A new ‘easy read’ version of the How To Rent guide has been released by Government.
Please note the publication of the ‘easy read’ version of the guide DOES NOT replace the current December 2020 version of the “How to Rent” booklet. Landlords should continue to serve the December 2020 version of the “How to Rent” booklet and only serve the easy to read one as a supplement to the original if needed. The Document is specifically designed to simplify the language and ensure that there is an option for the information in the guide to be accessible, if needed.
Landlords are reminded they MUST serve the latest version of the standard ‘How to Rent’ booklet at the start of a new tenancy. Also rules were brought in 5 years ago making it mandatory that If the document has been updated since the tenant moved in, then landlords also need to serve an updated copy on tenancy renewal, or the creation of a statutory periodic tenancy.
Government link to the ‘easy read’ “How to Rent” Guide. Please note if the link doesn’t open please copy and paste it into your browser.
Article abridged from NRLA
From 1 July 2021 to 30 September 2021, buyers can still benefit from not paying Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on properties that cost up to £250,000 across England and Northern Ireland.
The previous phase of the SDLT holiday (where the nil rate band was previously up to £500,000) helped stimulate the housing market, with estate agents reporting an influx of both buyers and sellers keen to take advantage of cuts to SDLT.
Stamp Duty Land Tax rates will return to the original rates from 1 October 2021. This means the nil rate band will be applicable only on purchases up to £125,000, and 2 per cent up to £250,000. First-time buyers, however, will continue to benefit from relief on purchases up to £300,000.
Seven estate and letting agents have been expelled from membership of The Property Ombudsman (TPO) after failing to comply with parts of the TPO Codes of Practice and pay subsequent awards made by the Ombudsman, totalling £112,257.04.
All of the complaints against the agents were in relation to lettings, most involved multiple complaint cases, and all now appear to have stopped trading. The expelled agents and outstanding awards are:
All of the complaints against the respective agents were independently reviewed and upheld by the Ombudsman, who directed payment of the money to those owed, together with compensation in all the cases. TPO members are required to comply with any award and/or direction given by the Ombudsman and accepted by the complainants. To date, all seven agents have failed to make any payment.
The Ombudsman referred the agent to the scheme’s independent Compliance Committee, which ruled the firms should be expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme. None of the agents are currently registered with a redress scheme, which is a requirement of every sales and letting agent in order to trade legally. They also do not appear to be members of a Client Money Protection scheme and do not hold any professional memberships. Most no longer have active websites or advertise on any of the main property portals, except for Abbey Properties, which has been reported to Trading Standards.
Gerry Fitzjohn, Non-Executive Director and Chairman of TPO’s Finance Committee: “Cases like these are rare, evidenced by the fact that just 0.1% of all TPO agents are referred to the Compliance Committee. As members of TPO, agents have an obligation to provide a reliable, trustworthy and professional service, and where they are found to fail in this, are obliged to comply with awards made by the Ombudsman. Last year 97% of agents paid awards made. However, in all of these cases, the agents have not co-operated fully and have failed to pay awards made.
I would like to remind agents of their obligation to co-operate with any investigations by TPO. The Ombudsman requires any evidence they can provide and that is their chance to put across their side of the story. While the vast majority of agents do co-operate, those that do not put themselves at greater risk of having a complaint upheld, when The Ombudsman has only the consumer’s evidence to consider. Agents must comply with any award and/or direction made by The Ombudsman against them and pay the Complainant the amount of any such award within the required period for payment. Cases of non-compliance are taken very seriously and are dealt with by our Compliance Committee and/or Trading Standards.”
Article from The Property Ombudsman; https://www.tpos.co.uk/news-media-and-press-releases/press-releases/item/seven-agents-expelled-from-the-property-ombudsman
As the UK transitions into the fourth step of the COVID-19 roadmap, the UK Government has updated its guidance for landlords, tenants, and local authorities.
The Grant launch, which coincided with the end of the ban on evictions in Wales on 30 June 2021, is available to anyone who has built up more than eight weeks’ arrears since March 2020 (see eligibility below). The Grant replaces the Tenancy Saver Loan, which offered loans payable over a period of five years to cover arrears; these loans will now be converted to the new Grant to support tenants who have struggled to pay their rent as a direct result of the pandemic.
To apply for a Tenancy Hardship Grant, you must have had financial hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic that meant that you have not been able to pay your rent.
PLEASE NOTE, THIS IS APPLICABLE TO TENANTS IN WALES, SWLA ARE CALLING FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO INTRODUCE A SIMILAR SCHEME IN ENGLAND
For further information; https://gov.wales/tenancy-hardship-grant-private-rented-sector-tenants-coronavirus
All information from gov.uk; The end of ‘no fault’ section 21 evictions – House of Commons Library (parliament.uk)
The Government has committed to abolish ‘no-fault’ section 21 evictions in the private rented sector. A Renters’ Reform Bill was promised in the 2019 Queen’s Speech to achieve this. The Bill is awaited. This paper explains the use of section 21 and reactions to its proposed abolition.
On 15 April 2019, the then-Government announced: “Private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants from their homes at short notice and without good reason.” This was followed by a consultation process in July 2019, with submissions accepted up to 12 October 2019.
The consultation paper proposed the abolition of section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. Section 21 enables private landlords to repossess their properties from assured shorthold tenants without having to establish fault on the part of the tenant. Hence it is sometimes referred to as the ‘no-fault’ ground for eviction.
In addition to abolishing section 21, the consultation paper proposed measures to strengthen and extend the Grounds for possession which are preceded by the service of a section 8 notice, particularly where the property is needed for the landlord’s or a family member’s use, and if the landlord wants to sell. Responses to the consultation exercise are being analysed by the Government.
The manifesto included the following commitment:
We will bring in a Better Deal for Renters, including abolishing ‘no-fault’ evictions and only requiring one ‘lifetime’ deposit which moves with the tenant. This will create a fairer rental market: if you’re a tenant, you will be protected from revenge evictions and rogue landlords, and if you’re one of the many good landlords, we will strengthen your rights of possession.
The 2019 Queen’s Speech said a Renters’ Reform Bill would be introduced:
A Renters’ Reform Bill will enhance renters’ security and improve protections for short-term tenants by abolishing “no-fault” evictions and introducing a lifetime deposit.
To date, the Bill has not been introduced. Various bodies, including the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee, have called for the Bill to be fast-tracked to improve protection for tenants affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. There is concern that tenants in financial difficulty who have benefited from temporary restrictions on landlords’ ability to seek repossession, will face homelessness when restrictions are relaxed. The Government has been pressed on timing. In response to the Committee’s interim report on protecting rough sleepers and renters in June 2020, it said:
The Government remains committed to bringing forward legislation to deliver its planned reforms to enhance renters’ security, including by abolishing so-called ‘no-fault’ evictions. However, the proposals for tenancy reform would represent the largest change to renting in 30 years and it is only right that these reforms are taken forward in a considered manner.
On 3 March 2021 the Housing Minister, Christopher Pincher, confirmed the Renters’ Reform Bill will be brought forward “once the urgencies of responding to the pandemic have passed.”
Private tenants, their representative bodies, and others working in the sector have long argued that the ability of landlords to terminate an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) at short notice has a detrimental effect on tenants’ wellbeing. Research has highlighted evidence of tenants being reluctant to exercise their rights to secure repairs and/or challenge rent increases due to the ease with which landlords can evict them. Respondents to a 2018 consultation on, ‘overcoming the barriers to longer tenancies in the private rented sector’, said:
…those renting from private landlords have been left feeling insecure by short fixed-term tenancies, unable to plan for the future or call where they live a home. This insecurity can have wide-ranging effects – from disrupting children’s education and the impact on mental health through to the cost of frequent moves undermining people’s ability to save for a deposit.
There is a clear divide in opinion between organisations advocating on behalf of tenants and those advocating on behalf of private landlords. Broadly, tenant organisations support the abolition of section 21 while landlord bodies oppose it.
The National Residential Landlords Association argues that a reformed and improved court system which has bedded-in, together with improvements to the Grounds for possession, should be introduced before section 21 is amended or abolished. Landlord organisations argue there is a risk of landlords leaving the sector, which could reduce the amount of housing available for people who cannot afford to buy and who cannot access social rented housing.
Scotland legislated to abolish no-fault evictions in respect of tenancies created on or after 1 December 2017. Research into the impact of these changes published by Shelter, a strong proponent of abolition, argues that some of the ‘scare’ stories in England on the potential impact of section 21’s abolition are misplaced.
The Senedd has also legislated to introduce minimum notice periods of six months for tenants in the private rented sector with a standard contract. These provisions are expected to come into force in 2022.
In Northern Ireland, tenancies created after 1 April 2007 are generally ‘non-protected’. If a landlord wishes to end a non-protected tenancy on a no-fault basis, the length of the notice depends on how long the tenant has lived in the property.
The full report can be read here; The end of ‘no-fault’ section 21 evictions (England) (parliament.uk)
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Landlord Accreditation Training Course – ONLINE
Wednesday 13th October 2021 – 9:00 – 4:30pm
Venue – Online
Price – £65 for members of SWLA, £75 for non – members for one day course.
Course covers ASTs, Deposits, Section 21s, Section 8s, HMOs, Gas and Electrical Safety, Inventories and much more.
The course will provide you with all the skills to start, manage and finish a tenancy.
Places still available. Contact the office on 01752 510913 or firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place, places only secured on receipt of payment.
Over 990 landlords have already completed this course since September 2011.
Course can lead to Accreditation, if required.
We are proud to announce Landlord Accreditation South West (LASW) are founder members of the West of England Rental Standard.