Councils using ‘Intelligence’ to track down low EPC properties and fine £5,00015:08 PM, 29th March 2021
About 2 weeks ago 36
I sent the following email to the Prime Minister et al and would welcome comments from members:
Dear Prime Minister, Leader of HM’s Opposition, Chancellor and Shadow, Housing Ministers and Shadow, Mayor and Hon MPs,
As a single HMO-property landlord in Brent, I am writing this email because you, ladies and gentlemen, potentially have influence on rules, regulations and legislation that affect the private residential sector.
I thought you may like to hear the views of someone who has been at the coalface for over 42 years.
I started letting in London in 1976, because in 1977 I went away to Germany to work (in my profession as a chemical engineer in the oil industry – now retired) and was away for nearly 10 years.
During this time, I managed my London property from Germany. On a forthcoming ending of a tenancy I would, like everyone else in those days, advertise in the Friday edition of the Evening Standard and then drive from Duesseldorf to Ostend after work, take the night ferry from Ostend to Dover and arrive at my house in West London early Saturday morning.
During the course of that weekend I would take over from the last tenants, interview new tenants, select one, sign the tenancy agreement, etc, and then be back at Victoria station on Sunday night. Ferry back from Dover to Ostend, drive to Duesseldorf and arrive just in time for office on Monday morning!
But the key point I wish to draw to your attention is that during the whole of that weekend THE TELEPHONE WOULD JUST NOT STOP RINGING! Such was the DESPERATION of tenants looking for a place to rent.
This was because we were in the dark days of the Rent Acts 1974/1977, which had driven landlords almost completely from the market and DECIMATED AVAILABILITY for tenants.
As those of us old enough will know, the Rent Act 1977 was a draconian reaction by the Wilson government to the antics of a certain Mr Peter Rachman. But the end result was that it hurt the very people it was meant to help. The law of unintended consequences.
This tyranny continued until Mrs Thatcher liberated the market with the Housing Act 1988. Gradually landlords began trickling back into the market and tenants once again started to have AVAILABILITY and CHOICE!
That trickle eventually turned into a flood. However, all the good work that Mrs Thatcher did is progressively being undone with ever more stultifying regulation, carried out no less by successive Tory governments playing to the gallery.
One cannot raise standards by legislation or council-imposed conditions, only the market can do that. One interferes with the market at one’s peril.
The only areas that Councils need to concern themselves with are fire safety, electrical safety, gas safety, conditions such as mould, and overcrowding. The rest is up to the market and the courts. Anything else brings absolutely no benefit to tenants, merely increases ineffectual, burdensome bureaucracy.
In fact, during the initial registration of my HMO, this was all that the Council concerned itself with. Unfortunately, registration was replaced by licensing as a result of the Housing Act 2004 under Mr Blair’s regime and we have seen ever more intrusive interference into the minutiae of letting by the Council.
With unlimited power granted by this Act, we are now also witnessing bizarre rules being imposed, rules not founded on facts or logic. For example, landlords across the board being told to fit window restrictors such that windows cannot open more than 100mm to prevent grown up adults falling out of windows! We appear to be well on course to turning ourselves into the laughing stock of the world.
Legislation in most cases caters to the lowest common denominator, lumping the good landlords with the bad. The end effect will be that good landlords will abandon the market leaving only the bad. The legislation is unfair on the councils too, because it is asking individual officers to exercise what are effectively subjective judgements, besides leaving room for abuse of power. In many verifiable instances it actually disadvantages tenants, and vulnerable ones at that.
It is time to clip the Councils’ wings by repealing, or at the very least severely curtailing, Section 67(1)A of the Housing Act 2004.
The main reason why Britain’s housing market is structurally defective and young people are unable to get a foot on the ladder is FISCAL. Whereas landlords are able to set off their mortgage interest payment against tax, home owners cannot. This is blatantly unfair and means that even if the supply/demand dis-equilibrium is rectified, landlords will always be able to hoover up the most affordable properties to the detriment of young buyers – and renters will remain in servitude to landlords.
When MIRAS was progressively reduced and then finally abolished, exactly the same tax regimen should have applied to landlords. No Chancellor has ever addressed this built-in structural distortion, nor any newspaper to my knowledge raised this issue.
Restoring parity in the tax treatment of mortgage interest between landlords and property owners will be a far more effective method of empowering tenants than bureaucratic means such as rent controls. Renting should only be a temporary option for people in transition, with property ownership the ultimate goal for all, even if this is by way of low-cost micro-studios as starter homes for singletons. PEOPLES’ HOMES – for the many, not just the few
Fight the tenants’ corner by fiscal means and by unleashing market forces in their favour, not by futile knee-jerk legislation and certainly not by giving Councils powers that should not be in their remit*. Nearly all post Housing Act 1988 legislation should be repealed and fed to the bonfire.
There are many examples one could give of what is going wrong in housing, and improvements that can be made, but this suffices for the time being.
I appreciate that the political establishment is currently consumed and paralysed by Brexit, but problems of state must still be addressed.
Frederick BSc Eng (Hons) CEng MIChemE (retired chartered chemical engineer – so hopefully endowed with a bit of analytical, logical and rational thinking)
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, philip.hammond.mp@ parliament.uk, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, james.brokenshire. firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
18 Jan at 21:53
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