Friday, 26 May 2017

Less Than Half Of Right To Buy Replacements Are For Social Rent

Less than half of the council homes built to replace those sold under the Right to Buy are at social rents. Since 2012, councils have been allowed to keep a portion of the receipt from a Right to Buy home to build a replacement, with a total of 10,644 started so far against 51,352 sales. But Freedom of Information Act responses from 111 councils – 75% of those building replacements – showed only 48% (3,962) of the 8,109 new homes they had started were at social rents. Read more on Inside Housing.

Looking For House And Home

You can normally get a good feel for changing political priorities by tracking how often the parties refer to particular issues over time. Search for ‘house’ and ‘home’ in the manifestos of the two main parties and in 2001 neither term got much of a look-in. Today references to both are legion. If we quite literally take the parties at their word, whoever forms the next government looks set to give housing the prominence it deserves (and that voters clearly think it should have too). The Conservatives reiterate their 2015 commitment to deliver 1 million homes by 2020 and promise a further half a million by 2022; Labour also sign up to build the magic million. Read more analysis on the Resolution Foundation website.

Major UK Landlord Scraps Rental Deposits

Rental home operator Get Living is to scrap security deposit requirements for new residents from next month. Security deposits will be returned to current residents from July, in a move that will see around £3m released back into the UK economy. Neil Young, CEO of Get Living, said: “We know that the cost of living can be high so, as a responsible landlord with a long-term perspective, it is important for us to be able to identify and address areas where we can alleviate the burden on our residents.” Read more on 24housing.

Rental Supply Fell By A Third In London Last Month

The supply of properties for rent in the UK fell by a third in London in April and only increased marginally in the rest of the country. The latest report from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) also shows that rents are rising and fewer tenants are negotiating rent reductions. In London the number of properties managed per ARLA member branch fell by 32% from 148 in March to 101 in April and letting agents had 65 prospective tenants registered per branch.  The number of tenants negotiating rent reductions fell from 3.6% in March to 2.8% last month and 23% of letting agents saw landlords increasing rents. Read more on Property Wire.

House-Building At Highest For A Decade

The number of new homes being built in England is at its highest level for ten years, according to government figures. The CLG said 162,880 homes were started in 2016/17, with 147,960 completed. Both numbers represent the highest number of new builds since the start of the financial crisis in 2007/08. However, housing charity Shelter said the numbers were still about 100,000 short of what was needed. Read more on the BBC.

Housing Market Remains Steady Ahead Of The General Election

The UK housing market remained steady in April despite the news of a snap election in June and "ongoing uncertainty around Brexit", according to data from the Mortgage Advice Bureau. During the month the average selling prices increased by two per cent while the typical purchase loan size was up by the same amount. There was a minimal change in average size of remortgage month-on-month (0.6 per cent increase) while the average purchase price for first-time buyers remained broadly unchanged on the previous month (1.23 per cent increase). Read more on City AM.

Investment Fund Launched For Homelessness Sector

Homeless Link, the national membership organisation for homelessness and supported housing agencies, is launching a £4.5m Social Investment Fund for charities and social enterprises across England working to reduce homelessness. The programme is the first of its kind exclusively for the homelessness sector and one of very few sector-specific funds in existence. Homeless Link will invest the money over the next three years, offering homelessness organisations unsecured loans of amounts between £25,000 and £150,000. The aim of the fund is to test and learn where social investment can be most effectively used alongside other forms of funding to improve outcomes. Read more on the Homeless Link website.

Community Housing Groups Warn £300 Million Fund At Risk

Community groups have warned a £300 million fund for new affordable housing projects is at risk as the political parties battle over spending pledges. The National Community Land Trust Network, the UK Cohousing Network and the Confederation of Cooperative Housing have joined forces to urge the parties to commit to a five-year fund set up last year to boost their work. The £300 million Community Housing Fund was launched in December to provide small, community-led housing groups extra resources to scale-up ambitious building plans. But these grassroots groups are worried the future of the fund is now in jeopardy. Read more on the Big Issue website.

