UK: Councils must do more to crack down on the illegal conversion of flats and houses to bedsits to stop young renters from being exploited, according to an influential MP
So it's going to help the poor to throw them out of their cheap accommodation??
Crowded accommodation arises because not enough homes are being built. The huge influx of migrants into Britain has to be housed somewhere and in the absence of government action, private enterprise comes to help.
Home-owners see large market who need housing but can't pay much. So they see a profit in subdividing. They provide small living spaces for small sums in rent. But those small sums add up to more than what the property was getting before subdivision. So everyone is happy. The migrants have a roof over their heads and the property owner has more income than before.
What the do-gooders want is impossible unless as many as a million new modern apartments are built -- and that is not going to happen. Only a new city's worth of new apartments could house the migrants in the style that the do-gooders want. If they succeed in their meddling and close down the subdivided houses, where will the occupants go? It will simply throw poor migrants onto the streets. Is that good?
Clive Betts, the [moronic] chairman of the housing select committee, questioned whether some local authorities have the political will to deal with rogue landlords after a Times investigation found that unlicensed bedsits are being advertised with impunity online.
Analysis of 100 rooms offered in five-bed properties on the most popular house-share websites found that only 12 per cent were listed on council registers of approved Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO).
An HMO licence is mandatory for all rental properties where five or more unrelated people live. Every council has to publish a list of licensed properties so in most cases a check would be as simple as entering an address into a website.
Mr Betts said: “I know local authorities have suffered staff shortages and huge cuts but nevertheless these websites are easy and obvious places to go looking for these problems. Money is a big issue but political will is also important.
“This piece of work by The Times is very helpful. Every local authority should now be looking at these sites and taking action. Councils need to start enforcement. Once they do, compliance increases as well because word gets around.”
The investigation found that websites, such as spotahome.com, which is part owned by a founder of Uber, are offering rooms to rent as small as five square metres in converted houses and flats as the housing crisis encourages landlords to turn even upmarket properties into glorified bedsits. A consequence is that “generation rent” is facing the end of the sitting room with nine out of ten house shares in some areas being offered with no communal living space.
Mr Betts said: “These websites should also be answering questions about facilitating illegality. I think it is disgraceful if a company is making huge amounts of money out of the housing crisis.
“We might need to follow up our committee’s report on the private rented sector and see how much progress councils are making on taking action, and what the government is doing to drive this issue.”
Polly Neate, chief executive of the housing charity Shelter, added: “Solving this problem demands a two-pronged approach: councils need more funding to be able to clamp down on law-breaking landlords and we also need a decent alternative to private renting. That alternative must be social homes – three million of them in the next 20 years.”
The Local Government Association, which represents councils, insisted that local authorities are doing what they can to raise standards in the private rented sector..
David Renard, the organisation’s housing spokesman, said: “Enforcement would usually be a last resort for councils, who have to weigh up whether or not the fines available would be a significant deterrent to rogue landlords, or whether expensive prosecutions are a cost-effective use of taxpayers’ money at a time when councils are under significant financial pressures.
“It can take more than a year to prosecute a rogue operator and in many cases paltry fines are handed out to criminal landlords.
“There are things that central government can do to help – granting councils further banning powers for the minority of landlords not prepared to offer up-to-standard accommodation, and powers to levy more substantial fines on the worst offenders would be powerful incentives to bring the best out of the private rented sector and ensure it delivers quality accommodation for our residents and communities.”