MP, Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government
House of Commons
SW1A 0AA Dominic.firstname.lastname@example.org
25 January 2018
Dear Mr Raab
Protecting Customers in the Leasehold and Social Housing Market
We are extremely concerned that the welcomed news, released from https://www.gov.uk/government/news/crackdown-on-unfair-leasehold-practices–2 appears to leave a significant gap in the measures announced. This omission will not protect all customers in the leasehold and social housing market.
We would be very grateful if you would pass on to the team receiving responses, the fact that the recent consultation only focused on the Protection of Consumers in the Lettings and Managing Agent Market. This is a serious oversight in the movement to tackle all unfair and abusive practices in all parts of the housing market.
Should the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) fail to include landlords (including registered social providers) that directly manage leasehold and social properties, with facilities and services (especially those for vulnerable elders in retirement homes) in their findings and recommendations for reform, it will provide a band of unscrupulous traders with the continuing opportunity to exploit tenants. At the moment, the terms and conditions of almost every leasehold and tenancy contract provide unlimited powers for landlords to over-ride ‘professional’ codes of practice and ‘regulatory framework,’ even those approved by the Secretary of State under Section 87 of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993.
The Tenant Engagement and Empowerment Standard was a fine start, but the Regulator, only has a duty under the 2008 Act to exercise its functions in a way that unfairly minimises interference to RSLs and is proportionate, consistent, transparent and accountable. Whereas tenants only have recourse to Tribunals or the Homes & Communities Agency to prove serious failures or harm, provided they have the huge resources to do so. RSPs may just offer voluntary reviews and actions to ‘resolve issues’ and claim inadequate resources to make prompt improvements to services, resolutions than might take years to complete.
Effectively, this unfairly requires customers to pay ‘reasonable’ costs and landlords and managing agents to make all the decisions regarding ‘reasonable’ services, without any
consultation or consideration. From a tenant’s stand point, the burden of proof of ‘reasonableness’ is placed on them, whilst ‘Enforcement’ is rarely prompt and effectual.
Our members would be most grateful of an acknowledge of this request for new measures, to cut out unfair and abusive practices within the tenancy system, that include landlords and RSPs that directly manage leasehold properties, facilities and services.