The latest announcement from Labour is that first-time buyers will be given a ‘holiday’ on stamp duty for homes purchased under £300,000. With the average house price in London standing at over £460,000 it is clear this policy will only be applicable outside of the capital.Read more
All five main UK-wide parties have now published their election manifestos. I took a trawl through them to dig out their plans for renters and the wider housing market.Read more
Just a few days into the 2015 General Election campaign, and we are already in the midst of a confusing barrage of promises, photo-ops, accusations and counter-claims. Even to a hardened political observer, it is genuinely difficult to evaluate the statistics, date the political commitments or even work out who is saying what.Read more
Amid the fanfare of the Help to Buy ISA in last week's Budget, the Chancellor made another, quieter move to help renters. George Osborne pledged to legislate to stop tenants automatically being banned in their contracts from sub-letting space in their home on a short-term basis.
This move follows changes in the Deregulation Bill to allow Londoners to rent out their homes for short periods without needing planning permission - previously anyone in the capital advertising holiday lets on sites such as Airbnb was breaking the law.Read more
If you couldn't make it to Rent Freedom Day, we have the next best thing - video of two of the biggest events on the schedule: the opening speech from journalist, author and fresh-faced firebrand Owen Jones (20 mins), and the National Renters Hustings (1h15m).
MPs from four main parties came together for the first time in the real world to debate renting and face questions from the public. Conservative Mark Pawsey, Labour's Emma Reynolds, Lib Dem Minister Stephen Williams and the Greens' Caroline Lucas all bravely faced an audience that has long been overlooked by politicians and wants answers. UKIP was invited but didn't send anyone.Read more
Yesterday the Department for Energy and Climate Change finally laid down regulations arising from the 2013 Energy Act which seek to drive up energy efficiency in the private rented sector and bring down fuel poverty as a result.Read more
Rising Rents & Increased Homelessness
Today there have been a range of statistics released on the private rented sector, mortgage lending and homelessness which confirm a fairly gloomy picture for those stuck privately renting.Read more
George Osborne's final Autumn Statement before the General Election has been trailed across the media since Sunday, including announcements about housebuilding as part of the National Infrastructure Plan. A lot of this - including the garden city in Bicester - is fairly old news, but it's interesting that the government is planning to get directly involved in building houses - 10,000 of them just outside Cambridge.
The Treasury might want to use this as an opportunity to try out Generation Rent's proposed model of a bubble-free housing market - we estimate that it would cost £1bn to build 10,000 homes, sell them at little over cost-price and plough the proceeds into another 10,000 home project. Those new houses would be shielded from any above-inflation price rises.
When it came to the Statement itself, earlier this afternoon, Osborne had very little to offer those who want cheaper housing. His big announcement, which is bound to dominate tomorrow's front pages, was the reform of stamp duty.
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.