Most of the news nowadays is either Brexit, election or Trump-related.
So far as Trump is concerned, I am really glad I don’t live in America right now.
You can say what you like about Theresa May but at least she doesn’t use her position to promote her family business, sack officials who are investigating her for possible treasonable activities or unnecessarily bump up security expenses by millions of pounds by insisting on using her own home for official business.
Still, Trump wasn’t properly elected was he? Allegedly.
The leaked Labour manifesto
I have not seen any political manifesto promises on housing related issues yet, but the Telegraph, reporting on a leaked draft of the Labour manifesto says it includes the following:
- Investment to build one million new homes, including 100,000 council and housing association homes by the end of next parliament.
- Rent rises capped to inflation and legal minimum standards in properties for rent.
- 4,000 homes for people with a history of rough sleeping.
Elsewhere, for example in the Guardian, it states that Jeremy Corbyn wants to introduce ‘tougher regulation of the private rental sector’ – whatever that means.
My personal opinion is that, for the time being, we should let Local Authorities get on with enforcing the regulations we already have, rather than confuse the issue by adding more. Now they get to keep the money, Local Authorities should fairly soon start to build up their enforcement teams which will allow them to take proper action (as opposed to no action which is what happens now due to lack of enforcement staff and funding).
It will take a while though so we can’t expect things to happen instantly.
A million homes?
As regards plans for building a million homes in five years – good luck on that one!
Nice thought (very nice thought), but there are the practical problems of finding enough bricks and construction workers to get them built. Modular housing may help but I doubt our factories have the capacity just yet.
It will be interesting to see what their plans are. Still, at least housing is getting towards the top of the political agenda.
Election tips for tenants from Penny
Tenant journo Penny Anderson has a thought provoking article in the Guardian which looks at landlords trying to prevent tenants putting election posters in their windows!
She also has a useful list of questions for you to ask (if you are a tenant) when they come knocking at your door.
The bigger the agency the bigger the fees?
Research by Generation Rent has shown that the biggest tenant fees are charged by the biggest letting agents. 24 Housing has a good report and a table showing the fees charged by the different agencies.
Needless to say, some of these agents are also failing to publish full details of their fees – why am I not surprised?
Still, come the tenant fee ban, these bigger organisations will suffer the biggest losses. The last laugh will be with those smaller agents who either don’t charge tenant fees at all (and there are agents who don’t do this AND make a profit – so it can be done) or only modest fees.
A criminal charity
An almost unbelievable piece of news coming out of Bristol is that housing charity Alternative Housing is the most prosecuted landlord in the UK. To quote the Guardian
Alternative Housing, which was established to provide accommodation for homeless people with addiction problems, has been convicted of housing offences six times over the past two years, after letting properties with problems including overflowing raw sewage.
The company, which is registered with the Charity Commission, was fined a total of nearly £40,000. Over the same period it received £321,000 in housing benefit.
If you want to find out more about our nightmare landlords, another Guardian article has a list here, with pictures.
Kate Faulkner and another report
A new report funded by TDS from Kate Faulkner (which I have not read yet) is reported to say that we need major reforms in our system.
She is of course quite right – whether anything will happen though is another matter.
Our best chance for proper thought out reform was in 2006 with the publication of a major review and draft legislation from the Law Commission which was then completely ignored by everyone in government – although many of its proposals are now being implemented in Wales.
Since then there have been so many reports, all saying more or less the same thing, it often seems pointless reporting on them. So much wasted effort. Although I suppose it is arguable that the drip, drip, drip of countless reports all more or less saying the same thing might have some effect one day. Maybe.
The trouble is that housing law is hard, and our soundbite MPs and ministers know very little about it. With the revolving door of housing ministers continuing ad infinitum, it is doubtful whether any of them will ever be in post long enough to make any sort of difference.
My son told me today that his generation, the millennial generation, are basically screwed so far as housing is concerned. He has a point.
What made me smile this week
Well, it’s very gratifying that well over 100 assorted landlords, letting agents and other housing bods will be trotting over to Norwich next week for our annual Conference.
That put a smile on my face.