Spotlight on Michelle Reid CEO of TPAS

Spotlight on Michelle Reid CEO of TPAS

9:34 AM, 15th November 2012, About 11 years ago 6

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Michelle Reid CEO of TPASMichelle Reid

Position: CEO of TPAS (Tenant Participation Advisory Service)

Michelle has kindly answered the following questions:-

  • How would you describe the role of your organisation in 150 characters or less?
  • What do you perceive to be the main challenges facing the PRS in the next 5 years?
  • What opportunities do you envisage for the PRS in the next 5 years?
  • How do you see your organisation working with the Good Landlords Campaign?

Michelle’s Career history:

I joined TPAS as Chief Executive in April 2009. Prior to that I spent seven years as Chief Executive of George House Trust, a leading HIV social care charity. I’ve had a rich and varied career in social housing, particularly in care and support, but also at senior management level. I set up the first government-funded rough sleeper project in the North of England, and also specialised in work with young homeless people and people with substance use issues. I’m committed to the tenant empowerment agenda, and work to achieve an inclusive approach to planning and providing services. I advocate for effective partnership working between tenants, providers, contractors and government, and work with people at all levels of decision making in the UK in order to ensure positive outcomes for all.

How would you describe the role of your organisation in 150 characters or less?

TPAS is the leading national tenant involvement membership organisation. We are at the forefront of joining up government policy with front-line service delivery and tenant groups.

What do you perceive to be the main challenges facing the PRS in the next 5 years?

The PRS has shown consistent growth over the last decade but demand far outstrips supply with the largest lettings agencies estimating that there are 4.5 people looking to rent each property. Fulfilling this demand is obviously a major challenge and is something that has a direct bearing on the quality of housing available to those seeking to rent privately. I believe this lack of choice available to tenants has contributed to statistics in the recent revelation that more than 40% of privately rented flats and houses in England are in “non-decent” condition. That’s over 1.4 million households living in poor housing. Improving the standard of these properties and contributing to the expansion of government house building targets are big challenges for the PRS.

We also have to encourage the Private Rented Sector not to turn its back on people on benefits. Recent reports highlighted that 4 out of 5 private landlords in a major city were refusing to consider tenants claiming Housing Benefit. As the housing crisis deepens, that’s bad news for people who have no hope of gaining a social housing tenancy. Private Rented Sector organisations like “Dssmove” should be highlighted and encouraged in their welcoming approach to benefit-claiming tenants.

What opportunities do you envisage for the PRS in the next 5 years?

Changes in legislation have meant that private landlords are already becoming more involved in the social housing sector. We’ve seen 17 “for profit” social housing providers register with the HCA, a number I expect to grow, while other changes will see the PRS housing more homeless people. I feel that there is definitely a role for private landlords to play in the social housing sector if they are mindful of the responsibilities that accompany the opportunities the sector has to offer. The PRS can create great partnerships with existing social providers to increase the choice and meet the demand for homes across Britain. In my view, those landlords that will flourish in the new landscape are those who demonstrate a willingness to understand the range of needs, skills and aspirations of a growing tenant body. We see it working in the social sector on a daily basis, and I hope that we will convince private landlords that involving your tenants is not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do for your business. TPAS will be happy to support the PRS in this.

How do you see your organisation working with the Good Landlords Campaign?

The GOOD Landlords CampaignTPAS recognises the Private Rented Sector as our growing partner. Good private landlords address a clear housing need for tenants, whilst seeing the business case for working in partnership with their tenants to improve standards. We’re committed to working more closely with private sector landlords and tenants in the future as more and more people in need will be housed in private accommodation. We support any sector, organisation, business or individual who share our aims – to drive up standards through excellent tenant involvement. We therefore value and support the intentions and aspirations of the ‘Good Landlords Campaign’ as it aims to facilitate integrity and strong communication between landlords and tenants.

For further information about TPAS please visit their website

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15:42 PM, 15th November 2012, About 11 years ago

Advocacy for decent rental homes is and should be a given for ANY tenant paying rent for a property.

The fact that some LL do not provide decent value for money ALWAYS leaves the tenant the option of terminating the rental contract.

It is generally unusual for a tenant to take over a property and for it to degrade to such a point where it could be considered not decent.

