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Welcome to this Friday Newsround where we bring you significant news items from the past week.  First:

100,000 renters in England ‘risk eviction’ when universal credit is cut

Housing charity Crisis has warned that at least 100,000 renting households will be at risk of eviction when the government will cut universal credits by £20 per week. The proportion of private renters relying on some form of benefits has risen to a high at around 1 in 3 since the start of the pandemic.

Universal credit rose at the start of the pandemic as a way for many families to afford living costs. However, since the pandemic has eased, it was always planned to reduce this addition and return it to pre-pandemic levels.

However, the chief executive of crisis, Jon Sparkles argued that:

For many struggling renters this cut could be the final blow that forces them from their homes….The Government must change course and keep the £20 uplift so that people don’t needlessly lose their homes this winter and we have a fighting chance at recovery. The UK government assured people they would not lose their home because of the crisis; we must not fail them now.

Generation Rent also argued that this cut would also lead to greater evictions in the lead-up to the winter.

It was also argued that this will probably cost the government more long term as it will push many people into social housing due to affordability.  It is very costly to assist homeless people and increased homelessness claims will place a heavy burden on Councils.

Landlords must use a new form of Section 8 and 21 forms from 1 October 2021

Landlords should be aware that a new version of section 8 and  21 forms for use in England have been released by the Government today – 1 October 2021. The old notices are now invalid and should not be used – as if you do you risk your possession claim being thrown out by the Court.

The new notices are available on the .gov.uk website.  So if you are a landlord – make sure you serve the correct one.

Implications for tenants

The new forms are much simpler as the detailed guidance notes have been removed – which will make it harder for tenants to tell whether their landlord has completed the form properly or not.  For example, the old forms gave details of the notice periods required.

The form directs tenants to Shelter and the government website for guidance, but this will not help tenants without internet access.

There is also the phone number for Shelter, but many tenants have told me that they find it hard to get through.  Hopefully, this is no longer the case.

Generally though, although the new forms are shorter and look simpler, I can’t help feeling that so far as tenants are concerned, this is a retrograde step.

Shelter and Generation rent demanding more money for tenants who may suffer this winter

Both Shelter and Generation rent have demanded that the government offer more financial assistance to tenants, claiming that the pandemic and the current energy crisis has hit renters particularly badly.

Shelter has claimed that around 26% of all private renters (equating to around 5.3 million people) already say they cannot keep their homes warm this winter. This warning has been highlighted as the furlough scheme has closed on the 30 September 2021 and Universal credits is set to be decreased by £20 per week.

In addition to this, there are also questions within the industry on how the Government can help tenants pay covid arrears.

Letting and property management trade body safeguard are arguing for the Government to increase its Discretionary Housing Payment system to support tenants. The body says that increasing DHP would be a more cost-effective way of dealing with the current crisis and would help a wide range of renters who are in arrears now and in the coming months with the discontinuation of the furlough scheme and the reduction of universal credits.

However, Propertymark, Shelter and NRLA have all campaigned for the government to introduce grants and no-interest loans for an emergency covid relief fund for those tenants who are in rent arrears so that they have a ‘fresh start’ now the pandemic has eased.

Landlord Action reveals a significant increase in eviction instructions

Landlord Action has revealed that it saw a 43% rise in the number of eviction instructions between 1 June, where the eviction ban ended and 1 September 2021, versus the same period in 2019. This was coupled with a 17% rise in enquiries by landlords and letting agents to their advice line.

According to Landlord Action, around 90% of the calls to the advice line was regarding one or more of these three issues: clarification on the latest legislation, looking to evict tenants for non-payment of rent or expressing a desire to sell up and exit the buy-to-let mark.

The Notice Periods landlords must serve to tenants will return to pre-pandemic levels on 1st October 2021, which is two months for section 21 and two weeks for section 8.

Snippets

Newsround will be back next week.



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