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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”.

Universal Credit Row Rages On

Universal Credit Payment Row Rages On

MP’s Fight Among Themselves As Universal Credit Row Gets Heated!

A parliamentary debate held earlier this month (September) saw MPs from both sides of the house getting a little hot under the collar, arguing about how payment of the new Universal Credit benefit, due to be introduced next year, should be made.

Universal credit is set to take over from Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and controversy surrounds the fact that ALL payments will be made directly to the claimant rather than to their landlord or the letting agent managing their rental property – just as LHA payments are paid now.

During the debate, Labour MP Alex Cunningham raised the concern that the new Universal Credit could result in large rent arrears being accrued and an increase in tenant evictions if payments are made directly to tenants, and claimants living in private rental properties should be given the option to have the payments made direct to their landlords.

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) minister Iain Duncan-Smith however vehemently defended the decision for direct payment stating that “Benefit claimants shouldn’t be treated like children who can’t manage their own pocket-money. Claimants would benefit more by showing them trust, and that by doing so they would be more likely to cope better when they return to work.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA), the National Landlords Association (NLA) and homeless charities Shelter and Crisis, have all lobbied the Government to give claimants the ability to choose how the benefit is paid, but they require the support of all UK landlords.

Property professionals, letting and managing agents, property investors and landlords need to get the weight of support behind the campaign and your help is required, please Sign the e-petition here.

UK landlords are warned to prepare for the worst case scenario and act quickly to evict tenants if rental arrears exceed 8 weeks, as it remains to be seen if the current rental arrears problems will worsen with the new Universal Credit benefit system.

If you have a problem with tenants in more than 8 weeks rent arrears please contact us and we can start eviction proceedings for you. Call Now on 0844 567 4001

The UK's leading tenant eviction specialists

The UK’s leading tenant eviction specialists

Letting Agents Face More Regulation And Red Tape

Will UK Letting Agents Face Further Regulation?

Will UK Letting Agents Face Further Regulation?

Letting and property managing agents face the increasing likelihood of mandatory licensing following the Government’s cabinet reshuffle and the appointment of Mark Prisk as UK Housing minister.

The recent appointment of Mr Prisk as housing minister is hoped to mark a new beginning for the UK property market and it is hoped that he will be more receptive to the idea of mandatory licensing of the UK lettings industry as he first tried to introduce mandatory licensing for letting agents into a Bill back in 2007.

It is widely speculated that Mr Prisk’s views on the subject remain the same now and it is hoped that he will be more amenable to the mandatory licensing than former housing minister Grant Shapps was.

With the support of the new Housing minister it is thought that the licensing scheme is much closer to becoming a reality, although not a certainty, as the Government have previously stated that pursuing further regulation would be a waste of time and effort.

Mr Prisk’s support of the idea of mandatory licensing for the letting agent industry became public knowledge last week when during a House of Commons debate on housing, Labour MP Ian Mearns, speaking to shadow housing minister Jack Dromey, is reported to have said “Is my Hon. Friend aware that he has an ally in the new minister for housing on the regulation of the private sector? In 2007, he tried to introduce a clause into a Bill that would have regulated private letting agents.”

Mr Dromey replied: “It is welcome that the new minister for housing has taken that position. Perhaps he will follow that through in government.”

Award Winning Property Management Services

Award Winning Property Management Services

John Paul, Managing Director of award winning Castledene Property Management said “Good letting and property management agents should have nothing to fear, as they operate within the guidelines set by ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents), the Property Ombudsman and The National Association of Letting Agents (NALS). Further regulation of the lettings industry coupled with the Government’s welfare reforms could have an adverse effect on the UK Buy-To-Let market as a whole and unless landlords are using agents who are clued up on the proposed changes to housing benefit then we could see thousands of landlords going out of business before the end of 2013”.

