Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Universal Credit: Pensioners – Parliamentary Written Answer

Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how pensioners in receipt of universal credit in mixed-couple households where one partner is over pensionable age and the other is below will be affected by the under-occupation penalty.
Damian Hinds: All mixed aged couples who under-occupy social housing, are subject to the policy to remove the spare room subsidy, if one partner is in receipt of Universal Credit. This is because working age claimants are better placed to meet a rent shortfall through taking up employment or increasing their working hours; and over the long term, this measure helps ensure that people move to more suitably sized accommodation before both members of a couple reach state pension age.

Gauke Announces Universal Credit Phone Line Will Be Free

David Gauke has told the DWP Committee the phone line for claimants of Universal Credit is now free. The phone line was one of the aspects of Universal Credit that Jeremy Corbyn picked up on in PMQs, with pressure growing from there. The phone lines previously were 55p per minute, with some critics saying they were at premium levels. Gauke opened the evidence session in the DWP committee, saying: “There has been criticism over the telephone calls. Contrary to some reports these are not premium lines and DWP does not make a profit from it. However, this telephone line is now going to be free to call.” Read more on 24housing.

Councils Buying Homeless One-Way Train Tickets

A number of councils in England are regularly buying one-way train tickets for homeless people out of their area. The strategy can be used to reconnect rough sleepers with family, but one man said he was offered a ticket to a city he had never been to before. The government said it was investing £550 million to tackle homelessness. Twenty councils with the highest number of rough sleepers in England were asked - some by Freedom of Information request - how many homeless people had been offered the "reconnection" policy of a one-way train ticket between 2012 and 2017. Of the 11 that responded, 10 said they had bought such tickets. Read more on the BBC website.

Tenants Seek Legal Advice On Winding Up Of KCTMO

Tenants are seeking “urgent confirmation” that a vote for Kensington and Chelsea Council to become the sole member of KCTMO will be postponed. Following Theresa May’s recent intervention telling residents that KCTMO would no longer manage their homes, the management wrote to tenants and advised them to vote for the TMO to continue for a “limited period” at the annual general meeting tomorrow to allow for “meaningful consultation and an orderly handover of services”. The TMO also proposed the council becomes the sole member of the TMO so that it remains a legal entity while the Grenfell Tower Inquiry is ongoing. Read more on Inside Housing.

House Prices: Signs Of New North-South Divide In UK Market Emerge

A new north-south property divide is emerging in the UK ahead of the festive season, with people selling second-stepper homes in the north of England standing the best chance of finding a buyer by Christmas, according to Rightmove. Those selling more expensive “top of the ladder” properties in London and the south of England have the least chance, the property website said in its latest house prices report. Asking prices for homes coming to the market in England and Wales rose 1.1% to £313,435 in the four weeks to 7 October, following a 1.2% drop the previous month. Prices rose in eight out of 10 regions, the exceptions being Yorkshire and Humber and east Midlands. Read more on the Rightmove website.

Research Reveals The Future Of Social Housing

Working with the NHS, using artificial intelligence, providing other types of rented housing, and using more modern methods of construction are the key opportunities for housing associations to ensure social housing survives. These are some of the findings from the London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) after Flagship commissioned research into what the social housing provider of the future might look like. Their main conclusions also suggest that in ten years’ time, social landlords will almost certainly face a more difficult environment, and the housing sector will become more diverse. Download the report from the Flagship website.

Social Housing More Popular With Public Than Private Homes

Just 17% of people would be happy for a housing development to be built within half a mile of their home, new research has revealed. A YouGov survey shows the public are more against new developments in their neighbourhoods than in favour, despite the need to build 250,000 homes each year to solve the housing crisis. However, 38% of people asked would be happy to have extra social housing within half a mile of their homes – with only 22% unhappy at the prospect. Read more on the Huffington Post website.

Government Should ‘Throw Weight Behind’ Council Housing Companies

The government should “throw its weight behind” council housing companies, the chair of the Local Government Association (LGA) has said. Lord Gary Porter was responding to a report from the Smith Institute which reveals a “quiet revolution” in council housebuilding, with around 150 councils setting up housing companies despite little government support. The report shows that increasing numbers of councils are directly funding their own housing companies without government grant to try and meet local housing need, mostly building homes for private rent and sale. Some are recycling the company’s profits to subsidise new affordable and social rented homes, as well as providing temporary accommodation and housing for older people. Read a summary of the report on the Smith Institute website.

