Government forcing landlords to house non-paying tenants for lengthy periods

Government forcing landlords to house non-paying tenants for lengthy periods

11:18 AM, 15th September 2020, About A year ago 47

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When Robert Jenrick made his shock announcement on the 21st of August of a new 6-month notice period in England (copying ‘socialist’ Wales) he further abrogated the state’s responsibility. How could it be right that private citizens are now made to house non-paying tenants whom they ordinarily would have been able to evict after ‘only’ losing about 7 months’ rent? As seen in the table below, these losses will now run to at least 14 months, but realistically for many landlords, the losses will be greater still.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, on the 10th of September this seemingly monthly attack on private landlords continued with an announcement of further delaying tactics in the possession process which will ratchet up landlords’ losses even higher: click here

This announcement – so far unremarked by the organisations representing landlords – of a new ‘review’ hearing which must be held before a ‘substantive hearing’ has legislated in at least another month of rent-free accommodation for the criminal element in tenants’ ranks.

The new likely timeline – with conservative estimates – is illustrated in the table below.

Average timeline and landlord losses pre- and post- the Government’s new ‘6-month notice period’ in possession cases. Average monthly rent (excluding London) of £800pm is assumed.

  Under previous 2-month notice period. Under new 6-month notice period. Running total of arrears when rent not being paid.
January 2020 1st January tenant doesn’t pay rent. 1st January tenant doesn’t pay rent £800
February 2020 1st February tenant doesn’t pay rent.  2nd February, landlord issues 2 months’ notice. 1st February tenant doesn’t pay rent.  2nd February landlord issues 6 months’ notice. £1,600
March 2020 WAIT WAIT £2,400
April 2020 3rd April: Tenant has not moved out. Landlord applies to court (£355 fee).  16th April: court sends letter saying court case will be 16th June. WAIT £3,200
May 2020 WAIT WAIT £4,000
June 2020 16th June: Judge issues 2 weeks’ notice to tenants (can be 4).

30th June: tenant still in situ. Landlord applies to bailiffs.

Appointment available for 30th July.

WAIT £4,800
July 2020 30th July: Bailiffs evict tenant. WAIT £5,600
August 2020 New tenant found and rent being paid 3rd August: tenant has not moved out. Landlord has to implement new protocol- or case will be thrown out. £6,400
September 2020 Rent being paid 3rd September: Landlord applies to the court (£355 fee) £7,200
October 2020 Rent being paid Delays due to court backlog mean earliest court date is 3 months from court letter (3rd October) £8,000
November 2020 Rent being paid WAIT £8,800
December 2020 Rent being paid WAIT £9,600
January 2021 Rent being paid 3rd January: Court case – new ‘review hearing.’ Case is automatically adjourned for at least 4 weeks.
February 2021 Rent being paid 3rd February: ‘substantive hearing’ held.  Tenant given further 2 weeks to vacate (is often 4). 17th February: Tenant not left. Earliest bailiff appointment is 2 months’ time. £10,400
March 2021 Rent being paid 17th March: Bailiff evicts tenant. £11,600
Total loss to landlord (usually unrecoverable) £5,600 arrears, plus other costs. £11,600 arrears, plus other costs.  

It will be interesting to see what is supposed to happen in the ‘review hearing.’ I am imagining proceedings something like:

Landlord: Hello.

Judge: Hello. What can I do for you?

Landlord: I don’t know. I just want my non-paying tenant out of my house.

Judge: Okay. Come back in 6 weeks. Case adjourned.

The Government stated that this entirely unnecessary stage must be inserted at least 4 weeks before the second hearing in a transparent and farcical delaying tactic to allegedly ‘protect renters’ on top of the 6-month rent-free period already gifted (we all know the second stage will take place possibly considerably later than 4 weeks after the ‘review’).

They also snuck in further delays stating evictions would not be enforced in local lockdown areas and that there would be ‘a truce’ (a strange military term) on enforcement ‘over Christmas;’  they later stated they won’t be enforced ‘in the run-up to and over Christmas,’ which could be a matter of weeks or months, depending on how it is interpreted.

Of course, the previous announcement dictated also that landlords must be fully cognizant of any effect of covid-19 on our tenants. Logically, however, people who renege on their tenancy agreements are not the type to help a landlord gather information for a court case in which the tenant faces eviction.

