Renters Reform Bill Central Housing Group

“Devastating” – fears for industry after government U-turn

One of the leading figures in the lettings industry has described the government’s eviction ban U-turn as “devastating.”

Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, says: “This is absolutely devastating news for those landlords who already had possession cases ongoing prior to the pandemic.

“It means those landlords with problem tenants who have been causing anti-social behaviour or withholding rent for reasons unrelated to Covid-19 face a further delay in regaining possession of the properties.”

Shamplina echoes many in the industry with his exasperation at the late U-turn.

“Why have they left until the Friday before the courts re-open to give a further extension? … In my view, the government needs to seriously consider offering landlords, whose tenants have fallen into arrears relating to Covid-19 and can prove loss of employment, some financial support, for example three months of rent contribution.”

Timothy Douglas, policy and campaigns manager at ARLA Propertymark, adds: “Now that the ban has been extended, the government must use this time to introduce further guidance and prepare the sector.

“Given the backlog of cases already facing courts, it’s key that the government introduces sufficient guidance during this period to enable eviction proceedings to begin again smoothly and fairly when the ban is lifted.”

Meanwhile not-for-profit accreditation service safeagent has set out demands which it believes the government should enact. These are:

– An existing tenant whose income is reduced should immediately inform their landlord/agent and claim Universal Credit;

– The housing element of any UC claim should be paid direct to the landlord/agent from day one;

– Where UC is not covering the rent in full, and a mortgage is in place, the lender must agree to a reduction in mortgage payments for a specified period;

– A payment plan is then drawn up between the tenant and the landlord, supported by the agent where necessary taking account of any UC direct payments and shortfall;

– Any changes to the tenant’s circumstances are dealt with via a new payment plan;

– If necessary, the landlord/agent claims government grant to cover any debt built up due to the agreed reduction in mortgage payments.

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