03 Oct 23

Local media in one of Britain’s busiest cities for rentals says tenants have been left in tears as a result of stock shortages and high rents triggered by landlord sell-offs.

Matt Hendry, managing director of Naish Estate Agents in York, has told the York Press that he’s witnessed tenants breaking down in tears in the firm’s offices, following a glut of 50 and 60 enquiries per property as soon as they go up online.

He is quoted as saying: “On average between ten and 20 people walk into our branch every day asking for rentals, we’re having many people who do not currently live in York, calling us and asking if they can reserve a rental property without seeing it – something we never do – and many are even living abroad. After four hours of a rental property going live online, we’re having to close the viewing slots.”

The Naish agency has roots dating back over 80 years but the current crisis represents a new scale of problem.

“People like to complain about landlords and investors, but now many are choosing to sell, and the lack of rental property available coupled with the newly homeless renters whose landlords have been forced to sell, is creating a war in the rental market. “enters are trying to tie down properties by offering to pay landlords upfront, often with between six months and a year’s rent.

“This sense of urgency is obviously helping out of pocket buy-to-let landlords subject to increased interest rates, but is having a hugely negative effect on young people looking to move out for the first time” he adds.

The council in York is one of the firmest in the country with its licensing and enforcement regimes against private landlords.

Just last month the council announced it was working with non-profit organisation Justice for Tenants to publicise rent repayment orders, which oblige a landlord to pay a refund of up to 12 months’ rent in three cases:

  • if the property someone is renting does not have a licence;
  • if the landlord has not complied with a council notice; or 
  • if the tenant has been harassed or evicted without the correct court paperwork.

A council officer is quoted by the Yorkmix website as saying: “Justice for Tenants provides initially a free service for individuals to get that information support and advice and if they are successful Justice for Tenants takes a cut of the money that is repaid through the courts’ tribunal process.

“From the local authority’s perspective, it will assist us in terms of identifying properties that are problematic and try to encourage local residents who live in poor quality accommodation…to make a complaint because they’ll have the financial recompense should they be successful in the application.”

And one of York’s MPs, Labour’s Rachael Maskell, wants a licensing system to be introduced for Airbnb-style short lets and holiday accommodation, with local authorities allowed to set up control zones to limit the expansion of holiday lets where housing is considered to be ‘under pressure’.

The measure would also give councils new powers to close down short lets that are causing a repeated nuisance to local residents, and returning these homes to mainstream residential use.

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