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By Paul Shamplina

Founder, Landlord Action

OTHER FEATURES

Shamplina Speaks - So what do YOU want to tell the government?

In June, the government finally released its long-awaited White Paper ‘A Fairer Private Rented Sector’. You will almost certainly have seen the main points of this, some of which include the introduction of an Ombudsman for the private rented sector, a Property Portal, the requirement to meet the Decent Homes Standard and, most crucially, the abolition of Section 21. 

Having digested all 86 pages of the White Paper, I think it is important to note that very little of what was included was unexpected and some is common sense relating to raising standards.  However, some elements will not sit comfortably with landlords. I too have reservations, particularly over the removal of fixed-term tenancies, but I think we must remember this the White Paper, and the final Bill is yet to be passed. 

Sadly, I know from speaking to landlords up and down the country over the last month that for some, this string of new planned policies is the final straw. 

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One landlord, who started investing some 30 years ago when the government was urging investors to put their money in property, told me he feels let down by policies which seem geared towards eradicating private landlords. Having built and managed a modest portfolio of properties, he has concerns that he will lose control of his own investments. I think it is a sentiment that that will be echoed by many landlords who have invested their hard-earned money in property, making repairs and refurbishments, to essentially feel like they will be handing the keys over to someone, who can return them as and when they like. 

Another landlord who lets to university students told me he intends to sell up because the new plans, which transition all fixed-term tenancies to periodic tenancies, mean it will become impossible for him to guarantee that his tenants will leave at the end of the academic year.   That means he would be unable to market his property in time for the following year’s student intake.  Whilst some may think this is not a problem since there would be no void period, if those students then decide to leave halfway through the following term, the landlord could be left struggling to fill the property, as students secure their accommodation prior to the start of the academic year.

However, other landlords are taking a pragmatic approach and looking at how they can do things differently. A few weeks ago, I was booked by East Riding Council in Hull to speak to a large group of landlords. One landlord of 25 years, who has a portfolio of 30 properties, told me that he wishes to continue being a landlord but recognises that, with the raft of new and existing legislation and obligations, he needs the support of a letting agent to ensure he is compliant and to keep on top of the daily tasks. I believe this is the most reliable and sensible approach for landlords who are time-poor.

With the Conservatives grappling to find a new leader, I think it is unlikely that the final Bill will pass before the end of next year, meaning there is still time to influence change.  Whilst I’m not suggesting that there is likely to be a U-turn on any of the elements which have been included, I do believe landlords’ collective voices have an opportunity to show the government what will and won’t work.  We must be clear about what grounds and incentives are needed to encourage landlords to remain in the market, ensuring there is a consistently sufficient supply of rental properties in the future.

At Landlord Action we work closely with the Government, providing advice on the private rented sector to help inform future legislation. Following the release of the White Paper on rental reform, we know the government is interested in hearing feedback from landlords on their reasons for serving a Section 21 notice.  This information will be essential in reforming grounds for possession under Section 8, of which we believe there will be nine, making sure that landlords have effective means to get their property back when necessary, once Section 21 is abolished. 

A couple of weeks ago, together with several other industry leaders and letting agents, I was invited to join a Zoom call with a group of civil servants who are part of the team tasked with implementing the Renters Reform Bill to ensure it is practical and workable. They were keen to hear from Landlord Action’s point of view as to why landlords typically use Section 21.  I think all those who attended made it very clear that there are some unintended consequences on the horizon and landlords are already leaving the market. 

We also discussed the concerns and complexities about plans to scrap fixed-term tenancies in place of periodic tenancies, particularly within the student accommodation market, where Purpose Built Student Accommodation will be exempt. I feel confident that they are listening and at this time it is crucial we engage.  

Furthermore, we know that landlords are sometimes denied access to their property by their tenant, for example, to carry out gas safety inspections. Whilst all tenants have the right to quiet enjoyment of a property, landlords also have an obligation to maintain and repair properties. In addition to access for repairs, the landlord also has a right to view the condition of a property after giving the tenant a minimum of 24 hours’ notice in writing. 

This is often impossible when tenants will not allow landlords access. We are therefore putting forward the case for introducing a discretionary ground for possession of unreasonably refusing the landlord access for inspections. This would help give landlords the necessary authority when requesting access. 

We have put together a short survey on the government’s plans to abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions. The survey also asks landlords if they have ever had problems gaining access to a rented property to undertake key safety and regulatory checks such as completing gas or electrical safety checks.  We would welcome your feedback as part of our research to feedback to Government. 

