Thursday, 22 July 2021

Landlords Warned To Prepare For Rise In Tenant Fraud

The events of the past 18 months have dealt a devastating socio-economic impact on private renters in the UK, with an estimated 840,000 building up arrears as a result of covid. Compounding this is the softening of eviction regulations and virtually no consequences for fraudulent rental applications - fuelling a rise in tenant fraud. Rising unemployment and affordability amongst renters are also impacting the number of fraudulent applications. According to tenant due diligence and guarantee firm, Homeppl, there was a 71% increase in the number of fraudulent applications between the second half of 2020 and the first half of 2021 meaning that one in 50 rental applications are now fraudulent, rising to one in 20 in London. Read more on the Property Reporter website.

Social Mobility Advisor Calls For Three Million New Social Homes Over Next 20 Years

 The body which advises ministers on social mobility policy has recommended that three million social homes be built in England over the next 20 years to improve life chances for the country’s poorest. The Social Mobility Commission said every critical measure of low social mobility, including access to stable housing, was poor in the UK in 2019, while the COVID-19 crisis threatens to make the situation worse. On the topic of housing, it recommends that three million social homes be built over the next 20 years, which would mean building an average of 150,000 social homes per year. The government currently plans to fund just 32,000 social homes over the next five years. Read more on Inside Housing.

‘Frenzied Buyer Activity’ Drives UK House Prices To New High

Months of “frenzied buyer activity” have driven the average asking price for a home in Britain to a new high, according to the property website Rightmove. The property portal said it expected figures to show that June was the busiest month on record for sales, with buyers rushing to complete before stamp duty rules change in parts of the United Kingdom. On 30 June, a temporary tax break on the first £500,000 of the cost of a residential property in England and Northern Ireland began to be phased out, with the threshold cut to £250,000. Wales ended its temporary tax break entirely, while Scotland’s had finished at the end of March. Read more on the Guardian website. 

Hoarding Housebuilders Increase Land Banking During the Pandemic

Research reveals which of the UK’s biggest developers currently own the highest number of land bank plots, land which can, but isn’t being built on. StripeHomes analysed data on the volume of land banking plots and found that they totalled 441,702 plots in 2020, a 4% increase on the previous year. The current level of land bank plots by these housebuilders alone far exceeds the government’s target to build 300,000 new homes a year, a target they consistently fail to reach. Barratt, one of the nation’s biggest housebuilders, also claims the title of Britain’s biggest land banker. As of 2020, Barratt owned 80,324 land bank plots. Second on the list is Taylor Wimpey, owner of 77,000 land bank plots, and third is Persimmon with 67,205 plots. Read more on the Property Notify website. 

One Household Made Homeless Every 3.5 Hours

One UK household is being made homeless every three-and-a-half hours, new analysis by The Big Issue has revealed, as evictions and repossessions have continued throughout lockdown. Despite an eviction ban from the government, there were 370 mortgage repossessions and 262 rental evictions in England and Wales in the first 90 days of the year. This equates to more than seven households a day being made homeless. Read more on the Big Issue website.

Housing Minister Defends First Homes Scheme Price Caps And Outlines Developer Support

The government has defended its two-tier price cap system for its First Homes scheme and confirmed that it would not provide additional financial support to property developers to support the scheme. The minister of state for housing Christopher Pincher said that it was important that price caps provided “clarity and consistency” to support consumers, developers, and mortgage lenders, which its current system did. He said its current price cap system, which states after the discount properties should be priced at no higher that £250,000 or £420,000 in Greater London, would ensure that at least 25 per cent of properties purchased by first-time buyers in England and Greater London would be included. Read more on the Mortgage Solutions website.


Right To Buy Replacements Hit Highest Level Since Discounts Were Hiked

The number of homes built or acquired to replace those lost through Right to Buy sales has hit its highest point since the scheme was reinvigorated in 2012. Government figures show that in the final quarter of 2020/21, councils in England delivered 2,060 homes using Right to Buy receipts, compared to 340 in the final quarter of 2012/13. This is the highest quarterly figure since 2012 when the government revived the Right to Buy scheme with significantly bigger discounts in a bid to increase sales. It is also up 23% on the 1,674 Right to Buy replacement starts or acquisitions made by councils between October and December 2020. See the full set of figures on the GovUK website. 

Private Rents Falling In Real Terms Says New Data

Rents paid by private tenants across the UK are falling in real terms according to official data. The figures from the Office for National Statistics show that private rents rose by 1.2% in the 12 months to June of this year. This increase remains well below all measurements of inflation with the smallest increase, CPI including housing costs, being 2.4 per cent. Private rents grew by 1.1 per cent in England. 1.5 per cent in Wales and 1.2 per cent in Scotland. Read more on the NRLA website. 

House Prices Rise By 10% Amid Stamp Duty Holiday Rush

UK house prices rose by 10% in the year to May, the fastest rate since before the 2008 financial crisis, as buyers scrambled to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday in some parts of the country. Data from the Office for National Statistics put the average price of a property at £254,624. The annual growth appears to have been driven by buyers’ desire for larger homes and outdoor space, and the stamp duty savings that were largest on homes in England and Northern Ireland priced at £500,000 and above. Read more on the Guardian website. 

