Friday, 16 February 2018

More Than 423,000 Homes With Planning Permission Waiting To Be Built

More than 423,000 homes have been given planning permission but are still waiting to be built, according to new research released by the Local Government Association. The study, commissioned by the LGA and carried out by industry experts Glenigan, shows the backlog has grown by almost 16% in the last year. To the LGA, the research reinforces the need for new powers allowing councils to act on uncompleted schemes. Over 2015/16 the total number of unimplemented planning permissions in England and Wales was 365,146 – rising to 423,544 in 2016/17. The figures also show that developers are taking longer to build new homes. Read more on 24housing.

MHCLG Announces Allocations For £45m Land Release Fund

Ministers have announced the allocations for its £45m Land Release Fund, aimed at building infrastructure and roads to unlock local authority-owned sites for development. The money has been awarded to successful bids for 79 schemes from 41 councils across England. The government estimates the funding could release land for up to 7,280 new homes. It will be spent on a range of remediation measures, including asbestos removal, road alterations and “bat alleviation”, according to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). Read more on Inside Housing.

The Decline Of Homeownership Among Young Adults

The decline in the homeownership rate of young adults in Great Britain is an issue that has risen to the top of the political agenda. In a briefing note, the Institute for Fiscal Studies finds;
·         young adults are significantly less likely to own a home at a given age than those born five or ten years earlier
·         falls in homeownership have been sharpest for young adults with middle incomes.
·         key reason for the decline is the sharp rise in house prices relative to incomes
·         Young adults from more disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to own their home
Download the briefing note from the IFS website.

Windsor Council Drops Plans To Fine Rough Sleepers After Outcry

Windsor council has withdrawn plans to fine rough sleepers £100 as part of a new “homelessness support strategy” after a public outcry against the measures. The council’s leader, Simon Dudley, has requested that the proposals be withdrawn after feedback from the public and councillors. Dudley’s assertion that rough sleepers should be cleared from the town centre for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sparked the controversy last month. The borough also said future strategies on homelessness would not try to address rough sleeping and anti-social behaviour at the same time, describing them as separate objectives. Read more on the Guardian website.

Most Empty Homes Are In The North

We are used to seeing stories about empty homes in London, particularly empty homes bought by wealthy investors who leave them unoccupied. But these sorts of empty properties are not the biggest issue. Research by the Empty Homes campaigning charity shows that London actually has the lowest proportion of in England with 0.56% of homes in the capital officially described as empty. That’s not to say there isn’t a problem with empty homes in the capital, but we need to be careful not to allow a London lens to distort the bigger picture. Download a copy of the research from the Empty Homes website.

Vulnerable People 'Trapped In Homelessness' Due To Law

Vulnerable people are unable to access social housing, potentially trapping them "in a cycle of homelessness", due to a change in the law. Under the Localism Act 2011 councils were granted greater powers to restrict access to social housing. Since then 700,000 households have disappeared from waiting lists across England. The HCLG said: "Social housing is a priority for us." Until the act became law in 2012, councils were required to consider all housing applications, with few powers to remove households from the list. Now a local connection - often more than five years in a borough - is required by 35% of councils to access the social housing register. Read more on the BBC website.

Rent Controls Would Leave Tenants ‘Worse Off’

The ONS’ rent index shows private sector rents across Britain increased by 1.1% in the year to January 2018. In London they grew by just 0.2%. This is against a current inflation figures of 2.7% (CPI) and 4% (RPI). The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) argues the figures show that calls by many in the Labour Party and elsewhere for rents to be linked to inflation would leave many tenants worse off. The figures further highlight that social sector rent increases, currently based on CPI plus 1%, are growing proportionally more than those in the private sector. Download the index from the ONS website.

What Is The English Housing Survey Telling Us?

Read a very useful analysis of the English Housing Survey from @katefaulkner showing interesting changes in tenure trends

One In Seven Homeless In Kensington & Chelsea

The borough of Kensington & Chelsea is home to 10,705 families – 1,441 of which are homeless – one in seven of the population. Next door at Westminster, the figure is one in eight. In Haringey it is one in 12. Taking London as a whole, one in 24 families are classed as homeless – an increase of 46% compared to five years ago. Polly Neate, CEO at Shelter, said: “It’s shocking that one in every 24 families in London is homeless. Every day we help parents desperate to escape the cramped accommodation they’re forced to raise their children in.” Read more on 24housing.

Government Backs One Of UK's Largest Selective Licensing Schemes

The government has given the go ahead to what will be one of the UK’s largest selective licensing scheme outside of London. Letting Agent Today has previously reported that Nottingham was getting tough with unauthorised To Let boards; now it seems the council also has the powers to introduce mandatory licenses for landlords of around 31,000 private rental units within its boundaries.  This constitutes around 90 per cent of all privately rented homes within the city. Money raised through the scheme will help to cover the cost and the council says it hopes to be able to introduce the scheme from summer this year. Read more on Letting Agent Today.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Windsor Council To Impose Fines On Rough Sleepers

Windsor council has been accused of punishing people for being homeless after plans emerged to fine rough sleepers £100 as part of a new “homelessness support strategy”. The Council will impose public space protection orders (PSPOs) banning aggressive or proactive begging, requests for money, leaving bedding and belongings in a public area and urination or defecation in town centres in the area, including Windsor, Maidenhead, Ascot and Eton. Breaches would lead to a £100 fixed penalty notice, which would be cut to £50 for early payment, but offenders could face a summary conviction and a £1,000 fine if they fail to pay. Read more on the Observer website.

UK Tenants Paid Record £50bn In Rents In 2017

The total amount of rent paid by tenants in Britain soared to more than £50bn in 2017, more than double the level of a decade ago, and may soon eclipse the entire sum paid out by homeowners for their mortgages. The figures, compiled by the UK’s biggest estate agency and mortgage broker, Countrywide, reveal the dramatic reshaping of the property market in recent years as home ownership levels have gone into reverse. Last year, tenants in Britain paid a record £51.6bn in rents, an increase of £1.8bn on the previous year and more than twice the £22.6bn shelled out in 2007. Read more on the Guardian website.

