Landlord Licensing Schemes – Raising Standards or Raising Funds?

by Mark Alexander

9:41 AM, 9th August 2013
About 7 years ago

Landlord Licensing Schemes – Raising Standards or Raising Funds?

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Landlord Licensing Schemes – Raising Standards or Raising Funds?

WARNING – this article might make you want to cry, it might make you want to laugh and it will probably make you angry, and for many different reasons depending on who you are. Licensing - Raising Standards or Raising Funds?

This is one of those articles which I would like to be read by every landlord, every letting agent, every tenant and especially every Politician.

I would also like every person who reads this article to leave a comment, share it and help turn it into a HUGE debate.

So what is it all about?

My friend Mary Latham recently wrote a book about the storm she see’s brewing which is heading towards the Private Rented Sector with potentially catastrophic consequences. One of the chapters in Mary’s book is called “Raising Standards or Raising funds”.

There have been many discussions about the effectiveness of licensing which is being introduced into the PRS in it’s various forms and on many occasions, landlords have concluded that licencing has very little to do with raising standards and more to do with Local Authorities raising funds to create “jobs for the boys”

Well you may be pleased to hear that the DCLG have asked Local Authorities to complete a survey about licencing. Have they read Mary’s book one wonders?

When I heard about the survey, intrigue and curiosity got the better of me – what questions were the DCLG asking?

To my surprise,  I managed to get hold of a link to the survey questionnaire, DCLG had used ‘open source’ software for their survey. Being the curious type I obviously felt compelled to take a look, fully expecting to be met with a security screen where I would have to enter a User Name and Password to get any further. I’d have given up at that point as there’s no way I would attempt to hack a Government website. To my surprise though, there was no security! They were using Survey Monkey and that awoke the little monkey in me.

To see the questions being asked I needed to complete the page I was looking at to get to the next set of questions, so I began to fill it in. This is the point at which my curiosity transformed into mischief as I was having a lot of fun with my answers 😉

Here was my opportunity to tell the DCLG what I really think about landlord licencing in the most cynical and mischievous way possible. What an opportunity!

Now before you think about attacking me with some “holier than though” type comments, please remember the DCLG are responsible for the drafting of all of the legislation which has caused the PRS so much grief. Anyhow, enough said on that, it’s done now.

I took screen shots of every page I completed and I have put them together in a slideshow below.

Do take a look and whether you laugh or cry and for whatever reason you get angry, please post a comment or join in the discussion below this article 😉

If I mysteriously disappear, you might just find me at the Tower of London LOL

I hope you will appreciate the irony of my answers!

[thethe-image-slider name=”Raising Funds or Raising Standards”]

Note for tenants – More licensing = higher rents!



Comments

Mark Alexander

15:54 PM, 9th August 2013
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ben Reeve-Lewis" at "09/08/2013 - 15:43":

Interesting post Ben, the question has to be; why does nobody see the value of doing the same thing to target criminal landlords?

What can landlords and tenants do to influence this?

Between us there are over 5 million voters!

We are all equally sick of criminal landlords increasing costs and hence rents for us all.

What can we do to influence the changes you need?
.

Ben Reeve-Lewis

16:02 PM, 9th August 2013
About 7 years ago

Yes Mary that’s exactly it.

Last week is an ideal illustration. I was called to a large property that was converted without planning permission into a load of small rooms. Experience tells you that there is going to be more problems there, dodgy electrics being just one, so I called my contacts in EDF who attended with me and informed me that they had closed it down a year before as a cannabis factory.

They found the tenants had hotwired the meters so they didn’t have to pay bills and disconnected the electricity supply.

I got planning on board who have whacked the landlord with an order for breach of planning. I got environmental Health down who are now doing him for breach of building regulations and I even uncovered housing benefit fraud amongst the tenants so that is being progressed as well.

All that was achieved because I know people and we help each other out. There isn’t a formal arrangement for that kind of targeted working.

Your arrangement sounds very useful but I am not in the kind of job where I could get that in place. All eyes are on the usual unimaginative solutions

Mark Alexander

16:12 PM, 9th August 2013
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ben Reeve-Lewis" at "09/08/2013 - 16:02":

"All eyes are on the usual unimaginative solutions"

Why?

