Tag Archives: landlord

Keir betrayal: Starmer rejects policies that made him Labour leader

Keir Starmer: He is systematically betraying the Labour voters who installed him as leader – and stabbing rented housing tenants in the back.

If the secret to great comedy is timing, then Keir Starmer must be one of the biggest clowns in the United Kingdom.

And the joke is on the party members who supported him.

Having won the leadership of the Labour Party on a “continuity” platform that promised to continue the work of former leader Jeremy Corbyn in restoring the organisation to its historic values, Mr Starmer has now decided to reject those policies and claim that Mr Corbyn’s leadership is the reason Labour lost dozens of northern English constituencies that voted to leave the European Union.

I mention the EU referendum because it was previously accepted that it was Mr Starmer’s policy on Brexit that confused voters and sent them to the Tories, whose own policy risks a catastrophic “no deal” Brexit but was at least clearer than Starmer’s.

It is perfectly understandable that the new Labour leader would want to shift the blame for himself – albeit transparent; obviously he doesn’t want his leadership to start in acknowledgement that the policy he forced onto Labour’s last election manifesto kept the party out of government. It makes him look a fool.

And attacking Corbyn’s leadership also gives Starmer – now known to be a ‘Red Tory’; a supporter of policies that put him at the far right of the Labour Party with the so-called Blairites – an opportunity to ditch all of Mr Corbyn’s progressive policies in favour of a return to the neoliberal consensus that led to the financial crisis of 2007/8.

So he gave an interview in the Financial Times saying Mr Corbyn’s leadership was the top topic of conversation, without acknowledging that residents of the 40 constituencies he visited (and he doesn’t mention how many were among those that abandoned Labour) might find it uncomfortable telling the architect of Labour’s disastrous Brexit policy that he was a dunce.

More believable is his assertion that people believed Labour had overloaded its manifesto with promises to re-balance power within the UK, nationalising several utilities, providing £300 billion of shares to workers and promising an extra £83 billion in tax and spending – but in fact, Labour’s policies were fully-costed and the most controversy arising from its spending policies was a plan to compensate the so-called WASPI women for pension losses triggered because the Tories had raised the state pension age without providing adequate opportunity for those affected to make plans.

Still, when you’re using a position of power to betray everyone who put you there, any excuse will do – and we’re starting to see the results of Starmer’s rightward lurch now.

He has appointed right-winger Bridget Phillipson as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who was previously known for attacking Labour’s 2017 election manifesto for offering too much to voters. The offer was hugely successful and reduced the Tory majority of the previous two years to a hung Parliament.

According to a leaked letter from Phillipson to other shadow cabinet members, all policies that involve spending will now require the approval of both Starmer and the shadow Treasury team before they are even put into the planning stages.

Clearly, Starmer wants an “out-Tory the Tories” spending policy of the kind that led to then-Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves promising to be “tougher than the Tories” on benefits, in just one particularly out-of-touch policy from the Miliband era.

The first sign of right-wing betrayal arrived over the weekend, with Starmer’s decision to betray tenants of rented properties:

Starmer’s policy comes in response to a current Tory promise to help tenants and may be summed up as follows:

Extend the three-month ban on evictions to nine months; introduce no-fault eviction ban now; protect tenants from being made bankrupt by their landlords for non-payment of rent; grant renters at least two years to pay back any arrears accrued during this period; speed up and improve the provision of Universal Credit and consider a temporary increase to the Local Housing Allowance to help prevent risk of homelessness.

Joe Halewood, in his excellent SpeyeJoe blog, shreds just two of these proposals. He states:

In the simplest terms the rented properties that are ordinarily available will now NOT be available and we have a chronic shortage of rented housing supply being the direct and inevitable consequence of any ban period. We also see a huge increase in demand for rented properties… The ban creates a massively adverse systemic problem for all forms of rented housing on the day a ban ends and the longer the ban the greater the s**t [that] hits the fan.

For example:

Let’s assume the current 3-month ban is not extended for the purpose of illustration as to what it will mean from 26 June 2020 and the day after the ban ends.

