Piggybank News

May 30, 2014

New Homes in Partnership Scheme

MKPLA Chairman Alex Caravello has been working closely over the last few months to improve the council’s offering to Private Landlords.  MK has an ever increasing gap between those properties available to rent and those needed.  This problem is particularly acute in the LHA market as many landlords and agents prefer not to accept tenants on benefits due to perceived problems in working with this sector.

MK Council appreciates that it needs to offer something more to landlords if it is to attract them back into this market and their new Homes in Partnership Scheme is designed to do this.  Whilst it will not be for everyone, it does go some way to addressing the concerns that landlords typically have when accepting a benefits tenant. Follow the link below for more details.

http://www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/housing/private-housing-and-landlords/landlords

January 25, 2014

MK Council looking to buy houses for homeless families?

The BBC has reported on Milton Keynes proposals to buy more houses in order to fulfil its statutory obligations for housing homeless families. Suggested suitable areas for this project for are the Lakes Estate and Stantonbury. Read the full story by clicking on the link below.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-25757566

Regarding these proposals, the committee of MKPLA can confirm that, in meetings they have attended, the idea appears to have limited cross party support.  However, councillors are definitely looking for a workable solution to this crisis; which includes the possibility of working more effectively with the private rented sector.

December 11, 2013

MK Housing & Communities Select Committee Meeting

Filed under: Property — nspresources @ 6:42 pm
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Steve Jarman of the ORS was  given 15 minutes  at this meeting on 10/12/2013 to present the Executive Summary of his report on the results of the Public Consultation into Selective and Additional Licensing. Several members of the MKPLA Committee were present to hear his presentation.

Basically, his report will say that there is no evidence to support introducing Selective Licensing and, although there may be some evidence to support Additional Licensing, there is not enough to actually justify doing it. He said that this evidence could empower MKC to conduct a further, more in-depth consultation on HMO’s, but his evidence in itself cannot be used to justify bringing in Additional Licensing without it being challenged. MKC must demonstrate ASB problems and a direct causal link to HMOs and low demand for housing.

Steve Jarman also stressed the point that MKC must show that they have taken a number of other measures to tackle ASB in HMOs before they can introduce Additional Licensing under Section 57 of the Housing Act 2004 … and to date they haven’t done enough.

He stated very early in his presentation that his evidence shows a stronger correlation between high ASB and high density of social housing, compared to PRS housing. However, it does show a correlation between high ASB and high density of HMOs. 80% of complaints received by MKC are in relation to HMOs.  He did however say that, overall, MK has a very low ASB problem compared to other areas. Only 6 wards in MK have ASB higher than the average for MK as a whole.

The full draft report won’t be finished for another 2 or 3 weeks and MKC must then allow stakeholders 1 month to comment on the draft report before ORS submit their full report to MKC.  MKPLA will continue to contribute to this process and keep members informed of developments.  We would also like to thank those members who took the time to respond to the Public Consultation and ensure that ORS received a balanced view.

 

 

October 2, 2013

We want you to talk to your tenants!

MKPLA has been working hard over the last few weeks to ensure that residents of Milton Keynes get a fair chance to respond to the not so public consultation that the council have commissioned into Additional and Selective Licensing.  We believe strongly that this is a decision that will affect EVERY resident and that because of this, regardless of whether their views coincide with ours or not, they should be allowed to have a say.

Unfortunately neither the Council, nor ORS have been very proactive in contacting residents and although the consultation document has been online since July it is not that easy to find, even if you are looking for it!

So MKPLA are asking that you send a copy of the consultation to each and every one of your tenants in time for them to complete it prior to the closing date of 11th October.  To make this easy for you we have written a covering letter which you can enclose that explains why they are being asked to do this.  this letter can be downloaded by clicking here.

All you need to do is download a copy of the survey from the council website from the link below, print it out and post together with the cover letter to each of your tenants.  Return of the form to ORS is FREEPOST so you may want to include an addressed envelope as well to make it as easy as possible for your tenants to participate.

http://www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/consultations/Consultation/265 

Please note that this is a NEW link as the original one no longer works.  The council has been having work done to its website and this has interfered with the hosting of consultation documents.

 

October 1, 2013

Report on MK Landlords Forum 30/9/13

Last nights Landlords Forum at the Civic Offices focussed on the current consultation being undertaken by ORS, on behalf of the council, into licensing in MK.  Needless to say this issue completely took over the meeting and the two other proposed topics of discussion were put off for future meetings.

It was evident that many landlords and letting agents had not been made aware of the consultation until invited to this meeting and were sceptical about both the council’s intentions and the accuracy of any data gathered.

Steve Jarman from ORS did an excellent job of fielding a large range of questions and maintaining a neutral stance throughout.  Housing Manager Linda Ellen also provided information on a number of specific areas.

They explained that the consultation period has been running since July and is due to end on 11th October. They have posted the consultation document to a list of Residents Associations, Parish Councillors and Social Landlords but no Private Landlords other than those with licensed HMO’s.  In addition they have targeted a sample area of MK based on areas of high rental housing AND high antisocial behaviour in order to test the apparent correlation between the two.  In total just over 3000 ( approx 1% of residents) questionnaires have been sent out in addition to the two hundred or so responses they have received online.  Mr Jarman defended this as a “statistically robust” sample size.

Many landlords challenged this process both in terms of the size of the sample and the fact that, despite having an email list of Landlords, and easy access to details of Letting Agents, neither of these central stakeholder groups had been contacted.  They also pointed out that holding the meeting at such a late date left only 2 weeks for responses from these sectors to be gathered.

