Currently viewing the tag: "Housing minister"
MP’s Table New Proposals To Regulate Private Lettings Market

MP’s Table New Proposals To Regulate Private Lettings Market

Two new proposals have been individually tabled by Labour MP’s calling for the regulation of landlords and lettings agents.

Former Labour housing minister John Healey and veteran Labour backbencher, Sir Alan Meale, made the proposals in the House of Commons separately but both are calling for better regulation of the private rental sector

Mr Healey’s Bill seeks to introduce mandatory licensing for lettings and property managing agents and a ban on lettings agents charging fees and is called “The Letting Agents (Competition, Choice and Standards) Bill 2013-14”.

The objective of the proposal is to establish a national mandatory licensing scheme for lettings and managing agents, with established standards and redress for landlords, tenants and leaseholders, and prohibition of lettings and management agent fees; to enable local authorities to administer and enforce the scheme; to require that tenants, landlords and leaseholders have written agreements; and to empower local authorities, either alone or in partnership, to trade as letting and managing agents.”

Continue reading »

Even MP's Think Landlord Immigration Checks Are Unworkable

Even MP’s Think Landlord Immigration Checks Are Unworkable

MP’s Question Immigration Checks By Landlords

The Governments plan to make private rented sector (PRS) and social housing landlords legally responsible for checking the immigration status of all tenant applicants has raised questions on the policy from MP’s.

The proposal to make landlords perform immigration checks on tenants and prosecute those who fail to comply has caused outrage among UK PRS landlords, who would be expected to be doing the UK Border Agency’s work without payment.

Following the outline of the new proposals, Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, a former housing minister, told the House of Commons during a lively debate on the Queens speech that landlords performing immigration checks on tenants would be unworkable, stating that: “The Government cannot tell us how their policy will be enforced, because they do not know who the landlords are and they will not have a statutory register.”

Continue reading »

Letting Agents Face More Regulation And Red Tape

Will UK Letting Agents Face Further Regulation?

Will UK Letting Agents Face Further Regulation?

Letting and property managing agents face the increasing likelihood of mandatory licensing following the Government’s cabinet reshuffle and the appointment of Mark Prisk as UK Housing minister.

The recent appointment of Mr Prisk as housing minister is hoped to mark a new beginning for the UK property market and it is hoped that he will be more receptive to the idea of mandatory licensing of the UK lettings industry as he first tried to introduce mandatory licensing for letting agents into a Bill back in 2007.

It is widely speculated that Mr Prisk’s views on the subject remain the same now and it is hoped that he will be more amenable to the mandatory licensing than former housing minister Grant Shapps was.

With the support of the new Housing minister it is thought that the licensing scheme is much closer to becoming a reality, although not a certainty, as the Government have previously stated that pursuing further regulation would be a waste of time and effort.

Mr Prisk’s support of the idea of mandatory licensing for the letting agent industry became public knowledge last week when during a House of Commons debate on housing, Labour MP Ian Mearns, speaking to shadow housing minister Jack Dromey, is reported to have said “Is my Hon. Friend aware that he has an ally in the new minister for housing on the regulation of the private sector? In 2007, he tried to introduce a clause into a Bill that would have regulated private letting agents.”

Mr Dromey replied: “It is welcome that the new minister for housing has taken that position. Perhaps he will follow that through in government.”

Award Winning Property Management Services

Award Winning Property Management Services

John Paul, Managing Director of award winning Castledene Property Management said “Good letting and property management agents should have nothing to fear, as they operate within the guidelines set by ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents), the Property Ombudsman and The National Association of Letting Agents (NALS). Further regulation of the lettings industry coupled with the Government’s welfare reforms could have an adverse effect on the UK Buy-To-Let market as a whole and unless landlords are using agents who are clued up on the proposed changes to housing benefit then we could see thousands of landlords going out of business before the end of 2013”.