I begin with domestic violence and abuse (DVA) and the 3-month ban on housing moves also means that:

  1. Those who have already fled DVA to a refuge have been unable to move out of refuges as there is no supply;
  2. Those who wanted to flee DVA in the 3-month period have not been able to flee as refuges are full and nobody is allowing sofa surfing in the COVID19 period which is also government guidance;
  3. The 3-month ban period that coincides with lockdown has created even more DVA cases than in any ordinary 3-month period; and
  4. Government has announced that all DVA cases will be treated as priority need for homeless persons which infers a safe and settled rehousing will be found and will lead to more DVA cases coming forward in that expectation

26 June will see a huge increase in DVA cases requiring rehousing either in a refuge or directly in safe and settled accommodation which is the phrase government use to sell this priority need change.  There will be no refuge provision available nor will there be any form of accommodation never mind safe and settled other than temporary and often dingy unsuitable B&B type provision.  DVA survivors will also have to stay longer in this dingy unsuitable B&B type provision as the 3-month eviction ban has massively reduced supply of all forms of accommodation.

Those fleeing the horrors of domestic violence and abuse will be warehoused more and for longer than they were prior to the 3-month eviction ban and it will take years, literally, for the already appalling position we had for DVA immediately prior to the 3-month ban.

On the proposed no-fault eviction ban, he states:

The number of single person homeless in England is not less than 140,000 each year yet just 13,000 are rehoused by social landlords to escape homelessness. 130,000 and 90%+ single homeless persons are rehoused by private landlords and who operate Assured Shorthold Tenancies that can be ended by the so-called no fault eviction (NFE) which is the landlord not needing to give a reason to end the tenancy.

The private landlord rehouses the perceived high risk single homeless tenant because if the tenant is a problem they can get rid easily and without the need for a reason.  Yet take that ease of NFE away and you have the same high risk homeless tenant whom the private landlord is unable to get rid of easily.  Such a tenant becomes an unacceptable too high a risk tenant so private landlords as an obvious and correct business decision do not rehouse the single homeless person.

Crunch the numbers.  IF the private landlord takes just 10% flight from the much higher risk single homeless tenant they rehouse 13,000 fewer per year.  These 13,000 will need to be rehoused by the social landlord and see their numbers have to go from 13,000 to 26,000 per year.  To wit, just 10% PRS flight means SRS landlords have to DOUBLE the number of properties they now give to single homeless persons.

It’s an unsustainable position.

Joe goes on to say that the social media are already full of how right-wing Starmer’s new policy is, and that it “ignores context, fact and any notion of commonsense or efficacy”.

Let’s take a look:

https://twitter.com/JosieLong/status/1259460931244961792

Point made, I think.

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There may be fewer private landlords – but they are fleecing us more than ever

The number of private landlords in the UK has shrunk to a seven-year low, according to The Independent.

But that just means that the millions of privately-rented properties are in fewer hands – so those who are left can charge more, it seems to me.

The evidence seems to prove this assumption correct, as private rents have risen to £998 per month.

That’s a lot of money, considering most of us only earn around £12-13,000 a year.

Oh, and do you get more for your money, in terms of repairs and upgrades to the quality of the property?

No. 

Figures from the English Housing Survey in 2017 showed that private landlords letting homes that contain a serious hazard or have fallen into a poor state of repair trouser £2.3 billion in housing benefit annually.

Repeated attempts to pass legislation forcing such landlords to honour their responsibilities have failed – and it has been suggested that this is because many Conservative MPs are themselves private landlords.

Source: Number of private landlords ‘shrinks to seven-year low’ | The Independent

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Family can’t afford one-bedroom flat despite full-time work in Tory Britain. Time for a change

Tory tragedy: The Conservatives have created a housing crisis. Can Labour end it?

The Conservatives keep telling us work is the way out of poverty, but in the run-up to the election, let’s remember that they have put an end to all that.

Consider the plight of Penny Sterling, who lives with her husband Garrett and 8 month old baby, Daniel in a one-bedroom flat in Richmond.

They privately rent a one bedroom flat but struggle to cover the rent and have had to borrow from family members, despite Garrett’s full time job at a major UK airport.

