Save £404 when you move after fees ban
Tomorrow is the final chance to respond to the government's consultation on their proposals to ban letting fees.
Our main findings are that the government's proposals will save the average tenants £404 when they move, and an average £117 every 6 or 12 months to renew the tenancy.
3.4m private renters risk losing their vote
With one week until voter registration closes, we've estimated that more than three million private renters in England are at risk of losing their vote at the General Election.
1.8m private renters have moved home since the 2016 Referendum and must therefore register again. Private renters are typically on tenancy agreements of no longer than 12 months and are six times more likely to move in a given year than homeowners.
Celebrating ingenuity in the property industry
The steam train. The vaccine. The television. The World Wide Web. The tenancy renewal fee.
What connects them all? Each one is an incredibly successful British invention.
Yes, we may no longer have the manufacturing prowess that once sustained all corners of the country, but a certain group of entrepreneurs have exerted their creative minds to produce the £250 photocopy, and are currently raking it in.
One promise the Prime Minister must keep
Theresa May has broken her word. She ruled out a snap election five times, then called one.
Our question is: what other promises is she going to tear up?
The government is consulting now on proposals to ban letting fees, and the deadline of 2 June is a week before polling day.
Proposed ban on letting fees unveiled
For four and a half months we've been waiting with bated breath for the government's proposals to ban fees, and today they were unveiled as the government finally launched its consultation.
The policy is no half-measure - tenants will not have to pay fees in connection with their tenancy outside of rent, refundable deposit, holding deposit and extra services they require during the course of the tenancy (e.g. replacing lost keys).
Generation Rent wins prestigious campaigning award
Last night, Generation Rent was handed the Housing and Homelessness Award at the 2017 Sheila McKechnie Foundation awards in London.
The award was in recognition of our work in the past year to mobilise renters as a political force, which culminated in the government’s announcement of a ban on letting fees in November.
Four new trustees help bolster the organisation
We are pleased to welcome four new trustees who have joined the Generation Rent board since the start of the year.
Daniel Bentley, Sean Cosgrove, Betsy Dillner and Hannah Williams bring with them decades of experience in political communications, financial management, movement building and business development.
Housing Greater Manchester
When you mention the housing crisis, people tend to think of London and of campaign groups like Focus E15. There is good reason for this - the capital has experienced the worst excesses of the housing crisis, and the pushback there has been among the most dynamic in the country. Yet London is not alone in having a housing crisis, and in recent years the effects of a dysfunctional housing system have been making themselves felt in Greater Manchester.
Minimum acceptable living standards in London - and how housing costs cut right through them
This week Trust for London, in conjunction with Loughborough University, published their latest report on a Minimum Income Standard (MIS) for London - with figures updated from their first report in 2015, and with a focus in this research on families.
The MIS compares costs between London and the rest of the UK to show the difference between the minimum needed for an acceptable standard of living - with that minimum based on a list of goods discussed and agreed upon by the public.
We can draw many conclusions from the report, and though it should surprise no one that the cost of housing is a major differential between London and the rest of the UK, the research shows that the rising cost of private rents in the lower end of the market stops a large number of households achieving the MIS.
Rate your landlord and more on Marks Out Of Tenancy
Ask anyone who’s renting, everyone’s got a story to share. Whether it’s good, bad or just plain ugly; every renter has had their own experience with a landlord or a letting agent that can give us insight into what can be expected as a potential tenant of theirs.
Now, while it can be fun to wax lyrical about rental horror stories, we wanted to figure out how this exchange of experiences could be harnessed to the benefit of generation rent - so we created Marks out of Tenancy.
Home ownership at 30-year low
Just 62.9% of England's population owns their home - the lowest proportion since 1985. And the private rented population now stands at 4.5m households, up on last year and bigger than in 1961, when slum landlords like Peter Rachman were making tenants' lives a misery.
At this rate, there will be more private renters than mortgage holders in just five years' time. It's already the largest tenure in London.
Brighton and Bournemouth letting fees - all in one place
Even though the government has promised to ban letting fees, our crowdsourced research project at lettingfees.co.uk continues to build up a picture of renter exploitation around the country. Renters in Bournemouth and Brighton & Hove now have an online comparison of letting fees in their area, which will help them avoid the rogues who are either charging excessive fees or just not publishing theirs.
Lessons from Germany: tenant power in the rental market
Last month the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) released its report “Lessons from Germany: Tenant power in the rental market”. It examines the relative strength of protection for German renters, and how these benefits might be brought across to England.
Making housing about immigration continues to be a toxic mix
Back in late 2015, when the details about making landlords check the immigration status of prospective tenants was being debated in parliament, housing and migrant groups repeatedly warned government that this would lead to discrimination, and push vulnerable renters into precarious and hidden housing.
