Jo Westlake

Registered with
Saturday 27th June 2015

Latest Comments

Total Number of Property118 Comments: 13

Jo Westlake

12:02 PM, 4th December 2019
About 2 days ago

Lack of focus on elderly housing could cost billions

I'm a fan of retirement housing as an idea but right now there seems to be very little middle ground. It's all either big retirement developers with very high charges and dire resale values or Social retirement housing for the lucky few.
In my opinion there needs to be a mass market rental option. By definition retirement housing is temporary so why buy it? Renting would allow easier transfer to accomodation with more care if required.
How much money would be freed up for lifestyle, care and helping other generations if it wasn't all tied up in housing?
How many family size houses would be freed up for young families if there was an attractive retirement housing option?
There would be less requirement for care home places if people were living in suitable retirement accommodation in the first place. Much easier to be independent if you live in a manageable size home, close to shops and public transport, etc. Ideally such housing should be available for ANYONE over 55 or 60 who wants it. No requirement to have health issues or a specific bank balance.
How many people stay in completely unsuitable houses because it isn't financially viable to buy somewhere more suitable? By the time SDLT has been paid it simply isn't viable to move. There's also the fear of making a mistake.
If good quality retirement rentals were readily available it would be easier to make the move. If renting really didn't feel right a person could always buy again if they really wanted.
The location of retirement housing needs careful thought. Everyone has a different retirement dream so there certainly isn't a one size fits all answer. A bungalow by the sea isn't everyone's perfect retirement home. Building retirement developments within existing housing estates is ideal for local people wishing to downsize but stay close to friends, converting unused commercial space in town centres would be good, building purpose built retirement housing on top of community centres, doctors surgeries, libraries, non food outlets in new developments would all help retired people maintain active independent lives.
The over 55s today have vastly different ideas to previous generations so care needs to be taken to listen to what they actually want, not just assume it's to be an owner occupier of a bungalow in a cul-de-sac or a retirement apartment with a comprehensive (expensive) warden service. We're looking at a market with a 40 or 50 year age span so a whole load of different ideas and requirements.
It's certainly something the government and planning departments need to engage with very, very soon.... Read More

Jo Westlake

17:17 PM, 22nd October 2019
About a month ago

Tenant asks for so called 'No Fault Eviction Notice'?

Are they currently in a one bed or a two bed? If only a one bed they are possibly technically overcrowded. Check with your local authority Environmental Health private sector housing team. May depend on age of child and square meterage of current home. As a responsible, caring landlord you would be fully justified in issuing a Section 21 if they are deemed to be overcrowded. You could even be critized for condoning overcrowding if you don't.

Obviously the result may not be what anyone hoped for. There is a shortage of 2 bed social housing and they may end up being shunted around a series of homeless hostles and temporary housing.... Read More

Jo Westlake

9:31 AM, 10th August 2019
About 4 months ago

Should she stay or go?

My experience is the opposite of most of Mark Trenfield's suggestions.

1. Leave the rent at it's current level if around LHA limit. If it's a bit above LHA just mentally forget about increasing it any time soon. The tenant seems happy with the current figure. The full amount of rent is usually covered by Benefits for the first 13 weeks of a claim for tenants already in a home they could previously afford. Reducing it at this point with the idea of increasing it any time soon could cause more problems.
If the rent is significantly above LHA your tenant is going to struggle.

2. Accept the payment in as many installments as tenant needs to make, especially if it is all technically in advance. She is having to make a massive adjustment to her budgeting and it will be psychology important for her to be paying rent in advance. The feeling of debt is horribly depressing.

3. Leave the tenancy agreement as it is at least until the situation completely clarifies.
In my experience the Benefits Agencies don't expect a brand new tenancy agreement to be churned out every time a couple have an argument.
You currently have a deposit. If you refund it you are unlikely to get the full amount back again from that tenant. The Local Authority in this area of the country will provide a deposit for a new home but won't provide one to retain an existing home in the event of relationship breakdown. That question would be worth a quick phone call to your local housing team.
You probably don't know if the deposit was originally his, hers or theirs. Until they have negotiated a financial settlement as part of their divorce you don't actually know which one to return what to.

Good luck. I've stuck with tenants in similar circumstances and it's all worked out fine.... Read More

Jo Westlake

10:24 AM, 23rd July 2019
About 5 months ago

Brokenshire to stamp out 'poor doors'

If real world rent was charged there wouldn't be any stigma to living in Social Housing? Anyone on a low income would receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit to help pay. Why should anyone earning proper money get subsidised housing (especially if it makes them feel in any way stigmatized)?
Surely charging closer to market rent would promote feelings of equality among tenants and provide the Housing Associations with ample money to maintain existing housing to a high standard and build more housing.... Read More

Jo Westlake

9:46 AM, 12th July 2019
About 5 months ago

Government needs to avoid breakdown of trust

Tenants are provided with an overwhelming amount of information before they sign the tenancy: How to rent guide, EPC, gas safety certificate, electrical certificate, GDPR policy, deposit protection information, etc.
How many of them actually read any of it?
At the moving in time there's another overwhelming information overload about how the heating works, the importance of ventilation, how appliances work, bin collection days, etc. I expect a tenant to remember about a quarter of this information. Most of it is also in a house information folder which they will probably never look in.
Younger, less worldly tenants usually listen more attentively. More experienced tenants often seem to think they know everything already.... Read More