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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Shelter love-in with government over rental reform measures

The campaigning charity Shelter - once a critic of government policies over letting agents and landlords - has given a ringing endorsement to promised reforms.

In a statement regarding the Fairer Private Renting White Paper and the Renters Reform Bill likely to follow, Shelter calls it a “landmark” measure.

The charity adds that it “has the power to level the playing field between tenants and landlords and make renting fairer for all” and is a “gamechanger”.

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Shelter chief executive Polly Neate says: “The Renters’ Reform Bill is a gamechanger for England’s 11 million private renters. Scrapping unfair evictions will level the playing field. 

“For the first time in a long time, tenants will be able to stand up to bad behaviour instead of living in fear. 

“This White Paper promises people safety and security in their home, and it makes clear that landlords need to play by the rules. Gone will be the days of families being uprooted and children forced to move school after being slapped with a Section 21 no-fault eviction for no good reason.  

“As these plans move through Parliament, they’ve got to keep their teeth to drive up standards and professionalise private renting. For every renter trapped in a never-ending nightmare of moving from one shoddy rental to the next, the Renters’ Reform Bill cannot come soon enough.”   

The charity says the Renters Reform Bill “cannot come soon enough” and claims three quarters of private renters in England “have endured poor or dangerous conditions in their home, such as mould, broken boilers, and electrical hazards, in the last year.”

Previous research from the charity also claims a Section 21 eviction notice is served every seven minutes - a statistic hotly disputed by the National Residential Landlords Association.

The Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper marks what the government calls “a generational shift that will redress the balance between landlords and 4.4 million private rented tenants.” 

It will ban Section 21 evictions and extend the Decent Homes Standard to the private sector. 

It will also end what it calls “arbitrary rent review clauses, give tenants stronger powers to challenge poor practice, unjustified rent increases and enable them to be repaid rent for non-decent homes.”

It will be illegal for landlords or agents to have blanket bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits.

And it will make it easier for tenants to have pets, a right which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse.

All tenants are to be moved onto a single system of periodic tenancies, which in the government’s words mean “they can leave poor quality housing without remaining liable for the rent or move more easily when their circumstances change.”

A tenancy will only end if a tenant ends or a landlord has a valid reason, defined in law.

There will be a doubling of notice periods for rent increases and tenants will have stronger powers to challenge them if they are unjustified.

The government says it is also “giving councils stronger powers to tackle the worst offenders, backed by enforcement pilots, and increasing fines for serious offences.”

There will also be a new Private Renters’ Ombudsman to enable disputes between private renters and landlords to be settled quickly, at low cost, and without going to court.

What the government calls “responsible landlords” will be able to gain possession of their properties efficiently from anti-social tenants “and can sell their properties when they need to.”

There will be a new property portal that will “provide a single front door to help landlords to understand, and comply with, their responsibilities as well as giving councils and tenants the information they need to tackle rogue operators.”

Want to comment on this story? If so...if any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals on any basis, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.

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    The few tenants left with a home will enjoy their extra rights - but what about the 1000s with nowhere to rent because all the good LLs have left? Last LL to leave please turn out the lights :(

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    My first disposal after nearly 30 years completes next Tuesday. In Cornwall where property is most needed in the rental sector and it is directly in response to this anti Landlord legislation we all knew was coming.

     
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    You can do what you like in your own home within limits. Renting out a property, is a business where different rules and freedoms apply.
    I have seen comments here to the effect that "this is my property so I will do what I like". You cannot do that in business for the same reason employers cannot arbitrarily sack people.
    When businesses fail to observe self imposed principles of good practice, increased regulation is the result. Regulations target bad practice, not good landlords.

     
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    I've owned many properties and a few businesses over the years and have always had complete control over who lives in my properties and who works in my companies.

    No loony leftie legislation will change my right to select the most suitable candidate and all their efforts to do so will backfire.

     
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    Robert, I agree, who knows if we get locked up we could even share a cell, now that would be a blast

     
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    Robert Brown. Agreed, you do have ultimate control over things you own. Nothing ultimately prevents you from sacking or evicting people if that is your decision. There are however penalties if you behave like a dick when making those decisions.
    Some within the landlord community want freedom to behave as they like without penalty. That is not how business works.

     
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    I've always operated legally but if the law moves too far then my tenants will have to find other homes.

    My businesses were all sold but the employees regret my doing so, as will my tenants if that day is forced upon me.

    Until then, I and my decent tenants will continue to get on just fine but rogues must watch out!

