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Will The Housing Crisis Win The Election?

Will The Housing Crisis Win The Election?

The Politics Of Housing

It is still generally acknowledged by all political parties that there is a housing shortage in the UK, and each political party wants to offer the public alternative methods of tackling the problem in an attempt to win electoral favour.

Most political parties see the housing crisis in the UK as a possible election winning issue and each party’s election manifesto promises the general public many things, including further private rented sector (PRS) reforms and the introduction of additional legislation. There isn’t much offered by any political party for landlords, except for the promise to put an end to the private rental sector.

A recent survey by Ipsos MORI research published in January 2015 discovered a confusing conundrum, in that:

  • 75% of the public agree that there is a housing crisis in the UK
  • 48% of the public disagree there is a housing crisis in their locality

The publication of each political party’s election manifesto is intended to give the public a clearer indication of the housing priorities of the UK’s next parliament.

However, despite claims of a housing shortage nationally there are still some UK regions that have large proportions of derelict and abandoned properties, many still in a habitable condition.

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Former Deputy PM Wants Action Against Rogue Landlords

Former Deputy PM Wants Action Against Rogue Landlords

Former Deputy PM Reckons “Rachmanism” Is Back!

We need to take action against private landlords and protect society’s most vulnerable people” – John Prescott

Former deputy PM, John Prescott has used his weekly column in the Sunday Mirror to hit out at rogue landlords in the UK’s private rented sector (PRS).

Mr Prescott wrote: “We tackled Rachmanism through legislation, housing finance and building more local authority housing. But 50 years later Rachman lives on in a new generation of unscrupulous landlords. More than a million rented homes in the private sector are now substandard. But for years, the taxpayer has subsidised them through housing benefit. Research has revealed that at least 36% of London’s council houses sold off by the Thatcher government are now in the hands of private landlords. Rents are at their highest ever to maximise obscene profits.”

Peter Rachman was a Polish migrant, who earned the poor reputation of being the archetypal slum landlord, because he subdivided houses into flats and rooms, forced paying tenants out of their properties to replace them with migrants from the West Indies, as it was easier to charge the migrants higher rents because they weren’t covered by UK rent protection legislation.

Mr Prescott also commented on mega landlord, Fergus Wilson’s decision to evict tenants on benefits and rent to Eastern Europeans instead, writing: “We pay out £9.3 Billion (GBP) in housing benefit every year. It helped people like Wilson build their property empires. But cuts to these benefits and the introduction of the bedroom tax means they’re looking to maintain their margins. Now, only one in five landlords rents to people on benefits. Cutting benefits has led to landlords kicking out the poorest people in society. We must get tough and follow Newham Council’s lead by licensing all private landlords to stop them kicking out the vulnerable to feather their own nests.”

It appears that the former deputy PM must have had a small lapse in his memory because it was the Labour government that introduced Local Housing Allowance, (LHA) – which replaced housing benefit and slashed the amount of money that tenants in private rented sector properties could claim towards housing costs, paving the way for the current unpopular bedroom tax that is affecting tenants in the social housing sector. The Labour government also introduced the ATOS Work Capability Assessments that have been attributed to the welfare reforms that the UK is also currently seeing.

Owning rental properties and letting them to tenants is a business and rental prices are dictated by local area demand as well as the LHA rates in each region, so it is unfair of the former deputy PM to tar all landlords with the same brush. Yes there are some unscrupulous landlords out there, and there are unscrupulous bankers and businessmen too, but they are not being targeted by former politicians who use the media to their own ends.

Wind your neck in 2 Jags, and stick to commenting on matters that you know about, rather than wading into a debate on which you know very little!

More Tenants Face Eviction Over Bedroom Tax

More Tenants Face Eviction Over Bedroom Tax

Bedroom Tax Blamed For Increasing
Eviction Numbers

The apparent shortage of 1 and 2 bed properties in either the social or private rented sector means that more tenants are facing eviction for non-payment of the Bedroom Tax because there are no suitable properties available for them to move into.

Mark Rogers, Chief Executive of the Circle Housing Group, one of the UK’s largest housing associations managing 65,000 residential properties, has warned of a rise in tenant evictions because of the government’s new under-occupancy penalty, more commonly known as the bedroom tax.

Mr Rogers said “It is inevitable that there will be a long-term increase in the number of people failing to pay their rent as there are simply not enough vacant smaller properties for people affected to move into to avoid the charge. Circle Housing Group are offering tenants financial advice and encouraging those affected to look at a house exchange scheme, which has seen a 26% rise, but an increase in evictions is also to expected. The under-occupation charge is hitting a lot of people very hard, as you would expect. They are losing money and by the very nature of being on benefits, they are on very low incomes. People can’t down-size because there aren’t enough properties for them to move in to. We did a survey and one finding was that if you let every single bedroom that came vacant, and you housed an under-occupier there, it would take eight years to clear the backlog. Our view is that  for the vast majority the transfer system is untenable. We won’t evict someone if we can’t find a solution for them. If they don’t take that solution that we offer, then we will evict, but we see it as our job to make sure we don’t go down that route. If that happens we see it as a failure; it is expensive to the local authority, it is expensive to the person, traumatic for the person, often not good for the community. We see evictions generally as a last resort. From our perspective I think as time goes on they will go up a little but our plan is that by using our solutions we minimise the impact.”

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UK PRS Rents Rise Faster Than Tenant Income

UK PRS Rents Rise Faster Than Tenant Income

Working tenants renting property in the UK private rented sector have diminishing amounts of disposable income after new research revealed that average PRS rents rose four times faster than average UK salaries increased.

The March 2013 HomeLet Rental Index shows the average cost of renting property in the UK private rented sector increased by 3.3% during the first quarter of 2013 to average £776 (GBP) per month.

In contrast, the average amount working tenants earn in a year only increased by a minimal 0.8% over the same period to £27,300 (GBP).

Although the 3.3% rise is much higher than that of tenant income, the increase in PRS rents has apparently slowed.

Data from March’s report also shows the average cost of renting a property in the UK PRS in the first quarter of 2012 increased by 3.4% and a significant 6.9% in 2011.

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Welfare Reforms That Affect Landlords

Welfare Reforms That Affect Landlords

A basic round up for all UK Private Rental Sector (PRS) landlords of what is and what will be happening to affect tenants that are in reciept of benefits during the 2013 Welfare Reforms. 

Council Tax Benefit April 2013

 

  • Local authorities will become responsible for their own Council Tax schemes under the welfare reforms. Anyone of working age will now have to contribute towards their own council tax – All PRS tenants should have received a letter from their local authority if this affects them.

Disability Living Allowance

  • This benefit is being replaced by Personal Independence Payments.
  • All new and existing claimants will be reassessed using stricter rules so fewer people will qualify. The new assessment will focus on an individual’s ability to carry out a range of key activities necessary to everyday life.

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Specialist Insurance can help landlords profit from property

Specialist Insurance can help landlords avoid tenant rent default

In the UK private rented sector, the average rent for a residential property now stands at a staggering £777 (GBP) per month across the whole of the country but there are some regional differences.

Private sector rents in Greater London rose by 6.7% during the last 12 months to reach a regional average of £1,224 (GBP) per calendar month (pcm).

In stark contrast, PRS tenants in the North-East living in similar sized properties are paying an average rent of just £512 (GBP) pcm.

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