Happy new year to all who read, comment on or write for Nearly Legal!
This is usually a moment to take stock of the past year and look forward to the next, but I’m feeling far too lazy to do it properly. Luckily, the DCLG have made the task easier by shouting again that they propose to crack down on subletting. In what is rapidly becoming an annual tradition, Grant Shapps has announced plans to consult on proposals to make sub-letting a criminal offence. Rather oddly, Mr Shapps says:
For too long this country has turned a blind eye on the multi-billion pound problem of housing tenancy fraud and abuse.
which I take to be an admission that last year’s ‘crackdown’, action team and all, was utterly ineffective.
As to the proposals – the devil will be in the detail.
Mr Shapps has coupled the sublet issue with proposals to remove security of tenure and levy a ‘market rent’ on social housing tenants earning over £100,000 per year, hitting an estimated 6,000 tenants nationally. This seems rather over the top for legislative action, but would establish the principle of restriction on tenure by income level. This may well go further, as introducing legislation with the main aim of removing Bob Crowe’s security of tenure seems a little excessive.
What with this, the coming into force of the Localism Act, with new tenure provisions, and one presumes a response to the consultation on an ASB mandatory ground for possession and closing the bus pass loophole, it is going to be a busy year. There is plenty to look forward to in case law, as well.
The blog has had a successful year, with more than 300,000 hits in 2011. Over 1250 people subscribe to updates by RSS and email (over 1000 by email), and, worryingly, over 1700 follow the @nearlylegal twitter feed. I say worryingly, as @nearlylegal has a tendency to go off piste.
The we joined the Guardian Legal Network and our pieces appeared on the Guardian Law and Guardian housing pages. What was probably the most remarkable part of the year for me was the astonishing response through the blog in terms of people signing the public letter on the mis-representation of the law on squatting. It was a genuine surprise (and somewhat humbling) to see the level of response.
At the end of 2011, another four excellent people joined the NL team, so that there are now 10 of us. Newly refreshed, we aim to keep going to our usual standard (a pleasingly non-committal and unenforceable phrase) in 2012.