A bit like buying a second hand car.

It is usually apparent at the time of considering a purchase if things are not quite right.

In such circumstances a purchase would presumably not go ahead unless perhaps as an adjustment on price was agreed.

The same concept applies to rental property.

NO LL ever forces a tenant to take on a less than satisfactory property.

If the tenant chooses to do so, then that is their lookout.

Obviously if the property degrades once a rental contract has been signed then it it is down to the LL to ensure the services paid for with rent are provided as per the contract.

This is why inventories are so important.

The problem with the PRS taking on LHA claimants is NOT with the fact that these tenants claim benefits.

It is because when tenants refuse to pass on these benefits the LL cannot receive the next two months rent from the council.

Councils advise that it is down to the LL to attempt recovery.

This is generally impossible BECAUSE the tenant is on benefits.

LL presently may only apply for direct payment once 8 weeks have elapsed.

However, if a claim is suspended for whatever reason then even that direct payment stops.

It can take many months to evict a HB tenant, during which time the tenant may steal from and damage the rental propert for which the police will NOT prosecute.

As a Tenant advocate you would do far better to facilitate the payment of LHA to LL with NO possibility EVER of clawback from a LL in the event of a HB claim being suspended or revoked, caused by the tenant.

It is next to impossible to obtain RGI on HB claimants.

Until the law is changed to allow tenants to have their UC HB paid directly to LL with NO penalty whatsoever against the LL in case of HB claim issues then LL willl continue to refuse to take on HB tenants.

It any LHA/UC was claimed off the benefit then tenants would pay the full LHA as there would be no financial advantage to the tenant.not passing on the LHA.

The County Court system is another issue that mitigates against HB tenants.

LL know how long it takes and HB tenants are notorious for NOT passing on their LHA.

Most LL choose to evict if this occurs.

It is often in the nature of the beast that LHA claimants will pay everything else before they pay any rent left over to the LL.

The way the system is set up presently, in the eyes of many LL the tenant has 100% of the law on his side in this regard.

Address these issues and you would find the LL flooding back to the LHA/UC market.

Of course this will NEVER happen which is why you will NOT be able to encourage LL back to the HB market.

There are more than enough private tenants who would pass an RGI check NOT to bother with HB tenants in my area.

Most LL only take on HB tenants if the HB is more than the private rents or if they have no choice.

Private LL are not charities and will not behave as such.

The whole point of their existence is make as much money as possible out of a tenant. Otherwise they wouldn't bother and put their monies into other investments; thereby reducing the available pool of rental property.

Such property could NOT be purchased by a tenant which is the reason they are a tenant in the first place.

One way to reduce rental costs is to introduce an Australian type immigration system, whereby skills needed by the UK, such as IT and scientists would qualify for residency.

We have more than enough unskilled labour sitting on benefits.

Reducing the immigrant population will reduce pressure on the existing housing stock and the supply and demand balance will probably go in favour of the tenant. LL can then make the business decision on whether they wish to remain in the rental business.

ONLY offer council or social housing on the basis of how long someone has been on the list; NOT on housing need.

It is ultimately a crying shame that the 'system' conspires against LL to take on HB tenants.

Fix these problems and you find LL WILL be more willing to rent to HB claimants.

You and I both know this will NEVER happen and so I am afraid HB tenants will continue to be marginalised.

ALL a LL wants is to be paid for the service he provides.

Unfortunately with LHA and soon UC this does not always occur; which is why many LL prefer NOT to rent to HB claimants.

It is NOTHING personal, it is just business!

