Yesterday I was asked a surprisingly difficult question. I was asked what I thought of charities and local authorities setting up "ethical" letting agencies. The fact is I haven't given huge amounts of thought to it - though our office is maintaining a watching brief on their activities and seeing what can be learnt.
So I had to retreat to an instinctive (and unpopular) no. It seems inconceivably that the state or non-profit sector could or should compete in this space cost effectively. We're glad they do so as they are a rare respite for people who are routinely exploited, but on being scrutinised on the issue, I just couldn't see how they could be scaled to have a beneficial impact for millions of people.
I have had a think now, and while I did so fully prepared to explain why I had been wrong and have changed my mind, I haven't. I really don't think such projects are a solution to the letting agency problem. But as a representative of a tenant advocacy group, this does bear some explaining.Read more
The three tenancy deposit protection schemes have rejected our calls to close a loophole that enables rogue landlords to abscond with their tenants’ money.
Seb and I met the three government-backed schemes – MyDeposits, the Deposit Protection Service and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme – earlier this month to propose changes to prevent tenants’ money becoming unprotected should their landlord or letting agent be expelled from a scheme.
You may have seen us on Channel 4 News recently discussing their investigation into rent-to-rent landlord Daniel Burton. Just to update you, we met yesterday with the heads of all three schemes to discuss how tenants can be protected from people like Burton.
We had a very productive meeting and we will continue to discuss a range of ideas on issues around the Daniel Burton story. We'll let you know how these discussions progress.