Councils responding to Britain’s housing crisis by telling tenants to stay put in buy-to-let properties when landlords ask them to leave
Tenants have been advised to sit tight until they are evicted leaving landlords with hundreds of pounds of legal costs
Councils are telling tenants to stay put in buy-to-let properties when landlords ask them to leave as they attempt to deal with Britain’s housing crisis.
Even owners who try to return to their homes after living abroad are finding that tenants have been told to sit tight until they are evicted.
Going through the eviction process typically takes around four months and costs landlords hundreds of pounds.
Experts said the problem is “becoming acute” in London, Birmingham and other areas, particularly in the south, where demand for rental homes is high.
David Lawrenson, of LettingFocus.com, said: “It’s stupid, the councils are within their rights to advise people to stay on but it doesn’t encourage landlords to take on people who are [financially] vulnerable.”
“It partly comes back to immigration, as there are lots of people coming to this country and they typically want to rent properties” Alan Ward, chairman of the Residential Landlords Association
The likelihood of landlords dealing with sitting tenants has grown as Britain’s housing shortage has worsened.
Around five people compete for every property available to let nationally, rising to nearly nine for every rental home in London. Property experts Rightmove say demand is at an “all time high”.
As the population has swelled due to people living longer and immigration, the country’s housing stock has failed grow at the same pace.The resulting imbalance – and the seemingly inexorable rise in house prices in the south – has pushed rents higher.
It has become particularly difficult for those on lower incomes to find suitable properties when they try to move, and many are turning to local authorities for help.
But those who approach the council are being told they cannot get local authority assistance unless they are homeless, and so should stay in privately rented properties until they are forced out by bailiffs.
The issue came to the fore in posts on internet forum Mumsnet.
A user posting under the pseudonym Aimlessly said: “Our family has just returned from living abroad and are planning on moving back into our property that we have been letting out.
“We just got a call this morning from the letting agents saying that our tenants have advised them that they can not find another property in their price range and the council is telling them to stay put. What?
“It is not like we are property investors and are just trying to get higher rent. We do not have any other accommodation. My children need to have a roof overhead and be placed in school. How can the council do this? What action can we take and how long should we expect to be displaced? Totally shocked!”
Alan Ward, chairman of the Residential Landlords Association, explained that councils were unable to help people unless they had nowhere else to go.
He said it was standard procedure to tell a tenant that if there were no places in the area that they could afford, perhaps because they had previously benefited from rent freezes, they needed to wait until they were evicted before seeking a council house.
He said the issue was now commonly faced by both “accidental” and professional investors in buy-to-let properties.
“It’s becoming acute in some areas, not necessarily because there are fewer homes due to landlords exiting the market, but because there are more people seeking them. It partly comes back to immigration, as there are lots of people coming to this country and they typically want to rent properties,” he said.
“The council only gets involved when a tenant is looking for social housing. Tenants are told they cannot be rehoused until the bailiffs are at the door.”
Landlords faced with sitting tenants need to serve notice using a Section 21 form. If the fixed term in the contract has ended, that gives the tenant two months to find a new home.
If the tenant has been unable to find a new property after two months, the landlord can apply to a court for eviction. The cost is £280. Returning to live in a house that has been let is a legitimate reason to evict, Mr Ward said.
It can then take six to eight weeks for the judge to grant a possession order. If the tenant refuses to leave, bailiffs can be called. That typically costs another £110, according to the Residential Landlords Association.
Central Housing Group’s ‘Guaranteed Rent’ Scheme protects landlords from the substantial risk of rent arrears, costly evictions and wilful tenant damage. Our landlords are paid an agreed monthly Guaranteed Rent for the duration of the term of their contract regardless of their tenants’ financial or employment circumstances and regardless of whether their property is occupied or not.
Landlords – please carefully consider the risks you run by choosing to let your property privately when, instead, you can let your property on our ‘Guaranteed Rent’ Scheme and protect yourself from any rental loss exposure or legal eviction costs.
When you let your property on our ‘Guaranteed Rent’ Scheme either our local authority clients will assume full legal and financial responsibility for the eviction of your tenants or we will, depending on the nature of the letting of your property – consequently you can be assured that you will not incur any legal eviction costs at all when letting your property to us and, furthermore, you can also be assured that you will continue to receive full monthly rental payments from us until vacant possession of your property has been lawfully obtained!
If you are interested in finding our more about our ‘Guaranteed Rent’ Scheme, currently operating in north, east & west London, please call us today on 020 8447 1222.