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to pay their rent, it becomes clear that the image of renters as students and mobile young professionals is very out of date.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

Guest blog: Mid-term (tenure) blues

We’re always fascinated to see how the kind of housing people have relates to their voting intentions. It’s great to have Ben Marshall, from the pollsters Ipsos MORI, blogging here on their latest analysis.

One stat really jumps out for me: that 62% of renters voted for coalition parties in 2010, but only 37% would now. Not surprising then that Ed Miliband announced a suite of policies for private renters on Saturday. If ever there was a reason for … Read more

CPI or 1 per cent rises: The real story is the missing link to rents

As part of today’s Autumn Statement the Chancellor announced changes to the way Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates will be up-rated over the next three years. Rates will only be up-rated annually by one per cent [PDF] in 2014/15 and 2015/16, as part of a package of real-term cuts to working age benefits. There will be some protection for the most over-heated markets but details remain sketchy.

Also skipped over was the fact that this is an additional cut being … Read more

Why the 'underemployed' face loss of support for housing costs

One in ten people in the UK is now underemployed, meaning they would like to work more hours to boost their earnings but are unable to find suitable jobs.

The problem of underemployment has bubbled around the squeezed middle debate for some time, but the Office for National Statistics has now crunched the numbers and discovered that more than three million Britons are unable to find sufficient work.

Importantly these workers are not people actively choosing to work part-time to … Read more

Labour: getting noisier on housing

It’s now five years since I first attended party conferences for my job, and I’ve noted some quite different atmospheres over the years.

The 2009 party conferences were the most striking: the quietly confident Conservative conference where champagne was strictly off limits, Labour’s failed coups and sense of impending downfall, and the pre-Cleggmania stoicism at Lib Dems. All this with the backdrop of the MPs’ expense scandal rumbling on.

Fast forward to 2012 and it’s quite a different … Read more

We need to talk solutions as well as problems with renting

We’ve had a warm reaction to our proposals for better renting over the last week. It’s a real testament to policy makers’ and the industry’s acknowledgement of the world we live in – one in which millions of people on ordinary incomes cannot get the stability from their home that they need to plan for the future.

There is now increasing agreement that something must be done – that the political, social and economic consequences of leaving so many people … Read more

Our proposal: a better deal for renters

It’s not news to readers of this blog that we’re concerned about how private renting is working for people with no other options open to them.

Some 8.5 million people now rent from a private landlord – more than live in social housing. People on average incomes who would have been able to buy a home a decade ago will take a lot longer to realise that aspiration.

Over the last year we’ve looked at how renting is working – … Read more

Renters: unregistered and unrepresented?

It’s the time of year when my council sends round letters to check that we’re registered to vote. Happily, I’ve been renting my flat for a while and confirmed our names on the register with minimal fuss.

As the political world gears up for a by-election in Corby and a Bill on electoral reform wings its way through Parliament, the letter did get me thinking about how many of my neighbours – a somewhat transient bunch – had done the … Read more

Back to school: the new political season

September – chillier, windier, busier – is traditionally a time for a refresh. Having had the summer to reflect on how things have gone, our politicians traditionally use the return to Parliament to set out a rejuvenated course for the coming months. Summer 2012 was exceptional in every sense, and the Prime Minister used the moment to really shake up his ministerial teams.

It’s all change for housing policy. Our new team of ministers have been in post for a … Read more

Time to talk legacy?

There’s bound to be some stiff competition to get into Private Eye’s Olympicballs column this week – but let’s give it a go….

It’s still unfashionable to be sceptical about the likelihood of a legacy for the games, but let’s not forget that the original vision behind London’s bid for the Olympics was about regenerating a huge swathe of the ex-industrial east end, and providing tonnes of new homes in shiny new neighbourhoods.

So as the celebrations finish and … Read more

Nightmare letting agent stories

At Shelter we regularly come across letting agent nightmare stories.

We’ve heard of tenants being charged £100 just to view a property. Of non-refundable admin fees of £540, and of renters and landlords being double charged for exactly the same service.

In fact, nearly 11 million people have been charged an unfair fee by a letting agent according to a recent YouGov poll for Shelter – that’s 1 in 4 people in Great Britain. Furthermore, three quarters of renters … Read more

Waiting too long for a stable home

It’s a sad reality that in Britain we get used to putting up with the impact the high cost of housing has on our lives.

We accept having to spend an hour getting to and from work every day as we can’t afford to live any closer to our jobs. We think of the family homes we grew up in with nostalgia rather than aspiration, accepting we are unlikely to live anywhere similar. We pay half our salaries to keep … Read more