Monday, 8 October 2012

Yoo-Hoo! Jack Dromey!

Yoo-Hoo! Jack Dromey!

Cooee-cooee…I can see you!

Technology is marvellous, and thanks to a mcguffin I can see who reads this blog, where they are and how long they linger over my fine words. Intriguingly, over the past few months, my work is being repeatedly read by persons unknown in the House of Commons.

Now, it might the cleaner, struggling to cover the rent on minimum wage. It might be newbie housing minister Prisk, reading about the trauma of renting, all the better to ignore our woes since he is, like all his accomplices, not keen on ‘regulation.’

Worse: it might be one of the 25% of Condem MP’s who are private landlords.

I am however hopeful that someone, perhaps even Jack Dromey the Shadow Housing Minister is paying attention. If so, I am going to spell it out. This is what tenants want. More to the point – this is what tenants genuinely need.

(1) Security. We want to know we can stay, and we want to know that tenants can only be given notice for a damn good reason, and not because it’s Wednesday, because the owner has thing about Librans, or you know… just because. Currently we can be given notice for whimsical and capricious reasons.

(2) Licence and register landlords. Yep. It must happen. Tattooists need a licence, as do café owners – contravening rules leads to losing the business. Currently even in violent wrongful evictions, landlords rarely suffer the full weight of the law, and police often collude in their actions.

(3) Follow Scottish model for banning letting agents ‘premiums’ ie the curious inventive fees charged without cause and with impunity (and no making them ‘transparent’ is NOT enough!) Landlords can pay. Oh – and agents must be trained to degree level and licensed.

(4) Rogue landlords are an attention grabbing minority. But anyone who herds tenants into a shed and or those letting dangerous buildings (ie faulty electrical wiring) should be barred for life whilst forfeiting their property, which then fortuitously passes into council ownership.

(5) Bring back rent controls. I know Shelter don’t agree, but the only real reason for rents to rise is spiralling interest rates (currently at their lowest ever level). It’s greed pure and simple: letting agents ramp up prices because they can and because they want to: there are no genuine reasons. Rent officers should again visit and forbid or allow rent increases.

We are many, we are unhappy and we are learning how to bite back. See the recent actions by Edinburgh Private Tenant’s Action (their marshals visited another letting agent recently) and Housing For The 99% who ‘inspected’ a London letting agents (caught rejecting claimants) in high-vis vests and carrying clipboards.

As long as renters can be moved on every six months for no clear reason, they cannot rest safe. Schools have uncertain numbers of pupils, and few tenants are registered to vote, as we move so much. Hey there Jack - we also feel that nobody represent us. Whoever listens and enables renting to improve might find we vote for them.


Burbage said...

Whether Dromey is the most appropriate, or even likely, target for this well-presented set of essential proposals is a moot point.

But it's increasingly obvious that these proposals are not just necessary, but need to be enacted soon, by those who have been elected to legislate on our behalf, whoever they are, or whatever party they belong to.

When illicit sheds of frightened tenants can only be cleared under planning laws, when deposits continue to be stolen through transparently trumped-up and unverifiable charges, when lettings agents invent fees at the drop of a hat, and when tenants can be evicted before any complaints procedure can get off the ground, even politicians must recognise there's a problem, and that only they can solve it.

With luck, the London Assembly's investigation will add some political, if metropolitan, impetus. If you've rented privately in London, there's still time to send them your experiences.

Anonymous said...

Man your good you found me out I am an avid reader and you are shaping government policy more than you know
Best wishes LOL ( and I got that right this time not like with becky)
No not Dave but just a landlord - I would change a lot in the private rented sector and am trying to promote fairness and help landlords eliminate the need for an agent, however the interest rate being low comment does not ring true, yes it is low historicaly low but that is not stopping my bank raising its margin on my loans year on year because they know to re-finance would be difficult at the moment and combined with the fees and hassle most landlords just opt to lump it.
Banks are the key to everything I am sorry to say if they would say to me It will only increase with inflation then I would be more than happy to do the same with rents .I have long term tenants longest at the moment 7 years but a lot close to that, they have to be on an AST as the bank requires it .
I would not mind 5 year contracts it would give make my life easy!but the variable from my end must be taken away too

MattW said...

I'm surprised that Shelter is against the proposal of rent controls (point 5).

Surely anything that prevents rents from rising too sharply will keep the numbers of homeless down and less of a drain on their resources?

Anonymous said...

How about this proposal for Dromey or whomever it concerns: Make buy-to-let illegal. It is perfectly obvious that those who piled in to property, while credit was easy and cheap, and now may be saddled with excessive mortgages on their overpriced acquisitions, are going to pass on their debt by raising rents; this will cause a great burden on individuals and the DWP; renters do not get the funds, landlords do. Who funds the DWP? We do.

Landlords are parasitic middlemen. Nobody needs to own more than one dwelling. Compulsory purchase for supernumerary dwellings, retention of existing tenants, and treating existing rent payments as mortgage payments towards ownership of the properties - surely this is not beyond the wit of man.

RenterGirl said...

All mostly good and very inresting suggestions. Sort of 'social mortgages' especially, Anon. But all anyone cares about is value and investment, not secure homes.

Dazzla said...

I think we're in for disappointment if we imagine that the government are going to introduce any sort of legislation that would in any way inconvenience the 'rented housing sector'

It was a different issue, but Osborne took pains to point out that his party is a "party of homeowners". Elsewhere, David Cameron was promising to 'spread privilege around'.

I think that's a big mistake on his part. Privilege is, by definition, something enjoyed by the minority. If it becomes the preserve of the majority, to ceases to be privilege.

Likewise, a 'party of homeowners' is unlikely to care much about those who aren't.

Two days, two vacuous pronouncements by government ministers. Meanwhile, Greece burns as Swastika-toting gangs roam the streets and The Yorkshire Ranter makes a good case that there are fascist tendencies within our own government.

It is not a good time. This destructive, arrogant, ignorant administration totters on, propped up by Big Money.