Welcome to Friday and the Newsround. What has been happening over the past week?
Fitness for Habitation
The best news of the week must be that Karen Buck’s Private Members bill Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill is now supported by the government.
The not unreasonable aim of this bill is that rented property should be fit for human habitation. Good landlords will not have a problem with this and it is shocking that previous versions of this bill were ‘talked out’ by Tory landlord MPs.
NB If you are a tenant and have a horror story about a bad landlord, Karen Buck wants to hear from you
Fergus Wilson again
Bizarre stories follow Mr Wilson. You may remember that last November a court found that Kent landlord Fergus Wilson was acting unlawfully and he was handed an injunction banning him from applying criteria discriminating against “coloured” tenants or those of Indian or Pakistani backgrounds. The injunction remains in place for three years.
Wilson is now apparently threatening to take out a private prosecution against blogger Danny Hyde, who published a video several months ago criticising Wilson for being racist, if he refuses to pay him compensation. Hyde says he has no money to pay. A crowdfunding site “Rescue Danny Hyde TV” has now been set up to pay his court fees.
Hyde claims to have just about “one hundred quid” whereas in 2016 Wilson was reported by the Financial Times to be worth about £250 million. Nice.
For more on this see the Property Industry Eye report.
How to Rent Booklet
All landlords now need to provide tenants a copy of the governments How to Rent Booklet or they will not be able to serve a valid section 21 notice.
If you are stockpiling printed out copies of this in your office, note that you will now have to throw these away as the booklet was updated on 17 Jan.
You don’t need to re-serve existing tenants, unless they renew their tenancy, but the new booklet should be given to all new tenants.
David Smith writes more about it in the Anthony Gold blog here,
Small flats scandal
The Guardian has a story here about family homes in London being converted to minute flats which are then rented out to the homeless paid for by benefit.
“Three-bed houses, where the maximum weekly housing benefit for flat-sharers is under £100 a person, are being converted into as many as six tiny self-contained studios – as little as 10 sq m in size. Each then qualifies for housing benefit of £181 a week, enabling a landlord to squeeze £56,000 a year in rent from a property on London’s fringes, all paid from public funds. The £56,000 compares with the typical £6,200 annual rent on a three-bed council house.
The properties are often in poor condition and neighbours complain of
anti-social behaviour and feeling unsafe when there were influxes of often single men, with substance abuse and mental health problems .
The article includes interviews with occupants who describe the poor condition of their homes.
However the shortage of accommodation in London for single people is such that Council are scrambling to use these properties.
Maybe they would be better installing these new concrete pipes invented by a Hong Kong architect. They certainly look a bit more attractive – inside at any rate. Which would you rather live in?
Landlords selling up?
The National Landlords Association has a report showing that in their latest poll some 20% of landlords are looking to reduce their portfolio, which they suspect is largely due to tax issues.
To help landlords they have produced some videos which you can view here. Worth a look.
Thats all for this weeks newsround. I’ll be back next week with some more stories for you.