Complete the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/landlord_action_survey 

We, the landlord and letting agent community, must try and shape how these changes will work in practice. Let’s remember, these are proposals, they are not set in stone yet.

* Paul Shamplina is founder of Landlord Action, Chief Commercial Officer at Hamilton Fraser, and is on Channel 5's "Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords” * 

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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    “No”.

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    The government response to the question re students and fixed terms has been pretty clear to date. They state....'we think students should have the same protection as other tenants' and that's despite carving out purpose built accommodation.
    They know exactly what they're doing.

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    The existence of fixed term tenancies is vital for many landlords and they will leave the private rental sector rather than hand over their properties indefinitely to tenants.

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    The threat of this legislation over the last few years has already created a housing crisis. Is there nobody in Government with the courage to scrap it?

    Most tenants are aware that the threat to end Section 21 has pushed up rents dramatically, and so they wouldn't object to the White Paper being binned. That would not be a vote loser.

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    The lunatics running the asylum have never worked out that more legislation equals more cost and lower supply. Doesn’t look like they want to learn that anytime soon either.

    Zoe S

    I actually think that’s their objective longterm Paul.. surely they can’t be that daft?

     
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    Section 21 can be incredibly beneficial for tenants so it seems bizarre that activist groups want to abolish it.
    For people with financial difficulties a Section 21 notice can be waved at other creditors who will then back off and allow the person some breathing space to get their rent under control. No creditor wants to be chasing homeless people.
    If a person is evicted under Section 21 the Local Authority has a duty to get a roof over their head (even if it's only a hotel).
    What is going to happen to the genuinely blameless tenants without Section 21? Are they going to be treated the same as people who have been evicted for rent arrears or ASB?

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    Jo you have explained why I use section 8 in preference to section 21, essentially to stop other landlords being exploited by the scum that I evict. I never evict tenants without a very good reason, my job is to provide accommodation not to have empty properties.

     
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    TheMaluka
    That's the advantage of having 2 different types of eviction. Section 8 clearly indicates the tenant is at fault and doesn't deserve any help or sympathy.
    Section 21 was supposed to be more because the landlord decided they wanted the house back even if the tenant had conducted the tenancy impeccably. Unfortunately it was abused by Letting Agents for many years as an excellent way to get extra fees. That's ancient history now but the White Paper seems to be based on the idea that it still happens.

    The problem is that Section 8 hasn't been mandatory and too many cases have failed because of the flaws in the process.
    Section 21 is more certain but is often used for cases more deserving of Section 8 purely because it is mandatory. There's no question of having to hope the judge makes the right decision.

    If there was certainty of outcome subject to a required level of evidence being presented everyone would use Section 8 where tenants are in breach of their tenancy agreement.

    That just leaves the issue of how people who have behaved impeccably should be treated should the landlord need to regain possession. Having a system where they are treated the same as someone with serious arrears who indulges in ASB is clearly wrong.

     
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    Jo I agree, I have only ever evicted non paying tenants but have used section 21 simply because it's quicker and easier, once section 21 is gone if I get a non paying tenant it will have to be section 8 which means for the tenant everyone will know why they were evicted

     
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    I have little faith in this (or any) government, they will reap what they sow. My decision has been made, and only a total reversal of the white paper, S24 and the EPC C will cause me not to sell…. So selling it is !!

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    I put a house on the market last week for the same reasons. I have a lousy tenant and I’m not going along with the White Paper at all.

     
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    Absolutely agree, sold my first house earlier this year, second one will be on the market by the end of the year. In both instances tenants gave me notice.
    I have a one house where tenants are in 3 months arrears due to Covid, and then without reason have not paid rent in June nor July.
    Section 21 will be on it's way and this house will then be put up for sale.
    A big change to the white paper and abolish Section 24 will make me turn my head, but nothing less will.

     
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    The business is now getting so stupid it hardly deserve a comment. Paul says it all when he referred to a LL of 25 years with 30 properties who can no longer cope with the huge burden of administration placed on him and likely now will have to use an Agent, so what chance do many other LL’s got if it’s taken a LL’ 25 years to reach this level of incompetent and not able to cope with the proposed System. That includes me as well & me a LL since 1978, Something seriously wrong with those digital academics that have taken over control of LL’s and the letting business with computers, iPhones, laptops certainly nothing to do with housing, no need to ask any of them at meetings what their line of work is, it will be the above not a tradesman amongst them that could do anything with property, it won’t involve a cement mixer anyway.
    Paul my friend did you forget to mention the Redress Scheme that caused me to walk out of your Harrow meeting / yes Paul it was me, keep your questions to the end when the subject is forgotten, you can deliver a free flowing speech but don’t expect an easy ride when you are taking our livelihood away that we spent decades creating by sacrifices, hard work and dedication….

