I’ll start off with some good news this week which could bring new houses quicker than expected:
Modular homes are here
This Guardian article looks at the new factories that are being build for ‘modular housing’ (the old ‘prefab name is being avoided due to unfortunate associations) which will cut the building time dramatically.
It will also avoid the problems caused by lack of skilled construction workers.
Rosie Toogood of Legal & General Modular (which I wrote about previously here) who have already started delivering their new homes, said
We are building a new industry here, designing in different ways and redefining the housebuilding process. We are changing the supply line, and building at a pace never seen before.
Bjorn Conway, the chief executive of private equity-backed Ilke, said:
We are just scratching the surface of what’s possible. We took a licence on this factory just 12 months ago and have already delivered the first homes. We are deconstructing construction, and driving productivity improvements, without relying on hard-to-find construction skills.
The Problem of Rogue Landlords
After having analysied the results of an FOI request to Councils, the RLA have found that nine out of ten Councils are failing to use their new powers against rogue and criminal landlords anad 1/5 did not even issue any improvement notices.
Which is not only failing tenants but also failing the good landlords.
David Smith, policy director for the RLA, said:
These results show that for all the publicity around bad landlords, a large part of the fault lies with councils who are failing to use the wide range of powers they already have.
Too many local authorities fall back on licensing schemes which, as this report proves, actually achieve very little except to add to the costs of the responsible landlords who register.
Instead of policing licensing schemes, councils need to focus on finding and taking action against criminal landlords.
David also wrote an opinion piece on Property Industry Eye where he set out the RLA blueprint for enforcement:
- Ensuring councils properly use the powers they already have to enable tenants to identify their landlords on council tax registration forms rather than resorting to costly and ineffective licensing schemes. This would prevent the criminals evading identification.
- Providing local authority enforcement departments with the sustainable funding needed for quality enforcement against those landlords bringing the sector into disrepute.
- The development of a properly funded and fully fledged housing court to speed up access to justice in the minority of cases where things go wrong.
Rogue landlords to faice siezure?
Clive Betts, the Labour MP who chairs the committee, asked Housing Minister Heather Wheeler:
Just reflect – even if you can’t commit to a change of policy today – to have a think about [confiscation]. These people are bad people renting bad houses to vulnerable tenants.
They’re making lots of money out of it, they’re making proceeds out of their crime. Let’s take off them the asset that enables them to do that.
Although I believe that there are already some powers – at least for Councils to carry out repair work and charge the landlord. Thee is also compulsory purchase – although breach of housing regulations may not be a justification for this.
Long delays in eviction
Another story this week is that landlords are now waiting on average up to 5 months to recover possession of their properties through the courts – although in some areas (such as London) it is more than this.
The RLA have pointed out that any chance of developing longer fixed terms is foredoomed to failure unless landlords are able to recover properties from non paying and anti-social tenants more quickly during the fixed term.
Remember that section 21 cannot be used until the fixed term has ended and this is a major bar to longer fixed terms.
Proportionality and section 21 evictions
Landlords will be pleased to learn that an appeal of the case McDonald v. McDonald (which was about whether a disabled tenant being evicted under section 21 had any right to challenge this under Human Rights laws) to the European Court of Human Rights has failed.
The Court has held that insofar as private lettings are concerned, where the state has legislated on how the balance of the parties rights are achieved, and where these statutory rights and obligations form part of the contract, this should not be overridden by the Courts.
This means that a similar appeal in respect of a claim for possession under, for example, the maindatory rent arrears ground, ground 8, would be treated in the same way – so long as the landlord was a private landlord.
So private landlords no longer need to worry about this issue. Find out more on Nearly Legal.
- A survey by online agent Urban has found a worrying lack of awareness of legal rules among buy to let landlords
- Spareroom has linked up with the RSPCA and Crisis to launch a ‘think tank’ to help renters with pets
- A Gurdian letter witer gives an example of housbuilders profit over actual need
- In Norwich council offices are to be turned into social housing
- Combustable materials are to be banned on new high rise homes