Councils Warn Of Now ‘Severe’ Need For Affordable Homes

Nearly all UK councils now say their need for affordable homes is either ‘severe’ or ‘moderate’. Lack of investment in genuinely affordable housing alongside deregulation of planning is reducing the ability for local authorities to secure the homes the nation needs. A report by APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) – written and researched by the TCPA – finds that UK councils are becoming increasingly unable to meet demands for affordable housing. Overall, 98% of respondents describe their need as either ‘severe’ or ‘moderate’ with only 1% claiming that their need is not substantial. Download the report from the APSE website.

Charities Call On Associations To Provide Housing First Accommodation

A homelessness charity has called on social landlords to provide homes for Housing First programmes across the country. Currently only 50% of Housing First projects have access to social housing, according to Homeless Link. Homeless Link has published guidance for social landlords on the purpose of Housing First and how it can benefit landlords. Housing First gives permanent housing to rough sleepers with complex support needs before tackling any problems they may have, such as addiction or mental health issues. Read more on Inside Housing.

Housing Association Development Starts Rise 13%

The number of new homes started by housing associations rose 13% to almost 48,000 in the last financial year, figures on the sector’s output reveal. Data released by the National Housing Federation (NHF) shows associations started 47,709 homes of all tenures and completed 38,082 in the year to April 2017. The NHF started surveying its members last year to gain a “complete picture” of the sector’s development output, due to “long-standing problems” with the official government figures. The figures are based on responses from 82% of developing housing associations. The number of completions dipped 5% in the year, representing the slowdown in development starts 18 months ago following the surprise four-year rent cut. Read the full briefing on the NHF website.

Renters Could Swing The Election In 93 Seats

There are 93 ‘renter marginals’ where there are more private renters without a strong commitment to any political party, according to analysis by the Renters Vote campaign. Up to 30 seats could be taken by a party that appeals to these voters. 73 of the renter marginals are in England, while 18 are in the devolved nations.  The renter swing vote was calculated by multiplying the electorate at the 2015 election by the proportion of the population that rent privately. This was then multiplied by 30%, the proportion of private renters who told a Survation poll that they were likely to vote for a different party at future elections. Read more on 24housing.

Councils 'Not Informed' When Receiving Homeless Londoners

Councils in south-east England say they are often not told when homeless families are sent to their areas by London boroughs who cannot house them. Some say they are not given crucial information about child-welfare concerns unless there were already formal child protection plans in place. Many councils say they are not told how many such families are in their patch, which is in breach of housing laws. More than 2,000 London homeless families were placed outside the capital in 2015-16, according to co-ordinating body London Councils - a threefold rise on the number three years earlier. Read more on the BBC.

Rise In Single Property Landlords Hit By Buy To Let Tax Changes

Single property landlords are finally waking up to the fact they could be pushed in to a higher tax bracket following the introduction of new taxation rules for buy to let. Research from the NLA shows the proportion of single property landlords who anticipate they will be moved up a tax bracket as a result of the changes has almost doubled since the end of 2016. Sixteen per cent of landlords with a single property now say the changes will push them into a higher income tax bracket - a rise of seven per cent compared to Q4 2016. Read more on the NLA website.

Delivering Social Housing On A Budget

Between 2010 and 2015 local government faced upwards of £18bn in real terms cuts, losing on average 20% of its spending power. Meanwhile, social housing waiting lists are rising, local authorities are struggling to deliver their 5 year housing land supply and the Right to Buy uptake has overtaken the provision of new social housing. Faced with these problems, local authorities have increasingly turned to setting up arms-length commercial entities known as Housing Delivery Vehicles ("HDVs"). At their best, HDVs can allow public assets to be put to effective use to bring in revenue for struggling Councils and help to mitigate the housing crisis where there is a huge demand for affordable social housing that far outstrips supply. Read more on the Lexology website.