Brownfield Registers Identify Land For More Than 1 Million Homes

An analysis of Brownfield Land Registers confirms that there is enough space on brownfield land to build at least one million new homes, with more than two-thirds of these homes deliverable within the next five years.  Many of these sites are in areas with a high need for housing. This means that three of the next five years’ worth of Government housing targets could be met through building homes on brownfield land that has already been identified. The Campaign to Protect Rural England found that the 17,656 sites identified by local planning authorities, covering over 28,000 hectares of land, would provide enough land for a minimum of 1,052,124 homes. Read more on the CPRE website.

UK Housing Market Gets Off To Subdued Start In 2018

Britain’s housing market got off to a subdued start in 2018, with sellers of £1m-plus homes in London finding it toughest to find buyers in January, according to a survey of estate agents. Across the UK as whole, the number of sales, new buyers, and properties coming onto the market all fell in January, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said. New buyer inquiries fell for a 10th successive month and the number of properties coming on to estate agents’ books slipped back to the record-low levels seen around the middle of 2017, signalling there will be no imminent pick-up in activity. Read more on the Guardian website.

Tenant Ballots Will Not Affect Approved Regeneration Schemes

London mayor Sadiq Khan’s Good Practice Guide to Estate Regeneration backed residents’ right to vote on regeneration projects where demolition of social housing is involved, in a significant U-turn. Peabody, which is due to start onsite at its huge regeneration of Thamesmead in Greenwich in summer, confirmed that it did not anticipate needing to hold tenant ballots on the parts of the scheme that already have planning permission. But for phases that have not yet gained approval, a spokesperson said: “We will continue to ensure that there is full consultation and involvement with residents, and once more detail is available, will look at how we can take this forward.” Read more on Inside Housing.

Former Ministers Slam The Government's "Weak" Reforms For Housebuilding

Former ministers have hit out at the government's "weak" planning forms, saying the measures are not bold enough to end the UK's housing crisis. A year ago today, the government produced its housing white paper, which promised to "fix our broken housing market". However, it stopped short of the radical planning changes that would allow for more rapid housebuilding. More recently, the government has said it will make it easier for homeowners to build upwards on their properties. Tory MPs John Penrose, Nick Boles, and Mark Prisk, former ministers for architecture, planning and housing respectively, slammed the proposed reforms, saying they do not go far enough. Read more on the City AM website.

UK Buy-To-Let Investment Slumps 80%

Investment in buy-to-let plummeted to just £5bn in 2017 having been worth £35bn ($48.8bn, €39bn) in 2015. Changes to the tax treatment and mortgage requirements are thought to be behind the slump, which IMLA branded “excessive” and warned against “further punitive action”. As a result of the tax changes, 21% of landlords said they would be reducing their portfolio in the coming year. According to IMLA, buy-to-let landlords have been good for UK housing with adjusted rental costs in real terms falling 4.4%. Read more on the International Adviser website.

Ombudsman Abandons 'Broken' Housing Market

One of several organisations that resolves disputes in the property market has announced it is going to withdraw from the sector. Ombudsman Services said it would no longer offer "a broken solution to a broken market". It is one of at least four services that offers redress in arguments between property agents - including estate agents - and individuals. It said it would complete its withdrawal by 6 August 2018. Other services operating in the housing market include The Property Ombudsman, The Property Redress Scheme and the Housing Ombudsman. Read more on the BBC website.

'Devastated' Social Housing Tenants Who Could Be Kicked Out Of Their Homes

Social housing tenants in Cambridge have been left devastated after plans were revealed to redevelop the land they live on - as the city’s affordable housing reaches “critical” levels. Montreal Square, located just off Mill Road and just over a mile from Cambridge city centre, currently has 18 houses on the cul-de-sac – but housing bosses want to increase that to 32. The Cambridge Housing Society (CHS) has revealed they are “exploring the possibility” of increasing the number of affordable homes on Montreal Square – an area where the need for affordable housing is “critical”. Read more on the Cambridge News website.

UK Rent Growth Halves During 2017

Average UK rents increased at less than half the rate during 2017 than 2016, The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS) has revealed in the latest edition of its Rent Index. According to the latest edition of the DPS rent index average UK monthly rent during 2017 increased by just 1.63% from £761.31 to £773.74 during 2017; half the rate of growth during 2016 (3.25% from £737.33). The slowdown was particularly pronounced in London, which saw the lowest increase in average rent of any British region, increasing by just £5.83 or 0.44% to £1,324.29 (from £1,318.46). Download the Rent Index from the DPS website.

Anger As Thousands Unaware They Face A ‘Second Mortgage’

The government has been called on to delay a new “second mortgage” scheme, which replaces a benefit for homeowners on low incomes, after just one in 20 affected households have signed up for it. From April, the government is axing “support for mortgage interest” (SMI) which helps financially constrained homeowners with their mortgage. It will be replaced with a controversial system where the government offers to loan people the money, which will be repaid later with interest. However, new figures have shown that just 6,850 households have signed up for the scheme out of the 124,000 currently receiving the SMI benefit, prompting calls for the changeover to be delayed. Read more on the Guardian website.

Cross-Party Groups Of MPs Call For Change To Supported Housing Plans

Two cross-party select committees have “strongly recommended” the government rethinks its plans to introduce a top-up fund for short-term supported housing controlled by councils. The HCLG Select Committee and the Work and Pensions Select Committee chairs wrote to Heather Wheeler, the junior minister responsible for supported housing. They called for the government to only fund emergency accommodation through a top-up fund and include all other short-term supported housing under its ‘sheltered rent’ plan. Under the proposals a sheltered rent would apply to extra care and sheltered housing, but short-term accommodation up to two years, such as women’s refuges and homelessness shelters, would be funded through council grants. Read more on Inside Housing.

