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Shelter Say Rogue Landlords Are Damaging Tenants Health

Shelter Say Rogue Landlords Are Damaging Tenants Health

New Survey Reckons PRS Properties Are In Such A Poor
State They Affect Tenants Health

According to a newspaper report published in The Independent last week, around 10% of private rental sector tenants have suffered ill health in the last 12 months because they feel that rogue landlords had failed to deal with poor conditions in their rental properties.

Housing and homelessness charity Shelter and British Gas commissioned a survey of 4,500 private rented sector tenants and reckon that poor living conditions are commonplace for tenant families in the UK’s private rented sector.

Around 50% of the tenants surveyed said they had lived in a rental property with damp or mould in the past year, and 20% of tenants said their rented home has electrical hazards, while 17% of tenants reported living with pest infestations including mice, ants and cockroaches.

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said “No family should have to live in a home that puts their health and well-being at risk, let alone face eviction just for asking their landlord to fix a problem. Yet every day, we hear from parents up and down the country living in fear that damp or gas and electrical hazards are putting their children in danger, but feeling powerless to do anything about it. With a bill to end revenge evictions going through parliament next month, we now have a real chance to change the law and protect renting families. We’re calling on people across the country to email their MPs and ask them to vote to end this unfair practice once and for all.”

Have Shelter got their facts wrong?

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Tenants Charter Proposals For Longer Tenancies Breach Mortgage Lenders Current Buy-To-Let Mortgage Terms

Tenants Charter Proposals For Longer Tenancies Breach Mortgage Lenders Current Buy-To-Let Mortgage Terms

Industry welcome to weak tenants’ charter that could see UK PRS landlords at odds with

Buy-To-Let Mortgage Lenders

The new tenants’ charter was announced by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (CLG), Eric Pickles, last Wednesday, allowing tenants to ask for longer tenancies and better transparency of letting agents’ fees.

The new tenants’ charter will also aim to force all lettings and property managing agents controlling PRS rental properties to join a compulsory redress scheme.

The Tenants’ Charter, published for consultation, outlines what tenants should be looking out for at every stage when renting a property in the UK’s private rented sector, including lettings agents having to inform customers what all their fees are upfront, before they have committed to anything, including visiting a property.

However, the introduction of these terms under the banner of the tenants’ charter could threaten the business future of large numbers of landlords who would technically be in breach of the strict buy-to-let mortgage terms imposed by many mortgage lenders, which generally stipulate that tenancy agreements are to be for a period of no more than one year.

Secretary Of State For Communities & Local Government, Eric Pickles

Secretary Of State For Communities & Local Government, Eric Pickles

Mr Pickles stated that the Government intend to publish a code of practice setting standards for the management of property in the private rental sector (PRS) along with guidance setting out the role of public bodies in protecting tenants from illegal eviction.

Mr Pickles said: “This government is on the side of hardworking people and the last thing we want to do is hurt tenants and kill (property) investment by increasing costs and strangling the sector with red tape. But tenants deserve better value for money, and dodgy landlords should be under no illusion they can provide a shoddy service with impunity. These proposals will raise the quality and choice of rental accommodation, root out the cowboys and rogue operators in the sector, and give tenants the confidence to request longer fixed-term, family-friendly tenancies that meet their needs”

Mr Pickles also said that the Government will develop a model tenancy agreement which will clearly set out the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords, and ensure families can benefit from longer tenancies, without changing the existing legal framework for the rental market. He said “Longer tenancies will give families greater certainty and security, especially for those with children at school, and reduce costs for both tenants and landlords who will not have to pay letting agents to arrange frequent contract renewals.”

Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee said: “I am pleased that the Government has embraced many of the recommendations in our private rented sector report. The proposals for a tenants’ charter and model tenancy agreements reflect our calls for greater awareness of rights and responsibilities. Far too often the security needed by families is not being provided by the private rented sector. I am pleased, therefore, that the Government has listened to what the Committee said about the need for more family friendly tenancies. It is also welcome that the Government is taking forward our proposal to allow rent and housing benefit to be clawed back when landlords have been convicted of letting out dangerous property. The Committee will be watching closely to ensure that they are translated into action. We will also press to ensure that the Government’s gathering of information on selective licensing leads to action to raise standards. Much remains to be done if renting is to become an attractive alternative to owner occupation. It is disappointing; therefore, that the Government does not see fit to crack down on cowboy letting agents and their rip off fees and charges. It is also regrettable that the Government has declined to give local authorities the powers and freedom they need to improve housing in their areas.”

