Citizens Advice articles and my responses – the full articles

by Readers Question

9:16 AM, 21st August 2019
About A year ago

Citizens Advice articles and my responses – the full articles

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Citizens Advice articles and my responses – the full articles

The first Citizens Advice article can be viewed if you click here:

“3 things we know about how private landlords work
Key findings from the government’s first survey of landlords in 8 years”

There are some important discrepancies in the above-mentioned article, which appear to be drawn from data provided by the English Private Landlords Survey (EPLS) 2018 and the English Housing Survey (EHS) 2018.

In section 3, the article states the following:

However, they are not all / always legal requirements and the above figures are misleading. The issues are outlined in the three sections below that correspond with each bullet point in the box above.

  1. The EPLS data tells us that 86.7% of Landlords report that they had carried out annual gas safety checks and9% ticked the: ‘Don’t know /Not Applicable’ box – meaning that 99.6% of Landlords are likely to be compliant. We can’t be completely sure if some of the 12.9% group ‘didn’t know’ if they had gas appliances and / or ‘didn’t know’ if they had been checked – but it seems most likely that this box will be ticked if the property does not have gas.  (See Ref 4 – P16 of the EPLS 2018 Questionnaire Documentation below.) We do know that only 0.4% of Landlords answered ‘No’ to the question: “Have you – Carried out an annual gas inspection by a qualified inspector for properties where gas is installed?” Presented with the 3 choices of answer, the ‘Don’t know /Not Applicable’ box does not actually reveal non compliance. (EPLS 2018 Ch3 Annex Tables 3.11 – 3.14)
  2. The data shows that 84.3% of Landlords say they gave their tenant a copy of the EPC but 7.7% also ticked the ‘Don’t know / Not Applicable’ box – so from this data we can see that up to 92% at least, of landlords may be in compliance with this requirement. It is impossible to tell from the data whether the remaining 8% of landlords were obliged to provide an EPC or not – if letting a property ‘by the room’, no EPC is required to be provided directly to the tenant for example. Whilst you would logically expect landlords in this situation to tick the Don’t know / Not Applicable’ option, there is clear potential for confusion here since ticking ‘No’ is a perfectly sensible and legal answer. It is possible, therefore, that 100% of landlords are compliant with this regulation.  (EPLS 2018 Ch3 Annex Tables 3.11 – 3.14)  (also see Ref 4 below)
  3. Finally, EHS data does tell us that 61% of landlords said none of their properties have an E, F or G EPC rating. However, it unclear why this is relevant.

 EPC Regulations with effect from 1st April 2018 required ‘new lettings’ to be in Bands A B C D or E’

The EHS 2018 survey carries the Annex Table 2.7 and Figure 2.9 dated 2017, (see Chart Ref 1 and Ref 3  below) when there was NO lower limit in force and even then, there were only 6.3% of properties in Bands F and G.

The EPLS 2018 survey was carried out in March /April 2018 straddling the date of introduction of the new regulations (see Ref 2 below). The requirement now is for a property to be in Band E or above and this took effect from the 1st April 2018 but to new lettings only. Landlords in the survey are being asked about their past lettings – so many of the relevant lettings were not subject to this new regulation.  We don’t know how many properties fell below Band E in the EPLS 2018 survey because this data has not been disclosed, but it seems certain that the 6.3% figure from the EHS 2018 survey will have been reduced, possibly to zero. So something very close to, or even equal to, 100% of privately rented properties in this survey appear to have been fully compliant with the regulation at the time of the survey. (see EPLS 2018 Ch3 Annex Table 3.15 and EHS 2018)

Ref 1 –  Chart from EHS 2018  Annex Table 2.9

Ref 2 –  From the footnotes to the EPLS Main Report:

40 EPLS fieldwork was conducted between March and April 2018 so some landlords and agents will

have taken part in the survey before the new legal requirements came into force.

41 English Housing Survey, 2017-18 Headline Report, Annex Table 2.7,

Ref 3 – EPC Data from EHS 2018                                                                                                                       From the Technical notes to the EHS Headline Report 2017 -2018:

  1. Results in the second section of the report, which relate to the physical dwelling, are presented for ‘2017’ and are based on fieldwork carried out between April 2016 and March 2018 (a mid-point of April 2017). The sample comprises 12,320 occupied or vacant dwellings where a physical inspection was carried out. Throughout the report, this is referred to as the ‘dwelling sample’.

So it appears that ALL the physical survey results relate to pre April 1st 2018 lettings.

Ref 4 – Pages 15 to 16 of the EPLS Survey Questionnaire 2018

One final point, the CAB article only uses landlords who are self managing – none of this data includes data for landlords using a letting agent – for which the results demonstrate equivalent, or superior compliance.

Jon


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Comments

David Price

12:09 PM, 21st August 2019
About A year ago

My favourite quotation, from Aaron Levenstein. “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.”
Statistics, used selectively, can be used to reveal something which is only partially true, as with the CAB case. Further the CAB data was collected in such a manner as to make it impossible to reveal the whole truth.

DALE ROBERTS

17:23 PM, 21st August 2019
About A year ago

They are an organisation so biased against landlords that anything they claim and "substantiate" with "statistics" should be considered spurious.

Old Mrs Landlord

10:54 AM, 24th August 2019
About A year ago

Thank you Jon for taking the time and trouble to thoroughly research and refute this heavily-biased CAB article which is so poorly researched that it draws numerous unwarranted or unsubtantiated conclusions, which amount to nothing less than a smear campaign against private sector landlords. 50% of our rented properties have no gas supply so when completing the survey on which many of these conclusions were based I was obliged to tick the Don't know/Not Applicable box, and thought at the time how poorly chosen the options were. The danger is that, without wide publicity for detailed, well-researched analysis such as yours, the selective application of imperfectly-collected data by CAB and other lobbying organisations can be used to generate media headlines on which subsequent policy is based by our knee-jerk politicians.


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