Landlord licensing works - yet the government is delaying renewal of the most successful scheme
Since the east London borough of Newham introduced mandatory borough-wide licensing of all private landlords in 2013, improvements in the sector have been indisputable. Criminal landlords are being driven out of the borough, standards and safety in the sector have improved and enforcement has dramatically increased.
Yet with the scheme due to expire on 31 December 2017, government is now more than four weeks overdue in making a decision on approval of a new, five-year scheme, to start in the new year.
Tory conference announcements pull punches on housing crisis
At the General Election in June, Labour won a majority of the votes of the under-40s. This was a wake-up call for the Conservative Party, many of whose members are now filled with a new urgency to address this cohort's biggest concerns - including a rather large house-shaped one.
Their annual conference has duly been bursting with new housing policies, particularly for private renters. But while they are (for the most part) improvements, the proposals fail to address the urgency of the housing crisis.
How new rent controls could work
The biggest talking point of Jeremy Corbyn's speech to Labour Party conference this week was rent controls. Since 2014 Labour has been proposing to limit rises in rents during tenancies, but there was something different this time around.
This is what the Labour leader said on Wednesday:
We will control rents - when the younger generation’s housing costs are three times more than those of their grandparents, that is not sustainable. Rent controls exist in many cities across the world and I want our cities to have those powers too and tenants to have those protections.
Six reasons why today’s renters pay more than previous generations
The harsh reality of the UK’s sometimes savage housing market is that more people are renting their homes until later in life but paying more for the privilege of doing so than their parents did.
In England the number of private renters has increased from two million to 4.5 million between 1999 and 2015 while renting a home has been eating up a steadily increasing proportion of renters’ income, rising from 8% during the late 1960s to over 27% today, on average. Here we look at the key trends driving up rents across the nation in recent years.
Landlord tax evasion - what do we know?
A few weeks ago, the London Borough of Newham revealed that 13,000 local landlords had failed to declare their rental income, prompting estimates that £200m of tax was being evaded in London alone.
Today, Parliament has published an answer from the Treasury Minister Mel Stride to Frank Field, who asked what assessment the government had made of this. The Minister directed him (and us) to this information on tax gaps (pp54-5).
MPs debate letting fee ban
The ban on letting fees is currently the government's flagship policy to help renters, and we're currently waiting for a draft bill to be published, which follows a consultation that we and hundreds of our supporters responded to.
In the meantime, MPs gave us a taste of how the legislation will proceed in Parliament yesterday morning by debating the subject for the first time since last year's Autumn Statement.
London Housing - a new opportunity to push for greater security
Delayed from August, this week saw the publication of the London Mayor's draft housing strategy, which is now open for consultation for three months.
Covering all housing policy from leasehold reform to tackling street homelessness, the strategy also has a specific section devoted to the private rented sector. With a quarter of London's children in the private rented sector, and millions of renters living in poverty, we all know how urgently action is needed.
We'll be coming back to parts of the strategy in the coming weeks, but here we just focus on the main headlines for renters.
The strategy builds on the Mayor's manifest commitment and previous public statements, and although the Mayor lacks the powers to fundamentally transform London's PRS, there are nonetheless some steps forward and potential to go further.
The Other Waitrose Effect - the hidden costs of gentrification
Is a new Waitrose in your neighbourhood a cause for excitement, or a troubling omen for your future in the area?
A new study reveals that the high-end supermarket is linked with rising evictions of private tenants in areas they open up in.
The analysis, conducted by Oxford University academic David Adler for Generation Rent, found that the arrival of a new store was associated with an increase in the number of evictions of between 25% and 50%.
Great cheese selection, but will you be around to enjoy it?
Giving people the right to a safe home
This week saw the introduction of Karen Buck MP's Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill, a private member's bill which will now have its second reading in parliament on Friday 19 January 2018.
The bill seeks to update the law requiring rented homes to be presented and maintained in a state fit for human habitation - updated because the current law only requires this of homes with a rent of up to £80 per year in London, and £52 elsewhere!
National study finds tenants optimistic but rental market oppressive
Every year the government runs the English Housing Survey. General findings are published in February, then, to the delight of housing geeks, the juicy detail on the different subsections of the market arrives in July. We've taken a look at the findings for 2015-16, published last week.
Queen's Speech 2017: are you listening Westminster?
Before today's Queen's Speech, which set out the government's parliamentary programme for the next two years, there were two theories about how housing and private renting might feature, and what kind of prominence it would be given.
If London housebuilding is reliant on overseas investment, where do we go from here?
Commissioned in Autumn 2016, the final report of the London Mayor’s investigation into the role of overseas investment in housing was published last week – but its findings can be read in very different ways.
Based on research by the LSE, its major conclusion and argument is that off-plan and pre-sales to the overseas market are integral to the current development model in London – and therefore also key to leveraging more affordable housing through section 106 agreements on those sites.