February round up of the Private Rented Sector

So far 2014 has got off to a flying start with much positivity for the year ahead for both tenants and landlords.

Tenants

According to the National Landlords Association “Some 73 per cent of tenants said their rent was “good” or “very good” in terms of value for money” and with  rents on private lets over the past year having remained fairly stable, it “could be indicative of a maturing private rented sector, giving buy-to-let owners much more peace of mind that their investment can be a source of long-term income rather than just a quick way to bring in some cash in the short term.

Research from My Deposits also found that just 9% have had their landlord or letting agent retain money from their security deposit.  Whilst this is good news that most tenants haven’t experienced deductions to their deposit at the end of their tenancy, it seems that many still lack the confidence to approach the issue with their landlord or letting agent.   It is therefore important that tenants are both aware and informed about the law and their rights because deposit protection was introduced to safeguard their money, and they should have it returned in full at the end of the tenancy if they don’t breach any of their obligations.

Landlords

The Court of Appeal ruling on the case, Spencer v Taylor [2013], has provided clarity for landlords when serving notice on tenants with an Assured Shorthold Tenancy after the end of a fixed term.  It was previously believed that to end a tenancy once a fixed term had expired landlords had to use a section 21(4)(a) of the Housing Act 1988 which requires a minimum of two months’ notice ending on the last day of a period of the agreement.  The ruling clarified that landlords only had to give two months’ notice in writing which can start and end at a convenient time rather than just at the end of a period of the tenancy.

With landlords enjoying the cheapest buy-to-let mortgages ever as lenders drop rates and fees to grab a bigger share of the market.  More than four million adults have given up on the idea that they will ever own a home and with new research revealing that  “home owners in the UK rent for an average of seven years, spending £41,900 on rental payments before buying their first property“.  It is not surprising that a third of landlords are looking to expand their rental portfolios in the next 12 months.

One area of concern however for both landlords and tenants is the results of a survey that “nearly four in five landlords are unwilling to rent to tenants on housing benefit” and more than half of those willing to take on tenants on housing benefit said they would not take any more following the roll out of universal credit.   With the Government-commissioned English Housing Survey revealing that “more people are living in private rented accommodation than social housing for the first time since records began in 1980“, if landlords start refusing tenants on housing benefit they may find their pool of prospective tenants shrinking and potentially increasing void periods.

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