Category Archives: Housing

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CAB News 19 July 2019

Image result for youtility home finacies website

Friday 19 July 2019

Research into energy pricing discrepancies across the country has been published by home finances website Youtility.

National

Energy

Utility prices vary across Britain as regional pricing reveals discrimination

Mirror.co.uk, 18/07/2019, Graham Hiscott

Families in Liverpool typically pay £81 a year more than those in Leeds for energy, home finances website Youtility has found.

It explains the different pricing depends on how much suppliers are charged by Britain’s 14 distribution networks operators.

The article refers to Citizens Advice’s finding that network firms are making £7.5 billion in excessive profits. While it recognised that there were different costs to build the infrastructure and transport energy in some parts of the country to others, it said the “excessive profits we’ve identified are not reflective of the underlying network costs.

More than half of UK public “don’t trust energy suppliers”

Energy Live News, 18/07/2019, Jonny Bairstow

According to the latest Public Attitude Tracker from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy “more than half of the UK public say they do not trust energy suppliers very much or at all.”

The results of the survey do show however that levels of trust were highest for Citizens Advice and Trading Standards.

Experts call for heat networks to be regulated

This Is Money, 16/07/2019, Fiona Parker

Households reliant on heat networks – hot water to heat multiple households through insulated pipes, removing the need for boilers – for their hot water and central heating must be given greater protection.

Citizens Advice has called on Ofgem to commit to regulating the sector by July 2022 amid rising complaints, often involving billing errors and high standing charges.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy says it will consult on how to better regulate the sector.

Consumer

‘We’ve been charged £7-a-month for a Sim card my autistic son never received’: O2 customer left unable to cancel a contract due to GDPR

This Is Money, 18/07/2019, Grace Gausden

An O2 customer claims the telephone provider has been taking money from her son’s bank account for the last seven months – even though he had never received the Sim card promised.

The article refers to information on Citizens Advice website on what to do if you’re paying for something you haven’t received. The advice states that if you bought something from a business to be delivered, it’s the seller’s responsibility to make sure the item is delivered to you.

You can also report the seller to trading standards if you think they have broken the law, for example, if they took your money and refused to deliver the item.

Scams

Facebook launches tool to shutdown online scams

FT.com [paywall], 16/07/2019, Madison Darbyshire

Facebook has launched a new tool aimed at shutting down online scams following a lawsuit filed by Martin Lewis.

The tool will allow users of Facebook UK to flag advertisements on the social media site that link to scams. Facebook has also dedicated £3 million to anti-scam initiatives run Citizens Advice.

Martin Lewis said: “Millions of people know a scam when they see it, and millions of others don’t. So now, I’d ask all who recognise them to use the new Facebook reporting tool to help protect those who don’t — which includes many who are vulnerable.”

Gillian Guy said: “This project means we cannot only support people who have been targeted, but also raise awareness of what to look out for to help prevent online scams happening in the first place.”

News of the new service has also appeared in the the Sun (page 28), Metro (page 8), Daily Mail (page 20), Guardian, BBC, Sky.

Katie Martin, Director of External Affairs spoke with BBC Radio 5 Live about the new service saying: “We want to help people identify what a scams is, ideally we want people to not fall victim to them in the first place.”

My quest to track down the tricksters who targeted my mum in cruel lottery scam

Mail Online, 14/07/2019, Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge – whose 83-year-old mother was targeted by a lottery scam – goes in search of the people allegedly behind the scam. Prestridge has little luck going to the addresses listed on the scam letters, one being a building site and another not existing at all.

Citizens Advice said 38 per cent of all mail scams it received details of last year involved fake lotteries. Gillian Guy said: ‘Lottery scams are worryingly common and usually target people who are isolated or in vulnerable situations. Remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’

Housing

Renting: How landlords can refuse to let to tenants with children

BBC Online, 12/07/2019, Kevin Peachey

Tom Dedynski who has two children, aged nine and five, found a two-bedroom home to rent in Peterborough with enough room for his children but was unfortunately turned down by the landlord.

“I was honest with the letting agent that the kids would visit,” the 33-year-old says. “I was told the landlord did not want children – and that was that. I was disappointed. It felt a bit harsh. This was a small family home.”

There is nothing in law across the UK that compels a landlord to have to rent to tenants with children despite 1.7 million families raising children in rental properties across England. The article points to Citizens Advice toolkits prospective tenants can use if they think they’re being discriminated against.

In other news

Water bills in England and Wales are set to fall by an average of £50 between 2020 and 2025, under plans published by the industry regulator.

More than 600,000 members of so-called ‘Generation Rent’ are facing an “inevitable catastrophe” of homelessness when they retire.


