Once in a generation opportunity to reboot the market in favour of tenants!

by Property118.com News Team

11:32 AM, 14th July 2020
About 5 months ago

Once in a generation opportunity to reboot the market in favour of tenants!

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Once in a generation opportunity to reboot the market in favour of tenants!

In a letter to the Housing Secretary, the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan has expressed his concern at the prospect of the current eviction ban coming to an end on August 23rd. and wants to prevent private landlords from serving section 21 and section 8 notices where tenants have accrued arrears as a result of COVID-19.

Sadiq writes: “In a matter of weeks, local authority housing services could be overwhelmed, and we could see a flood of people onto the streets.

Following the herculean effort to get rough sleepers off the streets and into hotels to self-isolate, it would be a tragedy if thousands more people find themselves homeless due to being evicted.”

The Mayor’s letter sets out a range of measures the Government could take to immediately improve the outlook for London’s renters including:

  • Properly protecting renters from losing their homes by putting in place emergency legislation to prevent landlords serving eviction notices to any tenants affected by COVID-19 until the end of the pandemic;
  • Introducing ‘triple lock’ protection for renters affected by COVID-19:
    • Further increase the help the welfare benefits system provides with rents and cover any shortfall in rental payments of private tenants unable to pay them due to COVID-19, including arrears.
    • Prevent private landlords from serving section 8 (arrears) notices where tenants have accrued arrears as a result of COVID-19.
    • Scrap section 21 evictions to prevent landlords evicting tenants affected by COVID-19 using the so-called ‘no fault’ evictions route as an alternative to section 8.
  • Provide additional funding and guidance for councils to accommodate all households presenting as homeless as a result of the pandemic, including those not covered under emergency legislation, such as lodgers;
  • Implement urgent measures to tackle illegal evictions and other unlawful practices by rogue landlords and letting agents
  • Take steps to ensure landlords offer flexibility to tenants whose ability to pay their rent is affected by COVID-19, including by requiring landlords in receipt of mortgage holidays to notify their tenants of this and to enable tenants to be exempt from rental payments for the duration of the holiday
  • End the discriminatory ‘Right to Rent’ policy

The Mayor first wrote to the Housing Secretary about his concerns for private renters in March. Four months on, time is running out to help them and a once in a generation opportunity to reboot the rental market in favour of tenants is at risk of being missed.

Full text of the Mayor’s letter below.

Dear Robert

I welcome the measures that the Government has taken to date to protect renters – including by preventing evictions during the crisis and by going some way towards reversing cuts to the welfare benefits system. However, I am deeply concerned that the evictions ban is due to come to an end on 23 August and that, despite having had four months to do so, the Government has still not put in place necessary additional measures to properly protect renters from the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

Over two million Londoners rent privately, and families with children make up a third of these renting households. Many are on lower incomes, while more than half have no savings. COVID-19 has underlined the precariousness of their situation. Research by the Resolution Foundation shows that one in eight private renters across England have fallen behind with their housing costs since the outbreak, with private renters in London more likely to have accumulated arrears. In addition, Shelter’s Home Truths report has revealed the devastating personal impact the virus continues to have on renters.

These pressures have been exacerbated by the failure of the welfare system to fully cover the rents of those unable to pay them because of the virus, not least because of the Government’s benefit cap. GLA-commissioned research shows that the number of lowincome households in London having their benefits capped has doubled to 44,300, and those renting households who were already at the benefit cap before COVID-19 are now missing out by an average £532 per month.

These renters are facing high rental debts, eviction proceedings and homelessness. It is vital that the Government acts now to protect them, but it appears that it has no robust plans to do so. In particular, I share the concerns raised by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee that, without amending existing legislation, your Ministry’s plans to introduce a pre-action protocol to possession proceedings in the private rented sector will be toothless and will fail to prevent a cliff edge in evictions once the eviction ban is lifted.

To properly protect renters, the Government must work closely with cities and regions that best understand local housing markets and housing needs. The imbalance of power between renters and landlords means that the Government’s reliance on them agreeing ‘affordable repayment plans’ is unrealistic, particularly in London where the shortage of housing creates competition amongst tenants and gives them little option but to agree to a landlord’s terms. The capital also faces the impending prospect of a tsunami of evictions. In a matter of weeks, local authority housing services could be overwhelmed, and we could see a flood of people being forced onto the streets. Following the herculean effort to get rough sleepers into hotels to self-isolate, it would be a tragedy if thousands more people find themselves homeless due to being evicted.

I, therefore, urge you to implement the full range of measures that I have set out so that no renter accrues arrears or faces the threat of eviction or homelessness as a result of the ongoing impacts of COVID-19. These measures will also mean that local authorities and advice organisations are supported to assist people facing or experiencing homelessness, including the many thousands of rough sleepers in hotels and other emergency accommodation in the capital. Until they are enacted, the ban on evictions must remain in place.