She says the rent takes up most of the family income and says she “hasn’t got a clue how people worse off than us even feed their families”.

So much for the Tory claim that they’ve been “making work pay”!

Oh, and Penny had to give up her own job in a care home because the cost of child care in Tory London would have put her in even deeper financial trouble than her family is already suffering.

The Tories have said they will make £1 billion available to fund affordable childcare places – but this is over several years and they do not say who would qualify or whether it would be paid to local authorities or individuals.

So much for the Tory claim to be improving access to child care!

Meanwhile, homelessness charity Shelter has published research showing that families are paying £11 billion more than they can afford on rent.

This indicates that Tory “social cleansing” – forcing poor people to move out of areas by making it unaffordable for them to stay – is still in progress.

The Sterlings have said they would consider moving as far as Bracknell – but this would trigger high commuting costs.

And it is possible that they would move into a situation that is just as bad, if they end up renting from another private landlord.

Their current property is in extreme need of repair, and so could any other privately-rented abode.

Labour is proposing a scheme to stop landlords from forcing tenants to pay extortionate rents while refusing to carry out repairs – under it, they would have to sell properties to tenants.

So, if you’re a private tenant, it seems clear that Labour is the party for you in the general election. Right?

Source: Family who can’t afford 1 bed flat show bleak reality of Britain’s housing crisis – Mirror Online

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Half of private landlords have tenants on Universal Credit who are in rent arrears

We already know social landlords have been complaining about tenants falling into rent arrears because of Universal Credit.

This site has already commented on the Northern Housing Consortium, which warned that two-thirds of members said rent arrears were increasing, with 73 per cent of them blaming UC.

And of course the Financial Conduct Authority has said UC claimants have been turning to loan sharks because the so-called benefit does not provide enough money for claimants to pay their bills.

This means they must pay back the loans at enormous rates of interest, putting themselves even deeper into debt and putting all their possessions at risk.

Now we find that private landlords – who traditionally rent at higher prices than their social housing counterparts – are also concerned about tenants falling into arrears.

So not only is Universal Credit a failure because it pushes tenants into debt rather than ensuring their financial security, but it also pushes landlords into financial difficulty when claimants are unable to pay the rent.

Who, exactly, is it supposed to be helping?

More than half of private landlords say their tenants on Universal Credit have fallen behind on their rent payments in the last twelve months.

A survey by the Residential Landlords Associations (RLA) found that 54% of private landlords have tenants in receipt of Universal Credit who have rent arrears, putting them at increased risk of potential repossession.

Of these, 82% said that the arrears only began after a new claim for Universal Credit or after a tenant had been moved to the Credit from housing benefit.

And 68% of landlords said that there was a shortfall between the cost of rent and the amount paid in Universal Credit.

Landlords can ask the Department for Work and Pensions for rent to be paid directly to them, instead of to the claimant, but the RLA says it takes an average of 8.5 weeks for this to be set up.

The problem have become so dire that 62% of landlords fear their tenants won’t be able to afford rent payments when they are moved to the new benefits system, which is expected to be completed by December 2023.

Source: Half of private landlords say tenants on Universal Credit have rent arrears

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Ministers line their pockets as landlords while claiming public money to pay their own rent

Eight of Boris Johnson’s cabinet ministers are leeching money from the public to pay their own rent while acting as landlords themselves, renting out properties to others.

Last year they claimed a total of £145,838 back from taxpayers for ­properties they live in while in London.

While there is nothing illegal in what these people are doing, let us remember that they belong to a party that has consistently filibustered attempts to reform the private accommodation rental sector.

So, for example, Tories talked out a private members’ bill to prevent so-called “revenge” evictions (and the MPs doing the talking were themselves landlords).

And the same landlords also blocked plans to force landlords to ensure their properties are fit for human habitation.

So the following people are living it up, having co-operated in forcing tenants across the country to put up with substandard living conditions or be evicted.

Here’s the list:

Defence secretary Ben Wallace claimed £27,550 for rent in 2018/19 but lets out a flat in south-west London.