Government Actions A Further Step In Homeless Prevention

New guidance to make sure local authorities intervene earlier to help prevent families and individuals becoming homeless in the first place has been published. The guidance, which is subject to an 8-week consultation, sets out how local councils should implement the Homelessness Reduction Act, due to come into effect in April 2018. The new Act requires councils to provide services to all at risk of becoming homeless, on top of those with a priority need such as families with children and those who are vulnerable. Read more on the CLG website.

Universal Credit – Parliamentary Written Answer

Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what proportion of people repaying a universal credit advance are asked to repay within (a) three and (b) six months; how many of those people have other sums deducted from their monthly payment; and in how many of those cases that total deduction exceeds the maximum recommended amount.

Damian Hinds: Claimants choose the periods of repayment. Some 77% of claimants have chosen to repay in 6 months and 8% within 3 months. Deductions for arrears are made in a priority order and can never exceed 40% of the personal allowance.

Forged Ids: Landlord Laws 'Fuelling Black Market'

Legislation aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from renting properties is fuelling a black market in forged IDs. Under Right to Rent rules landlords must check the immigration status of new tenants. But criminal gangs are helping undocumented immigrants flout the law by them selling fake documents. A Home Affairs spokesperson said landlords were not expected to be experts in spotting forged documents. However, David Smith of Anthony Gold Solicitors, who specialises in landlord and tenant law, said this lack of expertise was problematic. "They (landlords) do not have the knowledge or skills to do the job properly. I've never met a landlord who can tell a valid Liechtenstein passport from a forgery," he told the BBC. Read more on the BBC website.

Warning Over Benefits Tempers Rent Settlement Optimism

Welfare reforms could leave some tenants struggling to pay higher rents once they begin rising in 2020, experts have warned, tempering some of the optimism about the recent rent deal. The announcement that social landlords will be able to raise rents by Consumer Price Index plus 1% for five years from 2020 was widely welcomed by the sector as a generous deal. However, some have warned that the forthcoming cap on benefits at Local Housing Allowance (LHA) levels, which is due to be imposed from April 2019, could create a shortfall between housing benefit and rents, leaving tenants having to cover the difference themselves. Read more on Inside Housing.

Committee Announces Inquiry Into Combatting ‘Rogue Landlords'

The Communities & Local Government Select Committee has announced a new inquiry into combatting ‘rogue landlords’. The inquiry will focus on the role of local authorities in the private rented sector (PRS) and whether they have sufficient powers to deal with ‘rogue landlords’. The inquiry will also examine barriers to intervention in the PRS, whether landlord licensing schemes are actually achieving their goals and the effectiveness of complaint mechanisms for tenants. Read more on the NLA website.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Government 'Will Allow Borrowing Flexibility But Not Grant' For Fire Safety Work

Councils may be allowed increased borrowing freedoms and the power to switch funding from general funds to pay for fire safety work to high rises, but the government will not provide direct funding. This was the position revealed by Sajid Javid during a grilling by members of the CLG Committee. Mr Javid confirmed that 31 local authorities have asked for assistance paying for safety measures and that the government is in “detailed discussions” with six of those. He said the government was considering giving extra HRA borrowing flexibilities to the councils, and requests from “one or two” for a one-off transfer to be made from their general funds into their HRA, which is normally ringfenced. However, he said the government was not planning to provide grants for works. Read more on Inside Housing.

Pressure Grows To Make Universal Credit Helpline Free Of Charge

Pressure is growing on ministers to make calls to the universal credit helpline free, after it was revealed that low-income claimants could be paying up to 55p a minute for calls to fix problems with their claim. Campaigners want charges dropped as more evidence emerged of claimants being forced to spend long periods waiting on the phone to resolve issues, and often having to make a number of calls. There are also concerns that poor training of call centre staff and underlying problems with the complex universal credit system are contributing to long waiting times. Read more on the Guardian website.

Corbyn Challenged Over UC Eviction Rates Claim

Gloucester City Homes (GCH) was said by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to have “evicted one in eight of all of its tenants because of Universal Credit”. GCH says the evictions quoted by Corbyn relate to eight of the current 66 UC claimants at September 2017 – compared to GCH’s overall eviction rate of one tenant for the remaining 4,442 tenanted homes. Last month, alongside 137 other housing providers, GCH provided an update to the Commons Select Committee; Universal Credit Inquiry with information based on its experience to date. The association concedes that this was the likely source of the Corbyn claim. Read more on 24housing.