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    Why can't we have an Association that actually has a voice. To represent us?.
    Currently the Government just walks all over landlords.

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    If there is one please let us know, Eastern Landlords are worse than useless now

     
    Zoe S

    I’ve been thinking exactly the same thing for years Paul. The Government mislead the public by giving the impression that all landlords are “crooks” with far too much money, and it’s their job to strip it all away from us.

     
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    I have said it before, and I will say it again. Why don't we form an organisation together that will fight these no brainers. I for one am willing. Beryl Williams

     
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    Its not just access about the electric & annual gas certification is it, its the whole property in general and every aspect of it. We to know what’s happening when the ceiling in the bathroom is falling down. when the shower or bath is leaking, like other day when I seen a notice on toilet door do not use but nobody notified me, we would like to know when they are sub-letting & overcrowding or growing whacked baca. We used to be able to visit in reasonable day light hours but that’s all gone as long as it damages LL its fine. So they want to hear from LL’s well not a hope too scared, how much more do we have to suffer in silence while being trampled on. Keep landlords out at all costs then we are free we do what we like, just add WHITE PAPER to give them your property completely. So the Regulation’s are being made by people that don’t know.
    Right I let a house to 4 persons, 4 double bedrooms fine but not long before they doubled up, so 2 couples had 2 rooms and sub-let the other to 2 more couples, making over £1’000, pm out of me and didn’t it go on. Keep Landlords out it will be fine if he say anything the Council will prosecute LL him.
    Who is LL going to tell, anything in your favour will be taken down and used against you.
    So why have they drafted a WHITE PAPER without having a clue about what’s going, so now they would like to hear from us after they have already drafted it.

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    Michael - that's a perfect example of why individual tenancy agreements can be so much better than joint tenancy agreements. With a joint tenancy agreement you have to give 24 hours notice to enter the house unless the tenants decide to invite you in. With individual agreements you can enter communal areas whenever you want. It's only the bedrooms that need 24 hours notice. It certainly makes general maintenance easier and gives you a far better idea of how the houses are being used and treated.

     
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    Just a thought Jo....
    Maybe it's possible to do a joint agreement still but carve out certain areas of the house...
    Somehow make it so that a tenant isn't renting the entire house.
    I'm just thinking out allowed....but maybe landlords need to be creative.
    I've even been toying with various ideas for my students houses where I go on the agreement as one of the tenants so I can block them leaving early. Again, just thinking out allowed but landlords have to be clever about this nonsense.

     
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    Individual tenancy agreements also mean that the landlord would have to pay the utility bills and would have to furnish the communal areas.

    Not all landlords want to pay the utility bills and some let entirely unfurnished.

    Serviced flats where a regular cleaner is provided and the beds changed regularly, too, would also allow the landlord to inspect when they liked.

     
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    Jo. I’ll give you that you one.

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    The strange thing is, my mortgage guy tells me there are plenty of people buying properties to let, even though property prices locally have gone through the roof. I can only assume they haven't heard about the white paper!!

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    I actually completed on another flat on Monday and I'm fully aware of the White Paper.

    I don't like the idea of pets but fortunately most of my tenants feel the same way. I mainly let to students or young professionals who don't have time for a pet or own flats with no pet clauses in the lease. I have a couple of properties that have pets so I can be a bit flexible on the subject.

    The idea of not having fixed terms for student housing and winter lets is crazy but if my students decide to move out early there are plenty of professionals who would love to live in those houses. It would be a sad loss for the student population but for me personally it wouldn't be a disaster.

    I'm a long term landlord so it's incredibly unlikely I would want to evict anyone so I could move into any of my properties. My son plans to take over from me at some point so there shouldn't even be the retirement sale. I do feel strongly that there should be very different treatment for fault and non fault evictions. As far as I am concerned if my tenants adhere fairly closely to the terms of their tenancy agreement they have a home for as long as they want it. In the unlikely event of me needing to evict a good tenant I wouldn't have a problem with compensating them with 2 months rent. Other than the student houses all of my tenancies have always rolled onto Statutory Periodic tenancies.

    I already have licensed HMOs so the idea of being licensed or registered in another scheme is just another admin thing.