     
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    How true. They can have full rights over No properties. All the entitlement that they are GIVEN and no responsibility or consequences for anything. I’m out.

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    well done to the Conservatives and Shelter as they drive LL form the PRS. I am on the way out. Then what is left will be even more expensive. Please pat yourselves on the back . RIP PRS!

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    Tricia- As usual, spot on. They are in the throw’s of committing housing suicide, I am unsure if they are simply not aware or don’t care. My plans are in for my exit.

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    • G W
    • 17 June 2022 07:49 AM

    Totally agree with above comments!…. This is just a continuation of changes to dissuade landlords and make commercial decisions for landlords to quit the market….. especially after the last couple of years capital growth. I’m definitely selling up from now as I think it will get worse with new laws being discussed, such as tenants Right to Buy off PRS at reduced rate!!!….. sounds bonkers but we are seeing the asylum doors open

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    I've been in the industry nearly 40 years, I simply don't recognise the portrayal by Shelter of rented accommodation or landlord behaviour, I would go so far as to say their comments are blatant propaganda (if not outright lies) coupled with a weak government that wants to be loved, pathetically weak landlords groups and the extraordinary failure of Propertymark to make the industries case and who in part must take a large chunk of the blame for allowing certain mainstream agents charge simply outrageous fees to tenants which anyone with a brain could see would lead to trouble, which it certainly did with the completely over the top banning of tenant fees.
    Shelters campaign has been cleverly fought, unless the industry pushes back and hard, they will continue to make ground and before you know it rent controls will be on the statute books...

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    Spot on.

     
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    Pathetically weak landlord groups .. couldn’t agree more.
    Spoke to the main one in Scotland recently and told them they needed to get a back bone and stop loving up to the Scottish Government. Don’t give them any subscription or training money now!

     
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    Agree, " three quarters of private renters in England “have endured poor or dangerous conditions in their home, such as mould, broken boilers, and electrical hazards, in the last year". Broken boilers, yes my tenants have endured broken boilers, but only for a matter of days, after which time they have a brand new boiler. In fact three quarters of my tenants have boilers that are less than 3 years old, but they broke before they were replaced.

     
  • Nigel Spalding

    They are just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic - There is a mass exodus of LLs from the sector which is why rents are going up. The more tax, red tape & power to tenants will only accelerate the housing crisis as LLs move even quicker to the exit. I agree with all the comments have seen and read here. We have an ideologically bankrupt government. They will introduce rent controls and could even nationalise property

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    • G W
    • 17 June 2022 09:02 AM

    As you are running a Lettings business it’s in your interest to make this comment. If you are a landlord and see the direction of anti landlord travel with EPC changes and more to come, (labour already discussing Right to buy in PRS at discounted rate) you might think it’s best to cash in now!!….

     
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    I think the perspective and interests of landlords and agents are different. Landlords are not on board when it comes to these reforms and therefore they will not be successful.

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    Tom - I generally abstain from making combative comments however when I read your comment I felt that this sounds more like an agent seeing their clients and therefore their income stream disappearing down the road. Having dealt 20 years with some lovely tenants but also some complete horrors including a drug dealer stabbed in one of my houses I know personally how important s21 is and it allows me a safety net to effectively run my business. Often many situations can be impossible to prove in court particularly when faced with an anti Landlord judge. In 20 years I have used S21 perhaps twice but it is important to have it in my back pocket.

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    How much of the reason for this rental reform stems from something that was legislated out several years ago? When letting agents could charge massive fees to tenants there was a big incentive to evict them every 6 months. All those fees for inventory checks, cleaning, finding new tenants and referencing them, etc. That incentive was removed when tenant fees were banned.
    Have self managing landlords ever routinely evicted anyone for no reason? It's unfortunate the government are giving landlords so many reasons to not just evict the genuinely blameless tenants they currently have but to get out of the PRS entirely.

    I'm not sure that tenants in receipt of benefit are discriminated against as such. They don't fit the affordability criteria for most properties but that's because the government have frozen LHA at such a low level. If the LHA was restored to the 30th percentile and reviewed every 6 months benefit claimants would have the ability to compete for far more properties. There also needs to be reform of the UC system as it is incredibly frustrating for landlords to deal with. Back in the day when Housing Benefit was dealt with by real people at the local Council it was much easier to iron out any little problems. Now it's incredibly time consuming and uncertain.

