The Home Office has extended the period in which landlords in England can carry out Right to Rent checks by video call by a further month to 20 June 2021.
In April 2021, the UK Government declared that Adjusted Checks carried out with applicants submitting scanned or photographed documents, would end on 16 May 2021. This date has now been pushed back, aligning it with other measures to ease restrictions in England. This revision allows an extra month of virtual checks.
The Home Office has dropped plans for all ‘Covid adjusted’ checks carried out since 20 March 2020, to be repeated with full in-person checks within eight weeks of temporary arrangements ending. Therefore, please note, if you did a virtual check during the Covid period, you do NOT need to carry out a repeated check in person when the measured end.
From 21 June 2021, all landlords will need to revert to in-person Right to Rent Checks in accord with the Code of Practice. The only exception to this will be applicants with a Home Office status who offer a digital share code.
For any Right to Rent queries, visit the gov.uk website or call the landlord helpline on 0300 790 6268.
Tenants with disabilities struggle to find suitable homes. SWLA are supporting a new initiative to encourage landlords to consider adapting their properties.
NRLA released a report ‘Adapting the Private Rented Sector’ which exposes a chronic lack of accessible properties for disabled tenants. Four in five wheelchair users in the Private Rented Sector are living in a home that fails to meet their needs, and 91% have experienced barriers to renting.
According to recent research conducted by the Social Market Foundation, the number of private rented sector (PRS) households headed by a person 65 years or older is set to double by 2046. With this in mind the we believe that now is the time for local authorities and landlords to work together to address this ongoing issue. Taking this important step will help expand the number of adapted homes for UK disabled and older renters, ensuring an inclusive PRS which works for all.
Key to addressing these issues is clearer communication from local authorities to landlords concerning the availability of the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG), available through local authorities. NRLA research suggests that 79% of landlords had no knowledge of the grants. After finding out more, 68% of landlords were more willing to adapt their properties.
This is a chance for local governments to take a lead on an increasingly important issue by taking practical action now, before the UK’s adaptation challenges become even more acute.
New guidance has been released ‘Adaptations: Good Practice Guidance’ setting out how private landlords can consider requests for adaptations to make their properties more inclusive and accessible.
The simple and fair answer would be no. Head of the ARLA Propertymark Legal Helpline gives reasons here;
“The answer may be “no”. There is a concept in English law which suggests that if a landlord does something – for example serves a notice – and the tenant relies on that to his detriment, then the landlord cannot change his position. The principle is called estoppel.
“It could apply where a tenant received a 6 month notice, made arrangements to view other properties appropriate to that Notice and incurred expenses as a result. If a second Section 21 notice expired before the original 6 month deadline, a tenant could argue that the second notice was effectively invalid.
“Please make sure landlords are aware of the potential risk before serving a second Section 21 Notice if an earlier Notice is still current.”
To be fair to tenants, existing notice periods should be honoured.
Information from the NRLA
**PLEASE NOTE – THIS IS NOT AN SWLA WEBINAR – PLEASE SIGN UP BY CLICKING THE LINK BELOW IF YOU WISH TO ATTEND**
Martyn Taylor of Ashley Taylors Legal invites all SWLA members to the following free landlord webinar;
When – 11am Thursday 20th May 2021
Subject- Strengthening Your Tenancy Agreements
Martyn will be looking at both ASTs and Company Lets in this talk and considering the “must haves”, ” good ideas to have” and also “should nots” in your Agreements; to benefit the Landlord and potentially troubleshoot in advance for when things go wrong.
If you would like to sign up, please click the following registration link;
Register in advance for this webinar:
The webinar is limited to 500 attendees on a first come, first served basis.
The government has announced that from 01 June 2021 notice periods in England that are currently six months, will now be reduced to four months.
The following reasons for eviction (via Section 8) will have these notice periods from 01 June 2021;
Notice periods for cases where there is less than four months’ unpaid rent, will reduce to two months’ notice from 01 August 2021.
Subject to Public Health advice notice periods will return to pre-pandemic levels from 01 October 2021.
Financial Support for Tenants
Renters will continue to be supported with living costs, including rent, through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until 30 September 2021.
Financial support remains in place to help people meet their outgoings, including the furlough scheme and the Universal Credit uplift, which have both been extended until the end of September 2021.
The current ban on bailiff-enforced evictions, introduced as an emergency measure during lockdown, will end on 31 May. Bailiffs have been asked not to carry out an eviction if anyone living in the property has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating.
The government have pledged to bring The Renters Reform Bill to Parliament. The Bill is likely to include the scrapping of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, the introduction of lifetime deposits and the introduction of a landlord ombudsman
A white paper is due out later this year which will outline government policy and future changes in the Private Rented Sector.
It is expected that new rules will not come into force until Spring 2023.
It has been brought to our attention by SWLA members that following an Electrical Safety Inspection, some electricians are stating on EICRs that the next Electrical Safety Inspection is due in ‘5 years or change of occupancy.’ This has been causing concern and confusion for landlords as the regulations talk about ‘regular intervals’, not events such as a change of tenancy.
