An introduction to housing courts
An introduction to housing courts

At last year’s Conservative Party Conference, Sajid Javid announced that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) would consult on the case for a specialist housing court. The government wanted to explore whether a new housing court could improve court processes, making it quicker and cheaper to resolve disputes – particularly for landlords and tenants.

Since this initial announcement, MHCLG has said little publicly about its plans for consultation. However, the idea of a specialist housing court has … Read more

How much?! Your top 10 worst letting fees
How much?! Your top 10 worst letting fees

There’s something to celebrate for private renters: the government’s hotly anticipated ban on letting fees is approaching its second reading. Because for too long, renters have been ripped off – shelling out £272 per person (on average) in fees. Together with our supporters, we’ve campaigned for years to stop this, so we’re delighted to see the government taking action through the Tenant Fees Bill.

Letting agents, and some landlords, aren’t quite so jubilant. Their days of charging outrageous fees are … Read more

More action needed to protect renters against unfair evictions
More action needed to protect renters against unfair evictions

Many renters in the private rented sector put up with unacceptable conditions in their homes because they are too afraid of being evicted to speak out. That’s according to the Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Select Committee. In its recently published report, the Committee called on the government to address a ‘clear power imbalance’ in parts of the sector.

A standout recommendation, amongst many welcome recommendations that could see significant improvements in the sector, is a call on … Read more

Let’s stop letting agents unfairly holding on to holding deposits
Let’s stop letting agents unfairly holding on to holding deposits

We recently shared Emily’s story which highlights just how easily holding deposits can be abused. Emily was forced to take a letting agent to court because they refused to refund a £700 holding deposit. And even though Emily won the case, the letting agent still hasn’t paid up.

The good news is that the government is now planning to cap holding deposits at one week’s rent – this is one of the proposals in the draft Tenant Fees Bill, … Read more

The government is taking action to protect private renters (part 2)
The government is taking action to protect private renters (part 2)

This is the second post in a two-part blog exploring how the government is taking action to improve protections for private renters. Part one considered the impact of the introduction of banning orders and the rogue landlord database. In this part, we turn to the issue of letting-agent regulation.

Here’s an update on the main changes for the lettings sector and what more we want to see the government doing to ensure there are no loopholes, through which letting agents … Read more

Letting Agents admit they’ll exploit loophole in draft Tenant Fees Bill
Letting Agents admit they’ll exploit loophole in draft Tenant Fees Bill

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has published its report on the draft Tenant Fees Bill, which will ban letting fees to tenants. The Committee has been tasked with scrutinising the bill before it’s formally introduced to Parliament and making recommendations about how to strengthen it.

To help do this, the committee received evidence from a wide range of organisations, including letting agents, landlord bodies and tenant groups. We submitted written evidence and then gave oral evidence at the … Read more

The rent control you’ve never heard of (part 2)
The rent control you’ve never heard of (part 2)

Yesterday, we explored the fact that rent control already exists for assured and assured shorthold tenants i.e. those paying market rent. In this blog, we will discuss three potential reasons why this kind of rent control is under-used and little-known.

Market rents too high

Assured shorthold tenants are able to challenge their rent in a first tier tribunal if they think it is excessive. But ‘excessive’ is defined as significantly higher than the landlord might reasonably expect to receiveRead more

Fitness for Human Habitation: Government support for new rights for renters

The government announced its support for the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill, which has its crucial second reading in the House of Commons on 19 January. It is very exciting that the government is putting its weight behind the new measures. They’ll help help to ensure that all rented homes in England are safe, and give tenants the right to take legal action against landlords who fail to fulfil their duties.

Cross-party support Read more
Newham’s selective licensing scheme renewed - except for the Olympic Park

Late last week, we learnt that the Government has decided that Newham can renew its selective licensing scheme across almost all of the borough, for another five years.

Five months after the council first submitted its application, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has given Newham permission to renew its scheme, except for the E20 postcode – the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park site, not the fictional Albert Square.

While the delay means that there will be a gap … Read more

On Universal Credit, the government is ignoring the elephant in the room

As Philip Hammond prepares for this week’s Budget, it looks increasingly likely that he will concede on making some changes to Universal Credit (UC). Faced with opposition from his own backbenchers, who have challenged him with distressing tales from their constituencies, Mr Hammond may opt to reduce the six week waiting time for the benefit.

If so, it will be welcome. We have been calling for changes for long enough. Our frontline workers are seeing families reduced to destitution because … Read more

Rogue One: Government policies are forcing tenants onto bad landlords

Imagine living in a house without hot water and heating. Or with mouse infestations, broken appliances, damp and mould. These are some of the problems people coming to Shelter live with every day.

Thanks to Shelter’s campaigning, local authorities are clamping down on this behaviour. A Guardian investigation has named some of the most prosecuted landlords in Bristol. Some of the problems found mirror what we see on a daily basis: broken cookers and drains, cold, substandard or unlicensed homes. … Read more

Is Right to Rent causing discrimination? The government ought to do some investigating

A report published yesterday suggests that the Right to Rent policy could be causing discrimination in the rental market. The government should use its upcoming private landlord survey to research whether its policy is leading to some unintended consequences.

It has been just over a year since a new law was rolled out in England to force landlords check their tenants’ immigration status. The Right to Rent scheme, part of the government’s multi-pronged approach to cracking down on illegal immigration, … Read more