Whatever will they think of next?

Grant Shapps, the Housing Minister, aims to clamp down on abuse of the council and housing association sectors which is estimated to cost taxpayers between £5 billion and £10 billion a year.

Last night he said the current system was a “scandal” which the coalition was determined to end. Ministers are expected to launch two new consultations within weeks ahead of possible legislation – with money saved going toward building new social housing.

Currently it is not an offence to sublet a council house – a loophole which allows some tenants who have moved out and live in private homes to make thousands of pounds in rent above the figure they are charged by local authorities.

So, currently the maximum penalty for being found out is to lose the council tenancy. In future it\’ll some form of fraud.

There\’s also to be the \”Bob Crow clause\” whereby those with high incomes will have to pay market rents.

They both seem to be blitheringly obvious things to do (indeed, I have long argued that all \”social\” tenancies should be at market rent. People who can\’t afford them get HB for exactly as long as they can\’t afford them and no more).

But what interests is, well, obviously there are going to be people who will argue against this. I mean, obviously there will be, this is a Tory Government after all.

The thing is, will any of them be able to find arguments that don\’t have us all bursting out laughing at their absurdity?

6 comments on “Whatever will they think of next?

  1. They are ‘solving’ the wrong problem as usual. As with the change to the law on adverse possession a few years back, the problem being that local authority housing departments are so incompetent and lazy (and in some cases corrupt), that they mostly don’t detect unlawful tenancies or subtenancies and rarely do anything about it if they do.

    The ‘penalty’ now is not only loss of the tenancy for the tenant breaching their covenants, but immediate eviction for the illegal subtenant (which would be an incentive to people not to take them, if it were more than rarely enforced), and an action for an account of profits.

  2. Actually, this is a coalition government, and I expect the LibDems will beat their chests and tear their hair out in a brazen display of public opportunism against Tory brutality to some of the poorest in the land. Housing authorities have the problem that if they act on a sub-let, they then have a duty to provide suitable housing for the sub-lettees who will be portrayed as innocent victims by the Chattering Classes. In our maudlin society, quoting the Law will cut no ice whatsoever. It’s a real can of worms for the housing departments, not withstanding your caveats upon them.

  3. I’m told the usual practice is this:

    1) Boy and girl (both social housing tenants) meet and fall in love.

    2) Boy moves in with girl, but doesn’t tell the council.

    3) Boy sub-lets council flat to migrant workers, mostly eastern europeans but sometimes northerners.

    4) To make it even better, often housing benefit is paying the rent on both flats, so the rental income from the sub-tenants is pure profit.

    I know this happens, because I’ve known some of the tenants.

    I’m also told that this accounts for a large proportion of the increase in single parents, but don’t have any proof of that.

  4. It is important that they go about this in the right way.
    1. Declare an amnesty for the real tenants, so long as they are here legally, and give full details of their occupancy and rent payments to their “landlord”. Formally recognise their tenancy.
    2. Tell the sub-letter he has divested himself to his right to that housing. And that details of his rental income will be made available, on request, to the benefits agency and the revenue.

    It wasn’t an offence to sub-let, but if he made any false declarations of his income or circumstances, they are offences and could be prosecuted.

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