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Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Posted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:06 am
by Chris From The Gulag
Oh dear , some BTL landlords breaking the law ?


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-42979242


Landlords who say 'no DSS' breaking equality laws.


The thousands of lettings agents and landlords around the country who reject housing benefit claimants could be flouting equality laws, due a recent legal case.

The widespread practice has led to "no-go zones" for those on lower incomes - especially in desirable residential areas.

But single mother Rosie Keogh won compensation for sex discrimination from a lettings agency that refused to consider her as a tenant because she was on state benefit.

The cleaner and former paralegal successfully argued that blanket bans on benefit claimants indirectly discriminated against women, especially single women.

This is because they are proportionately more likely to be claiming housing benefit than single men, according to official figures.

Rosie's attempt to rent a property in a smart area of Birmingham in May 2016 was blocked when the lettings agent found she would pay some of the rent via housing benefit.

'Second-class citizen'

The agent told her it would not be proceeding with her application for a property in Kings Heath before it had looked into her individual circumstances or assessed how reliable a tenant she would be.

She had been living in the same property for 11 years with the rent being paid in full every time.

After a letter of complaint was dismissed by the agents, the mother of one issued a claim for discrimination in the county court.

"I felt something had to be done to challenge it. I was motivated by anger at such inequitable practice," said Rosie.

"It made me feel like a second-class citizen.


Image


"You are being treated differently - and it's women and women with children who are bearing the brunt of this because they need to work part-time."

And Rosie is not alone. There are whole areas of towns and cities in England that have become virtual no-go zones for people on housing benefit because lettings agents and landlords are unwilling to deal with them.

A survey of 1,137 private landlords for housing charity Shelter in 2017 found that 43% had an outright ban on letting to such claimants. A further 18% preferred not to let to them.

Rosie was supported in her case by Shelter, whose legal officer Rose Arnall said: "By applying a blanket policy they are actually preventing good tenants from accessing the private rented sector.

"Women are more likely to be caring for children and therefore working part-time and are therefore more likely to top up their income by claiming housing benefit."

Because of the lack of available social housing, more than a fifth of those renting privately are relying on housing benefit either wholly or partly to cover their rent, according to 2017 figures.

Eighteen months after Rosie first began her fightback, lettings agent Nicholas George admitted indirect discrimination on the grounds of her sex, settling out of court with £2,000 compensation.

The case established the principle of sexual discrimination under the Equality Act.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said private renting was so expensive that many people could not get by without housing benefit, even if they were working.

"Our advisers repeatedly hear from desperate mothers battling to find someone willing to let to them, in spite of being able to pay the rent.

"We are urging all landlords and letting agents to get rid of 'no DSS' policies, and treat people fairly on a case-by-case basis."

Chris Norris, head of policy at the National Landlords Association, agreed there was no place for discrimination on the basis of someone's gender.

"Cases like this highlight the very worst of what a minority of renters have to put up with when looking to secure a home in the private rented sector."

'Short-sighted'

He added: "The number of landlords willing to rent to housing benefit tenants has fallen dramatically over the last few years because cuts to welfare and problems with the universal credit system are making it more and more difficult for anyone in receipt of housing support to pay their rent on time and sustain long-term tenancies."

Labour's housing spokesman John Healey said government cuts to housing benefit had stripped away the safety net for families and led to "no-go zones" for families on low and middle incomes.

"These short-sighted decisions have made landlords more wary of tenants claiming housing benefit and so made discrimination more likely."

A government spokesman said: "It's wrong to treat someone differently because they are claiming a benefit.

"The majority of claimants are comfortable managing their money but we are increasing support to help people who need it to stay on top of their payments."

He added that from April, people in receipt of housing benefit would receive two weeks' rent when they moved on to universal credit and landlords could now apply to have the benefit paid directly to them if their tenants were more than two months in arrears.


Good for her ... purely an individual case playing on the gender angle.

Now , for hundreds of thousands of others denied a roof over their head purely because they are on benefits ????

Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Posted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 6:53 pm
by Chris From The Gulag
So much for " Affordable " homes ?


http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/po ... 33011.html

Housing Department diverts 'no longer needed' funding for affordable housing to Help to Buy programme.

Ministers accused of 'selling families short by surrendering much-needed cash for new homes' after revelation £817m is being handed back to the Treasury.


