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Renters Paying Heavy Price for Unwanted Moves
The tenant campaign group Generation rent has revealed that unwanted moves within England’s private rental sector are costing tenants £229 million each year. These moves come on the back of situations that often leave tenants with little alternative other than to vacate their current rental property, most commonly being seen as a tenancy’s fixed term comes to an end, being served an eviction notice, or the landlord increasing the rent, effectively pricing out the current occupants of the property.
The group found that across 2019-2020, around 134,000 properties within the private rental sector saw is inhabitants relocate after being faced with such circumstance, with each facing an average cost of £1,709 to find their new home. Generation Rent’s analysis on the costs of moving reported that an English Housing Survey of private renters carried out by the Government revealed that 57,000 households were relocated after facing eviction proceedings, 66,000 households moved after their fixed term ended, with the remaining 11,000 having to find a new home as the landlord increased the rent.
The campaign group sited the costs of renters having to pay for multiple deposits totalling around £800, alongside tenants commonly paying for paying rent on two properties during the transitional period totalling another £323, alongside time off work, cleaning costs, van hire and installation costs of broadband.
Generation Rent have called upon the UKL government to introduce “open ended tenancies”, alongside requiring landlords that intend to evict the occupants of the rental property so they can sell the accommodation or move in themselves, should cover the costs of their ex tenants finding their next home.
“While evictions are clearly unwanted, we should note that renters are often led to believe that they must move out after their fixed term ends if it is not renewed. The introduction of open-ended tenancies would give tenants the assurance that they could stay put for as long as they paid the rent. A rent increase can also force a tenant to move if it is unaffordable and the tenant is unable to negotiate it down or a Tribunal upholds it based on prevailing market levels.”
“Challenging a rent increase can also lead to a Section 21 eviction,” the report continues, “Reforms to require landlords to prove their grounds for eviction, introduce open-ended tenancies which tenants don’t feel obliged to leave, and keep rent increases affordable would serve to reduce these unwanted moves and keep more money in renters’ pockets.”
Alongside providing private renters increased flexibility in the properties they will be able to rent, generation rent states that in order to “minimise the stress of renting”, landlords should “pay the equivalent of 2 months’ rent towards tenants moving costs”, providing the occupants are being evicted so the rental can be sold, or occupied by the landlord.
“Renters are shelling out millions to pay for house moves that they have no choice but to make. Not only is moving home expensive, it can force renters to move away from essential support networks, family and friends, and can disrupt children’s education. Renters deserve secure and stable homes where they can put down roots in their communities and thrive. With tenancies so short and evictions so common, this right is out of reach for millions of private renters.”
When Can a Landlord Increase My Rent?
To the delight of UK renters, Landlords are prevented from simply increasing the rent as and when they see fit, with further restrictions also being placed on how much the amount the amount tenants are obligated to pay can be increased. In most cases the tenants will have entered into an assured shorthold tenancy, meaning that they will have a tenancy that will expire after a fixed term, typically running from around 6 months to a year in length.
In such instances where the renter is occupying the property on an assured shorthold tenancy, there is only a finite amount of circumstance where the landlord is able to increase the amount of rent tenants are required to pay. Most commonly landlords will include a rent review clause within the tenancy agreement. This is a bespoke term within the tenancy contract that establishes when the landlord can increase the amount of rent the tenants must pay, how much notice the occupants of the property will receive, alongside how much the rent could be increased by.
Alternatively the owner of the rental property could increase the rent through issuing the tenants with a section 13 notice. It is worth mentioning that landlords are only able to serve the occupants of their property with a section 13 notice if the tenancy is a periodic assured tenancy, or an assured shorthold tenancy, during tenancies with no rent review clause, or where a rent review clause can no longer be applied by the landlord. When serving the tenants with a section 13 notice the landlord must provide them with at least one month’s notice, with “form 4” stating when the new rental charge will apply.
Whilst the owner of the rental property is able to issue the residents with a section 13 notice at any point in the tenancy, the rent can only be increased the day following the end of the tenancy’s fixed term, or a year after the first day of the tenancy, if it is a periodic, or as it is sometimes called, rolling tenancy.
If the landlord does not have a rent review clause in place then in order for the rent to be increased, the tenants must also agree to the new rent figure, seeing both parties enter into a new rental agreement with the revised fee stated within the document. As a new agreement is being signed the landlord is not required to give the occupants of the rental property any notice of the rent increase.
According to figures released by the ARLA Propertymark as part of their Private Rented Sector Report in July, the amount of tenants that experienced an increase in the amount of rent their landlord requested them to pay surged 71%, surpassing the increase of 60% seen in June and the previous annual record of 68% in May.
More recently The Home property website, reported that the average rental price has increased around 3.7% from August of 2020, with the West Midlands experiencing a dramatic rise of 11.7%, followed by the East of England where rent has increased by an average of 10.1% in the last year.
Home pinned these radical increased in the amount tenants are expected to pay each month in rent on the retuning hordes of renters that left the nation’s capital in light of lockdown measures, searching for the remote charm of more rural surroundings, saying ““The London exodus has halted and is clearly undergoing a reversal. This redirection of demand is taking some pressure off the regional rental markets as tenants return to the capital. However, such is the continued and worsening scarcity of rental stock in the regions that this trend reversal is unlikely to cause a fall in rent levels in the near term.”
Why Abolish The “No Fault Eviction”?
These come alongside calls for the so called “no fault evictions” to be brought to an end through the renter’s reform bill. As it currently stands many claim the section 21 notice of eviction to be a leading cause of homelessness and medium for retaliatory evictions as they allow landlords to regain possession of a rental property without “ having to establish fault on the part of the tenant”, as said by the parliamentary research briefing on “no fault evictions”. This is because unlike a section 8 notice, the owner of the rental is simply stating that once the fixed term of the tenancy comes to a close they wish to repossess the property, in turn vacating the current residents. Whilst this is typically done to allow for the landlord to sell the rental accommodation, or make it their main residence, it is argued that, “the ability of landlords to terminate an AST at short notice has a detrimental effect on tenants’ wellbeing.”
It has come to light that in some cases renters have been reluctant to contact their landlord to conduct repairs, or dispute unfair rent increases due to fear of receiving a section 21 notice in retaliation, losing them their home for exercising their rights. The governmental research briefing goes on to say that, “those renting from private landlords have been left feeling insecure by short fixed-term tenancies, unable to plan for the future or call where they live a home. This insecurity can have wide-ranging effects – from disrupting children’s education and the impact on mental health through to the cost of frequent moves undermining people’s ability to save for a deposit.”
After being first announced furring the Queen’s speech in 2019, there have since been numerous calls to enact the abolishment of the section 21 notice through the introduction of the Renter’s reform Bill, with the Housing Minister, Christoper Puincher reassuringly stating that the due reforms will be brought forward once the “urgencies of responding to the pandemic have passed”., making it unlikely we will see renters enjoy its protection any time soon.
Whilst somewhat predictably the call for such reforms has been met with open arms by renters, the National Residential landlord’s Association has stressed the need for appropriate measures to be put in place to allow landlords to effectively reclaim possession of their property, before the section21 notice is done away with.
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