Housing Infrastructure Fund :Written Statement

The Government announces that we will invest £866 million to help unlock up to 200,000 new homes through 133 Marginal Viability Fund projects, within the Housing Infrastructure Fund. The Government has set out a plan that puts us on track to increase housing supply to 300,000 homes a year and this first wave of funding from the £5 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund is part of a comprehensive programme to fix the broken housing market. This investment will fund key local infrastructure projects including new roads, cycle paths, flood defences and land remediation work where it is needed for new housing to be built. Without this financial support, these projects would struggle to go ahead or take years for work to begin, delaying the homes these communities need.

Government ‘Should Raise HRA’ So Councils Can Tackle Housing Crisis

Research by the New Local Government Network (NLGN) reveals affordable housing efforts would benefit from a reconsideration of the borrowing cap for local authorities. To NLGN, an increased capacity to borrow, among other measures, would give local authorities the autonomy to build housing where it is needed. The research, commissioned by the National Housing Federation, outlines the collaboration between local government and housing associations, who are committed to providing affordable housing in line with current demand.  Download the report from the NLGN website.

Raab Raises Stakes With Labour Over Home Ownership

Housing minister Dominic Raab says home ownership is “the British dream” and it’s a vision not shared in Labour’s appeal to a younger generation. Raab referenced the “Marxist decree” that all property is theft to take a swipe at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow housing minister John Healy. On housing, Raab said, the Tories had a chance to re-cast their social contract with younger voters. The sense of injustice felt by younger voters was most piercing for the Conservatives, Raab said, precisely because of the party’s success in instilling the aspiration of home-ownership in the next generation – only for them to find the housing ladder has been pulled up beyond their reach. Read more on the Daily Telegraph website.

Landlords Back Bid To Overturn Right To Rent

The country’s leading landlord organisation is supporting efforts to overturn a flagship immigration policy, saying its members won’t be “scapegoats for the failures of the border agencies.” Under the Right to Rent Scheme landlords are responsible for checking the immigration status of their tenants with the prospect of prosecution if they know or have “reasonable cause to believe” that the property they are letting is occupied by someone who does not have the right to rent in the UK. Now, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is supporting a Judicial Review of the policy being sought today by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) which argues that the policy discriminates against foreign nationals. Read more on the RLA website.

How To Fix The Housing Shortage

A surprise increase has been caused by a shortage of supply, says Nationwide. If Communities Secretary Sajid Javid imposes a charge on builders' unused land the money should be handed to cash strapped council planning departments to get developments moving.  Something of a surprise from Nationwide, which reported a 3.2 per cent annual rise in house prices in January and the 2.6 per cent recorded the previous month.  It’s the biggest increase since March 2017, and has pushed the average price to £211,756, the highest recorded by the building society. This is eye opening when you consider the squeeze on household budgets, the general lack of consumer confidence, the torpid economic outlook thanks to Brexit. Read more on the Independent website.

Labour Plans To Make Landowners Sell To State For Fraction Of Value

Labour is considering forcing landowners to give up sites for a fraction of their current price in an effort to slash the cost of council house building. The proposal has been drawn up by John Healey, the shadow housing secretary, and would see a Jeremy Corbyn-led government change the law so landowners would have to sell sites to the state at knockdown prices. Landowners currently sell at a price that factors in the dramatic increase in value when planning consent is granted. It means a hectare of agricultural land worth around £20,000 can sell for closer to £2m if it is zoned for housing. Read more on the Guardian website.

Jump In Landlords Facing Serious Mortgage Arrears

The number of landlords who are seriously behind with their mortgage payments has jumped by 20%. There were 1,200 buy-to-let mortgages in "significant arrears" in the last quarter of 2017, a fifth higher than in the same quarter in 2016. Significant arrears means they owe more than 10% of the outstanding balance. The figures suggest some landlords may be beginning to struggle financially, following a series of tax changes. There were 5,100 buy-to-let mortgages in less serious arrears of 2.5%. This was a 2% rise on 2016. Read more on the BBC website.

Council Sets Legal Landmark In Slum Landlord Case

In a landmark case, a London borough has become the first Council in the country to use the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) against slum landlords for breaches of licensing conditions. A Recorder at Harrow Crown Court ordered that POCA could be used to recover criminal assets that the Shah family obtained from cramming 31 tenants into living conditions described as “filthy and dangerous”. Brent Council officers discovered one woman living in lean-to shack next to the four-bedroom property in Wembley during a raid in July 2016. Read more on 24housing.

Council Seeks To Replace Right To Buy With Home Deposit Scheme

A Conservative council hopes to scrap the Right to Buy policy and replace it with a scheme to allow tenants to “earn” a deposit to buy a house. The Earn Your Deposit Scheme could be offered to all 400 tenants of Woking Council’s company, Thameswey Housing, if it is approved by the council. It is aimed at young people looking to buy their first home. However, a spokesperson for the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government poured cold-water on the plans.The spokesperson said: “No negotiations on changes to Right to Buy are taking place between Woking and the government and none are currently planned.”  Read more on Inside Housing.

£3.5 Billion Right-To-Buy Discounts Threatens Scheme

New analysis by the Local Government Association reveals almost £3.5 billion in Right to Buy (RTB) discounts have been handed out to council tenants over the past six years. The LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, is warning the RTB scheme has become unsustainable and risks becoming a thing of the past unless councils are given the powers to set discounts locally and replace every home sold. The Government increased the size of the discounts available in April 2012, as a result the average discount has increased by 132 per cent to more than £60,000 in 2016/17 – selling properties at almost half price. Read more on the LGA website.

Social And Affordable Lettings Drop By 40,000

Housing associations and councils let 334,602 homes for below market rent in 2016/17, down from 374,586 a year earlier. That is the lowest level recorded in the stats which go back to 2007/08. General-needs social rent lettings fell by 14,103 for housing association homes and 8,948 for local authority homes in 2016/17. Supported housing social rent lettings dropped 12,948 among housing association stock and 1,389 for council stock. Download the figures from the HCLG website.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

150,000 Social Rent Homes Gone Since Tories Came To Power

Tory-led cuts have seen more than 150,000 homes for social rent disappear in the last five year, new analysis has revealed. The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has calculated the number of homes available to rent by those on lower incomes has dropped by almost four percent since 2012. CIH predicts that a further 79,000 will be lost by 2020 as it warned of the “urgent need” for more support for the social housing sector. The coalition government cut the money available for social homes in 2010, with resources diverted into ‘affordable rent’ schemes. Read more on the CIH website.

