Monday, April 07, 2008

Policing the Landlords

I have just listened to an interesting program on Radio 4 (via the listen again facility) which is on problems tenants at the lower end of the market experience. The presenter finally managed to speak to one of the landlords whose properties featured in the program, who took the view that he was spending loads of money doing up properties for ‘scumbags’, who then don’t look after them properly (leading, he implied, to the condition the presenter found them in). Hmm.

It is very sad that this sort of thing is still going on, and that some tenants are frightened to report poor conditions because they are scared of being evicted. Either legally via section 21 or by the boys coming round to evict them forcibly.

The program mentioned the current review of the private sector being undertaken at York University, and it will be interesting to see if there are any suggestions in the report on how to deal with this sort of thing.

The program pointed out that the majority of landlords are responsible and provide decent properties. No doubt they would be very happy to see the back of the criminal landlord who gives them all a bad name.

At the time of writing you can listen to the program via this link, but I am not sure how long this will stay online.

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house said...

Interesting programme.

I think Councils could do a lot more in terms of prosecuting these dodgy landlords.

The trouble with at least my Borough is that people without a priority need are grateful for any roof over their head. The market for rooms for people on housing benefit is hardly over supplied and the situation may get worse now with the introduction of LHA.

Even when people have a priority need and the Local Authority are aware they are living in substandard accommodation then in my experience Local Authority's will believe it's still reasonable for them to continue to occupy it.

Mark P said...

Having given housing advice to private tenants in several areas of country over many years, I've often thought that its almost as though there are two private rented sectors - one of decent albeit expensive accommodation run by respectable landlords and another of poorly maintained properties with 'less professional' landlords for those(and if we’re being honest, sometimes less than desirable)individuals who don't have the means to obtain anything better.

For those experiencing poor conditions their right to repairs under LTA s.11 rarely assists , since both parties understand the tenancy can be ended at short notice.

This programme, together with the recent Citizens Advice report 'The Tenant's dilemma' on retaliatory evictions, does well to publicise the perverse consequences of the deregulation of the private sector for some private tenants.

However, what in my experience is much less understood, even by many working within housing, is the extent to which many local authorities (not forgetting the HSE in respect of gas safety) are less than effective in their enforcement role.

Unfortunately, many rogue landlords know only too well that it can actually pay when managing substandard dwellings to simply ignore their responsibilities. Without any security tenants shall not sue, and even if the landlord is subject to one of the rare prosecutions, the fines are paltry when compared with the profit to be made.

In my experience local authorities simply do not even consider the scariest sanction for the rogue landlord who refuses to undertake works over a prolonged period , i.e. undertaking works in default and placing a charge on the land to recoup the cost of making the accommodation fit for human habitation. Housing enforcement officers have often informed me this is simply because they do not have sufficient resources to undertake such work.

counsel of despair said...

It's Mr Nelmes again, up to his old tricks, but at least he's moderated his language. He is, depressingly, the usual Florid/Puerto Anus/golf-course Merc-jerk lifestyle-spouting badmash who believes that a few houses has bought him a place in the pantheon of the deserving rich. I'm afraid we have quite a few like him up north. Sorry, Tessa, we just don't have your kindly mustard-weskit wearing cartoon-toff landlords who'll drop off a brace of pheasants to the decent old cove in the dower house - well, not too many. Like the blog, though - but for me, it's just a job.