Some of you will have read stories in the past year or two about property guardians. Originally a low cost way of beating extortionate private rental prices, the scheme has been coming under fire for rent hikes, poor living conditions and a lack of regulation.
I run a Facebook-based campaign and support group called Property Guardians UK. Over the past 2 years I have collected stories and information from those who came to my site and provided some with legal advice on problems they had with their agencies. I am also a guardian myself, currently in my 8th year in the scheme.
There was some extra cash for "affordable" housing in Philip Hammond's Autumn Statement, but there was only really one big story from today:
The Government is going to ban letting fees!
This is a phenomenal achievement and the result of a tireless campaign over recent years by us, Shelter, Citizens Advice, the Debrief and local renter groups around the country.
Dozens of us investigated our local letting agents to build up the case for reform on www.lettingfees.co.uk. Thousands of us signed petitions and wrote to our MPs and the government listened.
Earlier this year, Labour commissioned the chief executive of the country's biggest house builder to lead a study of the decline in home ownership - the main reason politicians are worried about housing these days.
The Redfern Review has been published today. It shouldn't be a great surprise that its conclusions don't fit completely with our views - there's very little comment on the needs of private renters - but it does make an important contribution to the debate, and there's a lot we can agree on. Indeed, it takes a more objective approach than parties and industry players have done when they've tackled the same subject - there's refreshingly little dogma or evidence of Taylor Wimpey's commercial interests at play (though it plays down builders' profit-driven reluctance to build enough homes).
Figures produced by the End Child Poverty Coalition this week show distressing levels of child poverty after housing costs are included, including within much of London.
The data breaks down levels of child poverty by parliamentary constituency, local authority, and local ward level, and shows that of the twenty constituencies with the highest levels of child poverty, seven are in London, while 11 out of 20 of the highest figures at local authority level are also in the capital.
I bet you thought rising house prices just made it more difficult for you to ever own your own home.
Well, it's even worse than that.
Rising house prices increase your risk of being evicted.
Already angry? Jump straight to our campaign page.
Paul Munday is the founder of RentProfile. For more useful websites for renters, visit our resources page.
A few years ago my brother David was the victim of a rental scam. It was this experience that led us to research the scale of the problem and start to think about ways to raise awareness and maybe even prevent this kind of fraud from happening in the first place.
We realised there is a compromise when seeking a rental today: either go through a letting agent which may charge excessive fees, or use a listings site where there's a chance of being scammed. It wasn't difficult to find fake listings on websites. Renters told us they were daunted by paying out thousands to a landlord (who is a stranger) but did so as they had little choice.
Thomas Karcher runs Kagoo.co.uk
With sky-high rents squeezing tenant’s budgets, bills are yet another unwelcome expense. However, it is possible to significantly reduce your electricity bill by following our Top 10 electricity saving tips.
1. Check your electricity tariff
As a tenant you are free to switch electricity suppliers without requiring permission from the landlord. Compare tariffs, duel fuel discounts and payment options to ensure you get the best deal.
Please note some agents try and tie tenants into energy deals with a preferred provider. Generation Rent would like to hear if you have been affected by this.
In September, following the Mayor’s release of some details for this London Living Rent proposal, we blogged about concerns around how genuinely affordable this new tenure would be, and what was needed to ensure it was part of the solution to London’s housing crisis.
This follow-up piece looks at what wasn’t covered in the first blog – broadly, tenancy types – and how again they might best serve Londoners just looking for somewhere affordable and secure to live.
With a new Prime Minister and a new Chancellor heavily modifying their predecessors’ policies on the deficit, “affordable” housing and schools, the property industry is hopeful that the government will pursue similar revisionism on its landlord tax policy.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors this week called on the government to scrap the stamp duty surcharge on buy-to-let and second homes, while landlords have been in the High Court to challenge the withdrawal of mortgage interest tax relief for landlords paying higher rate income tax.
We’ve just learned that there will not be a judicial review of the government’s policy.
Whenever you propose reform of private renting, the landlord lobby always says no, because "landlords couldn't afford it". Whether it's asking landlords to cover the cost of letting agent fees, to apply for a licence, to charge controlled rents, or to pay tax on their loans, we're asked to believe that they can't afford it. Then they threaten to raise rents - as if rents haven't already been outpacing inflation since the end of the recession.
This claim assumes that landlords are already paying large amounts of their revenue out again in costs. Some of them are, but we point out that the majority are not, because they don't have a mortgage.
For example, an interest-only mortgage of £150,000 at 4% costs £6000 a year. Rent on the £200,000 property bought with that mortgage might get you £10,000. Two thirds of private rented properties have no mortgage, and thus have significantly lower costs and capacity to absorb new regulatory requirements.