Today was marked by the signing of a new contract at work. As well as being my first contract for a long time without a specified end date, it brings with it the promise of a modest, but extremely welcome increase in salary. Welcome since over the last five years I have noted that the combination of taking care of a family, paying for an appropriately sized privately rented house, whilst commuting by train to work has meant that the money I’ve had available after all the bills have been paid, has been shrinking year on year.
It seems I’m not the only one and indeed my situation has been much more comfortable than that of others. The Resolution Foundation recently published research which shines the spotlight on that sector of the UK population who spend over half of their disposable income on ongoing housing costs: the so-called 'housing pinched'. Their findings are significant and depressing. Data relating to 2011-12 shows that 1.6 million households were 'housing pinched'. Of those just under 1 million households (that’s 2.2 million people) were in work. To put this into perspective, in 2012 the Resolution Foundation reports that the average household spent £60 on each of the following: food, non-alcoholic drinks, transport, recreation & leisure. The ‘housing pinched’ on average had £60 a week left for absolutely everything.
Is house price inflation starting to slow? Across the whole market, it would seem so, with the Office for National Statistics finding inflation fell from 10.4% in May to 10.2% in June. That is still well above anything that's remotely healthy - and house prices were already historically expensive, even after the 2008 crash.
But first time buyers have it particularly bad. If you want to buy a house, prices are now 12 percent higher than they were a year ago (in May inflation was running at 11.3%). For people who already own a house and want to move, they are seeing a slowdown - from 10% to 9.5%.
At Generation Rent, we've listened to lots of experts who have analysed the housing crisis and have come to a conclusion. The principle problem is that you can't just buy or rent a home, you have to pay for an investment too. Some people say the problem is supply - and that's true - but the supply problem exists because of the inability to supply homes that people need without charging them a high price because of a potential future investment return.
And so we've been looking at how you can decouple the investment value of a home for an investor from its utility value to the person living there. And we came up with this. Britain needs a second housing market. A bubble-free housing market for people who only want a home, sitting neatly alongside a free market for those people who want an investment.
And it turns out this could be implemented cheaply and easily and that it will save taxpayers money. We've made a short presentation here and written a paper, Buying out of the bubble.
So we're calling for a secondary, bubble-free housing market - and we need your support to get politicians to adopt it and implement it. Join Generation Rent today (it's free) and help us campaign for real, effective solutions to the housing crisis.
Last month Ofgem launched their ‘Be An Energy Shopper’ campaign to encourage tenants to switch energy suppliers when they can make savings and to overcome the hurdles that many may see perceive in the switching process.
If you've ever wondered why renting is so expensive, we've compiled a handy list and published it on Buzzfeed.
Click here to see all 17 reasons.
Generation Rent has grown this year and is now recruiting for a Policy and Communications Officer to support our parliamentary and public work on a fixed-term, one-year contract.
Newham Council has claimed to be the first local authority in the country to tackle letting agents who are flouting the law.
An initiative by the council to tackle poor practice by lettings agents and protect tenants has helped to improve standards in the profession with the majority of agents now complying with the law.
In June, the Department for Communities and Local Government launched a new guide for private rented sector tenants titled How to rent: the checklist for renting in England. With this guide the government want to give the country’s 9 million tenants access to understandable information for renting property in England.
Eric Walker is Managing Director of Northwood UK and tweets at @justericwalker
We in the property industry have more common ground with the likes of Generation Rent and Shelter than many would think. Professional agents do an immense job and provide a valuable service to help protect consumers from the small minority of rogue agents. MPs call for regulation every day, yet the only group which can change the law is in fact the politicians who refuse to do so.
This Government wants agents to regulate themselves. Their reason is in no small part due to the horrors which would be uncovered if agents were forced to regulate. Clients' money should be held in a ‘ring-fenced’ client account, but while this may protect money from creditors, it is not ring-fenced from the agent. If their business is struggling, there is little point in seeking bank assistance and as such, clients' money is a very tempting resource.
Would you like to take control of your area and create permanently affordable homes?
The Community Land Trust Network, supported by the Oak Foundation, is offering 20 grants of up to £10,000 each to support the set up or development of new CLTs in urban areas. CLTs are volunteer-led, community-run non-profit organisations that develop permanently affordable homes, workspaces or other land-based assets in their area. In addition to the cash grant, the CLT Network is also offering a package of training, advice and other support to the 20 winners.
The deadline for entering the competition is 7th September. Check out the Urban CLT project webpage for more information. And if you're on twitter, why not follow @community_land too :)