Ian Potter, operations manager at ARLA, said: “It’s vital that consumers have full confidence in lettings agents, and the industry must respond to their concerns about bad practice. That’s why in the absence of regulation, we developed our own licensing scheme. All licensed ARLA member letting agents must be covered by a client money protection scheme and hold professional indemnity insurance – which means consumers are protected against negligence. They must follow our strict codes of conduct and have a certain level of training. Ultimately this means that, should something go wrong, there are protection mechanisms in place. We would therefore always advise that consumers use an ARLA-licensed lettings agent. This means that, should a landlord or tenant feel the fees were unclear, they can lodge a complaint with ARLA or utilise the Ombudsman Scheme membership, which all ARLA licensed agents are required to hold.”

Previously, the former Housing Minister Grant Shapps, had promised that landlords and letting agents would not be subject to greater regulation because it would introduce too much additional red tape. Speaking in parliament in September 2010, Mr Shapps rejected the regulations proposed by the Rugg Review, stating: “With the vast majority of England’s 3 million private tenants happy with the service they receive, I am satisfied that the current system strikes the right balance between the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords. So I make a promise to good landlords across the country: the government has no plans to create any burdensome red tape and bureaucracy, so you are able to continue providing a service to your tenants.”

However, now that Mr Shapps has been made Conservative party chairman and the subsequent appointment of Mr Prisk as UK Housing minister, further regulation of the industry has become widely feared, with some property professionals voicing concerns about the amount of red tape they would have to get through just to get a tenancy to commence.

Major clampdown launched on ‘beds in sheds’

UK Government act to end bad practices of rogue landlords

UK Government act to end bad practices of rogue landlords

Prior to the Government reshuffle, ministers last week launched a major clampdown on rogue landlords to bring an end to suburban shanty towns that trap vulnerable people in dangerous living conditions.

Ex Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Ex Immigration Minister Damian Green, (who have since been replaced by Mark Frisk and Mark Harper respectively) launched new guidance for local authorities making clear the wide range of powers at their ministerial disposal to shut down so-called ‘beds in sheds’ that blight entire neighbourhoods and take action against other bad practices by rogue landlords such as overcrowding and poor maintenance.

Mr Shapps in his then post as housing minister and Mr Green as the then immigration minister saw the evidence for themselves when they attended an early morning visit on a suspected rogue landlord’s properties, and witnessed the squalid conditions the so called tenants lived in, despite paying the landlords hundreds of pounds a week.

While visiting six properties, officials from Ealing Council and the UK Border Agency encountered 39 individual tenants, 22 of whom were illegal immigrants:

  • Of those 22 illegal immigrants encountered, 19 were detained (3 were required to report to a Reporting Centre because they were a couple with a young child);
  • Of those 22 encountered, 14 were found in the outhouses (this includes two adults with a young child). The remainder were found in the houses;
  • Of those 19 detainees, 16 were Indian nationals and 3 were Pakistani nationals;
  • Of those 19 detainees, 9 entered the country without leave, 8 were overstayers, one was a failed asylum seeker and one was working in breach of his visa conditions.

    Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Immigration Minister Damian Green outside a rogue landlords property

    Ex Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Ex Immigration Minister Damian Green outside a rogue landlords property

Power to tackle rogue landlords

The new guidance highlights the range of actions councils can take to clamp down on rogue landlords once and for all. These include:

  • Proactively identifying problem properties and effectively working through complaints;
  • Taking action using a full range of legal powers to stop rogue landlord activities;
  • Working with other organisations including the police and UK Border Agency to tackle linked criminal behaviour;
  • Prosecuting rogue landlords who persistently let illegal property;
  • Providing evidence of landlord’s earnings to magistrates to ensure they receive an appropriate level of fine for offences;
  • Naming and shaming prosecuted landlords by publicising successful cases;
  • Working with the new national taskforce which has been set up between Whitehall departments, the police, the UK Border Agency and local government. The taskforce is exploring all possible options for closing down ‘beds in sheds’.

Thousands of sheds and outbuildings have been being rented out illegally to vulnerable migrants by ruthless rogue landlords who charge them extortionate rents to live in cramped conditions.

These tenants can often find it difficult to return home quickly with some having destroyed their passports to avoid removal often leaving them to either live in these outbuildings or face living on the streets.

