Tiny government concessions including domestic violence cases

by Dr Rosalind Beck

11:47 AM, 1st September 2020
About 3 weeks ago

Tiny government concessions including domestic violence cases

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Tiny government concessions including domestic violence cases

The Government announced a tiny concession amongst its horrendous anti-landlord policies on Friday, when it stated that in cases of domestic violence, the landlord only has to give 2 weeks’ notice and in cases of anti-social and/or 6 months’ arrears, 4 weeks’ notice (rather than the previously announced 6 months’ notice).

This statement has thrown up many long-standing questions, which it would have done well to focus its efforts on over recent years, instead of constantly dreaming up ways of attacking landlords.

For example, if a man (it’s usually men, but I welcome feedback about male victims and how this can be different for them) hits his female partner and the police are called, what happens next?

Will the police ensure he cannot return? How? Will the police be briefed on this and will they let the landlord know they can give 2 weeks’ notice for him to leave?

When the 2 weeks’ notice is up, what happens? Does the landlord have to then take 6-12 months in the court system, actually evicting the tenant (as opposed to having the theoretical right to get rid in 2 weeks)?

How is the victim protected during this time?

The aggressor will often have the main financial resources, so is it actually going to be the case that it is he who retains the 6-12 months’ right to remain in the property while the (usually) female victim and children are made homeless? In cases where the woman and any children remain in the home, how will they pay the rent if they don’t have sufficient resources and if Housing Benefit doesn’t cover it?

If they do flee the home, where will they go? Places in women’s refuges are scarce, and many landlords can now only take on people with the greatest means and UK homeowner guarantors. This is because the Government has made paying rent optional, with evictions effectively outlawed for at least 12 months, by the time they have gone through the legal process. Landlords can’t risk having no income for all that time, which they do risk if they take on people who may not meet affordability criteria or have guarantors.

The issues are similar in cases of anti-social behaviour but I want to focus on domestic violence here. Many private landlords have faced issues with violent tenants and all the complex issues this throws up and I want to grasp some of this complexity and feed it back to the Government, from a landlord’s perspective.

Of all victims of domestic violence, the social sector only re-houses 2%, with private landlords catering for much of the rest, so we are at the centre of this.

To that end, I would appreciate any thoughts and particularly any stories landlords have of how this has affected them.

The Telegraph has reported on a case where a landlord is now facing eviction from her rented property and homelessness because she is owed £35,000 from her non-paying tenant whom she can’t evict because of Government policies.  ‘Eviction ban cost me £35,000 and made me homeless’: landlords face chaos as renters’ help extended



Comments

Jo Ramkissoon

13:00 PM, 1st September 2020
About 3 weeks ago

Thank you Rosalind. I found your comments / insight to be very helpful with getting landlords to think forwards. Very often landlords are reactive but you have posed questions / situations that we need to prepare ourselves for. These are not common occurrences for most landlords but educating ourselves can help us to deal with situations more rationally and satisfactorily. Thanks, once again.

Dr Rosalind Beck

13:50 PM, 1st September 2020
About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Jo Ramkissoon at 01/09/2020 - 13:00
Thanks, Jo. I appreciate that.
I do try my best to highlight the awful situation this Government has put us in. It was good this week to see two articles in the national press about landlords who needed their properties back, but now have 'won't pay tenants.'
As you say, some landlords may never face these situations, but I really feel for those who do and I want to help them have a voice and get the message to Government that it needs to stop its war on landlords. At the moment it is on a trajectory to completely wreck the sector.

steve p

16:04 PM, 1st September 2020
About 3 weeks ago

I think its probably time for some kind of housing court/tribunal. The current system does not work for landlords or tenants. The whole system needs an overhaul, it takes way to long to get a bad tenant evicted which encourages landlords to start proceedings early.

Things I would like to see are:
- S21 kept but must have longer notice period (Maybe 4 months).
- Immediate eviction of tenants where they are more than 2 months in arrears where they are not engaging with the landlord about the arrears or attempting to pay anything.
- Councils to be held liable for arrears and court costs if they advise tenants to stay in a property until the bailiffs come.
- Time between getting eviction from court and bailiffs available down to just 1 week.

If Landlords had more powers to evict bad landlords I am all for good tenants having more rights and powers.

Whiteskifreak Surrey

18:17 PM, 1st September 2020
About 3 weeks ago

Seething Landlord

12:00 PM, 2nd September 2020
About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by steve p at 01/09/2020 - 16:04
I am afraid that your utopic vision is never going to be realised unless there is a fundamental change of attitude from Government.

They announced their intention to abolish S21 in April 2019, consulted on how best to implement this for 3 months ending October 2019 (Government response still awaited) and included the Renters Reform Bill (yet to be published) in the legislation proposed in the Queen's speech in November 2019.

They pay lip service to the need to protect landlords' rights whilst at the same time acting as though they are only concerned with protecting tenants from eviction for as long as possible.

It seems to me that the system acts quite well for tenants, particularly with the extended notice periods introduced due to Covid19. I doubt whether the previous notice periods will ever be reinstated and suspect that by March 2021 the Bill abolishing S21 and introducing transferable deposits, if they stick with that daft idea, will have been published and might even have passed into law.

As for making Councils responsible for losses due to their advising tenants to wait for the bailiffs, dream on. They could correctly claim that they are doing no more than alerting tenants to their legal right to remain in occupation until a Court order for possession is enforced in accordance with the law.

Ron H-W

21:34 PM, 17th September 2020
About 5 days ago

Reply to the comment left by Seething Landlord at 02/09/2020 - 12:00
"Councils ... could correctly claim that they are doing no more than alerting tenants to their legal right to remain in occupation until a Court order for possession is enforced in accordance with the law."
True - EXCEPT when they also tell the tenants that, if tenant leaves before bailiff is en route to the property, tenant will be regarded as having "made self deliberately/voluntarily homeless" and therefore would no longer qualify for housing benefit in any alternative accommodation!


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