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Shelter Calls For Legislation To Control Rogue Landlords

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2011/mar/30/shelter-vulnerable-rogue-landlords

Housing benefit cuts and the government's refusal to regulate the private rented sector will force the most vulnerable citizens to depend on property managed by rogue landlords, Shelter has warned.

The charity has seen a 23% increase in complaints about landlords in the past year, with grievances over "shocking" levels of dampness and disrepair soaring by 40% and complaints about landlord harassment rising by nearly a quarter. At the same time, a chronic shortage of social housing and large numbers of people being priced out of the housing market have led to a 40% rise – to 3.4m – in the number of households in private rental property over the last five years.

Last year the housing minister, Grant Shapps, rejected new regulations and a national register of landlords proposed by Labour on the grounds it would introduce too much "burdensome red tape and bureaucracy". Instead, he expects councils to tackle rogue landlords.

But Shelter warned that impending cuts to the local housing allowance and growing demand for rental property mean the poorest tenants could be pushed into the arms of the worst landlords.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: "The housing minister's claim that 'the vast majority of England's 3 million private tenants are happy with the service they receive' has been seriously thrown into question. Our figures clearly show a worrying increase in the number of people seeking our help regarding problems with their landlord.

It's frightening to see that complaints about bad landlords are increasing at such a rate at the very time that renting a home is fast becoming the only option for thousands of families across this country. It appears that rogue landlords are cashing in on this growing market."

Daniel, a 33-year-old teacher of English to foreign students, thought he had found a bargain when he managed to rent a one-bedroom flat in Herne Hill, south London, for £700 a month. But he soon learned why the rent was so low: the flat was one of seven crammed into a terraced house that had previously had four bedrooms. Even the garage at the back had been converted into a flat.

He said: "The agent should have warned me about the number of tenants in the property. The neighbours were fine – there were just too many of them: whole families squashed into one-bedroom flats. The landlord was extremely elusive, and I had to move out for two weeks after a leakage problem caused my ceiling to cave in over Christmas and I couldn't get hold of him." But you would ask permission or at least warn tenants if you were going to do that, wouldn't you?"

Shelter wants Shapps to produce a clear plan to tackle rogue landlords and ensure all local authorities sign up to a minimum standard accreditation scheme.

The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) is also calling for regulation to force landlords to improve electrical safety in rented homes. It says that while landlords are legally obliged to provide an annual gas safety certificate, there is no equivalent legal obligation for electrical installations.

The move is being supported by the family of Thirza Whittall, thea mother of two young children, who died when an electrical fault in her rental home caused the taps on the bath to become live. The electrical wiring in the property hadn't not been tested since 1981. and tThe ESC says that if an electrical report – known as a Periodic Inspection Report – had been carried out, the faults leading to the tragedycould have been rectified and her death prevented.

Her mother, Jane Andain, said: "Thirza had just moved down from Birmingham to Cornwall, which she loved, and had found work as an orthoptist in the local hospital. Everything seemed to be going perfectly. But the property she'd rented had no earthing in its wiring, and a faulty heater earthed itself through the taps on the bath instead. When Thirza ran a bath and got into it, she was electrocuted."

The ESC recommends rental homes should have a periodic inspection report carried out by a registered electrician at least every five years, or on change of tenancy. It has produced a leaflet – the Tenant's Checklist – to provide tenants with essential information to help protect themselves and their families by following a few simple steps.

Shapps said: "The private rented sector performs an important role in providing housing for those who cannot access other forms. … "Accreditation schemes can be an effective way for consumers to identify good landlords in their area, and across the country there are many successful examples. However, the need for a scheme depends on local markets and it is much more appropriate for local authorities to make a decision on setting up a scheme than for government to impose one centrally."

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2011/mar/30/shelter-vulnerable-rogue-landlords

Housing benefit cuts and the government's refusal to regulate the private rented sector will force the most vulnerable citizens to depend on property managed by rogue landlords, Shelter has warned.

The charity has seen a 23% increase in complaints about landlords in the past year, with grievances over "shocking" levels of dampness and disrepair soaring by 40% and complaints about landlord harassment rising by nearly a quarter. At the same time, a chronic shortage of social housing and large numbers of people being priced out of the housing market have led to a 40% rise – to 3.4m – in the number of households in private rental property over the last five years.

Last year the housing minister, Grant Shapps, rejected new regulations and a national register of landlords proposed by Labour on the grounds it would introduce too much "burdensome red tape and bureaucracy". Instead, he expects councils to tackle rogue landlords.

But Shelter warned that impending cuts to the local housing allowance and growing demand for rental property mean the poorest tenants could be pushed into the arms of the worst landlords.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: "The housing minister's claim that 'the vast majority of England's 3 million private tenants are happy with the service they receive' has been seriously thrown into question. Our figures clearly show a worrying increase in the number of people seeking our help regarding problems with their landlord.

It's frightening to see that complaints about bad landlords are increasing at such a rate at the very time that renting a home is fast becoming the only option for thousands of families across this country. It appears that rogue landlords are cashing in on this growing market."

