord isn’t able to organise a payment plan or wipe the rent arrears slate clean and has no option but to move to eviction, or the tenant has no hope of paying the debt back, then we’re asking the government to step in and help pay off those rent arrears to keep them in their homes.

The cost would only be a 20th of the stamp duty holiday – we hope the government is listening this time.

New Mediation Scheme

It’s been promised for a while and is finally here.  There is now a free Rental Mediation Scheme available as part of the eviction process.  Suitable cases will be referred to mediation at the Case Review stage of the proceedings to see if the parties issues can be resolved without eviction.

Guidance on the new scheme is here.

The trouble is that by then it will probably be too large.  In rent arrears cases the arrears will have probably ballooned beyond the ability of the tenant to ever pay it off and the landlord, having reached court proceedings, may find the prospect of anything other than the tenant leaving, intolerable.

The best time to start mediation is before court proceedings have started, which is why the two other schemes, from the PRS and TDS are so valuable.  I wrote about them here.

Still, the Court Mediation scheme is obviously better than nothing and hopefully it will manage to save some situations and allow tenants to remain in their homes.

The Problem of Pets

Many tenants are outraged by the fact that landlords can legally prevent them from keeping a pet.  Many landlords are equally outraged at the prospect that they might be forced to allow pets- in view of the massive damage they can cause and the prospect of having to bear the cost of dealing with this when the tenants leave.

A private members bill on this failed due to covid restrictions.  The MP, Andrew Rosindell, is now trying again, with a proposal that pet rental insurance premiums should be ‘permitted payments’ under the tenant fees rules.

I have to say that this sounds like a very sensible idea and it seems that many landlords would be willing to allow pets on that basis.

I understand that the objective is to get the proposal included in the Renters Reform Bill.  I suspect that this has a good chance of happening as many people recognise the problem – on both sides.

Energy Efficiency Problem

It looks as if rented properties will need to reach an energy efficiency rating of C in a few years to be eligible for renting.  But what if that property is incapable of reaching C?

A recent analysis has indicated that some 1.7m homes do. not have the potential to improve energy efficiency to C rating.  An article in Property Industry Eye sets out where those properties are.

This will be a problem for those landlords, although there may be exemptions where improvement is genuinely impossible.

However, the good news is that across England and Wales, where 59% of homes have a D, E, F or G rating, there is the potential for this to be reduced to 11% of homes – if recommended improvements are made.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data, said:

It’s encouraging to see that there are some energy efficiency improvements that can cost less than £100, so it’s definitely worth checking your EPC if your home has one to see if there are small changes you could make to try and improve your rating.

The bigger challenge is for those homes with much lower ratings that will cost a substantial amount of money to improve. There are a number of homeowners who don’t feel an urgent need to make changes now unless it makes a big difference to the cost of their household bills or if it’s going to make their home more attractive to a potential buyer if they’re planning to sell.

It’s early days with some lenders now starting to introduce green mortgages as incentives, but homeowners need to be better informed that how green your home is will become increasingly important as we aim to move towards a net zero society, and they need more help to understand why making improvements are so important for the long term.

Snippets

Newsround will be back next week

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