    My main concern with the proposals is that fixed term tenancies are being removed and there doesn't seem to be a minimum term. This is going to make the student market incredibly difficult. Every university city operates on a slightly different timeframe but where I am most of us offer 11 month tenancy agreements from 1st September to 31st July. Undergrads tend to look for housing around Christmas for the following September. Most student houses are on joint tenancy agreements and a few on individual room agreements. Presumably the rental reform means any on individual tenancies can move out at any point in the year with just 2 months notice. Finding a student to replace them could be difficult. With joint tenancies there will be a real danger of one tenant bullying or coercing their housemates to quit before they would ideally want to. We won't be able to sign up the next household until the current one has actually left. So there will be a mad panic for student housing in August while most students are nowhere near the university they attend. Even if we do 90% of it in advance there will still be far more admin in August just when we normally spend our time actually preparing the houses for the new students. If students leave too early we will have to re let the house to professionals so that house will be lost to the student market from that point on. That may suit the companies that are building purpose built student halls but for most UK students living in a shared house with 3 or 4 of their friends is a huge part of the whole university experience.

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    I dont deal in student lettings but Edinburgh is suffering from this very problem after introduction of new letting restrictions in Scotland

     
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    I agree with the issue re student houses. It's unworkable.
    I normally let mine in Nov/Dec for the following Sept. Students aren't around in the summer so no idea how the letting season will work.
    I can also see a situation whereby some might choose to leave in May and just commute for exams just to save some money.
    What happens if a group stay on until say Sept and then the property stays empty until the following academic year? It's totally screwed up.

     
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    I haven't had any problems with the new legislation in student flats let to several tenants with most still moving out in late May and the new tenants taking the flat on from 1 June in order to secure it. Good quality flats in great locations remain in high demand and command 30% higher rents than before the December 2017 SNP legislation.

    Any tenant wanting to leave early needs the unanimous agreement of all joint tenants and basically has to keep paying until a suitable replacement tenant is found to take over their responsibility as a joint tenant.

     
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    How is this '' blanket ban'' on benefit claimants going to work ? over the last 12 months I've had 4 properties come vacant, on marketing them I have had in excess of 10 viewings on each and around 6 suitable working tenants apply to rent each one, I'm always going to pick the best tenant who I think will be able to pay the rent, that automatically rules out any benefit claimants as they will always fail the affordability checks , so benefit claimants can view, and they can apply, but they are never going to be successful

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    Hi Andrew
    Just rented 2 properties I had just refurbed in a town local to us - in excess of 40 applications each - for both houses chose people in full time employment with great credit and a lifestyle that did not include pets and children. In real terms these dictates will be utterly impossible to enforce particularly as more LLs sell up and less rentals come to market

     
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    Dear Tom Cosens, yes your a letting agent and maybe seeing your business losing to the reduced stock, Will you be paying for all the extra costs involved back to the Landlord you know uping the EPC level, and ground effect heating are two of the major ones that come to hand and of course the section 21! but there is a lot more as well but I guess you will be charging for your dealing of the extra paperwork. Please state your business name and location so we can ignore it Thanks

  • Matthew Payne

    Lets listen to the mood music in a years time, when we are talking sadly about a massive increase in homelessness.

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    I look forward to 2024 when Boris and Gove will be unemployed, out on their ear

     
  • Rik Fergusson

    The government has pulled the pin on a PRS grenade. The damage to all involved will be extensive.
    House prices will drop as a glut come back onto the market.
    Rental property availability will decrease.
    Letting agents will lose clients.
    Landlords are gonna lose income from selling up or suffer with the new rules.
    Low income tenants who will be priced out.
    All Tenants who'll pay more rent
    Students who'll lose easy affordable flat shares.
    Benefit claiming tenants will get turned down as there will be 50 employed applicants for each property available to choose from.
    Its gonna be a mess!.....get to the choppeeeeeeer! I'm out.

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    There's certainly going to be winners and losers.
    The government will rake in staggering amounts of CGT if all the landlords who say they are going to sell actually do so. They'll also get a hefty amount of SDLT and VAT from all those extra transactions.

    Local authorities will be paying out eyewatering amounts for temporary housing for all the newly homeless people. Does that come out of the Council Tax revenue or from the government out of general taxation? Either way we're all paying for it.

    Tenants who have historically had minimal or no rent increases will in future have regular rent increases if their landlord isn't one of the ones who has sold up.

    Those of us who plan to adapt and stay with it will probably do OK financially. We'll just have to be a bit less human and helpful.

     
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    What amazes me is that there were supposed to have been consultations, and yet the White Paper doesn't contain any evidence at all of landlords' interests having been taken into account in any way. It is a pity that the only right that landlords have is to sell up - as the only logical and prudent way forward.

