Archive for the ‘housing’ Category

Back in the good old days, renters had security of tenure (i.e. they couldn’t be kicked out without a good reason). Unfortunately, this meant landlords often turned to intimidation and violence to get higher-paying tenants to move in. Peter Rachman was the most famous example of this, and had this practice named after him – ‘Rachmanism’.

So now that landlords can evict tenants without a reason, you would think none of them would bother to do it illegally. Wrong. I contacted councils in London to see what they were doing to tackle illegal eviction, and associated complaints of landlord harassment of tenants.

“Councils in London are failing to enforce the law in private rented housing. According to Freedom of Information requests sent to all London boroughs, Councils in London have dealt with over 9000 cases of illegal eviction, harassment, and mortgage arrears in the past five years. However, many councils take completely different approaches to the problems. Some do not have staff to deal with the issues.”   Take a look at the full investigation on The Rent Book.

This was an article which took a lot of twists and turns to reach the light of day. Suffice to say, if all councils were doing this type of work then illegal evictions would be less common in the UK.

“Councils have been empowered to prosecute landlords and their ‘agents’ for harassment and illegal eviction of tenants since 1977. The Protection from Eviction Act was originally passed to counter the types of ‘landlordism’ associated with the infamous Peter Rachman. Illegal eviction is where “any person unlawfully deprives the residential occupier of any premises of his occupation of the premises or any part thereof, or attempts to do so”.” Read the full article here.

Housing in Brazil

Posted: November 21, 2013 in articles, housing
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Continuing my tour of rented housing laws. This time I took at look at Brazil, which is notorious for its Favelas (shanty-towns), but a rising power in the world.

“Last time I looked at how renting works in Germany. This time I thought I’d turn my attention to the Global South, and examine the system in Brazil. According to UN Habitat, in 2010 73% of Brazilians are owner-occupiers, and 18% are tenants (7.8% are ‘shared households’).” Read the full post here.

 

Lessons from German rented housing

Posted: November 12, 2013 in articles, housing

Germany has one of the biggest private rented sectors in the developed world. Yet they seem to make it work with a set of strong rights for tenants. I did a brief profile for the Landlord Law Blog. I’m hoping to do another one or two on how other countries approach private rented housing.

“We in the UK often like to borrow our policies (good and bad) from other countries. We’ve got Elected Mayors and Academy Schools from the US, Free Schools from Sweden, and Feed-in Tariffs from Germany. What, if anything can we learn from the country with the biggest private rented housing sector in Europe, Germany?” Read the full post here.

Here in the UK we haven’t seen as dramatic a rise in repossessions as in the US, where it is a major problem. I interviewed Gayle McLaughlin, the Mayor of Richmond, for The New Internationalist. Mayor McLaughlin and her City Council are about to start using the ‘power of eminent domain’ (similar to compulsory purchasing orders in the UK) to stop foreclosures. Read the full interview here.

 

Estate Agents boom

Posted: November 12, 2013 in articles, housing
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I’ve been very busy for the past few weeks, so I’m catching up on posts.

After the announcement that Estate Agents had seen a massive rise in employment, I set my sights on picking apart current housing policy.

“A few months ago, several news organisations announced a “JOBS BOOM” as unemployment dropped from 7.8% to 7.7%. Many of the new jobs created were in estate agents, which grew by nearly 10% in just three months. However, we should be careful of building our economy (again) on the sand castle of the housing market.” Read the full article here.

 

Rent Control 25 Years On

Posted: October 10, 2013 in articles, housing

Rent controls were abolished in the UK under the 1988 Housing Act. This brought over 70 years of rent regulation to an end. I wrote a short post of the history of rent controls, why they were introduced, and their current place in social policy – always a contentious topic.

Read the full post here.  The comments are also very interesting as well.

“A few months ago, several news organisations announced a “JOBS BOOM” as unemployment dropped from 7.8% to 7.7%. Many of the new jobs created were in estate agents, which grew by nearly 10% in just three months. However, we should be careful of building our economy (again) on the sand castle of the housing market.” Read the full article here.

I’ve got a post over at the Landlord Law Blog on what the legal rights are for tenants on water meters. Somewhat ironically, it seems there’s a stronger set of rights around water meters for tenants (you can have one installed if you’re there for longer than 6 months) than to other things like security of tenure, affordability of rent etc. So, to be blunt, you can insist on having a water meter installed  – but at the end of the day a landlord could just give you your two months notice without a reason, so there’s not much of an incentive to fight for your consumer rights. I’ll be following this up with a post soon about other utilities, and how things work in more complicated housing situations.

“Many green-minded and money-conscious tenants look to water meters to help them cut back the costs and their environmental impact. However, there is often confusion between landlords, tenants, and agents as to what the rules are.” Read the full article here. 

Here’s a post I’ve written up for Tessa Shepperson over at Landlord Law. It summarises a Communities and Local Government (CLG) Select Committee report on private rented housing sector (PRS). There have been more reports in the past decade on the PRS than you could shake a giant bunch of keys at. Most of these are worthy and well researched with clear recommendations – the problem is no one in central government really wants to do them.

Suffice to say I wasn’t impressed with the final CLG report, and have my doubts as to whether anything significant will happen as a result. In the next couple of months I’ll be looking into whether the current law is being enforced.

“In the last two weeks private rented housing (or PRS to use the jargon) has been on the mind of every policy wonk in the UK. The reason being publication of a report on private rented housing by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee.”

The full article can be read here.