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UK landlords are societies new favourite target for criticism

UK landlords are societies new favourite target for criticism

Everyone Appears To Be Taking A Pop At Landlords

I don’t think I am becoming paranoid but have you noticed that public attitude towards landlords has changed over the last couple of years?
I know opinion can be like the property cycle and generally rolls around, but have you spotted a few subtle and not so subtle digs being aimed at our profession?

Targeting the private rental sector and the landlords who provide tenants with much needed housing used to be the reserve of newspapers such as the Daily Mail, but now the derision is much more widespread.

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Labour Manifesto Aims To Change PRS Forever

Labour Manifesto Aims To Change PRS Forever

Labour’s PRS Rent Control And Tenure Plans Under Attack

Labour’s manifesto confirms their plan to introduce 3 year tenancies and a ceiling on excessive rent rises in the UK’s private rental sector (PRS).

Previous Government’s have tried introducing rent controls and the result discouraged the building of new homes as well as reducing more financial investment in their rental property portfolios by landlords.

For years rent controls caused damage to the nation’s housing market, reducing the number of properties being built and recovery took almost a decade. The current rhetoric being touted around by politicians could have disastrous consequences for house builders and landlords alike.

The introduction of longer term tenancies is very much geared towards tenants but fails to address the problems already faced by landlords when tenants abscond without giving any notice, leaving the landlord out of pocket and looking for new tenants.

The UK’s private rental sector (PRS) has improved dramatically over recent year’s thanks in part to the introduction of tighter legislation, but there remains a delicate balance between regulation and altering the relationship between tenant and landlord. Intervention on rents and security of tenure has in the past damaged both market liquidity and good business values within the PRS.

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Political Parties Focus On Housing To Win Election

Political Parties Focus On Housing To Win Election

Political Housing Policies Could Have A
Major Impact On Landlords

The May 2015 General Election could have a major impact on the UK’s private rental sector (PRS), with each political party promising something different for the reform of the UK housing market and the private rental sector.

Each political party has their own propaganda to attempt to influence voter sentiment ahead of the May 2015 General Election, but do they really have landlord and tenant interests at heart?

All political campaigning promises something different for home owners and landlords with some political parties focussing on real issues that could make a difference whilst others continue to apportion blame and responsibility on to local authorities and private rented sector landlords.

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Protesters Call For Ban On Section 21 Notices

Protesters Call For Ban On Section 21 Notices

Protesters Occupy Government Offices
In Call For Ban On Section 21 Notices

Last week campaigners from a tenant group called London Renters occupied the lobby of the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) by bedding down in sleeping bags to protest at retaliatory evictions by private sector landlords and over the apparent insecurity of tenure within the UK’s private rented sector (PRS).

The protest followed a workshop apparently held by the Department of Communities and Local Government covering ways of making it easier for landlords to evict tenants.

The protesters wanted to highlight how being evicted by a private sector landlord has become the leading reason for homelessness in the UK. The campaigners want secure tenancies for all tenants, and in particular an end to ‘no fault’ evictions under section 21.

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Dramatic Fall In Number Of Empty UK Properties

Dramatic Fall In Number Of Empty UK Properties

UK Empty Property Numbers At All-Time Low

According to campaigning charity Empty Homes, there has been a dramatic fall in the number of empty residential properties in the UK.

The new research shows that the number of empty residential properties in the UK dropped by 75,000 during 2013, the largest-ever annual fall in numbers.

The substantial fall has reduced the total number of empty properties in the UK to 635,127, the lowest recorded level ever, according to campaigning charity Empty Homes.

The biggest falls in the number of empty properties were observed in the North West of England and London.

There was also a large fall in the number of long-term empty residential properties, with figures dropping by over 27,000 to a new record low of 232,600.

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New Row Over Letting Agent's Evil Fees

New Row Over Letting Agent’s Evil Fees

Homeless Charity Wants All
Letting Agent Fees To Be Met By Landlords

The homelessness charity, Shelter have started to campaign to get all letting agent fees currently charged to tenants banned throughout England, and they want landlords to foot the bill for it, a point which has angered the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) and caused consternation with the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA).

