There is always something happening in Landlordlawland. Legislation, events, reports, you name it.
The Rugg Report
We have just had a really big report published, one of the authors being Julie Rugg who published an influential report in 2008 (although I think government ignored most of their conclusions).
I have not had time to read it all yet, but our own Ben Reeve Lewis was involved in it and has published a post about it here.
The report is fairly scathing about some letting agents saying that they are as amateur as the landlords they work for, which is hardly surprising as you can set up business as an agent with no regulation, no training and no knowledge of renting property – perfectly legally.
It seems about 38% of landlords use an agent, but
survey data indicate higher levels of dissatisfaction with letting agents: tenants asked about repairs and maintenance were almost twice as likely to be dissatisfied if their tenancy involved a letting or managing agent rather than a landlord more directly.
I found a nice summary of the report on the Lime Legal site which said
The main findings in the review include:
- Current regulation of the sector is ‘confused and contradictory’ and ‘failing at multiple levels’. Opportunities for linkage and simplification are being missed, with tenants and landlords unsure of their rights and responsibilities.
- Poor conditions are a problem at both ends of the market – one in five homes let at the top 20% of rents are non-decent, to one in three let at the bottom 20 per cent. Conditions get worse the longer tenants are in their property, indicating that poor property management rather than old housing stock is the root cause.
- Changes to welfare reform are creating a ‘slum tenure’ at the bottom end of the market as more tenants are unable to afford to meet their current rent levels or find accommodation without the help of statutory or third sector agencies.
- Policy interventions are increasingly focused on helping higher and middle-income renters priced out of the ownership, with little or no help for those on low incomes.
Legal aid and discrimination
The Equalities and Human Rights Commission has published a report looking at the impact of legal aid changes since 2013.
Recommendations include reinstating legal aid for initial advice in housing cases and that the exceptional case funding scheme should be reformed to provide an effective safety net where the absence of legal aid would otherwise lead to violations of people’s rights.
Future Renting Conference
I attended this conference run by the RLA yesterday and will try to get a proper report online if I get time.
It was a useful conference – speakers included Anne Frost deputy directory PRS, Kate Faulkner, David Smith, David Cox, Katrine Sporle and Karen Buck MP.
I was particularly interested to learn about the research work that is being done and presented to the government to back up their lobbying work. The RLA really is an excellent organisation.
Amusingly there was a small tenants demonstration outside the venue – obviously unaware that these are the ‘good guys’.
I think one of their questions was ‘Do you think anyone should be allowed to own more than one property’. Although if that was the case – where would the people who prefer to rent and who do not want to own a property, live? If no-one is allowed to own a second property to rent to them?
The main effect of the demonstration was that it disrupted the conference lunch – which will no doubt please them.
HMO changes warning
One strong theme at the conference was the looming change in the HMO rules which will mean thousands of properties coming into scope for HMO licenses.
Be aware landlords – it will apply to existing tenancies as well as new ones after 1 October. So you really need to get round to your properties and check how many people are living there.
There has been very little publicity about this major change from government. Despite the fact that it is a very big deal and the penalties for non-compliance are HUGE.
There is no grace period – so if your property is going to be affected you need to get your application for a license into your Local Authority NOW.
- Landlord who let fire hazard tiny room in HMO is ordered top pay £32,000
- Transport for London is looking to build rental flats above tube stations
- LB Camden targets rogue agents in a special clampdown. But surely they should do this all the time?
- There is a useful article about landlords fire safety obligations here.
- The RLA has published a nice collection of essays to mark its 20th anniversary which you can download >> here.
Newsround will be back next week.