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Labour leader, Ed Miliband says Labour plan to crackdown on rogue landlords and grant local authorities greater powers.

Labour Leader Plans Crackdown on Rogue Landlords

Labour Leader Plans Crackdown on Rogue Landlords

Politicians are usually reticent to discuss the UK private rental sector (PRS) because political conflicts could easily arise. Landlords are, of course, great taxpayers and contributors to the economy, where tenants are seen to be the ‘ordinary man’: in reality, both have their place and their way of working. 

However, Labour party leader Ed Milliband was keen to make clear his plans to protect tenants from rogue landlords in a speech delivered earlier this week, in favour of longer tenancy agreements.

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Gov Insist Direct Payment Deal Is Bringing PRS Rents Down

Lord Freud, the Government welfare reform minister, has claimed that the majority of UK landlords of benefits tenants have dropped their PRS rental prices in return for getting direct payments.

Government Out Of Touch On PRS Rents

Government Out Of Touch On PRS Rents

The “out of touch” statement does not reflect what is really happening in the UK Private Rental Sector or the rise of PRS rents and is giving misleading information to existing landlords.

The Government temporarily extended the discretion of local authorities to make direct payments to landlords last April when caps to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) were introduced, paying a maximum of £400 a week for a four-bed property.

Private sector landlords were told that they could only receive direct payment for tenants claiming benefits if they lowered their PRS rent. This simply is not true!

According to the essential landlords handbook written by theLHAexpert.com – UK Landlords can still receive direct rent payments for tenants claiming benefit if the tenant is classed as vulnerable.

Speaking at the National Landlords Association (NLA) annual conference, Lord Freud said “The measure has been very successful. In London alone, a third of claimants who tried to renegotiate their rent received a rent cut. This arrangement will stay in place for housing benefit claimants, prior to the move to Universal Credit. There has been no mass exodus of people moving out of city centres or widespread homelessness because of our housing reforms.”


Hmmm… I was under the impression that some local authorities had been criticised for shipping families out of their boroughs, in a bid to avoid local authority overspending on PRS rents…and London is the worst culprit!

In a report titled “Between A Rock And A Hard Place: The Early Impacts Of Welfare Reform On London”,by the Child Poverty Action Group and Lasa, a welfare rights charity, found that many councils are actively considering obtaining accommodation elsewhere, while others believe that making up private rent shortfalls will leave the authorities with gaping holes in their budgets. The report also predicts that 124,480 London residential households will be hit by a combination of cuts to Local Housing Allowance, the new benefit cap which means no household can claim more than £26,000 a year in total, and under-occupation penalties.

According to a survey in the Guardian, some London councils are already acquiring properties in Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Berkshire and Sussex, and are considering accommodation in Manchester, Hull, Derby, Nottingham, Birmingham and Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales.

This is despite guidance issued by former government housing minister, Grant Shapps telling councils in May 2012, that they must “as far as is reasonably practicable” offer accommodation for homeless families within the borough.

Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs last January at Prime Minister’s Questions that housing benefit reform had brought private rent levels down, a claim repeated last month by, newly appointed, government housing minister, Mark Prisk.

Local councils in London say that because of buoyant demand, Private Rented Sector (PRS) landlords see no reason to drop rents for benefits tenants, and that many landlords have already refused to accept applications from tenant’s claiming benefits.

So Mr Cameron does refusing tenant’s on benefit qualify as reducing LHA rents?

Just because there has been a drop in Government and local authority spending on LHA payments, it does not support the Governments claims. The real truth is that the Government are putting the squeeze on the UK PRS as they fear that landlords will make more profit than the government can either control or even tax.

Such a shame that the people who are supposed to be in charge of our country are so out of touch with the real world, especially in the wake of Friday’s post about “Record Rental Prices”.

