Another week, another Newsround. Let’s see what we have for you this week.
Government clueless about Right to Rent
I’m going to start with an extraordinary statement reported in the Negotiator which is that apparently, the government has no idea what effect the right to rent rules are having.
The admission was made in response to a question in the House of Lords by Labour peer John Bassam … who asked how many people have been “adversely affected” by the government’s “hostile immigration environment”.
Home Office Minister of State Susan Williams said that the government did not monitor immigration checks in this way via either its Right to Rent and Right to Work schemes and therefore had no idea how it was impacting those involved.
So this legislation, which Property Industry Eye has described as coming ‘perilously close to legalised, indeed almost mandatory, racism’, which has caused endless time and trouble to landlords and letting agents, threatened as they are with fines and prosecution if they fail to comply, which was introduced without any evaluation of the pilot project in 2014, is now being run without the government even having any idea – and indeed not bothering to check – whether it is effective or not.
Why then are thousands of people, being put at risk of being wrongfully denied accommodation just because they don’t have a passport? I think they deserve an answer.
Minimum room sizes
Council’s have long wanted a mandatory minimum room size which will allow them to deal with this issue when issuing licenses without having to go to all the bother of exercising their discretion.
They have now got it – but it looks as if it is simply going to cause more problem. Both NALS and ARLA Proertymark have said that although they understand the reason they question whether the new rule is a good idea.
David Cox of ARLA said
“We understand where the Government is coming from. They want everybody to live in good quality accommodation but a lot of older properties have boxrooms.
“There are always people willing to have a smaller room to save money on rent, this is going to take away those rooms and means the costs are shared by fewer people.
“People happy to live in a box room have to pay increased rent to live in a bigger room.
“Why does the Government feel it knows better than an individual making an informed decision based on the size of a room?”
Isobel Thomson, chief executive of NALS said that she would like to see more parliamentary debate on the issue.
The RLA are also unhappy with the proposals stating that the plans are ‘fundamentally flawed’ and open to Judicial Review.
Of course, Local Authorities themselves will be seriously inconvenienced if the available housing is reduced as they are already finding it exceedingly difficult to comply with their statutory re-housing obligations.
These are petty fees that agents are sometimes charging outgoing tenants. According to Shelter, tenants have been charged
- £3 for removing a jar of crunchy peanut butter after the tenant had moved out
- £30 to move furniture not in its original place
- £25 for bin bag disposal
- £45 procurement fee for a new dustpan & brush
- Cleaning dust from skirting boards at £3 per board
- £15 to reactivate a key fob
- £60 for each letter or phone call to chase late rent
- £120 for a new key fob
- £80 to remove limescale from the loo
- £90 to change a lock
It is feared that after the tenant fee ban comes into force, agents could use these fees to recoup the losses they will suffer after losing tenant fees. Shelter Chief Executive Polly Neate told HuffPost UK:
“It’s crucial we don’t leave the backdoor open for agents to find new and inventive ways to rip them off.
The High Court supports Councils on planning case
In a landmark planning case, the High Court has refused planning permission after the developer claimed he was unable to comply with planning guidelines for the provision of affordable housing. The Court upheld Islington Council’s original decision, and also recommended thatthe current guidance on viability assessments by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) should be revised.
Responding to the judgement, a Council spokesperson said:
“We are delighted by the High Court judgement. This decision reinforces Islington Council’s long-standing position that developers should abide by the councils’ planning guidelines – rather than overpaying for land and then trying to bypass our affordable housing requirements.
A couple in Bournemouth have been told that a landlord won’t even let them view a property as he considers them to be too young at 25.
David Cox of ARLA Propertymark said
“Landlords and letting agents are not allowed to discriminate for any of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010; age being one of them.
“Except in certain circumstances, such as retirement properties where there are lawful age exemptions.”
- BBC news has worked out that a year’s rent takes up every penny earned by full-time workers until the first week of May,
- A report overseen by the Resolution Foundation shows how home ownership has plummeted for Millenials
- A man who rented his spare room to women and then raped them has been jailed for 18 years
- The Guardian warns that we should stop calling it the housing ladder as for those on low incomes it is a housing treadmill, while
- Posh flats in London are failing to sell, raising the spectre of ‘ghost towers’, and also
- How basement loving billionaires are forcing everyone else out