Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Party Time Is Over

So, now we can take a breather – you know, go for a lie down, have cup of tea – stuff like that. You see, the party political conferences are all over, so we can return to normal business, like struggling to pay rent or find work etc relying on politicians to make all the big bad, renting monsters go away and then to kiss it all better.

Yes indeed - all three main parties have realised that tenants, who rent but do not, cannot, and will probably never buy a home, can still vote. You've had Labour's former housing spokesman on 'transparent agent fees' and even Pickles playing 'longer tenancies' but real tenants, that is - me too, are rarely asked. Now if anyone did care to ask us what policies we’d appreciate in the wonderful, sunny happy, happy, happy world of private renting…here’s what we would say:

1 Longer tenancies? yes please! But in Pickles tenants charter - there is a 'break clause' for longer tenancies, which will be abused without funded 'policing' to check owners really are selling up or housing family members. So there really be longer tenancies – the Tories are sort of saying ‘pretty please on longer tenancies’ when they should be saying: ‘Gimme!’

2 Rent controls - unpopular, but especially needed in London - when interest rates are low, rents rise high, high up above the sky because they can, not because there’s a need, such as costs. This could stop tomorrow, if anyone cared to be tough.

3 So-called 'forced landlords' must be compelled to tell tenants clearly that they will be selling the property i.e. someone else’s’ home so renters are aware their tenancy is inherently insecure, and will end whenever it suits rentiers.

4 Resources to protect tenants from the rare but vocal 'rogues' to be increased, right now. Tenancy Relation officers to increase in number, emergency help lines, better police training to prevent unlawful evictions.

5 Space standards in newbuild for BTL - no more cramming in rabbit hutches.

6 Landlord and letting agent licensing – and soon, please, properly funded and with really strong financial penalties such as losing the property for transgressions.

7 In HMO's or shared houses there must be minimum standards such as sufficient space, storage, bathrooms for tenants, including a seat in the common area for each tenant - so owners must also ensure provision of adequate 'common area' or lounges, as we used to call them in the olden days. This would end the practice of rent-to-let, so no more cramming tenants into box rooms to eat sleep, and do everything, in one tiny little room.

8 A national tenants forum is needed, to be consulted properly on new laws policy and all matters related to tenants, renting, building, buy-to-let, build to let. So that developers must listen and take the needs of tenants into account when building or planning – see previous post.

Here's to strict, properly funded, clear, researched red tape in rented housing - we need more of it. Much more.


Anonymous said...

Have a look at this;


Regards, HBWelcome.

Penny Anderson said...

Yep -saw that. Maybe the owner could stop that.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the owner could stop that.

Even if they wanted to they couldn't.

The only realistic way would be to end the tenancy after the fixed term period using a section 21, supposedly, 'no fault' notice.

Same goes for cannabis farms, brothels, ASB, non payment of rent etc.

One of the reasons why landlords are reluctant to offer longer tenancies.

Regards, HBWelcome

Tesco Value Chef said...

That's nonsense. "No subletting" is a common and acceptable clause, so the landlord would be perfectly entitled to end the tenancy on that basis.

Anything criminal also isn't a problem.

ASB is a bit trickier, but there's usually a clause in the contract which covers that too.

Landlords are reluctant to offer longer tenancies because letting agents tell them they can get a new tenant at a higher rent at the end of each year.

Rich Tee said...

I didn't realise that Pickles had promised anything, but then I stopped paying attention a long time ago. I won't believe it until I see it anyway.

I just checked the press release and it says "the model agreement will ensure families can benefit from longer tenancies, without changing the existing legal framework for the rental market". I put that bit in bold because that is the "get out clause" which will stop anything from happening.

Barney from Newington said...

Shelter just want to stop the no faults route for ending a tenancy as they cannot fight it.

For other routes such as non payment of rent, anti-social behaviour etc. they can send in their expensive lawyers (funded by the tax payer) which landlords can't compete with.

Penny Anderson said...

Barney - you daft idiot. ONE more anti Shelter comment and you're deleted. FYI - they're mostly funded by donation...

Everyone else - excellent points.

space cadet said...

Oh here we go again.. Landlords pretending that it's "all of the above". It's really about:

a) more money (just like Tesco Chef says)
b) retaliatory evcition (tenant dared to ask for something /negotiate / discuss)
c) LLs wanting flexibility, while they watch the property market like a hawk, and deliberate on what to do with the place. Will you sell it, move in yourself maybe, rent it to friends etc. You just want to keep your options open.

If you've got a bad tenant, you can serve a Section 21 for breach of the lease at any time, just as Tesco Chef says. But a letting agent won't spot a drugs den any quicker than you will.