    So basically I think the White paper is far more harmful to tenants than landlords. It will ensure lots of landlords sell up because it is yet another ill conceived assault on an already battered industry. It's a different way of doing things and just seems to pander to the loudest minorities with no real thought to the consequences. What's the point of having endless rights and protections if you can't actually find a property to rent?
    Those of us who stick with it will have our pick of some very high calibre tenants.

     
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    Nothing is stopping you compensating your tenants if you need to ask them to leave for some reason that is no fault of their own. That is your choice. Anything that you choose to give through kindness is admirable, but anything that is given through compulsion is quite different.

    As you can see from this forum, most other landlords do not think that giving two month's compensation to tenants is fair.

     
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    The research by Total Landlord Insurance showed that just 4% of landlords plan to increase the size of their portfolio.

    The research by Landlord Today showed that 22% of landlords in London plan to reduce their portfolio or leave the sector altogether. Outside London the percentage was 18%.

    So more landlords planning to sell up than buy.

     
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    I’ve read that. I can’t understand it myself.

     
    Zoe S

    My mortgage broker has told me the same thing.
    I also have friends that don’t seem bothered by all of this and are continuing with purchasing more properties for BTL purposes and do not have any intentions of selling any of them. I can only assume it’s because they are very well off and are not bothered by all of this.

     
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    I've been asking the same question to brokers and estate agents. They told me that landlords were still buying. I replied that they must be a Limited Company as currently it's the only way that makes sense unless you're a cash buyer or it's you first btl. One estate agent then told me that it is an individual that's buying and then after further questions from me he said yes he does it through a company name!! Priceless.
    Brokers have said it is Limited companies in the main.

     
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    Removal of Section 21 the very foundation of Residential Letting Business which the whole industry is based on. None of you would now be a Landlord today if Section 21 hadn’t existed, tell me I am wrong or how many of you were Landlords before S.21 or were you even born no more than the digital White Paper writers that only ever know a key board or were too busy making a house out of the dog.
    FAIRER RENTING the word actually means treated equally without favouritism or discrimination, that’s THE WHITE PAPER completely one sided proposals out the window
    and they needed 80 pages to
    tell us that.

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    I understand. No one could rent before because tenants had all the rights. So Thatcher bought out S21 that gave control to the owners of the property and gave the confidence of banks to lend.

    There morons in charge are just popularists. Chasing votes. 4m renters vs only 2m landlords. And it’s all a big levelling up policy. Politicians screw up, but they just get moved around someone where else. Gove is an idiot too. Thinks he can dictate everything.

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    Landlords did let property prior to Section 21 coming into existence. However, most let to companies, foreign visitors or provided services in order to avoid protected tenancies and rent controls. Tenants could apply to have the rent put down at that time if the tenancy was covered by the Rent Acts - and tenants not only had security of tenure for their lifetimes, but could pass the property on to members of their family after their death- there were statutory tenancies by succession.

    The private rental sector was very small at that time.

     
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    Ellie, yes and was very limited at that, landlords had to provide some services I remember landlords coming around with a box of cornflakes and a pint of milk, there you go I have provided you with a Breakfast. There was no private lettings and no one would buy a house for someone else to take over and sit there at a minute rent while owners pay the huge Mortgage’s relatively speaking. I only remember a handful of letting Agents in London, that comes to mind Anderson’s the main one.
    Now we will be forced to use Agents who are taking over control, a bit late to the party like digital landlords.

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    I can remember an old friend of mine doing that in the early 70s, breakfast provided.

     
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    I remember the milk and eggs too as a means of circumventing the Rent Acts, Michael.

    With all the information that is on the internet now, I don't think that some of the methods used then would work now- there would be legal difficulties with some of them and which would be in the public domain.

    I believe that the Welsh reforms have virtually abolished the license - so nearly all occupants are tenants. They have kept no fault evictions though - Section 173.

    I don't remember Andersons, but Chestertons was operating then and Busy Bees springs to mind, too. Busy Bees charged the tenants, not the landlord - not legal now.

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    We had Bush Management in Norwich, I once bought a property that they managed, paid the rent over to landlords a month after each quarter day and if a tenant didn't pay we got a letter advising us to instruct a solicitor , I soon sacked them and evicted the tenants

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    Didn't sound like a very good arrangement.

     
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    I had Tenants Diplomats from foreign parts that wouldn’t pay or go and told me there was nothing I could do about it which was wonderful considering I had built the house. Eventually relations went sower between them and UK and they got expelled, one problem solved.

