What Does Your Heart Tell You the Future of Housing in the UK?
What Does Your Heart Tell You the Future of Housing in the UK? On Tuesday we were told, that in no uncertain terms that the "Housing Market is Broken". "Broken" not an adjective I would have used, however, for years even those of us who are not Economists, Town & Country Planners, Soothsayers or Psychics - have known that:-
- We live on an island and whilst it is a green and pleasant land, we are clearly running out of space.
- The population is growing, people are living longer, therefore, more homes are needed.
- The recession - the banks - whomever we wish to blame - caused an element of "risk averseness" and that meant lending stopped. Those wanting to buy a property for the first time, can't and therefore they either stay at home or rent.
- The demand for rental property is so high that there are bidding wars between applicants so desperate are they for somewhere to live.
- The supply versus demand means that in some areas potential tenants are priced out of areas.
Anyone of us working in the Private Rented Sector could have written the Housing White Paper - perhaps not as eloquently, but I am sure that our wish list would have not been dissimilar.
So what next? The broken market is creating challenges for households across the country. The long-term solution is to build more homes but that will take time to have an impact. Chapter 4 focuses on how Government will help people now, tackling some of the impacts of the housing shortage on ordinary households and communities. They will:
- continue to support people to buy their own home – through Help to Buy and Starter Homes;
- help households who are priced out of the market to afford a decent home that is right for them through our investment in the Affordable Homes Programme;
- make renting fairer for tenants;
- take action to promote transparency and fairness for the growing number of leaseholders;
- improve neighbourhoods by continuing to crack down on empty homes, and support areas most affected by second homes;
- encourage the development of housing that meets the needs of our future population;
- help the most vulnerable who need support with their housing, developing a sustainable and workable approach to funding supported housing in the future; and do more to prevent homelessness by supporting households at risk before they reach crisis point as well as reducing rough sleeping.
Note that Over 4 million households now rent their home from a private landlord – nearly twice as many as ten years ago and so the focus will be heavily on the Private Rented Sector. Section 4.32 of the White Paper states;-
"Where there are concerns, these tend to focus on affordability and security. In the long term, building more homes will help with affordability, but renters often face upfront costs including fees charged by letting agents to tenants. Tenants have no control over these fees because the agent is appointed by and works for the landlord. This is wrong. The Government has already introduced transparency on fees. We will consult early this year, ahead of bringing forward legislation as soon as Parliamentary time allows, to ban letting agent fees to tenants. This will improve competition in the market and give renters greater clarity and control over what they pay."
When Consultation for the Fee Ban is announced, you must be sure to make your voices heard. You may wonder why, since the White Paper clearly states that legislation will go ahead, however, it is important to provide a very clear indication of what this ban means to the sector.
Today, I received a response to a letter I had written to our local MP, Charles Walker OBE requesting clarification on the Fee Ban.
The response from Gavin Barwell, Housing Minister was as follows:-
"The Government is keen to see tenants receiving a good service from their landlord and letting agent. We announced in the Autumn Statement a ban on letting agent fees paid by tenants in England. This will support better competition in the market, which should bring down overall costs. While some costs may be passed through to tenants in rents, tenants will be better able to search around for properties that suit their budget and there will be no hidden costs. This may be preferable to tenants being hit with upfront charges that can be difficult for them to afford.
The ban will require primary legislation. We will consult and bring forward Legislation as soon as possible. I hope you and your constituent find this information useful."