Don't charge me if I need my bills on paper
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.
Housing costs hitting young workers the hardest
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:
Council crackdown on shanty town
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.
Renters' power is growing - don’t let Parliament ignore you
The number of renters is growing so fast there will soon be over 100 MPs who represent more renters than home owners.
In research Generation Rent has published today, the number of MPs who have more constituents who rent than own their home has risen from 38 in 2001 (6% of MPs) to 65 in 2011 (10%). If home ownership remains unaffordable and this trend continues, renters will start to outnumber home owners in 104 seats (16%) by 2021.
This represents a huge increase in political power for renters after a generation of neglect by successive governments. We are calling on MPs to give renters a voice in Westminster by becoming Renter Champions, and we need your help.
Image: Renter majorities in 2021
Beyond the bubble
I'm very pleased to be delivering the MSc Sustainable Urban Development public lecture for Oxford University and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors on 7th November.
I'll be exploring the failure of the housing market, the threat it poses to the economy and how a secondary, cost price housing market can fix the problem.
Not only is everyone welcome but it's also free to attend. I hoe you will come along and heckle wittily. But please do rsvp to David Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org
Evicted for trying to help
Michael James has been living in his flat in Tower Hamlets, East London, for 24 years. The building he lives in is getting on a bit and when he found a loose piece of concrete on the walkway, which could have fallen off and hurt children playing below, he asked his landlord to fix it. When this request fell on deaf ears, he went to the council.
(image from ITV London News)
When the landlord found out, Michael received an eviction notice. Tower Hamlets Renters has been helping Michael to fight the eviction and thankfully he is still there.
London needs homes, not ‘investments’
As the latest House Price Index reveals an annual increase of 19.6% in the cost of London homes, the MIPIM property fair rolls into the capital tomorrow. MIPIM is a forum focused on international investment in housing, which brings together tens of thousands of investors, property developers, politicians and landlords to discuss how best to make huge amounts of money from housing in cities across the world.
A chance to protect tenants
Raising two young sons on her own, Venice Allan did not need extra worries about her housing situation.
"The flat we were in was in the basement and it was damp. After a few months black mould started to appear on the walls. That was bad enough for my sons' health but then we discovered a live wire that needed fixing.
Help ban revenge evictions
Have you ever delayed getting a landlord to maintain your home because it's not worth the bother? Have you ever felt they'll just string you along or worse, evict you as a trouble maker? Well that could soon be over.
MP Sarah Teather has tabled a Private Member's Bill in Parliament that will outlaw so-called revenge evictions.
The truth is that only the worst landlords will boot a tenant over a maintenance issue, but you don't know if you're one of the unlucky ones until you make that complaint. The behaviour of a small number of dodgy landlords creates a very real fear for millions of tenants.
Write to your MP now to demand they support this Bill
Private renters suffer cold, damp and mouldy homes
Richard Kay is Communications Manager at the Energy Saving Trust, an organisation helping householders, governments, businesses and organisations save energy every day.
Tenants find it harder to heat their homes than owner occupiers and are the most concerned about their energy bills, according to research from the Energy Saving Trust.
Living in a home that is easy-to-heat, and free of damp and mould should be a basic right, yet it is estimated that there are 400,000 privately rented homes in England with an F or G energy performance rating – almost the same number of households in Birmingham. As winter approaches Caroline Flint’s declaration of war on cold homes couldn’t be more welcome.
Last week we revealed that many private renters are living in damp, cold and mouldy properties, with no expectation their landlord will pay for home improvements after our public opinion tracker UK Pulse also finding that renters are more concerned about their energy bills compared to owner occupiers. In light of these findings, we are urging landlords to look at ways they can improve the EPC rating of their properties.