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CAB News 28 June 2019

Image result for unsafe private rented homes

Friday 28 June 2019

Our report into the state of the private rented sector has continued to pick up coverage in the national media, with a comment article from the Guardian.

National

Britain’s private rented sector isn’t fit for purpose. It’s unfair and unsafe

The Guardian, 27/06/2019, Vicky Spratt

An opinion piece based on our housing report released this week was published in the Guardian.

Our report, Getting the House in Order, revealed that private renters are living in hazardous homes because because landlords often don’t understand their obligations, or tenants their rights.

“Two-thirds of tenants said that their landlord has not addressed disrepair in their home, 15% said they believed that disrepair was a major threat to their health and safety, and 32% said that their home did not have a carbon monoxide alarm despite requiring one,” the article read.

“This, Citizens Advice says, leaves hundreds of thousands of renters living in mouldy, potentially dangerous homes with some missing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.”

The article also quoted our research that found 46% of people who had made a formal complaint about disrepair in their home have been issued with a section 21 eviction notice within six months.

Housing

Hundreds of thousands of tenants in unsafe homes, survey finds

The Guardian, 26/06/2019, Miles Brignall

Image result for private rental health hazards electrical hazards

Our research was covered in the Guardian, which revealed that three in four of the landlords that we surveyed agreed that a national housing body would make their job easier.

It reported that we would like a this body to create a housing MOT, standardised contracts, and a fit and proper person test for landlords.

Gillian Guy said: “Too many private renters live in hazardous homes – often with dangerous flaws.

“The government must establish a national housing body to ensure landlords let property that meet legal standards, and gives renters the support they need when they don’t.”

How to get your landlord to fix damp or mould as thousands of renters live in unsafe homes

Sun Online, 26/06/2019, Kelsey Etheridge

The Sun also reported our research, writing that three in five tenants identified disrepair in the past two years for which they were not responsible, and one in six of these said it posed a threat to health.

The article reported a third of landlords find it hard to keep up with changing rules and regulations, which means they don’t know their legal obligations.

Gillian said: “Weak and confusing regulation means landlords can struggle to understand their legal obligations, while tenants find it hard to get problems in their homes resolved.”

Private renters living in hazardous homes thanks to ‘weak regulations’, says Citizens Advice

The Independent, 26/06/2019, Ben Chapman

Image result for private rental hazards

Hundreds of thousands of tenants in England are living in hazardous homes with problems such mould or faulty fire alarms due to “weak and confusing” regulation, according to Citizens Advice.

The Independent reported that our research found that almost one in three tenants surveyed said their house did not have a carbon monoxide alarm despite requiring one.

Three-fifths of tenants identified disrepair in their home during the last two years that was not caused by them and that their landlord was responsible for fixing. One in six of those said the disrepair was a major threat to their health and safety.

Citizens Advice also polled landlords, finding widespread gaps in knowledge of their legal responsibilities to tenants.

Gillian Guy said: Too many private renters live in hazardous homes – often with potentially fatal flaws.

“Weak and confusing regulation means landlords can struggle to understand their legal obligations, while tenants find it hard to get problems in their homes resolved.

Consumer

The Loyal Mint: banks must upgrade staunch customers’ accounts

The Sun, 26/06/2019, p.8, Daniel Jones

Our super-complaint to the CMA about the extra money loyal customers pay for goods and services has been mentioned by several papers, including The Telegraph and The Sun, this morning. It was in relation to a story that the Financial Services Consumer Panel (FSCP) has recommended that long-term customers purchasing financial services should be automatically upgraded to the best deal.

Debt

Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away! bailiff entered house unlawfully

BBC News, 25/06/2019

Our figures on the number of people who come to us with bailiff issues were featured in a BBC Online story about a TV enforcement agent who entered a home unlawfully.

The story reported: “According to Citizens Advice, complaints have gone up by 24% and last year they dealt with 41,000 people with what the charity calls ‘bailiff issues’.”

Regional

Council failing to identify vulnerable people before calling on bailiffs

St Helens Star, 23/06/2019, Kenny Lomas

Data provided by Citizens Advice St Helens was used in a story in the Star about how the local authority in the area is failing to protect vulnerable people from bailiff action.

The charity helped almost 18,000 people in 2017-18 with more than 46,000 issued. In that year it helped with £113,000 worth of council tax debt, but in the past year it helped with £229,000 worth of local authority arrears.

In other news

Two-child benefit limit pushes families further into poverty says study.

Customers of one water company are set to get a rebate after it was fined £126 million by Ofwat.

The NHS is to open its first service to help young gambling addicts.

The areas with the most homeless deaths were hit disproportionately by cuts.