Tenants Charter Proposals For Longer Tenancies Breach Mortgage Lenders Current
Buy-To-Let Mortgage Terms

Property professionals generally agree with the introduction of the new tenants’ charter but many think that the Government have sidestepped the opportunity to enforce much tighter regulation of landlords in the private rental sector and lettings and property managing agents in particular and many feel that the new measures fall short of what is really needed.

It will be interesting to see if the Government put pressure on the banks and mainstream mortgage lenders to abolish or ignore such limiting clauses, allowing them to deliver on the real aim of the tenants’ charter.

Caroline Kenny, an executive of the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) wants the Government to build on the experience and expertise of those industry bodies which already require higher standards of their members. Commenting “Responsible agents who choose to belong to professional bodies which require client money protection insurance, impartial redress and an adherence to a strict Code of Practice are forced to compete with those who show little regard to professional standards or the needs of their clients. UKLA believe that this package of proposals represents a missed opportunity for the Government to make mandatory the kind of comprehensive protection offered by the UK Association of Letting Agents and other industry regulatory bodies, which are called UKALA & NLAfor by those working in the property industry and needed by hardworking consumers who are unable to differentiate between good and bad letting agents.”

Richard Lambert, Chief Executive of the National Landlords Association (NLA), said: “The NLA has long argued that private renting can be far more flexible than commonly perceived, and we need to tap into this potential to meet the changing needs and expectations of those who rent. We look forward to working with government to make a success of these proposals. However, we believe that the Government has missed an opportunity to require greater professionalism of letting agents. While the requirement to belong to an approved redress scheme is a step in the right direction, it does little to protect the financial interest of landlords and tenants working with unregulated agents.”

Residential Landlords Association

Join The Residential Landlords Association

Alan Ward, Chairman of the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) welcomed the Government action to improve tenants’ understanding of their rights and responsibilities saying: “Tenants take more trouble buying a second-hand car than renting a house” Ensuring that tenants and landlords each understand clearly their rights and obligations to one another ensures a balanced relationship and enables them to hold each other to account based on the large number of laws already in existence. It will also play a vital role in rooting out those willfully criminal landlords who reap misery on tenants. We look forward to working with Ministers on the Charter as well as on how to best get this information to tenants.”

RICSPeter Bolton King, RICS global residential director, said “The long overdue announcement was definitely a step in the right direction. The lettings sector has for far too long been the Wild West of the property industry, with many tenants having absolutely nowhere to go should they wish to complain about shoddy service. The introduction of a code of practice specifically covering those managing rented property should certainly improve standards.”

Chief Executive of the Housing & Homelessness charity Shelter, Campbell Robb said “This announcement is recognition that current private renting arrangements are not fit for families with children, who need greater long-term stability. This is a welcome step in the right direction, and ministers now need to consider how to make longer tenancies a real choice for the families desperate for a more stable place to live.”

The announcement of the new Tenants’ Charter was good news for consumer champions, Which? Who have been campaigning since 2007 when they first called for an amendment to the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007 requiring letting agents to join an approved complaints scheme, just as property sales agents are. The consumer groups investigations also discovered earlier this year that major letting agents are acting unlawfully by not being upfront about the fees charged to clients.

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, looks set to be implemented in Spring 2014, giving all landlords and tenants access to a complaints scheme. This will mean that 40% of agents who currently aren’t signed up to a redress scheme will have to become members

Which? Executive Director, Richard Lloyd, said: “Renting is now the only housing option for millions so we’re pleased to see the Government taking steps to address problems in the lettings market. Making charges clear upfront will enable people to shop around more easily, and longer tenancies could mark the end of unnecessary renewal fees. The new legislation giving landlords and tenants access to a complaints scheme now needs to be brought in as soon as possible and there must be strong action taken against any agent in breach of the scheme.”

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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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UK Has 3rd Highest Housing Costs In Europe

UK Has 3rd Highest Housing Costs In Europe

New data released by the European Union has been highlighted by the housing and homeless charity Shelter, showing that the UK is the third worst off country in Europe when it comes to housing costs behind Denmark and Greece.