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    That was lucky!

    You must have been going mad with their attitude when you had put all that work into building the house and then gone to all the trouble of getting it ready to let, too.

     
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    Sorry to say this but anybody who thinks they will have the pick of the best tenants is delusional ,this is just stage one I bet the legislation has already been drafted that in stage two councils will be given powers to allocate what will be described as vulnerable tenants to landlords over which landlords will have no say (in the interests of FAIRNESS of course) we will be forced to take the tenants that they wouldn't touch with a barge pole and these rents will have to be affordable of course so legislation will enable councils to fix rent levels at what the consider "FAIR" regardless of our costs as they are vulnerable the rents will have to include utilities of course these utilities will be fixed by the council at rates they decide are affordable regardless of how much they cost us, if you think this wont happen to you check your history their is ample evidence of how minorities are stripped of any human rights when it suits those powerful and unaccountable

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    No that won't happen, we would burn our houses down first, there would be civil war on the streets

     
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    I know how you feel Andrew, but we are becoming a persecuted minority. The notion that all power must be taken away from us and our assets controlled by the state is very ominous.

     
    Zoe S

    I wasn’t aware of that Anthony - thank you for the potentially advance warning.

     
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    Ellie Edwards, you'd better look up klaus Schwab, and world economic forum. You might also note that the illegal immigration support ie RNLI is a banker !

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    Are we going to be eliminated as part of some economic reset? Sounds very worrying, Edwin.

     
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    Yes, watch mark steyn on GB news. It's being admitted that Thatcher used North sea oil to destroy British Industry. Further companies and people are being sanctioned for being involved with Russia, without us being at war with them and without laws being passed ! Government by decree !

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    Paul, asked a question which is the heading of this Article,
    SO WHAT DO YOU WANT TO TELL GOVERNMENT.
    Do they really mean they don’t know after the thousands of blogs aired on here.
    They must be taking the Mick having already produced a disgraceful 80 page WHITE PAPER It’s obviously all crap and should be binned before it turns GREEN and collapses the whole economy.

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    Edwin, who knows what’s going on I believe Her Majesty has referred to dark forces before, Mr Harold Wilson UK Premier at the time was been watched by Security Forces for visiting Russia, talk about not trusting your Mother, we just keep clear of all that heavy stuff. We are targeted and sanctioned for being legitimate landlords.

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    Micheal the royal family are ethnic Germans as are Cameron and Johnson. The Duke of Windsor was a traitor and sent into exile. The queen embraced megham markle as though she was a long lost relative in her desire to support ethnic minorities. The queen told us all to get jabbed and they never stop interfering in politics. They can object to legislation, it's probably them that's kept tied accomodation out of the bill. This bill is about sequestration of our,private, properties.

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    On an entirely different matter. Can you help please? I cannot find an insurance policy that covers pet damage for renters that can be taken out solely in the name of the Tenant. If a landlord takes one out, then they have to face the possibility of their premiums going up every time they claim. In my mind. Tenant's pet Tenants responsibility.. Please, please help Beryl

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    The only answer here is to charge the pet rent, thereby being our own insurance company , tenants with pets pay more, I certainly wouldn't trust an insurance company to pay out on pet damage

     
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    Beryl - it's definitely a gap in the market. Why should a landlord mess up their no claims discount on potentially multiple properties because one dog has been allowed to destroy a property? Insurance companies need to take note and produce a policy for this specific purpose. Whether tenants could afford the premium may influence how much they really want a pet in the first place.

     
  • Matthew Payne

    "I feel confident that they are listening and at this time it is crucial we engage". My only concern here, is all the lobbying of the last 6/7 years on MEES, SDLT, the TFA 2019, Section 24 etc has been completely ignored when we told them about the unintended consequences that would follow.

    Only today, we see feedback that another 323,000 landlords have sold up, and many of us have been warning of a rapidly shrinking PRS for years now. If you are right Paul, this listening needs to translate quickly into action, and so far we have seen none. I suspect we will get more of the same though, and the temptation for the Tories to find some popular vote winners, especially with the latest mess they have got themselves into, will be too strong to resist. A chance to win the votes of young urban labour voters will be like catnip.

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    I have no confidence that the Government will listen to us. And when it comes into force it will be very easy for the Government to bring in Lots more Anti- Landlord Legislation .
    I also believe the cost of evicting a tenant will cost at least a years rent and probably take longer than a year to go through the Courts at great cost to the Landlords.

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