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Ban on tenant evictions is extended until the end of March after latest lockdown is announced

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Ban on tenant evictions is extended until the end of March after latest lockdown is announced

  • The latest extension to the ban on tenant evictions is until March
  • The ban means court proceedings cannot begin against removing a tenant
  • Landlords are still permitted to serve Section 21 and Section 8 notices 

Landlords amd tenants have been told that the ban on evictions has been extended once more after Boris Johnson announced the latest lockdown.

A ban on evicting a tenant has been in force for a large chunk of the pandemic and so it is perhaps no surprise that it has extended once again with the latest restrictions.

The ban was brought in to protect tenants who have been hit by a loss of income as a result of coronavirus.

A ban on evictions has been extended until March following the latest lockdown

A ban on evictions has been extended until March following the latest lockdown

Mark Hayward, of the estate agency body Propertymark, said: ‘In light of the recent lockdown, it is no surprise the Government has made this announcement.’

However, he went on to suggested the Government’s lack of updates about evictions in recent weeks has made it ‘impossible’ for agents to respond and plan for the ‘difficult winter months ahead’.

The Government has previous said on the back of the lockdown before Christmas that evictions would not be enforced by bailiffs until January 11 at the earliest. The most recent extension to the eviction ban was made on that day.

The numerous eviction ban extensions have meant that the courts face a growing backlog of cases, and Mr Hayward urged the Government to ensure landlords and tenants have access to the justice system going forward.

He said: ‘It is important to take steps back towards normality so that both landlords and tenants have access to the justice system, while putting measures in place to offer further support to tenants who have built up covid-related arrears through no fault of their own.’

What does a ban on a tenant evictions mean?

The ban is only on physically evicting a tenant, and means that a landlord cannot start court proceedings against the tenant.

The ban is not on serving section 21 and section 21 notices, which is still permitted.

A section 21 notice allows a landlord to evict tenants for whatever reason they like, while a section 8 notice allows landlords to evict a tenant inside the fixed term of their tenancy – but it can only be used if the tenant has breached their tenancy agreement and where certain conditions are met.

Six month notice periods are also still in place until at least the end of March.

TENANT LOAN SCHEMES

There are several tenant loan schemes in place aimed at helping tenants remain in their homes during the pandemic.

They include the Tenancy Saver Loan scheme in Wales and the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund in Scotland.

However, those involved in the initiatives have warned that they should only be used as a last resort.

Ann Francis, of Cambrian Credit Union, said about the Welsh scheme: ‘This is a loan scheme of last resort and not a grant, so it may be that not every applicant will receive a loan.’

WALES 

In Wales, the Tenancy Saver Loan scheme is open until the end of this March to private rented sector tenants in rent arrears and those who may also struggle to pay future months’ rent as a result of coronavirus.

It is paid directly to landlords or agents, and has an interest rate of 1 per cent on loans to be repaid over a period of up to five years.

SCOTLAND 

In Scotland, the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund, aims to help people who have had their finances or employment impacted by the pandemic and do not have other means of housing support.

The loans are available for up to a maximum of nine months’ rent costs, covering rent arrears and future rent, where those arrears have arisen since January 1, 2020. The loan will not be available where a tenant had rent arrears before this date. The loan can include up to a maximum of three months of future rent payments as part of the nine-month total. 

Oli Sherlock, of lettings experts Goodlord, said: ‘The Government’s motives here are completely understandable and it’s vital we continue to support tenants during this latest phase of restrictions.

‘Indeed, landlords and tenants have, on the whole, been working well together throughout the crisis to create payment plans and strategies that keep people in their homes.’

But he added: ‘We are concerned that a further extension to the ban without additional provisions for landlords and tenants is storing up even more trouble for the future.

‘For tenants, accruing arrears cannot be ignored. These debts will eventually catch-up with them and the small proportion who aren’t engaging proactively with their landlords will eventually find themselves facing County Court Judgements, which can have a long-term impact on their credit ratings.’

The evictions ban means that a landlord cannot start court proceedings against a tenant

The evictions ban means that a landlord cannot start court proceedings against a tenant

Mr Sherlock warned that the more debt individuals get into now, the more serious the consequences.

‘We must ensure that systems, potentially similar to those in Scotland and Wales, are in place so tenants stay on top of their rental payments and keep arrears low, or are supported to move to cheaper properties if needed,’ he said.

There are currently loan support schemes in place in Wales and Scotland, aimed at helping tenants remain in their homes during the pandemic. The eviction ban applies to all four nations – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. To date, no loan support schemes have been introduced in England and Northern Ireland.

Mr Sherlock added: ‘For landlords, many are now nearing breaking point. Scores are facing financial difficulties as a result of unpaid rent and ongoing mortgage costs, with a few facing uncommunicative tenants who are refusing to vacate properties even when leases come to an end.

