Here we are at another Friday. What news do we have for you?
Sex for rent prosecution
At last, someone is being prosecuted over the repulsive practice of ‘sex for rent’ where rent-free accommodation is offered in exchange for sex.
Last year, the legal guidance on “prostitution and exploitation of prostitution offences” was changed to make offering tenants rent-free accommodation in return for sex a criminal offence. In this first case, a man is being charged with two counts of inciting prostitution for gain and one count of controlling prostitution for gain.
Senior crown prosecutor Claire Prodger said:
Following an investigation into so-called ‘sex-for-rent’ allegations, the Crown Prosecution Service has authorised Surrey Police to charge Christopher Cox with two counts of inciting prostitution for gain and one count of controlling prostitution for gain.
The charges arose out of an investigation by ITV researchers, passed to police in 2019, which resulted in further criminal enquiries.
This is a complex case and we have reached the decision following a careful review of all the evidence gathered during this period. Criminal proceedings against this defendant are now active and he has a right to a fair trial.
Peter Kyle, shadow minister for victims and youth justice said
This government has failed to protect victims despite years of hard work by campaigners. The government must work with the police and criminal justice system to increase enforcement against this form of sexual exploitation.
Gov’t Model tenancy agreement changed to become pet-friendly
The governments model tenancy agreement has been updated to increase tenants rights to keep a pet – consent for pets will now be the default position, and landlords will have to object in writing within 28 days of a written pet request from a tenant and provide a good reason.
However, this does not mean that ALL landlords will have to allow pets as default – although the Negotiator article here says the model tenancy agreement is used by ‘thousands of agents’ I have only ever seen it used by one person – and she wasn’t an agent.
In my experience most letting agents have their own agreement, and most landlords will use a purchased agreement – for example from a landlord association (such as the NRLA) or an online legal stationers such as Lawpack or Oyez, or indeed use a Landlord Law tenancy agreement.
Although most landlords and agents would agree that pets are good for people’s mental health, it is also true that they can cause a massive amount of damage to a property which in many cases landlords have to pay to remedy themselves. Its all very well for the Minister to say
To ensure landlords are protected, tenants will continue to have a legal duty to repair or cover the cost of any damage to the property
However, if the tenant then swans off leaving a property flea-infested and damaged, there is not a lot the landlord can do to recover the cost of repair if that tenant is on benefit and already in arrears of rent. For examples of what can happen, see this article here.
The NRLA said
We call on the Government to enable the level at which deposits are set to be more flexible to reflect this greater risk.
We are also calling for a tenant to either have pet insurance or to pay the landlord for it to be allowed as a requirement for a tenancy where relevant. At present payments such as this are banned under the Tenant Fees Act.
Propertymark’s Mark Hayward said
The UK Government must recognise the impact of their decision to cap deposits and the knock-on costs that landlords face.
Renters’ group Acorn is planning on setting up more branches in England to tackle social inequality and challenge bad landlords. It has 25 branches at present, the most recent of which has successfully challenged a landlord who had failed to clear toxic mould in a tenant’s flat.
Acorn spokesman said
We wrote a letter of demands to the estate agent – after they had ignored our prior attempts to make contact to resolve the situation without direct action – and, after some negotiation with the manager, they agreed.
A damp specialist has been appointed to install a professional ventilation system to solve the condensation issue, while the landlord has agreed to organise cleaners and decorators if needed. Acorn have promised to keep up the pressure.
Problems with the Green Homes Grant scheme
This has been called ‘a fiasco’ by the Labour Party after details emerged of problems with the scheme, when an article in the Guardian reported that people have been waiting nearly four months to use the scheme with the administration in chaos. For example, one installer, Eddie Gammage of EDG installations, said:
Chaos is an understatement for what is going on. We haven’t received any payments at all yet for seven jobs we have completed. I have had to lay people off.
MP and Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Ed Milliband said
government needs to urgently sort out this mess and crucially make sure small businesses are paid what they are owed.
Far from creating green jobs, the Government’s approach means workers in the renewable energy industry are actually being let go – worsening the economic crisis.
This is yet another example of Ministers cutting corners and outsourcing to companies that just aren’t up to the task. They must come clean about the details of this contract so taxpayers know exactly what their money has been spent on.
Instead of a piecemeal, short-term, fragmented approach, we need a proper, long-term, comprehensive plan to transform our housing stock
The old Green Deal scheme didn’t do very well either. Why is the government incapable of managing an efficient green grants service? Could it be the fact that it is being run by a company in Virginia USA? Was there no UK company available to do this?
- Landlords buy in cities, bucking the Covid countryside craze
- Tenant’s horror tale reveals why landlords need to stamp out sub-letting
- Government defends rent arrears change to evictions ban
- Lettings agent ordered to compensate landlord after rent short cut
- Covid: Estate agency branches provide ‘an unsafe environment’
- Hundreds of homes available for NHS workers free of charge
- Revealed – the most profitable cities for landlords
Newsround will be back next week.