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Our roundup of news items over the past week.

Looking at Budget benefit & other changes

This week the Government announced that the Universal Credit taper rate will be cut from 63% to 55%.

Most universal credit claimants lose some of their benefits if they earn more money, with the rate at which they lose the benefits known as the taper rate. This cut will mean that those who are in receipt of universal credit who work will be allowed to receive a higher amount of their benefit.

Ben Beadle, CEO of the NRLA said:

“Today’s announcement is welcome news for those private tenants who have struggled to afford their rents throughout the pandemic, despite private rents falling in real terms. However it does not undo the damage that previous decisions to freeze housing benefit rates in cash terms will cause. It is simply bizarre to have a system in which support for housing costs will no longer track market rents. The Chancellor needs to undo this unjust policy as matter of urgency.”

In addition to this, there are also three other key announcements which landlords should be made aware of:

  • From 27th October 2021 the deadline for residents to report and pay Capital Gains Tax after selling UK residential property will increase from 30 days after the completion date to 60 days.
  • As announced on 23rd September 2021, the Government will give sole traders and landlords, with income over £10,000, an extra year to prepare for Making Tax Digital (MTD). MTD for Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA) will now be introduced from 6th April 2024.
  • The Government has pledged to bring forward exemptions to the Shared Accommodation Rate (which limits housing benefit support for single people under 35 to a room in a shared house) for victims of domestic abuse and victims of modern slavery, from October 2023 to October 2022. These vulnerable claimants will be able to claim the higher 1-bedroom self-contained Local Housing Allowance rate

Conflict of views on landlord registration

Generation Rent has repeated its call for a landlord register, arguing that it would improve accommodation standards and practices. Generation rent claims government figures show that 32 councils with selective licensing schemes identified an average of 158 ‘unsafe’ homes each, compared with 63 on average across 200 councils without such schemes during 2019-20.

In addition, the centre for public data, an independent think tank has also come out this week and supported the call for a landlord registration as a bid to improve housing standards with the PRS.

However, Propertymark has spoken out against landlord registration, arguing that regulation of letting agents would be a better focus of Government policy. Propertymark’s policy and campaigns officer, Timothy Douglas saying:

The licensing regime becomes an administrative exercise, penalising those landlords who comply with the regulations whilst still allowing the landlords that the scheme was designed to target to continue operating under the radar.

New £65 million support package announced

This week the Government has announced a new £65 million support package for vulnerable renters and low-income households. The funding will be given to councils in England to support those at risk of losing their homes due to rent arrears.

The £65 million will be available through the winter months and households at risk of eviction or homelessness should contact their local council if they require support.

Information can be found on the Government website here

Local Authority Funding for energy efficiency standards clampdown

The Government has announced this week that it will be giving local councils money to clamp down on landlords whose properties do not meet minimum energy efficiency standards.

Since April 2020, properties that are privately rented must have a minimum energy performance certificate rating of band ‘E’. However, there are still properties below that, being rented out. Landlords whose properties do not reach band ‘E’ can be fined up to £5,000.

Renters reform white paper delayed until 2022

The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities have now revealed that the long-awaited Rental Reform White Paper will now not be published until next year.

White papers are policy documents produced by the Government that set out their proposals for future legislation, usually combined with a draft of the bill.

The reason for the delay is stated as being to allow further consideration of the issues in order to avoid unintended consequences and produce a more ‘balanced package of reforms’.

The delay has been criticised by Shelter and Generation Rent but welcomed by others.  Isobel Thomson, chief executive of the accreditation service safeagent saying

It makes sense to wait for the findings of the National Audit Office’s review of existing regulation and exploration of key sector organisations’ aspirations for private rental sector reform for the benefit of tenants and landlords.

Snippets

Newsround will be back next week.



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