To sign up for the Landlord Law Newsletter (and get a free guide)>> Click Here

Tag Archives: law reform

Some interesting proposals for housing reform from the Labour Party

labour-policy-reviewA new policy review document from the Labour Party has just been published.  I managed to find a bit of time this morning to take a look at it.

There are some interesting proposals.

Housing problems and statistics

A large part of the document is talking about how awful it all is (with quotes) and how some of the worst standards are to be found in the private rented sector (PRS).  For example:

  • The PRS represents 16.5% of the total households in England
  • Nearly 1/3 of all PRS households have children and nearly 15% of all couples with children live in the PRS
  • The proportion of private rented stock which is ‘non decent’ is 35%, compared to 22% owner occupied homes and 17% of social housing
  • Safety hazards are in 21% of PRS homes compared to 7% in the social sector
  • In 2010/11 local authorities received over 86,000 complaints and have said in the past that they are aware of 1,477 serial bad landlords

The report goes on to point out the problems that local authorities have with enforcement issues, and the fact that many PRS landlords are well meaning but lack knowledge of their legal obligations.

The report also refers to the ‘retaliatory eviction’ problem and the general costs to society of poor housing.

To find out what the main suggestions are to resolve these problems you have to read to the end.  They are:

1. A national register of landlords

Which will

  • Assist local authorities identify landlords
  • Allow distribution of information to and communication with landlords
  • Help with deal with the problems of tax evasion (apparently costing the Treasury some half a billion pounds)

Item 4 below also indicates that the right to operate as a landlord will be linked to being on the register.

2. A new national private rented property standard

Which would include current minimum standards on

  • Tenancy deposits
  • Energy efficiency
  • Property conditions
  • Response times and repairs

The report goes on to say that this will be linked to incentives which will only be available to properly registered landlords (including with HMRC)

3. Improved local enforcement

This will

  • Remove red tape and make it easier for local authorities to introduce licensing schemes

4. Tougher sanctions on bad landlords

Which will involve

  • reviewing penalties and sentencing guidelines (presumably by making them less derisory)
  • assessing how they can stamp out retaliatory eviction
  • removing bad landlords from the national register so they can no longer operate as landlords

There is also an interesting paragraph which follows this which refers to potential benefits to compliant landlords:

  • supplying renters from local housing registers (probably not much of an incentive in the current housing shortage)
  • direct payment of benefit to PRS landlords and
  • an improved legal process to help landlords evict non paying tenants and tenants who commit anti social behaviour including criminal damage

Conclusion

If implemented these proposals could go a long way towards resolving current problems.

In particular if the right to use section 21 is linked to landlords housing register, then landlords whose properties are not up to standard could be denied the right to use the section 21 procedure until they are compliant.

This is in my view by far the best way to deal with the retaliatory eviction problem.

I also believe that the only way to encourage longer term tenancies (apart from Rent Act 1977 like legislation which would destabilise the industry) is by changing the eviction process to make it easier for landlords to evict genuine bad tenants.  I discussed this previously here.

So overall I am quite impressed with the proposals.  However as always the devil will be in the detail and we will have to wait and see whether these are serious proposals or just window dressing.

Labour roseNew ideas?

The only thing I really take issue with is the suggestion that these are ‘new ideas’.  For example a lot of them appeared last year in  my bigger picture ebook.

You can download the policy document from >> here.

My Solicitors Journal article on housing law reform

Tessa Shepperson

I provide pdfs of my articles for the Solicitors Journal on housing reform so you can all read themContinue Reading

Housing law – the bigger picture – the ebook

Housing Law the Bigger Picture

As you will know if you follow this blog, since June (2012) I have been setting out my thoughts on housing law and the private rented sector, and giving some suggestions for reform. That series finished today. However it is difficult to get a grip on the ideas and suggestions spread over three months worthContinue Reading

Housing benefit reforms, the Pickles letter and the Voldemort connection

Harry Potter books

I don’t think I can really let the revelation in the Observer yesterday of the Pickles letter regarding the likley outcome of the Housing Benefit reforms go without at least some comment. Ministry of Magic speak Fiction is often a frightening reflection of reality and I think there is a lot of similarity between theContinue Reading

Decline in home ownership and rise of renting needs a big change in government thinking says new report

Smith Institute - the end of the affiar

I have recently come across an interesting report, published by the Smith Institute called ‘The end of the affair – implications of declining home ownership’, written by Andrew Heywood. The report considers what seems to be a permanent trend – the decline in home ownership in this country.  Together with the worrying fact that thisContinue Reading

Ben Reeve-Lewis’ Newsround #12

Ben on a chair

[Ben Reeve Lewis to his surprise, finds a few good things in the Localism Bill  ... ] I’m looking into my crystal ball this week. Despite being called ‘Landlord Law Blog’ I know that Tessa’s readers aren’t just landlords. It is read by tenants, lawyers, housing advisers, estate agents, homeless teams and a whole host ofContinue Reading

Are the Law Commission just wasting their time?

The end of the line

The post looks at a report on past Law Commission projects and says whether they will be implemented or not. It looks as if the big housing projects carried out a few years ago are being thrown on the scrap heap …Continue Reading



The Landlord Law Blog from Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.


Legal Services

Legal services are provided via Tessa's online service Landlord Law. Some advice services are provided by Tessa, other legal services are provided by specialist housing firm Anthony Gold.


Disclaimer

The purpose of this blog is to provide information, comment and discussion. Although Tessa, or guest bloggers, may from time to time, give helpful comments to readers' questions, these can only be based on the information given by the reader in his or her comment, which may not contain all material facts. Any comments or suggestions provided by Tessa or any guest bloggers should not therefore be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice from a qualified lawyer regarding any actual legal issue or dispute.


Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice or perceived as creating a solicitor-client relationship (apart from the Fast Track block clinic service - so far as the questioners only are concerned).


Guest bloggers

Please note that any opinion expressed by a guest blogger is his or hers alone, and does not necessarily reflect the views of Tessa Shepperson, or the other writers on this blog.


Other websites from Tessa

Lodger Landlord | School for Landlords | Google+ | Your Law Store | Google | Landlord Law facebook page | Tenancy Agreements Manual | How to Evict Your Tenant website | the Which Tenancy Agreement Guide | Landlords Tips | Tenants Tips