[Ben Reeve Lewis considers rouge landlords...]
Last Friday I attended a conference for council enforcement officers and housing advice types.
One of the workshops was on the vexed subject of landlord licensing and methods for tackling the well known ‘Rogue landlords’.
Or ‘Rouge’ landlords as they are becoming increasingly known as, what with spell-checkers failing to pick up the frequent misspelling.
We were given outlines of 4 different schemes.
- Southend’s self regulation idea,
- Enfield’s kick them in the nuts approach (my preferred favourite),
- Richmond’s additional licensing and predictably
- Newham’s hair-trigger blunderbuss that blasts anyone unfortunate enough to walk through the door scheme.
Stand by your wife
Having been appraised of the different working methods and discussed the pros and cons of each we were invited to stand in a designated place representing the scheme we preferred. A bit like ‘Runaround’ the old kids TV show hosted by Mike “Frank Butcher” Reid.
Out of the 50 souls in our room only 1 stood on the Newham spot. He was from Newham. I asked him afterwards if he had freely chosen it and he said “Well…….its like having 3 supermodels and your wife in a line. You have to stand by your wife don’t you?”. Ha-ha.
It occurred to me that the result of the exercise was pretty much predictable given the jobs of the people doing it, people working the frontline dealing with ‘rouged’ landlords on a daily basis. Had the exercise been done with elected councillors the result would probably have been different.
And if it had been elected councillors at election time, different again.
Bye, bye reluctant landlords
ARLA had some interesting figures this week about reluctant landlords leaving the market. Those forced into it because they couldn’t sell, who can now divest themselves of the burden.
Apparently figures gathered from regional ARLA offices show a 21% drop on last year as the buying/selling market begins raising its beautiful head from slumber, having bitten into the poisoned apple of austerity some years ago.
ARLA’s Ian Potter warns of the challenge this poses to tenants looking for decent properties as the shortage grows but brings us back from the brink of despair by telling us:-
“With competition for the best properties remaining fierce, landlords and tenants alike can benefit hugely from seeking the advice of an ARLA agent”.
Three cheers for ARLA. Thank god us tenants have them on our side.
Staying on after Uni
Keeping up their sterling work of finding unusual housing surveys Planet property ran a good one this week on property prices in university towns
40% of graduates tend to stay on and work in the town they studied in. A surprise to me given the location of our local Goldsmiths University, based in Deptford/New Cross, a district known more for it’s street drinkers than it’s academics. Although it is possible that they may simply be pissed on a bottle of Pouilly Fuisse at 9am, cunningly disguised as a tin of “White Lightning”.
The worst towns to fetch up at Uni are Brighton, Chichester or Guildford, where the property prices are out of reach for the newly graduated.
Best places to don your mortarboard and gown are Belfast, Hull and Glasgow, where you will have a better chance of staying and exercising your option of either paying off your student loan or beginning your working career by going bankrupt.
Ditching affordable houses in building projects
I’m increasingly becoming a fan of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a website with some pretty good, in-depth articles on a range of topics and on their site this week I spied an interesting piece about the failure of house building projects.
The article states clearly and unambiguously:-
“A three-month study by the Bureau has established that 60% of the biggest housing developments currently in the planning system are falling short of local affordable housing targets, preventing thousands of cheaper homes being built.”
Adding meat to these rather unlovely bones they show:-
“The Bureau’s assessment of 82 of the biggest housing developments in 10 major cities found just 40% complied with local affordable housing targets. Other than Birmingham, the cities where at least 50% of housing schemes failed to meet local affordable housing targets were Bristol, Bradford, Cardiff, Manchester and Sheffield.”
“The investigation also shows how financial viability assessments on behalf of a leading housebuilder repeatedly persuaded councils that having larger affordable housing quotas would make schemes uneconomic.”
It’s really worth reading the whole article as I can’t do it justice in the space I have here, mainly because I want to move on to end with a curious piece of legal advice I found in the Telegraph that came to me courtesy of Ben Brandt’s Rat & Mouse.
The regular “Property clinic” where people write in with their queries to be answered by experts ran a problem from Michelle of Nottingham who is a new landlord and not enjoying it much. Having been in the saddle for only 3 months her first tenant is already 2 months in arrears.
Thugs need hugs
So far so normal but it’s the response of the expert that made me do a double take. The legal bit is fine but it’s the last comment that got me:-
“If the tenant still has not left or paid, you can appoint a court bailiff to enforce the order. It can take time, but patience is vital to ensure a proper and lawful outcome. All they need is love”.
Maybe I should say that to one of my regulars who has illegally evicted three tenants so far this year and completely ignored all three injunctions I’ve got against him.
Back in court the judges have just as completely ignored the penal notices on the injunctions stating he can be put in prison for contempt if he fails to comply with the order.
Maybe the judges decided that all he needs is love to turn him around. Maybe it’s true, maybe the vicious thug who terrorises his tenants is just misunderstood.
I know…..I’ll have a T-shirt made up with “Hug a Thug” written on it and approach all my ‘Rouged’ landlords with arms open and a warm, accepting smile.
I’ll leave Enfield to kick them in the nuts.
See ya next week.