The UK may need an extra 1.1 Million private sector rental properties within the next 4 Years

The number of people renting homes in the UK Private Rented Sector (PRS) has almost doubled over the last ten years, increasing from 2.5 Million tenants in PRS properties in 2002 to 4.8 million tenants today.

‘Rental Britain’ – A new report from Savills estate agency and the property portal Rightmove, predicts that one in five households could be in Private Rented Sector (PRS) property by the year 2016.

That would require an additional 1.1 Million rental properties to be made available for rent to new tenants.

The report may be gloomy reading for the UK Government but it is great news for thousands UK landlords who have already secured their rental incomes using specialist products and services for landlords, such as, Rent Guarantee insurance.

The ‘Rental Britain’ report forecasts that £200 Billion (GBP) investment in property will be needed, but says that only £50 Billion (GBP) of this is expected to come from buy-to let-funding, with the gap filled by institutional investment in new purpose built rental accommodation, but the report says that this needs to be recognised by the planning system.

The report also states that a shortage in supply is making some regions of the UK unaffordable, with PRS rent rises averaging 5.2% across the UK during 2011.

The report estimates that during 2011, working tenants paid around £48 Billion (GBP) in rent to private landlords, and this is expected to rise to around £70 Billion within the next five years.

Lucian Cook, director of Savills residential research, said: “Meeting the growing demand for private renting and the changing profile of tenant demand are perhaps the greatest challenges facing both the housing industry and policy makers. The dynamics of supply and demand make a great case for investment in this sector, and rising rents and lower capital values have begun to attract private investors back into the market. Investment returns relative to other asset classes will dictate the pace of investor entry to this sector.”

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Will UK Government act to end the bad practices of rogue landlords?

Legislation is needed to eliminate rogue landlords

With various UK landlord associations, official trade bodies and voluntary charitable agencies all lobbying government and campaigning to stamp out rogue landlords in the UK Private Rented Sector, the government have finally decided to take action.

The coalition Government’s Housing minister, Grant Shapps has revealed that he will be issuing guidance about rogue landlords following talks with interested parties.

The statement could have sent chills down the spines of many underperforming landlords and earned the government a huge chunk of industry respect; however it turned out to be a bit of a damp squib.

In response to a question from Labour MP for Coventry, Jim Cunningham, in the House of Commons, Mr Shapps said: “I have just held a meeting with the interested parties about rogue landlords. They are a matter of considerable concern, and I will be pulling together all the powers and issuing a booklet on that shortly.”

Are the government just paying lip service to landlord associations or will they ever issue legislation to encourage a strict code of conduct among UK landlords?

Shapps denied removing any of the protections from landlords or tenants in the UK private rented sector, saying: “It is worth remembering that actual measures consistently show that people are happier in the private rented sector than in the social sector, which might surprise him. I can also tell him that 90% of tenancies are ended by the tenant, not by the landlord.”

Shapps also said that the number of non-decent homes in the UK private rented sector has fallen from 47% in 2006 to 37%.

Labour’s shadow housing minister, Jack Dromey took Mr Shapps to task about his previous claims in the House of Commons on private rents supposedly falling in response to caps to housing benefit. – Read the full story here

Mr Dromey said: “Both the housing minister and the Prime Minister, out of touch with reality, have asserted on the floor of the House of Commons that rents are falling in the private rented sector. An analysis conducted by the House of Commons Library reveals that in 90% of local authorities in England, in all nine regions, rents are rising or staying the same. Will the housing minister now admit to the 1.1 Million families struggling to pay their rent that he got it wrong?”

Shapps admitted to having used the survey by LSL, (The parent company of estate agency chains Your Move and Reeds Rains), but said it had not been wrong to say rents are going down. He said: “The LSL survey shows that in the three months through to January, rents actually fell, but we do not have to believe LSL. There was rightly some scepticism there – LSL measures only buy-to-let – so let us instead look at the absolutely authoritative figures recently produced by the English Housing Survey, which show that in real terms, rents have fallen in the past year.”