Today a new report from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) on the 'Right to Rent' scheme confirms that warning, with shocking findings of non-British and non-white renters finding it more difficult to access a new tenancy.
Government consults on banning orders - renters respond
We have put in our response to the government’s consultation on banning orders – the new mechanism to prevent criminals from operating in the rental market. That’s right, they aren’t banned already.
The government has asked what types of offences should be banworthy, and set a deadline of midnight tonight.
We asked our supporters for their experiences earlier in the week, dozens of you responded, and the feedback has helped shape our response to the government.
Housing White Paper: where do we stand now?
Well, the Housing White Paper was a massive disappointment. After an exciting glimpse on Sunday of moves to "incentivise" longer tenancies, on Tuesday it became clear that those incentives were existing government subsidies for companies building new homes. Number of beneficiaries: 80,322 (not counting the companies who would have offered longer tenancies anyway).
For the 4.3 million households in existing properties? The vague undertaking to "consider what more we can do to support families already renting privately, while encouraging continued investment in the sector." Which gives little hope to people who don't live with their family and a lot of hope to property speculators.
Removing criminals from the housing market
Although the 2016 Housing and Planning Act paved the way for the mass sell-off of council houses, eroded security for social tenants and watered down the affordability of new homes, it also made it possible to ban criminals from letting out properties, with new Banning Orders.
As we await the Housing White Paper to see how far the government will go to improve private renting further - and how much it will atone for the damage it caused to social housing - we are drafting our feedback on how Banning Orders will work.
Are landlord incentives the answer to tenant insecurity?
Today's Observer declares that the "home-owning democracy", that elusive vision beloved of the Conservatives since Thatcher, is finished.
Ahead of next week's Housing White Paper, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid says, "We understand people are living longer in private rented accommodation", which is the closest the government has come to admitting that their policies to help first-time buyers can only go so far.
Housing White Paper: could Starter Homes be genuinely affordable?
As the publication date for the government's Housing White Paper approaches, we and groups across the the housing world are hoping for an announcement that will signal a 'whole new mindset', as the Secretary of State has promised.
One item that will be included is confirmation of how the government's long-running Starter Homes policy will work - and the detail will tell us how far it will go towards slowing the affordability crisis for first-time buyers. This is the government's flagship policy that was pitched as "turning Generation Rent into Generation Buy".
Are banks behind your latest rent rise?
The bank even demands that landlords get a valuation of the market rent every time the tenancy is up for renewal and then "take all steps to ensure that the review [with the tenant] takes place and leads to the maximum increase in the rent which can reasonably be achieved."
Fuel poverty update: we can’t have any more delays in supporting renters in the coldest homes
Just before Christmas, as the weather got colder and government released its latest update on the fuel poverty statistics, there was still no news for private renters who need clarity about the detail of minimum energy efficiency standards in the PRS.
The statistics showed that one in five private rented households are officially fuel poor, and that the average ‘fuel poverty gap’ – the amount of money needed for a household to escape fuel poverty – is highest for private renters.
Despite these worrying trends, there is, in theory at least, some light at the end of the tunnel – but delays in implementing the policy need to be quickly remedied for that to be realised.
Help lead Generation Rent - apply to join the board
Generation Rent would be nothing without the people who donate their money or time to the cause. We have a team of two full-time staff going into 2017, and we are ever more reliant on the generosity of our supporters.
The organisation is governed by a board of unpaid trustees, who support the team and enable us to devote as much of our energy to campaigning for renters' rights and building the wider movement.
With the need to develop the diversity of our funding, and new opportunities to make the most of, we are recruiting several new trustees who will help us do this.
Changes at Generation Rent
Since its launch, Generation Rent has achieved a series of improvements to the lives of renters, including:
- Outlawing of revenge evictions
- Making landlords pay their fair share of tax
- Stronger regulation of landlords and letting agents
- A proposed ban on letting fees
The growing renter population finally has a voice, but it needs to be much stronger.
Build-to-Rent: A new vision for London housing, but who is it for?
For many years, debates around housing supply have suggested that a model needs to be worked up that leverages investment into building new long-term, professionally managed privately rented accommodation, as is much more normal in other countries around the world.
Generation Rent has always argued that new supply will only help a small percentage of lucky renters, and that the priority should be to support legislative reform that would improve things for the over two million London renters in existing stock.
Property guardians speak out about Wild West sector
Some of you will have read stories in the past year or two about property guardians. Originally a low cost way of beating extortionate private rental prices, the scheme has been coming under fire for rent hikes, poor living conditions and a lack of regulation.
