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Tenancies Reform Bill Fails On Technicality

Tenancies Reform Bill Fails On Technicality

Tenancies Reform Bill Fails On Technicality

UK private rental sector (PRS) and social landlords were able to breathe a sigh of relief on Friday 28th November 2014, when the controversial Revenge Eviction Bill, or to use its correct title, the Tenancies Reform Bill, presented by Lib Dem MP Sarah Teather, failed to progress past its first reading in the House of Commons.

Rather than failing on a vote, the bill failed on a technicality after MP’s Philip Davies and Christopher Chope chose to talk it out, known as filibustering, because there were not enough MP’s present in the House of Commons to vote for the Bill. The debate started at approximately 9.30am and parliamentary procedure dictates that only Bills which remain unopposed after 2.30pm may make further progress.

MP’s who supported the Bill tried bringing forward a closure motion, to end the debate and call for an early vote, however for a successful majority, at least 100 MP’s must support it, but the motion was only supported by 60 MP’s and the debate on the Bill subsequently ended.

In order for the Tenancies Reform Bill to become law by the next election it must pass a second reading stage in the House of Commons, but it is not certain whether the Government will commit more parliamentary time to debate the Tenancies Reform Bill to try to force it through.

UK PRS and social tenants do need to be protected from the small minority of rogue landlords, and so do good, reliable, law abiding landlords.

It is far from fair that the majority of upstanding landlords should be expected to alter legal business practices because of criticism drawn by a few rogue operators within the UK’s private rented sector.

The Tenancies (Reform) Bill proposed restrictions on the serving of section 21 notices even where only a “hazard awareness notice” has been issued by a council. Landlords wouldl also be prevented from serving a section 21 notice where an improvement notice has been served on a rental property relating to category 1 or category 2 Hazards under the HHSRS rating system, or where the rental property requires emergency remedial action.

Tenants would also be able to challenge section 21 notices where they had complained to the landlord or council before the notice was issued, but the council was still deciding whether to even inspect the property in question.

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Landlords may avoid LHA tenants in future

Benefit Cuts To Make 40,000 Homeless

PRS Landlords Urged Not To Refuse
Housing Benefit Tenants

Following the decision by UK mega landlord, Fergus Wilson to evict benefit tenants from his rental properties, a campaign group has called on landlords with rental properties in the private rental sector not to discriminate against tenants on benefits.

Dan Wilson Craw, a spokesperson for poverty charity ‘Priced Out’, said such action could make people who need benefits unwilling to claim them due to fear of losing their home, meaning they could fall further into poverty, stating: “This is just one symptom of a wider housing market that is simply not working in the consumer’s interests”. The charity chose to discuss the issue with the Guardian newspaper, after the broadsheet featured the announcement by Fergus Wilson, who owns around 1,000 rental properties in Kent, after he had taken a drastic course of action to evict all tenants claiming benefits and instructed his appointed letting agents not to accept any further applications from prospective tenants who receive housing benefits due to the high number of tenants claiming local housing allowance (LHA) who had fallen into rental arrears. 

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Landlord Possession Orders And Tenant Evictions Increase

Tenant Eviction Figures Increase Again

Tenant Eviction Figures Increase Again

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of PRS landlords seeking to evict bad tenants and the volume of possession orders doesn’t look like abating any time soon according to data released by the UK Government.

Government figures show that there were 103,329 landlord claims for tenant eviction and orders for possession made last year, the highest recorded rate over the last five years and continues to represent an upward trend.

It is estimated that between 67% and 80% of claims led to a possession order being granted by the courts.

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Lack Of Deposit Protection Information Costs Landlord Thousands

The Court of Appeal last week witnessed a landmark case as a landlord was ordered to return a tenant’s deposit plus 3 times the amount of the original deposit (the maximum penalty allowable by law) just because of an oversight with regards to the information provided about the tenancy deposit protection scheme used.

Ignorance Is No Defence

Ignorance Is No Defence

The tenant was in the process of being evicted from the property when it was claimed that the landlord was in no position to evict the tenant having not fully complied with the rules of deposit protection.

The tenant claimed they had not been given all relevant information about the deposit protection scheme, despite the information being available in an easy-to-obtain leaflet.

The landlord agreed there had been minor omissions regarding information about the deposit protection scheme, however, the tenant had not suffered in any way as a result.

The case was first brought before the magistrates court where the landlord won the case, but following the tenant’s appeal, the original verdict was overturned by the Court of Appeal and awarded in favour of the tenant.

The total financial cost to the landlord has yet to be revealed but estimates place the amount well into thousands of pounds (GBP).

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More PRS tenants are struggling with rent arrears

The latest UK Court Statistics released by the Government continue to indicate a steady rise in the number of claims for possession by landlords that have resulted in orders for tenant eviction being made.