How can that be changed?

My previous comment refers.
.

Ben Reeve-Lewis

16:14 PM, 9th August 2013
About 7 years ago

@Mark I think the reason why people so often dont see it is partly to do with good old lack of imagination. some is the difference in political perspectives in terms of what they see the council's role to be and some of it is plain old 'Yes Minister' style bureaucracy.

I could put an idea forward for a joined up approach and get say managers in Environmental Health and Planning to see the sense but the manager in housing benefit fraud might not see the value in it for what they are charged with achieving.

its all teams, departments and directorates and the only way it would work is if the mayor and cabinet says that the way it needs to work. As one guy at the London Assembly put it to me recently "Its like trying to herd cats".

To give you an idea of how mad it can be, last year I had a meeting with a voluntary agency who work with disadvantaged and vulnerable families. They often get pushed around by bully landlords and need help, which I offered freely to give. I said they should just refer cases to me and I'll contact them. They said they had a problem with their data sharing protocol though. Apparently they arent allowed to give out clients names or addresses, even to me. I joked that maybe we could all meet in an underground car park in the middle of the night and swap envelopes. Sometimes you just have to laugh.

Mark Alexander

16:22 PM, 9th August 2013
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ben Reeve-Lewis" at "09/08/2013 - 16:14":

Maybe you should all get on the same train and "accidentally" take away each others laptops!

Seriously though, with this level of bureaucracy, how do these licencing schemes ever get off the ground and what the hell is the point? Is licencing landlords ever going to change this bumbling rabble and if not, what's the point of it? All it's doing at the end of the day is increasing ill feeling. Landlords hate the extra administration and cost, tenants pay for it in terms of increased rent.

It's madness!!!!
.

Mary Latham

16:40 PM, 9th August 2013
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ben Reeve-Lewis" at "09/08/2013 - 16:14":

Ben we are a nation of moaners.

When I was in my early twenties I went on holiday to Ibiza. They had the worse storms they had had in years and the whole beach disappeared. The next day the sun came out but there was no beach on which to enjoy it. The Brits moaned like mad, sat in the bar, drank too much and moaned some more. We got fed up of listening to them and went for a walk. As we approached what had been the beach we were greeted by the site of a group of men, holidaymakers, who were building dams and channels and driving the water back into the sea. It was fascinating to watch, they obviously did not know each other and yet they worked together as a team all day until eventually the beach was not only restored but they took long pieces of wood and worked together to level the sand. I am talking about a long stretch of beach and a group of about 8 men. By the time they had finished they had drawn a large audience and of course we gave them loud applause. As one of them passed us we said "Well done that was amazing thank you" He replied "Es tut mir leid ich spreche kein Englisch"

Follow me on Twitter@landlordtweets

My book, where I warn about the storm clouds that are gathering for landlords is here >>> http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1484855337

Mary Latham

16:41 PM, 9th August 2013
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "09/08/2013 - 16:22":

And increasing the number of the people who are employed to administer it

Follow me on Twitter@landlordtweets

My book, where I warn about the storm clouds that are gathering for landlords is here >>> http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1484855337

Jerry Jones

11:02 AM, 10th August 2013
About 7 years ago

I am a decent landlord in Middlesbrough, wth two properties in an area called North Ormesby. It was always a bit downmarket but the trouble area was in TS1, where the local council has now introduced selective licensing to certain streets. Result - it's cleaned up the act of the landlords and tenants in TS1 to an extent. And guess what; the trouble has now moved to my area and it's hard to get decent tenants to stay. Thanks, guys.

Mary Latham

11:07 AM, 10th August 2013
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jerry Jones" at "10/08/2013 - 11:02":

Jerry I am interested in your comment that it has "cleaned up" that area. How has this been achieved? This would appear to suggest that Selective Licensing does work?

Follow me on Twitter@landlordtweets

My book, where I warn about the storm clouds that are gathering for landlords is here >>> http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1484855337

Jerry Jones

11:18 AM, 10th August 2013
About 7 years ago

I am just going by what I have been told by the agents who manage some of my properties locally. I believe that the ethnic mix has changed dramatically and the new community is better behaved. I'll see if I can get them to comment.

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