Earlier this year, Labour commissioned the chief executive of the country's biggest house builder to lead a study of the decline in home ownership - the main reason politicians are worried about housing these days.
The Redfern Review has been published today. It shouldn't be a great surprise that its conclusions don't fit completely with our views - there's very little comment on the needs of private renters - but it does make an important contribution to the debate, and there's a lot we can agree on. Indeed, it takes a more objective approach than parties and industry players have done when they've tackled the same subject - there's refreshingly little dogma or evidence of Taylor Wimpey's commercial interests at play (though it plays down builders' profit-driven reluctance to build enough homes).Read more
A few years ago my brother David was the victim of a rental scam. It was this experience that led us to research the scale of the problem and start to think about ways to raise awareness and maybe even prevent this kind of fraud from happening in the first place.
We realised there is a compromise when seeking a rental today: either go through a letting agent which may charge excessive fees, or use a listings site where there's a chance of being scammed. It wasn't difficult to find fake listings on websites. Renters told us they were daunted by paying out thousands to a landlord (who is a stranger) but did so as they had little choice.Read more
With a new Prime Minister and a new Chancellor heavily modifying their predecessors’ policies on the deficit, “affordable” housing and schools, the property industry is hopeful that the government will pursue similar revisionism on its landlord tax policy.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors this week called on the government to scrap the stamp duty surcharge on buy-to-let and second homes, while landlords have been in the High Court to challenge the withdrawal of mortgage interest tax relief for landlords paying higher rate income tax.
We’ve just learned that there will not be a judicial review of the government’s policy.Read more
Whenever you propose reform of private renting, the landlord lobby always says no, because "landlords couldn't afford it". Whether it's asking landlords to cover the cost of letting agent fees, to apply for a licence, to charge controlled rents, or to pay tax on their loans, we're asked to believe that they can't afford it. Then they threaten to raise rents - as if rents haven't already been outpacing inflation since the end of the recession.
This claim assumes that landlords are already paying large amounts of their revenue out again in costs. Some of them are, but we point out that the majority are not, because they don't have a mortgage.
For example, an interest-only mortgage of £150,000 at 4% costs £6000 a year. Rent on the £200,000 property bought with that mortgage might get you £10,000. Two thirds of private rented properties have no mortgage, and thus have significantly lower costs and capacity to absorb new regulatory requirements.Read more
Private tenants on the Butterfields Estate in London's Waltham Forest are facing evictions from affordable homes they have lived in for years, after they were sold on without their knowledge. Previously owned by a charitable trust that ensured tenancies were secure and affordable, the two streets of homes were bought up by a private business (BE17Ltd) at the start of this year.Read more
When we published our latest research on letting fees in April, we were expecting a long fight to get the issue of banning them back on the political agenda. The Housing and Planning Act, passed in May, contained no changes to the law on fees, and the only area of housing government is currently legislating on concerns planning.
We didn't have to wait for long though. Olly Grender, a Lib Dem peer, who fought for and won some protections for renters in the Housing Act, was selected to present a private member's Bill. Happily for us, she picked fees.Read more
Renters never really know where they'll live in 12 months' time. Even if your landlord is a charity, charging reasonable rent and letting you turn their property into a home, they could quietly sell up to a landlord who will just evict you and sell your home to the highest bidder.Read more
The Housing and Planning Bill has been announced and is making its way through the Commons. The government is using the legislation to drive through some major changes that threaten to weaken social housing and harm the poorest members of society.
But they're also embarking on some much-needed changes to the private rented sector which should help to root out illegal practices and improve renters' homes.
The Bill is silent on security for renters. At a time when millions of us have no option but to rent privately, we need to start having some protection from eviction on a landlord's whim: today we launched a petition calling for this. Please sign it and help us persuade politicians to give everyone a stable home.Read more
There's a lot of muttering right now from the landlord lobby that they'll be putting up rents because of changes to the tax regime and expected increases in interest rates.
The threats would sound scarier if rents weren't already going up faster than inflation. The fact is many landlords will use any excuse to put up the rent when they get the chance. Many others value their tenants, and won't.
If you face a rent hike, you don't need to accept it. We've put together a 3 minute video on what to do to avoid paying too much.Read more
Today the government announced a raft of measures that will be in the Housing Bill that being is being prepared for Parliament later this year.
Sadly much of the focus was on the extension of the duty to all landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants. We’ve already expressed our opposition to this policy elsewhere, but it is particularly galling that this is being taken forward when there has been no public analysis of the West Midlands ‘pilot scheme’, and other groups have seen cases of it increasing discrimination in lettings.
Despite this policy dominating the headlines, though, the Department for Communities and Local Government has also announced more welcome plans to improve the systems for tackling rogue landlords.Read more