Conservative ideology for a long time has been to minimise the state and maximise profits for those who already have money. The height of this was the selling off of social housing that began in the 1980s under Thatcher.
The right to buy scheme, on paper, seemed a decent enough idea and gave long term council tenants an opportunity to get on the property ladder, but that was just a front to the true motive. The reality behind it was the number of state owned social houses was drastically reduced as the social housing was sold off yet no more was built in its place. Those people who previously would have relied upon this affordable housing were forced into private rented accommodation where landlords charged much more for properties often let in a barely habitable state.
The Conservative Lib Dem coalition of the last five years reinvigorated the scheme in 2012 to increase the discounts available to council tenants, and despite assurances that they would build replacement social housing the actual figure over their government was 1 built for every ten sold. The Conservatives are now driving forward their agenda and rolling it out to properties owned by housing associations.
The end game for this will be no social housing, meaning those on low incomes struggle even more to make ends meet while landlords pocket rent but do the minimum, leaving houses in a state of disrepair. Housing benefit, that would previously have stayed within the state when paid to councils and housing associations, will now be going to those same landlords. It is a stark situation that looks to be getting even worse.
Legislation passed last year means that letting agents are required to join a redress scheme to give some protection to tenants who fall victim of unscrupulous landlords. Unlike some local authorities Labour led Leeds City Council is out to make sure that all those who need to sign up to a redress scheme have.
Labour Councillor Debra Coupar, executive member for communities, said:
“The redress scheme is designed to weed out bad agents and drive up standards. It’s another tool we can use to crack down on those in the privately rented sector who operate outside the rules.
“If you are a letting agent or property manager in Leeds please ensure you join one of the schemes. Our housing regulation team will be checking those who need to sign up have done so.
“Anyone who tries to avoid mandatory membership will face the consequences of a significant financial penalty.”
For more information on registration, letting agents and property managers can speak to the housing regulation team on 0113 247 7594 or search for ‘property redress scheme’ at http://www.leeds.gov.uk.