Immigration checks: a pointless tax on tenants
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.
Tenancies (Reform) Bill talked out
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.
Renters howl for housing outside Parliament
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.
One more chance to ban letting fees
The issue of lettings agent fees is back in parliament next week with an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill that would make it an offence to charge fees to tenants.
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 [email protected]
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.