Outgoing Housing Minister Shapps said: “It’s simply unacceptable that people are living in squalid, unsafe accommodation provided by landlords more interested in a quick profit rather than their basic responsibilities. The actions of these rogue landlords are helping fuel illegal working and benefit fraud and creates a shadow housing market that carries dangers to people’s health as well as community relations. I want to see all agencies from local authorities, the police and the UK Border Agency using the full range of powers at their disposal to work together on a national clampdown towards ridding our communities of this problem once and for all.”

Whilst former Immigration Minister Green said: “Operations like this show our determination to do whatever is necessary, working alongside local authorities and police, to enforce our laws against those who are in the UK illegally. The UK Border Agency continues to gather intelligence about those illegally in the country. Those with no right to be in the UK must leave the country. If they need help to leave the country voluntarily we will offer it but if they refuse we will enforce there removal.”

The latest guidance is backed up by the recent allocation of £1.8 Million (GBP) to local authorities earlier this year to tackle the issue and flush out rogue landlords renting out ‘beds in sheds’.

The Government have stated that they are commited to targeting rogue landlords and any change in ministerial representation will not affect their policy on this or any other matter.

The full report can be downloaded here

Homelessness is a real threat for young families in the UK

Homelessness is a real threat for young families in the UK

An extra 1.5 million 18 to 30-year-olds are expected to apply for private rented sector (PRS) properties over the next eight years.

The influential Joseph Rowntree Foundation says that one risk is that pressures on private rental accommodation could force young families out of the sector and into homelessness. The foundation forecasts that around 310,000 more young families will be looking for private rented housing in 2020 compared with today.

In a new report, ‘Housing options and solutions for young people in 2020’, it warns that the influx of youngsters chasing a private rental home will see young families, poorer and vulnerable people finding it hardest to compete for tenancies.

As previously reported by Legal 4 Landlords News on Friday 15th June 2012, an additional 500,000 young people will be forced to stay with their parents into their thirties, taking the total number of young people still at home to 3.7 Million by 2020.

Read the full story here http://blog.legal4landlords.com/index.php/property-renting-set-to-be-way-of-life-for-young-families/

The report is just the latest in a series of similar documents warning of the growing pressures on the private rented sector as increasing numbers of people are locked out of residential property ownership.

It warns of a three-tier race to find rented accommodation, with those at the top who can afford to pay rents, a ‘squeezed middle’ group who struggle to pay, and a bottom rung of 400,000 who risk being excluded completely.

However, there is hope for the lower tiers as leading landlord services provider Legal 4 Landlords can offer Rent Guarantee Insurance to landlords and tenants providing that the applicants pass the L4L Tenant Referencing criteria.

Kathleen Kelly, programme manager at the Foundation, said: “Our badly functioning housing system will see those on the lowest incomes really struggling to compete in the competitive rental market of 2020. Renting is likely to be the only game in town and young people are facing fierce competition to secure a home in what is an already diminished supply of housing. With 400,000 vulnerable young people, including families, on the bottom rung of a three-tier private renting system, we need to avoid turning a housing crisis into a homelessness disaster.”

The Foundation wants to see more homes built, longer tenancies at affordable rents – with the incentive of tax breaks for landlords – and the expansion of local letting agencies to find suitable homes for vulnerable young people.

David Clapham, lead author of the report, added: “With 1.5 million more young people no longer able to become home owners by 2020, it’s vital we take the opportunity to make renting work better.”

The Housing Minister Grant Shapps has again dropped another broad hint that the Government plan to step in and regulate the UK Private Rental sector affecting the rights of both Landlords and Tenants.

A proposed new bill of rights for Buy-To-Let (BTL) landlords and tenants in the UK private rental sector could be introduced by the Government in an attempt to make the PRS market easier to operate in.

The Housing minister said that the plan was to take all the separate housing regulation for both parties and group them in an umbrella-style document, covering all bases. The plans are thought to include regulation covering fire safety and anti-social behaviour.

Mr Shapps said: “One way of reducing the regulatory burden on landlords but also improving the safety and security for tenants would be to provide a central, standardised document, containing all landlord and tenant responsibilities from fire safety to anti-social behaviour.”

Lib Dem MP, Adrian Sanders, is also in favour of the proposed changes, stating that it would “simplify” the private rental sector, in the same way that the planning sector has benefited from a similar scheme.

