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Local Authorities Urged To Build More Private Rental Sector Properties

Local Authorities Urged To Build More Private Rental Sector Properties

Local Authorities Urged To Promote Institutional Investment In Private Rented Sector Over Home Ownership

According to the report “Making Renting Viable“ commissioned by the British Property Foundation (BPF) and conducted by a leading London law firm; more UK local authorities should focus on building new residential properties for the private rented sector to encourage institutional investment instead of promoting local homeownership.

The British Property Foundation and Addleshaw Goddard who conducted the survey, reckon that UK local authorities should earmark land within their council boundaries for private rented sector (PRS) properties and set housing development targets to encourage pension funds and other institutions to invest more in the private rented sector.

Partner at Addleshaw Goddard, Marnix Elsenaar, said: “It’s vital councils recognise both the need for an institutional private rented sector that’s not the same as buy-to-let, while ministers should update planning guidance to make building for rent economically viable. Residential property was seen as more difficult than renting out a commercial office block, but the landscape has changed. Institutions want reliable, long-term returns and they should see a good degree of income growth in the private rented sector.

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Government Set To U-Turn On Immigration Checks By Landlords

Government Set To U-Turn On Immigration Checks By Landlords

Immigration Checks Unworkable Say Critics

There could be a moral victory for common sense on the cards as the UK Government are set to perform yet another U-Turn on policies as they are forced to back down on requiring landlords to conduct immigration checks on all tenants.

The Government plan was announced in the Queen’s Speech back in May and intended to force private rented sector (PRS) landlords to check their tenants’ immigration status or face fines of up to £3,000 (GBP).

Under the intended reform, all UK landlords and letting agents would be forced to check the immigration status of every tenant and tenants would have to produce documents showing they have permission to be in the UK.

There are also been concerns raised about landlords’ ongoing responsibilities for tenants already in their rental properties whose status may have gone from legal to illegal. Under the proposals, first-time offenders could face fines of £1,000 (GBP) per illegal immigrant in their rental properties. Landlords who failed to make proper checks within the last three years could also be fined £3,000 (GBP) per tenant.

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Government Set To Backtrack On Landlords Conducting Immigration Checks

Government Set To Backtrack On Landlords Conducting Immigration Checks

Bill forcing landlords to check Immigration status of tenants
will be watered down

As previously reported on Spotlight the Government proposals for landlords to check the immigration status of all tenants, has already caused a great deal of outrage from all sectors.

http://mypropertypowerteam.com/landlords-expected-to-do-uk-border-agencys-job-for-them/
http://mypropertypowerteam.com/even-mps-think-landlord-immigration-checks-are-unworkable/

Government ministers look likely to perform the expected U-turn and backtrack on the proposal that would require landlords to verify the immigration status of their tenants.

Prime Minister, David Cameron is reported to have been livid when he was told that the proposed new legislation would have to be watered down.

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, the legislation that is set to become part of a the new Immigration Bill, will not be rolled out nationally, instead, only landlords in certain parts of the UK will be forced to carry out immigration checks and the newspaper named some boroughs in West London would where landlords would be at the forefront of policing the immigration requirements.

Communities and Local Government (CLG) secretary, Eric Pickles, is reported to think that a mandatory requirement for all UK landlords would involve a great deal of additional red tape, and the resulting extra costs would end up being paid for by tenants.

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Landlords expected to do UK border agency's job for them

Landlords expected to do UK border agency’s job for them

Private landlords are set to become an extra line in UK Border Control as they will be legally responsible for ensuring that they only let rental properties to people allowed to be in the UK under immigration laws announced in the Queen’s Speech.

This means that Private Rental Sector (PRS) and social housing landlords will have a responsibility to make sure their tenants are in the country legally

Over 3 million buy-to-let landlords are rental property owners in the UK private sector and will be responsible for checking the immigration status of all potential tenants, with fines running into thousands of pounds for those breaking the law.

Employers will also face more substantial fines for employing on illegal immigrants.

It appears that UK landlords and employers are expected to police the immigration system as unpaid members of the UK Border Agency.

Landlords are being given additional responsibility with no recompense other than the threat of heavy fines for failure to comply. Why are we expected to do the UK Border Agency’s job for them when they are paid handsomely for failing to do the job they are employed by the Government to do?

Does this mean that Landlords will be given a financial incentive to turn informant?

I don’t think so…

The new measures are included in an amended Immigration Bill will also limit the ability of European migrants to claim UK state benefits and ensure that the right to residence in the UK on the basis of family commitments is not abused by criminal elements. The UK judicial system will be expected to balance the nature and seriousness of the crime committed against the right to remain resident in the UK.

Temporary migrants will be charged for use of NHS services and only those who have lived in an area for at least two years will qualify for social housing. Regulations will also be amended to ensure that European immigrants cannot claim benefits for more than six months if they do not actively seek legal employment and show they have a genuine chance of obtaining work.

