Posts

Don’t just vilify Fergus Wilson. Use him to justify change
Don’t just vilify Fergus Wilson. Use him to justify change

Fergus Wilson clearly enjoys the attention that being a hate figure brings.

In the last five years, he’s gone out of his way looking for publicity for his mass evictions and controversial – sometimes unlawful – lettings policies.

But in the wake of a new round of newspaper reports on his decision to evict 90 of his tenants, including nine families with children under ten, it should be clear that vilifying him isn’t enough.

Treating him like a panto … Read more

The future of social housing – what’s next?
The future of social housing – what’s next?

Last week we launched the final report of our commission on the future of social housing. I joined Shelter midway through the project. I was amazed to see the huge ambition and hard work our 16 independent commissioners and the team here put into it.

It’s also been great to see a sector work together so well. There has been a growing push for more social housing recently, from charities, the public, and industry bodies.

But we … Read more

‘If you’re on benefits, landlords don’t want to know’
‘If you’re on benefits, landlords don’t want to know’

This article is part of a series, ‘Shelter defending the right to a home’, that appears on theguardian.com

A lack of social housing forces tenants on benefits to turn to private landlords – but they invariably find themselves locked out of the market. That’s why Shelter is defending the rights of those who rent, or struggle to rent because of discrimination or stigma.

When Jim Spencer was served with a section 21 notice by his landlord, he admits he didn’t … Read more

We need a new generation of social rent homes
We need a new generation of social rent homes

Today, almost a year after we announced its launch on this blog, our commission on Social Housing delivers its final report: ‘Building for our Future: A Vision for Social Housing’.

This landmark report was put together by 16 independent commissioners, drawn from all walks of life and political persuasions. The commissioners were not a group of housing experts when they began this project, but every one of them brought experience, expertise and insight to this work. We cannot … Read more

Home advantage: why the Housing First model benefits all
Home advantage: why the Housing First model benefits all

This article is part of a series, ‘Shelter defending the right to a home’, that appears on theguardian.com

Offer a secure home to a homeless person and you’ll slash healthcare, probation and psychiatric nursing bills. The individual will flourish too.

“When you’re on the streets, you don’t sleep properly. You’re always on a heightened state of alert because you don’t know if you’re going to be urinated on, beaten, stabbed … I’ve had teeth knocked out, a piece of my … Read more

Legal aid: the missing cornerstone of renters’ rights
Legal aid: the missing cornerstone of renters’ rights

Access to justice is a fundamental human right – but one that is increasingly difficult to exercise.

Since the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO), thousands of people are unable to access legal advice for help with benefits and debt problems, or with other tenancy issues at an early stage – so much so that the number of new benefit cases opened under legal aid has dropped by 99% since 2013.

This means … Read more

Health and home: how poor living conditions endanger wellbeing
Health and home: how poor living conditions endanger wellbeing

This article is part of a series, ‘Shelter defending the right to a home’, that appears on theguardian.com

A place to call home – it’s a basic human right. Yet not everybody has one, and even families that do can find their health suffering from living in cramped and dirty conditions. That’s why Shelter is committed to defending everyone’s right to a safe home.

By any measure, a two-bedroom flat is hardly the ideal place to raise a family of … Read more

Fitness for Human Habitation: An early Christmas present for renters
Fitness for Human Habitation: An early Christmas present for renters

Renters received a welcome Christmas present today, as the Fitness for Human Habitation Bill finally completed its journey through parliament. Let’s unwrap it…

The Bill revives legislation requiring homes to be ‘fit for human habitation’ at the start of the tenancy and to remain so throughout. Extraordinarily, this is a not a protection currently enjoyed by any renter – social or private – in England. Although landlords have responsibilities to do repairs, there are some glaring omissions – including, for … Read more

‘We’ve seen whole families forced to share a bed’: the housing emergency on your doorstep
‘We’ve seen whole families forced to share a bed’: the housing emergency on your doorstep

This article is part of a series, ‘Shelter defending the right to a home’, that appears on theguardian.com

High rents and dwindling benefits leave many families unable to heat their homes or eat. Shelter is demanding that the right to a home be placed on a par with the rights to education and healthcare.

When Tariq’s* wife saw the temporary accommodation the council were offering the couple and their two sons, she cried. The three bedrooms were damp, with mould … Read more

Cross-party working closes the Tenant Fees Bill loophole
Cross-party working closes the Tenant Fees Bill loophole

In her first party conference speech as Prime Minister, Theresa May vowed to use the ‘power of government’ to step in and repair markets that weren’t working. At the time, we wrote of our hope that this could be good news for renters, a rapidly expanding group of consumers who face a marketplace full of dysfunction.

Just a few weeks later, the Chancellor announced a ban on letting fees to tenants in his Autumn Budget. The aim of the ban … Read more

A united front to ending the LHA rate freeze
A united front to ending the LHA rate freeze

As we revealed last month, homelessness is continuing to rise. The causes and solutions to homelessness are heavily debated. But one thing is for sure – homelessness isn’t inevitable. It can be prevented.

Along with others, including local housing authorities, Shelter has long argued that benefits are to blame. Restrictions to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates are driving homelessness rates upwards. These increases are, also, making it difficult for local authorities to help families out of homelessness and … Read more

Only making longer tenancies the law will help low income renters
Only making longer tenancies the law will help low income renters

In the coming months, the government is due to report the results of its consultation on longer private tenancies. It will be our first chance to see whether the government will stick to its guns and change the law, so that all private renters get a longer tenancy and genuine security from no-fault ‘Section 21’ evictions.

In this post we’ll consider what will happen if the government loses its nerve by opting for a non-legislative, voluntary approach. If it … Read more