Mortgages Refused For Self-Employed Who Took Covid Grants

Some of Britain's biggest high street banks are refusing to give mortgages to self-employed people who received government grants during the pandemic. Mortgage brokers say those working in sectors like entertainment, hospitality and travel are the worst affected. Many lenders spoken to by the BBC are not accepting mortgage applications from people on furlough. Brokers said that banks often see people who have received Covid-related grants as high risk. Read more on the BBC website. 

Khan Promises Funding To Help London Boroughs Regain Homes Lost To Right To Buy

London mayor Sadiq Khan has announced funding to help boroughs purchase former council homes lost under the Right to Buy over the past 40 years. The mayor’s ‘Right to Buy back’ initiative will provide money to enable local authorities and housing companies they own to acquire ex-council homes on the open market. Properties bought under the scheme, which must meet the Decent Homes Standard, would then be returned to social rent or used as temporary accommodation for homeless families. Read more on Inside Housing. 

Scrapping Stamp Duty Would Benefit Housing Market And Wider Economy

The UK economy would see benefits if the government updated property taxes including stamp duty which discourages mobility and dampens transaction levels, a report commissioned by the Family Building Society found. The new report, Lessons From The Stamp Duty Holiday, drew on surveys of lenders brokers and customers, a review of evidence of the effects of the tax holiday and data on transaction volumes as well as the Treasury’s tax take. Of the 40 brokers surveyed, 53 per cent believed stamp duty on housing transactions should be scrapped permanently. Read more on the Mortgage Solutions website. 

Ombudsman Investigating Five Social Landlords Over Failure To Deal With Complaints

The Housing Ombudsman has found five social landlords that are in breach of its new complaint-handling code, with the watchdog currently investigating the providers. In a new quarterly report, the ombudsman revealed that 23 complaint-handling failure orders had been issued between April and June. However, while in 17 of these cases, the landlords complied, there were six cases of non-compliance by five landlords. Among those that were found to be non-compliant were two councils, Greenwich Council and Lambeth Council, and three housing associations, A2Dominion, Housing for Women and Abri. Read the report on the Housing Ombudsman website. 

House Prices Fell In June As Full Stamp Duty Holiday Ends

House prices fell last month for the first time since January in a sign that the overheating UK housing market is finally starting to cool, according to lender Halifax. Month-on-month, the price of the average home slipped by 0.5% in June to £260,358, a drop of £1,284 from £261,642 in May’s average. But on an annual basis, Halifax said property prices were still 8.8%, or about £21,000, higher than they were a year ago, with the strongest growth in Wales, Northern Ireland and north-west England. Read more on the Guardian website.

Minister Says Building Safety Bill ‘Cannot Resolve’ Leaseholder Costs Issue

The newly published Building Safety Bill “cannot resolve” the issue of leaseholders facing huge costs for historic fire safety defects, a minister has said, directly contradicting previous government promises on the matter. Speaking at the Local Government Association annual conference, building safety minister Lord Greenhalgh said that while leaseholders are facing “very big bills” for “seriously shoddy work”, the Building Safety Bill is not the right mechanism to address it in full. The comments will infuriate leaseholders and campaigners who have previously been told by Lord Greenhalgh and colleagues that the new bill would be an opportunity to fix some of the issues. Read more on Inside Housing. 

Use Of Discretionary Housing Payments Dropped Last Year Despite Pandemic

The use of funding allocated to local authorities to help those unable to keep up with housing costs dropped last year despite widespread financial strain during the COVID-19 pandemic. Local authorities in England and Wales spent 94% of their allocated Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) in 2020/21 compared to 98% the previous year. DHPs can be paid to those entitled to housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit who face a shortfall in meeting housing costs. Councils can decide whether to give a DHP, how much will be paid and for how long the claimant will receive the payment. Read more on the GovUK website. 

House Prices Set To Continue Rising As Supply Shrinks

A lack of available properties is helping to push up house prices, surveyors say. As a result, a majority of Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) members think prices will continue to rise over the next year. The shrinking supply meant the number of new properties coming to the market fell by a third in June. But with no let-up in demand, all parts of the UK continued to report robust increases in house prices, RICS said. Read more on the BBC website.

House prices set to continue rising as supply shrinks - BBC News

Jenrick Tells Councils To Produce 10-20 Year Plans

The communities secretary has urged every council to produce a “10 or 20 year plan" for its area and has revealed proposals for government departments to work with councils taking a more place-based approach will emerge in the upcoming levelling up white paper. Jenrick said the government wants “every local council now to produce a 10 or 20 year plan for their town, or their city, their communities, and for government to work with you in a genuinely place based way”. He said the government was “already working directly with a third of towns across the country” through recent funding initiatives such as the community renewal fund and the levelling up fund. Read more on the Local Government Chronicle website.

Jenrick tells councils to produce 10-20 year plans for their areas | Local Government Chronicle (LGC) ( 

Grenfell Bereaved And Survivors Bring Multimillion Pound Case To High Court

More than 800 bereaved and survivors from Grenfell Tower and 102 firefighters are seeking up to tens of millions of pounds in compensation from organisations involved in the disastrous refurbishment in a case that reaches the high court on Wednesday. The victims of the fire on 14 June 2017 and emergency responders have filed civil claims against defendants including Arconic, the US metals giant that made the combustible cladding, Rydon, the main contractor, and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, landlord of the 24-storey west London council block. Read more on the Guardian website. 

