Restrictions affecting landlords are set to be eased next month.
Increased notice periods when it comes to repossessions and a ban on enforcement action in all but the most serious of cases were introduced by Government in a bid to protect tenants during the pandemic.
Now, with figures falling and the country gradually opening up again the restrictions are set to ease. But what will change look like?
At the time of publication while the Government had confirmed restrictions will start to ease after the 31st of May ministers had given no indication as to how – or the timescales involved.
For our part we have been working tirelessly behind the scenes in Westminster and Cardiff Bay to shape the way we transition out of emergency measures.
NRLA research shows landlords have been hit hard by the pandemic. In all 60% have lost money, with data showing 840,000 tenants have built arrears since last March.
We want assurances from the Government that exiting the emergency restrictions will be as seamless as possible and work for landlords and tenants alike.
As part of this we have submitted a paper to Government outlining simple changes that could have a major impact on exit plans, while ensuring support is available to those who need it.
We have asked for:
- a comprehensive financial package which tackles rent debt
- court reform to speed up the processing of possession claims
- firm dates for the tapering down of extended possession notice periods
We have joined forced with partners from across the sector – including both landlord and tenant-focussed groups – to call for a Government-backed interest-free loan scheme for tenants to access to pay off Covid-related arrears and continue to campaign on the issue.
In addition we want grants to be made available to benefits tenants to reduce the pressure on individual landlords.
With year-long waits from claim to court to enforcement action is needed to speed up the process and tackle the ever-increasing backlog.
To this end we are encouraging the Government to allow possession hearings to be heard by video link which we believe could have a huge impact on court waiting times.
There are also technical changes we believe can make a difference, including the introduction of a consistent definition of serious rent arrears, which currently differs between the court and the Government in the prioritisation of pre-Covid cases.
Tapering of notice periods
We also want the tapering of notice periods to begin as soon as the current restrictions end on June 1st. A progressive reduction in notice periods will help to ensure the most serious cases are heard most quickly by avoiding immediately overwhelming the courts.
With an announcement expected imminently, we hope the Government will look at adopting our proposals to support the sector, taking positive action to help landlords and tenants recover from what has been a year of unrivalled challenges.
For more information on our calls for financial support for the sector click here.