Criminal landlord database shows what protections we still need
Environmental Health News (EHN) has done us all a huge service by publishing a list of landlords with convictions for housing offences.
For the first time we know the 2,006 companies and individuals who have been successfully prosecuted, but this figure is dwarfed by the 740,000 private rented households estimated to have hazards dangerous to human health. And the landlords in question get away with fines that hardly make a dent on the income they get from rents.
This has to stop.
Majority of under-40s to rent privately by 2025
With impressive speed after the Budget, the accountancy firm PwC has published its Economic Outlook for the UK, and its prediction that a majority of under-40s will be renting privately by 2025 made the front page of the Guardian this morning.
The UK Housing ‘Crisis’: Are You Profiting From It?
A blog from guest writer Zeph Auerbach asks - how much personal responsibility do we have for the housing crisis?
Now that the election is over, and Eurovision is a distant memory, London turns back to its favourite moan: the housing crisis. I frequently share this moan with my mixed group of friends: some renters, some homeowners, some letting out the odd room or flat. This conversation always seems to have an 'in it together' atmosphere, as we berate the property speculators, the oligarchs with vacant mansions, and most of all our government, which clearly sees its role as sustaining the rise in house prices (Help to Buy, pension reforms, reductions in stamp duty and so on).
But we ignore the elephant in the over-valued and under-sized room. This is an elephant which you'd see, if you looked hard enough, lurking in the corner of almost every Independent or Guardian article decrying the housing crisis. The elephant in the room is simply this: we find ourselves on opposing sides of this ‘crisis’ and for some of us this ‘crisis’ is something we profit from and sustain.
Meanwhile, in Spain
This week, the judge in the case of Bloc La Bordeta, an occupied flat block in Barcelona, ordered the eviction of nine adults and four children, despite both Barcelona City Council and the Catalan Government having urged that the families be allowed to remain in their home of 6 months. Once the injunction arrives, the occupants will have seven days to leave, before being forcibly evicted and in all likelihood, left on the street.
A mixed Summer Budget for renters
Having won the election, George Osborne used his first Budget of the parliament to rifle through the pockets of his vanquished political rivals. He abolished non-dom status for permanent UK residents and announced an increase in the minimum wage, dubbing it the Living Wage in the process - both more or less Labour election policies.
And he nicked a Green Party policy by cutting tax relief for landlords.
Is your MP a landlord? There's a 1 in 5 chance
The first Register of MPs' Interests of the new parliament was published last week. A comb through the data reveals that there are 126 residential landlords in Parliament. Landlords make up only 3% of the population but they are represented by 19% of the House of Commons (the same proportion of the UK population who rent privately).
Buy-to-let: Bad for renters, bad for first-time buyers – and now bad for everyone?
The buy-to-let ‘boom’ that has occurred over the last twenty years, coinciding with the huge growth of the private rented sector more generally, has meant this kind of mortgage has been normalised within the British psyche, but without perhaps enough analysis of what it means for the economy and wider society.
Bills announced to reform private renting
Parliament has announced the 20 Private Member's Bills that are being introduced today, and they include three on housing.
Karen Buck, MP for Westminster North, has introduced the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill, which will amend a law from the 1980s to ensure that rented properties meet certain standards. We think this is a huge opportunity to give tenants the protection they need from unscrupulous landlords and agents - and finally bring renting into the 21st century. Karen is a longtime campaigner on housing so we'll work hard to support her as she takes the Bill through Parliament.
Met appeal to trace bogus landlord
At least six renters in London have been ripped off to the tune of £30,000 since April by a fraudster posing as a landlord.
The Met Police have issued an alert today for information to catch the suspect, pictured below, and have asked members of the public to call 101 and quote reference 1217609/15.
Bournemouth Council to enter property market
Bournemouth Borough Council is to debate on Monday a plan to buy up properties in the town to house homeless families - a practice that is already happening in the London boroughs of Enfield and Westminster.
Local authorities have a statutory duty to house homeless people in temporary and emergency accommodation. Because they have no available properties of their own they often have to turn to bed and breakfasts to put families up. Councillor Robert Lawton explains:
"It will help us to reduce costs, for example, avoiding the use of expensive B&B accommodation. By owning the properties, it would mean that the council would be able to ensure the properties are good quality and well managed. In the longer term, any income generated and increase in property values would come back to the council to help fund additional services for vulnerable people."
Social housing sector makes its pitch
There have been not one but two reports out in the past 24 hours which advise the government how it can boost housebuilding at the lower end of the market - something that was woeful under the past government with its slashed grant funding and so-called affordable rent.
In a bid to shake off the toxicity of the "affordable" tag, the National Housing Federation, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Savills have produced a report into how living rents could be set and underpin an increase in housebuilding of 80,000 homes a year. Based on what is affordable on low incomes, their local "living" rents are set at roughly 40% of the market rate - instead of the 80% the government claims is affordable. Just £3bn of public money a year could fund this programme.
Ending Fuel Poverty: if not now, when?
Today sees the first major public lobby of the new parliament, with up to 8000 people descending on the House of Commons from across the country to speak to their MPs about climate change.
Renters should be interested in this because the number one domestic policy demand will be ‘Warm homes for all’ – and this means making energy efficiency an infrastructure spending priority, as our friends the Energy Bill Revolution have called for in the run-up to the General Election.