Government Could Give Greater Planning Control To Councils With Good Housebuilding Records

 Councils in England with good track records of delivering new housing could be given greater planning powers under the overhauled system envisioned by government, Robert Jenrick has hinted. The housing secretary said he wants to legislate for “a planning system that genuinely trusts councils and treats councils as adults”. That could include offering some local authorities the power “to take action” against developers “impeding” their ability to deliver new homes for their areas, he suggested. Read more on Inside Housing.

Inside Housing - News - Government could give greater planning control to councils with good housebuilding records, says Jenrick

Monday, 5 July 2021

Tory MP Brands Building Safety Bill A ‘Sticking Plaster’ That Won’t Help Leaseholders

 A backbench Conservative MP who has led attempts to prevent leaseholders from being hit by fire safety costs has slammed the government’s Building Safety Bill. Stephen McPartland, MP for Stevenage, strongly criticised the government’s proposals which include giving homeowners a retrospective right to sue for defective building work up to 15 years after the completion date. McPartland, said: “We know leaseholders don’t have the money to fund legal action and this is another sticking plaster instead of a solution.” McPartland said that instead the government must “provide a real safety net and fund making our buildings safe.” He said those responsible should be forced to pay through levies. Read more on the Housing Today website.

Thousands Of Leaseholders In Unsafe Homes Will Be Unable To Sue Developers

Thousands of leaseholders living in dangerous blocks will not be protected by the latest government attempt to tackle the spiralling cost of the post-Grenfell fire safety crisis, it has emerged, as ministers publish legislation allowing developers to pass on costs to residents. The housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, introduced a bill extending leaseholders’ rights to sue developers, but residents in at least 239 buildings will not be able to take advantage because their buildings are too old, according to research by the UK Cladding Action Group. The study appears to undermine Jenrick’s claim that the “lion’s share” of the buildings identified as fitted with dangerous cladding would qualify under the 15-year retrospective law. Read more on the Guardian website.

Thousands of leaseholders in unsafe homes will be unable to sue developers | Housing | The Guardian

New Regulator Introduced As Building Safety Bill Published

The Building Safety Bill, published 5 July, outlines the biggest changes to building safety regulation in a generation by introducing a Building Safety Regulator to oversee a new safety regime for high-rise residential homes in response to the Grenfell fire tragedy. By simplifying the system using a ‘golden thread’ of information to be created, stored and updated throughout the building’s development, the Bill will establish clear obligations on owners and enable swift action to be taken by the Regulator. Read more on the ARLA website.

Council Spending On B&Bs For Homeless Increased By 430% Over Last Decade

Local authorities are spending over five times more on housing homeless people in B&Bs than they were a decade ago, research by the Local Government Association (LGA) has found. Official figures show that councils in England spent £142m placing homeless households in B&Bs in 2019/20, up 430% from £26.7m in 2010/11. There are currently 10,510 households living in B&Bs, according to provisional data, compared to 2,310 a decade ago, marking a 355% increase. The LGA said these figures underline “the desperate need to build more social housing”. Read more on Inside Housing.

Inside Housing - News - Council spending on B&Bs for homeless increased by 430% over last decade, research shows 

What Are The New Rules For Help To Buy?

Rules have changed for the government-backed Help to Buy scheme and many buyers are confused about what the new rules mean. The new scheme came into effect this June, only first-time buyers are able to benefit from the scheme and the current plan is to end it completely by 2023. Crucially the other big change is new regional property price caps, which the government says will help them to focus on who needs the scheme the most. To benefit, the new build home being bought must be within the relevant regional property price-caps. Read what the price caps are and more on the Property Reporter website. 

Taylor Wimpey, one of the UK’s biggest housebuilders, opposed government plans to slash carbon dioxide emissions from new homes by at least three-quarters and argued against heat pumps, which are proposed as a replacement for gas boilers, one of the UK’s biggest causes of greenhouse gases. The company, which typically builds about 15,000 new homes a year, told a consultation that a target of cutting CO2 emissions from new homes by 75% to 80% from 2025 was “too high” and argued that heat pumps would be too expensive and would disappoint customers with their performance. Read more on the Guardian website.

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey opposed plans to cut new home emissions | Construction industry | The Guardian

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Rented Housing Laws "Not Fit For Purpose"

LAWS underpinning the private rented sector are not fit purpose as new research reveals that some date back to the 18th century. According to the analysis, by the time the forthcoming Building Safety Bill is given royal assent, the number of statutory provisions applying to the sector in England will have risen by 40 per cent over the last decade to 168 pieces of legislation. This includes the Landlord and Tenant Act 1730 and the Distress for Rent Act 1737. The National Residential Landlords Association is warning that far from the private rented sector being under-regulated, the sheer number of laws means councils are unable to enforce them properly. Read more on the NRLA website.

Clarion Under Investigation By Regulator Again Following ITV Revelations

Clarion Housing Group, which manages a stock of around 125,000 homes, was the subject of an ITV News expose last month, which revealed squalid conditions at its Eastfields Estate. The landlord apologised to residents on the 500-home estate over the issues and said the service provided “had not been to the standard that the association would have liked”. During a debate in the House of Commons, minister Luke Hall said the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) is now “considering information received from Clarion Housing Association about the Eastfields Estate”. “It will form a view on whether there is evidence of systemic failure that would indicate a breach of regulatory standards,” he added. Read more on Inside Housing. 

