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Landlords: A roundup of May’s biggest stories

Posted on 2015-05-27

In conjunction with Landlord Today, we have put together a summary of the biggest landlord stories in the last month, from tenant evictions to the proposed introduction of mandatory licensing.

In the early part of the month Plumstead in South East London was named as London’s most affordable rental location, with the average asking rent of £1,143 per month seven times cheaper than the capital’s most expensive area, Mayfair. The desirability of Prime Central London was further highlighted by the news that rents in these parts of the city had risen 7.4% in the last year.

Then, of course, the big day arrived, with the Conservatives securing a slim majority that almost nobody predicted. The result was met with a mixed response, with many in the property industry celebrating the news, while some tenant’s groups voiced their frustration at being ignored. Matt Hutchinson, director of flat and house share site, said the Tory victory was a major concern for UK renters, with worries about rising rents and letting agents’ fees not being taken seriously by David Cameron’s party.

A few days later Brian Murphy of the Mortgage Advice Bureau came out saying the new Government would make life easier for landlords, enforcing none of the proposed changes such as rent controls and a national landlord register that were promised by the Labour Party.

The new Government suffered a blunder over its announcement of the new housing minister. Initially, it looked like Brandon Lewis had been replaced by Mark Francois, a man with no experience in housing. But he wasn’t in the position for long – in a confusing turn of events, it soon became clear the new housing minister was now the old housing minister. Lewis had in fact retained his position. Confused? Yes, us too.

Midway through the month, figures released by the Ministry of Justice showed tenant evictions had reached a record high in the first quarter of the year. This caused quite a stir, with Shelter bemoaning ‘sky-high’ housing costs and welfare cuts that were leaving thousands of people fighting to keep a roof over their heads.

Landlords also came under attack from the Citizens Advice Bureau, with the charity claiming that rogue landlords are raking in £5.6bn a year for unsafe homes that fail to meet legal standards. Their study suggested that ‘740,000 households in England live in privately rented homes that present a severe threat to tenants’ health’.

But the National Landlords Association (NLA) hit back at the Citizens Advice report with a statement titled: “Lies, lies and damned statistics”. The NLA said that, while they recognise bad practice does exist in private housing and should be stamped out, the report attempts to suggest that the PRS is insecure and poorly managed across the board, ignoring any evidence that points to the landlords who are doing a good job and the many tenants who are happy with their accommodation.

In order to provide a bit of balance, the NLA pointed to its own research which showed that 86% of families consider their rented properties as their ‘home’ and 62% do not see renting as a barrier to family life. Additionally, they said only 7% of tenancies are ended by landlords and just 0.5% of families who rent privately say they’ve had to move because their landlord increased their rent.

Lastly, in a surprise move, the Conservatives have announced they will implement a mandatory licensing scheme for private landlords. David Cameron has said he wants to clamp down on unscrupulous landlords who cram houses full of illegal migrants, but some have questioned if enough funding will be made available to councils to enforce these powers effectively.

That’s that for a jam-packed May. June should see further developments on the post-election policies we’ve seen develop in the last month, including the national roll-out of Right to Rent checks and new rules on sub-letting.

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