Category Archives: Rents

MPs demand: No more ‘No DSS’ ads

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‘No DSS’ clauses on rental properties could be on the way out, if MPs get their way.

Yesterday, the Commons work and pensions select committee quizzed, among others, the director of online lettings behemoth Your Move, which last month ran an ad that actually said ‘No DSS. Small dogs considered’.

Housing minister Heather Wheeler has claimed she wants to get rid of the ads, but so far no dice.

Anyway, the committee’s hearing also received input from the likes of Your Rent and Hunters, agents that claim to be opposed to ‘no DSS’ ads but which still run them.

According to housing charity Shelter, ‘no DSS’ ads are in breach of equality laws because they disproportionately affects women and people with disabilities.

Frank Field MP, the committee’s chairman, said: ‘If we are serious about this we have to get lenders and insurers to stop the discrimination.’

Curiously socially-conscious ex-Tory Heidi Allen MP added. ‘It is clearly dysfunctional and not working for huge swathes of those people on benefits.’

Meanwhile, Croydon renter Philippa Lalor went further, claiming that in ‘the 1950s it used to be no blacks, no Irish, no dogs. Now we have “no DSS”. It is in the shop window.’

And things are changing it seems. Property website Zoopla has already pledged to ban carry ‘no DSS’ ads, while NatWest, the Co-op Bank and Nationwide have also committed to abolishing such demands from their loan agreements.

 

 

‘This is wrong’ – Theresa May pledges to abolish section 21 evictions

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The government has decided it’s going to get rid of ‘no-fault evictions’ in a move that has understandably delighted housing campaigners.

Prime minster Theresa May’s crumbling regime says it will now consult on freeing England of section 21 evictions, which will mean the four million tenants living in the private rented sector (PRS) can no longer be evicted at short notice and for no good reason.

PRS landlords can evict tenants with eight weeks’ notice after the completion of a fixed-term contract, which even our current government has admitted has become one of the main reasons families become homeless.

Taking some time out from Brexit, PM May said: ‘Millions of responsible tenants could still be uprooted by their landlord with little notice, and often little justification.

‘This is wrong – and today we’re acting by preventing these unfair evictions. This important step will not only protect tenants from unethical behaviour, but also give them the long-term certainty and the peace of mind they deserve.’

Homelessness charity Shelter has hailed the announcement as ‘an outstanding victory’ that will basically lead to open-ended tenancies, with tenants less terrified of immediate eviction if they complain about the quality of their homes.

Shockingly, recent research by Citizens Advice found tenants that make a formal complaint about their landlord or home had a 46% chance of being issued with a section 21 eviction notice within the following six months.

Should the government’s plans become a reality, landlords will have to employ a section 8 process if they seek an eviction, which can only be used in relation to proper things like criminal or antisocial behaviour, rent arrears and so on – not when someone has merely complained that their flat has rats/mold/falling masonry in it.

James Brokenshire, the communities secretary, has spoken at quite some length: ‘By abolishing these kinds of evictions, every single person living in the private rented sector will be empowered to make the right housing choice for themselves – not have it made for them. And this will be balanced by ensuring responsible landlords can get their property back where they have proper reason to do so.

‘We are making the biggest change to the private rental sector in a generation. We are creating homes, opportunities and thriving communities, where people can come together and put down roots, bound by a strong sense of belonging.

‘Everyone has a right to the opportunities they need to build a better life. For many, this means having the security and stability to make a place truly feel like home without the fear of being evicted at a moments’ notice. We are building a fairer housing market that truly works for everyone.’

As you can imagine, not every is happy, and none less so than David Smith, policy director of the Residential Landlords Association, who said: ‘For all the talk of greater security for tenants, that will be nothing if the homes to rent are not there in the first place.’

Unsurprisingly, Richard Lambert, CEO of the National Landlords Association, isn’t over the moon either. He said: ‘[Landlords] have no confidence in the ability or the capacity of the courts to deal with possession claims quickly and surely, regardless of the strength of the landlord’s case.’

UK rents drop

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Rent news, anyone? Allow me…

UK average monthly rents are at their lowest level for three years, or so The Deposit Protection Service’s (DPS) quarterly report says.

The average rent fell to £757 during the first quarter of 2019, with tenants paying £5 (0.64%) less than 2018’s closing quarter, and over £14 (1.87%) lower than 2018’s first quarter.

And what’s caused this drop? The DPS reckons that it may in part be caused by tenants reluctant to move until the new tenancy fees ban comes into effect in June. Maybe.

It’s not good news for renters all over, though: the South West, East Midlands, Yorkshire and The Humber and Wales saw increases in the last quarter, even if they were rather tiny.

Daren King, the DPS’s head of tenancy deposit protection, said: ‘The depressed market for rents is part of the larger slowdown that began during the summer of 2016 and which we believe is linked to broad economic factors affecting spending power and demand in the UK.

‘We also believe that the rental market may be experiencing a period of tenant inactivity driven by uncertainty ahead of the imminent enforcement of the ban on tenancy fees.’

Naturally, expensive old London remains by far the most costly place to rent, while the North East is still the cheapest option.

Anyway, here’s the DPS’s report which you might enjoy on this sunny if not especially warm Friday afternoon.

In private sector news… rents rising at fastest rate in over two years

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It’s always good to keep a beady eye on the machinations of the private rented sector if you’re in social housing, as big change there will inevitably have a knock on effect for social tenants too. And it seems all is not entirely comfy for both tenants and their landlords at this precise moment.

HomeLet, an organisation that very handily keeps watch on private rent levels, has found that there has been a steep rise in rents over the past months, the fastest in over two years in fact.

In their latest analysis they found rental values have increased at a higher pace than was seen throughout last year, rising by 3.3% in the last 12 months with the average rent in the UK now being £924 per month. They state that this shows a move away from the normal fluctuations of the market with rents for new tenancies now rising at a rate above inflation, which has not happened since 2016.

The reason for this is the Tenant Fees Act, due to come into effect on Saturday 1 June 2019. This sees the banning of letting fees for new tenants, which on the surface seems a good thing. But when combined with new taxation changes it is leaving many landlords out of pocket, and they are passing the buck – quite literally – onto prospective new tenants. They’ll now have to pay more as part of their rent each month instead of upfront when they first move in.

Of course, that could be a good thing as many tenants would prefer to spread the cost of moving into a new pad over a longer period, but with the cost of living still high it won’t be for everyone.

And with Brexit continuing to hover around the place like an angry wasp, who knows where rent rates will be months or even years down the line? HomeLet’s Chief Executive comments that for rates to stay the same current wage and employment levels will need to as well, to prop up demand. All ifs and buts and maybes at this point, but it does seem we’re set for a few more months of rent rises as the PRS adapts to all these new changes… be they for good or for ill.