Wow, two weeks away. How much can really happen in the world of lettings?
Quite a lot, as it turns out! Buckle up and get ready for a bit of reading. Or, if you’d prefer, join the Maxine Lester Landlord group on Facebook to watch Maxine give the weekly update via video.
Courts opened to hear eviction notices
Courts opened again on the 21st September. Given the six-month backlog of cases, combined with the vastly reduced capacity of court hearings due to social distancing (anecdotally, instead of doing 20 hearings a day, they’re down to 10 – and not all courts are open), experts are already predicting it could take 12-18 months for repossession cases to come to court.
Shelter say 174,000 renters have been threatened with eviction, and the word here is threatened. The government has laid out that no tenant will lose their home due to Covid-19.
A recent webinar with David Smith from JMW solicitors left me with the impression that the courts are doing anything to stop an eviction from happening. Complex paperwork for reactivation notices.
There will be no evictions carried out between the 11th December 2020 and the 11th Jan 2020.
None of our landlords are in the position of waiting for a court hearing, but if you do find yourself in this place, the best advice is to use a solicitor who practices in Landlord and Tenant Law.
A recap of the rules
You must give six months’ notice unless:
- Six-months or more of rent arrears
- Evidence of antisocial behaviour
- Being a nuisance to neighbours
- There has been a breach of the tenancy agreement
- A tenant has been using your home for illegal purposes e.g. drug dealing
- There is a case of domestic violence
This will be in place until 31st March 2021, with the government having stated their intention to support renters over the winter period.
What if a tenant refuses to leave?
If your tenant doesn’t leave within the timeframe set, you will have to apply to the courts.
Given the serious delays caused by the backlog of cases, I would be planning to come to a financial settlement to get the property back at the moment rather than relying on the court system.
What’s happening on our books?
We’re working closely with 5% of our tenants who have been financially impacted by the pandemic.
4% of those have set up prepayment plans.
We’re helping 0.75% of tenants with Universal Credit claims, there have been situations where forms have been filled out incorrectly.
And 1 landlord is monitoring the situation closely.
We’re immensely proud of our finance team, who have been talking to tenants on a regular basis to discover where problems lay, so we can be proactive in helping tenants with solutions.
Potential financial help for tenants?
The National Residential Lettings Association (NRLA) are asking the government to follow the lead of Scotland and Wales, to offer low cost, or interest free loans to tenants, which would be paid to the landlord directly in order to cover rent and arrears.
This would give tenants peace of mind that they could remain in their home, as well as slashing the number of repossessions cases going to court.
These could then be paid off by the tenant over a period of several years.
The Housing Minister has made clear that the planned Renters’ Reform Bill will be brought forward “when there is a sensible and stable economic and social terrain on which to do it.”.
The private rental market ‘still isn’t showing any signs of slowing down’.
Used as a headline in the national press, let’s have a look to see if the local figures back up the claim.
Using our figures:
- People looking for properties increased by 45%
- Number of lets agreed were up by 17%
- Days to let increased by 3%
- Void periods reduced by 4 days. Now reduced to 18 days on average between one tenant moving out to the next moving in
There are 17% fewer properties on the market, which may go some way towards explaining why rents are still on the increase.
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