New HMO Licensing Rules Expected In October

The Government is planning to introduce new rules on licensing Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) this October, the Housing Minister, Dominic Raab, has confirmed. The Government set out its proposals to extend HMO licensing last year, involving mandatory licensing for properties, regardless of height, that are occupied by five or more people from two or more households. Currently, mandatory HMO licensing only applies to properties with three or more storeys that are occupied by five or more people from two or more households. The new rules still have to be approved by Parliament. However, in response to a written question by Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, Raab set out a timetable for their introduction. Read more on the Landlord News website.

Housing Demand Slipped 20% In December

The latest data and analysis from NAEA Propertymark has revealed that the number of house hunters registered per estate agent branch fell by 20% in December, but first time buyers were quick to take advantage of the quiet market, with sales to the group increasing. A break down of the figures show that overall, demand for housing fell by 20 per cent in December, with 268 prospective home-owners registered per member branch, down from 333 in November. Echoing this, the number of sales agreed per estate agent branch fell to five – the lowest since December 2014 when there were also five agreed, and down from seven in November. Read more on the Property Reporter website.

Corbyn Promises 8,000 Homes To End Rough Sleeping

The Labour Party has promised to provide 8,000 homes to solve the growing homelessness crisis in Britain if Jeremy Corbyn wins power. Corbyn has unveiled a new policy to tackle rough sleeping after figures showed the number of people living on the streets is the highest since records began. The Labour leader said the scale of homelessness in the UK was “disgusting” and “wholly unnecessary”. The party says it would strike a deal with housing associations so that homes would become available immediately to rough sleepers as soon as they fell vacant. The Labour government would then fund the replacements. Read more on the Huffington Post website.

Homelessness Rise ‘Due To Welfare Reform’

The recent rise in homelessness has its roots in welfare reform and the housing market, almost entirely accounted for by an increase in families losing their privately-rented housing, experts have said. The number of people officially recorded as sleeping on the streets of England rose from 1,768 in 2010 to 4,751 in 2017, but charities estimate the true figure to be more than double this. Read more on the Belfast Telegraph website.

Hundreds Of Thousands Living In Squalid Rented Homes In England

Rented housing so squalid it is likely to leave tenants requiring medical attention is being endured by hundreds of thousands of young adults in England, an analysis of government figures has revealed. Rats, mouldy walls, exposed electrical wiring, leaking roofs and broken locks are among problems blighting an estimated 338,000 homes rented by people under 35 that have been deemed so hazardous they are likely to cause harm. It is likely to mean that over half a million people are starting their adult lives in such conditions, amid a worsening housing shortage and rising rents, which are up 15% across the UK in the last seven years. Read more on the Guardian website.

Rough Sleeping Soars By 15%

The number of people sleeping rough on England's streets soared by 15% last year and now stands at a shocking 4,751. The rise to autumn 2017 is the eighth in a row and rough sleeping has more than doubled under the Tories since 2010. Almost a quarter of all rough sleepers (1,137) are in London, where the number rose by 173 people last year or 18%. Four-fifths were UK nationals, 653 were women and 370 were under 25. The shocking figures are derived from actual counts of people on the streets and "intelligence-driven estimates" on a single given night. Read more on the Daily Mirror website.

UK New Home Registrations Up 6% In 2017

More than 160,000 new homes were registered to be built in the UK last year, an increase of 6% on 2016, according to NHBC’s latest new home statistics. 160,606 homes were registered throughout the course of 2017, up from the 152,017 the previous year and the highest since the pre-recession levels of a decade ago. The private sector grew by 3% with 118,825 new homes registered, with the affordable sector increasing by 14% to 41,781 – the highest yearly total for the sector since NHBC electronic records began 30 years ago. New home completions also increased by 4% from 141,685 in 2016 to 147,278 last year. Read more on the NHBC website.

More Social Renters Expect To Buy

More social renters than ever expect to buy a home, the English Housing Survey has revealed. According to the survey 30% of social renters expect to buy a property at some point in the future, compared to 26.8% in 2015/16. This figure has been rising gradually since 2011/12, when it stood at 20.3%. Elsewhere in the survey, figures revealed the growth of the private rented sector (PRS), which now accounts for 20.3% of residents in England. A total of 62.6% of residents own their homes and 17.1% are social renters. Download the headline report from the GovUK website.

Councils Skirt Six-Week Rule For Homeless Families

Homeless families are being housed for protracted periods in council-owned properties in conditions that would be illegal if their temporary accommodation was privately owned. The law states that families should not be housed in non-self-contained temporary accommodation for more than six weeks, but if the property is owned or managed by a council, housing association or charity, it is exempt.  Freedom of Information Act requests to all 33 London boroughs revealed that 24 London councils own hostel-style accommodation and a further request showed that five  have used this accommodation to house families for longer than six weeks. Only eight councils were able to respond to this second request. Read more on Inside Housing.

Community-Led Housing Could Increase Housing Supply

The Housing Commission on Community-Led Housing is launching its report, ‘Community-Led Housing: a Key Role for Local Authorities’. Set up by the Co-operative Councils’ Innovation Network, the commission’s practical approach is aimed at promoting good practice and innovation to enable councils to work with communities to generate more affordable housing and make best use of government funding for community-led housing. The report is timely because of DCLG’s relaunched Community Housing Fund in England and funding for community-led housing provided by the Welsh and Scottish governments. Download the report from the Housing LIN website.

Funding Boost For Accessible Homes

Housing and homelessness minister, Heather Wheeler, has announced an extra £42m funding for local housing authorities to make a range of adaptations to a disabled or elderly person’s home. Some of these changes are low cost but can make a big difference to the person’s quality of life such as grab rails which can be installed for as little as £30 but can prevent a serious fall. Other changes include:
·         ramps and stair lifts
·         widening of doors
·         level access showers and raised toilets
·         accessible gardens
·         home extensions which can include the construction of downstairs bedrooms and bathrooms
Read more on 24housing.

