Some news items from the past week.
The Right to Rent case
You may recall that earlier in the year, in Judicial Review proceedings on the right to rent regime, the Judge ruled that because of the scheme, discrimination by landlords was taking place and that therefore it breached human rights legislation. The Government is appealing the decision.
We don’t know exactly when the appeal hearing will take place but it has been confirmed that the Court of Appeal will allow the Residential Landlords Association to make written and oral submissions. Ensuring that landlords will have their say.
Last month the RLA called on the Tory leadership candidates to scrap the scheme in advance of the case.
David Smith, RLA policy director, said:
The Right to Rent has been a failure. No one has been prosecuted under the scheme but it has created a great deal of anxiety for landlords who do not want to go to prison for getting it wrong. We are disappointed the government has chosen to appeal against what was a clear and damning verdict by the High Court.
However, we will ensure that the views of landlords are well represented as we send a message that they should not be used to cover for the failings in the UK border agencies.
Logged in Landlord Law members can find out more about right to rent in our most recent training webinar.
Deposit replacement schemes
The Property Ombudsman Katrine Sporle has warned letting agents that complaints about deposit replacement schemes could start to escalate in the coming months. Speaking at the TPO Conference she said
There are the start of murmurings that will get into a crescendo maybe in six or nine months of people saying they simply didn’t understand they were just being required to pay for the privilege of not paying a deposit.
You need to make sure you are on top of what you are doing as complaints will come further down the line.
You may also be interested to see on the Landlord Law YouTube channel a clip of Suzy Hershman speaking at the Landlord Law Conference a few weeks ago, where she discusses deposit replacement schemes and the possible problems that might arise.
Lord Best who chairs the working group on the regulation of property agents (ROPA) has indicated that his group’s report will be delivered to the government on Monday.
It looks as if the report will be recommending the introduction of licensing with minimum qualifications for all individual agents in order to obtain a licence to operate. With no ‘grandfathering’ – so all agents no matter how experienced will need to get the qualifications. There will also be a code of conduct.
Speaking at the TPO Conference he said:
We are going to say yes to a regulator, you are going to be regulated.
You will become regulated bodies and licensed agents as individuals.
You will need to be licensed and it will be a serious offence to operate without a licence.
This is good news for agents who already hold qualifications such as the many ARLA qualified agents. However, it may mean other agents having to close.
Property Industry Eye reports a Ministry of Housing spokesperson saying:
We have been clear that standards across the property agent sector must be raised, and we look forward to hearing the recommendations of the working group’s report on this important issue
Agent threatened by acid attack
Following on from Ben’s post the other day about criminal letting agents, comes this report of a Foxtons agent who was threatened with an acid attack after her involvement in investigations into a sophisticated criminal gang specialising in letting scams.
The gang rent properties, apparently going to great lengths to get past referencing checks, and then sublet on platforms such as Airbnb. They can earn huge sums partly due to the time it takes for landlords to evict them after learning of the scam.
Patrick Bullick, managing director of estate agency Stanley Chelsea, said
The rise of Airbnb and other letting sites has facilitated this criminality. Thousands of properties are being misused in this way in central London.
However, the police refuse to investigate, no doubt because they consider it to be a ‘civil matter’. Hence a group of agents. including Foxtons, decided to carry out their own investigations. With the resultant threat to the lady at Foxtons.
Kim Taylor-Smith, deputy leader of Kensington & Chelsea Council, said:
It cannot be right that criminals roam the districts of London and the police just look the other way.
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- Significant increase in landlords admitting to not paying tax
- Green Star Energy fined and ordered to pay £350,000 for failings affecting almost 2,000 private tenants