Checkatrade Boss Warns Of Shortage Of Skilled Trade Workers

A shortage of skilled trade workers has developed as European Union migrants leave the UK and demand for home improvements rises, the founder of Homeserve has said. Chief executive Richard Harpin said the shortages were "pretty bad" across the country, not just in construction but in other trades too. He wants the government to put more trades on its jobs shortage list. The Home Office said employers should invest in UK workers. Mr Harpin, whose company also operates Checkatrade, told BBC Radio Four's Today programme he believed shortages were being caused by "mainly EU migrant workers going home". Read more on the BBC website.

Checkatrade boss warns of shortage of skilled trade workers - BBC News

Help To Buy Gives 10% Return To Taxpayers

The Help to Buy equity loan scheme has produced a return of around 10% to the exchequer, according to an analysis of government data by housebuilders. The support scheme for buyers of new build homes, which has helped more than 313,000 households to purchase a property since being set up in 2013, has already generated more than £230m for the taxpayer, according to a report by the Home Builders’ Federation (HBF). The HBF report into the scheme also finds no evidence that it has contributed to price inflation. Read more on Housing Today.

Help to Buy gives 10% return to taxpayers | News | Housing Today

Rents: Arrears – Parliamentary Written Answer

Mike Kane: To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, with reference to the publication of the Household Resilience Study, Wave 2, what assessment he has made of the reasons that the proportion of private renters in arrears has increased during the covid-19 pandemic.

Eddie Hughes: The latest published data from the English Housing Survey Household Resilience Study from November – December 2020, suggests that 9% of private renters are in arrears, compared to 3% pre pandemic. Of the 9% (353,000 households) in arrears, two thirds are in arrears of less than 2 months, indicating the Government package of economic support measures have effectively prevented a widespread build-up of rent arrears

UK Charities Warn Of Cliff Edge As Ministers Stall On Housing Funds

Housing campaigners are warning that a widely praised initiative to get people off the streets in the long term faces “catastrophic disruption” if the chancellor Rishi Sunak does not renew funding. Charities including Crisis, St Mungo’s and Homeless Link have written to the housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, and the chancellor demanding the government extends finance for three pilots of Housing First in the West Midlands, Liverpool and Greater Manchester. The initiative, which gained traction in the US and involves giving homeless people homes before trying to tackle addiction or mental health problems, is being developed in England through three regional pilots. Read more on the Guardian website.

UK charities warn of cliff edge as ministers stall on housing funds | Housing | The Guardian 

New Lords Committee To Take On Growing Housing Demand

New Built Environment Lords Committee will look at the government’s housing target, the impact of reforms to the planning system and how barriers to meeting housing demand can be overcome. The House of Lords has created a new select committee to look at the built environment. We have been appointed to look at housing, planning, transport and infrastructure. The built environment shapes all our lives:  how and where we all live, how we get to work and travel for leisure, the health and sustainability of our communities, and how we live in our older age and protect the most vulnerable in society. Read more on the Politics Home website.

New Lords committee to take on growing housing demand (

House Prices Rise At Fastest Pace In 17 Years

UK house prices rose 13.4% in the year to June, the fastest pace since November 2004, the Nationwide has said. The building society said the average house price increased to £245,432 from £216,403 in June 2020. The Nationwide bases the findings on its own mortgage data. It said while the rapid annual growth was partly due to prices being "unusually weak" during the first lockdown last year, the market continued to "show significant momentum". Read more on the BBC website.

House prices rise at fastest pace in 17 years - BBC News

Grenfell Landlord Boss Told Colleagues To Ignore Resident’s Warning

The chief executive of Grenfell Tower’s landlord body told colleagues to ignore a resident who warned eight months before the fire that “only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord”. Robert Black, who led the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, told a colleague with responsibility for fire safety “we should do nothing” after Ed Daffarn, a 16th-floor resident, posted on a blog in November 2016 a prediction that: “Only an incident that results in serious loss of life ... will shine a light on the practices that characterise the malign governance of this non-functioning organisation.” Read more on the Guardian website.

Grenfell landlord boss told colleagues to ignore resident’s warning | Grenfell Tower inquiry | The Guardian 

Thursday, 24 June 2021

Affordable Housing Starts Fall By A Fifth, Homes England Data Shows

 In the year to 31 March 2021, the number of affordable homes started through Homes England programmes fell from 35,809 to 28,191 due to pressure placed on the housing industry by the coronavirus pandemic, the agency said. Total housing starts also fell by 22% from 47,965 to 37,330, while completions fell 13% from 40,452 to 34,995. The figures represent an improvement on the number of housing starts recorded half way through the year, which were down 38% compared with the year before. Read more on Inside Housing.

Housebuilders’ Costs On The Rise

 Housebuilders’ costs increased by 1.7% in 1Q 2021 and by 3.6% between 1Q 2020 and 1Q 2021 according to the BCIS Private Housing Construction Price Index (PHCPI). Housing construction output grew by 2.7% in 1Q2021 compared with the 4Q 2020 but fell by 1.2% on the annual basis. Majority (94%) of respondents to the survey reported increases in costs. Of those, 44% stated increases in cost of materials, 37% indicated changes in both labour and material costs, 13% stated sub-contractors’ costs while 6.0% indicated labour costs. Insulation, aggregates, timber and timber products, steel as well as shortages of building materials, higher costs of transport, energy and labour costs/availability remain among the key cost pressures mentioned by respondents. Read more on the RICS website.