Tax Changes To Render Many Landlords Unviable

Recent tax changes could tip many profitable buy-to-lets into loss-making businesses, according to a new report by Standard & Poor’s. The report says those who have invested since 2014 will be hardest hit, with six out of 10 of these landlords potentially looking at unviable businesses by 2021 – when these tax changes are fully implemented. This compares to just 4 per cent of the 160,000 buy-to-let loans it analysed, the vast majority of which were taken out between 2002 and 2016. These changes will cut profits by around a fifth by 2021, with the biggest impact expected to hit BTL investors in the South East and London. Read more on the Mortgage Strategy website.

Pilot Licensing System For Airbnb-Style Short Lets

Kensington & Chelsea council says it is preparing a new licensing system after receiving 91 complaints in the last two years of homeowners renting out their property on short lets for more than the current maximum of 90 days a year. The council says that under the current rules it has only been able to issue 11 people with enforcement notices ordering them to desist. In advance of Government action the council will consider a pilot licensing scheme to protect key areas. Read more on the Evening Standard website.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Shelter Launches New Social Housing Commission

Shelter is preparing the report with the help from a panel of high-profile figures and the recommendations will be presented to parliament by the end of the year. A survey by the charity found almost half of families in social housing who reported unsafe or poor conditions felt they had been ignored or refused help. Problems included fire safety, gas leaks and electrical hazards as well as mould and pests. It is hoped the work of the commission will give such tenants a “far louder” say in the future of public housing policy, Shelter said. Read more on 24housing.

Private Rented Housing: Licensing – Parliamentary Written Answer

Wera Hobhouse: To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether the Government plans to extend mandatory licencing schemes for landlords in the private rented sector.
Dominic Raab: [Holding answer 18 January 2018]: The Government proposes to extend the scope of mandatory houses in multiple occupation (HMO) licensing, so that a licence is required for HMOs with five or more occupiers. We published our response to our HMO reforms consultation in December 2017, and we plan to lay the necessary regulations before Parliament shortly with a view to bringing them into force (subject to approval) in October 2018.

Neglect And Abuse Claims On Rise In Sheltered Housing

More than 30,000 allegations of abuse and neglect concerning sheltered housing residents were received by UK councils between 1 April 2014 and 1 November 2017. The data, which was obtained by File on 4, also found the number of reports increased by 30% over the period. The BBC sent Freedom of Information requests to every council or health and social care trust in the UK, seeking the numbers of safeguarding alerts they had received about residents of sheltered housing and supported living schemes. Just under half supplied data, which revealed that during the period covered, a total of 30,785 safeguarding alerts were received, of which the majority were in England. Read more on the BBC website.

Borough Makes Viability Assessments Public

Developers in Croydon will now have the viability appraisal submitted as part of their planning applications made public. The reports are submitted to provide evidence of the developers’ capability to meet all planning requirements, including meeting the levels of affordable housing required by the council as the local planning authority. Previously applicants could request for their viability assessment to be kept confidential, but the report will now be published alongside the other planning documents submitted. The publication of the appraisals on the council website will ensure greater transparency and accountability, by enabling members of the public to scrutinise viability reports and the associated implications for the delivery of affordable housing and other benefits. Read more on Croydon Council website.

Council To Change Housing Company To ALMO

Barking and Dagenham Council is set to transform its wholly owned housing company into an ALMO. The council’s cabinet will decide on Tuesday whether to approve a report recommending the move. The proposals would see Reside, which is a company set up by the council to build and let homes for affordable rent and shared ownership, run by a new board with an independent chair. It would then also offer homes for private sale. The council will retain control through a shareholder agreement and will collaborate with Reside “to realise the investment objectives of the council” Read more on Inside Housing.

Councils Fail To Take Action On 99 Per Cent Of Most Dangerous Rented Homes

Millions of private renters face being stuck in dangerous homes for decades because of a large-scale failure of local councils to take action against criminal landlords. New data seen by The Independent shows local authorities took action in relation to just 1.1 per cent of the most dangerous rented homes in England last year. The new figures, obtained by Labour MP Karen Buck via a Freedom of Information request, reveal English councils used their legal powers to take action in relation to 10,069 homes with these “category one” hazards last year – a tiny fraction of the total. Read more on the Independent website.

Housing Targets Need ‘Radical New Approach’

The Housing and Finance Institute issues warning that government housing targets are unlikely to be met without a change in industry support. The government has been warned that a radical new housebuilding approach is needed if its new target to build 300,000 homes a year is to be reached.
There have been only six years since the Second World War that more than 300,000 homes a year have been completed in England.  The Institute says the sector is not confident it can deliver the major up shift in numbers required to meet the new target without radical change in the way government supports the industry. Read more on the HFI website.

Abolish Borrowing Cap So Local Authorities Can Increase Housing Supply

In Autumn Budget 2017, the Government raised the borrowing cap for councils in areas of high affordability by £1 billion to help achieve its target of 300,000 new homes per year. Private housebuilders have consistently provided 150,000 units per year, so the target is unlikely to be met without a significant increase in supply by local authorities. To achieve this, the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap should be removed. At the very least, the Treasury should define the allocation criteria for the additional £1 billion more clearly. Read more on the Parliament website.

Over 2 Million Fewer Council Homes

The latest local authority housing statistics illustrate the continuing decline in the numbers of council housing, revealing that councils in England owned 1.6 million dwellings on 1 April 2017 - a decrease from the 3.67 million homes owned on 1 April 1994 due to Right to Buy sales, large scale voluntary transfers and demolitions. The council housing stock in England fell from 1,612,319 on 1 April 2016 to 1,601,565 on 1 April 2017. 99.2% of the council owned stock is let at social rents with 0.8% let at affordable rents (up to 80% of market rent).  Read more on the ARCH website.

