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Landlord Law Newsround #320

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Landlord Law Blog Newsround
Another week and another Newsround, let’s see what had been happening in the housing news this week.

Court of Appeal ruling favours mediation at first level​


A ruling last week between The Churchill vs Merthyr Tydfil Council from the Court of Appeal will mean that landlords may have to go to mediation first before going to court when settling issues with their tenants.

The case concerned involved Mr Churchill who went to the courts to make the council fix an ongoing issue, but the council had insisted that he use their alternative dispute resolution (ADR) first. The court upheld this and said that the council had the right to carry out mediation first before going to court.

Priya Sejpal of JMW Solicitors says of this verdict

This is important for landlords because, when the Renters (Reform) Bill goes live next year, it will force landlords to join a redress scheme, which is one form of ADR, as letting agents are already forced to do under the current legislation via either the Property Redress Scheme or The Property Ombudsman.

It seems likely that agents and landlords can, and probably will, insist that cases against them are put into the ADR scheme first.

Sean Hooker, Head of Redress at the PRS says

Most non-court processes rely heavily on cooperation between the conflicting parties, so a forced settlement rarely works as satisfactorily as if they enter into it willingly.

Early intervention is essential. That said, too many people do not realise how effective, quick and cost efficient ADR very often is, so trying it out may well be a revelation. So if you are likely to be pushed down that route by a judge, the sensible thing is to engage in the process pre-court and even if it is not successful you will not fall foul of the bench.

Bidding wars and above average rents​


There have been a few articles this week claiming that tenants are being forced into bidding wars and then being forced into competing for how much they are prepared to pay for rent above which the property has been advertised.

The New Economics Foundations claims that 39% of private renters are paying, on average, £1200 a year above the original advertised rent. They also had to pay more than one month’s rent upfront to secure the property and 21% have even seen their rent increased mid term ‘without their agreement’.

Alex Diner of the NEF says

The lack of affordable housing across the country forces people to enter into bidding wars, which end up meaning the rent they pay goes through the roof. And all too often, the properties they end up living in are cold and damp, with landlords who are not always willing to help.

In the short term, ministers must take action to ban these bidding wars.

The Labour party have stated that they will outlaw bidding wars on rental properties if they wins the next General Election. Matthew Pennycock, the shadow housing minister, saying

It pits tenant against tenant and leaves only one winner – the landlord. And so for all those tenants who miss out on a property as a result of bidding wars, they’re in a bad position.

But even those who secure a property by that means, they’re often pushed to the financial limits of what they can afford.

He is pushing to seek an amendment to the Renters Reform Bill that is going through parliament at the moment.

Rogue landlord taskforce initiative launched​


A new taskforce to target rogue landlords has launched in Liverpool City Council. The council has secured 2m funding from a Department of Levelling Up Pathfinder to start up the Private Sector Housing Intelligence and Enforcement Task Force, which will work with partners and organisations across the city.

Their aim is to exploit landlords who use sex work and drugs dealing as part of their activity. They will work with Trading Standards, Children’s Services and the police to gather intelligence on criminal activity and carry out targeted enforcement.

Sarah Doyle, who is a councillor, says

This taskforce is about tackling criminal rogue landlords who do not care about their tenants, nor our city. Due to the nature of the issues we are dealing with, drawing up evidence is extremely time consuming and complicated, which is why we have secured funding for a dedicated team to work specifically on this.

Let’s hope that this makes a difference.

HMO landlords should do more for recycling​


We wrote in our Newsround #316 a few weeks ago about a council cracking down HMO waste levels, and this week, we read that a recycling company, First Mile, are demanding that HMO landlords should be doing more to boost recycling waste, and suggest a new initiative of using QR-coded recycling sacks which are personalised to each individual tenant.

If there are issues such as food waste put into the wrong recycling sack, this can then be traced back to that particular tenant and the issue dealt with.

The company says that this will

Enable landlords and other business owners to access real-time data about the recycling’s end location, ensuring complete transparency and accountability.

First Mile claim that this QR system has already been used on 40m recycling sacks in the UK.

Snippets​


Government works with Facebook to end property rental scams
Landlords battle council over ‘bad’ new HMO licensing system
London landlord to repay tenants £10,000 in rent
Gove gives go-ahead to one of UK’s largest licensing schemes
New service to protect landlords against property fraud

Newsround will be back next week.

The post Landlord Law Newsround #320 appeared first on The Landlord Law Blog.
 
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