Tens of millions of pounds of funding earmarked for building new low-cost housing will instead be given to aspiring homeowners, government documents have revealed.

Records show the housing department returned £72m of its affordable homes funding to the Treasury this year because it had failed to spend it, despite the UK struggling in the midst of a housing crisis.

The money will instead be used to help pay for the Help to Buy scheme, which assists buyers with the cost of a deposit. The scheme has been criticised for prioritising wealthier potential buyers at the expense of those most in need of affordable housing.


In total, the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government returned £817m of funding it said was “no longer required” in 2017-18. The vast majority of the money was supposed to have been spent on housing.

Despite many areas of the country reporting a desperate need for new low-cost homes, the department said in a memo: “Part of the funding allocation for the Affordable Housing programme has not been required in 2017/18.”

The “surrendered” money, which could have built thousands of affordable homes, will be “utilised to offset the budget requirement for the Help to Buy programme,” it added.

It means money originally allocated to boost housing supply will instead be spent on a programme that increases demand without resulting in new properties being built.


The document also reveals that the £329m budget for Starter Homes – properties sold to first-time buyers at a discount – has been returned to the Treasury.

The memo said: “Starter Homes budget was surrendered as agreed with [the Treasury] to contribute to the higher Affordable Housing investment in future years.”

The Independent revealed late last year that, despite being a flagship Conservative policy for boosting home ownership, not a single Starter Home has yet been built.

John Healey, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, said: “Feeble ministers are selling families short by surrendering much-needed cash for new homes.

“If the Secretary of State can’t defend his department’s budget from the Treasury, he should give the job to someone who can.”

A government spokesperson said: “We are delivering the homes our country needs, and since 2010 we have built over 357,000 new affordable properties.

“But we are determined to do more and we are investing a further £9bn, including £2bn to help councils and housing associations build social rent homes where they are most needed.”


So much for the present Government identifying the most in need of housing ???

Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Posted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:58 am
by Chris From The Gulag
A very good article from this morning's Guardian which asks a lot of uncomfortable questions :


https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... -residents


British governments used to cough up for social housing. Not this one.

If politicians treated houses like they do roads and railways, regeneration wouldn’t be such a dirty word.


Once upon a time, not that long ago, housing was largely what councils were for. In the years after the second world war, after all, public housing was intended to be an option for all who wanted it, as universal a welfare service as state education. And so, in the 1960s and 70s, visionary architects and idealistic planners alike flocked to local government: if you wanted to make your mark on the fabric of a city, this was the place to do it.

After the Thatcher government introduced right to buy, the political class began instead to treat council housing as a last-chance saloon – a place for that tiny sliver of the population too poor or too lacking in aspiration to get on and buy. What’s worse, councils were barred from using the proceeds of right to buy to build replacement housing. So they stopped building. In the mid-70s, councils were building as many as 150,000 new homes a year. In 2004-05, they built just 130.

Now, with home ownership in freefall and an increasingly large and influential share of the population stuck in the insecure and under-regulated private rental sector, council housing is starting to look pretty good once again. Even on the right, there are many who now accept that a key part of boosting housing supply will be for councils to get back in the building game. The problem is, those visionary architects and idealistic planners are long gone. So is the money to pay for their work.

Private developers, though, are short of neither expertise nor capital. What they are short of is the one thing councils generally have: land. So local authorities are increasingly teaming up with the private sector to regenerate parts of their patch. On the east side of Manchester, you’ll find Manchester Life, a partnership between the city council and Abu Dhabi United Group, busily redeveloping Ancoats. On the east side of London, meanwhile, Sadiq Khan’s office is teaming up with housing association and developer L&Q on Barking Riverside, a £500m plan to build an entire new neighbourhood in the wastes beyond Docklands.

That one, though, is relatively uncontroversial: few Londoners will miss the grim industrial estates it’s replacing. Other schemes aren’t so straightforward. Last week, councillors in Tower Hamlets, east London, voted to freeze a planned redevelopment of Chrisp Street Market. They had been petitioned by market traders who, not irrationally, feared being priced out and replaced with a Waitrose.

