There’s been some good news this month for people facing discrimination in the private rental market – because of how they pay their rent, or because of who they are.
Buy-to-let mortgage conditions
First, Natwest announced that it would lift “all restrictions on landlords renting to tenants who are in receipt of housing benefits”.Read more
Back in October, we learned that Natwest had asked one of its buy-to-let customers to either evict her tenant, who was receiving housing benefit, or pay a draconian fee to switch her mortgage.
The bank’s terms and conditions prohibited customers from letting to tenants in receipt of housing benefit. Yet another example of a bank discriminating against low-income households and fuelling the “No DSS” culture. But this time, 62% of the bank is owned by the government, i.e. us.
The landlord has started a petition urging the government to stop this practice by high street banks, and it’s nearly at 5000 signatures.Read more
Today Generation Rent publishes 'London's Turning: Towards a sustainable private rented sector under the new Mayor', our call on Sadiq Khan to act rapidly and boldly in his response to the capital's housing crisis.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
Labour has carefully crafted an identity this election as the party of housing. But if you look at the details, what they’re proposing is terrifying for the average person.
By Lindsey Garrett of the New Era EstateRead more
It was hard yesterday not to have some sympathy with Green Party leader Natalie Bennett after that painful interview. But coming unstuck on the numbers or not, it highlighted the point that they are the only party with a shot of winning seats (in England at least) that actually has a target for building significant numbers of social homes and which has identified private sector landlords as the ideal source for funding this.Read more
Inspired by Savills' findings on landlord capital gains last month, we decided to look at just what sort of money landlords in the UK are making – and how much we the taxpayer are helping them.
As reported in the Guardian this morning, UK landlords make £77.7bn each year in rent and capital gains. This is more than Morocco’s GDP of £68.6bn (for a country of 33m people), making the industry the 61st largest economy in the world (UN 2013).
They are also subsidised to the tune of £26.7bn in tax breaks and housing benefit. That is higher than the £25bn of cuts that George Osborne claims are needed after the election. It is also more than our spending on the overseas aid budget of £10.3bn, job seekers allowance of £4.34bn, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s entire budget of £6.14bn, and the £1.13bn Affordable Homes Programme put together.
The cost of landlord subsidies to Britons is £1011 per household. That is the cost of a week’s holiday for four in Majorca, a 55” HD TV, or a Boardman Road Team Carbon bike.
A recent government update on the UK’s benefit system revealed that five million people are claiming housing benefit. It’s therefore of no surprise that comments by the previous Minister of Housing, Kris Hopkins, regarding renting housing while receiving this benefit enraged and worried many, including MPs. In a Panorama documentary aired last month, Hopkins described the landlord’s right to evict those on benefits as “perfectly legitimate”, sparking fury amongst those who utilise this country’s financial support system. However, was Hopkins right? Is the tenancy completely dependent on the wishes of the landlord? Or, is this yet another case of discrimination against those who aren’t rich enough to be heard?