Why Big Drop In Home Ownership For Young Families Is Worrying

Home ownership for young families has halved in some of Britain's leading housing markets since the 1990s. The phrase "housing crisis" is rarely off politicians' lips these days as they increasingly recognise the cost of a home - to buy and to rent - plays a key role in determining living standards. And quite right too as new Resolution Foundation analysis shows the crisis is both acute and widely felt. Home ownership levels among today's young families are way below those enjoyed by their parents' generation. Read more on the Resolution Foundation website.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Conservative Manifesto Summary: Housing

·         Halve rough sleeping over the course of the next parliament and eliminate it by 2027
·         Meet 2015 commitment to deliver a million homes by the end of 2020 and half a million more by the end of 2022
·         Build better houses to match the quality of previous generations
·         Support for high-quality, high-density housing like mansion blocks, mews houses and terraced streets
·         160,000 houses built on government land
·         Maintain the existing strong protections on designated land like the Green Belt, National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
·         Continue £2.5bn flood defence programme to protect 300,000 existing homes by 2021.

Read more on the BBC website.

£5m Help Onto Housing Ladder

A £5 million affordable homes scheme will be marketed to NHS staff, carers and teachers who struggle to get on the housing ladder in York. Councillors have approved money to launch a new shared ownership homes programme, which will see people getting council help to buy 65 homes in York. The homes - probably made up of 40 new-build homes, and 25 “second hand” homes bought on the open market - will be targeted at valuable key workers in areas like the NHS, children’s workers and social care, and schools - who currently struggle with York’s high housing costs. The first people could be buying their new homes by the end of the year. Read more on the York Press.

Tories Reveal Their Big Housing Reform - The Home Information Pack

The Conservatives have revealed the idea behind their manifesto pledge to “reform and modernise the home-buying process so it is more efficient and less costly” - and it’s a new version of the Home Information Packs. Michael Gove told the BBC: “One of the things we can revisit is Home Information Packs.” Just over a year ago the then-housing minister Brandon Lewis inserted an amendment to the Housing and Planning Bill which many interpreted as Home Information Packs being resuscitated. They have in the past year been associated with various efforts by the Cameron and May governments to call for evidence into transaction fall-throughs - but the Gove revelation was the most explicit suggestion yet that HIPs are returning. Read more on the Estate Agent Today website.

Social Housing 'Deals' Plan Builds On CLG Work

Ongoing behind the scenes work with three councils will form the basis of flagship Conservative plans for ‘bespoke deals’ to build social rented housing, it is understood.  In a statement, Mrs May said she plans to enable “the most ambitious” councils and housing associations build “a new generation” of socially rented properties. This builds on behind-the-scenes work with three authorities – Stoke, Sheffield and Newark and Sherwood – which have been discussing a package of measures that could allow them to step-up house building. The packages discussed would include flexibility on borrowing caps – imposed under the self-financing deal in 2012 – but also involve new deals on rent setting and bland assembly powers. Read more on Inside Housing.

Drop In Buy To Let Valuations Over April

Buy to Let valuations dipped to 7% of market activity last month as the cut to landlord mortgage tax relief kicked in. The proportion of Buy to Let valuations is six percentage points below the five year average for April. Buy to Let valuation activity is even lower than it was in April last year – when the stamp duty surcharge was introduced. The decline in Buy to Let valuations has likely been driven by the stamp duty surcharge and the cut to Buy to Let mortgage tax relief. As of April, landlords can only offset 75% of mortgage interest payments against rental income – down from 100% in March. Read more on 24housing.

Over 250,000 Have Given Up On The Dream Of Homeownership

Over 250,000 non-homeowners appear to have given up on the dream of homeownership in the past year alone, according to the 2017 Homeowners Survey, an annual study into the concerns, views and issues affecting homeowners and aspiring homeowners. The study found that for the first time in five years, there has been a drop in the number of non-homeowners who aspire to own. In 2013, 65% of non-homeowners aspired to homeownership, with this number increasing every year and peaking at 73% in 2016. But this year, the numbers have fallen for the first time, back to 71%. The stats mirror the rise of the government’s flagship Help to Buy programme which is now receding with the cancellation of the mortgage guarantee part of the scheme in 2016. Read more on the Homeowners Alliance website.

All Landlords Need To Know About The Conservative Manifesto.