The big one, though, is the Haringey development vehicle: the north London borough’s planned £2bn joint-venture with Australian developer Lendlease, and the source of perhaps the biggest non-Brexit row of the year so far. The 20-year scheme is intended to create 10,000 new homes, plus a new library, school, health centre and retail facilities.

Even if you haven’t followed the story, you can probably guess where the controversy comes in. Its opponents – the local Liberal Democrats, a large chunk of the local Labour party whose leadership first proposed it, plus two local Labour MPs – worry that it would mean handing a large chunk of the council land to a private developer. More than that, they fear that it would leave current tenants at the mercy of a body outside democratic control. In January, a key proponent of the plan, Haringey’s Labour leader Claire Kober, stood down, claiming she’d been forced out by the bullying of pro-Corbyn activists.

The scheme’s supporters argue that teaming up with a private developer would give the council access to both the capital and expertise required to tackle its housing crisis. The alternative to the HDV, they say, would be to put up with poor quality flats and growing waiting lists, and hope that the next government will be more interested in fixing them than this one.

Fair points, all. On the flipside, though, it’s nonsense to suggest that the only reason anyone could possibly oppose the scheme is a Momentum membership card. “Regeneration” is almost certain to involve demolition – and there is no estate so crumbling or so crime-ridden that there won’t be those who consider it a home worth protecting. To make matters worse, similar regeneration schemes in the past have had their social housing commitments whittled away, and promises to tenants repeatedly broken. Lendlease itself was a partner in the “regeneration” of the Heygate estate, six miles south in Elephant and Castle. That saw 1,194 social-rented flats pulled down, and just 74 built to replace them. The HDV’s supporters say that the alternative is to do nothing – but with that track record, Haringey tenants could be forgiven for thinking that “nothing” might sound preferable.

And there’s another reason for wariness. Even schemes that do provide new homes for existing tenants are also likely to involve far more private homes (this is, after all, how they fund themselves). That changes the social mix of an area, and in all likelihood the sort of businesses it attracts too. Existing shops and pubs get priced out; chic bars and cafes catering for the new residents move in, with all the craft gin and avocado toast that entails. Gentrification is controversial enough when it’s the result of market forces. When it’s imposed on a community by its elected representatives, it can be actively alienating.

Yet the pressures that led Southwark and Haringey to partner with Lendlease do not seem likely to abate. Local government has lost as much as half of its funding since austerity began in 2010, even as demand for services such as adult social care has soared. Councils have been scrambling to use whatever resources they can to plug the gap – and for many, their most valuable asset by far is their land.

The resulting regeneration schemes will always be controversial: you can’t demolish people’s homes or threaten their livelihoods and expect them not to push back. But there are perhaps things that could be done to drain the poison. Allowing councils to borrow against their housing revenues might make it easier to fund regeneration schemes in-house, without teaming up with the private sector. And tougher rules requiring developers to provide like-for-like replacement – to prevent social rented homes being swapped for “affordable” private housing that is not in any sense affordable – could make it easier to win community approval.

But developers are ultimately motivated by the need to make a profit, not by the need to provide enough housing, and borrowing will only get councils so far. If we really want councils to get building again, the only solution is a big investment of cash. National government is willing to invest in roads and railways without expecting a direct profit, because ministers understand that they are vital infrastructure that will boost the economy as a whole. Why should they not give councils money to build homes on the same basis? We’ve done it before.


Bottom line ?

The need for people to be housed in poperties they can afford.

Private companies involved need to earn a profit.

Like capital and labour ... a partnership.

The problem ?

No developer will enter into a partnership IF the return on his capital is not enough.

In turn , the LAs , owning the land , cannot develope to provide affordable housing.

As a result , the annual bill for " Housing Benefit " will continue to rise ... most of which goes to landlords who , in turn , are out to make a profit.

The needs of the many , the rewards for the few ???

A need to turn the clock back a few decades ???

Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 4:37 pm
by Chris From The Gulag
A planning " Loophole " exploited by private developers :


https://www.theguardian.com/politics/20 ... ers-report


Loophole used to cut affordable housing in rural England – report.

Government urged to tighten planning laws that are currently being exploited by developers.


Developers are managing to dodge building tens of thousands of affordable homes in rural areas where they are most needed because of a legal loophole in planning laws, according to research by the homeless charity Shelter and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

The findings of a hard-hitting report by the two organisations will place added pressure on the housing, communities and local government secretary, Sajid Javid, to announce a tightening of the rules in a speech he is to deliver on Monday on how to change planning rules to tackle the housing crisis.

