Another week, another Friday. What news items do we have for you?
The RLA Landlords Manifesto
With the calling of a General Election for 12 December, the Residential Landlords Association has issued a manifesto for ‘a private rented sector that works for tenants and good landlords’.
This calls for:
- Changes to the tax rules to bring more property into use, including empty homes, more new properties and converting more buildings into homes
- Changes to the benefit rules including an end to the LHA cap and allowing benefit to be paid directly to landlords
- An end to the right to rent mandatory checks, particularly after the recent court ruling which found that they were discriminatory
- Improving justice for both landlords and tenants by setting up an expert, properly funded and staffed housing court
- Rooting out criminal landlords by more and better enforcement action by councils which should be properly funded
- Rejecting all forms of rent controls which have been shown by the RLAs own research to be counter-productive, and
- Having a more positive approach to the private rented sector and considering it as a solution to a problem rather than being a problem
David Smith, Policy Director for the RLA, said:
For too long we have let the actions of a minority of landlords who bring the sector into disrepute dictate the debate around rented housing. Whilst we must find and root out such people we cannot let it distract from the positive news in the sector.
The vast majority of landlords and tenants enjoy good relations, with many tenants staying long term in their rental properties.
It is important that we build upon this record, ensuring pro-growth policies to ensure a sufficient supply of homes to rent, supporting vulnerable tenants and ensuring tenants and landlords can access justice more quickly if things do go wrong.
We call on all parties to accept our positive, pragmatic programme for the sector and end the unnecessary scaremongering which is causing many tenants to live in fear.
It will be interesting to see whether this has any effect and also how much influence the new enlarged NRLA will have on policy.
Rent rises as landlords exit
There have been a number of reports of a rise in the number of landlords exiting the private rented sector which is resulting (in 58% of letting agencies according to a recent survey) in a rise in rents.
ARLA Propertymark chief executive David Cox said:
Rent prices remain alarmingly high as they have done since the Tenant Fees Act came into effect.
It’s also concerning to see that the properties managed per letting agent branch has fallen.
As supply falls, competition amongst tenants increases which further drives up rent costs.
The survey also showed that an average of four landlords per branch left in September.
New septic tank rules
New rules have been put in place to protect surface water resources (e.g. rivers, streams etc.) from pollution caused by septic tanks and other small-scale sewage treatment plants.
Under the new rules, low-quality effluent from septic tanks cannot now be discharged directly into ditches, streams or other watercourses. Instead, property owners need to replace or upgrade systems to incorporate a drainage field (also known as an infiltration system) so the effluent can seep into the ground instead for further treatment by soil bacteria.
Robert Franklin, Head of Architecture & Building Surveying at Robinson & Hall, Land and Property Professionals, says,
Anyone who owns a property which is not connected to a mains drainage system, please ask yourself:
Do you know the difference between a septic tank, cess pit and sewage treatment plant?
If you own a septic tank, do you know where it discharges?
Septic tanks are very common in rural properties where no mains drainage is available.
Call in include Airbnb and short lets in regulation reform
Lord Best, whose ROPA report will hopefully result in regulation of the lettings industry and in due course the whole PRS, has called for short term lettings to be included.
In a comment made in the House of Lords recently to government housing minister Viscount Younger of Leckie, he said
In view of the misgivings that abound about Airbnb and others…might it not be a good idea for the regulator’s remit to include these organisations as well
In an interview with the Negotiator, Lord Best said he made the comments because there is “quite a lot of concern about aspects of short term lets” and that it is an unregulated sector, which he believes is quite odd for a major sector in which so much money changes hands.
Lord Best Interview
The interview is published separately here and is worth reading. In it Lord Best says
I think it should be dawning on agents that after RoPA they will become part of a profession. Gone will be days when anyone including rogue operators can set up and become an estate agent overnight. It’s a huge change for the industry.
The new regulator will have the full armoury of powers ranging from a rap on the knuckles to being able to suspend or close a business and also prosecute a company if it’s a criminal matter.
Let’s hope the proposed reforms are not killed by government apathy as has happened so often in the past.
Local Authority Building
It looks as if Norwich Council, who recently won the Stirling Prize for their development in Goldsmiths Street, is not the only Council building for the future.
This article in the Guardian looks at other council developments and discusses the work of Dr Janice Morphet, a public sector planning veteran and visiting professor at University College London, who has been conducting detailed research into the different methods that councils are using to deliver homes in the absence of government grants.
It is an inspiring article but it shows just how damaging the right to buy is for councils who go to enormous lengths to build properties only to have to sell them at an undervalue. Which is madness.
- Looking at micro-homes for the homeless
- Letting agent who found tenant sub-letting through Airbnb by chance ‘did everything right’
- Foxtons reports fall in revenue as tenancy fees ban costs it £1m in the first few months
- Countrywide is fined £100,000 after the transfer of client account money – although nobody was actually disadvantaged
- Agent claims tenancy deposit service has ‘flawed’ process for returning excess deposit money
- A thoughtful article on the section 21 debate on the RICS site
Newsround will be back next week.