‘Unless more support is put in place for those struggling, we can expect to see a large number of landlords withdraw their lets from the housing market over the next year. This will put pressure on a vital source of housing at a time of critical need. Decision makers must start thinking about how tenants and landlords can recover from these challenges during and following the stay on evictions.’

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Higgins raises concerns over volume of legislation received in recent weeks

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Two Oireachtas committees are being convened at short notice to consider concerns raised by President Michael D. Higgins at the volume of legislation sent to his office in recent weeks.

In a letter to the Ceann Comhairle, the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad and the Department of the Taoiseach, Mr Higgins said an “overwhelming number of Bills” were presented for his consideration in the final two weeks before the Christmas and summer recesses.

“For example, in the three weeks since the beginning of July I have been asked to consider 19 separate Bills. Nine were presented on the one day, sharing a requirement to be considered and signed in the same seven-day period,” he wrote, pointing out that in the entire preceding six months, he was presented with 13 Bills for consideration.

Last year, 21 of the total of 32 Bills presented to him were sent in the weeks approaching summer and Christmas recesses.

“It would strike me, as President and from my years as a parliamentarian, that there must be a more orderly approach to arranging the legislative timetable that allows all legislators the time to consider and contribute to proposals before the Oireachtas without unnecessary time constraints and an unseemly end-of-term haste to have Bills concluded,” the President wrote.

“Having this vital work concentrated into four weeks of the year strikes me as being less than ideal and, I believe, unnecessary.”

Mr Higgins noted that little time was being given over in the Oireachtas to debate often “very important and far-reaching legislative proposals”.

He said the process has “been curtailed through the imposition of restrictions on time in one or both Houses”.

He said amendments put down by Oireachtas members were often not discussed, and those proposed by the Government were at times “carried without an opportunity for scrutiny or debate”.

The President noted an “unseemly end-of-term haste”to pass legislation and said a “real prospect” of having to convene the Council of State in the days after Christmas day to consider Bills had arisen more than once.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl, the Ceann Comhairle, told The Irish Times that the Dáil’s Business Committee and the Seanad’s Committee on Procedures would meet on Friday to consider the letter, and actions open to the Oireachtas to consider.

There have been renewed concerns during the lifetime of this Dáil about the use of the guillotine to force Government legislation through without extensive oversight, with several heavyweight pieces of legislation passed in a matter of days before the Oireachtas rose for its summer break earlier this month.

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Who do I need to notify if I move home?

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Moving house is frequently said to be one of the most stressful things anyone can do.

The massive investment both financially and emotionally can take its toll, especially if the process takes months to complete.

It is why anything that helps to elevate some of the stress along the way can be hugely beneficial. This includes addressing some of the practicalities in advance, and having a list of who to notify when you move can help. 

We look at some of the organisations and companies who you may need to contact when you move home

We look at some of the organisations and companies who you may need to contact when you move home

Dozens of companies will need to know your new address, whether this is an insurer who may use them to help calculate your insurance premiums or a retailer who need to know where to send the clothing you ordered online.

Without updating them, you may endure a bigger headache from moving home than you had anticipated.

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf, said: ‘When moving home, it is vital to plan ahead. Moving day can come upon you very quickly, particularly if there is a short time between exchange and completion.

‘Buildings insurance is the most important thing that needs arranging on your new property as soon as you have exchanged contracts.

‘Confirm your moving date with your removals firm and make a list of who needs notifying about your impending change of address – the electoral roll, the DVLA, Amazon and other delivery firms, particularly supermarket deliveries. The last thing you want is for your orders to turn up at your ‘old’ address once you have moved.

‘Don’t forget to change your council tax, while utility providers will also need informing, and given final meter readings. The more you plan ahead, the smoother the process will be.’ 

A checklist for who to notify when you change address can help to elevate some of the stress of moving home

A checklist for who to notify when you change address can help to elevate some of the stress of moving home

Tom Parker, of property website Zoopla, agreed: ‘Moving home can be overwhelming with so much to do. When it comes to notifying organisations, it’s best to divide it into digestible categories like work, household and vehicle.

‘Notifying your employer is a top priority, especially if your payslips are sent to your home. If you own a vehicle, ensure you update your driving licence, insurance providers and vehicle logbook.  

‘Make sure you also notify organisations like your broadband, utilities, insurance providers and council tax. Finally, don’t forget the small things like magazine subscriptions and store cards.’

Here we look at some of the organisations and companies who you may need to contact when you move home.

Employment 

Perhaps one of the most important and probably most overlooked places that need to be notified of your change of address is HMRC, which needs to know for tax purposes.  

Similarly, your employer needs to know when you change address for your payroll, so that it can update your contact details.

In addition, your National Insurance number helps the Government to identify you and is used by the organisations such as the DVLA and HMRC, so this will need your new address attached. 