Tenant Evictions Still Increasing

Tenant Evictions Still Increasing

The continued rise in severe rent arrears have lead to more than 25,000 landlords making successful claims for possession of rental property from tenants in the second quarter of 2012, and it is thought the third quarterly report due out imminently will show similar, if not higher results.

The number of tenants experiencing severe rental arrears is at its highest level since 2008, with over 100,000 tenants behind with their rent payments.

Sim Sekhon, spokesman for Legal 4 Landlords, the UK’s leading eviction specialists, said “Unfortunately it is unlikely that the problem is going to improve in the near future, and as a result an increasing number of landlords are now opting for rent guarantee insurance products in addition to their normal forms of insurance. Legal4landlords have seen a sharp increase in demand for rent guarantee insurance as landlords and their appointed managing agents look to find ways to protect rental income. The problem of tenants getting into financial difficulties is not going to go away and with the Government’s welfare reforms and additional austerity measures still to come, we expect tenant arrears and tenant eviction cases to continue to rise well into 2013 and beyond.”

Section 8 - Grounds For Eviction

Section 8 – Grounds For Eviction

Taking the professional tenant eviction route may sound expensive to many UK landlords, but it can actually work out to be the cheaper option because professional tenant eviction specialists, like Legal 4 Landlords, know what they’re doing and work fast.

Many landlords try to tackle the eviction process themselves by serving a Section 8, but there a few details that must be 100% accurate and many landlords attempting to evict tenant’s themselves unknowingly serve an invalid notice, consequently delaying the entire eviction process, which ultimately may result in more lost rent for the landlord.

A Section 8 notice to quit, sometimes referred to as a Section 8 possession notice has to be completed and served correctly on the tenant(s) of the rental property, allowing the landlord to seek possession of the rental property from the tenant during the term of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST).

The Section 8 notice needs to show that the tenant has breached the conditions of the tenancy agreement, any term or condition of the tenancy agreement that is seen to have been broken constitutes a breach. The most common type of breach is the non-payment or late payment of rent, however, damage to the property, unsociable conduct, and subletting are also grounds for a possession order.

To make a Section 8 form valid, the landlord must state which grounds the tenant has breached according to Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988

All Section 8 forms require the landlord to specify the grounds they are citing as reason for eviction.

These grounds for possession, under Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988, fall into 2 main categories and are listed below

  • Mandatory Grounds – this covers Grounds 1 to 8 and if one of these grounds is cited on a Section 8 form the court must grant possession to the landlord.
  • Discretionary Grounds – this covers Grounds 9 to 17 and in these cases the court will only grant possession if it feels it is reasonable to do so.
Ground Short Description
Ground 1 The landlord requires the property in order to use it as their main residence. This ground can only be used if the landlord used the property as their main residence prior to the tenancy beginning.
Ground 2 The mortgage lender on the property has served notice to foreclose. In this case the mortgage in question has to predate the start of the tenancy.
Ground 3 The property was previously used as a holiday let and is required to return to the status of holiday let. For the exact conditions that apply to this Ground please see the Housing Act 1988.
Ground 4 The property is being let by an educational institution and is now required by students of the educational institution. Written notice that this may happen must be served before the tenancy begins.
Ground 5 The property is owned by a religious body and they require possession for a member of their church i.e. a Minister of Religion.
Ground 6 The landlord wants to demolish and reconstruct, or redevelop all or part of the property. The tenant needs to have refused to live in all or part of the property while work is carried out for this ground to be feasible. If granted the landlord is required to pay all reasonable moving costs to the tenant.
Ground 7 The current tenant is a tenant heir and is not named on the original tenancy agreement. The landlord must serve a Section 8 notice within 12 months of the death of the named tenant.
Ground 8 The tenant has failed to pay more than 8 weeks rent in the case of weekly payments, 2 months in the case of monthly payments or 1 quarter in the case of quarterly payments. Ground 8 is often cited in conjunction with Grounds 10 and 11 so that a partial payment by the tenant just prior to the court hearing doesn’t render the possession order obsolete. Note: When claiming possession under this ground, it is advisable to cite more than one ground since, if the tenant pays off part of the arrears shortly before the hearing, this ground can no longer be proved and possession proceedings will have to be abandoned. It is, therefore, common practice to cite more than one ground for rent arrears (i.e. grounds 8, 10 & 11), if applicable, and to also wait until at least two months’ rent (or eight weeks in the case of a weekly tenancy) is unpaid before issuing the Section 8 Notice.
Ground 9 Suitable accommodation of the same type and quality has been offered to the tenant and refused. The landlord is required to pay all reasonable removal costs if possession is granted.
Ground 10 The rent is in arrears but by no more than 8 weeks in the case of weekly payments, 2 months in the case of monthly payments and 1 quarter in the case of quarterly payments.
Ground 11 The tenant is repeatedly late with payments or repeatedly fails to pay their rent until prompted by the landlord.
Ground 12 The tenant has breached any of the terms listed in the tenancy agreement.
Ground 13 The tenant has neglected or damaged the property, or they have sublet the property to another individual who has neglected or damaged the property.
Ground 14 The tenant is considered a nuisance to neighbours or other tenants and has received complaints concerning their conduct.
Ground 15 The furniture listed on the property inventory has been misused, damaged, broken or sold by the tenant or any individual living with them.
Ground 16 The property was let to the tenant as a condition of their employment but the employment has now come to an end.
Ground 17 The property was let on the basis of false information provided by the tenant or one of their referees/ guarantor.
Grounds For Eviction