While developers are required by local authorities to provide a proportion of affordable homes – often about 30% – in any new development, many use “viability assessments” to negotiate down the number by arguing that the requirement would adversely affect their profit margins.

Last year Shelter conducted research showing that the use of viability assessments in 11 local authorities across England contributed to 79% fewer affordable homes being built in urban areas of England than would have been if local rules had been followed to the letter.


Now, with the CPRE, the charity has carried out studies highlighting the same problem in rural areas where prices are often high but wages low, meaning local residents and workers find themselves priced out of the market.

Looking at eight rural councils over one year, the analysis shows that half the affordable homes which councils were required to build were lost when viability assessments were used by developers.

Developers were using viability assessments to argue that meeting set ratios of affordable homes would cut their profits to below 20%, at which point they have the legal ability under current law to negotiate to reduce how many they are required to build.

The two organisations say that developers often deliberate over paying for land on which to build in the knowledge that they can use the system to at least recoup the extra cost by driving down the amount of affordable homes they are required to build.

Shelter and the CPRE have called for urgent action by Javid as part of a rewrite of the national planning policy framework.

Polly Neate, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “With this new research we can see for the first time the true scale of our housing crisis – it’s not just blighting cities but our towns and villages, too. Developers are using this legal loophole to overpower local communities and are refusing to build the affordable homes they need.”

Crispin Truman, the CPRE’s chief executive, said: “CPRE is calling for urgent action from the government to close the loophole to increase the delivery of affordable housing, otherwise rural communities risk losing the young families and workers which they need to be sustainable.”

One area covered by the study is the south-west, where high housing demand from people seeking to buy second homes and people looking for a place to retire results in homes often selling at more than nine times average earnings for the area.

The report says that despite this huge affordability gap developers have still been able to exploit the loophole to cut the number of affordable homes that would have been built if they had stuck to the local authority policy.

Cornwall missed out on 232 affordable homes where viability assessments were submitted so that these sites will deliver just 26% affordable housing when they would have delivered 40% if local policy had been followed,” the Shelter/CPRE report says.

“In one example, a land promoter succeeded in eliminating affordable homes from a Redruth scheme on the grounds it was not financially viable, reducing the quota from 40% of the development to zero – before going on to advertise the land as an attractive development opportunity with a guide price of £1.3m.”


Loopholes ... they are there for a reason ?

Until closed , many more will be excluded from the property market , either as home owners or tenants.

Meanwhile , the private developers feast on the housing market at the expense of millions.

Why build today when house prices continue to rise ... more profit tomorrow ?

Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:56 am
by Chris From The Gulag
So much for building " Affordable " homes north of the Magic Roundabout ( M25 ) :


https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018 ... -sheffield

Housing crisis: 15,000 new Manchester homes and not a single one 'affordable.'

In Sheffield just 1.4% of homes approved by planners met the government’s affordable definition, while in Nottingham the figure was 3.8%, a Guardian Cities investigation has shown.
Some of the UK’s biggest cities are allowing developers to plan huge new residential developments containing little or no affordable housing, a Guardian Cities investigation has found.

In Manchester, none of the 14,667 homes in big developments granted planning permission in the last two years are set to be “affordable”, planning documents show – in direct contravention of its own rules, and leading to worries that London’s affordable housing crisis is spreading.

In Sheffield – where house prices grew faster last year than in any other UK city, according to property portal Zoopla – just 97 homes out of 6,943 (1.4%) approved by planners in 2016 and 2017 met the government’s affordable definition. That says homes must either be offered for social rent (often known as council housing), or rented at no more than 80% of the local market rate.

In Nottingham, where the council aims for 20% of new housing to be affordable, just 3.8% of units given the green light by council planners meet the definition, Guardian research found
.

In Manchester, named by Deloitte earlier this month as one of Europe’s fastest growing cities and where property now sells three times as quickly as in London, planners have routinely waved through huge new developments – some containing swimming pools, tennis courts and more than 1,000 flats. Not one of the swanky apartments meets the national definition of “affordable” – leading critics to accuse the council of social cleansing.