There are hints that incentives might be used to encourage landlords to offer longer term contracts, including;
  • Fair Debt - A fair debt policy – creating a “Breathing Space” for those in serious problem debt, protection from further interest, charges and enforcement action for up to six weeks. This would be beneficial for vulnerable households who are caught in a spiral of debt.
  • Equality - Equalities law will be strengthened so that private landlords who discriminate are properly investigated and prosecuted. This comes as the Government are facing possible legal action over Right to Rent.
  • Energy Efficiency - A commitment to upgrading all fuel poor homes to EPC band C by 2030.
In conclusion - Tenants are now clearly seen as consumers by the Conservatives with landlords being seen as providing a service.

Read more on the NLA website.

Renting A Home Is Cheaper Than Buying In 54% Of British Cities

Renting a home is now cheaper than buying one in more than half (54%) of British cities. The average monthly rental payment on a two-bedroom property rings in at £690 across Britain's 50 biggest cities – £47 less each month than those making average mortgage repayments of £737. Research has found that Londoners fare best when it comes to renting, paying 47% less than the average mortgage payment  in the city. The proportion of locations where it is now cheaper to rent a home than buy one has increased by 14% since October 2016, when it was more cost-effective to buy in 60% of British cities. Read more on the Zoopla website.

Friday, 19 May 2017

A Quarter Of Home-Buyers Forced Into Bidding War For Property

Nearly one in four home-buyers have entered into a bidding war to secure their chosen property, but those finding themselves in this situation are likely to end up losing out, a survey suggests. Some 23% of people who have bought, or are in the process of buying, a house have found themselves embroiled in a bidding war, with other buyers upping their offers as they compete over a property. But while 9% of Britons surveyed had entered a bidding war and won, a higher proportion of 14% entering a bidding war ended up seeing their desired home slip through their fingers as they found themselves out-bid. Read more on the AOL website.

How Should A Ban On Letting Fees Work?

The CLG is consulting on how their proposed ban on letting agent fees should be implemented and enforced. Under the proposal, letting agents will no longer be able to charge fees to tenants for a variety of their services, including seeking references, inventory services and contract negotiations. The consultation document suggests that banning letting fees being charged to tenants will incentivise letting agents to compete for landlords’ business. This will lead to lower up-front costs paid by tenants, and greater clarity on the total costs of renting a new home. Read more on the Homeless Link website.

JCWI To Challenge Home Office Over Right-To-Rent

The Joint Council for Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has written to the Home Office to call for a halt to the rollout of the scheme of the Government’s Right-to-Rent scheme awaiting a full evaluation of its impact in England. The Joint Council is threatening to take legal action if the Government continues to implement the policy, which is yet to expand beyond England. Saira Grant, Chief Executive of JCWI, said: “In the face of clear evidence of discrimination under Right-to-Rent, the Government must show it is not acting illegally before it presses ahead with a rollout to the rest of the UK.”Read more on the NLA website.

Home Buyers Up 27% In March

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, lending in March:
·         Home buyers borrowed £11.2bn, up 24% on February but down 19% on March 2016.
·         First-time buyers borrowed £4.9bn for home-owner house purchase, up 29% on February and 9% on March 2016.
·         Home movers borrowed £6.2bn, up 19% on February but down 33% year-on-year.
·         Home-owner remortgage activity was up 13% by value and 14% by volume on February. Compared to March 2016, remortgage lending was up 22% by value and 24% by volume. 
·         Gross buy-to-let saw month-on-month increases, up 4% by value and 8% by volume. Compared to March 2016 the number of loans decreased 58% and the amount borrowed decreased by 60%.

Read more on the CML website.

Landlord Facing Legal Action

A buy-to-let tycoon who banned Indian and Pakistani tenants from renting his homes "because of the curry smell" is facing legal action. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has applied for an injunction against Fergus Wilson. In his latest letting criteria, the Kent landlord has also banned zero-hour workers, single parents and "battered wives". Mr Wilson has defended his lettings policy on economic grounds. EHRC chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath said it had applied for an injunction at Central London County Court. Read more on the BBC.