So when the landlord invariably fails to gather this knowledge, are they to then be penalized because the tenant has refused to cooperate? In any case, how and why are tenants’ experiences of covid-19 to be taken into account? Tenants have often in the past lost their jobs for any kind of reason and this didn’t mean that the landlord had to grant them more time rent-free in their property. It also didn’t mean that judges could prevent possession from taking place. The Government has given no explanation of the point of this charade.

What’s more, as landlords tend to be older than tenants, they are statistically more likely to have been severely affected health-wise by covid-19.  For example, they may have been seriously ill or lost their spouse or another elderly relative. At this difficult time for them, they may have had to also find the resources to subsidise their non-paying tenant and had the stress of having to attend court. They may be at their wit’s end like the 78-year old widow who faces losses of £57,000 because of her rogue tenant.   https://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/buy-to-let/rogue-tenant-has-cost-57k-eviction-ban-leaves-no-way/

However, the judge does not have to know about this as it is only the tenant who matters – and it is the responsibility of the landlord to have an in-depth knowledge that they can’t possibly obtain.

‘Fraud’ was also mentioned for the first time in the latest announcement as a special case for obtaining a swifter eviction, but I don’t think landlords should get too excited.  For example, arguably, non-payment of rent by ‘can pay, won’t pay’ tenants would fall into this category, whether they are employed or receive Housing Benefit intended for the rent and don’t pay it to the landlord.

Why are these tenants not prosecuted for fraud, either for misrepresenting themselves prior to gaining the tenancy as someone reliable who will pay or in the case of benefit recipients for having fraudulently obtained taxpayers’ money? Is this trickery and cheating not fraud?

Sub-letting is a further case in point.  For example, there was the recent report of the landlord who is so far £60,000 out of pocket while his non-paying tenants have raked in an estimated £75,000 by subletting his house; his losses – and their gains – are likely to multiply now, with no eviction insight. https://www.landlordzone.co.uk/news/exclusive-landlords-60000-loss-highlights-huge-problem-with-covid-evictions-ban/

Why has the Government not done one single, solitary thing for landlords in this position or even for justice’s sake, by outlawing these practices or at least clarifying that they will be explicitly included in its definition of ‘fraud?’ The answer is that there is now nothing separating the Government’s ideological view of landlords from that of the far left of the Labour Party and the misguided zealots at Shelter.

However, as it stands, there is no landlord body in the UK willing to take legal action against the Government for these invidious attacks.  This is in contrast to the USA for example, where landlords are at least trying to use legal means to fight back.   The flip side of Trump’s eviction ban: Landlords face big crunch

If we are to see any reversal of this war on landlords, we need to demand of our professional bodies that they immediately look into legal action.  If they don’t, and we continue to lie supine in the face of these constant attacks, it will just be misery heaped on misery for UK landlords for as far as the eye can see.



Comments

by Steve B

9:14 AM, 26th September 2020, About A year ago

As an initial supporter of Larry and his Landlords Alliance, I was very suspicious when it was handed/taken over by the current management team. The emails seemed less frequent and the website was awful, neglected and out of date. I would get a so called newsletter which was simply a cut n paste from some other site and NOTHING original whatsoever.
I emailed them for an explanation - nothing! I tried to cancel my payment and the bank told me the RECEIVER had to do that! I told my bank they were not responding to my requests to do so and they suggested I tried again. I called their number multiple times - never answered at all. In the end I wrote a very strongly worded email threatening legal action and they eventually wrote back telling me my payment had been cancelled and they were ' sorry to see me go'.
I suggest Mark makes this a known issue - as how many will read this comment, so then at least others are made aware of the situation and at least this new outfit is defunded en masse.
I will try n make this a new topic too.
A pity really, as I believe Larry was really on the right lines initially.
Stay safe and take care folks
Stevie B

by Chris @ Possession Friend

12:14 PM, 26th September 2020, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Steve B at 26/09/2020 - 09:14
Totally agree with you 100% Steve.

by Whiteskifreak Surrey

17:07 PM, 26th September 2020, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Steve B at 26/09/2020 - 09:14
Agree. 100%. With the difference that I cancelled online and got a confirmation that the DD was cancelled. I have also had an email from the current chairman asking why I cancelled it. So I have explained my reasons, similar to Steve B. I lost overall £200 and absolutely for nothing...

by Badger

11:18 AM, 3rd October 2020, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Whiteskifreak Surrey at 26/09/2020 - 17:07
Did you cancel via their web site or by email?