Nation Faces Older People Homelessness ‘Time Bomb’

The nation is facing a “ticking time bomb” in the number of homeless older people after latest figures showed an alarming rise of 130 per cent since its lowest point eight years ago, councils warn. The Local Government Association says that older homelessness is a growing hidden phenomenon that needs greater understanding. Latest figures show that between April and June this year, councils accepted 620 people aged over 60 as homeless – at a rate of nearly 10 a day. This is up from the 270 accepted between October and December 2009, which was the lowest number since records began in 2005. Read more on the LGA website.

Low-Income Tenants Battle Soaring Rents

Low-income tenants are now spending an average of 28% of their wages on rent, up from 21% in the mid-1990s, new research indicates. They have been hit by substantial cuts to housing benefit, with government support expected to fall "further and further behind" the cost of housing, says the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Over the same period of time, the proportion of people renting homes privately has increased from 8% to 19%. Average private rents have gone up 33%. Download the report from the IFS website.

Could Landlords Be Offered Tax Relief For Offering Longer-Term Tenancies?

Landlords are set to benefit from new incentives if they offer longer agreements to their tenants.  Perks could include clawing back tax relief that is currently being withdrawn from thousands of landlords, a leading property expert has suggested. The government wants to offer greater support to those who rent, as the number of people who do not own their own home continues to grow. Policies introduced could benefit landlords who comply.  Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid indicated in his Conservative party conference speech that details will be revealed in the Autumn Budget on November 22.  Read more on the Daily Mail website.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Right to Buy Scheme – Parliamentary Written Answer

Tulip Siddiq: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, if he will make it his policy to allow local authorities to keep more than 30 per cent of the money generated from the sale of a council home under the Right to Buy scheme to help fund the building of replacement homes.
Alok Sharma: Local authorities who wish to build replacement homes enter into an agreement with this Department that allows them to retain and spend all the additional Right to Buy receipts (after covering debt, transaction costs and previously planned income from receipts) on replacement homes. The local authority must ensure that no more than 30 per cent of the cost of the new homes comes from the Right to Buy receipt.

Major Cities Falling Short On Right To Buy Replacements

Major city councils are failing to replace homes sold through the Right to Buy since the government introduced a larger discount for tenants. Birmingham City Council has the largest shortfall between homes sold through the Right to Buy and replacements either acquired or built, with only 253 homes replaced against sales of 2,627 homes since 2012/13 when the government increased the discount council tenants could get when buying their home through the Right to Buy. Read more on Inside Housing.

UK Rents Fall Amid Property Glut In South-East England

Rents in Britain dropped in the final summer months for the first time in at least five years, according to Rightmove. National asking rents outside London fell by 0.2% in the three months to September, which is one of the busiest times of year for tenants looking for a new home. It was the first fall at this time of year since Rightmove started tracking rents in late 2011. The decline comes as landlords flood the south-east of England with newly available rental properties, distorting the national picture, as they turn away from a stuttering London property market. Read more on the Guardian website.

Supported Housing Decision ‘Very Close’

Speaking to the CLG Select Committee, ministers from CLG have said there is now not long to wait for a decision on supported housing. Helen Hayes, Labour MP, quizzed the ministers on when they will release the detail. She said in the 18 months since the review has been started, uncertainty has almost halted all development in the sector. Sajid Javid, communities secretary, responded: “We are very close to making a final decision on this. The work this committee has done and hopefully you will see that when we respond. “There needed to be a relook at the current system and we want to bring clarity to this very quickly.” Read more on 24housing.

Activity Drops Amid Price Increases

The UK housing market continues to lack momentum in September, as demand from new buyers and sales fall again and the shift in interest rate expectations contributes to buyer caution in a slowing market, according to the September RICS UK Residential Market Survey. Survey in brief:
·         Buyer enquiries and sales balances slip back a little further in September.
·         National price balance still marginally positive, but London and the South East return weaker readings.
·         Expectations point to a subdued near-term outlook for both prices and sales.

Download the survey from the RICS website.

Number Of Homeless Families Being Moved From Local Area Doubles In Five Years

The number of homeless families being moved away from their local area has increased by 59% in last five years, according to a new report. Councils are relocating tenants in temporary accommodation that is further away due to rising rental costs, the study from BBC Radio 5 live’s Afternoon Edition revealed. Read more on the Metro website.

