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This week in Westminster- RLA campaign and media review: Saturday 13th October

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

As the week comes to a close, it is time to take a look at some of the big news stories affecting the private rented sector this week, including media coverage of the RLA’s campaigning work.

Two thirds of landlords with tenants on Universal Credit are owed rent arrears, research from our research arm PEARL reveals

On Friday, we revealed that 61% of landlords with tenants on Universal Credit have seen them go into rent arrears. This is up from 27 % in 2016, and the research found that on average Universal Credit tenants in rent arrears owed almost £2,400, a 49% increase compared to last year.

This new research has had a lot of media coverage, including a package on BBC Radio 4, and articles in The Huffington Post, The Independent, The Press Association, The Sun, 24 Housing, and AOL.com.

You can read more about the research here, and have a read of some more key findings from the research report here.

Funding to support homeless people into rented housing

First announced in the Budget last year, this £20m Private Rented Sector (PRS) Access Fund is aimed at helping those who are faced with homelessness, to secure a tenancy. It is something that we campaigned fo  together with the charity Crisis.  The scheme will be used to help establish or expand council schemes, to guide people into sustainable tenancies in the private rented sector. It is modelled on evidence provided from the successful programme run by Crisis which supported schemes to help homeless people into thousands of private rental tenancies.

Speaking about the introduction of the scheme, our Policy Director David Smith said: ““We strongly welcome the formal launch of the Government’s access fund, as announced in the Budget last year and campaigned for by the RLA and Crisis. Homeless tenants face the most difficult financial pressures which this funding could play an important part in addressing, whether it’s support to provide a deposit or ensure rent payments are made. Such funding however needs to be matched by an ambitious programme to see more homes of every tenure developed. This includes homes for private rent.” Read more about this here. 

RLA writes to Home Secretary calling for Home Office to provide hard copy documents to EU citizens, proving their status in the UK post-Brexit

This week, together with campaign group ‘the3million’ , we wrote to the Home Secretary Sajid Javid, asking for the documentation, and clarification of their legal position post-Brexit. Our call for hard copy documents made headlines in a range of publications this week, including this article in the Guardian newspaperYou can read the letter we wrote to the Home Secretary here.

Department of Work and Pensions announce new telephone service, making it easier for landlords to speak to claim handler. 

This week, the DWP informed the RLA of a new telephone system, which will get a landlord straight through to the claimant’s Case Manager providing the tenant is happy for them to contact DWP on their behalf and gives their ‘explicit consent’. This new phone system will act as an alternative to the national UC helpline number, and will cut down on waiting times. It should help to keep consistency with queries as you and your tenant should only be dealing directly with their Case Manager. Learn more about this here.

Report by Conservative thinktank, Onward reveals tax relief proposals

This week, the Conservative Think Tank, ‘Onward’revealed proposals for the tax relief to encourage landlords to sell to sitting tenants – and offer longer leases. It says the government should introduce a 50% capital gains tax exemption, or ‘Landlord Sales Relief’, on existing rental properties that are sold to tenants who have lived in a property for three or more years continuously. We have long called for tax incentives for landlords in these circumstances, and although this weeks proposals are not exactly what the association outlined in its proposals, it has cautiously welcomed the news. You can read more about why this is the case here

Tenant Fee Bill second reading approved by Peers

Wednesday saw the second reading of the Tenant Fee Bill in the House of Lords (included in this is the proposal the ban letting agent fees) You can read the debate transcript here.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government publishes first newsletter for the private rented sector. The newsletter, which can read here, covers a range of topics including the latest on the Tenants Fees Bill and Client Money Protection. You can read the online newsletter hereas well as coverage of the story in 24 Housing here.

RLA Wales calls for a simplified housing tribunal service in Wales during main stage debate at Plaid Cymru party conference

At the weekend, our Vice-Chair and Director for Wales Douglas Haig took part in a panel discussion on the main stage at the Plaid Cymru party conference. During the debate, Mr Haig reiterated the RLA’s call for a simplified housing tribunal service in Wales, adding that this would result in greater access to justice for both landlords and tenants. You can read more about the panel debate here. 

Further media coverage this week

You can read more of the RLA’s media coverage from the past week below.

EU citizens could face repeat of Windrush scandal, say landlords The Guardian

Landlords warn EU citizens could face Windrush repeat after Brexit unless given hard documents Politics Homes

Policy pitch for private renters to purchase properties from landlords 24 Housing

Landlords remain cautious over new rented homes tax proposals Property Reporter

Budget 2018: New Tax Break For Landlords Flagged iExpats

Right To Rent and Brexit: ‘give EU citizens the paperwork’ say groups Letting Agent Today

Tax break for “good landlords” possibility in Autumn Budget Mortgage Strategy

About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

With a degree in Journalism, she is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and creating social media content.

Before joining the RLA, Victoria worked in the University of Salford’s press office, and during University she represented Smooth Radio at events across the North West, as a member of the street team.

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