Chancellor's Plan To Solve Housing Crisis Will Fail

Chancellor Philip Hammond's plans to tackle the housing crisis will fail without further reforms, MPs say. Abolishing stamp duty on homes under £300,000 was the centre piece of Mr Hammond's November budget. The government says it has already helped more than 16,000 people get on the property ladder. But the Treasury select committee said the move is likely to push house prices by at least the amount the reduction in stamp duty is supposed to save. It said Mr Hammond would only meet his target of 300,000 new homes a year if he took more action to promote building such as lifting a borrowing cap on councils. Read more on the BBC website.

Londoners Spend More Than A Third Of Monthly Income On Rent

Londoners spend more than a third of their monthly salary on rent, a study has found. The "staggering" figure is more than three times as much as in other parts of the country, research revealed. Average monthly rent in London is now £836, just over 37 per cent of average wages, compared with Hull, where average rents are £227.68, around 11.6 per cent of wages, said jobs site CV-Library. Other cities with high rents included Brighton at £623 a month, 32 per cent of average wages, Edinburgh (£463, over 23 per cent), Bristol (£458, almost 22 per cent) and Southampton (£418, around 21.8 per cent). Read more on the Evening Standard website.

Universal Credit: Payments – Parliamentary Written Answer

Dr Philippa Whitford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the process is for splitting universal credit payments between adults in a household.
Alok Sharma: In very exceptional circumstances, payment of Universal Credit can be divided between two members of the household. This is an Alternative Payment Arrangement known as a Split Payment. The larger percentage of a Split Payment will be allocated to the person with primary caring responsibilities, such as child care. This is to ensure the health and well-being of the majority of the household.

Over Half Of Buyers, Sellers And Renters Have Issues With ‘Rogue’ Agents

New research from Propertymark today reveals that a worrying number of buyers, sellers and renters assume all estate agents, letting agents and landlords are regulated. Propertymark sampled those who have bought, sold or rented a property in the last five years about their experiences with letting agents, estate agents and landlords – to find more than half (54%) have faced issues. However, the research found that 37% of buyers and sellers, and 42% of renters didn’t consider whether their agent was part of a professional body before progressing with their transaction. Read more on 24housing.

Landlords – Parliamentary Written Answer

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to strengthen local authority powers to deal with rogue landlords.
Dominic Raab: We intend to introduce a system of banning the most serious and prolific offenders from renting properties as well as a database of rogue landlords and lettings agents convicted of certain offences in April 2018. These new powers will give local authorities the tools they need to crack down on the minority of landlords who disregard the law and take advantage of tenants in the private rented sector.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Government Commits To Publish Social Housing Green Paper By Spring

The green paper – announced by housing secretary Sajid Javid in September – is supposed to be the start of a “fundamental rethink of social housing in this country”. Former housing minister Alok Sharma had been travelling the country meeting tenants at ‘roadshows’ to gather evidence for the policy document. In the course of these meetings he had promised tenants he would publish the paper by spring this year. The HCLG confirmed that Mr Raab will attend that event in Basingstoke, and the government will honour Mr Sharma’s pledge on the timing. Read more on Inside Housing.

Stamp Duty Change To Have Limited Impact As New Buyer Interest Drops Further

The UK housing market continued to display a lack of momentum in December, with buyer interest edging lower. Changes to Stamp Duty for first time buyers are having little immediate effect, according to the December 2017 RICS UK Residential Market Survey. Briefly;
§  86% of respondents report no response yet from first time buyers following changes to Stamp Duty
§  Buyer interest edges lower as sales and new instructions continue to decline
§  However, the twelve-month outlook for prices and sales is more upbeat
Read more on the RICS website.

One In Ten New Homes Was A Former Office

Analysis by the Local Government Association reveals nearly one in 10 new homes over the last two years was converted from an office and included no affordable housing or supporting investment in infrastructure such as roads, schools and health services. The LGA says permitted development rights rules allowing offices to be converted into housing without planning permission are “detrimental” to local communities and should be scrapped. It warns they have led to the potential loss of more than 7,500 desperately-needed affordable homes. Since 2015, a total of 30,575 housing units in England have been converted from offices to flats without having to go through the planning system. Read more on the LGA website.

May To Set Timetable To Reveal Foreign Owners Of UK Property

Theresa May will set out a timetable to break the secrecy surrounding the foreign ownership of British property worth billions after facing a House of Lords defeat at the hands of two Conservative peers. Lord Faulks, a former Tory justice minister, and Lord Hodgson have been calling on the government to establish a register exposing the beneficial owners of overseas companies and legal entities, and want it done within 12 months. The peers put forward an amendment to the sanctions and anti-money-laundering bill, which would have been likely to inflict a government defeat. Read more on the Guardian website.

Progress On Council Housing But ‘More To Be Done’

The government is standing by statistics that pitch progress on council housing – but maintains there’s more to be done. On paper, the stats show more people have got onto the housing ladder, waiting lists for councils houses have reduced and the amount of council housing not meeting minimum standards has decreased. The stats show;
·         A decrease of 0.7% on local authority housing in 2016/17 with 13,416 people having bought homes as a result of Right to Buy.
·         20,000 fewer people are now on Local Authority waiting lists, a decrease of 2% since 1 April 2016.
·         Over 95% of all Local Authority stock meets the decent homes standard. This is up from 84% in 2010.
Read more on 24housing.

KCTMO Left Thousands Of Repairs Undone

Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) – which manages Kensington and Chelsea Council’s housing stock, including the Lancaster West Estate where Grenfell Tower is located – is due to hand back its responsibilities by the end of January. An officer’s report shows KCTMO has built up a huge number of uncompleted repairs. The papers also reveal Kensington and Chelsea Council is beginning a programme of fire risk assessments of other towers, seven months on from the devastating blaze, which killed 71. It is aware of less serious fire safety issues in other blocks. Download the paper from the Kensington & Chelsea website.

