Yesterday I was asked a surprisingly difficult question. I was asked what I thought of charities and local authorities setting up "ethical" letting agencies. The fact is I haven't given huge amounts of thought to it - though our office is maintaining a watching brief on their activities and seeing what can be learnt.
So I had to retreat to an instinctive (and unpopular) no. It seems inconceivably that the state or non-profit sector could or should compete in this space cost effectively. We're glad they do so as they are a rare respite for people who are routinely exploited, but on being scrutinised on the issue, I just couldn't see how they could be scaled to have a beneficial impact for millions of people.
I have had a think now, and while I did so fully prepared to explain why I had been wrong and have changed my mind, I haven't. I really don't think such projects are a solution to the letting agency problem. But as a representative of a tenant advocacy group, this does bear some explaining.Read more
The government insists that it’s doing all it can to end the housing crisis by ramping up the rate of house building. So far it’s managed a modest bump, but earlier this week, we learned that it's forecasting another dip in 2014/15.
At a time when we need to double house building to keep rents and house prices affordable, to think that the government could allow a fall like this is staggering.
The Labour Party is calling a debate on the issue in Parliament next Wednesday, 9th July, to examine what has gone wrong and what can be done to boost supply.
This week we published our renters’ manifesto, a portfolio of reforms that will end the exploitation of tenants while ensuring a fair and sustainable market for landlords.
But the cause of the problems in the private rented sector often track back to the limited supply compared to the demand for homes and the effect this has on rental prices.Read more
Next year’s General Election will be decided by generation rent. There are 86 seats with enough private renters without party allegiance to overturn the incumbent MP’s majority, so every party should be courting their vote. After Labour’s pitch on rent reforms, the Coalition parties have used the Queen’s Speech to respond with their own grand plan: garden cities, and legislation to reform planning laws to bring them about.
The number of houses being left empty has increased by 25% in the past decade - and so has the number of households with 6 or more people. That's according to the Office for National Statistics, which has published analysis of household composition data from the 2011 census.
It's already well-documented that private renting has risen as fewer people are able to afford to buy a house, but these two statistics are a stark illustration of the growing inequality in British society as a result of the broken housing market. The 3 million-plus people crammed into the 543,000 households of 6 or more would be a bit annoyed to know that there are over 1 million homes around the country that are going spare.Read more
House prices continue to outpace wages. Hot on the heels of Mark Carney's interview with Sky News and David Cameron's interview on this morning's Today Programme, the Office for National Statistics published its House Price Index, which confirmed that there’s no let-up for first time buyers, who are facing double-digit inflation and stagnant wages.
Astonishing figures recently published by the GMB union show the huge profits that landlords in the private rented sector are making through housing benefit payments.
The numbers show how the welfare bill is directly inflated by the huge rents that landlords are charging to their tenants on housing benefit, costing the state millions each year and ending up in the pockets of a small number of peopleRead more
Earlier this year, Ed Miliband set out proposals for Labour’s housing policy when in power. On the face of it, his plans are generally positive and certainly a step forward for renters. Writing in the Evening Standard and focusing on London, he called for a national register of landlords and the regulation of letting agents – both policies that chime with Generation Rent’s belief that these sectors need minimum standards of management and more transparency for tenants. Of course, we await the exact details of these policies, which would require enforcement powers and resources to ensure that they were effective.Read more