Friday, 2 January 2015

Housing

As a parent of three children, BFTF is VERY concerned about the cost of housing; the lack of house building; and the rise of BTL squeezing out first time buyers.

And that's without the issue of the next generation of young adults starting out life with a 27k university dept around their necks.

This post is intended to contain some (hopefullycoherent) thoughts on the issue, but for now is just a place to hold information so that BFTF can get his head around the issues.

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Millionaire landlords Fergus and Judith Wilson begin evicting large families
"..Fergus and Judith Wilson, whose property empire extends to nearly 1,000 homes in Kent, have begun evicting families with more than two children, banned tenants on zero-hours contracts and thrown out extended families where the grandmother comes to stay."

"Like many other landlords across Britain, Wilson has also taken the decision to reject anybody who is on a zero hours contract...'“I only have experience in rejecting them as tenants,” said Wilson. “No landlord in his right mind will accept tenants who do not have a guaranteed wage. No rent insurer will accept them, so that effectively makes the landlord’s decision for them. No pay … nowhere to live. Welcome to the real world.”"

"Roger Harding, Shelter’s director of communications, policy and campaigns, said: “It beggars belief that a landlord can evict a family simply because they have three children, and the fact that this one has is yet another sign of our broken rental market.“For many families, private renting is their only option. Families now make up nearly a third of private renters and if more landlords turn them away this will make it near impossible for many to find anywhere half-decent to live. Politicians must make private rented homes a stable place to put down roots, and not somewhere you can be turned away from for no good reason.”"
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How housebuilding helped the economy recover: Britain in the 1930s
"In the early 1930s Britain recovered impressively from a double-dip recession which ended in 1932. In every year from 1933 to 1936, before rearmament could have made any difference, growth exceeded 4% per year. Growth was not driven by fiscal stimulus; indeed it blossomed at a time of fiscal consolidation. So what was the magic formula?

Houses were cheap because the supply of land for housing was very elastic, which in turn meant that there was no incentive for developers to sit on large land banks. Underpinning the availability of land for house-building was an almost complete absence of land-use planning restrictions which applied to only about 75,000 acres in 1932; the draconian provisions of the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act were still to come.

Could we repeat the 1930s experience today? It would be very difficult since both mortgage availability and planning rules are very different."
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Why Labour's land banking ultimatum will not boost housebuilding
"Miliband said a Labour government would threaten developers failing to develop with a use-it-or-lose-it ultimatum that would allow councils to buy back the land or fine the developer for not building...

The first and most obvious problem is planning. Britain's bureaucratic planning system means even simple applications can take years. Berkeley Group has spent about 15 years redeveloping parts of Vauxhall in south London, and has gone back to the planning authority several times to increase the number of homes allowed. It certainly hasn't been a case of sitting on the land.

..Besides, land banks are simply not an efficient use of housebuilders' money. This was underlined recently by Barratt chief executive Mark Clare, who said his organisation aims to bank land for a "relatively short" three-and-a-half years in order to maximise the return on investment.

...A large amount of undeveloped land is owned by the public sector but two thirds of it lies in areas that aren't particularly well-off. The key here will be incentivising developers in non-affluent areas. Unlocking this land will require innovative arrangements to make the sites more attractive, such as fast-tracked planning, reduced development levies or a commitment to provide necessary infrastructure enabling communities to be created."


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One estate’s tradition of providing affordable flats is ending with the rush to cash in on the housing boom
"[Lyndsey Garratt] lives on the fringes of the City of London, on the New Era estate. Built by a charitable trust in the mid-1930s, the redbrick square has provided homes to local working people at affordable rents...At least it was until Benyon’s family firm recently moved in as part of a property consortium and snapped up the lot. The investors have made no bones about jacking up rents to match the rest of the market. Garratt was previously paying about £640 a month for the two-bed she shares with her daughter; when her contract expires in July 2016 residents expect they will be charged around £2,400 a month. For Garratt, a care co-ordinator at the local NHS trust, that is way more than her entire take-home pay."


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Parliament's failure to outlaw revenge evictions is yet another setback for renters, landlords, and democracy
"Today was set to be a landmark day for private renters in this country. The Tenancies (Reform) Bill had its Second Reading in the House of Commons, to kick start a process many hoped would lead to legislation to end retaliatory evictions. That didn’t happen. It didn’t happen primarily because Tory MPs Christopher Chope and Philip Davies filibustered so the bill could not be passed, despite having cross-party support. A sad day for democracy. A far sadder day for the 9 million of us who rent our homes with little protection in existing law."


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