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Welcome to another Newsround, where we give you the latest housing news that has been trending this week.

Rent Freeze demands grow

It seems that evictions have increased by 39 percent in England this year. Generation Rent lead campaigner Baroness Alicia Kennedy says worse is to come.

The number of court orders for evictions for rent arrears has never been higher. This is the aftermath of the pandemic when many renters didn’t get enough support to cover the rent and are now losing their homes.
But it’s going to get worse as energy bills climb further and more people face a devastating choice between paying rent, heating their home, and putting food on the table.
Alongside a further package of financial support, the government must freeze rents and protect renters from eviction if they’re struggling to stay on top of rent.
Shelter too also echo the same feelings, Polly Neate Shelters’ chief executive says tenants who cannot cut back any further will soon be left with no home. Read more here.

Councils failing HMO’s

Renters’ Union, Acorn have highlighted the unfairness of HMO licensing within boroughs where they say it is unfair that poor enforcement means many rogue landlords are getting away with not paying for licences leaving renters vunerable.

They have started a petition and are demanding that councils have at least two full time staff to oversee HMO licensing and enforcement. One council in particular, Cambridge, says the total number of licensed HMOs in the city now stands at 808. A spokesman explains that

We estimate there may be a further 640 licensable properties and will continue our work, including proactive inspection, to confirm that those properties are safe and suitable and whether they need to be licensed as an HMO.

Other councils have higher rates of HMO’s without a licence.

Should rent payments count towards a mortgage?

LandlordZone have an interesting article this week whereby they question if a years of paying rent could count towards getting a mortgage.

At the moment the FCA do not take this into account at all or see it as a positive that a person can afford to meet an equivalent mortgage repayment.

Some are now beginning to question the fairness of the current system and ask that surely a reliable history of paying rent should act as proof that they can afford a mortgage. Others argue renting is not the same as owning your own house where you are responsible for additional costs such as paying for repairs, maintenance and insurances that otherwise the landlord has paid for.

Gerard Lyons has written a briefing paper and concludes that

The Government needs to seize the initiative in the housing market and shift its policy focus. If it does then there is every reason to expect future success, with more houses being built and with generation rent becoming generation buy as more first-time buyers are able to access the mortgage finance that they need.

Breathing Space Moratorium changes

A new government consultation similar to the Breathing Space Moratorium which came into force in 2020 will see Statutory Debt Repayment Plans becoming legal form next year. This would involve a certified debt advisor creating a repayment plan. This would in some aspects give reassurance that the debt will be paid but also provides certain legal protection for the debtor. Propertymark says that it is unclear if this will include rent arrears.

Timothy Douglas, head of campaigns at Propertymark says

During these difficult times, it is essential that we find ways to support tenants who temporarily cannot afford to pay off debts, including rent, while ensuring the solutions cannot be abused by those who have no intention of paying.  When tenants, landlords and agents communicate effectively to resolve issues, we can prevent unnecessary evictions.

The UK government needs to consider the risks associated with delaying housing debt payments, as this could impact the private rented sector and prevent people on plans to rent property.

Concerns still grow over Student Lets

LandlordZone has spoken with three leading ‘student let’ landlords who all have concerns about the Government’s plans to bring in periodic tenancies for all tenancy agreements as outlined in the renting reform White Paper. LandlordZone is also urging all student-let landlords to send their concerns to the Government’s consultation on the proposed reforms before it closes.

Concerns are that White Paper needs changes as there is not a ‘one size fits all’ in letting. One student let landlords says

We need contractual certainty so we can plan ahead with our property marketing and tenancy planning, while tenants know they have somewhere to live each year.

No ‘landlordism’ or rent controls

A new political party has sprung up called Breakthrough who are pushing for radical reform in the rental sector.

They want to end the ‘hoarding of homes for profit’ making renting affordable and meet everyone’s needs including disabled and neurodiverse as well as looking out for the environment and being sustainable. Read more of what they say here.

And finally, this week there is a warning to landlords on using unregulated eviction companies

Landlord’s eviction warning

LandlordZone reports that a landlord who innocently used an unregulated eviction firm has lost £2000 in money and a lot more in time.

She used Tenant Eviction 21 to evict her tenants back in February 2020 and was told that they had been served notice. Covid then hit, after which she started to get suspicious when her phone calls were not answered. On checking with the courts and found no papers have been produced. She is now unable to contact the firm and has said

 There’s not enough regulation around eviction companies. Most of my savings have gone on solicitors and it’s affected my health. I hope my experience will at least stop this happening to other people.

Only regulated solicitors firms are authorised to act for clients in court claims – and are required to carry proper insurance before being allowed to do so.  Unregulated firms can only provide guidance (and may not carry insurance).  See here for a report of a previous case where a landlord used an unregulated firm.

Snippets

Newsround will be back next week.

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