Welcome to the Friday Newsround where I do a quick whip round the housing news.
New Housing & Planning Act Procedures
Some of the new procedures from the Housing and Planning Act are coming into force on 6 April, but as usual the government are very late in providing the detail.
The two main things coming into force are the extension of rent repayment orders and civil penalties.
Rent repayment orders
These are a serious penalty for landlords as they can be VERY expensive. Often much more expensive that the Magistrates Court fine which preceded them.
At the moment they are only used for failure to license a licensable HMO but under the new rules they will also be available for
- violence for securing entry;
- illegal eviction and harassment;
- failure to comply with enforcement notices and prohibition orders
And also breaching a banning order from Oct 1st when the banning order rules come in.
These will be an alternative to prosecution for failure to comply with improvement notices and for HMO licensing breaches, and for breaches of the overcrowding and HMO management regs.
Councils will be able to levy fines of up to £30,000 and keep the money – making it much more likely that they will do this as the income from the fines will help finance the enforcement action.
There will be an appeals procedure to the First Tier Tribunal.
Money laundering surprise
There has been a surprise announcement that letting agents are not going to be regulated under money laundering rules – although estate agents will.
ARLA managing Director David Cox said
We are disappointed the Government has chosen not to include lettings activity within the Money Laundering Regulations 2017. The risk is that money laundering activity will transfer from the sales sector, due to the increased powers within the new regulation, into the lettings sector which remains unregulated.
However, within the context of the recently increased legislative burden on letting agents, coupled with the shock announcement to ban letting agent fees in the Autumn Statement, we understand why the Government has chosen not to impose these requirements at this critical juncture.
The Right to Buy – only in England!
Wales has now joined Scotland in stopping the haemorrhage of social housing properties and has announced new legislation to end right to buy in Wales – reported on Property Industry Eye.
Right to buy has already ended in Scotland – it ended 31 July 2016 following a consultation in 2012.
The Welsh Bill, however, provides that the right will end one year after the bill receives the Royal Assent making it likely that there will be a rush to buy during that time.
There are hopes that the Welsh action may prompt a similar action in England but at the moment it is set to increase with right to buy still due to be extended to housing association properties.
Brexit threats housing building skills shortage
There are various reports in the press that RICS has warned that the construction industry could lose 8% of its workforce after Brexit.
This is not good as we need to build more houses if we are to be able to deal with the housing shortage – now more and more being recognised as one of the major problems of our time.
Mr Hammon’ds technical training initiative may help a bit (although not for quite a few years) plus ‘modular off site construction’ procedures – ie prefabs (but better than the old ones) may mean that we need less workers with traditional building skills. But only if they set up more factories to make them.
What made me smile this week
Finding a Tardis at the BBC, when I went there to talk on Radio Norfolk recently.
NB It should be Ben back again next week.