Wednesday, 21 October 2015
A Beeston (housing) elephant in the room
Earlier this year I drew attention to a growing problem in Beeston (click here to read post from February 2015). See also page about student accommodation in right-hand column. The increasing number of rented houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). Then it was a Labour led Broxtowe Borough Council showing no interest. Now it's a Conservative led Broxtowe Borough Council showing no interest.
The BBC's online magazine has just run a story about HMOs in Blackpool (click here to read). It makes grim reading whilst making the point that Blackpool is one of the better councils when it comes to enforcement, which suggests that where councils, like Broxtowe, are lax when it comes to regulating private rented housing, the lives and wellbeing of tenants is at risk. This is happening, right now, in Beeston. Of course I cannot prove this claim on my part, but it is an educated guess I would like to see put to the test by the systematic inspection and registration of every privately rented property in the borough.
All I want is that every private landlord is subject to the same regulations and control as housing associations and local authorities. I suspect that many private landlords would close up at the first opportunity.
It is an issue I know something about. I was a supported housing manager from 1985 until I retired in 2006. For a good few years I was on the board of Nottingham Hostels Liaison Group (HLG). Housing really is the elephant in the room politicians are happy to ignore (nearby Nottingham City Council is a notable exception).
As a owner occupier, I have to pay for all my own maintenance and have to pay VAT in the process, whereas private landlords can reclaim the VAT if they are VAT registered and set the cost of all the work they do on their property against profits, so that they pay less tax (perhaps no tax) — something else I cannot do as a owner occupier.
I have long been of the view that housing and homelessness is the biggest issue facing our country. It is a issue I will return to, but for now all I ask is that you take a few minutes to read / watch the BBC news report.