Just ditch them, go private and meet the tenant yourself. Get past the usual niceties and have a real conversation. Ask them some blunt questions, and let them do the same. Pop round at mutually convenient intervals, and you'll quickly see how they live. My own flat is uber clean. And i've even had my LLs mum here for 2 hours today, talking to double glazing salesmen.

space cadet said...

Oh, and England does have the NPTO, National Private Tenants Organisation. Sadly, they have no About Us page on their website (i'm still not sure why) but I enquired on email (January 2013) and got this:

NPTO was established in September 2011 by Brent Private Tenants Rights Group, Camden Federation of Private Tenants, Scarborough Private Tenants Rights Group and Blackpool Private Tenants Forum. There had not been any form of national (England) private tenants organisation since the early
1980's (Organisation of Private Tenants based in London).

We are a membership organisation which consists of local private tenant groups, individual private tenants and associate members including Shelter and Friends of the Earth and many others.

We are supported by membership fees, grants, donations and fund raising.

We have links with international tenant groups and have links with many organisations and individuals.

NPTO is a campaigning organisation it also provides support to emerging private tenant groups. We work with other groups on shared agendas. We carry out research and provide housing information to private tenants.

Thank you for your interest. We welcome anyone to join us who supports our aims and wants a better deal for private tenants. Our Officers have a wide range of experience (I used to work as a Housing Adviser, MP's Caseworker
and have campaigned on a wide range of issues).

If you would like any further information pleaser do not hesitate to contact me.


Kevin Allen

Anonymous said...

@ Tesco Value Chef,
You are quite correct in that a landlord is entitled to evict on that basis. But it has to be proved to a Judge. Then once proved, the Judge has the discretion to evict or not. Usually not. It is not a mandatory ground for eviction.
Same goes for criminal and ASB.

@ Space Cadet,
A landlord can't evict on a section 21 at anytime, it has to be after the fixed term period.

The failure of the system to realistically allow eviction for genuine grounds acts to the detriment of good, decent tenants as much as it does for landlords.

Regards, HB Welcome

space cadet said...

Oh HB, we've been here before. For every landlord that wants 6 months, I can find you one that wants longer. Either they bemoan the fact that tenants don't stick around, or they want the freedom to evict after 6 months. Some want both.

If you're worried about drug dens and the like, then get out of the game. Or stick a 6 month break clause in that is fair to both parties. By that, i mean, that you can only invoke it, if your tenants are breaking the terms of the lease.

But yes, "anytime after the minimum term" is what I should have said.

Anonymous said...

@ Space Cadet said;
"If you're worried about drug dens and the like, then get out of the game."

Which is one way of looking at it I suppose.

Personally, I'd say if you are not worried about it, then get out of the game.

Landlords who dont give a f**k about their properties and communities should be forced right out of the game IMHO.

Not sure what the rest of your post is on about but if you mean good tenants looking for a long term tenancy should seek out good long term landlords, then we are in agreement.

Regards, HB Welcome

Anonymous said...

@ Space Cadet said;
"By that, i mean, that you can only invoke it, if your tenants are breaking the terms of the lease."



space cadet said...

HB, stop being obtuse. You can avoid the shit hitting the fan if you're smart enough. Make friends, pop round, take out insurance, do what it takes. And be prepared to luck out sometimes. That's the game you play.

Anonymous said...

@ Space Cadet said;

"if you're smart enough. Make friends, pop round, take out, insurance, do what it takes."

Thanks for that.

..Landlords all over will be popping round with a take out, making friends, having a real conversation and doing whatever it takes.

Tenants all over the country must be breathing a sigh of relief.

Problem solved!

space cadet said...

What part are you struggling with anon? If you don't live local, or can't be arsed, just sell it and let somebody else have a home. Disclaimer: selling might mean you lose some precious profit.

Anonymous said...

Renter Girl
Point 7 . Legal minimum standards apply for HMO houses .
these include the points you make plus fire precautions .
Landlords who have property that doesn't comply cannot get
a HMO license .
Those who let without a license can and have been fined over £25000 .
Shelter gets about a third of its revenue as government
grants .

RenterGirl said...

Hey Anon above - yes there are HMo space requirements, but if your home isn't an HMO, or isn't registered as such, what then? Tiny box rooms... being built right now for the BTL market. And yes Shelter are state funded - to pay for their advice lines, which dispense invaluable advice. Although some idiots regard informing people of their legal rights as 'anti-landlord.'

RenterGirl said...

Space Cadet versus Anon. The point is, renting is a business, and business involves risk. So yes - get insurance. And behaving in a civilised fashion towards tenants is the best way. At least don't regard them as enemies/scum/lower forms of life, as my statcounter confirms is how certain, bad rentiers regard tenants.