Will eviction ban be extended?

Will eviction ban be extended? NRLA calls for landlord support. Good news for landlords with tenants receiving Universal Credit. The government releases guidance notes for landlords on the new electrical safety regulations.;
Eviction notice

With the June 25th deadline on the current eviction ban approaching, fears are mounting that a further extension of the ban may be given.

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has called for ‘a careful re-opening of evictions’ to support landlords who are struggling financially with the Coronavirus ban.

Results from a survey of 4,500 of the association’s landlord members, showed that 44% had tenants asking for financial help with paying rent.

Happily, 90% of landlords were able to provide some form of help.

Whilst temporary help may be feasible, the NRLA highlight that if the eviction ban is extended beyond the 25th, some landlords may be crippled by significant financial loss.

When the eviction ban came in, existing eviction cases starting or mid-way through the process halted. As a result, an extension of the ban beyond June could see some landlords having to cover the cost of a year’s worth of rent.

In 2016, the then Council of Mortgage Lenders (now part of UK Finance) reported that 60% of landlords own only one property and just 7% own five or more properties.

A loss of one year’s rent for a landlord with just one property is a huge cost. Similarly, where landlords own multiple properties, the possibility is that they may also be covering the cost of multiple tenants in financial difficulty.

NRLA is keen that landlords within the private rental sector are not left in impossible financial distress.

National statistics, released in March 2019, for England’s housing stock showed that the private rental sector comprised 19% of the total, at 4.7 million dwellings.

In Scotland, private rented property comprises 14.2% of total housing stock and in Wales the PRS amounts to 14.5% of total housing stock.

Significant reduction in the numbers of properties available to rent is likely to put upward pressure on rents amongst remaining properties and add pressure to an already struggling housing market.

Whilst some might argue that this would offer opportunity to those trying to get onto the housing ladder, wage growth has not kept pace with house price growth.

In addition, with Coronavirus placing additional pressure on people’s financial situation this is unlikely to be the outcome.

Chief executive of the NRLA, Ben Beadle, spoke of the associations findings on support offered by landlords to their tenants and voiced an assertion that evictions should resume in June, albeit with care:

“This research proves that the vast majority of landlords are doing everything possible to support tenants through difficult times.

“To suggest otherwise is needless scaremongering and serves only to heighten anxieties for tenants when we need a spirit of co-operation.

“We are continuing to work with landlords and the Government to sustain tenancies through the immediate crisis and beyond.

“As Ministers consider their next steps regarding the ban on evictions, they should not make it more difficult to take action against tenants who may be committing anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse, or where they are wilfully withholding rent which they can afford to pay.

“We need landlords who are going through a difficult time to have the confidence to stay in the market. Otherwise we are only going to end up with a worsening housing crisis as more tenants chase fewer properties.”

Mixed group of tenantsUniversal Credit update for landlords

There is good news for landlords with Universal Credit tenants. The Government has launched an online form, so that landlords can themselves request managed rent payments or rent arrears deductions, direct from the tenant’s Universal Credit payment.

The new service replaces the UC47 process and amalgamates the two previous forms into one.

It is hoped that this will improve processing times significantly, from over three weeks to as little as two hours in some instances.

Less than 2 months of arrears

If your tenant has not missed two months or more of rent, but you are requesting to be paid direct, the form requires you to stipulate the reason.

Reasons you can select from, that the government lists, are:

  • Mental health condition
  • Drug, alcohol or addiction problems
  • Domestic violence or abuse
  • Learning difficulties (including literacy or numeracy problems)
  • Young claimant (16 to 17 year old or care leaver)
  • In one month of arrears, built up over time
  • Debt problems
  • Previously in temporary and/or supported accommodation
  • Previously homeless or in and out of homelessness
  • At risk of eviction or repossession

Alternatively, there is the opportunity to leave the details of an alternative reason.

2 months arrears or more

If your tenant has missed two or more months of rent, you are able to request to be paid direct without any stipulated reasons.

Deductions for rent arrears can only be charged at a maximum of 20% of a standard Universal Credit amount.

Caridon Landlord Solutions, a specialist in Universal Credit advice for the private and public rental sectors, has been piloting the new system. Their commercial business director, Sherrelle Collman, welcomed the launch:

“This is excellent news for landlords and tenants, as well as all those new claimants who have recently been forced to sign up to Universal Credit due to Covid-19.

“For those struggling to manage their finances, it provides a much simpler route for tenants and landlords to request that the housing element of Universal Credit is paid directly to their landlord.

“The old paper forms, which required landlords to fill out, scan and email or post back, were not only time consuming but also took weeks process, sometimes getting lost along the way with rent arrears simultaneously mounting up.

“Given how stretched DWP’s resources are as a result of the pandemic, it is fantastic that they have managed to launch this important improvement to the system which will help those struggling to manage their finances.”

How to apply for direct payments

The form to apply for direct rent payments is available via the government website here.

Downing StreetNew electrical safety guidance

June 1st 2020 marked the date that the new electrical safety regulations came into force, within the private rental sector (PRS). The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has released new guidance for landlords.

From 1st July, new tenancies are subject to the new electrical safety standards.

What is required?

  • Who does the work? All electrical installations in the property must be checked by a ‘qualified and competent’ professional

For help finding a professional, please see our article listing government approved ‘Competent Person Scheme’ operators.

  • Give the report to the tenant. A copy of the report must be given to the new tenants before they move in (and to the local authority, if requested, within 7 days of receiving the request)
  • Give prospective tenants the report. If you receive a request from a prospective tenant, you must provide a copy of the report to them, within 28 days of the request.
  • Ensure British Standard 7671 is met. All electrical installations must adhere to national standards outlined in British Standard 7671.
  • Repeat work every 5 years. Testing and inspection must be carried out every 5 years as a minimum.
  • Get and keep the report. After each inspection and test, secure a report with the results and next inspection and test date.
  • Last report needed at each new inspection. At each subsequent inspection and test, a copy of the previous report must be given to the next inspector and tester.
  • Maximum 28-day deadline to fix any problems. Complete remedial work in the stipulated time-frame, taking no longer than 28 days after notification.
  • Confirm problems are fixed within 28 days. The electrician fixing any problems must give you written evidence the work is complete. You must give a copy of this confirmation to the tenant and local authority, within 28 days of completion of the work.

All tenancies affected from April 2021

From April 2021, all tenancies will be bound by these regulations. You must then adhere to all of the above and give a copy of the report to the existing tenant within 28 days of the inspection and test.

Which properties do and don’t the regulations apply to?

  • The regulations apply to: All properties that are the only or main home to rent-paying private tenants.
  • The regulations do not apply to: Leases of 7 years or more, social housing, lodgers, student halls of residence, hostels, refuges, care homes, hospitals, hospices and other healthcare accommodation.

Where can I find the Electrical Safety guidance?

The electrical safety guidance for landlords can be found on the government’s website.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 have been repealed. These regulations have been replaced by the new regulations.

Where an HMO is licensable (5 or more tenants) there is an amendment to the Housing Act2004. It requires that electrical installations in HMOs are ‘in proper working order and safe for continued use’.

Guidance notes for HMOs are on the government website here.

This information should not be interpreted as financial advice. Mortgage and loan rates are subject to change.