Minister without portfolio and Tory Party chairman James Cleverly billed taxpayers £14,400 while letting out a house in Lewisham, south-east London – just seven miles from Westminster.

Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry claimed £13,050 for rent while getting income from three houses in Anglesey.

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns claimed £18,900 for rent but let a ­property in Cardiff to tenants.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack claimed £11,310 while earning income from two cottages in his Dumfries and Galloway constituency.

Security Minister Brandon Lewis charged £21,795 while renting out his home in Essex.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox charged £22,680 while letting a property in London and farmland in west Devon.

And Chief Whip Mark Spencer claimed £16,153 for hotels while pocketing rent on a farm.

On top of their £79,468 MPs’ salaries, ministers receive at least £31,680 for extra responsibilities.

Source: Eight ministers in Boris Johnson’s cabinet lining their pockets as landlords – Mirror Online

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Social landlords’ ‘hands tied’ over Universal Credit

Another Universal Credit scandal from the Department for Work and Pensions.

These are not errors or mistakes. They can’t be.

The problems with this system – and all the others – have been reported so many times that those responsible for dealing with them must know how to solve them.

They simply haven’t bothered.

Social landlords are “working with their hands tied” when trying to help tenants on Universal Credit as rent arrears continue to rise, the Northern Housing Consortium (NHC) has warned.

the membership body said 69% of housing providers in the North of England reported receiving inconsistent information about Universal Credit from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Two-thirds said rent arrears are increasing, with 73% of these blaming the welfare reform programme.

Only 14% of the social landlords surveyed said Universal Credit has met its core objective of making work pay.

Source: Inside Housing – News – Social landlords’ ‘hands tied’ over Universal Credit, says report

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Benefit claimants are the modern equivalent of dogs to private landlords, say MPs

Britain’s landlords are living in the past, it seems, with many of them determined to exclude benefit claimants by using the archaic statement “No DSS”.

The DSS to which this refers was the Department of Social Security, which was merged into the Department for Work and Pensions nearly two decades ago, in 2001.

It is symptomatic of an attitude that belongs even further in history, when prospective tenants were put off by the racist slogan, “No blacks, no Irish, no dogs.”

Obviously landlords can no longer advertise racism, although one way around that may be the “No DSS” slogan, as racial minorities are still more likely to be on benefits.

And it seems dogs are more desirable than claimants these days:

The Commons work and pensions select committee on Wednesday confronted the director of Your Move, a national online lettings agency, with an advert it published in March for a home in Telford, Shropshire, that read: “No DSS. Small dogs considered.”

More interestingly, the slogan is offensive to almost one-third of the UK population. Perhaps these landlords don’t realise that 20 million people in the UK are currently claiming benefits, according to the DWP.

Derek Thomas MP said [it] amounted to a “hostile environment” for tenants on benefits.

In practise, the exclusion refers to the 889,000 people on Housing Benefit.

Shelter said the “no DSS” practice breached equality law because it disproportionately affects women and people with disabilities. Renters say it means they have less choice, standards are lower and costs higher.

So these landlords are deliberately pushing benefit claimants – most commonly women and people with disabilities – into hardship.

It’s deliberate discrimination – but the only remedy is expensive court action.

Letting agents have said landlords have derogatory preconceptions about people on benefits – that they believe their properties may be damaged in ways depicted on TV shock-documentaries about nightmare tenants.

Worse, the Conservative government’s Universal Credit is a disaster for people on benefits because it deliberately starves them of the funds they need to pay their bills – and landlords interpret this as unreliability on the part of the tenant, rather than the government.

Frank Field, chair of the Commons Work and Pensions committee, said it was possible to recommend new legislation to stop discrimination against benefit claimants.

But how far is that likely to get, when the likes of Christopher Chope and Philip Davies are there to “talk out” any Bills to penalise landlords, from the backbenches?

In fact, with the House of Commons stuffed with MPs who are also landlords, how can anyone hope for positive change?

Source: MPs call on landlords to scrap ‘no DSS’ clauses in rental ads | Society | The Guardian


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Immigration and drug addiction caused huge rise in homelessness, according to Tory minister’s LIES

Is James Brokenshire an imbecile, or does he think we are?

