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.
Yesterday, the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, confirmed that the Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee scheme would wind up at the end of the year. This was arguably the more controversial of the two Help to Buy schemes announced in the 2013 Budget, but it was originally meant to last only 3 years. And with it gone, we're still left with a Help to Buy loan scheme that is highly counterproductive to any efforts to fix the housing crisis.
During his recent visit to New York City, the Mayor of London took the opportunity to announce one of his key pre-election pledges for the private rented sector, the London Living Rent.
Doing so while overseas was both surprising and interesting and his visit to New York highlighted the challenges facing the Mayors of both cities.
Today we have called on the Mayor of London to adopt a set of policies that will speed up his efforts to end the capital’s housing crisis.
To remind him what’s at stake, we have uncovered another startling trend that is hurting the city and its people.
Every year the Office for National Statistics releases figures on internal migration – how many people move from one part of the UK to another – and people are moving out of London at an alarming rate.
Proposals this week to implement cheap rents for London's artists show how the the city's housing crisis makes an absurdity of good intentions, and indicates why a closer link to universality rather than targeting is needed to make renting affordable again in the capital.
The issue of foreign investors pumping money into the London property market has once again been raised by last night’s BBC report on a rise in overseas investment in the outer London boroughs, and how this provides competition for first-time buyers.
A version of this article appeared on Inside Housing.
Last Tuesday, the Resolution Foundation dominated the headlines and airwaves with its report into levels of home ownership. Using figures from the Labour Force Survey, their big finding was that Greater Manchester saw the biggest fall in owner occupation from its peak at the turn of the century. It was a pattern seen across the north.
It’s no shock that the housing crisis is gripping the whole country. Our analysis of the 2011 census in 2014 found that ownership levels were already dropping in major urban areas. These figures are a bit more up to date.
While London and the South East have the most insane house prices, buying a home anywhere has become more difficult. This is because wages haven’t risen by much, and more people are in insecure employment, so it’s harder to save and to qualify for a mortgage. House prices became uncoupled from wages before the credit crunch, and didn’t revert to affordable levels after it.