Lib Dems Unveil 'Rent To Buy' Pledge For First Time Homeowners

Tens of thousands of young renters will be offered “rent to buy” deposit-free homes as part of a Liberal Democrat manifesto aimed at enticing a younger generation to back the party. The announcement is the flagship policy among a number of reforms aimed at attracting younger voters, also those most likely to be receptive to the party’s hard remain message and a promise of a referendum on the final Brexit deal to allow voters to opt to stay in the EU. Under the “rent to buy” pledge, young professionals and working families unable to afford a home would be able to buy their first home for the same cost as renting, with each monthly payment steadily buying a share in the home. Read more on the Guardian website.

Conservatives' Flagship CPO Plans For Social Rent 'Could Face Legal Challenge'

Tory plans to overhaul compulsory purchase laws to boost social housing provision could be challenged in parliament and through the courts, experts have warned. The Conservative Party this weekend pledged “a new generation of homes for social rent”, with cheap land deals part of the plan. Theresa May’s party said allowing councils to compulsorily purchase brownfield sites at below market value could release sites for social housing, particularly in urban areas. But Jacqueline Backhaus, head of planning at law firm Trowers & Hamlins, said any change to compulsory purchase legislation would be tough to enact – and could be challenged on human rights grounds. Read more on Inside Housing.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

UK Sees Rise In New Housing Despite Fall In Overall Construction Output

New housing experienced solid growth in March, up 3.8% on the month, despite a 0.7% drop in wider UK construction output, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show. In spite of the wider slowdown in the construction sector in March, which was the third consecutive period of negative month-on-month growth, residential property building levels rose by 5.4% on the year and 0.2% on the quarter. The ONS said repair and maintenance was the main drag on construction output, shrinking both month-on-month and quarter-on-quarter by 1.8% and 0.2%, respectively. Read more on the ONS website.

Housing Policies Outlined In Leaked Labour Manifesto

Labour would suspend the Right to Buy until councils could demonstrate they can replace sold homes like-for-like, according to a leaked version of the party’s manifesto. News outlets, including the BBC, claim to have seen a leaked version of the party’s election manifesto ahead of its official launch next week. According to the document, which is circulating online, Labour plans to moderate its pledge to suspend the Right to Buy. The leaked manifesto says councils will be allowed to continue selling homes under the policy if they can demonstrate a plan for like-for-like replacement. Read more on Inside Housing.

One In Three ‘Rent-Burdened Brits’ Borrow To Cover Home Costs

Housing charity Shelter is calling for the next government to step in and help ‘rent-burdened Brits’. New figures from Shelter and YouGov show tenants are being driven into debt to keep on top of their rent, with over half a million low-earning renters borrowing from credit cards, overdrafts or friends and family in the last year alone. Huge numbers of low-earning private renters are only just managing to keep a roof over their heads, with a staggering 70% either struggling with or falling behind on rent. As private rents eat up income, 800,000 hard-pressed private renters are not even able to save £10 a month according to a Shelter analysis of government statistics. Read more on 24housing.

May Unveils Plan To Build New Council Houses

Theresa May has announced an overhaul in council homes by promising measures to encourage the building of new social housing to help thousands of families. The Prime Minister has said the Tories will "support the most ambitious councils" and housing associations to overturn the decline in social housing if she is re-elected next month.  In the last twenty years, the decline in local authority housebuilding has left England with a dwindling social housing stock as demand for housing has risen. There are currently 300,000 fewer homes for social rent than 20 years ago and around 1.2 million families on local authority waiting lists for a social tenancy. Read more on the Daily Telegraph website.

UK Construction Skills Gap Could Be Helped With Temporary Visas Post-Brexit

A think tank has suggested temporary ‘brickie visas’ could help to deal with the UK construction skills gap in the wake of Brexit. This would grant EU nationals entry into the country after Brexit to fill jobs that would not otherwise qualify for a Tier 2-style work permit. The visa would be issued for a year, but could be extended up to a maximum of three. This would help businesses train local workers for unfulfilled roles. Migration Watch UK made the suggestion in a new report ‘EU Immigration, Post-Brexit – A Comprehensive Policy’. Read more on the pbctoday website.

New Homes: Where Is The Supply Being Concentrated?

