Posts

The government is taking action to protect private renters (part 2)
The government is taking action to protect private renters (part 2)

This is the second post in a two-part blog exploring how the government is taking action to improve protections for private renters. Part one considered the impact of the introduction of banning orders and the rogue landlord database. In this part, we turn to the issue of letting-agent regulation.

Here’s an update on the main changes for the lettings sector and what more we want to see the government doing to ensure there are no loopholes, through which letting agents … Read more

The government is taking action to protect private renters (part 1)
The government is taking action to protect private renters (part 1)

The government’s drive to improve private renting has got a spring in its step. Not only has the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) published its next steps for bringing in letting agent regulation and mandatory client money protection, but banning orders and the rogue landlord and letting agent database, as promised in the Housing and Planning Act 2016, come into force this week.

Over two blogs we’ll look at how, together with the ban on letting agent … Read more

Exception sites are a lifeline for communities in need of affordable homes
Exception sites are a lifeline for communities in need of affordable homes

Here at Shelter, we’re all for getting more affordable homes built. It’s the only long-term, permanent fix to our housing and homelessness crisis. But in recent years, it hasn’t always felt like the planning system is on our side. Rules like the viability loophole have made it harder to get the affordable homes communities really need coming through the planning system. But there is one great, unsung hero of the planning system that has been steadily chipping away at the … Read more

Big changes looming for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) scheme
Big changes looming for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) scheme

This week brings a fundamental change in welfare support for struggling homeowners. For more than 70 years, homeowners, who have low incomes and who receive certain qualifying benefits, have been able to claim support from the government, through Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI).

However, from 6 April 2018 this support is changing. Rather than being paid as a free benefit, SMI will now be paid as a loan and any money claimed from this date onwards will one day need … Read more

Shake up to council duties to tackle homelessness starts today
Shake up to council duties to tackle homelessness starts today

From today, councils must change the way they help homeless people, as the Homelessness Reduction Act comes into force.

The new legislation is certainly needed. Homelessness in England has reached crisis point, as the tragic reports of people dying on our streets during the recent cold weather have brought into sharp focus.

Few of us can say we haven’t noticed an increase in men and women bedding down. Street homelessness has more than doubled in five years: last autumn over … Read more

Government drops removal of housing benefit for 18-21s
Government drops removal of housing benefit for 18-21s

Today, the government made a welcome step towards helping young people escape homelessness. The Work and Pensions Secretary, Esther McVey, has dropped the government’s policy to exclude people aged 18-21 from the ability to claim housing costs in Universal Credit.

The change, which was introduced in April 2017, effectively meant that most 18-21-year-olds became ineligible for housing benefit. It was a policy inherited from the previous government; one that we and other homelessness charities warned would have concerning consequences for … Read more

Letting Agents admit they’ll exploit loophole in draft Tenant Fees Bill
Letting Agents admit they’ll exploit loophole in draft Tenant Fees Bill

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has published its report on the draft Tenant Fees Bill, which will ban letting fees to tenants. The Committee has been tasked with scrutinising the bill before it’s formally introduced to Parliament and making recommendations about how to strengthen it.

To help do this, the committee received evidence from a wide range of organisations, including letting agents, landlord bodies and tenant groups. We submitted written evidence and then gave oral evidence at the … Read more

Slow progress replacing unsafe Grenfell-style cladding
Slow progress replacing unsafe Grenfell-style cladding

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy last year, it emerged that the type of cladding fitted on the building may have contributed to the rapid acceleration of the fire. Since then, the government have been coordinating a Building Safety Programme to identify other buildings with similar cladding – and there’s a lot of them.

Government stats released today show that only a tiny proportion of the unsafe cladding has been totally replaced on homes across the country. Out … Read more

Lyndsay's section 21 eviction story
Lyndsay's section 21 eviction story

Lyndsay’s eviction story began with a letter. Her landlord sent her a section 21 notice, giving her two months to leave her home.

After struggling to find another landlord who would accept a tenant who claimed benefits, Lyndsay decided to contact the local council for help. It was her housing officer there who spotted a problem with her section 21 notice, making it invalid.

Lyndsay’s landlord had to send a second section 21 notice, which gave her another two months … Read more

The minister doesn't know what's causing homelessness. We're happy to explain
The minister doesn't know what's causing homelessness. We're happy to explain

Homelessness Minister Heather Wheeler attracted attention over the weekend for saying she doesn’t know why rough sleeping is rising.

We have front-line homelessness services across the country and are happy to help the minister understand why.

From our point of view, homelessness isn’t that complicated. Time and again we see the same patterns and themes pushing people into homelessness and through the doors of our services.

First, the facts. Since 2010, all forms of homelessness have gone up in England. … Read more

Benefit cap challenge beaten in Court of Appeal
Benefit cap challenge beaten in Court of Appeal

Last week, the Court of Appeal handed down a disappointing decision on the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) benefit cap policy. It found in the government’s favour that the benefit cap is not unlawful, in so far as it applies to lone parents with children under the age of two.

The benefit cap restricts the amount of benefit payments a household can get to £23,000 in London and £20,000 everywhere else. While the cap is supposed to increase parity … Read more

‘We’re so grateful for it, but it’s only temporary.’ Laura’s story
‘We’re so grateful for it, but it’s only temporary.’ Laura’s story

According to a YouGov survey of 3,978 private renters, one in six private renters say that they have had a pest or vermin infestation in the last year. We spoke to Laura about her experience:

I work full-time, and support my family – my husband, our five children, and my mother.

‘We privately rented a flat for three years. It was in poor condition and we’d had various disagreements with the landlord over repairs and rent increases, including an ant … Read more