Legal Support Pilot For Housing Disrepair

Online support to help resolve housing disrepair issues in the private rented sector (PRS) has been launched in England and Wales guiding tenants to establish what the issues are and offer tailored information and signposting. The pilot aims to help tenants understand their rights and responsibilities and identify appropriate next steps to resolve their issues before they escalate. The UK Government is exploring several changes across the full breadth of legal support, focusing on what legal support works for the people who need it. Read more on the ARLA website. 

Homelessness – Parliamentary Written Answer

Lord Hay of Ballyore: To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of homeless people living in England in each year since 2018.

Lord Greenhalgh: Levels of homelessness in England can be best estimated by looking at the number of households in temporary accommodation at the end of each year. In Q4 2018 this was 83,540; in Q4 2019 this was 88,310 and Q4 2020 is provisionally 95,370.

Equity Release For Home Improvements Up 134% Since 2020

The number of over-50s customers seeking equity release to undertake home improvements rose by 134% in 2021, according to data from Legal & General Financial Advice. The business compared the first five months of 2021 to the same period last year, finding that the number of customers looking to unlock wealth from their home to make renovations initially rose in August 2020, and has been one of the main reasons for customers looking to take out a lifetime mortgage since then. Recent research commissioned by the Good Home Inquiry found that 63% of people approaching later life in England see home renovations as a priority in the next two years. Read more on the Mortgage Introducer website.

Equity release for home improvements up 134% since 2020 | Mortgage Introducer 

Cladding Crisis Causes Problems For Affordable Housing Valuers

 Valuers have warned they are experiencing delays and that there is a lack of information as a result of the ongoing building safety crisis. A joint briefing note from leading valuers Savills and JLL said that when they are not provided with sufficient information on the safety of social housing stock, they cannot attribute values to properties. This in turn means landlords are unable to use this stock as loan security against money they can borrow to fund development. Read more on Inside Housing.

Market Begins To Cool As Stock Levels Fall To All-Time Low

There are early signs of the UK property market beginning to lose pace due to record prices and lack of choice, according to data released by Rightmove. The portal revealed that the price of property coming to market saw a 0.8% increase this month, pushing the national average to a new record high for the third consecutive month to £336,073. This is a much smaller rise than last month’s 1.8% or April’s 2.1%, indicating an early sign of a slowing in the pace of the current market. Read more on the Property Reporter website. 

Johnson Under Growing Tory Pressure Over Planning Reforms

Boris Johnson faces a fresh headache over planning reforms, with Conservative MPs urging the prime minister to change course in the wake of the party’s shock defeat in the Chesham and Amersham by-election. Conservative MPs, including the former prime minister Theresa May, have criticised the proposed measures, which include stripping elected planning committees of development decisions and making it easier to obtain automatic consent, intended to significantly boost housebuilding. Read more on the Guardian website.

Boris Johnson under growing Tory pressure over planning reforms | Planning policy | The Guardian

Nearly Half Of All Social Sector Building Safety Fund Claims Rejected

Nearly half of all claims made by social housing landlords to secure grant funding from the government’s multibillion-pound Building Safety Fund have been rejected, new government figures reveal. Of the 73 claims that have been reviewed by the government’s building safety team, only 39 have been accepted, and 34 have been found to be ineligible for funding. Social landlords, which include housing associations and councils, have made 175 claims, with 73 reviewed. A further 94 eligible claims have been lodged but are subject to review. Nine social housing landlords had withdrawn their applications. Read more on Inside Housing. 

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Appalling Conditions Across A Housing Estate Of Nearly 500 Homes

The UK’s biggest housing association has admitted it has failed tenants after an ITV News investigation found widespread disrepair and squalid conditions across an entire housing estate of nearly 500 homes. Clarion Housing issued an apology to all its residents of Eastfields Estate in Mitcham, south London, admitting that they “had not had the service they deserve.” ITV News found shocking conditions on the estate and dozens of families living in damp, mouldy, crumbling homes with ongoing leaks. The estate is also plagued by a rodent infestation. Clarion, which owns 125,000 homes across the UK and this year recorded a turnover of £943 million, have been accused by Eastfields' tenants of abandoning them and ignoring their complaints for years. Read more on the ITV website.

Appalling conditions uncovered across entire housing estate of nearly 500 homes; ITV News 

Private Rented Housing – Parliamentary Written Answer

Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi: To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans he has to restrict the number of months of rent landlords can request upfront; and what assessment he has made of the effect on tenants in the private rental market of landlords being able to charge tenants six months of rent upfront on their accommodation.

Eddie Hughes: It is for landlords and tenants to agree the amount of rent that should be charged and how much should be paid in advance, according to individual circumstances. We do not expect it to be the norm that landlords ask for multiple months of rent in advance.

Landlords Made Scapegoats For COVID Rent Debt Crisis

The Chancellor is making landlords the scapegoats for the COVID rent debt crisis as he turns his back on the support the sector needs. A new report published by the National Residential Landlords Association outlines the toll that COVID-19 has taken on the private rented sector. It warns that without financial support to tackle COVID-related rent arrears, the Chancellor is forcing landlords into a corner. They either have to accept continuing to receive no income or resort to repossessing their property with all the consequences this course of action entails for tenants. The NRLA is warning that the goodwill of landlords in the face of mounting rent debts cannot continue without support from the Treasury. Read more on the NRLA website. 

