Property sector bosses have urged the government to give landlords stronger laws to take back possession of their property if it has been abandoned.
In a letter to Housing Secretary Michael Gove on behalf of the Housing Coalition, Propertymark suggests that he includes provisions for abandonment in the Renters (Reform) Bill to give landlords stronger protections.
An abandoned property costs income and raises insurance costs as well as additional challenges such as a responsibility to safeguard possessions left behind and preventing the property becoming a target for vandalism and anti-social behaviour.
As the legal tenancy is still in place, a tenant can return to the property at any time, meaning that the home cannot be re-let or occupied by anyone else.
Read a LandlordZONE Forum discussion on the subject Under the Renting Homes (Wales) Act, if a landlord believes their property has been abandoned, they must try to contact the tenant for one month but can then end the tenancy if they have sufficient evidence.
Financial risks Propertymark says this approach recognises that a landlord is very unlikely to try and take back possession of a property unless they are certain that it has been abandoned, because the legal and financial risks to them are too great.
It suggests the UK government could include similar provisions in the upcoming bill.
Alternatively, the government could bring into force the provisions on abandonment under Part 3 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016. These measures would allow private landlords to recover possession of abandoned residential properties more easily but have not yet been enacted.
“Unlocking these properties currently stuck in limbo would help maximise the number of homes available for rent, reduce the risks associated with unoccupied properties, and give greater income security to landlords, supporting them to increase standards and keep rents fair,” says Propertymark CEO Nathan Emerson (main picture).
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