I run a Facebook-based campaign and support group called Property Guardians UK. Over the past 2 years I have collected stories and information from those who came to my site and provided some with legal advice on problems they had with their agencies. I am also a guardian myself, currently in my 8th year in the scheme.
Huge victory for renters as Chancellor bans fees
There was some extra cash for "affordable" housing in Philip Hammond's Autumn Statement, but there was only really one big story from today:
The Government is going to ban letting fees!
This is a phenomenal achievement and the result of a tireless campaign over recent years by us, Shelter, Citizens Advice, the Debrief and local renter groups around the country.
Dozens of us investigated our local letting agents to build up the case for reform on www.lettingfees.co.uk. Thousands of us signed petitions and wrote to our MPs and the government listened.
The Redfern Review: A grown-up take on the housing crisis
Earlier this year, Labour commissioned the chief executive of the country's biggest house builder to lead a study of the decline in home ownership - the main reason politicians are worried about housing these days.
The Redfern Review has been published today. It shouldn't be a great surprise that its conclusions don't fit completely with our views - there's very little comment on the needs of private renters - but it does make an important contribution to the debate, and there's a lot we can agree on. Indeed, it takes a more objective approach than parties and industry players have done when they've tackled the same subject - there's refreshingly little dogma or evidence of Taylor Wimpey's commercial interests at play (though it plays down builders' profit-driven reluctance to build enough homes).
Another result of London’s failed housing system – increased child poverty
Figures produced by the End Child Poverty Coalition this week show distressing levels of child poverty after housing costs are included, including within much of London.
The data breaks down levels of child poverty by parliamentary constituency, local authority, and local ward level, and shows that of the twenty constituencies with the highest levels of child poverty, seven are in London, while 11 out of 20 of the highest figures at local authority level are also in the capital.
Here's another reason to boo rising house prices
I bet you thought rising house prices just made it more difficult for you to ever own your own home.
Well, it's even worse than that.
Rising house prices increase your risk of being evicted.
Already angry? Jump straight to our campaign page.
The UK's first online landlord checking service
A few years ago my brother David was the victim of a rental scam. It was this experience that led us to research the scale of the problem and start to think about ways to raise awareness and maybe even prevent this kind of fraud from happening in the first place.
We realised there is a compromise when seeking a rental today: either go through a letting agent which may charge excessive fees, or use a listings site where there's a chance of being scammed. It wasn't difficult to find fake listings on websites. Renters told us they were daunted by paying out thousands to a landlord (who is a stranger) but did so as they had little choice.
Top 10 tips to cut your electricity bill
Thomas Karcher runs Kagoo.co.uk
With sky-high rents squeezing tenant’s budgets, bills are yet another unwelcome expense. However, it is possible to significantly reduce your electricity bill by following our Top 10 electricity saving tips.
1. Check your electricity tariff
As a tenant you are free to switch electricity suppliers without requiring permission from the landlord. Compare tariffs, duel fuel discounts and payment options to ensure you get the best deal.
Please note some agents try and tie tenants into energy deals with a preferred provider. Generation Rent would like to hear if you have been affected by this.
The London Living Rent: Winners, Losers and the Rest of Us (Part 2 - tenancies)
In September, following the Mayor’s release of some details for this London Living Rent proposal, we blogged about concerns around how genuinely affordable this new tenure would be, and what was needed to ensure it was part of the solution to London’s housing crisis.
This follow-up piece looks at what wasn’t covered in the first blog – broadly, tenancy types – and how again they might best serve Londoners just looking for somewhere affordable and secure to live.
Property industry tries to block government's best housing policy
With a new Prime Minister and a new Chancellor heavily modifying their predecessors’ policies on the deficit, “affordable” housing and schools, the property industry is hopeful that the government will pursue similar revisionism on its landlord tax policy.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors this week called on the government to scrap the stamp duty surcharge on buy-to-let and second homes, while landlords have been in the High Court to challenge the withdrawal of mortgage interest tax relief for landlords paying higher rate income tax.
We’ve just learned that there will not be a judicial review of the government’s policy.
Landlords and mortgages: what do we know?
Whenever you propose reform of private renting, the landlord lobby always says no, because "landlords couldn't afford it". Whether it's asking landlords to cover the cost of letting agent fees, to apply for a licence, to charge controlled rents, or to pay tax on their loans, we're asked to believe that they can't afford it. Then they threaten to raise rents - as if rents haven't already been outpacing inflation since the end of the recession.
This claim assumes that landlords are already paying large amounts of their revenue out again in costs. Some of them are, but we point out that the majority are not, because they don't have a mortgage.
