Homelessness: ordinary families are bearing the brunt of our housing crisis

With so much economic and political uncertainty ahead, including the possibility of a budget with further spending cuts, we must face head-on the impact that our housing crisis is already having on ordinary families throughout England.

The sheer number on households showing up in today’s homelessness statistics are extremely worrying. During 2015/16:

114,790 households making official applications for help, 57,750 (50%) of which were accepted for rehousing – a rise of over 30% in 5 years. 212,600 cases where… Read more
Homelessness: Strategic prevention is better than crisis-driven cure

With growing numbers asking their councils for help to find somewhere to live, there is an increasing debate on how we prevent homelessness.  As we enter a period of further economic uncertainty, we must remain alert to the risk of greater levels of homelessness.

So, we’ve published a new briefing on preventing homelessness to contribute to this debate.

On the face of it, preventing homelessness is pretty straightforward – provide more homes. Not just expensive ‘starter homes’ for those lucky … Read more

Don't rule it out

It’s safe to say that housing was the key issue for Londoners heading to the polls last month – with the election fought by the eventual winner, Sadiq Khan, as a ‘referendum on housing’. But if the Mayor is to achieve his ambition of delivering the homes Londoners need, then he’ll need to consider all the options – including the green belt.

We’re encouraged to see that Sadiq Khan has started using his planning powers right from the beginning of … Read more

Changes to homelessness law in Wales: Just Looking?

Comparisons between England and Wales don’t end at Euro 2016. Wales have recently ushered in changes to their homelessness laws and practices, which differ significantly to England. The changes have been jumped on by commentators, politicians and the media, who see them as progressive steps towards resolving homelessness.

Our colleagues in Shelter Cymru (a separate charity) have broadly welcomed the reform. Now the changes have been flagged by a government inquiry into homelessness in England.

But what are the changes? … Read more

Tools to tackle homelessness: What we'd like to see from the homelessness inquiry

A version of this blog first appeared on the Municipal Journal

Last week, Government Ministers appeared before the Communities and Local Government Select Committee to answer questions on what their departments are doing to tackle homelessness.

The evidence session was part of the current inquiry into homelessness, being undertaken by the CLG Select Committee. The first of its kind for ten years, this inquiry presents a valuable opportunity to take stock of what is driving homelessness in this country and … Read more

Letting agents and ghost listings

We were recently contacted by a homeowner that had fallen victim to fraudulent activity by a letting agent. Here’s her story…

Last year I got a nasty shock. I discovered a letting agent advertising my flat for rent, without my permission, while I was living in it.

This both worried and angered me. If my mortgage lender discovered the flat listed for rent, they could have accused me of breaking my mortgage agreement, as renting breaches the terms of my … Read more

How would it feel to lose your home?

Recently, we’ve been working with Andrea, a woman from Bristol, on our fix renting campaign. As Andrea describes, home is something that you work for. You build it, both through decorating it to make it yours and through getting to know the people and places around it. And from this, you build a life.

For me, home is the start of everything. It gives you more than an address; it gives you a life and a community base. For my … Read more

Should private renters get the Right to Buy?

This is my second blog in response to Civitas’s excellent new report Restoring a Nation of Homeownership. This morning’s post concluded that Civitas’s Peter Saunders was right to draw attention to the demand side of the housing affordability equation – not instead of, but in addition to the growing consensus on the need to build more homes. Even if we do start building the number of homes we need, house prices will stay high unless something is done about … Read more

Building more is essential – but not enough to solve the affordability crisis

What with the EU referendum hotting up, hooliganism stalking Euro 2016, and Donald Trump enraging half the world, there’s not a lot of unanimity at the moment. But almost everyone now agrees that we need to build far more homes in England. Happily the government does too, having recently increased it’s ‘ambition’ to build a million new homes this parliament to a full blown ‘commitment’ – which Westminster-watchers assure me is a significant shift. The word on Whitehall is that … Read more

Home and away: councils can, and must, improve how they conduct out of area moves

The National Homelessness Advice Service [NHAS] is a partnership between Shelter and Citizens Advice, funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government. The aim of the service is to enable frontline providers including councils, voluntary agencies and local Citizens Advice Bureaux to deliver good quality housing and homelessness advice, and support the prevention of homelessness where possible.

We asked Vicky Hines, NHAS Partnership Manager – local authorities,  to blog for us about good practice tips around out of area … Read more

Mortgage lenders open up buy-to-let to longer tenancies

A significant, silent shift has taken place in the buy-to-let mortgage market. It’s one that both lenders and the government deserve some credit for and it should make it easier for tenants to ask for a longer term tenancy like our Stable Rental Contract.

For a few years, restrictions in the T&Cs of buy-to-let loans have been pointed to as one of the big barriers to increasing the availability of longer, family friendly tenancies.

Until recently, most buy-to-let … Read more

Home and away: the rights of homeless families should not be buried beneath council pressures

Following the publication of our new research on homeless families being sent to live miles away from their home area, we caught up with Jo Underwood, Solicitor for Shelter’s Children’s Legal Service.

In defiance of legislation, ministerial demands and Supreme Court rulings, local authorities across London continue to house homeless families in temporary accommodation outside their home area and frequently, outside London altogether. Shelter’s recent report highlights that the current figures on out of area accommodation placements are unprecedented.

What … Read more