Since the seventies, housing starts and completions across England and Wales have been on a downward trajectory. The long run average over the last 50 years has been around 180,000 per annum, with the highest numbers being achieved at the start of this period and the lowest in the immediate aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2007/08. Over the last few years government initiatives, including the Starter Homes Fund, Housing Zones and Get Britain Building to name a few, have been launched to help stimulate the house building industry. This plus a recovery in the housing market has resulted in a pick-up of supply taking both starts and completions in line with each other at about 150,000 in 2015/16. Read more on Estate Agent Today.

Two More Selective Licensing Consultations

A year after their first licensing consultation and only a month after their second, Manchester City Council have started another Selective Licensing Consultation. Selective Licensing applies to all private rented sector houses that are not licensed under HMO licensing. An area may be designated for selective licensing either (i) if the area is (or is likely to be) an area of low housing demand or (ii) the area is experiencing a significant and persistent problem caused by anti social behaviour that local authorities attribute to private sector landlords failing to take action to combat against unruly tenants. The holders of the licence will be required to comply with licensing conditions, some of which are mandatorily imposed by the Housing Act, and local licensing conditions from the council itself.  Read more on the RLA website.

88% Of Social Rents Could Increase Without Exceeding LHA Cap

Nearly nine out of ten social homes in the country could increase their rents without hitting the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) cap level.  In looking at rents in the social housing sector, Savills have found that although this is true, “the scope will vary across the country.” They also had a warning for the social housing sector when thinking about rent increases: “Hitting up against the LHA caps could bring housing even closer to the politics of welfare. Rents must be affordable to households both in and out of employment.” Following calls from providers to set their own rents, Savills are somewhat for and against the idea. Read more on the Savills website.

Capping Aspiration: The Millennial Housing Challenge

The government’s plans to cap housing benefit at Local Housing Allowance (LHA) levels would lock 84% of young people in low-paid, insecure jobs out of all housing options in the South East. This is the warning from research by Sheffield Hallam University for the Consortium of Associations in the South East (CASE). CASE members said the government should reconsider using the shared accommodation rate as the maximum level for housing benefit for under-35s. Instead, it should give associations and local authorities the freedoms and flexibilities to continue to meet the housing needs of this group, the report said. Researchers said in their report Capping aspiration: the millennial housing challenge that some 84% of people aged under 35 in the South East would be affected when benefits are capped from April 2019. Download the report from the Sovreign website.

Arrears Continued To Fall In First Quarter

The number of mortgages in arrears fell slightly in the first quarter of 2017, and is down on both the previous quarter and a year ago, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. There were 92,600 mortgages in arrears, representing 0.84% of all mortgages, the lowest quarterly rate on record. Within the total stock of arrears cases, all arrears bands except the most serious showed a fall. However, the stock of cases with arrears of over 10% of the mortgage balance rose to 26,500. Although this is a small number within the total mortgage market, it does suggest that there is a minority cohort of borrowers for whom arrears are worsening. Read more on the CML website.

Lack Of Property For Sale In The UK

April is traditionally a busy time for the UK housing market, but fewer homeowners put their properties up for sale last month, the latest UK Property Supply Index from HouseSimple shows. The online estate agent says that the number of new UK property listings dropped by 4% in April from the previous month. The firm suggests that the cold weather and political uncertainty, caused by the triggering of Article 50 and Theresa May’s decision to call a snap general election, are the main causes for the decline in the number of homes put up for sale, with Runcorn (-33.9%), Doncaster (-31.1%) and Woking (-28.6%) suffering the biggest supply drought, according to the research. Read more on the Property Investor Today website.

Can Labour Deliver 100,000 Social Homes Annually Within Five Years?

This was the headline promise from the leaked version of Labour’s manifesto. How feasible is it? Labour seems to have stepped back from a much more ambitious target of delivering 500,000 affordable homes over a five-year parliament. The new pledge is still ambitious but appears much more realistic. It says ‘By the end of the next Parliament we will be building at least 100,000 council and housing association homes a year for rent or sale’. Let’s have a closer look at what it would require. Labour’s peak output was 61,090 in 2010/11, and the coalition managed 66,700 in 2014/15. Output fell sharply in the following year, to only 32,630, because the end of the previous financial year had been the cut-off date for the previous Affordable Homes Programme. Read more on the Red Brick blog.