Ian Potter, operations manager at ARLA, said: “It’s vital that consumers have full confidence in lettings agents, and the industry must respond to their concerns about bad practice. That’s why in the absence of regulation, we developed our own licensing scheme. All licensed ARLA member letting agents must be covered by a client money protection scheme and hold professional indemnity insurance – which means consumers are protected against negligence. They must follow our strict codes of conduct and have a certain level of training. Ultimately this means that, should something go wrong, there are protection mechanisms in place. We would therefore always advise that consumers use an ARLA-licensed lettings agent. This means that, should a landlord or tenant feel the fees were unclear, they can lodge a complaint with ARLA or utilise the Ombudsman Scheme membership, which all ARLA licensed agents are required to hold.”

Previously, the former Housing Minister Grant Shapps, had promised that landlords and letting agents would not be subject to greater regulation because it would introduce too much additional red tape. Speaking in parliament in September 2010, Mr Shapps rejected the regulations proposed by the Rugg Review, stating: “With the vast majority of England’s 3 million private tenants happy with the service they receive, I am satisfied that the current system strikes the right balance between the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords. So I make a promise to good landlords across the country: the government has no plans to create any burdensome red tape and bureaucracy, so you are able to continue providing a service to your tenants.”

However, now that Mr Shapps has been made Conservative party chairman and the subsequent appointment of Mr Prisk as UK Housing minister, further regulation of the industry has become widely feared, with some property professionals voicing concerns about the amount of red tape they would have to get through just to get a tenancy to commence.

Major clampdown launched on ‘beds in sheds’

UK Government act to end bad practices of rogue landlords

UK Government act to end bad practices of rogue landlords

Prior to the Government reshuffle, ministers last week launched a major clampdown on rogue landlords to bring an end to suburban shanty towns that trap vulnerable people in dangerous living conditions.

Ex Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Ex Immigration Minister Damian Green, (who have since been replaced by Mark Frisk and Mark Harper respectively) launched new guidance for local authorities making clear the wide range of powers at their ministerial disposal to shut down so-called ‘beds in sheds’ that blight entire neighbourhoods and take action against other bad practices by rogue landlords such as overcrowding and poor maintenance.

Mr Shapps in his then post as housing minister and Mr Green as the then immigration minister saw the evidence for themselves when they attended an early morning visit on a suspected rogue landlord’s properties, and witnessed the squalid conditions the so called tenants lived in, despite paying the landlords hundreds of pounds a week.

While visiting six properties, officials from Ealing Council and the UK Border Agency encountered 39 individual tenants, 22 of whom were illegal immigrants:

  • Of those 22 illegal immigrants encountered, 19 were detained (3 were required to report to a Reporting Centre because they were a couple with a young child);
  • Of those 22 encountered, 14 were found in the outhouses (this includes two adults with a young child). The remainder were found in the houses;
  • Of those 19 detainees, 16 were Indian nationals and 3 were Pakistani nationals;
  • Of those 19 detainees, 9 entered the country without leave, 8 were overstayers, one was a failed asylum seeker and one was working in breach of his visa conditions.

    Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Immigration Minister Damian Green outside a rogue landlords property

    Ex Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Ex Immigration Minister Damian Green outside a rogue landlords property

Power to tackle rogue landlords

The new guidance highlights the range of actions councils can take to clamp down on rogue landlords once and for all. These include:

  • Proactively identifying problem properties and effectively working through complaints;
  • Taking action using a full range of legal powers to stop rogue landlord activities;
  • Working with other organisations including the police and UK Border Agency to tackle linked criminal behaviour;
  • Prosecuting rogue landlords who persistently let illegal property;
  • Providing evidence of landlord’s earnings to magistrates to ensure they receive an appropriate level of fine for offences;
  • Naming and shaming prosecuted landlords by publicising successful cases;
  • Working with the new national taskforce which has been set up between Whitehall departments, the police, the UK Border Agency and local government. The taskforce is exploring all possible options for closing down ‘beds in sheds’.

Thousands of sheds and outbuildings have been being rented out illegally to vulnerable migrants by ruthless rogue landlords who charge them extortionate rents to live in cramped conditions.

These tenants can often find it difficult to return home quickly with some having destroyed their passports to avoid removal often leaving them to either live in these outbuildings or face living on the streets.