The EU says that 16.5% of people in the UK are financially burdened by housing costs, spending more than 40% of their income on rent or mortgage payments and other property related expenses.

Chief Executive of Shelter, Campbell Robb, said: “These figures are the evidence that the UK housing market is deeply dysfunctional. With so many families spending huge amounts of their income on their rent or mortgage, people will be making daily trade-offs between food bills, filling the car tank with petrol, and paying their housing costs. And this is not set to get better any time soon. While the situation is bleak at the moment, a succession of governments failing to provide much-needed affordable homes means that the future facing our children and our children’s children is only set to get worse. Housing is the largest monthly cost for most people, yet the affordability of housing is not getting the same attention as the monthly costs of other essentials such as food or fuel. We believe all political parties must recognise that solving our housing crisis is as fundamental as health and education.”

Landlords of Buy-To-Let properties are urged to set realistic rental prices for their properties but even they have high running costs to pay for as well as the mortgage.

However, Private Rented Sector (PRS) landlords are in a position to help struggling tenants by offering them a safety net when it comes to being able to pay the rent.

Rent Guarantee Insurance offered by Legal 4 Landlords can ensure that the rental income can continue to be paid should the tenants financial or employment circumstances change.

Click Here To Find Out More

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, Prime Minister David Cameron suggested cutting housing benefit for people under the age of 25 in an attempt to claw back Millions of pounds worth of Government money

Housing benefit is paid to adults on a low income, to help them pay their rent, either to the local council, a private landlord or to a hostel.

It is currently paid to around 380,000 under-25s and scrapping their entitlement would save the government around £2 Billion (GBP) a year.

The Prime Minister suggested that the current housing benefit system is sending out “strange signals” that people are “better off not working, or working less”. It encourages people not to work and have children, but we should help people to work and have children”.

The proposed reforms to the welfare system could be presented as an effort to reduce a feeling of antipathy towards people on benefits that may exist among the general public.

Mr Cameron said that current benefits system has “led to huge resentment amongst those who pay into the system, because they feel that what they are having to work hard for, others are getting without having to put in the effort.”

He also commented that cutting housing benefit for younger people would “stop the state dragging young people into dependency”.

Downing Street said that Mr Cameron wanted to encourage a debate about welfare.

The Prime Minister is also considering proposals to set benefits at a regional level, rather than a national level, in order to reflect wide regional variations in pay.

Political analysts have suggested that Mr Cameron’s comments are part of an effort to reconnect with Conservative backbenchers who believe the party’s values are being watered down under the coalition.

Housing charity Shelter has warned that cutting housing benefit for young people could lead to an increase in homelessness.

The charity’s chief executive Campbell Robb said: “To take away housing benefit from hundreds of thousands of young people – particularly in the current economic environment where young people in particular are finding it very difficult to find jobs – would have a devastating impact on many people’s lives. I think we would see many more people ending up homeless as a result of this kind of very significant change.”

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Over 30% of UK adults expect to spend less in 2012 compared to just 20% in October 2011, suggesting that more British people have become even more pessimistic about their finances this year.

The survey carried out by Ipsos Mori on behalf, the Resolution Foundation, who are an independent research and policy think tank organisation which aims to improve outcomes for people on limited income suggests that people have become more pessimistic about their finances since autumn last year, when the Eurozone crisis worsened.

23% of respondents to the survey said they expect their financial situation to deteriorate over the next 12 months, compared with just 15% in October 2011, when the survey was last carried out.

The latest survey also found that more people are now saving, with 30% of respondents saying they were putting money away every month, compared with 22% in October 2011.

20% of respondents to the survey also said they would not be able to go away on holiday this year.

The Resolution Foundation’s Chief Executive, Gavin Kelly said: “The longer households cut back on spending, the longer it will be before we see real economic recovery.”

The survey is part of a wider report by the Resolution Foundation, called ‘Squeezed Britain’, highlighting the pressures on low and middle-income households.

Last week, housing charity Shelter warned that more than a third of people have cut back on their food bills in the last year, in order to pay their mortgage or rent, representing an increase of 44% since 2008.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “These staggering findings show just how many millions of people are cutting back on essentials as the continued squeeze on incomes starts to really bite.”

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