The end of another week and here we are at another Newsround. Here is what I have seen in the housing and related news stories this week.
Help for older people to down size
Let’s start on a positive note where the government has accepted that estate agents and letting agents could be accredited as providing tailored services for older people. You can read the government report here.
NAEA Propertymark chief executive Mark Hayward said of the Government’s response:-
“Currently there isn’t adequate provision of homes for older people, meaning they typically stay in their big family homes longer than they need to, and this affects the whole housing market.
We welcome the Government’s response to the Select Committee inquiry into Housing for Older People, and agree that more support and information should be available to help those looking to down-size in retirement”.
However, the Government makes no comment on the proposal that there should be no Stamp Duty exemption for older people who downsize.
Local authorities struggle to understand the new HMO rules which could impact landlords
HMO’s still remain prevalent in the news and this week is no exception. A series of Freedom of Information requests has found that only a minority of local authorities have established the number of properties that need to be licensed under new HMO rules.
Some councils (a few admittedly) don’t even know if HMO properties would meet the licensing conditions such as fire safety and the new minimum room size requirements.
This could make thousands of HMOs illegal, exposing landlords and agents to fines and other penalties, and inability to serve Section 21 notices. Ultimately this could have a knock-on effect for tenants who could face loosing their homes.
Richard Lambert, CEO of the National Landlords Association, had already said that landlords enquiring about licences were being given wrong answers by local councils which appeared to know nothing of the changes.
He now says:
“This is an unacceptable failing on the part of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
“We‘re also concerned that local authorities appear unprepared for the changes and have, anecdotally, heard that landlords may be being given advice which could put them at risk of breaking the law.
“Our advice to all landlords is to check if your property falls under the new regulations, and if your local authority does not yet have a process in place, make sure you apply using the existing mandatory HMO licensing scheme and receive an acknowledgement of your application.”
Tenants need to become more savvy
I read that a poll undertaken by MakeUrMove found out of 2000 tenants a shocking 85% did not know what the tenant fee ban meant to them and were also unsure what fees they would still have to pay. Furthermore, 41% did know fully understand deposit protection with 32% unaware of their rights for getting their deposit back.
Once in a tenancy, they did not know whose responsibility it was for maintaining the garden, decorating or doing minor repairs.
Alexandra Morris, managing director of MakeUrMove, said:
“While the Government is adamant that certain legislation have been brought in to protect tenants, the reality is it’s leading to additional confusion among tenants, many of whom already don’t understand their current position.
“The fact that such a high percent of tenants still don’t understand the implications of the impending tenant fees ban, despite it potentially coming into effect within the next few months, is particularly worrying.
“As letting agents we have a duty to educate both tenants and landlords about their rights and responsibilities, and this is something made much more complex by ever-changing regulations.”