For example, an interest-only mortgage of £150,000 at 4% costs £6000 a year. Rent on the £200,000 property bought with that mortgage might get you £10,000. Two thirds of private rented properties have no mortgage, and thus have significantly lower costs and capacity to absorb new regulatory requirements.
Don't be fooled: Help to Buy is still dangerous
Yesterday, the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, confirmed that the Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee scheme would wind up at the end of the year. This was arguably the more controversial of the two Help to Buy schemes announced in the 2013 Budget, but it was originally meant to last only 3 years. And with it gone, we're still left with a Help to Buy loan scheme that is highly counterproductive to any efforts to fix the housing crisis.
The London Living Rent: Winners, Losers and the Rest of Us (Part 1 – rent levels)
During his recent visit to New York City, the Mayor of London took the opportunity to announce one of his key pre-election pledges for the private rented sector, the London Living Rent.
Doing so while overseas was both surprising and interesting and his visit to New York highlighted the challenges facing the Mayors of both cities.
London's housing costs are driving families away
Today we have called on the Mayor of London to adopt a set of policies that will speed up his efforts to end the capital’s housing crisis.
To remind him what’s at stake, we have uncovered another startling trend that is hurting the city and its people.
Every year the Office for National Statistics releases figures on internal migration – how many people move from one part of the UK to another – and people are moving out of London at an alarming rate.
London's turning - Towards a sustainable private rented sector under the new Mayor
Today Generation Rent publishes 'London's Turning: Towards a sustainable private rented sector under the new Mayor', our call on Sadiq Khan to act rapidly and boldly in his response to the capital's housing crisis.
Looking for cheap rent in London? Just become an artist then
Proposals this week to implement cheap rents for London's artists show how the the city's housing crisis makes an absurdity of good intentions, and indicates why a closer link to universality rather than targeting is needed to make renting affordable again in the capital.
Making overseas investment work for Londoners
The issue of foreign investors pumping money into the London property market has once again been raised by last night’s BBC report on a rise in overseas investment in the outer London boroughs, and how this provides competition for first-time buyers.
Private renters are Londoners too…
As Sadiq Khan announced the membership of his new Homes for Londoners board last week, the private rented sector was conspicuous by its absence. Despite close to one third of Londoners privately renting, the new body has not yet made provision for either tenants’ voices to be heard, nor for a clear focus on the PRS to be part of HfL’s work.
Does your MP support a ban on letting fees?
The latest evidence is from the English Housing Survey, which revealed in July that up to 69% of tenants living in unsatisfactory homes are discouraged from moving out because of the cost of agent fees. It also suggests the scam is worth around £115m a year.*
The decline of ownership, and meaningless means
A version of this article appeared on Inside Housing.
Last Tuesday, the Resolution Foundation dominated the headlines and airwaves with its report into levels of home ownership. Using figures from the Labour Force Survey, their big finding was that Greater Manchester saw the biggest fall in owner occupation from its peak at the turn of the century. It was a pattern seen across the north.
It’s no shock that the housing crisis is gripping the whole country. Our analysis of the 2011 census in 2014 found that ownership levels were already dropping in major urban areas. These figures are a bit more up to date.
While London and the South East have the most insane house prices, buying a home anywhere has become more difficult. This is because wages haven’t risen by much, and more people are in insecure employment, so it’s harder to save and to qualify for a mortgage. House prices became uncoupled from wages before the credit crunch, and didn’t revert to affordable levels after it.
New developments in London require a relentless focus on affordability - nothing less will do
For the rest of the summer, London politics is formally in recess. Yet, the city keeps on moving and the Mayor has been publicly engaged with the housing elements of a number of high-profile developments.
Got opinions about renting? We want them
As part of our work, we want to make sure that we're doing the best we can for renters, and a big part of that is understanding your experiences and hopes for the future.
The housing crisis is such a complex beast that there are a range of views about how to fix it - and we'd like to know what yours are too.
That's why we are running a survey until mid-August.
Vent your rent, to music
If, like me, you wish this generation had its own Joe Strummer or Woody Guthrie, writing protest songs about the social challenges of the day - i.e. bad housing* - well, you're in luck. A new choir of private renters in London, called Section 21, is being announced this Saturday at Royal Festival Hall in London.
Enjoy the summer - but come back ready to end the London housing crisis
As is so often the case in the week before politicians break for the summer, we’ve had a raft of announcements, predictions and indicators in the last week – including a number of focused reports today from English Housing Survey data.
Coupled with announcements made at yesterday’s Mayoral Question Time (the last until September), private renters in London have a diagnosis and some solutions to ponder over the summer.
But equally, it is hoped that these reports will have brought added impetus to plans being written by the housing team at City Hall, ready to hit the ground running after the summer.