No excuse for no DSS
No excuse for no DSS

Our campaign against ‘no DSS’ has split the lettings industry. Some agents have engaged positively with it and are taking meaningful steps to drive out old discriminatory practices by making sure they take into account every tenants’ full financial circumstances.

But some have just tried to defend old practices.

Many defences of no DSS are transparent prejudice. But a couple of arguments for ruling out tenants on housing benefit sound more plausible, like:

what if a landlord can’t afford to… Read more
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

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

Border politics – how private renters in Scotland are getting a better deal
Border politics – how private renters in Scotland are getting a better deal

As the Brexit negotiations enter a crucial stage, we’ve been hearing a lot about borders. At Shelter, we’ve also recently been paying a lot of attention to one of our borders – but we’ve been more focused on the Scottish border and how renters either side of the divide are getting a very different deal.

If you are a private renter searching for a property near the Scottish border, you may notice some differences between the adverts for homes … Read more

Avoiding discrimination – a guide for letting agents and landlords
Avoiding discrimination – a guide for letting agents and landlords

This blog was written jointly with Rose Arnall in Shelter’s Legal Services.

The launch of our campaign to end DSS discrimination against renters on housing benefit has suggested that some landlords and letting agents may not be fully up to speed on how their policies could be putting them at risk of breaching the Equality Act 2010.

So we’ve put together some top tips to advise landlords and agents on how best to avoid discrimination.

Avoiding direct discrimination 

Most landlords … Read more

Letting fees bill - the parliamentary journey so far
Letting fees bill - the parliamentary journey so far

Despite all the pressures that Brexit is placing on parliamentary time, the Tenant Fees Bill has been making rapid progress through parliament. While this speedy parliamentary journey may be good for moving the bill closer towards implementation, we shouldn’t forget there are still areas of the legislation (as currently drafted) that will leave private renters open to continuing exploitation.

Here’s our update on the parliamentary journey so far, which sets out the areas the government still needs to address … Read more

An introduction to housing courts
An introduction to housing courts

At last year’s Conservative Party Conference, Sajid Javid announced that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) would consult on the case for a specialist housing court. The government wanted to explore whether a new housing court could improve court processes, making it quicker and cheaper to resolve disputes – particularly for landlords and tenants.

Since this initial announcement, MHCLG has said little publicly about its plans for consultation. However, the idea of a specialist housing court has … Read more

How much?! Your top 10 worst letting fees
How much?! Your top 10 worst letting fees

There’s something to celebrate for private renters: the government’s hotly anticipated ban on letting fees is approaching its second reading. Because for too long, renters have been ripped off – shelling out £272 per person (on average) in fees. Together with our supporters, we’ve campaigned for years to stop this, so we’re delighted to see the government taking action through the Tenant Fees Bill.

Letting agents, and some landlords, aren’t quite so jubilant. Their days of charging outrageous fees are … Read more

Right to Rent: Tenants are footing the bill in fees

Last week the government tightened its Right to Rent rules, making it a criminal offence for a landlord to let to anyone they know, or have reasonable cause to believe, is an illegal immigrant.

Under the policy, landlords must check that their tenants can legally rent a property. Tenants must produce a document, such as a passport or a certificate of naturalisation, to prove their Right to Rent.

Until last week, a landlord that contravened this law would face a … Read more

A tax on both your (privately rented) houses

Wednesday’s budget furrowed many a brow at Shelter. The Chancellor singled out housing support for substantial cuts. A lot of the people who come to Shelter for help are about to find themselves worse off – and our job just got tougher.

However, amidst this frustration there were some sensible tax reforms that deserve an honourable mention.

1. Raise the Roof

The Budget raised the tax-free threshold for the rent-a-room scheme.

This scheme was introduced in 1992 to offer … Read more

Guest Blog- Kate Faulkner

Property expert Kate Faulkner has written this guest blog on the unsatisfactory state of today’s housing market. Like Shelter, Kate believes that it is time for politicians of all stripes to take bold action to deliver the new homes our country desperately needs, and to effectively regulate a private rented sector that is now home to 9 million people.

To solve the housing battle, we need the same determination our Veterans had

With the recent D-Day celebrations, I’m reminded of … Read more

Good landlords

Shelter is occasionally labelled as ‘anti-landlord’, this is absolutely not the case. We’re anti-rogue landlords, certainly. And yes, we campaign vigorously on private renting.

Private rented housing makes up a disproportionate share of the problems Shelter’s advisers deal with every day; our work gives us direct experience of the problems faced by people who rent privately. All too often our advisers witness shocking behaviour that can make renters’ lives a misery, which is why we focus on the elements that Read more