Household

There are various companies providing services to your household that will need to know about your move so that they can update your contact information.

In some cases, you may end up continuing to pay for a service in your former home that you are no longer using if you fail to update these companies.

They include your cable or satellite provider, your phone and broadband company. It is also important to update your TV licence contact details, which can be done up to three months before a move.

Vehicles

You can update DVLA via its website and within two to four weeks, you should receive an updated licence and V5C log book documents for your car. Failing to update the log book could lead to a fine of up to £1,000.

You will also need to notify the supplier of your vehicle breakdown cover and your car insurer.

Insurance

Most insurers take postcodes into account when calculating premiums and the cost of insurance cover, so they will need to be notified of your change of address. 

You may need to contact those insurers who provide cover for household contents, health, life, travel and your pets.

Healthcare

As well as your health insurer, you will also need to provide your address to other healthcare organisations.

For example, if you change doctors when you move home, you will need to let your old doctor know so that your medical information can be forwarded to your new doctor. This may similarly apply to your dentists and opticians.

Utilities

Your gas, electricity and water suppliers will need your updated contact information, even if you are leaving them behind at the old property and taking on new suppliers.

It can take a couple of days for energy providers to update your information, so it is worth contacting your suppliers ahead of your move. However, you may be able to move your deal to your new property.

Make sure you take readings of your utilities on the day of your move so you can update your suppliers with these and only pay for the amounts you have used. 

Royal Mail’s redirection service may be worth considering as it forwards any post sent to your former address to your new address. You can apply for the redirection up to three months before your moving date.

Money

There are several companies and organisations that fall into this category and will need to know your new contact address.

They include bank and building societies, your pension providers, loan companies, credit card providers and store cards. If you are on a state pension, the Government will need to know your new details.

Similarly, you will need to update your address for council tax purposes.

Others include your accountant as you don’t want important tax documents going to your old address (if you are not using the a postal redirection service). And don’t forget updating NS&I with your new address if you put money into premium bonds.

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Ireland ‘one of world’s best five places’ to survive global societal collapse

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Ireland is one of the world’s five places best suited to survive a global collapse of society, according to a new study. The others are Iceland, Tasmania, the UK and, topping the list, New Zealand.

The researchers say human civilisation is “in a perilous state” because of the highly interconnected and energy-intensive society that has developed and the environmental damage this has caused.

A collapse could arise from shocks such as a severe financial crisis, the effects of the climate crisis, destruction of nature, an even worse pandemic than Covid-19 or a combination of these, the scientists says.

To assess which nations would be most resilient to such a collapse, countries were ranked according to their ability to grow food for their population, protect their borders from unwanted mass migration, and maintain an electrical grid and some manufacturing ability. Islands in temperate regions and mostly with low population densities have come out on top.

The researchers say their study highlights the factors that nations must improve to increase resilience. They say that a globalised society that prizes economic efficiency has damaged resilience, and that spare capacity needs to exist in food and other vital sectors.

Billionaires have been reported to be buying land for bunkers in New Zealand in preparation for an apocalypse. “We weren’t surprised New Zealand was on our list,” says Prof Aled Jones, at the Global Sustainability Institute, at Anglia Ruskin University, in the UK.

“We chose that you had to be able to protect borders and places had to be temperate. So with hindsight it’s quite obvious that large islands with complex societies on them already” make up the list.

The study, published in the journal Sustainability, says: “The globe-spanning, energy-intensive industrial civilisation that characterises the modern era represents an anomalous situation when it is considered against the majority of human history.”

The study also says that environmental destruction, limited resources and population growth mean civilisation “is in a perilous state, with large and growing risks developing in multiple spheres of the human endeavour”.

New Zealand was found to have the greatest potential to survive relatively unscathed due to its geothermal and hydroelectric energy, abundant agricultural land and low human population density.

Jones says major global food losses, a financial crisis and a pandemic have all happened in recent years, and “we’ve been lucky that things haven’t all happened at the same time – there’s no real reason why they can’t all happen in the same year”.

He adds: “As you start to see these events happening I get more worried, but I also hope we can learn more quickly than we have in the past that resilience is important. With everyone talking about ‘building back better’ from the pandemic, if we don’t lose that momentum I might be more optimistic than I have been in the past.”

He says the coronavirus pandemic has shown that governments can act quickly when needed. “It’s interesting how quickly we can close borders, and how quickly governments can make decisions to change things.”

But, he adds, “This drive for just-in-time, ever-more-efficient economies isn’t the thing you want to do for resilience. We need to build in some slack in the system, so that if there is a shock then you have the ability to respond because you’ve got spare capacity. We need to start thinking about resilience much more in global planning. But, obviously, the ideal thing is that a quick collapse doesn’t happen.” – Guardian

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