by Whiteskifreak Surrey

9:06 AM, 4th October 2020, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Badger at 03/10/2020 - 11:18
I did cancel via their website. I hope £100 will not be taken again from my account. They are a dodgy organisation and I agree with someone who said earlier that Mark A should be aware of that.

by Mike T

20:39 PM, 2nd February 2021, About 12 months ago

Following the article from Dr Rosalind Beck I wrote to my MP using some of the details from the article. I personalized / edited it to reflect my circumstances and location. (With grateful acknowledgements to Dr R Beck)
My MP replied saying he will pass on my concerns to the Housing Minister.
Now 4 months later he has at last had a response from the 'new' housing minister. If anyone can see more than an odd mention of landlords or any help being available - please let me know.
I reproduce it here;

Eddie Hughes MP
Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local
Government
Fry Building
2 Marsham Street
London
SW1P 4DF
Email: eddie.hughes@communities.gov.uk
http://www.gov.uk/mhclg
Our Ref: 9493385
Your ref: KF15743
29 January 2021
Dear Kevin,
Thank you for your letter dated 13 October on behalf of your constituents, about the
extension of the eviction ban and notice periods. I have been asked to reply. Please accept
my apologies for the severe delay in doing so. As you may know the Prime Minister
appointed me to this role on 16 January and I am very keen to address the issues
surrounding the private rented sector during the Pandemic.
I am sorry to hear about the concerns your constituents have raised, and I do recognise the
important role that private landlords play in providing homes to millions of people around the
country. The Government has recognised the importance of protecting renters during the
Coronavirus period and it has put in place unprecedented measures to support renters
throughout the Pandemic.
We have been clear that tenants who are able to do so must continue to pay their rent.
Tenants who are unable to do so should speak to their landlord at the earliest opportunity. An
early conversation between landlord and tenant can help both parties to agree a plan. Where
possible and appropriate, we would encourage landlords and tenants to consider alternative
dispute resolution such as mediation to reach a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve
their dispute, without the matter needing to go to court. Where cases are brought to court,
mediation can still play a part, with duty solicitors and other legal professionals on hand to
help support the parties reach resolution without the need for a full hearing.
The Government is also putting in place an unprecedented financial package which supports
renters and ensures that they can continue to afford their housing costs. This includes
support for businesses to pay staff salaries through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme,
which has now been extended until the end of April 2021. We have also introduced a
substantial package of measures in 2020/21 to help those who are facing financial disruption
during the current situation. This includes an extra £1 billion to increase Local Housing
Allowance rates so that they cover the lowest 30% of market rents.
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates will be maintained at their increased level throughout
2021/22, meaning claimants renting in the private rented sector will continue to benefit from
the significant increase in rates applied in April 2020, and even in areas where rents have
reduced, and the 30th percentile level has gone down, LHA rates will remain at this higher
level. For those who require additional support, Discretionary Housing Payments are
TEMPLATE FRAMEWORK – NOT TO BE USED FOR SUBMISSION
OF DRAFT ANSWERS
available. As announced at the spending round for 2020/21 there is already £180 million for
local councils to distribute in Discretionary Housing Payments for supporting renters with
housing costs in the private and social rented sectors.

Anyone worried about losing their home and not having anywhere else to go should speak to
their local council, which has a duty in law to help prevent homelessness.
Guidance to support landlords and tenants in the social and private rented sectors to
understand the possession action process and new rules within the court system in England
and Wales is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/understanding-the-possession-action-processguidance-for-landlords-and-tenants.
Regularly updated guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities, relating to private
and social rented properties, is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-and-renting-guidance-for-landlordstenants-and-local-authorities.
Thank you for writing to me on this important matter.
Yours ever,
EDDIE HUGHES MP

by NewYorkie

23:16 PM, 2nd February 2021, About 12 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Mike T at 02/02/2021 - 20:39What a load of rubbish! Simply an advert for what the government has done during the pandemic, and nothing about what it has done [nothing] about those tenants who can pay but won't pay, and landlords' inability to remove them. I am so angry about this. My tenant is one of those miscreants who can pay but won't, and causes ASB for good measure. I've even offered to clear his arrears in full if he vacates. Forget ADR, I've capitulated! To top it off, my solicitor died 2 weeks ago, and I now have to start again, and I will probably have to pay again for my Notices to be 'checked'. It feels like it's not only tenants who are profiteering, but solicitors are too.

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