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Page last updated at 14:41 GMT, Saturday, 6 December 2008

Change due for buy-to-let tenants

By Bob Howard
BBC Radio 4's Money Box

A key in a lock
The number of buy-to-let landlords in arrears is rising

The government is considering forcing mortgage lenders to give more notice to tenants who could be evicted when their buy-to-let landlord faces repossession.

Currently lenders must send a letter to tenants at least two weeks in advance of a repossession hearing involving their landlord.

If approved, lenders would have to inform tenants seven weeks before.

Lenders say they already make every effort to contact tenants who could be evicted.

'In the middle'

Andy and Katie from Huddersfield were shocked to receive a letter sent to them by solicitors acting for their landlord's buy to let lender just two weeks after renewing their lease.

It informed them their landlord was being taken to court for a possession hearing.

It was a hugely distressing and stressful event for all of us
Maya Bimson, Bristol

Three months later they still have not been told if they will be evicted before the end of their tenancy agreement.

The letting agent told them it was waiting for information from the landlord.

The lender and its solicitors said it could not tell them anything because its relationship was with the landlord, not with them.

That has left the couple frustrated and upset, as Andy told BBC Radio 4's Money Box programme:

"I don't think it's right, it leaves us in the dark.

"We're just stuck in the middle between everybody."

The tenant must be kept informed about all the steps towards repossession
Adam Sampson, Shelter

Their experience is being shared by thousands of other tenants.

Adam Sampson, chief executive of the housing charity Shelter, says in some cases tenants are getting no notice at all that they face possible eviction:

"Very rarely does the tenant have the remotest idea that the landlord isn't paying the mortgage.

"The tenant must be kept informed about all the steps towards repossession."

'Every effort'

Landlords with buy-to-let mortgages are now falling behind with their payments more quickly than owner occupiers according to the latest figures from the Council for Mortgage lenders (CML).

Figures for July to September of this year show a jump of almost 50% in buy-to-let landlords who are behind by three months or more.

Sue Anderson from the CML insists most lenders do make every effort to make sure tenants know about repossession hearings:

"Quite often they send someone round to knock on the door as opposed to just relying on the postal service."

Regulations regarding giving notice to tenants are laid out in the Civil Procedure Rules under the oversight of the Ministry of Justice.

It said the Civil Procedure Rules Committee is currently discussing whether to change the rules to give tenants seven weeks notice of a repossession hearing instead of the current two.


BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday,
6 December 2008 at 1204 GMT.



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SEE ALSO
Problems looming for buy-to-let
17 Nov 08 |  Business
Repossessions 'to reach 75,000'
03 Dec 08 |  Business
Surviving the property turmoil
16 Nov 08 |  Business
RBS offers to delay repossessions
01 Dec 08 |  Business
Lenders given 'fairness' deadline
28 Nov 08 |  Business


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