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Sunday, 21 December 2014

Brent Council Lettings Agency

I have been doing a series of posts on Brent Council's budget options since they were published a couple of weeks ago.  Compared to previous years, these are being considered late in the year.  Overall, I have suggested that the Council needs to be seen as acting in a very difficult context. 

Nonetheless, a theme I keep coming across is that I am not sure how achievable these savings are.

In particular, I look at the proposed income from the Lettings Agency, and I wonder whether it will ever happen.  The two sides for income generation appear to be fines and control of demand.

Fines are inherently hard to predict.  We don't know how many bad landlords are out there.  Or how easy it will be to get hold of them and make them pay up.  For example, I recall one landlord that managed a property through a brass plate company that was virtually impossible to contact.  Actually getting a fine paid from such a company might be very hard, and require a certain resource to achieve.

Controlling demand in an area with such a transient population is also hard to predict.  The theory is that early intervention and gate keeping can do the work.  Early intervention may not help if people move in and out a lot.  Gatekeeping can be hard if there are hard luck cases out there (which there always are, especially in housing).

I really wonder if the difficulties of this kind have been fully thought through.

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