Outgoing Housing Minister Shapps said: “It’s simply unacceptable that people are living in squalid, unsafe accommodation provided by landlords more interested in a quick profit rather than their basic responsibilities. The actions of these rogue landlords are helping fuel illegal working and benefit fraud and creates a shadow housing market that carries dangers to people’s health as well as community relations. I want to see all agencies from local authorities, the police and the UK Border Agency using the full range of powers at their disposal to work together on a national clampdown towards ridding our communities of this problem once and for all.”

Whilst former Immigration Minister Green said: “Operations like this show our determination to do whatever is necessary, working alongside local authorities and police, to enforce our laws against those who are in the UK illegally. The UK Border Agency continues to gather intelligence about those illegally in the country. Those with no right to be in the UK must leave the country. If they need help to leave the country voluntarily we will offer it but if they refuse we will enforce there removal.”

The latest guidance is backed up by the recent allocation of £1.8 Million (GBP) to local authorities earlier this year to tackle the issue and flush out rogue landlords renting out ‘beds in sheds’.

The Government have stated that they are commited to targeting rogue landlords and any change in ministerial representation will not affect their policy on this or any other matter.

The full report can be downloaded here

Homelessness is a real threat for young families in the UK

Homelessness is a real threat for young families in the UK

An extra 1.5 million 18 to 30-year-olds are expected to apply for private rented sector (PRS) properties over the next eight years.

The influential Joseph Rowntree Foundation says that one risk is that pressures on private rental accommodation could force young families out of the sector and into homelessness. The foundation forecasts that around 310,000 more young families will be looking for private rented housing in 2020 compared with today.

In a new report, ‘Housing options and solutions for young people in 2020’, it warns that the influx of youngsters chasing a private rental home will see young families, poorer and vulnerable people finding it hardest to compete for tenancies.

As previously reported by Legal 4 Landlords News on Friday 15th June 2012, an additional 500,000 young people will be forced to stay with their parents into their thirties, taking the total number of young people still at home to 3.7 Million by 2020.

Read the full story here http://blog.legal4landlords.com/index.php/property-renting-set-to-be-way-of-life-for-young-families/

The report is just the latest in a series of similar documents warning of the growing pressures on the private rented sector as increasing numbers of people are locked out of residential property ownership.

It warns of a three-tier race to find rented accommodation, with those at the top who can afford to pay rents, a ‘squeezed middle’ group who struggle to pay, and a bottom rung of 400,000 who risk being excluded completely.

However, there is hope for the lower tiers as leading landlord services provider Legal 4 Landlords can offer Rent Guarantee Insurance to landlords and tenants providing that the applicants pass the L4L Tenant Referencing criteria.

Kathleen Kelly, programme manager at the Foundation, said: “Our badly functioning housing system will see those on the lowest incomes really struggling to compete in the competitive rental market of 2020. Renting is likely to be the only game in town and young people are facing fierce competition to secure a home in what is an already diminished supply of housing. With 400,000 vulnerable young people, including families, on the bottom rung of a three-tier private renting system, we need to avoid turning a housing crisis into a homelessness disaster.”

The Foundation wants to see more homes built, longer tenancies at affordable rents – with the incentive of tax breaks for landlords – and the expansion of local letting agencies to find suitable homes for vulnerable young people.

David Clapham, lead author of the report, added: “With 1.5 million more young people no longer able to become home owners by 2020, it’s vital we take the opportunity to make renting work better.”

Thousands of landlords with rental properties in Wales will be forced to sign up for a new Buy-To-Let licensing scheme before they can rent out a home in the region.

The proposal is included in a housing white paper launched by the Labour-controlled Welsh Assembly Government and applies to every landlord letting a rental property within the Wales region, regardless of where they live in the world.

Buy-To-Let (BTL) and House In Multiple Occupation (HMO) landlords will have to show they are ‘fit and proper’ to hold a licence and must not rent out a property until they have successfully registered.

Once registered, the landlord must follow a code of practice aimed at improving tenant living standards.