In particular, reg 3(2) says:
(2) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (1)(b) “at regular intervals” means—
(a) at intervals of no more than 5 years; or
(b) where the most recent report under sub-paragraph (3)(a) requires such inspection and testing to be at intervals of less than 5 years, at the intervals specified in that report.
Landlords are well aware that between tenants, the electrics are to be visually checked (by landlords if they are competent) to ensure that the property is safe for the new tenant moving in. That along with providing an in date EICR would be sufficient for a landlord to know that the electrical condition of the property is good and that legislative duties have been met. **If any tampering evidence is noticed, or any over use/high turnover of tenants, the landlord should instruct a new Electrical Safety Inspection.**
We have written to Local Authorities, The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, PRS training providers and NICEIC.
The outcome being that a landlord does NOT need to obtain a new EICR upon a change of tenant despite what the certificate says. ‘Change of tenant’ is not an interval.
If any of our members need guidance on this, feel free to call the SWLA office and we will be glad to help.
You Are Invited to the 2021 Bristol City Council Online Landlord & Agent Forum
When – Thursday 13th May 2021 4pm – 5.45pm
Subject – What’s Next For The Private Rented Sector? With Q&A
Guest Speaker – Meera Chindooroy, NRLA
In addition to our guest speaker, there will be presentations from Bristol City Council on working with landlords in the Private Rented Sector to reduce homelessness; fill empty properties as well an update on Universal Credit from the Department for Works and Pensions.
There will be an opportunity to put questions to all the speakers.
Meera is Deputy Director of Campaigns, Public Affairs & Policy at the NRLA. She joined the National Landlords Association (NLA) in May 2018, having previously worked in both policy development and project management for a range of not-for profit and public sector organisations including the Big Lottery Fund and the General Medical Fund.
If you are interested in attending, email: firstname.lastname@example.org and type into the
subject header: “Register me for the Bristol City Council Landlord & Agent Forum”
Please share this invitation with anyone who may be interested.
You will be sent a link to join prior to Thursday 13 May 2021
The Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space) came into force on 4 May 2021. The creditor service is currently being developed.
The Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space) will give someone in problem debt the right to legal protections from their creditors.
There are two types of breathing space: a standard breathing space and a mental health crisis breathing space. Where there is a difference between them, we’ll refer specifically to either a standard breathing space or a mental health crisis breathing space. Where there is no difference, we will simply refer to a breathing space.
A standard breathing space is available to anyone with problem debt. It gives them legal protections from creditor action for up to 60 days. The protections include pausing most enforcement action and contact from creditors and freezing most interest and charges on their debts.
A mental health crisis breathing space is only available to someone who is receiving mental health crisis treatment and it has some stronger protections. It lasts as long as the person’s mental health crisis treatment, plus 30 days (no matter how long the crisis treatment lasts).
The legislation this guidance references is The Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020. This guidance is intended to support creditors in understanding the regulations.
As a creditor, if you’re told that a debt owed to you is in a breathing space, you must stop all action related to that debt and apply the protections. These protections must stay in place until the breathing space ends.
The electronic service will send you a notification to tell you about each debt owed to you in a breathing space and the date the breathing space started. You need to make sure you apply the protections to these debts from the date set out in the notification.
If you’re a creditor, it’s also possible your debt might be added to a breathing space at a later date, because it is only identified after the breathing space has started. In this case, you have to apply the protections from the date you get the notification, or when the regulations consider you to have received it, whichever is the earliest.
For electronic notifications this is the date they are sent. For postal notifications this is 4 working days after it was posted.
If you have any questions about a breathing space you’ve had a notification for, you should contact the debt advice provider whose details are in the notification.
Debts included in a breathing space must be qualifying debts. Debts are any sum of money owed by the debtor to you, while liabilities are any obligation on the debtor to pay money to you. Most debts are likely to be qualifying debts. These will include:
Qualifying debts can include any that the debtor had before the Breathing Space legislation came into force on 4 May 2021.
New debts incurred during a breathing space are not qualifying debts. Neither are new arrears on a secured debt that arises during a breathing space.
Martyn Taylor will be looking at both ASTs and Company Lets in this talk and considering the “must haves”, ” good ideas to have” and also “should nots” in your Agreements to benefit the Landlord and potentially troubleshoot in advance for when things go wrong.
The registration details are:
When: May 20, 2021 11:00 AM London
Topic: Strengthening your Tenancy Agreements
Register in advance for this webinar:
Please note, numbers are limited to 500, sign up now to avoid missing out. This is not an SWLA webinar, it is hosted by Ashley Taylors Legal.
The Section 8, Form 3 has been updated to reflect the coming into force of breathing space (debt respite scheme) regulations, which affect the ability to serve notice and make a possession claim under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 in certain circumstances.
Please obtain Section 8 and Section 21 forms from the SWLA website members area or online at gov.uk to ensure that you are using the most up to date version.