Category Archives: Rents

Social housing regulator launches rent standard consultation

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The good folk down at the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) have begun a consultation on a revised Rent Standard, due to come into effect from 1 April 2020.

Open until 30 July, the 12-week consultation follows housing minister James Brokenshire MP’s Direction to the regulator, which was published in February.

And what are the key elements of the Direction? Well, they, in handy list format, are:

  • For the RSH to also regulate rents charged by social housing stock-owning local authorities (LA registered providers) – aligning the regulation of council rents with private registered providers
  • To lock in the annual 1% reduction in social rents between 2016 and 2020, implemented through the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 – which aimed to help reduce costs for tenants paying all or part of their rent and put welfare spending on a more sustainable footing
  • To restrict rent increases on social rent and affordable rent properties by up to CPI+1% annually from 2020 for a period of at least five years – striking a balance between the interests of landlords, tenants and taxpayers
  • To reinstate the 5% flex for general needs stock and 10% for supported housing providers – allowing registered providers discretion over the rent set for individual properties, taking into account local circumstances and affordability in consultation with tenants

Fiona MacGregor, chief executive of RSH, had this to say: ‘The Direction itself has previously been consulted on by the government, but the aim is to ensure that the setting and management of rents is clear and easy to understand for all registered providers of social housing.

‘The long-term rent settlement should help provide a stable financial environment for the social housing sector to make the best possible use of its resources in supporting the delivery of new homes and effectively managing and maintaining properties, while protecting the interests of social housing tenants.’

So, if you’d like to take part then please click here.

25% of PRS landlords looking to sell

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A quarter of private rented sector (PRS) landlords are looking to sell at least one property in the next year, a survey has revealed.

According to The Residential Landlords Association’s (RLA) quizzing of 2,500 landlords, over 25% are keen to offload property – the highest amount since way, way back in…2016.

The RLA’s research also found that 23% of the landlords have seen an increase in rental property demand over the last three months, while 57% noted no change.

David Smith, RLA policy director, said: ‘All the talk of longer tenancies will mean nothing if the homes to rent on not there in the first place.

‘The government’s tax increases on the sector are already making it difficult for tenants to find a place to live, with many landlords not renewing tenancies. If rushed and not thought through, planned changes to the way landlords can repossess properties risk making the situation even worse.

‘Action is needed to stimulate supply with pro-growth taxation and a process for repossessing homes that is fair to all.’

 

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.

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