Renters: unregistered and unrepresented?

It’s the time of year when my council sends round letters to check that we’re registered to vote. Happily, I’ve been renting my flat for a while and confirmed our names on the register with minimal fuss.

As the political world gears up for a by-election in Corby and a Bill on electoral reform wings its way through Parliament, the letter did get me thinking about how many of my neighbours – a somewhat transient bunch – had done the … Read more

Back to school: the new political season

September – chillier, windier, busier – is traditionally a time for a refresh. Having had the summer to reflect on how things have gone, our politicians traditionally use the return to Parliament to set out a rejuvenated course for the coming months. Summer 2012 was exceptional in every sense, and the Prime Minister used the moment to really shake up his ministerial teams.

It’s all change for housing policy. Our new team of ministers have been in post for a … Read more

Time to talk legacy?

There’s bound to be some stiff competition to get into Private Eye’s Olympicballs column this week – but let’s give it a go….

It’s still unfashionable to be sceptical about the likelihood of a legacy for the games, but let’s not forget that the original vision behind London’s bid for the Olympics was about regenerating a huge swathe of the ex-industrial east end, and providing tonnes of new homes in shiny new neighbourhoods.

So as the celebrations finish and … Read more

Nightmare letting agent stories

At Shelter we regularly come across letting agent nightmare stories.

We’ve heard of tenants being charged £100 just to view a property. Of non-refundable admin fees of £540, and of renters and landlords being double charged for exactly the same service.

In fact, nearly 11 million people have been charged an unfair fee by a letting agent according to a recent YouGov poll for Shelter – that’s 1 in 4 people in Great Britain. Furthermore, three quarters of renters … Read more

Waiting too long for a stable home

It’s a sad reality that in Britain we get used to putting up with the impact the high cost of housing has on our lives.

We accept having to spend an hour getting to and from work every day as we can’t afford to live any closer to our jobs. We think of the family homes we grew up in with nostalgia rather than aspiration, accepting we are unlikely to live anywhere similar. We pay half our salaries to keep … 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
Where the home is...

Many a time on this blog, emphasis has been put on how easy it is to lose a home. An unexpected event can throw things up in the air; a serious illness can prevent you paying the bills, the end of a relationship can spiral in the wrong direction.

Put simply, there’s only a frail safety net there which can be easily torn apart by life’s twists and turns.

At Shelter we believe that people who have become homeless should … 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

Are you a Grend?

Ok, it sounds like an insult, but this was the question asked today in the Times (£). It stands for ‘Graduates Renting, Employed, No Deposit’ – an increasing group of young-ish people priced out of owning a home.

Here at Shelter, we hear from ‘Grends’ all the time – debating with us and one another on Twitter and Facebook, and, more surprisingly, through our helpline and web services. Shelter helps anyone who needs us, and increasingly, many middle-income working … Read more

Does private renting offer stability for homeless families?

As Research Manager for the Sustain study – a project exploring the use of the private rented sector to accommodate homeless people and those in housing need – I’ve found myself reflecting on how rare it is to see a large scale, explorative research project addressing a pressing social policy issue.

Sadly research budgets have been cut back across both government and charitable sectors at a time when evidence on the impact of huge policy changes is badly needed.

Sustain … Read more

Guest Blog: Renting is the only game in town

There are signs all around that the housing market is changing. I’ve lost count of conversations with friends about how they’d like to buy a place but just can’t. When I walk down my local high street I see a huge number of estate agents but not a lot of choice: homes that are either crazy expensive or have ‘NO DSS!’ signs emblazoned in the windows.

Here, our guest blogger – the excellent Kathleen Kelly – reflects on two pieces … 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