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Tessa Shepperson Newsround #185 – The Landlord Law Blog

Here we are and the main news this week has been the budget.  How is this going to affect landlords and tenants?

The Budget 2021

Although this contained things which many people liked, such as the six months extension for the £20 Universal Credit increase and the fact that there were no increases to Capital Gains Tax, the fact remains that no real help was given to landlords or renters regarding the ever-increasing rent arrears being racked up by many tenants.

As usual, the Tories appear to be obsessed with encouraging home ownership to the exclusion of all else – seeming to ignore the fact that for many people it is just not an option.

Even with guaranteed mortgages and low deposits – for many people buying is just too expensive, while many others prefer the flexibility of renting and the fact that someone else is responsible for the maintenance.

Nothing was done about the debt crisis which upset both landlords and tenants.  For example, Ben Beadle, CEO of the National Residential Landlords Association said

He has failed to provide the sector with the financial support needed to pay off rent debts built as a consequence of the virus.

Without help to get arrears cleared, many tenants face the prospect of losing their homes and having damaged credit scores, which will undermine the government’s efforts to help generation rent become generation buy.

Helen Barnard, Director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said:

With billions going into propping up already high house prices through the Stamp Duty Holiday and the Mortgage Guarantee Scheme, it’s galling to see the government choose to ignore millions of renters who are already worried about mounting arrears. Many will be left struggling to keep a roof over their heads at the same time as financial support is pulled away.

The proposals to extend the stamp duty holiday and guarantee mortgages are also criticised by Polly Toynbee of the Guardian who says it will only worsen distortions in the economy and if anything just serve to increase house prices further.  She also points out that

There are now less than half the number of council houses in Britain than in 1980, when council tenants first gained the right to buy their homes under Margaret Thatcher’s signature policy. Of those sold under right to buy, 40% have changed hands from original owners to private landlords, who often charge tenants more than council rents next door. In Tory mythology, right to buy was a triumph, and successive Conservative governments have reprised the illusory homeowning, share-owning democracy that Thatcher first promised.

A green budget?

Although the green economy was mentioned in the budget and some good initiatives launched, I was disappointed to see nothing whatsoever about green grants and tax changes to help landlords and indeed homeowners with the cost of making homes carbon neutral. Something we will have to do if we are to meet our national net-zero targets.

And surely its time the government sorted out tax and VAT rates to favour green solutions rather than fossil fuels?

Rogue landlord fine

Brent Council has succeeded in obtaining one of the biggest confiscation orders ever against Mohammed Mehdi Ali for breach of planning regulations after he has been ordered to pay back £739,263.58 in illicit earnings or go to jail.  If the money is not paid in full within three months he will face a prison sentence of five years and nine months.

Planning enforcement officers at Brent Council, which investigated the case, had found up to 15 people, mainly from eastern Europe and Brazil, living in some of the homes, including one property where there was a family of four in one room, a family of three in another and three single men in another.

Cllr Shama Tatler, Lead Member for Regeneration, Property & Planning, said:

This is another huge win for Brent. The council will take robust action to prevent the creation of poor quality housing.

This penalty sends a clear message that rogue landlords will not be allowed to get away with ignoring planning laws. The accommodation provided was some of the worst residential accommodation that officers have ever come across. Brent will not tolerate this type of behaviour, landlords providing such horrible conditions. Brent residents deserve better.

It’s good to see this sort of action being taken by Councils against rogue landlords.  More please.

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) Survey

A survey, or rather several surveys, have been launched to consider the HHSRS –  which is a tool used by local authorities for assessing risk relating to health and safety matters in homes.  It is also referenced by the new ‘fitness for habitation’ legislation where tenants can claim against landlords for ‘unfit’ properties.

The HHSRS is now rather old (it was developed in the 1990’s) and is considered by many to be defective in many aspects.

The Government have appointed RH Environmental to carry out a two-year research project and they are looking to engage with landlords and other property professionals who will be affected by any review.

You will find a very helpful explanatory post here on the London Property Licensing site with links to the surveys.  Make sure you have your say.

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