Universal Credit Explained

Universal Credit is a new benefit to support you if you’re working and on a low income or you’re out of work. This page explains how Universal Credit is different from existing benefits, how much you’ll be paid and how to apply for it. Do you know…
·         What is Universal Credit?
·         Universal Credit key facts
·         When will I be paid Universal Credit?
·         How much is Universal Credit?
·         How does working affect Universal Credit?
·         How does other income affect Universal Credit?
·         How do savings affect Universal Credit?
·         How to apply for Universal Credit

Get the lowdown on Universal Credit from the Money Advice service website.

Help To Buy Sugar-Rush Reveals Government’s Out Of Ideas On Housing

The Help to Buy initiative— supplying government equity loans of 20% to buyers of new homes, who need only chip in a 5% deposit — has already been extended twice since its introduction in 2013.  Back then high loan-to-value (LTV) mortgages of 95% were rare. Now there are almost eight times as many, with about 300 products on the market. So it was depressing that the Government chucked another £10 billion at HTB as Tories panic about frustrated homeowners shut out of the market. Read more on the Evening Standard website.

Government Announces Rent Settlement

The government has announced that social housing rents will rise by the consumer price index plus 1 per cent from 2020 to 2025. The confirmation is a return to the previous rent settlement which was meant to run from 2015 to 2025 but was replaced with the four year rent cut. Government said at the time of the rent cut that it would reinstate the CPI+1% formula after 2020, but there have been fears of a further reduction or change to the agreement.  Read more on the Social Housing website.

Right To Buy Sales Drop Off

There were 2,601 homes sold between April and June this year, a 23% drop from the 3,382 sold in the same three months in 2016. However, a number of councils with large numbers of homes did not report their sales figures. The CLG estimated these councils had around 350 sales between them taking the total sold to 2,951 – a 13% drop on last year. London councils sold an estimated 503 homes – a steep 45% drop from the 921 sold in the same period last year. The proportion of sales in London has decreased over the past year, with only 19% of total sales coming from London compared to 27% last year. Download the figures from the CLG website.

Government Confirms 25,000 Homes Figure Is ‘An Estimate’

Recently, the government briefed journalists that the £2bn could pay for 25,000 social rented homes over five years. Now, a CLG spokesperson has said this was just an estimate. The exact number will depend on the bids that are submitted by councils and housing associations. The money will likely fund a number of affordable rented homes and properties at other tenures as well. Social rented homes require a higher subsidy than affordable rented homes, so if a provider bids to build affordable rented homes they could build more homes overall. The £2bn funding will be focused on “supporting council housebuilding and housing associations in areas of greatest need”. Read more on Inside Housing.

Tenants Pile On Pressure Over Lack Of RTB Announcements

A petition has been set up as tenants from across the country are joining a growing movement, calling for more details on the Voluntary Right to Buy. The government and National Housing Federation struck a deal to make the policy work, which was to create a pilot scheme to iron out any issues. Since the pilots, there has been silence over the policy from government – until recently. Both Sajid Javid and housing minister Alok Sharma referenced the scheme in their keynote speeches to the National Housing Federation conference this year. This has left tenants even more frustrated, with no further details being given out. Read more on 24housing.

Help To Buy Has Driven Record Rise In Planning Permissions

A report produced by the Home Builders Federation (HBF) in association with construction market analyst Glenigan has suggested that the Help to Buy scheme is having a significant impact on the housing market. According to Stepping Up, a report produced to assess its impact so far, Help to Buy now accounts for one in every 12 first-time buyer transactions and is such a success that it is “driving industry confidence to invest in new sites at a time when activity in the market generally remains stubbornly slow”. The study suggests that the number of planning permissions granted in the first half of 2017 was the highest for new homes on record.  Read more on the Planning Portal.

Work And Pensions Committee Calls For More Detail On UC Changes

The chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee has asked how the government will decide if a Universal Credit claimant is in “immediate need” for a same-day payment. Labour MP Frank Field has written to David Gauke, secretary of state for work and pensions, following his speech at the Conservative Party conference where he said that claimants in “immediate need” will be able to receive a same-day payment to cover their living costs before their Universal Credit payment arrives in their bank account. Read the letter on the Parliament website.

Homeless Facing Worst Winter Crisis For 20 Years

England could face its worst winter homelessness crisis in more than two decades and radical action is needed to prevent the situation from deteriorating, the Big Issue founder has said. John Bird, a life peer who set up the magazine sold on the street by homeless people, said the UK risked moving back to the “desperate” times of the 1990s when the Big Issue started. “It could be the worst winter for over two decades … I am not just talking about rising numbers [of homeless people], but also the fact money is going down and not up. It is likely to make future winters harder, and next year threatens to be even worse,” Lord Bird said. Read more on the Guardian website.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

May Promises £10bn Help To Buy Boost

The government will find an extra £10bn for the Help to Buy scheme to let another 135,000 people get on the property ladder, Theresa May has said. The extra cash will help buyers get a mortgage with a deposit of as little as 5% to buy newly built homes. Mrs May gave no detail about the source of the funding and said plans would be outlined in the Budget on 22 November. But think tank the Adam Smith Institute criticised the revival of the scheme, saying it would push up house prices. Read more on the BBC.

