London: the first to wake up to private renting?

The growth of the private rented sector and the changing demographics of people who rent from a private landlord are widely considered to be the most significant changes in the housing market in recent decades.

Almost every time I look at the national picture through the government’s English Housing Survey I find another angle that sheds further light on the growth of the sector. Most recently I realised that there were 400,000 additional households with children in the private in … Read more

Tweaking housing taxation

Tax is always going to be a thorny issue. But start talking about it in relation to people’s home and you’re on doubly shaky ground. We have given much thought to housing taxation, finding much of it to be clunky and regressive, with sharp cliff edges between different levels, and the wealthy few paying disproportionately less tax than squeezed families.

Politicians know the system is broken, but have generally avoided talking about property taxes for fear of the political Read more

NewBuy: what’s the alternative?

As the hype around the government’s NewBuy scheme rumbles on, it’s worth pausing for a moment to contemplate why owning a home is such a national obsession, and consequently, why politicians always look to home ownership when they want to deliver a package that plays to the aspirations of Middle England.

To my mind, the real question is: what is the alternative to owning a home? For an increasing number of middle-income families their only option is to rent … Read more

Finding a place to call home

One evening last week, a few of us from the Policy and Campaigns division made a little expedition to RIBA’s ‘A place to call home’ exhibition.

It was refreshing to get out the office and away from the coalface of the housing crisis that occupies most of our time and thinking. The exhibition focused on the wider social and emotional history of homes in Britain – why home is so important, what people want to make a good home, how … Read more

When you're told your rent increase is not a rent increase

People can be deeply distrustful of statistics, especially when they are out of kilter with their own experiences and perceptions. It’s no surprise, then, that blogs such as FactCheck and FullFact are increasingly vital parts of the political debate.

When it’s on your own patch, a questionable stat grabs you right away. In my case it was when the Prime Minister stated at PMQs that private rents are going down. There was a collective ‘huh?’ in the office – … Read more

Guest blog: Ben Page reflects on housing as an electoral issue

There are local and mayoral elections across the United Kingdom today, so we are delighted to have a timely guest blog from the esteemed pollster Ben Page, Chief Executive of Ipsos MORI, writing about the challenges and paradoxes of housing as a personal and political issue. Over the coming weeks we’ll be reflecting on how housing has faired in the elections where Shelter has been seeking to get housing on the political agenda. But for now, over to … Read more

Guest blog: IPPR report on housing in Bradford

Too often reflections on our disparate housing market focus on a crude north-south divide, of rocketing house prices in the south, and decline in the north. Just a couple of weeks ago Shelter was campaigning in Liverpool, and our campaigns team heard from hundreds of the city’s residents just how awful their housing situation is. IPPR’s report on housing in Bradford shows just how complex a city’s housing can be, and we are pleased to feature a guest blog … Read more

The mortgage headache continues

Today’s arrears and repossessions figures confirm that we’re in our fourth consecutive year of high levels of home repossessions. It’s a worrying sign of how difficult economic conditions are – and of just how precarious so many people’s finances are. Sadly, thousands of people losing their homes is only part of the story. There are more than 150,000 households in serious arrears, i.e. more than three months behind on their mortgage payments.

The overall number of people in serious arrears … Read more

To buy or not buy?

What with me leading Shelter’s policy work on the future of the private rented sector, it was a surprise to my colleagues when I told them I was buying a flat. ‘That’s it, you’re out of the private rented sector!’ was Toby’s response.

The thing is, I am fed up with renting. I hate the magnolia walls in my flat, the worn laminate floors, the slope in the kitchen that means the cooker is wonky and one side of … Read more

Action for renters?

I like the idea of people power – people on their own or coming together to resolve issues in the market. It’s something we hear a lot of at Shelter – we get sent lots of suggestions to help tenants make educated choices, such as tenant training and tripadvisor-style websites.

But until recently, examples of real hands-on private renters campaigning were few and far between, save for the likes of longstanding groups in Brent, Camden, Scarborough and BlackpoolRead more

Even baby boomers worry about house prices

The Shelter policy team has been lucky to have Mike Smith volunteering with us over the summer. Mike had a long career in finance before looking to move into a policy role, so we’ve benefited enormously from his perspective.

As news reports today show that house prices have risen at three times the rate of inflation over the last decade, Mike reflects on how his generation has benefited…but suggests that perceptions may be changing.

‘Having turned fifty a year or … Read more

Build-to-let: just the tonic?

Over the last few months the Government has begun to take quite seriously some of the realities of England’s housing crisis that we have been banging on about for years:

We simply don’t have enough homes – we desperately need to build more. More and more people are renting privately for the long term – not through some fleeting lifestyle choice, but because buying a home is just too expensive. Building homes is good for the economy and for creating… Read more