Empty homes, support for good landlords, broadband update and latest sell-off figures

8 Jan 2020 12:59 PM

Today we look at the chancellor’s comments on absentee landlords, a government pledge that it will support good landlords to ‘thrive’, plans to make it easier to get broadband installed in blocks of flats – and a survey on the number of landlords planning to sell homes.

Absentee Landlords

Chancellor Sajid Javid said there is ‘always room for new ideas’ to address problems caused by absentee landlords.

During oral questions to Ministers at the Treasury yesterday, Grahame Morris MP (Labour, Easington) raised the work of his local authority in tackling issues related to absentee landlords. 

He said:

“Durham County Council has developed a housing regeneration masterplan to tackle issues relating to absentee landlords, poor quality and low housing demand, but the scale of the investment requires a commitment from central Government.

“Will the Chancellor meet me and representatives of Durham County Council to discuss how the housing masterplan can be financed to deliver much needed regeneration in Horden?”

Noting that Mr Morris had raised an “important point”, Sajid Javid MP, said: “Work has been done on absentee landlords, but there is always room for new ideas. I will make sure that the relevant Minister meets him.”

Support for landlords

Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP, has provided a written statement to Parliament providing an update on activity in his Department over the recess. 

On the £4million of funding to support over 100 councils to tackle criminal landlords he said:

“I have awarded more than 100 councils across England a share of over £4 million to crack down on criminal landlords and letting agents through the Private Rented Sector Innovation and Enforcement Grant Fund. 

“This builds on £2.4 million awarded in January 2019 and will continue the Government’s ongoing work to make the private rented sector fairer and stamp out criminal practices for good. 

“Most landlords provide decent homes for their tenants, but a small minority persist in breaking the law, making tenants’ lives a misery by offering inadequate or unsafe housing. 

“The grants support a range of projects to enable councils to make the best use of their enforcement powers and include trialling innovative ideas, sharing best practice and targeted enforcement where we know landlords shirk their responsibilities. 

“The government is committed to helping good landlords to thrive and ensuring that hard-working tenants across the country get the homes they deserve—creating a housing market that works for everyone.”

Pets

In respect of action to encourage landlords to accept tenants with pets the Secretary of State said: “As part of the steps the government is taking to secure a better deal for renters, I have called on landlords to make it easier for responsible tenants to have well behaved pets in their homes while recognising landlords’ rights to protect their properties from damage. 

“Pets bring a huge amount of joy and comfort to people’s lives, but some families cannot experience this because they rent their homes privately. We will publish a revised model tenancy agreement shortly, which can be used as the basis of lease agreements, to remove restrictions on responsible tenants with well-behaved pets.”

You can read more about these plans – and here what RLA policy director David Smith and the housing minister have to say here.

Broadband bill gets First Reading

The Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill, will be given its first reading today.

This is the legislation that will make it easier for telecoms companies to install broadband infrastructure in blocks of flats.

The notes on the Queen’s Speech said that among the Bill’s main elements will be: “Creating a cheaper and faster light-touch tribunal process for telecoms companies to obtain interim code rights (or access rights) for a period of up to 18 months. 

“This will mean that they can install broadband connections where the landlord has failed to respond to repeated requests for access.”

The First Reading is the formal stage whereby a Bill is presented to Parliament and takes place without debate. A date has yet to be set for the Second Reading.

Quarter of landlords plan to sell

A quarter of landlords are planning to exit the market this year, citing tax increases and government reforms as the main driving factors behind the decision to sell, a new survey has found.

The survey of UK landlords by Simply Business found that 26% were preparing to sell at least one property this year, partly due to government reform, such as changes to HMO licensing and the fees ban.

Landlords also said that rising rental costs, the desire to cash in on their investment, economic instability and slowing house price growth had also prompted their decision to sell up.