Ben’s not at all well at the moment so I am filling in for him for a while. He will be back but we’re not sure when.
So what has been in the news this week?
Housing for the Elderly
The first thing that caught my eye when venturing onto twitter to find some news was a tweet about this consultation from Commons Select Committee about housing for older people. Is it sufficiently available? Is it suitable? Are too many older people stuck in oversized properties?
Because this is a very big problem and one of the causes of the housing shortage. Lots of older people ARE stuck in houses unsuitable and too big for them. But they don’t move because there isn’t anywhere suitable for them to go to, and they can’t face all the bother. They would rather stay where they are.
If it was made easy for older people to move and if there was suitable housing for them to move too, this would free up lots of housing which is more suitable for families.
But schemes for young people get the headlines and are ‘sexier’ so the older people get ignored and the bottleneck remains. Let’s see if this consultation does any good.
If you want to make a submission you can do it here. The closing date is 24 March.
Letting agent fee ban update
I was interested to see this post on Property Industry Eye. ARLA is suggesting that instead of banning agents fees, they should be spread out over a six months period. However, it looks as if David Cox at least, has accepted that the writing is on the wall.
The article then goes on to suggest that banning fees to tenants will (according to a survey):
- Reduce staff numbers
- Cause the quality of properties to drop, and
- Property management standards to drop
Good grief! Why can’t they just adjust their pricing so that the landlords pay – as they should. Landlords are after all their clients – NOT the tenants. It’s quite possible to run a letting agency without charging fees to tenants – as quite a few agents who don’t charge them have written comments on this blog and told us so.
Agents should use the time before the ban comes into force to re-structure their fees rather than agitate for their retention. NB I have written about agents fees to tenants in more detail (and the 3 fees I think should stay) here.
New Housing needs SuDs
An interesting article in the Guardian the other day pointed out that building a million new homes is going to overload the drainage system leading to more flooding.
It can be avoided – the appropriately named SuDs (Sustainable Drainage Systems) provide for ponds, green roofs and permeable paving which slow the flow of water into drains, cutting the risk of floods. To quote the article:
Flash flooding, where heavy rain overwhelms sewers, is already the most frequent type of flooding and costs about £260m a year. Flood risk is also expected to rise as climate change is leading to more intense rainstorms. But at present new housing developments can simply connect to existing drains, increasing the risk of floods.
A law requiring new developments to include SuDS was passed in 2010, but the government put the rules on hold, aiming to save developers money and speed up house-building. But a report published on Thursday by a coalition of professional institutions finds the policy freeze has not sped up house building and has put homes at risk of flooding, without saving money.
Isn’t that just typical!
The article goes on to quote the report:
Our analysis shows the main obstacles to high quality and widely implemented SuDS are political and institutional rather than technical or financial, so there is no reason why government should not support stronger policy,
I wonder sometimes whether we wouldn’t all be better off without a government. Or is there a good reason not to implement SuDs?
Bank forces rent increases
Finally, if you are a tenant and your landlord is constantly increasing your rent – it may not just be because he’s greedy. He may be being forced to raise the rent by his bank.
Santander bank, to be specific, who have a clause in their agreement requiring landlords to get a rental valuation every year and increase the rent as appropriate. You can see the clause on Property Industry Eye.
Although now the clause has been exposed to the harsh light of day Santander say they are reviewing it ‘to clear up any confusion’.
What made me smile this week
In my Tenancy Agreements workshop on Wednesday I introduced delegates to the excellent government Model Tenancy Agreement. It’s a gold mine for clauses if you want to amend your own.
However, this disclaimer always raises a laugh from the group:
This document is being made available free of charge to anyone wishing to use it, and whilst every care has been taken in its preparation ultimately only a court can decide on the legal effect and enforceability of contractual terms. The Government cannot, therefore, guarantee the legal effect of this model agreement and shall not be held responsible for the consequences of the use of, or reliance on, this model agreement …
Government lawyers. Don’tcha just love them?
Newsround will be back next week.