Devon Landlord

17:45 PM, 15th November 2012, About 11 years ago

I have justread with interest the spotlight on Michelle and her organisation. I have been involved with letting for about fifteen years and with a Landlords Association for about six and I have never come across the organisation she leads. Should I have done so I ask, perhaps not, but we seem to be in this business together and so perhaps I should. I must say that I agree with most of what Paul Barrett had to say, especially about the majority of PRS LLs not needing to take HB tenants. I do not but would not dismiss them out of hand as some do. Like bad landlords, and there are a lot of them out there, there are even more bad tenants who have a very low level of social responsibility and I like most of my letting professionals want to avoid them like the plague. But most HD claimants on LHA afe good and are trying their best. However, I am in business to make a profit (I'd love to make a fortune) but I also have a sense of social responsibility. What I am looking to see is some collaboration between the PRS, Local Authorities and even tenant organisations to try and help the impending chaos the is about to hit us in the form of Universal Credit and the Local Councils having the ability to discharge their duty for housing in to the PRS. It is easy to use a sound bite, 'we will discharge our duty' etc but hang on most of us in the PRS are not interested in difficult to house social tenants, not when statistically they are the ones who cause us the greatest grief. Things may be hard for tenants but the odds are stacked against the landlord as Paul has so elequently described.
There are enough sticks out there to beat the landlord, new legislation and compliance measures let alone the imminent loss of direct payments which was some comfort. so it is about time that we saw some juicy carrots for a change. One could be that rents are classed as income, which would enable me and many others to invest and make more letting properties available for renting. Another would be the reinstatement of housing benefit direct to landlords without the stupid notion that giving the 'challenged' tenant responsibility to pay the rent some how improves this world of ours. It does not. We need joined up thinking and action because believe it or not, in a market where demand outstrips supply the product goes to the highest bidder unless some sanity and accord can be re-inserted into the system.

5:31 AM, 16th November 2012, About 11 years ago

Very well said, the interview highlights her intelligence and dedication in the industry.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

7:58 AM, 16th November 2012, About 11 years ago

Hi Jeremy

Welcome to Property118 and thank you for for commenting.

I agree that Michelle knows her stuff, as does Michael Gelling from T.A.R.O.E. who also provided an excellent response. That's why they were invited to appear here. Robbie De Santos from Shelter has also agreed to appear in our PRS Centres of Influence.

Whilst this forum is mainly read by landlords and Letting Agents, I feel it is crucial for UK Housing for both landlord and tenant groups to have a better understanding of the issues affecting housing from both a landlords and tenants perspective. I am convinced there is common ground and we can build on that to lobby government for everybody's benefit, both landlords and tenants.

Landlords completely disagree with the Lord Freud notion that empowering benefits tenants to manage their own funds will somehow make the world a better place. Paul Barrett has explained why, from a practical perspective, that Universal Credit will result in him and a huge section of the PRS withdrawing from letting to tenants on benefits. For instance, landlords generally don't know whether tenant groups feel the same way about this and would like to work with landlord groups to lobby for direct payments to landlords or whether the tenant groups believe Lord Freud is right and the PRS are missing something. That level of understanding would be a good start, wouldn't you agree?

Landlords also get frustrated, and have been known to go bankrupt, when tenants have behaved inappropriately (not paid rent, abused a property, abused the neighbours etc.). The world might be a better place if we all worked together to raise standards as opposed to fighting each other. Many landlords would argue that they are not fighting on a level playing field given that good landlords want the criminals operating as landlords out of the business whereas the perception is that far too many tenant bodies seem to fight to keep criminal tenants in a landlords property to the detriment of the landlord. I have no doubt that intentions are good but we need to focus our priorities here before the relationship between the PRS and the benefits sector breaks down irretrievably Those priorities must be to raise standards and where that is not possible, to prosecute both landlords and tenants who behave inappropriately. Many landlords consider unpaid rent as theft, especially if benefits have been paid to a tenant to purchase accommodation and the funds have been misappropriated for example. Also, one might be forgiven for believing that criminal damage is just that, whether it's vandalism to a public telephone box or within a landlords property. However, try telling the Police that if a tenant kicks the doors in of a house that he or she is renting from a private landlord, the Police are not interested, can that possibly be right?

We need more of the tenant groups and the people on the ground, helping tenants, to come here to discuss these issues in a professional manner if our industry is to move forward.

I don't know who you are Jeremy but as you know Michelle I can only assume that you are, in some way, connected to working with tenant groups. I would welcome your further comments and any influence you can use to encourage others to join in a debate here which, in my opinion, is long overdue.


Mark Alexander

Joe Bloggs

17:02 PM, 16th November 2012, About 11 years ago

Comment removed by moderator. Please see "What Property118 is not"

Joe Bloggs

22:05 PM, 16th November 2012, About 11 years ago

i have had direct experience of TPAS. my
experiences are all bad.

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