Others worry the city could become like London, where people on average salaries can no longer afford to live anywhere central. In central Manchester monthly rents have increased on average by more than £100 year on year, according to campaigners.

The irony is that, despite London having the biggest affordable housing problem in the UK, some councils in the capital now demand that new developments include affordable provision. For example, in Westminster, one of the world’s most expensive neighbourhoods, developers agreed to price an average of 12% of all large residential developments at “affordable” rates between 2016 and 2017, usually agreeing to transfer ownership to a housing association. Those who refused almost always had to pay huge sums as a penalty.

Most councils across the UK have their own planning guidelines on what percentage of homes in any big development should be “affordable”. In Manchester, any development of 16 or more units or on a site larger than 0.3 hectares should include 20% affordable housing.

Asked why it ignored its own guidelines, Manchester city council said there are already 68,000 social rented properties in the city – a third of the housing stock, compared with the national average of 16%. Despite this, more than 12,900 people are waiting for a house on Manchester’s social housing register.

The council claims that, once on the open market, many flats may meet its own definition of affordability, which is that that rent or mortgage payments should not cost more than a third of the average Mancunian household’s income of £27,000. That equates to rent of £687.50 per month rent or a mortgage of around £125,000.

But new research on housing financialisation in Greater Manchester by Dr Jonathan Silver, from the University of Sheffield, found that the average cost of a one-bedroom flat in Manchester city centre is now £192,818. In order to buy one, prospective owner-occupiers who have saved a large (and for many unrealistic) £20,000 deposit would have to pay £914 per month, not including bills.

Silver argues that, without more affordable housing, “key workers from shop assistants to nurses or teachers and those entering the professional services are all being displaced or unable to access housing in these areas”
.

Property adviser JLL warned last year that Manchester city centre has moved out of the price range of young professionals, who now have to look to the suburbs to find affordable accommodation.

One major way developers get past planners is by filing confidential “viability” appraisals. These assessments, which often take place once significant work on the development has already been done, frequently conclude that, if the developer were forced to include any affordable flats, their schemes would be insufficiently profitable.

Research by the housing charity Shelter in November found that where viability assessments were used, new housing sites achieved just 7% affordable housing.

Liberal Democrat councillor John Leech, the one-man opposition to the Labour-run council in Manchester, has demanded the council publish these appraisals so that they can be scrutinised.

Last year, Bristol council decided to force housing developers to do so. Guardian figures show that in the last two years just 6.77% of new developments in the city will be affordable.

Leech said Manchester should not become a preserve for the rich: “It is not beyond the realm of probability that key workers will struggle to rent property in [south Manchester suburbs] Didsbury and Chorlton and in the city centre.”

He added: “I describe it as a kind of social cleansing because people who have grown up in some areas of Manchester cannot now afford to live there.”

In Sheffield, developers are not required to provide any affordable housing in certain areas, notably the city centre, where a lot of multi-storey student accommodation has been given the green light. In the south and south-west of the city, they are supposed to transfer 30% of units to a registered provider and be offered as “affordable”. But developers can bypass these quotas with viability appraisals.

Other cities are far more strict with developers. In Cardiff, 24% of the homes granted planning approval in 2016 and 2017 met the affordable definition.

Leeds council routinely forces developers to include at least 5% affordable units in any large development. Some 2,011 affordable homes have been built in Leeds since 2012 – 510 of which were in the private sector, agreed as part of agreements with big developers.

Judith Blake, the leader of Leeds city council, said: “We are determined that quality housing is available for people on a range of different incomes so that our city’s growth is inclusive.

“Working alongside developers and the government, we are seeking to speed up the delivery of over 16,000 new homes in the city centre with at least 20% of them being some form of affordable housing, considerably over and above the 5% planning policy requirement.”

A government spokesman said: “Councils are responsible for producing a plan to create the homes they need in their area.

“We have recently consulted on changes to how viability assessments are used. Our proposals aim to help councils create clearer requirements for affordable homes on new developments and make sure the system is more transparent and applied more consistently.”

An additional 41,530 affordable homes were delivered in England in 2016-17, according to the department for communities and local government. Of those, 5,380 were for social rent, 24,350 for affordable rent and 11,810 for intermediate affordable housing (which includes shared ownership schemes).