Universal Credit Rollout Going Ahead As Planned

Work and pensions secretary David Gauke has suggested that the universal credit rollout will continue despite warnings from Conservative colleagues that the social security system overhaul should be delayed. A dozen Tory MPs have raised concerns with Gauke’s department that claimants were being forced to use food banks because of the mandatory six-week wait to receive money. Speaking at a Conservative conference fringe event, Gauke gave a clear hint there would be no delay in the rollout, suggesting people needed to be more aware that they could claim emergency advance payments instead of waiting for six weeks. Read more on the Observer website.

Right To Buy Stopped Us Bidding For Build Grant

Only six London councils bid for the mayor’s Affordable Homes Programme this year, an analysis of CLG and mayor of London data has revealed. Most which did not bid said they were put off by the government’s restrictions on how they can use the cash they raise from selling homes to residents under the Right to Buy. Fourteen councils bid for Boris Johnson’s equivalent programme in 2014, but the accumulation of more Right to Buy receipts since then has made it harder for councils to accommodate grant funding, which they are forbidden to combine with the receipts. Read more on Inside Housing.

Young People Hit By Spending Squeeze As Falling Incomes And Rising Housing Costs Take Their Toll

Young people have experienced the tightest squeeze on household spending since 2000 and now consume 15 per cent less than older working age people on items other than housing, according to a new report by the Resolution Foundation. The finding of a consumption ‘youth deficit’ is in stark contrast to common claims that today’s young are spending like there’s no tomorrow and mark a major turnaround from the recent past when earlier generations experienced a ‘youth premium’. Consuming Forces  tracks the spending patterns of different age groups since the 1960s to see how changes in earnings and incomes have fed through into what people spend their money on from week to week. Read more on the Resolution Foundation website.

Borough Brings Housing In House

A London borough has brought housing back in house. The council housing management services, previously provided by Brent Housing Partnership (BHP), transferred back to Brent Council this week. It’s a move that follows a 12 week consultation with tenants and leaseholders earlier this year and a raft of improvements to council housing are planned over the next year. Tenancies are already held by the council so residents are being told they will not need to do anything differently and will still receive all the services they currently have access to. Read more on 24housing.

Help To Buy Supports Over 320,000 People In Buying Their Own Home

The government’s Help to Buy schemes have continued their success, supporting over 320,000 people across the UK to buy a home. Over 1 million Help to Buy: ISAs have now been opened by first time buyers, offering government bonuses of up to £3,000 towards the cost of a first home.
Statistics show that:
·         over 320,000 completions have taken place using one or more of the Help to Buy schemes
·         over 275,000 first time buyers are now on the housing ladder thanks to Help to Buy
·         the average house price across the schemes is £196,092, below the average UK house price
·         over 90% of completions across the Help to Buy schemes have taken place outside of London

Read more on the CLG website.

Tory Rebellion Throws Universal Credit Reforms Into Chaos

The Government's flagship welfare reforms have been thrown into jeopardy after 12 Conservative MPs wrote a private letter to the Work and Pensions Secretary demanding a pause in the roll-out of Universal Credit. The Telegraph understands that the 12 MPs, led by Heidi Allen, have warned David Gauke not to go ahead with a planned tenfold increase in the roll-out of Universal Credit. Ministers had been expected to announce a decision on whether to accelerate the roll-out in the coming weeks but the backbench revolt risks wiping out the Tories' majority in the Commons if Labour forces a vote, throwing the whole scheme into question. Read more on the Daily Telegraph website.

Households In Temporary Accommodation Up Again

Latest figures from the CLG show that 78,180 households were living in temporary accommodation on 30 June 2017 (these households included 120,170 children or expected children). This is up 7% on a year earlier, and up 63% on the low of 48,010 at 31 December 2010.  Between 1 April and 30 June 2017 local authorities accepted 14,400 households as being statutorily homeless - i.e. households owed a statutory duty to secure accommodation as a result of being unintentionally homeless and deemed to be in priority need. This was down by 1% on the previous quarter and down 5% on the same quarter last year. Local authorities also took action to prevent and relieve some 54,270 households between 1 April and 30 June 2017. Read more on the ARCH website.

