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

The government is taking action to protect private renters (part 1)
The government is taking action to protect private renters (part 1)

The government’s drive to improve private renting has got a spring in its step. Not only has the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) published its next steps for bringing in letting agent regulation and mandatory client money protection, but banning orders and the rogue landlord and letting agent database, as promised in the Housing and Planning Act 2016, come into force this week.

Over two blogs we’ll look at how, together with the ban on letting agent … Read more

Tackling the hidden economy through PRS licensing
Tackling the hidden economy through PRS licensing

The government has been consulting on a compliance known as ‘conditionality’, which would mean landlords will have to show that they are registered for tax with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) before being granted a licence to trade, or before their licence is renewed. Landlords who are just setting up and not yet trading would need to show that they have understood the requirements to be registered. Simply, it means access to the public sector licenses needed to trade … Read 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

Happier and healthier: improving conditions in the PRS

“The bathroom had severe damp, as did two out of the three bedrooms. The electrics were in a terrible, dangerous, state. The family had five children, the youngest was 11. Both the parents and the children struggled with depression and low self-esteem.”

“Damp and mould are probably the most reported problems, but they are often not the most serious. The most serious harm is caused by excess cold. It is insidious; the cause of death is never ‘got too cold’. … Read more

Support of last resort: alternatives to local welfare schemes to prevent and relieve homelessness

The safety net that local welfare schemes provide is stretched to breaking point. For families who have been homeless, or are facing homelessness now, this support is vital to their chances of making a fresh start. But ideas of what makes a ‘home’ can be severely tested if families are forced to go without basic household goods, such as a cooker, fridge, carpets of curtains.

The terrible events at Grenfell have brought into sharp focus what it means to … Read more

Change afoot for homeless families on Universal Credit?

Paying housing costs through Universal Credit is causing problems for tenants, landlords and local councils alike, particularly in temporary accommodation. So we are pleased that the Government is planning to move this support back to locally-administered housing benefit.

Late last week we learnt that DWP Ministers are preparing to issue new guidance to ensure that families living in temporary accommodation, in areas where full Univeral Credit (UC) has been rolled out, will have their housing costs met by housing benefit … Read more

Alternatives to local welfare schemes - because being unable to afford a fridge should not mean losing your home

Making a new tenancy work after a period of homelessness is near on impossible if you have no cooker, fridge, carpets or curtains. Local council schemes to help families in extreme financial distress are disappearing in many parts of the country, and without them, more families will find themselves at risk of homelessness. We are looking at existing good practice and new ideas to better help families avoid homelessness – because being unable to afford a fridge should not mean … Read more

London Living Rent – one piece of the housing crisis puzzle

The London Mayor has announced plans for a new ‘London Living Rent’. The recognition that private sector rents in the capital are too high is very welcome – and paying a reduced rent, on new Build to Rent properties, will help some people on middle incomes save up for a deposit. But the rent levels are still well above what many Londoners can afford – so the London Living Rent can only be one piece of a larger solution to … Read more

An endless summer is no good for social housing tenants worried about a rent rise

The introduction of Pay to Stay from April 2017 will see some higher income social tenants required to pay more rent. Local councils are responsible for managing Pay to Stay but there is considerable uncertainty still about whether they will have the necessary IT processes or staffing in place, or enough time to inform tenants and assess their incomes, before the change is comes into effect in April 2017.

We might have been basking in the unexpected sunshine of an … Read more

The heat is on: new map illustrates the shortage of housing advice

The publication, last week, of the Law Society’s interactive map of legal aid provision for housing advice provides a stark illustration of how little free legal advice is now available to people facing a serious problem with their housing. It graphically illustrates the problem of advice deserts that Shelter sees every day.

Far too few people are getting the access to justice that they are entitled to and that can help them stay in their homes. And it is getting … Read more