Who rents has changed. It’s time the law caught up.

When our current renting laws were put together in 1988, the private rented sector looked very different from today.

The old stereotypes of the private tenant – the students who only needed a home for the uni term, or the single, childless, twenty-somethings sharing while they saved up to buy home – were closer to the truth in ’88. So it was less of a problem that the law promoted short-term renting, because many renters only needed to rent for … Read more

Learning the lessons on how to avoid rising repossessions

‘What does Brexit mean for you?’ Unsurprisingly, this has been a popular topic in newspapers of late, with much attention paid to the potential impact of Brexit on mortgage holders. In times of economic uncertainty many – understandably – fear that we’ll see a return to the sky high interest rates and repossessions that knocked homeowners during the 90s downturn.

But the experience of the more recent recession following 2008 gives us reason to be optimistic – adverse outcomes can … Read more

Theresa May is right to highlight families' struggle with housing costs - but rent is the worry, not mortgages

Theresa May’s first speech as Prime Minister included a promise to empower ‘working class’ families. It was encouraging to hear her touch on how housing costs are a weight on households’ quality of life but this was reduced to a ‘worry about paying the mortgage’. Research from the Resolution Foundation confirms that it is in fact renters that have seen their incomes squeezed by housing costs the most. The new government now has an opportunity to offer genuine … Read more

Giving renters back control over their lives

It’s worth pausing for a moment on the promise Theresa May made in her first speech as prime minister. It’s a short speech in which she spoke about how tough it is for many families. So far, so ordinary. But it was the promise she made to those struggling families that was different. The government she leads, she said, “will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives.”

It was not a promise to make people’s … Read more

Shelter at 50: the razor thin gap between our history and present day housing conditions
Overcrowding and poor conditions were rife in 1960s Liverpool.


“At 6 Princes Avenue the house is in an appalling state of repair; broken windows, garbage all over the front yard, and no security as anybody can get in.

“A couple with their 5 children are all living in one room…They all sleep in one big bed behind a partition, making a room 4 ft wide. Seven people sleeping in one bed in a room 4 ft wide…They are on Read more

Is ‘pop-up’ the answer to London’s homelessness crisis?

Last summer we blogged about how pop-up homelessness accommodation was a quick-fix to England’s dire housing crisis. We wrote that while cheap pre-fab has a role to play as a quick relief for homeless families, it could never be a long-term solution, nor provide people with a sense of home.

Today, the London Borough of Lewisham officially unveiled their very own answer to the dire shortage of temporary homeless accommodation. PLACE in Ladywell – a council built and managed scheme … Read more

Three reasons Brexit makes this the absolute worst time to implement Right to Buy 2

With the political turmoil of the last few weeks, the Housing and Planning Act might feel a bit like ancient history. It might be tempting to try to forget the Right to Buy 2 policy as all just a bad dream.

It wasn’t. So let’s start with a quick recap.

This is the policy to extend the Right to Buy to housing association tenants and pay for it by forcing councils to sell their ‘higher value’ homes when the current … Read more

Lessons to be learned from North of the border?

Conservative MP Bob Blackman recently introduced a Private Members Bill to amend and update England’s homelessness legislation. The discussion about the need for legislative change, and what this might look like, has been rumbling on for a little while now. One feature of this debate has been a comparison with England’s neighbouring nations, where approaches to helping homeless people have diverged from ours.

In response to these discussions, Shelter put together a briefing which summarises the recent changes to … Read more

Repent at leisure? Why the introduction of Pay to Stay should be slowed right down

It would be easy to imagine that all of Government is focused on the possible implications of leaving the EU. But behind the scenes, civil servants are developing the regulations necessary to actually implement the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

We set out our initial concerns about ‘Pay to Stay’ (also known as policy on ‘high income social tenants’) back in February – that it could increase the housing benefit bill, weaken incentives to work, price out teachers, nurses … Read more

Help to Buy - the drugs don't work

Last week’s government press release on Help to Buy emphasised getting people on to the housing ladder and supporting ‘responsible lending’. Accompanying statistics, however, show it is failing to help those on normal incomes.

Supporting the credit constrained or supporting prices?

Of those using Help to Buy Equity, 1 in 5 are already homeowners and the incomes of those using the scheme are higher than those of young renters in the regions of England where it is most popular.

The … Read more

Will Brexit hit house building?

Nobody yet knows whether the decision to leave the EU will lead to an immediate downturn in the housing market. But you don’t have to look hard to see signs.

House builders’ share prices have been among the hardest hit, commercial property funds have suspended trading, REITS (investment products linked to property) are falling in value, housing associations have had credit ratings downgraded and forward indicators of construction activity have nosedived.

Equally importantly, there are signs … Read more

Listen: how can we fix renting for families?

Welcome to this Shelter podcast, presented by myself and John Bibby, taking a look at unstable private renting in England.

Why are renters nervous about bringing up kids in the private rented sector? Does it have to be this way? What can the government, and renters themselves, do to make private rented housing feel more like a home?

By speaking with renters and experts from other countries we look to answer all of these questions and see if England can Read more