Friday again, what do we have for you?
Could councils sue managing agents under selective licensing laws?
According to a legal expert in this article, they already are. In particular in Liverpool.
For example, a managing agent was fined almost £4,000 and given a criminal record under selective licensing laws after pleading guilty to renting out 12 properties without a licence from Liverpool City Council in September 2018.
a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the National Landlords Association made earlier this year revealed that Liverpool City Council was the front-runner when it came to prosecuting letting agents, with a total of 13 prosecuted in the four-year period between 2014/15 to 2017/18.
in May this year, a landlord and their managing agent were ordered by Canterbury magistrates to pay a fine of £1,000, in addition to costs of £120 and a victim surcharge of £100 for renting out flats without a selective licence from Thanet District Council.
Although other Councils seem less active, this may change. So agents – watch out.
Council starts crackdown on unlicensed and criminal landlords
The London Borough of Hackney has recently extended their licensing scheme and have announced that they are going to start an enforcement drive to cut down on poor standards.
They claim that one in five tenants suffer from cold homes, disrepair, or damp and mould which is a worrying statistic. The income from the licensing scheme will
help fund a double-sized licensing team that will inspect properties, work with landlords to ensure they meet the right standards, and take tough measures against those who don’t comply including penalty charges of up to £30,000 or prosecution which could lead to an unlimited fine, or bans from letting homes completely.
Lets hope that they are able to make inroads on those problem properties.
Rising rents in Wales after tenant fees ban
This commenced in September but there is already evidence from a tenants organisation that it has resulted in increased rents.
Renters Union UK says it has strong anecdotal evidence of landlords and letting agents increasing rents to cover the lost fees following the Welsh fees ban, which went live on September 1st, and that some agents are struggling as they fight to replace lost revenue.
Not a surprise for the industry – ALRA and the RLA in Wales have consistently warned the Welsh government that this would happen. Douglas Haig, vice-chair of the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) and its chief in Wales said
Agents will now be conducting wholesale property reviews of their portfolios. It is likely that the people who will be the most hit by this are people who have been in a rental property for a long time as that rent has stayed static.
The two groups least likely to move are families and/or people on benefits as moving is expensive.
This means much of the cost is being borne by the people who are not moving, not just the people who are.
It’s hard to see how taking away the right to charge fees which comprise some 20% of agents income would NOT result in an increase in rent. However as we can see from the Brexit debacle, politicians often appear to be totally devoid of common sense and the ability to add 2 and 2 to make 4.
Housing discrimination in America
Just seen this article in the Guardian which looks at how a Trump housing plan would make bias by algorithm ‘nearly impossible to fight’
The Trump administration has proposed a shift in rules that would make it “nearly impossible” for Americans to sue for housing discrimination caused by algorithms, according to tech scholars and civil rights groups.
Absolving companies of wrongdoing when algorithms are involved could have a major effect on the housing market, which often relies on automation – in the form of background checks, credit score analysis, and analyzing an applicant’s history – to decide whether to rent or sell someone a home.
The new ruling would raise the bar for legal challenges against housing discrimination, making cases brought against landlords and lenders less likely to succeed.
Do we have this issue in the UK?
- Property Ombudsman looking into 24 possible complaints about one property company
- Three companies expelled by the Ombudsman
- More than 21,000 people applied to convert their vehicles into dwellings in the past year.
- Landlord ordered to pay £7,500 after claiming student home was a holiday let
- Nearly legal looks at Civil penalties, and appeals of appeals
Newsround will be back next week.