LATEST: Housing ministry is renamed and given major ‘levelling up’ role

The government department that regulates and oversees landlords and the private rented sector has been renamed and ©1999 - Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® - LATEST: Housing ministry is renamed and given major ‘levelling up’ role | LandlordZONE.

LATEST: Housing ministry is renamed and given major ‘levelling up’ role

The government department that regulates and oversees landlords and the private rented sector has been renamed and given a new ‘levelling up’ focus.

Formerly the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, it will be now known as the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).

This decision follows the sacking of its Minister of State Robert Jenrick last week and the arrival of his replacement, Michael Gove, and a new ‘levelling up’ junior minister, Kemi Badenoch.

The change has clearly been made at pace – the organisation’s website and other online collateral remains with the old name at the time of writing – and most consider it to be a demotion in status from ministry to department.

But its Twitter account, which is followed by some 120,000 people, has changed – but now makes no mention of housing.

2nd renaming

The renaming, which was announced yesterday, follows a previous re-naming in 2018 by Theresa May, from the Department for Communities and Local Government to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

At the time, May’s government said this was to highlight her determination to sold the housing crisis, so given the ongoing battles in many policy areas including cladding, leasehold, planning and house building, the new focus is puzzling.

The Conservative government is now pressing hard on levelling up; over the weekend Boris Johnson appointed former Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane to head up a new Levelling Up Taskforce.

This has been jointly established by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Michael Gove MP.

He says: “I’m thrilled that the PM has asked me to lead the Levelling Up agenda, the defining mission of this Government.

“With a superb team of ministers and officials in a new department, our relentless focus will be on delivering for those overlooked families and undervalued communities across the United Kingdom.”

Reaction to the name change has been mixed. The LibDem’s housing spokesperson and former leader Tim Farron (pictured) described it as ‘‘.

Twitter has been quick to lampoon the change, making comparisons to Monty Python’s ‘Ministry of Silly Walks’, while more thoughtful critics have highlighted how it’s the first government department to be named after a policy or aim, rather than an activity.

©1999 - Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® - LATEST: Housing ministry is renamed and given major ‘levelling up’ role | LandlordZONE.

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Letting agent jailed for three years for ripping off landlords and failing to protect deposits

An aggressive and threatening estate agent has been jailed for three years after cheating tenants and landlords ©1999 - Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® - Letting agent jailed for three years for ripping off landlords and failing to protect deposits | LandlordZONE.

Letting agent jailed for three years for ripping off landlords and failing to protect deposits

An aggressive and threatening estate agent has been jailed for three years after cheating tenants and landlords out of £182,000.

Lee Clarke, who set up Berkshire Estate Agents in Slough, spent more than five years collecting rent and failing to pass it on, defrauding 31 clients.

He admitted 17 counts of fraud by false representation at Reading Crown Court, along with one count of Section 993 of the Companies Act 2006, to carry on the business of a company with intent to defraud creditors or for other fraudulent purpose.

Clarke, 42, of Park Corner, Windsor, has also been disqualified from being a director of any company for six years.

Crimes

DC Luke Simms, of Thames Valley Police, says the crimes took place while Clarke ran the agency in Windsor Road, Slough, between September 2013 and December 2018 – although no-one else at the firm was involved.

“Clarke knowingly collected rent from tenants but then deliberately chose not to pass on this rent to landlords,” says DC Simms.

“He also deceived his clients by failing to protect deposits collected from tenants as part of a deposit protection scheme.”

After landlords and tenants complained to Slough Trading Standards, a joint investigation uncovered the impact of Clarke’s crimes, with many of his victims describing him as someone who was aggressive and threatening after they made complaints.

“The sentence will be a relief to many of the victims in this case and should provide reassurance to the public and community of Slough that those who commit fraudulent crimes using a business will be brought to justice,” adds Simms.

Warning

Peter Adshead, principal Trading Standards officer for Slough Borough Council, says: “We hope this sentence will remind business owners that failure to comply with legislation will be investigated and brought before the courts where necessary. Landlords and tenants expect their money to be legally protected and monies handed over promptly.”

Read more: on London agents who fail to protect landlord cash.

Guidance:

©1999 - Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® - Letting agent jailed for three years for ripping off landlords and failing to protect deposits | LandlordZONE.

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