Border politics – how private renters in Scotland are getting a better deal
Border politics – how private renters in Scotland are getting a better deal

As the Brexit negotiations enter a crucial stage, we’ve been hearing a lot about borders. At Shelter, we’ve also recently been paying a lot of attention to one of our borders – but we’ve been more focused on the Scottish border and how renters either side of the divide are getting a very different deal.

If you are a private renter searching for a property near the Scottish border, you may notice some differences between the adverts for homes … Read more

How much longer can lenders get away with DSS discrimination?
How much longer can lenders get away with DSS discrimination?

When challenged over why they discriminate against renters on benefits, landlords and letting agents often point the finger at the banks – blaming the fact that buy-to-let lenders do not allow landlords to let to tenants on housing benefit. We hear this defence regularly in response to our campaign, so in this blog we’re going to look at the extent to which lenders really are driving discrimination against renters on housing benefit. And why the recent controversy with NatWestRead more

Avoiding discrimination – a guide for letting agents and landlords
Avoiding discrimination – a guide for letting agents and landlords

This blog was written jointly with Rose Arnall in Shelter’s Legal Services.

The launch of our campaign to end DSS discrimination against renters on housing benefit has suggested that some landlords and letting agents may not be fully up to speed on how their policies could be putting them at risk of breaching the Equality Act 2010.

So we’ve put together some top tips to advise landlords and agents on how best to avoid discrimination.

Avoiding direct discrimination 

Most landlords … Read more

Letting fees bill - the parliamentary journey so far
Letting fees bill - the parliamentary journey so far

Despite all the pressures that Brexit is placing on parliamentary time, the Tenant Fees Bill has been making rapid progress through parliament. While this speedy parliamentary journey may be good for moving the bill closer towards implementation, we shouldn’t forget there are still areas of the legislation (as currently drafted) that will leave private renters open to continuing exploitation.

Here’s our update on the parliamentary journey so far, which sets out the areas the government still needs to address … Read more

An introduction to housing courts
An introduction to housing courts

At last year’s Conservative Party Conference, Sajid Javid announced that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) would consult on the case for a specialist housing court. The government wanted to explore whether a new housing court could improve court processes, making it quicker and cheaper to resolve disputes – particularly for landlords and tenants.

Since this initial announcement, MHCLG has said little publicly about its plans for consultation. However, the idea of a specialist housing court has … Read more

Let’s stop letting agents unfairly holding on to holding deposits
Let’s stop letting agents unfairly holding on to holding deposits

We recently shared Emily’s story which highlights just how easily holding deposits can be abused. Emily was forced to take a letting agent to court because they refused to refund a £700 holding deposit. And even though Emily won the case, the letting agent still hasn’t paid up.

The good news is that the government is now planning to cap holding deposits at one week’s rent – this is one of the proposals in the draft Tenant Fees Bill, … Read more

The government is taking action to protect private renters (part 2)
The government is taking action to protect private renters (part 2)

This is the second post in a two-part blog exploring how the government is taking action to improve protections for private renters. Part one considered the impact of the introduction of banning orders and the rogue landlord database. In this part, we turn to the issue of letting-agent regulation.

Here’s an update on the main changes for the lettings sector and what more we want to see the government doing to ensure there are no loopholes, through which letting agents … Read more

Big changes looming for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) scheme
Big changes looming for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) scheme

This week brings a fundamental change in welfare support for struggling homeowners. For more than 70 years, homeowners, who have low incomes and who receive certain qualifying benefits, have been able to claim support from the government, through Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI).

However, from 6 April 2018 this support is changing. Rather than being paid as a free benefit, SMI will now be paid as a loan and any money claimed from this date onwards will one day need … Read more

What will take longer, banning letting agent fees or Brexit?

The ban on letting agent fees is now unlikely to come into force until Spring 2019 at the earliest. This is according to the latest update from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Spring 2019 will be nearly two and a half years since the government announced its intention to ban fees. This also, somewhat surprisingly, means it will have taken longer to design and implement the ban on letting agent fees, than for the government to negotiate … Read more

The draft bill banning letting fees is under scrutiny
The draft bill banning letting fees is under scrutiny

The government’s draft bill banning letting fees is currently being scrutinised by the Communities and Local Government Committee. We have submitted evidence to the committee, which together with evidence from other organisations, will help inform the committee’s recommendations about what the final version of the bill should look like.

Here is a summary of our main recommendations to the committee about the different proposals in the Bill.

The ban on upfront fees

Shelter is very supportive of the ban … Read more

The long-awaited letting fees ban

Last Wednesday, the government published the draft Tenant Fees Bill, setting out its approach to banning letting fees in England. Having campaigned for a ban on letting fees since 2013, this draft legislation is a welcome step towards finally bringing an end to these unjust fees.

Here’s an overview of the key things you need to know about the bill – and our initial reaction to the proposals. There’s also an explanation of the next steps and how we’ll … Read more