Arthur investigates the new trend of social housing landlords choosing to ‘lockdown’ properties and bill the taxpayer.
Across twelve different London boroughs, social housing landlords have begun to warm to the dangerous idea of converting their properties into ‘micro-flats’. These micro-flats allow the landlord to rent out each section of the house individually to tenants. This, it is claimed, gives the tenants more privacy and more security. So, why is this an issue? Surely it means each tenant gets their own space, even if it is small? True. But, these ‘micro-flats’ are absolutely tiny. The only reason they are legal for human living is often because they pass regulation tests conducted by the social housing landlords own contractors. When some ‘micro-flats’ were inspected by a London Council, it was found that they had inadequate fire safety regulations and some were even classed as uninhabitable!
The reason these rogue social landlords have started to covert properties into ‘micro-flats’ is because, if they were to let out their property as a flatshare, they could receive just under £100 per week per tenant. However, by splitting the property up into micro-flats, a tenant pays individually as if they were in a spacious one-bed flat, meaning they can claim around £180 per week per tenant. By creating ‘micro-flats’, these social landlords can nearly double the bill they send the council per person per week, making a tidy profit at the expense of the public.
Social housing landlords are able to create these ‘micro-flats’ that are classed as uninhabitable, by playing the rules. The ‘micro-flats’ offer very limited cooking facilities, whilst maintaining a ‘shared kitchen’. This means social landlords can claim that the property is a house of multiple occupancy, meaning they do not need to apply for the different planning permission needed when converting the property into multiple different flats.
‘Micro-flats’ were in-vogue at the end of 2017. However, this new trend towards uninhabitable ‘micro-flats’, where social tenants are forced to live in terrible conditions is very worrying indeed.
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