Tenants – Another Set of People Screwed by HS2

By Ewen Simpson

There are many examples of the inattention displayed when considering the plight of Tenants, whether they be Council Tenants, Housing Association Tenants or Tenants of Private Landlords; but what currently concerns me and many in a similar position, is the total lack of regard for Tenants shown by those who drafted the Hybrid Bill in relation to Phase 1 of HS2 and the strong possibility that this lack of regard will be continue to be shown in drafting the future Hybrid Bills for Phases 2a & 2b.

I am talking about Compensation for those Tenants affected by the construction of HS2.

In the Hybrid Bill for Phase 1, the case for Compensation for Residential Tenants appears to have been added as an afterthought, whereas compensation for Property Owners is covered in great detail.

In the Bill, Tenants Compensation is dismissed in a single sentence on Page 29 of the Phase 1 Compensation Document. It states that “under SOME circumstances tenants who rent properties MAY be entitled to a payment of £5800.00 plus reasonable moving expenses” There is no explicit statement that these monies MUST go direct to the Tenant.

In addition, there is the implied responsibility to re-house any Tenant having to re-locate because HS2, falling on the collapsing shoulders of the relevant Local Authority; hence “SOME” and “MAYBE” on Page 29 above. In other words, the financial responsibility will not be borne by the Department for Transport; another cost transferring tactic, shifting the financial burden away from HS2. Sleight of Hand springs to mind.

One glaring omission, bearing in mind the current lack of long term security of Tenure, is a prohibition that should be placed upon Landlords, so that they will be unable to evict Tenants from property they own that is likely to be affected by the construction of HS2. It is imperative that the Tenant is granted security of tenure until such time as the property is required by HS2 Ltd.

I have conducted research into the situation of Private Tenants like myself, who are faced with the loss of their accommodation; and who will face the prospect of having to relocate; even though they have chosen to live in that area and have no wish to move. They are having to sacrifice their accommodation and way of life for an Infra Structure Project that, despite what it’s Proponents claim, has no financial gain or benefit other than for those Companies involved in the Planning & Construction.

Assuming that you are able to find a similar property to move into, you are faced with the following if you a Tenant of a Private Landlord:

1.1. Credit Score. If, like many of us, you do not use Credit Cards, the chances of achieving a positive Credit Score are minimal, if not impossible. Many of the Credit Agencies, such as Experian, base their credit scores on the use of Credit Cards. But many Letting Agencies will still insist on carrying out a check, well knowing that the Credit Score will be Zero, and then have the effrontery to charge a fee of between £400.00 and £600.00 for the privilege.

1.2. Therefore most Letting Agents will require 6 months rent payable in advance plus 1 months rent as a Deposit. Here, in this area of Mid Cheshire, rentals for a 3 bedroom property in a similar location to this property; vary from £750.00 pcm to £2000.00 pcm.

1.3. Legal Charges involved in preparing a Tenancy Agreement can vary upwards from £300.00.

1.4. Thus the worst case scenario could be:

1.4.1. 6 months rent @ £1000.00 pcm…………£6000.00

1.4.2. 1 months rent as a deposit………………..£1000.00

1.4.3. Cost of Credit Check…………………………£  600.00

1.4.4. Legal Fees………………………………………£  400.00

1.4.5. Total Outlay……………………………………£8000.00

2.0.  Removal Costs for this area can vary between £1500.00 & £2000.00 for the full service

3.0. Thus the total cost of relocating is some £10,000.00. Thus the “MAY be entitled” £5800.00 plus “reasonable” moving expenses is totally inadequate, even if the Tenant is deemed to be “Entitled”; of which there is no guarantee; another example of the lack of regard for Tenants. I suspect that Tenants in Central London & the Chilterns would require a much larger sum to be laid out.

4.0. To compensate for having no choice but to leave what many Tenants have come to regard as their home, I have created a scale of compensation based upon the period of time in occupancy of the property prior to the enforced removal.

4.1. Up to 6 months occupation, the equivalent of 3 months rent.

4.2. Up to 1 Year            -“-                        -“-                6 months rent.

4.3. Up to 18  months   -“-                        -“-                9 months rent.

4.4. Up to 2 years           -“-                       -“-               12 months rent.

4.5. To increase in equivalent increments up to a maximum equivalent of 5 years occupation; which utilising a £600.00 pcm rental would be £21,600.00.

Taking together the Relocation Cost of £10,000.00 plus a 5 year occupancy compensation of £18,000.00; the Tenant would have sufficient funds to find a new property without having to rely on his or her Local Authority to re-house them. Many Local Authorities do not have a stock of surplus housing to take on board this additional responsibility.

5.0. In all cases, the compensation must be paid DIRECT to the Tenant, without the Landlord being involved in any way. The reason is simple, NOT all Landlords can be relied on to pass on the compensation to the Tenant.

In relation to Council Tenants or those who are Tenants of Housing Associations, they will have to rely on the Local Authority or the Housing Association to rehouse them, BUT they should be compensated in the same manner as Private Tenants in relation to length of occupation and Rental Income.

If the Hybrid Bill for Phase 2a, recently laid before the house, merely repeats the phraseology from the Bill covering Phase 1; then the continued lack of regard is lamentable.

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