Housing minister Huw Lewis said: “This is about much more than putting a roof over someone’s head. Housing issues affects people’s health and wellbeing and their ability to find and keep a job. For children, it is the foundation for the rest of their lives. Housing is fundamental to delivering many of our goals as a progressive government. This paper reflects our strong commitment to equality and social justice and our desire to do all we can to help people to meet their housing needs. We will be ambitious, innovative and collaborative to deliver real change to help reduce poverty, tackle the inequalities that exist between some of our communities, increase skills and jobs, tackle climate change and help improve health and well-being.”

The code of practice will also be applied to all property lettings and management agents across Wales.

The Government white paper states “Some people have to endure poor conditions, insecurity and, sometimes, threats of eviction. The latter, combined with the lack of other options, means that many people, often vulnerable people, put up with the questionable practices of some landlords and lettings and management agents. Accreditation will secure full registration status, which is effectively a licence to operate as a private landlord in Wales. Failure to do so could result in penalties or other sanctions, proportionate to the failings in compliance. Codes of practice will be developed for landlords and agents.”

UK Government Housing minister Grant Shapps is expected to urge UK banks and mortgage lenders to offer more long term fixed UK mortgages to increase stability in the UK housing sector.

In today’s uncertain world, people want to know where they stand. Yet when it comes to buying a home, there are no mortgages available for them where they can fix their payments for a long time, the longest fixed-rate mortgage currently available for many is a maximum of five years.”

Mr Shapps calls for longer-term mortgages, possibly as long as 30 years, could help cash-strapped families to be able to plan ahead by letting them know how much they will have to pay in the years and decades to come.

Lenders should look at the case for 30-year mortgages and how the UK can move to a more stable housing market where first-time buyers can get their first foothold on the property ladder at a cost they know they can afford.

While mortgage lenders have cut their rates in recent weeks, longer-term fixed mortgages often require house buyers to pay a huge deposit.

Tagged with:
 

UK Housing minister Grant Shapps has said that the Government needs to build more than 200,000 homes a year.

Speaking on the Radio 4 Today programme, Mr Shapps said that building more homes is the only way to prevent further rises in rents and meet housing need.

He outlined the Government’s three-pronged approach to stimulate house building, including reviving Right to Buy, releasing Government land on a ‘build now and pay later’ basis, and reforming the planning system.

The Housing Minister said: “We think there has to be a couple of hundred thousand new homes created each year – something in that kind of order. Overall, you have to get all things working in tandem – there is not one single thing you can do to solve a housing crisis that has been building up over years and years.”

Shapps said more details will be released next month when the Government publishes its housing strategy.

Separately, speaking at the Housing Market Intelligence Conference, Mr Shapps’ parliamentary private secretary Jake Berry said that the Government’s house-building plans would be scuppered if it was forced to pull the plug on its controversial planning reforms, stating that “To get the economy moving, Britain must get building”.

Tagged with:
 

UK Housing Minister Grant Shapps announced last week that he wants to make the eviction process easier for social housing providers to eject unruly or anti social tenants.

The mandatory power of repossession would allow housing associations and local authorities to take into account previous convictions for bad behaviour and base decisions on ‘trigger offences’.
Which include:

• A conviction for a serious offence related to housing, including violence against neighbours, drug dealing and criminal damage
• Breach of an injunction for anti-social behaviour obtained by a landlord
• Closing of a premises under a closure order. This could be where a property has been used for drug dealing

 The UK Housing Minister claims the current UK eviction process takes far too long, leaving social housing providers and innocent tenants suffering at the hands of a few offenders, and he wanted to speed up the eviction process, particularly in cases where a disruptive tenant already held a conviction for anti-social behaviour.

 Mr Shapps said : “Eviction is a drastic step and should be the last resort that landlords take to tackle this menace, but when all other options have failed to stop this yobbish behaviour, victims should not have to wait months or even years to see justice done.”

There Will Never Be A Better Time To Invest In Property

MyPropertyPowerTeam.co.uk helps property investors and landlords build their own property power team to enable them to profit from property - Visit our main site now!