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Our roundup of news items over the past week, our first roundup in 2022!

This week we discuss increasing evictions,  the worrying trend of online scams and ‘sex-to-rent’ landlords as well as Government briefing on why it is scrapping section 21.

Possession claims to double in 2022?

An interesting article by Landlord Actions’s Paul Shampina for Property118 predicts that possession claims will double in the coming year – having dropped considerably during the pandemic.

However, as he goes on to say that 70% of eviction claims are from social landlords this should not be taken as a criticism of the PRS.  Social tenants have reason to be worried as their rents are likely to go up in 2022.  Which will not help them cope with the general issues of increasing energy bills, taxation and inflation.

Although in fact, the worst year ever for possession claims was it seems 2002 when 194,000 claims were issued.  The worst year for accelerated claims was in 2015.

Paul sees a big place for mediation saying

We … saw a big increase in improved communication between landlords and tenants, with landlords trying to avoid the court at all costs, mediation coming into effect and payment plans being negotiated.  Clearly, in the future, mediation will form part of the possession procedure.

Going on to say

The assistance provided by the Government’s support through the furlough scheme and the temporary increase to Universal Credit assisted tenants and had a positive impact, but we did see a massive increase in rent arrears, with over one year’s arrears being the norm in many cases.

It looks as Landlord Action will have plenty of work for some time to come.

Government releases briefing on scrapping Section 21

This week the Government has released a research paper on the proposal to scrap Section 21, drawing points from the 2019 consultation and the 2021 Queen’s speech.

Section 21 has long been a controversial subject: organisations that advocate for tenants usually oppose it meanwhile organisations that champion landlord rights usually support it (you will find a history of section 21 here). The Renters reform bill is (we are told) to do away ‘no-fault evictions’ in the form of section 21 notice, however, the consultation also discusses the expansion of the ‘grounds’ under section 8 for possession. This is presumably what will be the replacement for section 21, or at least part of it.

The NRLA, who were named in the research paper, have argued for a reformed and more efficient court structure and pathway for possession proceedings before section 21 should be replaced. The organisation also warned that landlords may leave the sector if the proposals diminish the landlord’s rights of possession too far.

At the end of October last year, the Government announced that the white paper (which are policy documents produced by the Government that set out their proposals for future legislation) will be delayed until early 2022.

Tenants told not to use social media to find rental properties

Tenants are being warned by Scottish Estate Agents DJ Alexander’s over the perils of trying to find rental properties via unregulated social media.

Recent reports have made for unpleasant reading: Articles have reported ‘sex for rent’ instances increasing during the pandemic as well as property scams. These are the risks involved in renting property advertised online from an unknown and unregulated source and should act as a warning for those who both advertise and those who are looking to rent through these websites.

Even more worrying is the fact that while sex for rent is illegal in England, in Scotland it was revealed this week by the Times  that a legal loophole allows these landlords in Scotland to escape law for these sort of agreements.

In addition to this, property scams are also a lot more common in unregulated websites, such as Facebook Marketplace. Many people get cheated out of their money by false advertisements which simply vanish after the first payment, either for a deposit or for rent.

DJ Alexander urges tenants to use more trusted and accredited sources to find rental properties, such as letting agents or trusted websites such as Zoopla and Rightmove. It is far easier to seek redress also from landlords and letting agents who are part of an accredited scheme.

See also our post last year on scams.

Younger generation “coughing up most of their income to landlords”

Charlotte Gill, the deputy editor for the Conservatives home website has complained that her party, have failed to do anything to reform a housing market that promotes ‘landlordism’ and harms the younger generation chances’ on joining the property ladder.

In addition to this, a former Conservative councillor Sam Clark also attacked his own Government by advocating the policy of outlawing buy to let landlords in a bid to allow younger buyers more opportunity to purchase a property.

While many have attempted recently to attack landlords for merely providing homes, it seems that many have forgotten that it has been a failure of successive Governments to provide enough social and affordable housing. However, despite this, it seems many are blaming landlords, those who are providing homes as the cause of the current housing crisis.

Over a third of Renters in London plan to leave the capital for more space

Research by PropTech Firm Moveable has suggested that a large portion of those renting in London plan to move out of the city when they have enough money in a bid for more space and greater affordability.

In the survey, 38 per cent of those living in London plan to rent for longer in order to buy outside of the city in the future, while 50 per cent of London tenants says they will not even attempt to buy a property in the city at any point.

63% of respondents also identified outdoor space as the most important thing when searching for a new property.

Landlords who rent in the capital should be wary of this and the current market trend for outdoor space and area.

“Don’t call me a landlord! I’m a small housing provider …”

Older readers may remember many years ago Windscale became so notorious that it was renamed Sellafield.  I was reminded of this by the various articles saying that many landlords don’t want to be called landlords anymore due to the vilification of landlords and negative associations with the word.

Gavin Richardson, managing director of Mortgages for Business saying

It’s got to the point where the buy-to-let community doesn’t want to be associated with the term ‘landlord’ anymore. The term carries much more baggage than it once did. No wonder the community wants a rebrand.

Suggested new names being ‘small housing provider’ or ‘rental accommodation provider’.

I suspect however that whatever the ‘buy to let’ community want, tenants will carry on calling them landlords.

Snippets

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