Daniel, a 33-year-old teacher of English to foreign students, thought he had found a bargain when he managed to rent a one-bedroom flat in Herne Hill, south London, for £700 a month. But he soon learned why the rent was so low: the flat was one of seven crammed into a terraced house that had previously had four bedrooms. Even the garage at the back had been converted into a flat.

He said: "The agent should have warned me about the number of tenants in the property. The neighbours were fine – there were just too many of them: whole families squashed into one-bedroom flats. The landlord was extremely elusive, and I had to move out for two weeks after a leakage problem caused my ceiling to cave in over Christmas and I couldn't get hold of him." But you would ask permission or at least warn tenants if you were going to do that, wouldn't you?"

Shelter wants Shapps to produce a clear plan to tackle rogue landlords and ensure all local authorities sign up to a minimum standard accreditation scheme.

The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) is also calling for regulation to force landlords to improve electrical safety in rented homes. It says that while landlords are legally obliged to provide an annual gas safety certificate, there is no equivalent legal obligation for electrical installations.

The move is being supported by the family of Thirza Whittall, thea mother of two young children, who died when an electrical fault in her rental home caused the taps on the bath to become live. The electrical wiring in the property hadn't not been tested since 1981. and tThe ESC says that if an electrical report – known as a Periodic Inspection Report – had been carried out, the faults leading to the tragedycould have been rectified and her death prevented.

Her mother, Jane Andain, said: "Thirza had just moved down from Birmingham to Cornwall, which she loved, and had found work as an orthoptist in the local hospital. Everything seemed to be going perfectly. But the property she'd rented had no earthing in its wiring, and a faulty heater earthed itself through the taps on the bath instead. When Thirza ran a bath and got into it, she was electrocuted."

The ESC recommends rental homes should have a periodic inspection report carried out by a registered electrician at least every five years, or on change of tenancy. It has produced a leaflet – the Tenant's Checklist – to provide tenants with essential information to help protect themselves and their families by following a few simple steps.

Shapps said: "The private rented sector performs an important role in providing housing for those who cannot access other forms. … "Accreditation schemes can be an effective way for consumers to identify good landlords in their area, and across the country there are many successful examples. However, the need for a scheme depends on local markets and it is much more appropriate for local authorities to make a decision on setting up a scheme than for government to impose one centrally."

With Shapps in charge? Rolled about laughing.

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Daniel, a 33-year-old teacher of English to foreign students, thought he had found a bargain when he managed to rent a one-bedroom flat in Herne Hill, south London, for £700 a month. But he soon learned why the rent was so low: the flat was one of seven crammed into a terraced house that had previously had four bedrooms. Even the garage at the back had been converted into a flat

Personally, I fail to see any reason why we should have laws protecting people from being stupid enough to agree to rent a place without viewing it.

tim

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For what little good will come of it I've sent the following letter to my MP

Dear Mr Singh

I have just signed Shelter's campaign to evict rogue landlords.

I understand that there is a landlord accreditation scheme operating in Bradford and was hoping that you could provide me with some more information on it's operation.

In particular how many staff does the scheme employ and what are it's powers? Are they any estimates for the level of landlord compliance/non compliance with the register? Is the register easily available and could you provide me with a recent copy?

Any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

A few years ago I used the 'HMO unit' based at Shipley town hall. Whilst they compelled my ex landlord to carry out substantial remedial work on the property, it seemed that despite them having dealt with his properties on previous occasions, they were not resourced to check land registry records and follow up with a check on all his properties.

I have lived in rented property around the University ward area for over 20 years. Shoddy practice is rife and getting worse in the area. The recent influx of immigrants and overseas students who have little knowledge of housing law and standards seem to be particularly open to abuse.

In particular I would highlight issues such as landlords not using the deposit protection scheme and withholding deposits, evicting at short notice, not carrying out repairs in a timely manner, not getting gas safety certificates. not declaring the rental status of the property to mortgage providers, not declaring rental income for tax purposes etc.

As the number of people living in the private rented sector grows, I believe there should be a national system in place so that landlords can demonstrate their commitment to providing quality homes and tenants can check to make sure that their landlord is reputable.

Being an MP for some of the worst slum rental areas in the country I'd also like to ask you to support Shelter's campaign for standard schemes across the country. Please sign the petition and raisie this issue in Parliament on behalf of your constituents.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

LeeT

Sign Shelter's petition here:

http://shltr.org.uk/15n

Info on Council's HMO register here

http://www.bradford.gov.uk/bmdc/housing/houses_in_multiple_occupation/register_of_hmo_licences

It's a very heavy edit of the stock Shelter campaign letter. I'm not holding my breath for action though. I've felt for a while that a properly funded inspection regime could be cost effective (at least round here). Punitive fines, higher tax revenues on rental income, higher interest charges on mortgages held by nationaliseed banks should all mount up. Bad landlords will end up selling up thus reducing house prices. The only down side seems to be that restricted rental supply may drive up rental prices.

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  • 312 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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      • down 5% +
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      • up 5%



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