Why Does Housing Benefit Cost Taxpayers £22 Billion (GBP) A Year?

The latest figures from the Department for Work and Pensions, (DWP), show there are close to 5,000 families still claiming more than the £400 Housing Benefit cap.

According to a report in the Daily Mail

  • At least 100 families are living in luxury homes and raking in enough housing benefits to fund a £1 Million mortgage each
  • Of the 100 families, 60 have their rent paid by the state to the value of £5,000 a month, according to the Department for Work and Pensions
  • More than 30 of those families are given a staggering £1,500 a week (£6,000 a month) to live on and at least 60 families receive more than three times the national average wage, getting £5,000 a month
  • Unemployed living in luxury homes in upmarket parts of London such as Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster
  • Poor families should not be allowed to live ‘swanky’ lifestyles in postcodes beyond their means, says campaigners
  • Calls for the Government’s £400 per week cap to be properly enforced

Although almost four out of every five people on housing benefit pick up less than £100 each week.

At a time when millions of people are struggling to get on the housing ladder, the handouts would easily cover the monthly payments on a £1Million (GBP) mortgage.

Government ministers last year announced a sweeping range of welfare reforms that included housing benefit, which costs the taxpayer £22 Billion (GBP) every year, should be capped at £400 per week.

The figures have been criticised by campaigners and raised concerns that the Government’s plan to cap housing benefit is not being enforced.

Public opinion has been riled by the cases of immigrants and asylum seekers who have been allowed to live in lavish flats at the expense of taxpayers.

The Government handouts have allowed families to live in upmarket parts of London such as Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster alongside wealthy neighbours such as Roman Abramovich and George Michael.

WHERE HOUSING BENEFIT CASH GOES EVERY YEAR 

  • NORTH  EAST………………………….. £923.8m
  • NORTH WEST……………………….. £2,371.5m
  • YORKSHIRE…………………………….. £1,497m
  • EAST MIDLANDS………………….. £1,112.6m
  • WEST MIDLANDS…………………. £1,736.6m
  • EAST…………………………………….. £1,632.6m
  • LONDON………………………………. £5,539.0m
  • SOUTH EAST………………………… £2,536.9m
  • SOUTH WEST……………………….. £1,525.9m
  • WALES…………………………………….  £892.9m
  • SCOTLAND ………………………….. £1,660.6m

TOTAL  £21,429.5m

 

The figures will raise calls for the Government’s benefit reforms to be bulldozed through the Commons – despite pleading from Liberal Democrats.

The data, made public under the Freedom of Information Act, show the areas of the UK that pay out the most in housing benefit are

  1. Birmingham – £469 Million per year
  2. Glasgow       £337 Million per year
  3. Brent            £306 Million per year
  4. Westminster £281 Million per year
  5. Hackney       £267 Million per year
  6. Newham       £264 Million per year
  7. Enfield          £258 Million per year
  8. Haringey       £254 Million per year
  9. Liverpool      £254 Million per year
  10. 10.  Manchester £248 Million per year

The DWP says the new rules which have been put in place mean that those families currently getting more than £400-per-week will be gradually taken out of the system and moved into cheaper accommodation.

A DWP spokesman added: ‘These figures underline exactly why our Housing Benefit reforms are so necessary’.

Emma Boon of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “This is further evidence that it is right to cap benefits. It is unfair to ask taxpayers to pay for swanky central London homes for others when they can’t afford to live in those postcodes themselves. Many middle or low income families have to decide if they can afford to house their family in town, or if they have to move out to somewhere more affordable. It is not unreasonable to ask those on benefits to make the same choice.”

 Read the Full Daily Mail article here

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Private rented sector property rents in the UK are only expected to rise moderately in 2012, remaining almost in line with inflation and salary increases, according to the Belvoir rental index, which records monthly and annual rents across the popular letting agents 140+ UK offices.