The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government said the increase in homelessness since the Conservatives slithered into office in 2010 is not the result of government policy but is being driven by factors including the spread of psychoactive drugs such as spice, growth in non-UK nationals on the streets and family breakdown.

Oh, really?

Personally, I would have said it was due to income changes that made it impossible for renters to pay their landlords or for homeowners to keep up with their mortgage repayments and I would have said this was the result of policies including, but not limited to:

The Tory Bedroom Tax.

The Tory Universal Credit.

The Tory freeze (late a one per cent limit) on annual public sector pay increases.

The Tory squeeze on wages that forced them to plummet during the first half of the current decade.

Tory support for landlords that means they can force people to pay huge rents for accommodation that is unfit for human habitation.

And the electorate knows this.

Look at the responses to his claim:

Oh, and the Tory plan to eliminate homelessness by 2027? It requires the death of anybody who is homeless.

Labour’s John Healey puts the real reasons for the rise in homelessness in a nutshell in the following clip:

And Labour has a plan to help victims of Tory policies who end up sleeping rough:

“Oh, but we can’t support that, can we? It comes from that Jeremy Corbyn person and he’s a horrible Communist! All the newspapers and TV channels say it so it must be true, right?”

There’s a simple answer to the kind of person who says that – or anything similar to it.

Just point out that many of the people who are now sleeping rough were also persuaded to vote Conservative, in order to avoid the Labour policies that would have helped them avoid their current predicament.

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State of emergency: Universal Credit is about to roll over Luton and the effects will be devastating

Fit for purpose? Job Centres in Birmingham were targeted by a campaign pointing out the inhumanity of Universal Credit to former Employment and Support Allowance claimants.

This from Luton Today is self-explanatory:

“There are fears a significant number of Luton people on benefits could be considerably worse off as the rollout of Universal Credit hits the town next week.

“Luton Council is warning people they need to act now to see how they will be affected.

“From 24 October residents in postcodes LU1 and LU2 … may be affected by the introduction of Universal Credit (UC). Although a small number of individuals have been on what is called a ‘live service’ this will now be rolled out to ‘full service’, which will also include families.

“The council and its partners have spent a great deal of time in preparation and have put in place a number of measures to help those who are worried about the change.

“Trained staff will be located at Job Centre Plus in Luton to provide support for people affected by these changes. As well as this, council housing officers and staff serving at various reception centres around the town have been specifically trained in readiness for this significant change in the benefit system.”

As you can see, council workers are treating the rollout of the new(ish) benefit as though it is the beginning of a state of emergency.

If you don’t understand why they would do this, consider this:

“Liverpool MP Louise Ellman … told the House of Commons during a key debate on the welfare reform that landlords in her constituency are increasingly reluctant to rent their homes to those claiming it “because they are concerned about mounting arrears and failure to pay”.

“Also, Labour MP Stephen Timms asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey whether she would address the problems highlighted by recent research from the Residential Landlords Association revealing that a majority of its members are now not willing to let accommodation to Universal Credit payments.”

Then there’s this:

And this:

Add it all up.

If you are forced to claim Universal Credit, your home will be at risk, your children will be thrown into poverty and you will end up getting your groceries from a food bank.

Universal Credit is, of course, the Conservative government’s flagship social security benefit and the symbol of the Tory policy to make claiming benefits so difficult that people either take any job available to them, no matter how bad the pay and conditions, and then fight like rats in a cage to get something better, or simply die off due to starvation or suicide.

No wonder Luton is treating its rollout as a major disaster.

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Why are the Tories forcing children to grow up in squalor?

We should be grateful to Peter Stefanovic for raising this issue; the BBC wasn’t about to do so, when he posted this to Facebook on September 11:

Never mind the shockingly-low reporting standard at the BBC; that has been a national disgrace since before I interviewed for a job there, back in the 1990s.

The substantive issue is the low standard of rented accommodation demanded by Conservative MPs, many of whom are landlords.

We have discussed this before.

When will the Tories be properly held to account for this disgrace?

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