A different ball game for housing delivery

At next month’s MIPIM property industry conference, the Legacy Foundation, a charity founded by footballers Rio Ferdinand, Mark Noble and Bobby Zamora, will be launching plans for its first scheme: 1,300 rented homes in Houghton Regis, near Luton. And they’re hoping this project will be the first of many.

The vision is admirable: the football stars want to provide social and affordable housing for key workers and low and middle income families across the country, with community facilities ranging from … Read more

Why a ban on letting agent fees would be good news for tenants

At Shelter we believe that tenants shouldn’t be charged up-front fees by letting agents. It’s a stance we took after hearing numerous horror stories from people of sky-high and often baffling charges (£50 furniture rearranging fee anyone?) and coming to the conclusion that this straightforward approach is the only way to inject a little fairness into the lettings market.

The housing minister Gavin Barwell has a different opinion, however, and has dismissed it as a “bad idea”, citing concerns that … Read more

“A horrible way to live”: how short-term renting affects family life

We recently received this e-mail from Rachel*, a mother of a young son who had heard about our campaign for longer rental contracts. Here she explains the impact that unstable and insecure renting is having on her and her son’s life:

I am so pleased Shelter has picked this issue up, I’ve lost many tears over this and I’m sure I am not the only one.

This year my son moved up to junior school. He’s a very sensitive child … Read more

Strengthening planning from the ground up

The Neighbourhood Planning Bill is another attempt to balance the competing interests that can make planning so divisive. In strengthening neighbourhood plans and compulsory purchase powers it’s a welcome step towards a strong, positive planning system.

Reading Martina Lees’ excellent Sunday Times piece on the travails of the planning system left me feeling real pity for planners. Everyone seems to hate them – for letting homes get built, for NOT letting homes get built, for being too slow with decisions, … Read more

Debate around buy-to-let tax changes points to general need for extra safeguards for tenants

The new government looks set to press ahead with controversial changes to the tax regime for small landlords that were set in motion last year. Warnings that this will have disastrous consequences for renters appear overblown, given that our research shows a minority of landlords will be affected.

But it is fair to say that some landlords will likely be forced to sell or put rents up, and safeguards should be put in place to protect tenants affected by this … Read more

Renters need a stable home too

Not convinced short-term contracts are unfair on renters?  We think much can be done to improve rental contracts. Please, if you have time, read on to find out why.

A stable home gives you security. It helps you to put down roots and gives you the chance to plan for the future. However, if you’re renting – living on six to 12 month contracts, life is uncertain and unpredictable.

1 in 4 families are now renting privately. If you’re a … Read more

The future of social housing – take aways from our recent roundtable

Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA, delivered the RSA’s annual lecture last week. A former Head of Policy at No 10, Taylor looked at the issue of ‘why policy fails and how it might succeed’. In it he examined the fate of major policy innovations across recent history; those that have stood the test of time (like the Minimum Wage, Scottish devolution and the smoking ban) and those that have withered (he cites the Child Trust fund, the poll … Read more

An endless summer is no good for social housing tenants worried about a rent rise

The introduction of Pay to Stay from April 2017 will see some higher income social tenants required to pay more rent. Local councils are responsible for managing Pay to Stay but there is considerable uncertainty still about whether they will have the necessary IT processes or staffing in place, or enough time to inform tenants and assess their incomes, before the change is comes into effect in April 2017.

We might have been basking in the unexpected sunshine of an … Read more

How a legal stitch-up could undermine progress on homelessness

The Homelessness Reduction Bill potentially improves provision for non-priority need single people but Shelter is concerned by changes impacting families and vulnerable adults. Broadening the scope for finding someone intentionally homeless risks denying priority need households vital access to housing and opens up a legal minefield.

Parliament will next month debate Bob Blackman MP’s Homelessness Reduction Bill. It aims to ensure that local authorities help people threatened with homelessness as soon as possible. This would be available for all … Read more

Welcome moves from the new Minister

Two months on and Theresa May’s new government has not revealed much about its plans for housing – but encouraging signals are now beginning to emerge. Last week the delayed Neighbourhood Planning Bill was published, proposing some welcome reforms, and then yesterday the new Housing Minister suggested that the Starter Homes policy could be tweaked to make it more effective.

Gavin Barwell MP told a property industry conference that supporting homeownership shouldn’t be at the exclusion of support for … Read more

‘Renewal’ outlines huge opportunity for Conservatives on housing

One (rare) thing that everyone agrees on after Brexit is that it shone a spotlight on millions of people in England who feel left behind. As the new Prime Minister put it:

“I know you’re working around the clock, I know you’re doing your best, and I know that sometimes life can be a struggle. The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours.”

While not the full story, housing is … Read more