Today Generation Rent has published a proposal for a flexible rent control policy, aimed first at London but applicable to anywhere where the rent is too high. Diane Abbott MP has kindly written the foreword.
George Osborne's final Autumn Statement before the General Election has been trailed across the media since Sunday, including announcements about housebuilding as part of the National Infrastructure Plan. A lot of this - including the garden city in Bicester - is fairly old news, but it's interesting that the government is planning to get directly involved in building houses - 10,000 of them just outside Cambridge.
The Treasury might want to use this as an opportunity to try out Generation Rent's proposed model of a bubble-free housing market - we estimate that it would cost £1bn to build 10,000 homes, sell them at little over cost-price and plough the proceeds into another 10,000 home project. Those new houses would be shielded from any above-inflation price rises.
When it came to the Statement itself, earlier this afternoon, Osborne had very little to offer those who want cheaper housing. His big announcement, which is bound to dominate tomorrow's front pages, was the reform of stamp duty.
The ONS has today released its Family Spending statistics up to the end of 2013. These show that families’ weekly expenditure has begun to increase, following a steady decline since 2006, although levels of spending still remain lower than those of 2006 once inflation has been taken into account. The decrease was due to families cutting back on non-essential items following the recession. This increase can be attributed to rising housing and transport costs, forcing families to find money to cover their basic needs.
New checks to prevent undocumented immigrants from renting homes risk come into force in parts of the West Midlands today. Under the Immigration Act 2014, landlords are required to check the immigration status of all prospective tenants.
This is an awful policy that will cost renters and benefit no one:
- With no government funding for this, added administration costs may simply be passed on to renters through extra letting agent fees or higher rents.
- Far from preventing undocumented immigrants from finding a home, the policy will see already vulnerable tenants forced into illegal tenancies and poor housing conditions.
- The checks also put more than 1m families at risk of being discriminated against by landlords and letting agents.
- It will exacerbate problems already faced by many international workers and students with paperwork complications, especially in flatshare situations. This could also have the unintended effect of discrimination in choosing housemates for flatshares
- This in no way targets rogue landlords as the Home Office claims, but targets both migrants and undocumented UK citizens while increasing the xenophobia that is already on the rise and reducing community cohesion.
Five hours is a long time in politics. But not too long if you deliberately want to block a measure that would benefit millions of private renters.
Earlier today, despite overwhelming support from MPs in all parties, the Tenancies (Reform) Bill was not voted on after backbench Conservative MPs (and landlords) Philip Davies and Christopher Chope spoke for hours ad nauseum to stop its passage.
More than 50 private renters demonstrated last night against the spate of revenge evictions that are taking place against tenants with the temerity to request safe and healthy living conditions.
Armed with placards, demonstrators descended on Westminster to push MPs to ban eviction of tenants when the House of Commons debates Sarah Teather's Tenancies (Reform) Bill on Friday.
GMB Young London organised the demo, which brought together Renters Rights London, PricedOut, Hackney Digs, Brent Advice for Renters and Generation Rent. MPs Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell took time out from the chamber to give us their support.
Next week in the House of Lords, Peers will debate an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill that would ensure people have a choice in how they receive their utility bills and bank statements - enabling people to choose paper bills if that's best for them. The amendment, tabled by Conservative Baroness Oppenheim-Barnes, aims to place a duty on suppliers of utilities, including electricity, gas, water, telephone and internet connections.
On Saturday our director Alex spoke at the Trade Union Congress's Big Youth Debate, where he outlined the findings of a joint survey of 18-35 year olds that Generation Rent conducted with the TUC. We found that most young renters are living in unaffordable housing, while a third of young mortgage holders are being stretched.
The full details are below:
The London Borough of Islington has fined a landlord £280,000 for defying orders to rip down insubstantial housing built without permission in an outbuilding.
It's good to see a London council getting tough on landlords who flout planning law to the detriment of their tenants. Too often we see local authorities not taking action when there is a breach of planning law, or being thwarted by the four-year dwelling rule which exempts the landlord if the dwelling has been continuously occupied for four years.
Islington Council has shown that you can forcefully take on those who are ignoring planning regulations with the right political will. This is as much an issue of ensuring that tenants live in decent, spacious and well-kept properties as it is simply a planning dispute and Islington has recognised this in the work it is doing in the private rented sector.
And that colossal fine could go towards building some real houses.