Ms Ellen and Mr Jarman explained that the final report should be completed by December, with recommendations being placed before Cabinet around March 2014.  They made it clear that whilst ORS are providing the evidence, any recommendations would be made by council officers based on this evidence and would not come direct from ORS.  However, ORS would be able to highlight areas of concern as well as whether the evidence would support action based on the current legislation and the experience of other councils they have worked with (some of whom have had to defend the scheme at judicial review).

The primary issues raised by landlords were as follows…

1) Is licensing just seen as a cash cow? How will the money be spent?

2) How can licensing remedy the problem of anti-social behaviour? It is the problem landlords and tenants that need to be dealt with and penalizing the decent ones won’t help with this because problem landlords won’t bother to apply and the council is already in contact with the rest.

3) Are the council dealing with the problems of antisocial behaviour amongst its own tenant base? Is there any evidence at all to suggest that the problem originates in the private sector instead?

4) Police and council have the powers and training to deal with antisocial behaviour.  In what way do landlords have more power than the police, environmental health or social services?

5) As enforcement costs cannot come from license fees where is the extra money going to come from?  It cost Manchester £500,000. What will be the effect on other vital services whose budgets are already being stretched?

6) Landlords will pass the costs of licensing onto the tenants and this will see an increasing number of benefits tenants squeezed out of an already shrinking supply of housing.

 

 

September 6, 2013

MK Landlords Forum

Filed under: Property — nspresources @ 3:28 pm
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Milton Keynes Council are holding thier next Landlords Forum on 30th September at the Civic Offices, 1 Saxon Gate East, MK9 3EJ between 6pm and 9pm.

They will have representatives present from the firm ORS who are conducting the consultation on proposals to introduce Selective Liscensing into Milton Keynes.  They are allowing time for questions and round table discussions on this topic.  If you wish to attend please email get.involved@milton-keynes.gov.uk or call Simon or Paula on 01908 253264 or 253756.

In the meantime please could you click on the link below to complete MKPLA’s own little survey.  It’s only 3 quick questions and we would be interested in written feedback that we can present to the consultants. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LN8VB3T

June 4, 2013

The effect of the benefit cap on large families…

I just got off the phone to a lady from the Milton Keynes Council housing team.  We were discussing one of my tenants specifically and the likely effect of the benefit cap on large families in the area.

For those who are unaware, one of the changes to benefits legislation which the government has brought in is a benefit cap.  This is designed to ensure that people are not claiming so much money that they are better off on benefits than in work and was at least partially in response to media reports of very large families living in “millionaires mansions” at the tax payers expense.  It does not apply to families where at least one person is working more than 16 hours a week but of course it would affect very many part-time workers as well as those entirely dependent on benefits.

The cap is placed on ALL benefits which means that whilst benefits are continuing to be worked out based on need, size of family etc; there is a maximum amount per week which can be awarded regardless of this. For families this is £500 per week.

The DWP has identified those families within the borough who are likely to be affected and the Housing Team are extremely busy contacting them all and trying to assist them in working out a new budget.  As part of this process they are recommending that the rent paid should be no more than 30% of their income.

If you work this out at the top income level of £500 per week this means that affordable rent can only be a maximum of £650pcm compared to the current 4 bedroom LHA rate in Milton Keynes of £950pcm and the 3 bedroom rate of £750pcm.  (ie such families will only be able to afford an average 2 bedroom house)  I presume that this scenario is playing out in a similar way across the country.

Is anyone else concerned by this?

April 19, 2013

Selective Liscensing in MK – have your say.

Milton Keynes Council is proposing to introduce Additional and Selective Licensing of private rented sector properties (PRS) across the entire borough of Milton Keynes. Under the Localism Bill Additional or Selective Licensing should only be implemented if there is evidence of a severe and persistent problem with anti-social behaviour which cannot be dealt with by the use of existing powers or legislation.

  • Additional Licensing would mean that every single HMO (not just 3 storey 5 tenants) in the Milton Keynes borough would need to be licensed. e.g 3 nurses sharing a house would need a licence to do so.
  • Selective Licensing would mean that every single rented property (HMO’s and single/family lets)  in the Milton Keynes borough would need to be licensed.

The implications of this would cost landlords thousands of pounds in license fees and ultimately Tenants hundreds of pounds in rent increases as a result.  All properties would be affected regardless of type, location or how well managed they currently are.

Unfortunately there is also evidence from other areas of the UK, where Selective Licensing has been implemented, that such implementation is regarded as effectively declaring a “blight” notice.  As a result many mortgage lenders are refusing to lend either to investors or residential buyers in affected areas.

No evidence of a problem in the PRS has been presented but the Council clearly views this as a revenue generating strategy.

You can read a copy of the Cabinet report here >> http://tinyurl.com/d93ky7q.

On 15/4/2013 MK council announced their intention to hold a public Cabinet meeting two days later to discuss this proposal.  The Milton Keynes Private Landlords Association Committee attended the Council’s Cabinet meeting on 17/4/2013 and made representations on behalf of local landlords. Despite this, the decision was taken by the Cabinet to go out to consultation starting 01 July 2013 at an initial estimated cost to the tax payer of £25k.

We have the opportunity to overturn this decision, and MKPLA will present a written petition supported by over 50 signatures of local residents on Friday 26 April 2013. This petition will be accompanied by the following statement:

MKPLA Call-In of Cabinet Decision – Statement

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