Their data shows that in the UK, property rental fluctuation is very regional and this is likely to continue throughout 2012, with areas such as the South East likely to see a higher increase as residential property rental prices force people out of London into the Home Counties.

Dorian Gonsalves, Managing Director of Belvoir Lettings said “With regard to other areas of the UK I think rents will be relatively stable and increases are likely to be very modest. Landlords should be realistic and it is worth noting that, according to the Belvoir rental index, many areas have still not recovered to the level of rents that were being achieved in 2008. I predict that increased rents and stable or decreasing house prices will result in increased rental yields in 2012. However, this is clearly very dependent on the outcome of the Eurozone crisis and its impact on credit and borrowing. The current crisis is making consumers nervous, which will affect both the buy to let and mortgage market”.

A recent phenomenon noted by letting and property managing agents across the country is the occurrence of “double renting”, (homeowners who are struggling to sell are letting out their existing home to provide an on-going income stream and then moving to another lower cost rental property).

Double renting helps avoid the stamp duty and legal costs that are associated with buying and selling, enabling savvy homeowners to remain invested in the property market until the situation improves and sell at a profit.

“I believe that for reasons of flexibility, mobility and budget, 2012 will see a shift towards more people viewing renting as a preferred lifestyle choice rather than a necessity. By renting a property people are able to plan their spending much more accurately and have the flexibility to follow job offers etc. These factors are becoming increasingly important, particularly in the current financial climate. Because of the regional variations in rental yields it is very important for landlords to talk to specialists who understand the local market, as buying in the wrong area could be very costly. We are able to report on regional markets rather than providing a broad brush approach, which is not particularly helpful from a property investment perspective”, explained Mr Gonsalves.

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Private residential renting on the decline?

UK PRS faces mounting rent arrears

The demand for Private Rental Sector (PRS) residential property and the rise in the number of tenants struggling to meet their rental payments on a regular monthly basis is expected to see the decline of the UK residential property rental market.

According to the latest lettings survey from the Association of Residential Letting Agents, (ARLA) 55% of its members reported more tenants than available properties in the last quarter of 2011, down on 74% reported in the previous quarter.

39.2% of ARLA members reported an increase in tenants struggling to pay their rent, over the same period, a figure up from 36.7% the previous quarter.

President of ARLA, Tim Hyatt, said: “With household income decreasing and job uncertainty prevailing, it could be that increasing rental arrears is a sign that the wider economic malaise is having a tangible impact on personal finance – some consumers may have reached the limit of their access to finance, while others may be cutting back as many commentators have predicted. We are reassured by the fact that the number of new tenancies is stable, but we will be watching the market closely in the coming months to determine how significant these latest figures will prove to be”.

The number of First‐Time Buyers (FTB) able to secure finance isn’t expected to significantly increase during 2012 so the demand for the limited supply of private sector rental accommodation will only continue to rise. It won’t be long before rents will resume an upward trend.

With the mortgage market still facing more financial fallout from the Eurozone crisis and the wider economy remaining sluggish, UK credit conditions are unlikely to ease significantly in 2012. As household income become even more stretched during the course of the year, it is expected that the current rental boom will begin to decrease outside of prime areas in the latter half of this year.

With the numbers of tenants having trouble paying their rent being on the rise, UK Landlords are encouraged to use Rent Guarantee products from reputable suppliers such as Legal 4 Landlords as a means to keep their rental income flowing in.
If you are a Landlord who lets a property then you run the risk of rent default by your tenant. Even the best checks and references cannot predict a tenant falling on hard times and not being able to pay their rent. Could you cover your expenditure if this happened?

In the current economic climate, many landlords are finding their default rates soar as tenants struggle with rising unemployment and increased bills. Recovering arrears can be difficult and costly for landlords, without any guarantee of success.
At Legal 4 Landlords, our Rent Guarantee Insurance will cover you against your tenant defaulting or failing to pay the rent

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