    The only inference I can draw is that the aim is to end the private rental sector- and as Jo has said that will bring in a huge amount of capital gains tax, but they won't get inheritance tax on the same scale in the future.

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    No mention anywhere of landlords being assaulted by their tenants. Three landlords have been murdered by their tenants relatively recently. I have been bitten twice by tenants dogs that they didn't have permission for.

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    Landlords are not treated like people. If someone else were bitten by dogs then there would be condemnation of the owner.

    Also the Government is putting very heavy burdens on individual men and women in their White Paper - some of whom are quite elderly, too. Just because you own a second property doesn't make you a different species from everyone else. They forget, too, about the unpaid work that Landlords do in their property; this can be extensive and is not possible to claim off tax.

    Of course, high rents are burdensome for tenants, but if supply were to outstrip demand then rents would fall dramatically - as happened during the pandemic. Personally, I haven't increased my rents at all when advertising lately so that my rents are almost a thousand pounds a month less than market rents. Being greedy, just means that tenants won't be able to afford the rent - and probably end up paying nothing at all.

    From what I can see of the Welsh system it seems fairer than the Scottish one or the proposed English one in the White Paper. The damage to the Scottish private rental sector probably hasn't kicked in yet because of the changes not applying to existing tenants.

    I know Labour voters who aspire to own a second home, so perhaps the Government is not reading the attitudes of the public correctly either. England is a free country, and I don't think the people want curtailment of freedoms.

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    An example of unpaid work, next week I have a kitchen ceiling to remove and replace, oh what fun, I won't get paid for that and the only tax relief I'll get is 20% on the cost of the plaster board .

     
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    The Government and the country are very lucky indeed to have you as a landlord Andrew. All that unpaid work is neither understood nor appreciated properly.

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    And I am very annoyed on behalf of people like Andrew who are working so hard, while activists and civil servants are just sitting down and theorising how the private rental sector should be run. They are not lifting a finger to do anything useful- and actually doing harm by causing rents to rise.

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    Ellie
    Parliament is full of accountants and lawyers. This and other changes will mean a bonanza for lawyers and making tax digital for accountants

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    That is very true, Edwin, and the problem is that their costs are frequently wasted money. I just wonder what the way forward is for us - do we all just gradually sell up as the changes come into force or is there a way of influencing Government policy to make their changes ones that we can live with in the long term? The Government hasn't listened to the people who own the properties and we have had no representation at all - that is evident by the content of the White Paper. It seems that they think that they can impose anything on Landlords by compulsion and that is an abuse of power, of course, as well as a reflection of their inability to bring about acceptable reforms. They don't have an electoral mandate to end the private rental sector or to prevent people from owning second homes. Switching people from renting to ownership is a good aim, but there will always be people who need short term accommodation and there will be nobody to provide it.

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    I'm sure there are plenty of MP's who are renting out second homes. Why are they not speaking for landlords?

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    On all sides of the house of commons as well.

     
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    Boris Johnson is renting out several properties, l believe, but he thinks laws are for others. He also promised to reduce immigration and stop illegal immigration, he has in fact severely exarcabated the situation. Putting massive strain on the infrastructure, of which private landlords are part of.

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    I have rented residential properties out for around 20 years and have a successful letting agency. It gets worse every year, legislation, taxation, legislation, more legislation, and all the while residential stock reduces and rents increase. Running at 50% availability levels from last year, we are not in an Airbnb area. All Boris ever does is chases the vote and he meanders left without any Conservative principles. These white papers and "consultations" are box ticking exercises, the government never ever listens to the industry, they only care about Shelter and generation rent. I have around 20 residential that are now being sold at the peak and the money reinvested into commercial properties, the yields are much higher around 8-10%. Go for offices or warehousing and you can't go wrong. The commercial market is greatly in the landlord's favour, non of this jump-through hoops legislation. Within a SIPP the income is completely tax-free and you can borrow up to 50% of the fund value. In fact, high-rate taxpayers actually get 40% tax saving. A much better investment than residential moving forward and the fund can be accessed at 55. Time to jump ship whilst the market peaks. I would imagine this future policy will reduce stock further massively, the few landlords left will achieve ever-increasing rents until Boris gets voted out and Labour bring in rent controls, because rents are so unaffordable. You reap what you sow Shelter, keep getting paid the £125,000 per year salary, (2015 data) to keep up the good work.

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    I think Polly will likely have had a pay rise or two since 2015, probably £150k+ now

     
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