Autumn is the season of the political party conference, and rarely is there anything to be jolly about. The Conservatives are in disarray with contenders for the leadership waiting for the Prime Minister, Theresa May, to throw the towel in and resign. Not surprising, given the disastrous results in the poorly timed general election earlier in the year.
Jeremy Corbyn seems fairly secure at the moment, whilst the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable, proudly states that he is ready for leadership. Good luck with that one, Mr Cable.
There are mixed views about the housing issues which were mentioned at the Conservative party conference at Manchester Central. As could be expected, there was talk of more regulation and controls for the private sector. The detail on what is planned will emerge in the 22nd November Winter Budget, but the main provisions seem to be:
All private landlords, as well as letting agent, will have to become members of an official redress organisation.
Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, said at the party conference: ‘We will make it mandatory for every landlord to be part of an ombudsman scheme, either directly or through a letting agent. At the moment, landlords, unlike letting agents, are not required to sign-up to ombudsman schemes. We will change the law so that this becomes a requirement, giving all tenants access to a quick and easy dispute resolution over issues like repairs and maintenance.’
How will they police this? Can they force all landlords to disclose that this is their role? As Accreditation schemes found, some landlords don’t want to be on registers.
All letting agents must be regulated in order to practice.
This is not new. All letting agents by now should be registered with a redress scheme. How effective was the original legislation, introduced in October 2014, if further measures are needed?
Landlords will be given incentives to offer tenancies of at least 12 months/1 year.
What those incentives will be are to be announced in the budget. We can speculate what those incentives might be, but some form of tax change to benefit those landlords who take the risk of a longer tenancy, might be acceptable.
However, if longer tenancies are to be the norm, there must be some changes in the process of eviction. Statistics show that it can take a landlord an average of 43 weeks to regain possession. This would be laughable, were it not for the fact that in most cases, this will mean 43 weeks without rent. As the most usual evictions will be because the tenant is 8 weeks/2 months in rent arrears, or is being evicted using section 21, the Accelerated Possession Procedure, the problems are obvious.
Will this be addressed by the suggestions of a Housing Court, accessible by both landlords and tenants to rule on contractual rights, or by tenants to take action against landlords who do not meet their legal responsibilities.
So, a raft of measures, some of which appear to repeat what has already been done. Though the Housing Court may provide what landlords have been requesting for a long time – an eviction process that is fit for purpose, that meets its’ aim of saving time and money in dealing with disputes.
For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon