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Here, with some of the top news stories from the past week:

Housing Minister reveals rent reform proposals

Housing minister Eddie Hughes at a meeting within the Conservatives party conference has indicated that both lifetime rental deposit and a landlord register are both likely to be included by the Government in new legislation.

Hughes revealed that this is likely to be delayed until after the new year as he does not want this piece of legislation to  ‘have unintended consequences’ for either landlords or tenants.

As regards a landlord register, Hughes said correctly administered registration schemes should not drive landlords from the private rented sector, giving the current schemes in Wales and Scotland as examples. He explained that registration will be a way for councils to understand who operates within their location and which properties are being rented out.

The lifetime rental deposits scheme being contemplated, Hughes said, would allow tenants to ‘passport’ their deposits from tenancy to tenancy but would not expose landlords to financial risk and cost.  It will be interesting to see the details of this.

Chancellor urged by Propertymark to consider ways to fix the PRS or face a landlord exodus

National letting agent trade body Propertymark has urged the chancellor to consider ways to help landlords and letting agents before the Autumn budget is revealed.

Propertymark argued that rent arrears and the current court system failings, largely caused by the pandemic are just additional issues on top of a failing system that will and is currently causing landlords to leave the sector.

Research completed recently by The Mortgage Works found that around 20% of landlords are considering selling their property within the next 12 months.

Propertymark concluded that the main issues within the PRS are: tax implications, tenant debt, backlog in the courts, as well as the moving goalposts of regulations. The body also warns that by the end of 2021, if the upwards trend of tenants accruing rent arrears isn’t halted,  they predict that around 800,000 renters will be in arrears.

Tips for landlords and tenants with the lift on price cap for energy suppliers

With the Government lifting the price cap on energy suppliers at the start of the month, Goodlord has produced a series of tips for both landlords and tenants to help understand the new system and how they can reduce their own energy bill.

The tips include suggestions of grants that can offer financial support for tenants who are struggling as well as improving the energy performance in properties for landlords.

Some Local authorities offer Green Home Grants or loans which are given to improve a properties energy efficiency, which is available for landlords to apply to. This in turn may raise the EPC rating of a house and cut down the pricing of energy bills. This is important for landlords as it is hoped by the Government that all private rented properties by the year 2025 will all have a minimum EPC rating of ‘C’.

The cut to Universal Credit will exacerbate the ‘rent arrear crisis’ says NRLA

This week marks the end of the temporary rise in universal credit to help the most vulnerable within society manage in the pandemic. Most applicants will lose £20 per week.

The NRLA have argued  that the top-up should remain in place as the cut will significantly worsen the levels of rent arrear debt within the UK, already at record levels.

According to Government figures, almost 1.5 million renters across England & Wales could stand to lose around £1,000 in benefit funding per year. This would have a devastating effect on many renters who will have the unenviable choice of either moving to a smaller property or accruing arrears.

The NRLA is calling for the increase in universal credit to extend beyond the autumn and for reforms to the benefits system as a whole, such as reducing the five-week wait until the first universal credit payment is paid.

Whilst many landlords have shouldered the burden of rent arrears by either allowing a discount of rent or wiping off arrears altogether, this cannot continue. Meera Chindooroy,  deputy policy director of the NRLA said:

During the pandemic we have found that many renters have built high levels of arrears, which they will struggle to pay off in future. With this in mind, today’s cut to Universal Credit is a short-sighted move that will only serve to worsen this ongoing rent debt crisis.

The NRLA have also concluded that the system must be streamlined, with the example of making housing payments sent directly to their landlords as an idea to combat the crisis.

Snippets

Newsround will be back next week.



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