Average UK House Price Falls For First Time In Months

The average price of a UK home fell 1.9 per cent between March and April but was still 8.9 per cent higher than it was in April 2020, according to HM Land Registry’s latest House Price Index. The index showed the average price of a property in April 2021 was £250,772, down from £255,707 the month before. Since at least May 2020, average house prices within the UK have increased incrementally. The increase in mortgage lending throughout March, itself boosted by the Stamp Duty holiday, to £35.6bn was thought to have boosted April’s sales, even though the average price fell. Read more on the Property Wire website.

Rise In ‘Fitness For Human Habitation’ Claims From ‘PPI-Style’ Legal Firms

Social landlords are seeing a rise in the number of costly housing condition claims linked to new legislation that is costing the sector millions of pounds. Lawyers are facing a major uptick in claims made through the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, with many landlords opting to settle out of court rather than risking higher costs by going through the courts. The rules around what constitutes a property that is fit for habitation under the new law is far stricter than requirements set out in the previous legislation. Read more on Inside Housing.

First-Time Buyer’s Plans Postponed By Pandemic

More than four out of ten aspiring first-time buyers delayed their plans to get onto the property ladder in 2020, research by Santander suggests. The lender found that 44% of first-time buyers put off their purchase during the pandemic. However, 63% of would-be buyers say that home ownership is even more important to them now than it was before Covid. The proportion of first-time buyers who say raising a deposit is the biggest barrier has risen from 30% in 2019 to 52% in 2021. Read more on the Mortgage Strategy website.

First-time buyer's plans postponed by pandemic | Mortgage Strategy 

ONS: Average House Prices Up 8.9% In April

UK average house prices increased by 8.9% over the year to April 2021, down from 9.9% in March 2021, according to the latest data released by the Office for National Statistics. Albeit slightly historic, this morning's data revealed that the trend of accelerating house price growth seen in the latter half of 2020 continued into the beginning of 2021, but has slowed to 8.9% in April. According to the report, average house prices increased over the year in England to £268,000 (8.9%), in Wales to £185,000 (15.6%), in Scotland to £161,000 (6.3%) and in Northern Ireland to £149,000 (6.0%). Read more on the Property Reporter website. 

Housing Associations Eye Bulk Sales Of Shared Ownership Stock

Housing associations are looking to offload shared ownership stock to private bidders in a move to free up cash. Rising costs linked to fire safety works and net zero carbon targets are leading housing associations to consider large-scale disposals of their shared ownership stock. Affordable housing is seen as an attractive option for investors who are mindful of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. These investors also find shared ownership attractive because it offers both retail price index-linked (RPI) rent increases as well as some exposure to house price growth. Read more on Inside Housing.

Inside Housing - News - Housing associations eye bulk sales of shared ownership stock to private investors to boost cash

Rents: Arrears – Parliamentary Written Answer

Vicky Foxcroft: To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what estimate his Department has made of the number of people in the UK in rent arrears after the end of the ban on bailiff-forced evictions on 31 May 2021.

Eddie Hughes: Data from the English Housing Survey (EHS) Household Resilience Study suggested that approximately 9 per cent of private renters were in arrears in November - December 2020. Most renters in arrears, had arrears of less than 2 months. 

Financial Support Package Needed Now To Address COVID-Related Arrears

Propertymark, alongside other organisations, has written to the Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, Eddie Hughes MP, to emphasise the sector's ongoing concerns over COVID-related rent arrears and urging the UK Government to come forward with a package of emergency financial support. The organisations have provided a briefing to the Minister which explains why renters and landlords whose finances have been affected since the start of lockdown measures in March 2020 cannot keep tenancies going without additional financial support. Measures from the UK Government have provided some short-term relief but have not done enough to protect renters going forward. Read more on the ARLA website.

Deposit Returns As Biggest Worry For Homebuyers

Raising a deposit is seen as the biggest obstacle in buying a property for the first time in nine months, the Building Societies Association’s latest survey shows. Its quarterly property tracker describes 59% of the over 2,000 UK adults asked citing this as the main barrier, up from 54% in December 2020 and 40% in the preceding June. Previously, job insecurity was seen as preventing property purchases – in December, 65% of respondents gave this reply versus 45% in June – a figure the BSA says is nevertheless important to not downplay. Read more on the Mortgage Strategy website.

Deposit returns as biggest worry for homebuyers: BSA | Mortgage Strategy

First Time Buyers – Parliamentary Written Answer

Sir Gary Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what his policy is in the event that a developer cannot find sufficient purchasers to satisfy the First Homes policy.

Christopher Pincher: Guidance for First Homes, published alongside the written ministerial statement on 24 May 2021, recommends that if a home remains unsold after a total of 6 months of marketing, despite making every reasonable effort to ensure the home is sold to a suitable person, the developer should be able to release the home onto the open market and pay the local authority a percentage of the sale price equal to the proposed percentage discount. 

HCLG Committee ‘Unpersuaded’ That Planning Reforms Will Make System Quicker

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has published its first report on the future of the planning system in England. The report expressed concern over “the lack of detail” in the government’s vision for a new zonal planning system in England, which included proposals to split the planning system into three categories of development zones (growth, renewal and protected) and replacing Section 106 agreements and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) with a single Infrastructure Levy. Read more on the Rural Services Network website. 

Buildings: Safety – Parliamentary Written Answer

Jonathan Gullis: What steps his Department is taking to improve building safety.