Average House Price Is Now Eight Times The Average Wage

Analysis from the Local Government Association (LGA) reveals that in 2000 the average house price was 3.96 times the average income, whereas last year it was 7.72 times the average wage. The LGA is calling for an urgent investment in house-building and infrastructure, to deliver the genuinely affordable homes the country needs. Councils approve nine in 10 planning applications but restrictions on their ability to borrow to invest in new housing are holding them back, and the LGA is calling for these to be lifted. The last time the country built the amount of homes a year it needs, in the 1970s, 40 per cent of new homes were built by local authorities. Last year, councils lost more homes through the Right to Buy scheme than were started in the last five years. Read more on the LGA website.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Council Votes To Terminate Contract With KCTMO

At its second full council meeting since the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June, the council formally agreed to plans to remove Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) from the management of almost 10,000 council homes in the borough. Kim Taylor-Smith, deputy leader of the council, said: “Residents of the council, the government and the TMO itself have come to the conclusion that after the tragedy of 15 June the TMO no longer has the trust of residents in the borough. “In light of this we are working with the TMO to terminate the contract with the council.” Read more on Inside Housing.

Households In Temporary Accommodation Up Again

Latest figures from the CLG show that 78,180 households were living in temporary accommodation on 30 June 2017 (these households included 120,170 children or expected children). This is up 7% on a year earlier, and up 63% on the low of 48,010 at 31 December 2010. Between 1 April and 30 June 2017 local authorities accepted 14,400 households as being statutorily homeless - i.e. households owed a statutory duty to secure accommodation as a result of being unintentionally homeless and deemed to be in priority need. This was down by 1% on the previous quarter and down 5% on the same quarter last year. Read more on the ARCH website.

Rent Control The Way Forward Say Labour

The first political conference of 2017 kicked off in Brighton on 27 September, with Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn announcing that if they win the next General Election, they will introduce rent controls for the private rented sector. Rent control has been promised by Labour as far back as 2015, with their Party Manifesto claiming, "For the 11 million people who rent privately, we will legislate to make three-year tenancies the norm, with a ceiling on excessive rent rises" and later in their 2017 manifesto "Labour will make new three-year tenancies the norm, with an inflation cap on rent rises.” Read more on the ARLA website.

Social Housing Regulator Consults On Value For Money Standard

The regulator of social housing has launched a statutory consultation on proposals to revise its Value for Money Standard from April 2018. The proposed Standard is intended to encourage providers to achieve their objectives by making the best use of every pound and every property to deliver more new homes, make improvements to the existing housing stock, and provide better services to tenants without placing additional burden on the taxpayer. The proposed VfM Standard is complemented by a Code of Practice that is designed to help registered providers understand what the regulator is looking for when seeking assurance against the Standard. Download the consultation from the HCA website.

Build-To-Rent Fuels 100,000 Homes Construction Boom

There are now nearly 96,000 build-to-rent homes complete, under construction and in planning, a near 40% jump on the figures for first quarter of this year. According to research by Savills for the British Property Federation, London leads the expansion with Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Birmingham catching up fast. Taken together the regional cities also now account for a larger pipeline than the Capital, where private rental schemes first took off. Contractors are also directly joining in the race to supply private rented housing with 19% of planned rooms directly developed by building firms. Read more on Construction Enquirer.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Council To Charge Leaseholders For Sprinklers

Wandsworth Council has previously committed to installing sprinklers in all 100 of its residential buildings of 10 storeys or higher. The council’s Conservative-led executive has now given the green light to proposals to attempt to recover the estimated £24m cost of the works through leaseholder service charges. A report by Brian Reilly, director of housing and regeneration at the council, said it has received legal advice that this route would be possible. The charges will be between £3,000 and £4,000 for each of the 2,358 leasehold flats set to have sprinklers installed. Read more on Inside Housing.

Landlords Call For PRS On Public Land

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is calling for unused and abandoned plots of public sector land to be redeveloped as new sites for PRS homes. All projections are that the demand for homes in the private rented sector will continue, with predictions that 25% of all homes will be in the PRS by 2021. The association would also like to see controversial cuts to mortgage interest relief axed, saying it would be the best way for the government to support the country’s small-scale landlords. In its submission, ahead of the 2017 budget on November 22nd the association said the government should follow the lead of Ireland by scrapping the changes. Read more of the RLA’s views on the Budget on the RLA website.