Housing

Combatting ‘rogue landlords’ inquiry

Private Rented Sector

Commons Select Committee for Communities and Local Government
Opens: 09 October 2017
Closes: 24 November 2017

The Communities and Local Government Committee launches inquiry into whether councils have adequate powers to tackle ‘rogue landlords’.

This inquiry into the role of local authorities in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) will focus on the provision by councils of private rented accommodation and whether they have sufficient powers to deal with bad practices.

The inquiry will also examine barriers to intervention in the private rented sector, whether landlord licensing schemes are promoting higher quality accommodation and the effectiveness of complaint mechanism for tenants. (more…)

Housing problems likely to persist for years

The Public Accounts Committee report says Government lacks ambition in addressing housing need and is dependent on ‘broken’ market.

Housebuilding lagging behind demand

The number of homes built in England has lagged behind demand for housing for decades.

The effects of this long-running shortfall in housing reveal themselves in the growing barriers people face in getting on the property ladder, or simply affording their rent.

The human costs are emphasised by the growing problem of homelessness, with the number of families living in temporary accommodation rising from 50,000 in 2011–12 to 72,000 in 2015–16. Almost 120,000 children in England live in temporary accommodation today.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (the Department) has an ambition to deliver 1 million new homes over the five years of this Parliament.

But despite acknowledging that the housing market in England is “broken”, it remains dependent on the existing market, which is dominated by a handful of private developers, to realise its ambition.

Plans to deliver will not come close to matching demand

Even if this is achieved, the Department acknowledges that it will not come close to meeting the actual level of housing need, so problems of affordability and homelessness are likely to persist for years to come.

The Department’s lack of ambition on such a fundamental issue is matched by a lack of information, in particular on the impacts and value for money of the roughly £21 billion the government spends each year on housing benefit.

The Department has recently published a White Paper outlining proposals for accelerating housebuilding, and the Committee looks forward to monitoring the development of its programmes.

Commons Select Committeefor Public Accounts 28 April 2017
www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/news-parliament-2015/housing-report-published-16-17/

Tougher measures to target rogue landlords

New rules in force from 6 April 2017 will help crackdown on rogue landlords that flout the rules and improve safety and affordability for renters.

Announcing the measures, Housing Minister Gavin Barwell confirmed the powers will give local authorities the tools to crack down on the small minority of rogue landlords who shirk their responsibilities.

This comes as part of the government’s plan set out in its housing white paper to create a bigger and better private rental sector that meets the needs of tenants and landlords alike, giving those who rent a fairer deal.
www.gov.uk/government/publications/fixing-our-broken-housing-market

Councils are now able to impose fines of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution for a range of housing offences. They will be able to retain all of the income to make sure it is used for private sector housing enforcement purposes.
www.gov.uk/government/publications/civil-penalties-under-the-housing-and-planning-act-2016

Rent repayment orders, which can be issued to penalise landlords managing or letting unlicensed properties, have also been extended to cover a wider range of situations. These include the illegal evictions or harassment of the occupiers of a property, using violence to secure entry and the breach of a banning order.
www.gov.uk/government/publications/rent-repayment-orders-under-the-housing-and-planning-act-2016 (more…)

Banning letting agent fees paid by tenants

Department for Communities and Local Government

Opens: 7 April 2017
Closes: 2 June 2017

This consultation seeks views on the implementation of a ban on letting agent fees paid by tenants.

The government announced at the 2016 Autumn Statement that it would consult on introducing a ban on letting agent fees paid by tenants, to improve competition in the private rental market and give renters greater clarity and control over what they will pay.

This consultation paper invites views and comments on how the ban on letting agent fees paid by tenants in England should be implemented and enforced.

To support the consultation process, the government has organised a series of workshops. Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis and the workshops will be tailored to different parts of the sector. Find out more details on the workshops and book your place. (more…)

Farrow Court wins design award

The Farrow Court, the sheltered housing complex recently rebuilt for Ashford Borough Council (ABC), has been named Best Major Residential Project in the Kent Design and Development Awards.

With the emphasis very much on quality of life, the new Farrow Court is built to Lifetime Homes and the council’s space standards and will also feature a new day-care centre, communal facilities, a hairdressers and a restaurant that can be used by all of the local community.

The £15.4m rebuild work will make Farrow Court the flag bearer for the Borough’s future provision for older people. The project is seen as essential by ABC as by 2026 it is anticipated that 40% of Ashford’s population will be aged over 50.

The new accommodation will offer a total of 104 high-quality living spaces; including eight recuperative care units for people released from hospital who need additional respite care before they can return to their homes, and 12 units for people with learning disabilities. (more…)

Inquiry into supported housing funding reform launched

HousesJoint inquiry into the Government’s funding reform for supported housing.

Commons Select Committee for Work and Pensions and
Commons Select Committee for Communities and Local Government

Opens: 15 December 2016
Closes: 3 February 2017

The Work and Pensions Committee and the Communities and Local Government Committee launch a joint inquiry into the Government’s funding reform for supported housing.

Scope of the inquiry

The inquiry examines the planned changes for 2019–20, when core rent and service charges for supported housing will be funded through Housing Benefit or Universal Credit up to the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate. For costs above this, funding will go to local authorities for disbursement locally.

The Committee considers whether the new system will ensure that the varied rate of the LHA cap will not adversely affect tenants and providers in low-value parts of the country. It examines how existing tenants will be protected following the switch and ask whether the changes should be piloted.

The inquiry also looks at the effect that uncertainty about the new model is having on the sector and explores whether separate funding models are needed for refuges and other short-term supported housing services, or sheltered housing services for the elderly, which would require a higher cap.

How the localised funding pots would work, including how the money will be ring-fenced and which factors should be used to determine an areas allocation, are also investigated by the Committees. (more…)

ABC improved online reporting system

ancreportAshford Borough Council has improved its online reporting system, making it easier for residents to report issues such as flytipping, littering, dog fouling, vandalism, anti-social behaviour or planning enforcement issues.

The new system replaces some of its online forms and allows residents to report incidents and then track their progress via a unique reference number.

This is part of the council’s tough but fair approach to enforcement and compliance.
For more information, visit the ABC enforcement section. (more…)

Addressing homelessness

ABC CrestConsistently around 100 people a month approach Ashford Borough Council stating that they face the threat of homelessness and on Thursday 13th October Cabinet members agreed the council’s homelessness strategy.

A Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) report published on 28th September 2016 showed that local authorities across the country accepted 15,170 households as being statutorily homeless between 1st April and 30st June 2016, up 3% on the previous quarter and 10% on the same quarter of last year.

Of those representations, the council is able to prevent homelessness in 80% of those cases through the wide range of proactive options it has put in place. (more…)