Christopher Pincher: The Building Safety Bill announced in the Queen’s speech is a comprehensive piece of legislation which will bring about a once in a generation change to building safety, and will ensure that people, homes, and buildings are safer in future, and that the right people are held to account. It will introduce a new regulatory regime for high-rise buildings and for construction products and will drive the regulatory, cultural and behavioural changes needed to ensure people are safe in their homes and residents are at the heart of the new, robust system.

Final Fire Safety Works Being Carried Out On High-Rise Blocks In Nottingham

Following the devastating fire at Grenfell, which happened four years ago, Nottingham City Council agreed to fund £8.5 million in fire safety enhancement works to tower blocks and flats across the city. Nottingham City Homes (NCH) has carried out the works, which include retrofitting sprinklers in high rise flats and communal areas of 13 high rise blocks, upgrading existing intercoms with new video display screens and door entry systems and upgrading existing tannoys. NCH had already retrofitted sprinklers in four blocks of low-rise flats before Grenfell, and routinely includes sprinklers in new apartment developments. Read more on the Hucknall Dispatch website. 

At Least 130,000 Households In England Made Homeless In Pandemic

At least 130,000 households in England were made homeless during the first year of the pandemic, despite the government’s ban on evictions. With the ban now over, fears are rising that a surge of evictions may be imminent. But figures show that even while the ban was in place, households were being forced from their homes. Government homelessness statistics and figures collected under the Freedom of Information Act from around 70% of local authorities in England show that 132,362 households were assessed by councils as being owed the “relief duty”, where a household is deemed to already be homeless. Read more on the Observer website. 

Building Safety Fund – Parliamentary Written Answer

Lucy Powell: To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, with reference to the £3.5 billion of funding for the Building Safety Fund announced by the Government on 10 February 2020, in which financial year that funding will be made available.

Christopher Pincher: This funding will be made available from the current financial year. 

Renting Now Cheaper Than Buying A Home

It is cheaper to rent a property than it is to buy a home for the first time in more than six years, says Hamptons. Research by the estate agency suggests that before the pandemic began in March 2020, people buying with a 10% deposit would have been better off than renters by £102 a month. But last month, it found the average private sector tenant was better off, spending £71 a month less in rent. There are now only four areas in the UK where it is cheaper to buy than rent. Read more on the BBC website.

Renting now cheaper than buying a home, Hamptons says - BBC News 

House Price Growth At Highest Rate Since 2004

House prices are increasing at a staggering annual rate of up to 20.9% in the North West, driven by a high demand for semi-detached homes, according to the latest data released by e.surv. According to this morning's figures, the average price of a home in England and Wales stood at £343,658 in May - up 0.5% on the month and 13.4% on the year, the highest year-on-year growth since December 2004, and despite England and Wales having been in various states of lockdown and economic contraction since March 2020. Read more on the Property Reporter website. 

Property Developers Gave Tories £891,000 In First Quarter Of 2021

 Labour has accused the Conservative party of “selling out communities to pay back developers” after figures revealed that 13% of the Tories’ recent donations came from property tycoons and companies. Labour’s analysis of declarations released by the Electoral Commission show the firms gave £891,984 to Tory central office and eight local associations – a sizeable chunk of the £6,418,295 the party reported receiving in the first three months of 2021. It comes as the government prepares to launch sweeping changes to the planning system that Labour says will remove communities’ right to object to inappropriate individual developments in their area. Read more on the Guardian website.

Denton Confirmed As New Homes England Chief Executive

Housing association boss and former banker to lead ‘reset’ of funding agency. Former banker and housing association chief executive Peter Denton has now been officially confirmed as the new chief executive of Homes England. Peter Denton, chief executive of Hyde Group, will take over at the helm of the agency later this year, with responsibility for administering a new £11.5bn Affordable Homes Programme and a stake of around £14bn in homes acquired through the Help to Buy. Denton will be tasked with leading what housing secretary Robert Jenrick has this week called an “important reset” of the agency’s function, focusing more on regeneration. Read more on the Homes England website.

26 Towns In England To Receive £610m In Government Funding

Twenty-six English towns have received a portion of £610 million in government funding to help them rebuild their economies in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The money, which comes from the £3.6 billion Towns Fund unveiled in July 2019, is intended to kickstart urban regeneration and boost green transport infrastructure, tourism and jobs. It is also intended for education and vocational training courses, the MHCLG said. The cash was allocated through a series of “towns deals” which sets out how the money will be spent following proposals submitted by the local council. Read more on the ITV website.

Council Housing Company Threatened With Strike-Off Over Late Accounts

A council housing company has been threatened with dissolution for failing to file its accounts on time. Luton Borough Council’s company, Foxhall Homes, was hit with a ‘first Gazette’ notice by Companies House. It blamed the delay on the pandemic and said it failed to inform Companies House because of an “administrative error”. The company’s accounts for 2019/20 are now more than seven months overdue, with no financial results filed since October 2019. Read more on Inside Housing.

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Leaseholders Given Two Months To Find £30,000 For Cladding Work

Leaseholders at a development in Manchester have been given two months to find around £30,000 each for cladding and repair works, with the management company pointing to Building Safety Fund rules to explain the tight deadline. Residents in one block on the development that does not require cladding remediation are still being asked to stump up tens of thousands to allow works to go ahead as soon as possible. Read more on Inside Housing.