The measures set out below form part of a wider package of interventions required to address the impact of COVID-19 on the housing sector in London, which I first wrote to you about on 25 March.  My team will soon be discussing with your officials the findings of the cross-sector COVID-19 Housing Delivery Taskforce, chaired by my Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, Tom Copley, on how to address the substantial challenges facing London’s housing construction industry following the pandemic.

Yours sincerely,

Sadiq Khan Mayor of London


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Comments

WP

18:24 PM, 14th July 2020
About 5 months ago

Step 1. If rent arrears/ASBO type isses have been accrued/in evidence BEFORE Covid hit - all bets are off = eviction to proceed
Step 2. If rent arrears/ASBO type issues have been accrued/in evidence DURING Covid as a direct result of tenant deciding not to pay/being an ar$e then 23rd Aug stands for Courts to hear them - all bets are off = eviction to proceed.
Step 3. You have now reached the stage where quite frankly no landlord would need/want to evict if they have a tenant paying all the rent due at the right time and being a good tenant.

So therefore stop banging on about the small amount of LL's who will try and evict for no good reason and get the courts to focus on these REAL necessary evictions so you free up Court time to hear the genuine ones!

Rennie

10:01 AM, 15th July 2020
About 5 months ago

If we are talking finances it would be much cheaper for the gov to just pay all the tenant's arrears and pay any top-up that the tenant can't afford because that is much cheaper than trying to sort out someone when they become homeless. sorted!

Able Services

10:12 AM, 15th July 2020
About 5 months ago

My feelings are that if any eviction was started before the lockdown with Covid-19, you should be able to submit paperwork when the Courts re-open on the 23rd August as this will have no connection to the virus.

David Price

10:20 AM, 15th July 2020
About 5 months ago

Very happy to go along with Mr Sadiq Khan's idea provided his income is reduced by the same amount as my defaulting tenants.

Lindsay Keith

11:20 AM, 15th July 2020
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by David Price at 15/07/2020 - 10:20
That will never happen!
No disrespect to the Great Khan but what planet does he live on?
Has he got ambitions to be the next Labour leader?

NewYorkie

13:24 PM, 15th July 2020
About 5 months ago

"Take steps to ensure landlords offer flexibility to tenants whose ability to pay their rent is affected by COVID-19, including by requiring landlords in receipt of mortgage holidays to notify their tenants of this and to enable tenants to be exempt from rental payments for the duration of the holiday".

Is this man ignorant or just thick?

For a start, evictions won't happen within a few weeks. We all know it normally takes months, with a tenant able to delay and obfuscate throughout, and would take even longer due to the backlog.

Next, the so-called 'mortgage holiday' myth must be de-bunked. There is no such thing! Landlords still have to pay their mortgage, in full, plus interest. They simply get to defer payments for a few months.

Most landlords are willing to agree on a payment plan for the tenant to pay arrears, but Khan believes tenants should be entitled to live in the landlord's property for free, for however long they want, claiming Covid-19 problems, and not face eviction.

What does Khan think happens when the landlord can't pay the mortgage?

I have a tenant who is currently 4 months in arrears. He's worked throughout the lockdown, claimed his SEIS lump sum, and received a tax rebate. His reason for not paying? I can get a mortgage holiday so he is entitled to a rent holiday!

Rather than lose their properties, I suspect some landlords will get so desperate, we will see mass law-breaking to remove problem tenants without going through yet more months of no income.

Jo Westlake

13:46 PM, 15th July 2020
About 5 months ago

Landlords don't evict good tenants for no reason. Estate agents may have before the fees ban but that's ancient history now.
Bad tenants are making life miserable for their housemates and neighbours. Without eviction as an option how are we supposed to deal with anti social behaviour?
Rent arrears are possibly a bit more complicated but personally I would say there is absolutely no excuse for not paying the LHA amount. It's only the bit above that we should be expected to be sympathetic and patient about. Rent is supposed to be a priority expense so it's only reasonable for landlords to expect tenants to treat it as such.

If the Deed of Assurance Mark Alexander devised years ago was adopted no good tenants would ever be evicted without compensation. It would also encourage more people to be good tenants.

If the government or local authorities are worried about the cost of housing loads of homeless people perhaps they should buy up a few failing hotels.

Mike

14:03 PM, 15th July 2020
About 5 months ago

What planet is the Mayor from? will he also request courts not to order court bailiffs if home owners cannot afford to pay their Council tax bill because of Corona Virus and they should then be exempt from being taken to court and threatened with bailiff action for not being able to pay CT or other utility bills. Why pick on Private Landlords?? .
Seems like he is running the biggest thuggery council and threatens local people with higher taxes everywhere, like hiked up congestion charges, introducing Ultra low emission charges .... part of official labour mob attacking private landlords..

David Price

14:17 PM, 15th July 2020
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Mike at 15/07/2020 - 14:03
Not so much which planet is he from as which planet I would like him to be on. Venus would be my first choice, hot, acidic and decidedly hostile, would suit him well.


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