'Stagnant' Buyer Demand Puts The Brakes On UK Housing Market

The UK housing market is continuing to slow down, with falling property sales, “stagnant” buyer demand and general election uncertainty all adding up to one of the most downbeat reports issued by surveyors since the financial crash. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said momentum was “continuing to ebb,” with no sign of change in the near future. Its report is the latest in a series of recent surveys suggesting that the slowdown is getting worse as household budgets continue to be squeezed and affordability pressures bite. It comes days after the Halifax said house prices fell by 0.1% in April, which meant they were nearly £3,000 below their December 2016 peak. Read more on the RICS website.

YMCA Wants Housing Support Back For 18 To 21-Year-Olds

A new government must abolish regulations that remove automatic entitlement to housing support for 18 to 21-year-olds, says the YMCA. It’s ‘Youth First’ manifesto brings together more than 40 recommendations including access to housing. Other priorities include:
·         Invest in early intervention mental health services for young people in schools and communities, including targeted campaigns that addresses the lack of knowledge and stigma surrounding mental health difficulties
·         Ensure all students in school or college have access to careers information, advice and guidance delivered by professional specialists
·         Reclassify youth services as a statutory service, which will require each local authority to have in a place a youth services strategy.

Read more on the YMCA website.

House Building Under The Tories Drops To Lowest Level Since The 1920s

House building under the Tories has fallen to its lowest peacetime levels since the 1920s. An analysis of house building going back more than a century shows the most recent years of Conservative rule has seen the lowest average house build rate since Stanley Baldwin was in Downing Street in 1923. According to figures compiled by the House of Commons Library, an average of 127,000 homes a year have been built in England and Wales since the Tories took office in 2010. This is the lowest level since Baldwin’s first stint as Prime Minister in 1923, when just 86,000 homes were built. Read more on the Huffington Post.

Tory Housing Target Questioned

Property experts have warned that a fall in approvals for schemes converting office space to homes could leave Tory housing targets in disarray. So-called permitted development rights (PDR), which allow conversions to go ahead without planning permission, have been a main driver of growth in housing supply since being announced in 2013. Nearly 14,000 homes were delivered in England last year from PDR conversions, providing three-quarters of the growth in housing supply in 2016 to 190,000. The government’s target is to build 200,000 new homes annually and a million new homes by 2020. However experts believe the number of houses delivered by office-to-resi is likely to fall, due to dwindling viable office stock and hostility from some local authorities towards office conversions. Read more on 24housing.

West Midlands Associations Consider Using Choice-Based Lettings For Right To Buy

Housing associations in the West Midlands are considering using the region’s choice-based lettings system to help those in ineligible properties for the Right to Buy identify alternative homes. The region would act as a full-scale pilot of the RtB extension, meaning associations are obliged to identify an alternative, available housing association home where properties are excluded. This could occur due to planning conditions, financial covenants on a property or specific types of housing such as rural. In a smaller pilot last year, around a third of more than 50,000 homes in the pilot were excluded. Read more on Inside Housing.

London Rents Fall For First Time Since 2009

Rents have fallen year on year in London for the first time since 2009 and are flat in much of the rest of the country in fresh evidence of the post-Brexit vote slowdown in the property market. The UK’s biggest tenant referencing company, Homelet, said rents on new tenancies in London fell by 1.2% in April compared with the same month a year ago, the first annualised fall in eight years. The London average rent fell to £1,519 a month compared with £1,537 a year ago. Rents in the south-east have also fallen slightly year on year, from £1,007 to £1,003. After years of being hit by steadily rising rent bills, it appears that tenants in the capital may finally be getting the upper hand. Read more on the Homelet website.

Smoking Should Be Banned In Council Housing

Smoking should be banned in all new council houses to protect children from harmful second-hand smoke, a public health chief has said. Anti-smoking campaigners consider smoke-free housing to be the next major frontier in reducing the harmful effects of passive smoking. “Housing associations and councils are looking at smoke-free housing buildings. Where children are involved I think there is a real case for it,” said Dr John Middleton, president of the Faculty of Public Health. Dr Middleton said he believed housing association residents should sign contracts which would make non-smoking a condition of their tenancy. Read more on the Independent website.