Wealthy Homeowners Received Millions In Public Money

Hundreds of millions of pounds of public money has been given to thousands of wealthy homeowners under a flagship Government scheme designed to help first-time buyers, new analysis has revealed. More than 5,500 homeowners earning above £100,000 a year have benefitted from taxpayer-funded Help to Buy loans that are aimed at helping people get on the housing ladder. Since the scheme was introduced in 2013, 5,545 households with an income of more than £100,000 received Help to Buy loans, including 1,287 households that already owned a property. Read more on the Independent website.

Government Supports New Measures To Improve The Safety Of Tenants

Secretary of State for Housing Sajid Javid has confirmed government support for new legislation that will help ensure rented homes are safe and give tenants the right to take legal action when landlords fail in their duties.  The government has already introduced a range of powers for local authorities enabling them to crack down on the minority of landlords who rent out unsafe or substandard accommodation. From April this year councils will also be able to issue banning orders to kick the worst offenders out of the business. Government will support further measures proposed by Karen Buck MP in a Private Member’s Bill to protect tenants in both the social and private rented sectors. Read more on the Gov UK website.

Councillor Renting Out 10 Ex-Authority Homes In ‘Right To Buy To Let’ Capital

The council with the highest level of stock sold under the Right to Buy now in the private rented sector is Milton Keynes, with 70.9% of 1,609 flats sold under the policy in the hands of private landlords. Inside Housing has learned that John Bint, who has been a councillor since 2007, is likely to be receiving thousands of pounds a month in rent payments through buying the properties. A register of interests document for Mr Bint from June 2017 shows he owns 14 homes in Milton Keynes. Information obtained from the Land Registry indicates that 10 of these were owned by the council before being sold. Read more on Inside Housing.

Rogue Landlords Making Millions Out Of Housing Benefits

Highly organised gangs of rogue landlords are making millions every year out of the housing benefit system by enticing desperate local authorities to place single homeless people in micro-flats in shoddily converted and dangerous former family homes. Three-bed houses, where the maximum weekly housing benefit for flat-sharers is under £100 a person, are being converted into as many as six tiny self-contained studios – as little as 10 sq m in size. Each then qualifies for housing benefit of £181 a week, enabling a landlord to squeeze £56,000 a year in rent from a property on London’s fringes, all paid from public funds. The £56,000 compares with the typical £6,200 annual rent on a three-bed council house. Read more on the Guardian website.

Labour Wants Stamp Duty Cut To Include Shared Ownership

Labour wants to extend a tax cut designed to help people buy their first home to those getting shared ownership properties. The government abolished stamp duty for thousands of households in its last budget. But it potentially excludes shared ownership buyers. Labour's shadow housing minister John Healey said: "It's not fair. These are the people that this stamp duty relief should be there for and it isn't. Read more on the BBC.

Council Jobs Set To Be Moved To New Housing Company

An extra 260 council staff are set to see their jobs transferred to a new housing services company. Stoke-on-Trent City Council has founded Unitas which is due to take over responsibility for housing repairs and maintenance from Kier Stoke on February 4. But now council leaders want to expand Unitas' remit to include other housing services, such as allocations, homelessness, housing management and private-sector housing, from mid-2018. That would see 260 council staff move to Unitas this year - in addition to the 500 Kier Stoke maintenance workers already due to be transferred. Read more on the Stoke Sentinel website.

Single Council Snapshot Shows 28 Bids For Every ‘Affordable’ Home

Demand for affordable housing is so high in Salford that 28 people are bidding for every property that becomes available. And that’s despite another new 461 affordable properties having been made available in the last year. The figures are from the latest update from Salford City Council’s affordable housing programme which aims to deliver a mixture of social rented, affordable rented and shared ownership homes. This report says that although 17% of new homes provided in Salford last year by developers, landlords and housing associations were affordable the city still needs 760 new affordable homes each year to meet need. Read more on 24housing.

Friday, 12 January 2018

New Housing Agency To Boost Housebuilding

A new national housing agency – Homes England – has been launched by Housing Secretary Sajid Javid as one of the key steps towards delivering the homes the country needs. As the successor to the Homes and Communities Agency, Homes England will drive forward change, as set out in the government’s housing white paper. Homes England will play a major role in fixing the housing market by helping to deliver an average of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s. Read more on the Gov UK website.

Sector Watchdog Changes Name To 'Regulator Of Social Housing'

The regulation arm of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has relaunched as the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH). It follows the Homes and Communities Agency’s investment functions being rebranded and relaunched as Homes England. In a letter to housing providers, Fiona MacGregor, executive director of regulation at the RSH, said a previous review of the HCA “concluded that the HCA’s function as the regulator of social housing should be separated from its investment functions, and established as a standalone body to reaffirm the government’s commitment to a strong, independent regulator with credibility within the sector”. Read the letter on the HCA website.

Pace Of Annual Rent Rises Now Lowest Since 2014

The average asking rent across the UK - excluding London - rose by just 0.7 per cent in 2017 according to figures released this morning by Rightmove. This is a much more muted increase than the annual rises recorded in 2015 when rents rose 3.7 per cent, and in 2016 when they increased by 3.0 per cent. Over the last three years tenants have therefore seen landlords increase asking rents by 7.6 per cent - around £50 per month on the typical rent. The asking rents of new rental properties coming to market in London are rising again, leading to the first increase in the annual rate of growth since the start of 2016. Read more on the Letting Agent Today website.

The Cost Of Renting A Property Will Fall – But Not Until 2019

Everyone knows that saving for a deposit to get onto the property ladder is an insurmountable challenge for many, but private renters are also stung by having to fork out huge amounts of cash at the outset.  Would-be renters have a number of costs to take into account before they can think about getting the keys, including up to two months’ rent as a deposit, the first month’s rent in advance, as well as letting fees imposed by the agent. With UK rents now averaging around £1,196, according to research from Landbay, this means that some tenants could be forced to stump up as much as £3,588 in advance to secure the property, plus letting agency fees of an average £200-300 per tenant. Read more on the buyassociation website.