The legislation has been drawn up as the Coalition Government struggles to contain the electoral threat posed by the UK Independence Party (UKIP), which has hard-line immigration policies.

The details of how the measures will be implemented will be set out later in the year. The plans will be the subject of a formal consultation in the coming months.

Ministers expect the legal requirements on landlords will affect those letting rooms in houses of multiple occupancy (HMO) properties. However, the measure will be universal and it will be the responsibility of all landlords to seek copies of passports and appropriate visas.

It is unclear how landlords are supposed to verify the authenticity of documentation, as many employers have already discovered to their cost since the tightening of employment rules surrounding immigrant workers, as falsified information has no way of being checked and is only up to the diligence of the employer to ascertain the true identity of their employees.

The limit of the financial penalties set to be levied on landlords who fail to comply is also yet to be decided but is expected to be severe and may run into thousands of pounds.

Welfare Reforms Deny LHA access To Housing

Welfare Reforms Deny LHA access To Housing

The Government’s sweeping welfare reforms are severely limiting the ability of young people to access affordable rental properties in the UK Private Rented Sector (PRS), according to a recent survey published by a homeless organisation.

The public survey published by Homeless Link, confirmed the findings of a landlord survey, conducted by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) and the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL).

The survey revealed that 65% of all UK local authorities had reported a negative impact on the ability of young people to access affordable shared (HMO) private rented sector (PRS) accommodation.

In January 2012, changes made by Government ministers increased the age at which housing benefit claimants could claim only for a room in shared housing from age 25 to age 35.

This simple change affected over 1.3 Million private rented sector (PRS) tenants aged between 25 and 34.

Over 35 local authorities across the country have either adopted, or are considering adopting, planning powers to restrict the growth of such properties by preventing residential properties being converted to shared properties for rent, (HMO’s).

The survey by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) and the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) of over 1,000 landlords found that 55% of respondent said that there were not enough shared properties to cope with the Government’s welfare reforms.

Richard Jones, RLA policy director said, “As Ministers in Whitehall implement welfare reforms which will see an increase in demand for shared housing, councillors in town halls across the country are using planning powers to restrict their growth. It is clear that the left arm of central government and the right arm of local government don’t know what each is doing. Faced with such contradictions, the RLA is calling on councils to support the desperate need for new shared housing and lift restrictions on their growth completely.”

Over 35 local authorities across the country are either adopting or have adopted what are known as Article 4 Directions.

Available since 2010, these powers enable a council to require planning permission to be obtained by the property owner to convert a property from a private residential home to a shared house for rent, (HMO).

In reality many local authorities are using it to restrict the growth of the Private Rented Sector within their remit, often under pressure from a small, vocal group of residents in any given area.

Government’s Own Watchdog Warns Ministers Over Housing Mayhem

There will be a huge shortage of affordable Private Rented Sector (PRS) property for tenants claiming housing benefit if the Government Welfare reforms go ahead in the spring of 2013 as currently planned.

Welfare reform could lead to more Tenant Evictions

Welfare reform could lead to more Tenant Evictions

The warning has come from the Government’s own spending watchdog, the National Audit Office and has been backed by the British Property Federation (BPF), which says ministers should take action to stop UK Private Rented Sector (PRS) housing becoming unaffordable to tenants claiming benefits.

The National Audit Office says the danger comes from Local Housing Allowance (LHA), which is paid to benefit tenants in private rented accommodation, being calculated in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rather than local market rent inflation.

The National Audit Office says this could lead to a divergence between local area rents and benefits.

The British Property Federation reckons that Government ministers are aligning rents with the price of sausages.

By 2017 the National Audit Office warns that 48% of all UK local authorities could expect to have double the number of benefit applicants, than at present, looking for two-bedroom properties that they will not be able to afford.

Tenants currently claiming benefits may face financial hardship or even eviction when the proposed changes come into force.

From April 2013, the Government is set to change the way LHA increases are calculated, shifting its sums away from the 50th percentile of local market rents to either the Consumer Price Index or the 30th percentile of local market rents, whichever is the lower.

But knowledge among tenants about the proposed housing benefit changes is minimal, warns the report. Surveys of tenants living in private rented sector properties show that 87% know nothing or very little about the changes.

The report, ‘Managing the impact of Housing Benefit reform’, makes a series of recommendations, in particular that the Government should increase awareness of housing benefit and Universal Credit changes, particularly among those living in the private rented sector. The report also underlines that the National Audit Policy only analyses policy impact, but makes no comment on the policy itself.

The British Property Federation said the Government cannot ignore this report. Policy director Ian Fletcher said: “Since the cap was announced, we have expressed concern that the measure will rapidly and relentlessly erode what Local Housing Allowance will be for. This is because market rents have historically risen with earnings, rather than the basket of goods such as sausages and net curtains.”

The full report is here:http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/1213/housing_benefit_reform.aspx

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

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The UK’s leading tenant eviction specialists

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