Shifts on private renting

Some lesser reported news this week is that the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced in his speech to the Conservative Party Conference that the government would be “supporting new family-friendly tenancies in the private rented sector”.

I was there in Manchester, and this felt like both a small step and yet a big moment for the policy environment of private renting. This is now my last week working for Shelter after three years in the policy team: a fitting moment … Read more

Shared ownership: has potential, needs reform

Two weeks ago Shelter launched its call for a bigger, better shared ownership market for low to middle income families.

In our report, Homes for forgotten families, we found that 1.8 million families typically earning £20,000 – £40,000 were unable to afford a family home in their area through full ownership. With home ownership out of reach and social housing in short supply, the only realistic option for most of these families is to raise their children in our … Read more

Low to middle income families need bigger, better shared ownership

Buying a family home used to be an affordable, achievable aspiration for many low and middle income families, those typically earning between £20-40,000. But not anymore. That’s the finding in Shelter’s new report on how low to middle income families are faring in our housing market.

Over the last decade, the number of low to middle income families buying homes has been in steady decline. For many, their only option now is to raise their children with a backdrop … Read more

We can't keep banking on Mum and Dad

It seems every day I read a story in the news about how difficult it is for first time buyers, earning decent salaries, to get that first foot on the property ladder. Recent research found that a couple with a child would be saving for 12 years before they could afford a deposit.

That means young people across the country trying to raise a family in insecure private rented accommodation, where every monthly rent payment feels like a wad of … Read more

What to do about the squeezed middle's housing pressures?

I’m starting to hear a lot about the problem of housing for low to middle income households. Two events this week. One was the launch of housing association Gentoo’s Genie product, which removes the need for mortgages and deposits with a ‘home purchase plan. The second, today, was the Resolution Foundation think tank’s report on how low to middle income households are faring in the housing market.

Policy makers are trying to provide a politically appealing and genuinely affordable offer … Read more

The power of buy to let

Figures out from the Council of Mortgage Lenders today show that buy to let mortgage lending – mortgages for landlords buying property to rent out – has reached a record high. Now £1 in every £8 of mortgage lending goes to buy to let.

The appeal is obvious. It feels like every week a news story goes out reporting rising rents. And, as research by Jones Lang LaSalle found, many subscribe to the “small island” theory – that … Read more

The interest only timebomb

One of the big advantages of owning a home is that one day you’ll have paid for it outright. You’ll have no housing costs, no debt, full security of tenure; a few less things to worry about in old age.

But what if all that time you weren’t actually paying off your mortgage – you were just paying the interest on the debt? There are 2.6 million people in Britain with interest only mortgages, and comprehensive new research by the … Read more

Stable renting = strong communities and stable incomes?

It’s now six months since Shelter set out its proposals for a more family-friendly private rented sector with the Stable Rental Contract. Our perspective was very much about improving the stability and predictability of renting for England’s 1.3 million private renting families who’ll be living under the shadow of short tenancies for many years to come.

But recent developments show quite clearly that stable renting has wider benefits.

The major housing association Genesis just announced an expansion of its private Read more

Help to buy – who will it help?

The flavour of today’s Budget was very much helping Britain to be an ‘aspiration nation’. A cornerstone of which was about helping people achieve ‘that most human of aspirations’: owning a home.

That came with a major policy announcement: the Help to Buy scheme – a morphing and extending of existing schemes to boost ownership, NewBuy and FirstBuy.

So who does Help to Buy help then?

Help to Buy equity loan

Formerly known as FirstBuy, the Government gives … Read more

Time for a sea change among buy-to-let lenders?

England’s rapidly growing private rented sector isn’t playing the role it was set up to play.

When you hear that a third of renters are families with children, or that as many as four in ten renters receive some housing benefit to pay their rent, it becomes clear that the image of renters as students and mobile young professionals is very out of date.

Last week this tension between perception and reality hit the headlines, with reports that Nationwide had … Read more

Would a mansion tax really be anti-aspiration?

As often happens on Sunday mornings, I hazily grab my phone, look at Twitter, and spot an interesting new idea that a politician or think tank has floated to deal with an aspect of our housing crisis.

This weekend it was the Mail on Sunday leaking wealth tax ideas from a Liberal Democrat internal consultation paper to be discussed at their forthcoming Spring Conference. The main proposal was for assets – particularly property assets – worth more than £2m to … Read more

Housing: the real big squeeze

The Shelter campaign that seems to have stuck in people’s minds the most in recent years was the one setting out what the cost of household goods would be if their prices had gone up at the same rate as house prices.

I most recently heard it mentioned by Planning Minister Nick Boles when he launched another new planning policy to encourage development.

We’ve re-run the analysis – a whole chicken would now cost £51.18, and the average weekly Read more