Shelter have launched a new report, “Letting Agencies: the Price you Pay”, claiming that charging landlords is a fairer way of doing business and the charity also claim that tenants are having to go without food or heating to meet increasing housing costs because letting agents’ fees are out of control.

Shelter were instrumental in getting letting agent fees banned in Scotland and now want the practice outlawed by MPs in England and are calling for politicians to take action.

The homelessness charity seem to think that all letting agents are the devil in disguise and recently questioned 58 separate letting agents throughout England, anonymously, asking them about what fees each charged in order to set up a tenancy for a tenant and discovered the average administration fee charged by agents was £350 (GBP) plus upfront rent and tenancy deposits. Less than a third of letting agents questioned charged fees totalling more than £400 and seven charged in excess of £700.

The Shelter research claims that in the last three years,

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Hi all I read the following article in the Guardian this week and I thought I would share it with you as I happen to agree with the viewpoints stated by the author Heather Kennedy.

Please take a couple of minutes to read the following…. 

Is Shelter’s campaign against ‘rogue landlords’ helpful for private tenants?

Law-breaking landlords aren’t the sole blight on the private rented sector, despite Shelter’s eye-catching campaign

How do you feel if I say the words “energy performance certificate”? What about “London landlord accreditation scheme”? Is your pulse racing? I didn’t think so.

The dry and cumbersome language of the private rented housing sector is not exactly the stuff of captivating media headlines. For those of us trying to shout from the rooftops about how bad things are for private tenants right now, this can present a problem.

One organisation that has succeeded in capturing widespread attention is Shelter, with its simple and popular ‘evict rogue landlords’ campaign. The housing charity is encouraging residents to report dodgy landlords to their local authorities, who can take legal action if they are found to be operating outside the law.

The message has gained traction. Across the public debate on welfare and housing, the concept of the “rogue landlord” has caught on fast. It is central to our understanding of what is wrong with the private rented sector.

So if talk of ‘rogue landlords’ has helped to make the difficulties of life as a private tenant mainstream news, what’s the issue?

The problem is that Shelter’s concept seduces us into believing the deep-rooted problems in the private rented sector can be eradicated by punishing a small, malignant minority when in fact large-scale policy overhaul is now urgently needed.

There are plenty of fully legal landlords happy to bully their tenants, impose huge rent increases and end contracts on a whim.

Some renters and their landlords have come to consider this acceptable behaviour, so a rogue is always someone else: someone a friend of a friend told you about, or that one you saw on the telly. Never the landlord you have – or the one you are.

Of course unlawful evictions, harassment of tenants and illegal hazards need to be tackled. But I speak to private tenants across London every day and for most of them, current legislation offers them little or no protection against the problems they face.

For those landlords who are operating illegally, local councils have a feeble track record at prosecuting them, as Shelter points out. What Shelter doesn’t explain is how councils are supposed to find the time and resources to deal with the spiralling number of complaints from tenants, and at a time when funding for local authorities is being cut by central government.

Councils are already overwhelmed by the sheer volume of complaints they receive and can often only hope to provide basic dispute resolution between landlord and tenant.

For Shelter to suggest that we can prosecute our way out of this problem using current legislation is at best naive and at worst disingenuous.

The figure of the rogue landlord as a modern-day folk devil might be media-friendly, but it is meaningless for the majority of private tenants.

We need nuanced debate about the private rented sector, to reflect the diverse and complex experiences of tenants.

Shelter does some excellent work getting housing issues into the mainstream press, but right now its analysis is being allowed to dominate the debate.

Unlike council tenants, who have rich a tradition of self-organisation and representation, private tenants have no collective identity or voice.

This is partly why we’ve found it so difficult to challenge unfair treatment. It’s only now, as pressures on private tenants reach an apex that we’re beginning to speak as one and forge this collective voice.

Not until tenants are allowed to define their own campaigns and solutions will we begin to see the deep rooted change to the private rented sector we so desperately need.

Heather Kennedy is the founding member of Digs, a support and campaign group for private tenants in Hackney

This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. Join the housing network for comment, analysis and best practice direct to you

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.”

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