Grounds For Eviction

How much notice is given in a Section 8?

  • The amount of notice a landlord is required to give differs according to the grounds they are citing on the Section 8 form. Ground 2 for example, requires a minimum of 2 months’ notice but grounds 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 only require 2 weeks’ notice.

What happens after the Section 8 Notice has been served?

  • All Section 8 forms must clearly state the date on which the notice expires. This is the date that the tenant has to have paid their rent arrears by, or have vacated the property by, and in nearly 80% of cases the tenant leaves or pays before this date arrives.
  • If the tenant refuses, the landlord can start court possession proceedings on the day following the date cited on the Section 8 form.
  • To do this the landlord has to acquire forms N5 and N119 from their local county court and pay the appropriate court fee. This then starts the process of gaining a possession order.

Will a Section 8 guarantee that a possession order will be granted?

  • In simple terms, NO!.
    The likelihood of being granted a possession order is dependent on the Grounds cited on the Section 8 form, and as mentioned earlier some grounds are mandatory while others are discretionary.
  • Grounds 2 and 8 are always granted the order but the circumstances surrounding the other grounds are carefully considered by the court before a decision is made.
  • The evidence of the landlord and any evidence submitted by the tenant is looked at closely and factors such as hardship and extenuating circumstances suffered by the tenant are taken into consideration.
  • If a possession order is granted it normally takes effect within 14 days, but in cases of true hardship on the part of the tenant this can sometime be extended to six weeks.

Tenant eviction can be a bit of a minefield for the uninitiated landlord and the safest and fastest way to evict a tenant is to use a tenant eviction specialist, like Legal 4 Landlords who take care of all the paperwork and appoint trained legal teams to deal with the hassle.

The UK's leading tenant eviction specialists

Legal 4 Landlords

knowledge of tenant evictions is second to none, that’s why they are the UK’s leading tenant eviction specialists!

Massive rise in tenant eviction orders as landlords are forced to get tough causing outcry from homelessness charity Crisis.

Over the last three years there has been a 70% rise in court orders for the eviction of tenants in the UK Private Rented Sector (PRS).

12% Rise in Tenant Evictions over last 3 years

12% Rise in Tenant Evictions over last 3 years

Homeless charity Crisis set about analysing figures released by the Ministry of Justice that revealed in the last 12 months some 36,211 PRS landlords have been granted a court order for the eviction of tenants, a rise of 12% on the previous year, and 70% higher than the 21,351 court orders for tenant eviction granted in 2009.

The data shows that between 2009 and 2011, almost 10,000 individuals approached their local authority claiming to be homeless due to the end of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) or because of rent arrears. A rise of 42% on previously released figures.

Duncan Shrubsole, Policy Director at Crisis, said: “Sadly it is no surprise that we are seeing tens of thousands of private tenants facing eviction. They face a dreadful combination of high unemployment and underemployment, draconian cuts to housing benefit and soaring rents. Our concern is that many of these people will have nowhere to turn, and end up falling victim to homelessness. In fact the Government’s own statistics point to this already happening. We are calling on the Government to rethink cuts to housing benefit that will inevitably leave increasing numbers of people unable to pay the rent. We are also in desperate need of more social and affordable housing in order to rein in the soaring rental market.”

Sim Sekhon from the UK’s leading tenant eviction specialists, Legal 4 Landlords commented: “In these austere times UK landlords are being forced to take action with bad tenants or tenants with rent arrears as they simply cannot afford to go without the rent. We have seen a significant rise in tenant evictions in the last 12 months and unfortunately this trend is set to worsen due to the raft of benefit cuts and welfare reforms being pushed through parliament. Landlords are finding their own finances stretched and are having to take legal action for the eviction of non paying tenants before their entire rental businesses go bust. There are ways for landlords to avoid being in this situation but it does require action to be taken before the start of a tenancy, all applicants should be thoroughly tenant referenced and landlords can utilise Rent Guarantee Insurance to keep the monthly rent flowing.”

Legal 4 Landlords the UK No.1 specialist landlord service provider

Legal 4 Landlords the UK No.1 specialist landlord service provider

To find out more about the specialist products and services

offered by Legal 4 Landlords please visit their comprehensive website

Shelter want to see an end to the bad practices of rogue landlords

RLA say bad landlords are not "Rogues" they are "Criminals!"

