Well here we are with the first Newsround of the year – and a new housing-related act:
The Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Act 2018
This is, of course, the private member’s bill from Karen Buck and her team – and many congratulations to them for finally getting it through.
The act makes it illegal for a rented property to be unfit for human habitation – which seems entirely reasonable to me, and it will come into force on 20 March.
You will find an explanation of the act on the Nearly Legal site from Giles Peaker who was part of Karen’s team.
Giles will also be doing the February Landlord Law Training webinar where he will be talking about the act and what it means for Landlords.
Grenfell and the future
Turning to Grenfell, it looks as if we will not hear anything from the Inquiry until the end of the year as it is being paused for a while to allow lawyers time to go through the documents.
However, as reported in the Guardian, the survivors are determined to change things for the better and are calling on the government to set up a strong watchdog with the power to jail negligent housing managers – describing the current system as ‘the dog which didn’t bark’.
They want changes as radical as those made to oversight of the banking industry after the 2008 financial crash and have described the current system as “the dog that didn’t bark”.
Natasha Elcock, the chair of the survivors and bereaved group Grenfell United, has told supporters of plans for “a movement to ensure that people up and down the country are listened to and are heard and are in a safe environment”.
As we all know, the Grenfell residents had repeatedly complained about the unsafe workmanship at their tower and were just ignored by the Council and the tenants managing organisation. As Ed Daffern (who warned about the problems eight months before the fire and who himself escaped from the 216th floor) said:
What we feel let us down at Grenfell was the lack of scrutiny. They were safe in the knowledge nobody was going to scrutinise them.
Tenant Fee Ban
This is going to return to the Lords for its third reading on 15 January and it is believed that it could come in during either April or October – although the government will need to implement the compulsory Client Money Protection rules first.
Property Industry Eye reports that deposit replacement schemes are looking to up their game and promote their schemes to letting agents in the run up to this.
What will happen to right to rent after Brexit?
Eye reports that some agents are rejecting tenants due to a lack of official guidance on what the rules will be. A new White Paper has been published which totally fails to mention it.
An ARLA spokesman said
The expectation is that existing EU citizens living in the UK will be ‘protected’ but there are questions beyond April about what arrangements there will be for checks in relation to tenancy renewals and moving to a new property.
In addition to this, if an agent or landlord currently grants a tenancy on the basis of time-limited ID (for example a visa) they need to do a follow-up check either on expiry or at 12 months.
We are aware that lack of information about the future is leading some landlords to reject tenants with overseas ID now because of uncertainty and worry about problems and penalties post-Brexit when the rules change.
There is also the challenge being brought in the Courts which may also impact on the scheme (which applies only in England).
There is a very long article in the Daily Mail which exposes the many problems that have arisen as a result of the Airbnb service. Points raised include
- Properties being used as ‘pop up brothels’ and for unlicensed raves
- Properties being sublet on Airbnb without the owner’s permission
- Anti-social behaviour from Airbnb visitors adversely affecting communities
- Properties no longer being available to house families
- Airbnb turning a blind eye to the problems and continuing to allow ‘hosts’ to use the platform despite complaints
The article features an Italian woman who funds a ‘jet set lifestyle’ through subletting properties without the owner’s knowledge or consent and quotes Karen Buck MP saying:
Airbnb is not what it was originally conceived for – there has been a massive shift in the model. It is no longer used by people who rent out their homes while on holiday. People are letting all the year round.
There are areas where people tell me that they are now living in a branch of the hospitality industry, not a residential area. People use it for brothels and parties, and local communities are suffering all the turmoil that brings: lack of security, noise, nuisance, parties, rubbish.
Properties that could provide homes for people are being removed from the rental stock because much more money can be made from short-term lets
The article is a bit long and rambly but worth a read.
A Housing Crisis by design?
There is an interesting article in the architectural newsletter Denzeen which argues that the UK Housing Crisis is no accident but is the logical consequence of political decisions that have been made in the past. Saying:
The housing crisis has become a catch-all excuse for advocating self-serving projects. Estate agents use it to rezone council estates as brownfield land. New London Architecture used it to propose building on public canals. Developers use it to dodge space standards. The term “housing crisis” has itself now become a core component of how housing inequality is framed and perpetuated.
The housing shortage has been created and sustained by a political strategy unfolding over nearly 40 years. It is no more unforeseen than a hangover after a wild night of drinking.
To call it a crisis misses the point: we have created a monster, now we must kill it. Four decades of inflating property prices while failing to build significant numbers of new homes has delivered exactly what it was designed to – inequality.
- Property 118 wonders if a wave of deposit protection cases would hit a specialist housing court
- The Government publishes guidance for Local Housing Authorities on HMOs
- An unlicensed landlord with 62 properties is fined a record £20,000
- Experts warn that Councils are being ripped off by private landlords