‘It’s Obscene’ - £80m Revamp Set To Include Just Four Affordable Homes

New homes, a hotel and offices are to be created in Norwich after an £80m revamp of the area around a former shoe factory was given the go-ahead. But opponents to the proposals said it was “obscene” that only four affordable homes are planned. There was criticism that a viability assessment written for the developers had argued a provision of 50 affordable homes - which would have hit a 33pc target for affordable housing - would prevent the scheme being cost-effective. Instead they had argued only four affordable homes, or a commuted sum of £353,234, would be acceptable to allow work to begin at the site. Read more on the Norwich Evening News website.

Housing Developer Wants To Drop Affordable Homes From Scheme

A housing developer says it can't fund the rest of the affordable houses it's due to build on the site of a former school. Kells Development Group was granted planning permission in 2010 to build 74 houses with 22 of these being affordable. To date, 57 of the homes have been built – the majority self-build plots. Sixteen of the houses have been sold to housing association Two Castles but the remaining eight, which were intended to be sold or rented out at an intermediate discounted rate, have not been built. The developer has now asked for a relaxation in its legal requirements to provide the affordable homes saying it wants to sell the eight plots to foot the bill to complete the roads. Read more on the News & Star website.

Housing Association Merger Will Lead To Social Cleansing, Warn Tenants

Tenants in west London have warned that a plan to create one of the UK’s biggest housing associations will lead to the social cleansing of poorer families from wealthy areas. The proposed merger between London-based housing associations Notting Hill Housing (NHH) and Genesis, would create a mega landlord with a combined annual turnover of £676m and 65,000 homes in management, many in sight of Grenfell Tower, which was destroyed by fire in June. But the associations have between them sold off 800 street properties in the last five years and used the proceeds to build more homes in cheaper areas, leading to fears that further sell-offs are planned. Read more on the Guardian website.

Homebuilding Plans Under Threat From ‘No Deal’ Brexit

The potential impact of a no-deal Brexit on homebuilding with a warning of up up to 43,000 fewer construction jobs in the UK, according to new research commissioned by the Mayor of London. In London alone there could be 5,000 fewer jobs in the construction sector under a no deal Brexit, with the capital’s construction sector output potentially falling by £1.2bn up to 2030 when Britain leaves the European Union in April next year. The findings are contained within analysis of the potential impact of five different Brexit scenarios on London and the whole of the UK commissioned by the Mayor last year from leading economic analysts, Cambridge Econometrics. Download the report from the Cambridge Econometrics website.

Help To Buy Prices Hit Record High

The average price of first-time buyer properties bought with Help to Buy equity loans in England has hit record levels growing at a rate that outstrips wages, official figures show. The mean purchase price for first-time buyer properties bought under the scheme between July and September last year was up 12% to £278,189 from £249,234 in the same period in 2016. In the same timeframe, the average total applicant household income under the Help to Buy equity loan scheme was up to £54,019, increasing from £50,302 in 2016. Download the figures from the Treasury website.

Does The UK Need Rent Controls?

The majority of financial professionals believe that the UK needs to enforce rent controls, according to a recent survey.  In the poll conducted by Bridging & Commercial, 71% of respondents were in favour of enforcing rent controls on the UK, while 29% believed that such enforcement wasn’t needed. However, specialist finance lenders have argued that rent controls could result in a drop in supply and quality of accommodation. Read more on the Bridging & Commercial website.

20% Of Landlords Plan On Selling Up

The National Landlords Association’s (NLA) latest research shows that 20% of its members plan to reduce the number of properties in their portfolio in the next year – the highest level of intended property sales in 10 years. The NLA believes this is due to recent tax changes, and has created a series of videos to assess and explain the impact of these changes on landlords and tenants. The four videos contain research, conducted by Capital Economics for the NLA, which shows that landlords and tenants will pay more than their fair share in tax as a result of changes made by the Government to curb buy-to-let activity in the private rented sector. Read more on the NLA website.

ALMO Survives Review

Borough of Poole’s Conservative cabinet has voted unanimously to keep Poole Housing Partnership (PHP), which manages its 5,000 council homes. It approved a recommendation from the People Overview and Scrutiny Committee that the authority “resets its relationship” with the ALMO, rather than dissolves it. A petition to protect PHP was signed by 350 residents last year after it emerged that Borough of Poole had commissioned housing consultancy Campbell Tickell to carry out a review of its housing services. PHP will be asked to work more closely with the council’s “strategic priorities”, including through making cost savings. It will also undergo a governance review. Read more on Inside Housing.

Javid: ‘No Changes To New Homes Bonus’

Councils won’t see changes to the New Homes Bonus (NHB) this year. At the LGA local government finance conference, Sajid Javid acknowledged that “the appetite for change wasn’t there.” Javid stood by the near £7bn in NHB payments he said had “rewarded” the building of 1.4 million homes – confirming over £946m in NHB payments will be allocated in 2018-2019. Javid said: “The sector wanted continuity and certainty and that’s what it’s getting, no changes to the NHB this year and a baseline maintained at 0.4%.” Read more on 24housing.

Labour MP Suggests Doubling Tax For Top Value Homes

A senior Labour MP has suggested doubling council tax bills on the highest-value homes in England to ease the budget pressures facing local authorities. Chris Williamson, an ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, said increases could be staggered from 20% for a Band D home up to 100% for the top Band, H. He said his idea was not Labour policy. But he said it had a lot of support among Labour activists. The proposal was attacked by the Conservatives' newly-appointed housing minister, Dominic Raab. Read more on the BBC website.

78% Believe They’ll Never Be Homeowners.

A survey of Brits aged 18 to 30 years old has revealed that 78% of this age group do not believe they will ever be in a position to own their own home. The main stumbling blocks are the deposit, earnings and credit history. British adults have an average of £6,700 saved up for their deposit. Considering the average house price stood at £225,021 in December this average savings amount is less than 5% – the minimum deposit percentage for most first-time buyer mortgages – of what could be required. It's therefore understandable that 78% of those who don't believe they'll ever own their own home said it was because they could never save enough for a deposit. Read more on the moneyfacts website.