So , the supply of new , affordable , homes is being systematically cut back in favour of the developers making vast profits.

Perhaps the old idea of returning land to public ownership should be given more consideration ???

If not , what is the fate of future generations ?????

Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 9:31 am
by jenny lucas
The price of land determines whether ANY affordable houses can ever be built on it. In the Home Counties, where I live, the price of land is nearly always far too high to make it possible to build even 'top of the range' affordable housing. The only kind of housing that can be built on land that expensive is luxury housing.

Now, to get permission to build luxury houses, the developers are required to sign a 106 agreement, whereby in lieu of including some affordable housing, they pay a lump sum (several hundred thousand pounds usually in my neck of the woods!) to the council, which the council then puts towards building affordable housing on cheaper land, if it exists, or towards housing associations or whatever whatever.

And yet the developers STILL manage to wriggle out of paying the in lieu sums because they claim that if they have to pay it, they can't make sufficient profit (they're allowed to make 17% profit) to make the luxury development worth while!

You can't blame developers for wanting to make shedloads of money and rip everyone off - you CAN blame the councils for not setting stricter rules and then damn well enforcing them!

That said, developers pay shedloads of money to top lawyers....councils pay modest amounts to not-top lawyers. And all too many councillors are only in it for the free exchange visits to nice places in France, and couldn't give a monkey's anyway.

Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 9:32 am
by jenny lucas
Bottom line of the problem - too many people in the UK. End of.

Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:53 am
by bowlingbun
In the New Forest, our whole community is changing very fast indeed. Housing here is fabulously expensive, even renting a 200 year old very basic cottage costs about £200 a week. There is no truly affordable housing, my son lives with me, and lots of his friends still live with mum and dad, in various ways. It's all very well people selling their homes in London and moving down here for retirement, but it is now having dire consequences. A friend, the one in the £200 cottage actually, worked in a local hospital until recently. One of her patients had to die in hospital, not at home, because despite CHC funding, there was simply no one available to care for him. My son works for the council, there is a simple part time admin post available, 16 hours a week, but despite being advertised several times, no one suitable applied. Only basic computer literacy required. The only solution, to my way of thinking, is a return to some form of council housing for local people, than cannot be sold on. Maggie Thatcher has a lot to answer for.

Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Posted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:50 am
by Chris From The Gulag
More on who is responsible for replacing cladding demned unsatisfactory / dangerous ... and it is not good :


https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... g-tribunal


Tower residents told to pay £500,000 to replace Grenfell-style cladding.

Tribunal rules that leaseholders in Croydon block are responsible for making building safe.


Leaseholders in an apartment block covered in Grenfell-style cladding have been ordered to pay £500,000 to make their building safe after a tribunal ruled that they, rather than the management company, were obliged to cover the costs.

The ruling, which could be challenged, means leaseholders of the 95-apartment Citiscape complex in Croydon, south London, may face a £2m bill, which some have said would force them into financial ruin.

The building is owned by the family trust of the multimillionaire property mogul Vincent Tchenguiz, but the case was brought by FirstPort Property Services property management company, seeking clarification on who should pay.

Soon after the Grenfell Tower fire it was estimated that the cost of replacing the combustible cladding was about £500,000, but it later received estimates that the cost could be up to £2.4m.

Leaseholders had insisted that replacing the cladding should not be added to their service charge as it was not a matter of disrepair “because the cladding remains as designed and constructed”, and it did not fall under “periodical expenditure”.

One resident, Richard Low-Foon, told the tribunal he needed “a miracle” to fund the works as his father was ill and could not sell his flat because of the risk the building carried for any future investor. “He is in hospital because of all this. It got too much for him,” he said.

However, the chairman of the London residential property first tier tribunal, Angus Andrew, ruled against the leaseholders, insisting they should pay because “if the manager is obliged to do work … the tenants are obliged to contribute to the cost although they remain entitled to dispute the reasonableness of the cost”.

The ruling will be closely watched by thousands of other leaseholders in at least 130 private apartment complexes in England that failed cladding tests after the fatal fire in June.

Other disputes are simmering between leaseholders and freeholders over who should pay. At the New Capital Quay development in Greenwich, by Galliard Homes, the recladding cost is estimated at £40m for just over 1,000 homes.

