Back in October, we learned that Natwest had asked one of its buy-to-let customers to either evict her tenant, who was receiving housing benefit, or pay a draconian fee to switch her mortgage.
The bank’s terms and conditions prohibited customers from letting to tenants in receipt of housing benefit. Yet another example of a bank discriminating against low-income households and fuelling the “No DSS” culture. But this time, 62% of the bank is owned by the government, i.e. us.
The landlord has started a petition urging the government to stop this practice by high street banks, and it’s nearly at 5000 signatures.Read more
Two million tenants in London will welcome the fact that getting a fairer deal for private renters is one of the Mayor of London’s five priorities for housing in the London Housing Strategy, which was published at the end of May. Given that Sadiq Khan’s housing powers are highly limited, what is his strategy promising to private renters in London?Read more
This week we’ve had two reports from the political mainstream calling for a better deal for renters. They add to the pressure we’ve been putting on the government to improve tenant security – and though we contributed to both, they don’t quite go as far as we’d like.
The first was from the Resolution Foundation, a think tank chaired by Conservative peer David Willetts and run by Torsten Bell, previously adviser to former Labour leader Ed Miliband.Read more
Landlords get to ask tenants for a reference, but there's no way we can check what a prospective landlord is like. That's why we've long been calling for a central database that names and shames criminal landlords.
From today we've got one. But there's a catch: only local councils can access it.Read more
Last October, Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities (and now Housing) said that he wanted to start requiring landlords to join a redress scheme if they did not already use a letting agent.
The government is now consulting on plans for this. The good news is it is considering doing away with the three different schemes tenants have to navigate when they have a complaint at the moment.Read more
Third time was the charm for efforts to revive the right of renters to sue their landlord for safety failures.
Karen Buck's Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill was talked out in 2015, then a Labour amendment to the Housing Bill in 2016 was defeated. But today, after winning the support of more than 100 MPs who attended the Second Reading debate, the Bill passed unanimously and is a step closer to being law.Read more
Since the east London borough of Newham introduced mandatory borough-wide licensing of all private landlords in 2013, improvements in the sector have been indisputable. Criminal landlords are being driven out of the borough, standards and safety in the sector have improved and enforcement has dramatically increased.
Yet with the scheme due to expire on 31 December 2017, government is now more than four weeks overdue in making a decision on approval of a new, five-year scheme, to start in the new year.Read more
At the General Election in June, Labour won a majority of the votes of the under-40s. This was a wake-up call for the Conservative Party, many of whose members are now filled with a new urgency to address this cohort's biggest concerns - including a rather large house-shaped one.
Their annual conference has duly been bursting with new housing policies, particularly for private renters. But while they are (for the most part) improvements, the proposals fail to address the urgency of the housing crisis.Read more
A few weeks ago, the London Borough of Newham revealed that 13,000 local landlords had failed to declare their rental income, prompting estimates that £200m of tax was being evaded in London alone.
Today, Parliament has published an answer from the Treasury Minister Mel Stride to Frank Field, who asked what assessment the government had made of this. The Minister directed him (and us) to this information on tax gaps (pp54-5).Read more