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Housing minister pledges protection from unscrupulous landlords

15th April 2014

Millions of tenants and leaseholders will receive stronger protection from unscrupulous letting agents, Housing Minister Kris Hopkins has said. The minister today revealed three approved ‘redress schemes’ that all letting and property management agents will be required to join later this year – which the government says will give tenants and leaseholders a "straightforward option to hold their agents to account". The three schemes – The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Servic...

Fire safety expert calls for sprinkler system law

14th April 2014

An independent fire safety expert has predicted that a combination of a new sprinkler law and an increased focus on enforcement could cut fire deaths by more than half overnight. Safety Management UK (SMUK) is campaigning for a change in the law to make it compulsory for all high-rise flats and care homes to install life-saving sprinkler systems. Former firefighter Brian Gregory, managing director of SMUK, said further action was still needed, following the release of the latest government stati...

Liverpool, Chelsea and Man Utd slammed over 'woeful' support for disabled fans

14th April 2014

The Minister of State for Disabled People has slammed Britain’s football clubs over the "woeful" lack of appropriate support and space for disabled spectators at many stadiums across the country. Mike Penning MP has written to every professional football club in the country to remind them of their obligations under law to provide adequate room and adjustments for disabled fans. Research shows that nearly half of Premier League football clubs, including the likes of Manchester Utd, Liverpool a...

Does Freud care about bedroom tax evictions? Welfare minister faces Lords quiz over under-occupancy policy

11th April 2014

Welfare reform minister Lord Freud has been asked if he knows or cares about how many social housing tenants have been evicted as a consequence of the controversial bedroom tax. Questioned in the House of Lords, the minister repeatedly avoided answering if he knew how many tenants have been evicted because of the under-occupancy policy. Labour peer Lord McAvoy first asked Freud if he knew or cared what the number was. The minister didn't answer so the question was picked up by Baroness Taylor ...

Opinion: Challenging the bedroom tax

10th April 2014

Peter Barker, the 'housing benefit anorak' who first brought the 1996 bedroom tax loophole to public attention, explains the current situation and reminds landlords that there are other ways to challenge the controversial policy. As has been widely reported, regulations created in 1996 to provide transitional protection for private tenants from a new housing benefit (HB) regime made some social tenants – perhaps as many as 60,000 – exempt from the maximum rent (social sector), or &lsquo...

Opinion: Whatever you think of the bedroom tax, the policy is causing problems in practice

10th April 2014

By Steve Wilcox, former professor of housing policy at the University of York, and author of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s bedroom tax report The government's 'bedroom tax' penalises social housing tenants if they are deemed to be under-occupying their homes - with some losing up to 25% of their housing benefit. It has now been operational for a year, and the evidence on its impacts in practice is beginning to gather. It has achieved savings for DWP; but rather less than forecast. The numbers o...

Mansion levy: Lib Dems' extra council tax bands plan welcomed

9th April 2014

Liberal Democrat plans to impose a levy on mansions worth £2 million+ through new council tax bands rather than through a brand new tax have been welcomed by the British Property Federation. Speaking at Bloomberg’s European Headquarters today, Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander said that the Lib Dems’ revised mansion tax plan would mean revaluing homes worth more than £2 million and placing them into a number of additional council tax bands. Previously, the party had in...

Migrant jobseekers to face English language test before claiming JSA

9th April 2014

The government has announced that migrants will no longer have routine access to interpreters when they apply for Jobseeker's Allowance. From the end of April, migrant claimants will face a spoken English test in England - and if their language is found to be a barrier to looking for work, they will be expected to improve it. The Treasury has also announced that from July, jobseekers arriving in the UK will need to live in the country for three months before they can claim child benefit and chil...

100,000 bedroom tax victims trapped in large homes

9th April 2014

Up to 100,000 social housing tenants hit by the bedroom tax are trapped in large homes that they can't move out of, research has revealed. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation's study found that the government's controversial under-occupancy policy has failed to free-up homes in many areas. And research also discovered that savings to the Department for Work and Pensions will fall short in the bedroom tax's first year. In the first of two reports released today, the JRF's 'Housing Benefit size criteria: ...

Property firm fined for rat-infested homes

7th April 2014

A property firm that allowed its derelict houses to become infested with vermin has been prosecuted. Quirefast Ltd was also found guilty of not supplying Liverpool City Council with information required under the Town and Country Planning Act. At a hearing at Liverpool Magistrates' Court, the company was prosecuted under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act, after failing to remove overgrown vegetation and rubbish from the front and rear garden of a house which was providing shelter for rats. In Ju...