Alex Blanc, 37, a charity fundraiser who owns a two-bedroom flat in the Citiscape complex, said the ruling was unfair. “It’s a let-down,” she said. “This is something we are not responsible for and now we are having to pay for it.”

The tribunal chairman suggested residents may have claims against other parties involved, including the government. Andrew listed the cladding manufacturer, “if warranties were given as to its suitability”, and Barratt Homes, which built the blocks in 2001, “if they were negligent as to the selection and installation of the cladding”.

He said leaseholders could mount legal challenges against the London borough of Croydon “if there were errors in certification process”. That was a reference to the fact that many of the buildings, including Grenfell, were signed off by council building inspectors as compliant with building regulations.

Andrew also said leaseholders could challenge central government “if the building regulations were not fit for purpose”.

But he added that no claims could reasonably commence until Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s public inquiry into the causes of the Grenfell fire had reported, which was unlikely to be until 2019. He warned that tenants could “find themselves mired in litigation for many years, during which time their flats would be effectively unsaleable”.

A spokesperson for First Port said: “We brought this case before the tribunal not in conflict with residents, but to receive an independent judgment on the most appropriate way to ensure their safety in the long term.

“As the property manager, we will continue to support everyone at Citiscape and work to minimise the costs of recladding, while putting residents’ safety first at all times.

“We will continue to work with all parties to provide further assistance to residents, but we must begin these essential safety works.”

Steve Reed, MP for Croydon North, said: “The tribunal’s decision is the first time a judicial body has opened the door to a legal challenge to the government over the flawed fire safety rules that allowed flammable cladding to go up on Grenfell and hundreds of other blocks across the country.

“The government has consistently claimed the flammable cladding on Grenfell did not comply with the rules, but last week we saw a certificate authorising a similar material that was signed by the government’s chief advisor on the fire safety of buildings.

“It is crystal clear the government was responsible for allowing this cladding to go up so the government must accept responsibility for taking it down.”


One which will run and run ... until the outcome of the Grenfell Tower debacle is known.

Even then , probably years of litigation which will feed the legal professional for generations ?

Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Posted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:10 am
by Chris From The Gulag
Another angle on how the BTL landlords are benefiting from most of us ... the taxpayers ... by exploiting the housing crisis :


https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/ ... flats-cost

Homeless crisis: how the state pays the rich to exploit the poor.

Landlords carving up a home into micro-flats can net £50,000 a year. And it’s taxpayers who foot the bill


Every day 64-year-old former boxer, Ian Ford*, who suffers from crippling arthritis, climbs three flights of stairs to his tiny cell-like flat over a betting shop in south London. “I have to feel my way because loads of times there’s no lighting,” he says. “I’ve fallen a couple of times. If there was a fire I’d never get out.”

Ford’s flat – which at 19 sq metres falls below the government’s minimum space standard of 37 sq metres for one-bedroom flats – is covered in blooms of dark mould. “It’s disgusting. I keep wiping it down but two days later it’s back,” he says.

What were once family homes in London are being converted into tiny flats for single ex-homeless people over the age of 35, in order to extract the maximum amount of housing benefit or universal credit.

Landlords and developers have carved up thousands of houses in at least 20 London boroughs since planning laws were relaxed in 2010 and are thought to be making millions out of the benefit system, squeezing more than £50,000 a year from each home.

Southwark council is paying Ford’s rent of £884.35 a month, which is the maximum benefit for a one-bedroom flat in the borough, to a registered social landlord, Green Park Property Management. If the four other micro-flats in Ford’s building are similarly rented, it could be receiving more than £53,000 a year from what was previously a two-bedroom maisonette.


Ford was directed to Green Park by homeless charity St Mungo’s last year, after a two-month spell sofa-surfing and bedding down in the open. Ford’s house is managed on a day-to-day basis by Manlow Property Management Ltd.

So what do we know about Green Park and Manlow? Green Park operates across 10 London boroughs and says it helps “people live better lives” in affordable homes. It is currently being prosecuted by Haringey council, which is part of a government-backed scheme nicknamed “Operation Lockdown” to halt the spread of micro-flats.

It allegedly failing to license a multi-occupied home in the borough. In a test case, the council is arguing an exemption for housing associations should not apply to profit-making social housing firms like Green Park. Green has Park pleaded not guilty.