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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.”

Despite the exorbitant claims about lower LHA rents and the acceptance of them by private rented sector, (PRS), landlords made by the coalition government Prime Minister David Cameron in Parliament on January 11th. Only a handful of landlords with tenants on Local Housing Allowance are actually accepting lower rents in exchange for getting rent paid to them directly.

The claim by the Prime Minister David Cameron that private rents are falling as a result of welfare reforms was wrong!

Mr Cameron had claimed in Parliament on January 11th 2012 that: “rent levels have come down, so we have stopped ripping off the taxpayer”. Apparently he was quoting rental data from LSL Property Services, which had only been quoting falling private sector rents.

The data published by LSL Property Services does not take into account LHA rents.

In an attempt to get landlords to lower rents, councils have temporary powers to pay landlords, rather than tenants, the LHA in exchange for lowered rents.

A later statement from 10 Downing St said: “Private landlords were reducing rents – lessening the impact of benefit cuts – in return for local housing allowance being paid directly to them.

The prime minister made his wildly inaccurate claim in the middle of the Welfare Reform Bill’s rough ride through the House of Lords at a time when his government was desperately seeking to convince peers that the package of reforms would not increase homelessness as tenants would be left struggling to meet their rents under the new benefit caps.

Mr Cameron’s claims that private rents are falling as a result of the governments welfare reforms were difficult to swallow for a number of property professionals, prompting one magazine to take action.

The same data was quoted again on 30th January 2012 by Housing minister Grant Shapps, who seized on the same survey by estate agency LSL Property Services, citing it as the evidence Mr Cameron had used to support his claims.

The survey did indeed show rents fell by 0.8% in December – the second successive monthly fall.

However, if the data is examined correctly, the figures reveal the seasonal drop in private sector rents before Christmas was actually less than the 2.3% drop in December 2010 and rents overall had actually risen 4% year-on-year.

The magazine Inside Housing, used the Freedom of Information Act to request information on LHA rents from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), and every local authority in England following Mr Cameron’s claim in the House of Commons.

204 local authorities responded, with only 36 reporting any rent reductions in return for direct payment of LHA. Of the 36, 12 reported a combined total of 65 landlords cutting rents, an average of fewer than six landlords in each area.

The DWP says it has ‘no data records’ of how many landlords have reduced rents, but it has collected ‘anecdotal evidence’ from around 80 councils.

It states: ‘The majority have reported that they have used the new safeguard to help claimants negotiate down rents and all plan to use it during 2012 as transitional (payment) protection runs out.

The Inside Housing survey suggests that most PRS landlords are not even remotely tempted to accept lower rental payments for their properties, either directly from local authorities or not.

The National Landlords Association (NLA) and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) have each disputed the claim rents are falling and believe landlords are more likely to reduce the number of tenancies let to benefit recipients, warning that landlords would rather re-let their properties at the full market price to working tenants, and are able to do so in the current climate of high rental demand.

Labour’s shadow housing minister, Jack Dromey, has already written to number 10 about the issue but received no response and will raise the matter in parliament demanding that Mr Cameron corrects his statement or justifies it.

Mr Dromey said: “Now we know the truth. The nationwide Inside Housing story exposes the reality of rising rents in most areas of the country and explodes the myth that rents are falling”.

 

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.

UK Government Housing minister Grant Shapps is expected to urge UK banks and mortgage lenders to offer more long term fixed UK mortgages to increase stability in the UK housing sector.

In today’s uncertain world, people want to know where they stand. Yet when it comes to buying a home, there are no mortgages available for them where they can fix their payments for a long time, the longest fixed-rate mortgage currently available for many is a maximum of five years.”

Mr Shapps calls for longer-term mortgages, possibly as long as 30 years, could help cash-strapped families to be able to plan ahead by letting them know how much they will have to pay in the years and decades to come.

Lenders should look at the case for 30-year mortgages and how the UK can move to a more stable housing market where first-time buyers can get their first foothold on the property ladder at a cost they know they can afford.

While mortgage lenders have cut their rates in recent weeks, longer-term fixed mortgages often require house buyers to pay a huge deposit.

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