The UK’s largest homeless charity Shelter and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) have clashed over the issue of bad landlords.

Both organisations have been using very strong words over the last few days, whilst calling for more action by the UK government to stamp out bad landlords.

Shelter is calling on the UK coalition Government to hold a “Rogue’ Landlord” summit, but the wording has angered the Residential Landlords Association.

In particular, the RLA are incensed by Shelter’s use of the word ‘Rogue’, saying it belittles what is really ‘criminal’ activity. The RLA have also accused Shelter of using emotional clichés in their action plan, which could rebound and spell danger for tenants.

The heated exchange began after the homeless charity posted a question on its website asking if the Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, is doing enough to evict rogue landlords?

Shelter also launched a ‘5 point’ action plan on its website, saying that the housing minister should stop talking about stamping out rogue landlords and start taking action.

Shelter says its 5 point plan is based on 86,000 complaints by tenants about landlords.

Below are the bullet points Shelter would like to see, with The RLA’s response below:

Tougher sentencing for criminal landlords: increasing the maximum penalty for ignoring a court order to improve conditions from £5,000 to £20,000.
The RLA prefers the word criminal to rogue which has Del-Boy overtones of sympathy. Penalties need to be proportionate to the crime but without better prosecution they are just window-dressing.
The RLA calls for better training and resourcing of enforcement officials in council housing department without charging the good landlords through spurious regulation.

A rogue landlord prosecution fund: earmarking money to help councils get tough on landlords blighting their area
The RLA says, throwing more money at the problem does not produce solutions. It is about priorities. The cost of successful cases can be recovered.

New protection for brave tenants: safeguard tenants from being evicted in retaliation for whistleblowing.
Shelter must not weaken landlords’ rights to evict non-paying or anti-social tenants. Speedy resolution of tenant problems is in everyone’s interests but neither Court procedures nor Council departments work in their favour. RLA says there is scope for fast track procedures such as Alternative Dispute Resolution as used in tenancy deposit schemes.

An online landlord conviction database: a new website listing all convicted landlords to help tenants avoid criminal landlords.
RLA says this is playing to the gallery with all the risks of “Trip Advisor” sites. There is need for tenants to be aware of poor quality property which can often be detected on inspection of the property before signing a tenancy agreement and to examine appropriate certificates for gas and electrical safety and energy performance.
Better landlords are members of associations and local accreditation schemes which set property and management standards. Some councils and university schemes include property inspections. Tenants have little knowledge of their responsibilities for example to reduce humidity and stop condensation.

A rogue landlord summit convened by the Housing Minister to create a clear action plan to protect tenants.
The RLA says landlords must also retain rights to defend themselves from tenants from hell – including cases of malicious damage, false allegations and anti-social behaviour.
But action to protect tenants must be proportionate to the problem. The vast majority of good landlords must be protected from the hassle-factor just to provide statistics which look as though action is being taken. More than 70 laws and regulations exist to control the PRS – they must be used better to protect tenants and good landlords from the criminal minority.

In a statement, the RLA said: “The problem is that local authorities have failed to focus on tracking down bad landlords because of seeking to meet central Government targets to license landlords. With limited resources, they put their effort into the easy-to-check landlords who are the most visible and compliant and do not concentrate instead on those who deliberately seek to evade inspection. That’s why councils brought only 270 prosecutions of landlords last year.”

Instead, the RLA said they would welcome dialogue to produce solutions but condemn spurious regulation that would hurt good landlords but not criminal ones. The idea of a rogue landlord prosecution fund would merely throw money at the problem without producing solutions. In cases where landlords are prosecuted the costs can be recovered.

While supporting safeguards for tenants against retaliatory evictions, the RLA said Shelter must not weaken the landlords’ right to evict non-paying or anti-social tenants. The speedy resolution of tenant problems is in everyone’s interests but neither Court procedures nor Council departments work in their favour. The RLA says there is scope for fast track procedures such as Alternative Dispute Resolution as used in tenancy deposit schemes.

The RLA are calling for constructive dialogue to produce solutions including:

1. A culture change in Town Halls to work with the Private Rented Sector, (PRS), as a responsible supplier of housing. The PRS provides housing for tenants evicted by social housing, yet gets little or no support when problems arise.
2. Wider use of landlord accreditation schemes to promote self-regulation allowing councils to focus on criminal landlords.
3. Fast-track dispute resolution – 135,000 re-possession cases come to the courts a year. The average time for repossession is over 4 months after the tenant has not paid rent for two months.
4. Fair-play for landlords: direct payment of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) through tenant choice. Over 7% of LHA rents (90,000 tenancies ) are not received by landlords within 8 weeks.

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