One director, Eliezer Zax, is the former director of BH Property Ltd, which operated a house divided into six bedsits for ex-homeless people in Hounslow. Zax is also the former director of SE28 Estates Ltd, which owns a property turned into six tiny flats below government space standards in Bexley
.

It is hard to know exactly where housing benefit goes once it leaves Southwark and Hounslow because detailed accounts of Green Park are not available at Companies House. Nor does the firm reveal how much directors like Zax earn – even though it is required to divulge such details as a provider of social housing.

Green Park told Guardian Money it provided accommodation to people not served by the commercial market. “Room sizes, bathroom and kitchen facilities are well within the legal framework of HMO legislation and sanitary and health requirements, and all fire and safety regulations are up to date,” it says.

Green Park added that “alternative housing, such as emergency accommodation, hostel accommodation and shelters, would cost the taxpayer significantly more. We estimate the saving to the taxpayer to be in the region of £8,000 per person per year, which is a huge saving to the Treasury.”

Manlow is a substantial manager of properties in the capital, and was fined last year for converting a family home into micro-flats without planning permission. Evidence it gave during its prosecution for planning breaches shows it manages around 150 rental properties, containing in excess of 750 units, on behalf of investors.

Abraham Low, director of Manlow, says all its properties had up-to-date fire safety assessments and had all the required certification. He adds that it no longer manages any houses in multiple occupation. “As far as I am aware all HMO properties have been removed from our portfolio.”

Manlow is still listed as holding HMO licences, valid until 2022, in Hounslow and Southwark. Low says these are now being managed by another body.

Another registered social landlord in London, managing 1,000 properties, Cromwood Housing Ltd, has also been subject to action by officers working for the Lockdown project.

In November, Croydon housing officers served Cromwood Housing Ltd and letting firm, Pointview Estates, with an enforcement notice after they found a series of fire safety risks in a property turned into four micro-flats, measuring around 10 sqm.

Cromwood – alongside Pointview Estates - also rented out micro-flats so small they were deemed harmful to tenants in an illegally subdivided home in Brent.

Cromwood CEO, Moses Hirschler, who is a director of 12 other property and real estate companies, says the social landlord helps disadvantaged people. He told the Big Issue foundation last year: “We work hard, day and night, to find them a decent home.”

One of Cromwood’s other directors, Moses Lorincz, runs Southland Investments Ltd, which owns a family home converted into six micro-flats in Bexley. The flats range from between 10 to 13sqm.

Cromwood, which operates in 15 local authorities across London and Manchester, is a much bigger social landlord than Green Park, but it still very difficult to track the millions paid to into its accounts by councils.

Last year, Cromwood Housing Ltd and its sister company, Cromwood Limited, which share the same address and directors, earned over £2.5m by letting properties owned by private landlords to just seven London boroughs, with the firms making nearly £450,000 last year in Bexley alone. But its accounts do not reveal how much its directors are paid.

Cromwood hit the headlines in 2016 when the Guardian found the firm had a Home Office contract to manage a filthy, overcrowded house for more than 30 asylum seekers in Hounslow.

Abdus Saleh, Cromwood’s head of investment and development, says the firm could only manage the properties it was offered by landlords. “Landlords are making the sizes and parameters [of the rooms] to maximise the financial gain not the companies managing them. We can only manage what is given,” he says. “The money is being made by the landlords.”

Saleh says Cromwood was trying to incentivise private landlords to provide social housing and claimed the company was not making much profit. “You are talking peanuts.”

Pointview Estates did not respond to requests for comments. St Mungo’s says it tries to view properties and “conduct basic visual checks and, where this isn’t possible, we advise tenants what to look out for at viewings”.

Nigel Wicks, who carries out investigations and appears at planning hearings for councils, says: “It’s people that aren’t capable of looking after themselves being shoved together in confined spaces and abusing themselves and their neighbours as they haven’t got the space or facilities they need.”

It’s a scandal, he says, that public money is being spent this way. “It makes my blood boil. It’s the state paying rich people to exploit poor people.”


HB annual bill ... north of £ 25 BILLION !!!


BTL landlords share ... close to £ 10 BILLION !!!


Very good article from the BBC back on 21 September 2015 :

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34290727


Well worth a few minutes of any reader's time !!!