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Another week and another Newsround, let’s see what’s caught our eye in the housing news this week.

Landlords beware – fines on the increase

Property Post Investor reports that fines for landlords are on the increase.

With a greater number of licensing schemes, landlords are finding themselves falling foul of regulations. 13 new schemes alone have been launched in Greater London in the last year.

Rent Repayment Order’s and MEES fines are also on the increase where we are seeing high penalty fines with a recent case where a landlord was ordered to pay £12000 to a former tenant.

Orla Shields, chief executive of Kamma said

Local councils are sending a strong message to landlords and agents across the country with fines increasing by £2 million in the 12 months. Agents need to see this as an opportunity to take control of their compliance and take action to protect their clients, and themselves against further enforcement efforts and fines.

Propertymark send a message to Government

ARLA Propertymark has released details of its written response to the Parliamentary Committee investigating Airbnb’s and the impact of short term lettings on the rental market.

They point out that

  • Tenants are struggling to find homes, and an unregulated increase in short-term lets will make this worse
  • Landlords are selling up and leaving the PRS
  • There are few alternatives for people looking for homes other than the private rented sector

Landlords are switching to short-term holiday lets because they are less hassle and more remunerative.  They give six recommendations:

  1. Local Authorities should have more powers to regulate this, a ‘one size fits all’ approach is not appropriate
  2. The government must consider carefully the impact of future regulation
  3. They should consider extending health and safety rules and tenant protections for short-term lets
  4. There should be enforcement procedures if day limits are imposed
  5. Legislation will need to distinguish between short terms lets when properties are under-utilised and larger commercial landlords renting out entire properties on a full-time basis.
  6. Consider introducing limits in areas where there is an impact on private rented supply

I can’t find the ARLA paper on their website but there is a longer summary here.

NRLA slam scaremongering

The NRLA has strongly defended accusations that landlords will not pass on the Government’s £400 energy bill support scheme to tenants. Ben Beadle, chief exec of NRLA  has said scaremongering by several housing groups is

irresponsible scaremongering on the part of some to be making baseless suggestions that landlords will not do the right thing by their tenants.

One such group, Generation Rent’s deputy director Dan Wilson has said

A lot of landlords have already raised the rent to take account of higher energy bills and there’s no easy way for tenants to ask them to pass on the £400 grant if they don’t want to – threatening to move out is one approach but that is difficult when rent on a new property could be much higher.

But Ben stands firm and states that the payments should help the person who is taking on the cost of the increased energy bills, and that could be either the landlords or the tenant. he goes onto to say

Where rents include the cost of utilities, if they have been set to reflect recent and likely future energy price rises landlords should be passing the savings from the Government’s scheme onto their tenants. However, where all-inclusive rents do not reflect the higher costs of energy, or where rents have been frozen to support tenants, then it is the landlord who will be shouldering costs of higher energy bills. In cases such as this the system should recognise that it is the landlord that needs the support.

Tenant funding to help evictions

A Cornwall Council has been given more money to extend a scheme called Tenancy Sustainment and Rescue Project which supports tenants in the PRS who have fallen into rent arrears and risk being evicted.

The scheme works with both the tenant and landlord to resolve rent arrears and will hopefully prevent notices from being served due to rent arrears. Where a mutually beneficial outcome is agreed landlords are then expected to allow renters to stay in the property for up to 12 months after they have been given assistance.

Cornwall councillor Olly Monk says

 Preventing homelessness is a priority. Keeping people in their homes is clearly very important, especially given the current pressures on housing availability. This scheme will help to ensure that people who have perhaps fallen on hard times and may otherwise have become homeless will be able to stay where they are.

You can read more here. Would any landlords reading this support this project, or have you had experience with or used a similar scheme?

Generation Rent pushes for a rent freeze

Generation Rent are pushing for a rent freeze in a new campaign. The activist group has launched this new petition and says

Right now, landlords can raise the rent by hundreds of pounds per month, and the tenant has little option but to accept it. If the tenant tries to negotiate, the landlord can serve a Section 21 which can’t be challenged. If the tenant can’t pay the rent and gets into two months’ arrears or more, the landlord can serve a Section 8 notice which, again, can’t be challenged.

The petition goes on to say

The government needs to act now to tackle the cost of living crisis and protect renters who are being forced to choose between staying on top of rent and putting food on the table. To choose between living and merely existing. Only if the government freezes rents and stops these types of evictions will millions of renters finally begin to get some sense of security during this cost of living crisis.

They are not the only ones calling for a rent freeze, Birkenhead MP Mick Whitley is also calling for one.

Snippets

Newsround will be back next week.

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