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Tessa Shepperson Newsround #183 – The Landlord Law Blog

Our Friday Newsround today starts with a not unexpected item –

Bailiff ban extended to 31 March

Which you can read about in the announcement here. Although there are exemptions for illegal occupation, anti-social behaviour and arrears of 6 months’ rent or more.

However this is not really ‘solving’ the issue, it is just pushing it back in time.

And the fact that many people continue to be housed despite the fact that they have lost their jobs and can’t pay for it, is down to private landlords – mostly ‘ordinary folk’ who have just one or two properties – being forced to house them effectively for free  With little chance, realistically, of ever being paid.

Is this fair?

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, said:

The announcement does nothing to help over 800,000 private renters who have built rent arrears since lockdown measures started last year. It means debts will continue to mount to the point where they have no hope of paying them off. It will lead eventually to them having to leave their home and face serious damage to their credit scores.

The government needs to get a grip and do something about the debt crisis renters and landlords are now facing. A package of hardship loans and grants is needed as a matter of urgency. To expect landlords and tenants simply to muddle through without further support is a strategy that has passed its sell by date.

A call for help for renters

The clamour for the government to do something is getting louder.  The Resolution Foundation has issued a report calling for tenant hardship loans for renters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and a joint statement has been issued calling for the Chancellor to address the growing rent crisis in his budget.

The statement is issued by The Big Issue Ride Out Recession Alliance, Crisis, Citizens Advice, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Money Advice Trust, The Mortgage Works, National Residential Landlords Association, Nationwide Building Society, Propertymark, StepChange Debt Charity and Shelter and calls for:

  •  a targeted financial package to help renters pay off arrears, and
  • a welfare system that provides renters with the security of knowing that they can afford their homes.

Let us hope the Chancellor listens.  As Ben Beadle of NRLA warns that without support for landlords a supply crisis looms for tenants.

What on EARTH is going on at ARLA Propertymark?

David Cox left unexpectedly last year. NAEA Propertymark president Kirsty Finney resigned last week.  And now the CEO Tim Balcon has resigned after just four months in the role.  All of them no doubt bound by non-disclosure agreements.

No explanation seems to have been given to members – who are surely entitled to one.  It is their fees after all that pay all these people’s salaries.

People are beginning to wonder if Propertymark is fit for purpose.  Which is sad as if any industry needs a decent regulating body its letting agents.

Membership of ARLA is not cheap.  Members may be wondering now what they are paying for.  After all the organisation should be all about THEM.

Irrepairably damaged?

Some interesting comments can be found in this article from Industry and proptech consultant Andrew Stanton who says

A recent poll of agents found that a third of them think Propertymark is so irreparably damaged as a brand that it should be dissolved, and a new entity formed.

It is clear that the arrival (and then swift departure) of CEO Tim Balcon has intensified this sentiment among agents.

Going on to say that in the past the organisation was all about the members whereas now it has become too secretive:

Time for what I think are double standards to end, time for transparency and maybe time for Propertymark to stop thumping the ‘RoPA is coming drum’ that drives tens of thousands into the coffers of Propertymark on training courses, for legislation that is years away and may never happen.

The RoPA proposals are spearheaded by individuals in their mid-70s and early 80s and although – for sure – wisdom often comes from the older generation, does the UK property industry not deserve the voice and eyes and ears of younger people, preferably who have a deeper understanding of the fourth industrial revolution?

We shall have to wait and see what happens.

Chestertons goes carbon neutral

Time for a bit of good news.  I was delighted to see that letting agency Chestertons has gone carbon neutral.

True it seems that this is largely down to carbon offsetting, but that is considerably better than nothing and carbon offsetting schemes do a lot of good.

However, they have also replaced their fleet with electric BMW i3s in 2019, and are working on new initiatives to improve their carbon impact.

Guy Gittins, Chestertons’ CEO said:

Going carbon neutral is just another step in the right direction for Chestertons, and we are committed to continue to use our position to have a positive impact on the environment, not just by focusing on the business footprint, but also the impact of our staff, clients, suppliers and partners.

Good for them!

Snippets

Newsround will be back nextweek.

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