Letting agent fees consultation commits to wide ranging ban 

The ban on letting fees for tenants has moved a step closer with publication of the government’s consultation on how the ban will operate. Shelter has been campaigning for an end to tenant fees since 2013, so unsurprisingly there’s much about the consultation that we like, particularly:

It shows the government understands the dynamics of the lettings market It’s ambitious about enforcement And it recognises that letting fees aren’t the only problems for renters Acknowledging renters’ lack of power

Perhaps … Read more

Children speak out about the impact of growing up in B&Bs

At Shelter we regularly speak out about the appalling conditions families in temporary accommodation can find themselves living in. We hear all too often of how hard it is to maintain normal family life when living in one room in a B&B. Our colleagues at Children’s Rights Alliance have launched a new campaign, giving children a voice to share their experiences of homelessness and calling for change. Guest blogger Maria Stephens explains:

Thousands of children in England are growing up … Read more

Time to drop the ‘hated’ ban on housing benefit for 18-21s

Reports over the weekend suggest Ministers and advisers are looking again at controversial plans to bar 18-21s from claiming housing benefit. The current government inherited highly risky plans to prevent younger people receiving housing support under Universal Credit, with the ban due to take effect in a little over four weeks.

Shelter and others have warned of the devastating risks for those unable to stay with family who will be left without any safety net. There are many reasons why … Read more

Can Haringey’s housing development vehicle provide a case study in joint ventures?

Haringey’s proposal to combine forces with a private developer to regenerate and develop council owned land has gone from local controversy to national talking point. At Shelter we tend not to comment on specific development proposals and instead focus our resources on ensuring that people affected locally can access advice and support. But Haringey’s proposals are large scale and contain some particularly interesting mechanisms.

There are three elements to Haringey’s plans:

The creation of a housing development vehicle (HDV), a… Read more
A clear ban on letting agent fees is the only way to fix an unfair market

The housing white paper reaffirmed the government’s commitment to ban unfair letting agency fees charged to tenants. This will be welcome reassurance to any tenant nervous about the lack of action since the chancellor promised the ban in November last year.

Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) officials are currently preparing a consultation on exactly how the ban will work, which the white paper confirmed would be launched early this year.

How the ban is framed will be crucial … Read more

‘Exporting’ homeless families: is it legal and is it right?

Westminster council has confirmed plans to permanently rehouse homeless families outside of the borough and in some cases outside of London.

It has become common place for London boroughs to temporarily rehouse people outside of their local area but Westminster now plans to relocate seemingly large numbers of families as a permanent solution to their housing needs.

Last month it was revealed that Westminster council had purchased 24 new build homes in the neighbouring borough of Hounslow, apparently for allocation … Read more

Lessons from Wales on reforming homelessness legislation

The way in which councils in England support homeless people could change considerably if the homelessness reduction bill becomes law. The bill will introduce a preventative approach to homelessness, where all people, regardless of whether they are in ‘priority need’, receive some help and assistance to stay in their home or find a new home. People in priority need, such as families with children, will retain a right to be rehoused if they lose their home.

The bill … Read more

Reasons to be cheerful

It’s easy to feel permanently pessimistic at the state of housing in England. 120,000 children will wake up homeless this Christmas. This is worse than last year, which was worse than the year before. Which – guess what – was worse than the year before. The range of people affected by the housing crisis stretches ever broader and more than two in five people don’t have what the public consider to be a decent home.

And yet, … Read more

Defending homeless families against illegal practice

Rising homelessness, a shortage of genuine affordable housing and housing benefits cuts are putting ever-greater pressure on local authorities to house homeless families. At Shelter we recognize the enormous pressure councils are under but cannot ignore that our legal team continue to see shocking examples of poor practice. Here, Jo Underwood, a solicitor with Shelter’s Children’s Legal Service, highlights her experiences. 

This year is the 50th anniversary of ‘Cathy Come Home,’ in which a young family finds themselves descending into … Read more

Government bans letting agency fees

The government will ban letting agency fees in the Autumn Statement. Shelter strongly welcomes the news as a bold step forward for renters.

Update: Renters have woken up to some rare and very welcome good news. The government is going to do the bold and just thing and ban letting agent fees to tenants.

Shelter has called for a ban on letting agent fees since 2013. We were moved to act after numerous people came to us outraged … Read more

No security for just about managing families

The government has dropped plans to make higher income tenants ‘pay to stay’ in their homes, but will still press ahead with plans to introduce fixed term tenancies. 

Since this summer’s change in government, we and others in the housing sector have been awaiting confirmation of when measures in the controversial Housing and Planning Act would be introduced – if at all.

Market rents for so-called higher income tenants and fixed term tenancies were supposed to take affect from April … Read more

Reducing homelessness needs bills and bricks

The latest version of the Homelessness Reduction Bill has been published, ahead of a crucial second reading vote that will determine whether England’s homelessness legislation is reformed.

Bob Blackman’s bill would replicate the broad approach of the system recently introduced in Wales. Local authorities would have to help all eligible households – regardless of priority need or intentionality – to assess and prevent or relieve their homelessness. Priority need households who are homeless through no fault of their own would … Read more