Inside Housing - News - Leaseholders given two months to find £30,000 for cladding work

Rents: Arrears – Parliamentary Written Answer

Ian Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what estimate he has made of the number of households with 4 months’ or more accumulated rent arrears as of 1 June

Eddie Hughes: Data from the English Housing Survey Household Resilience Study November-December 2020 suggested that 1% of private renters were 2 months or more behind. Additionally, approximately 3% of social renters were 2 months or more behind.

A Perfect Storm For FTBs As Listings Dwindle And Prices Continue To Rise

Agreed sales and average house prices have continued to rise ahead of the stamp duty deadline as the number of new listings entering the market fell for the second month in a row - a perfect storm for those attempting to get their first foot on the property ladder. According to the latest data and market analysis from RICS, during May, the number of people looking to buy a new home continued to rise, with 32% more respondents noting an increase from prospective buyers. Read more on the Property Reporter website. 

MPs Attack Plan To Give Housebuilders Freedom To Build Over ‘Growth’ Zones

A radical government plan to give housebuilders freedom to build over designated “growth” zones has been attacked by MPs who have told ministers the public must retain rights to object to planning applications. Boris Johnson included in last month’s Queen’s speech plans to bring forward the biggest overhaul of England’s planning system since the second world war. Its boldest idea was to remove the need for detailed planning applications for buildings in designated growth zones. It sparked a Tory backbench revolt amid concerns constituents would lose power over their local areas. Read more on the Guardian website. 

MPs Slam Government’s Planning Reforms

An influential group of MPs has attacked the government’s proposed reforms of the planning system, calling on ministers to think again about the proposed new “zonal” approach and make sure that the public has a right to influence all individual applications. The report by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee also called on the government to speed build-out of permissions by allowing councils to levy council tax on unbuilt developments – something ministers have already said they are considering. The MPs added that the government’s ambition to have new-style local plans put in place within 30 months was “impractical”. Read more on the Housing Today website.

Changes To Right To Rent Checks From 1 July

The Home Office has released a draft revised Right to Rent Code of Practice in readiness for changes to checks in England, from 1 July 2021. A draft code has been published with updates that reflect the introduction of the new Regulations, making a number of changes that come into force after 1 July 2021. In broad terms, from 1 July agents will move from checking nationality to checking the UK immigration status of all adult applicants. From this point, if someone is an EEA, EU, or Swiss national, you will need to see evidence of their UK immigration status rather than their national identification. Read more on the ARLA website. 

More Than 80% Of Councils Now Own Housing Companies

More than 80% of local authorities in England currently own housing companies and the number of councils entering into joint ventures (JVs) is also on the rise. Researchers at University College London (UCL) have found that 83% of councils in England currently have housing companies, compared with 78% in 2019 and 58% in 2017. The report said the increase in the number of councils building outside of the Housing Revenue Account may be connected to a proliferation in JVs with private sector partners or housing associations to deliver new homes. Read more on Inside Housing.

Inside Housing - News - More than 80% of councils now own housing companies, research finds

Private Rented Housing: Evictions – Parliamentary Written Answer

 Rachael Maskell: To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government  whether it remains Government policy that no-one should lose their home as a result of the covid-19 pandemic; and whether the Government plans to provide financial support to private sector renters at risk of losing their homes because of covid-19 related rent arrears.

Eddie Hughes: Whilst evictions can now proceed with 14 days’ notice, they will not be carried out if a member of the home has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating. The Government has provided an unprecedented package of financial support which is available to tenants to help them pay their rent. We have also made £140 million in Discretionary Housing Payments funding available, for local authorities to distribute to renters who require additional support, building on the £180 million provided in 2020/21.

Stamp Duty Holiday Helps Drive Up UK Property Prices

UK property prices are set to continue to rise after the gap between demand for homes and supply grew to its widest level since 2013, surveyors have reported. The latest monthly snapshot of the market from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors showed new listings had failed to keep up with the number of interested buyers in May, driving up prices across the UK. The group said that upwards pressure on prices had intensified for the fourth month running, with the stamp duty holiday in parts of the country one of the factors driving demand. Read more on the Guardian website. 

House Prices Jump 9.5% As Buyers Seek Larger Homes

UK house prices leapt another 9.5% in the year to May, boosted by the government's stamp duty holiday which ends this month. The Halifax said prices rose by more than £22,000 to an average of £261,743. But it said buyer preferences are shifting "in anticipation of new, post-pandemic lifestyles". "There's greater demand for larger properties with more space," said Halifax managing director Russell Galley. He said this was leading to "an increased willingness to spend a higher proportion of income on housing". Halifax said annual house price inflation was at its strongest level in nearly seven years, with UK prices rising by 1.3% month-on-month. Read more on the BBC website. 

‘Race For Space’ Fuels 10.9 % Surge In UK House Prices

Younger house buyers are just as keen on building a new life in the country as they are to move to the bright lights of a big city as they react to the post-pandemic changes in working patterns and rapidly rising property prices. Prices rose on average by 1.8% in May, after a 2.3% rise in April, according to the figures, pushing the annual rate of increase up from 7.1% a month earlier. As a result, the average price of a house in Britain has hit a high of £242,832, up nearly £24,000 over the past 12 months. Read more on the Guardian website.

Cut Of £40m In Help For Tenants Will ‘Drive Up Homelessness’

The government is cutting the funding it gives to councils in England and Wales to help struggling tenants by more than a fifth, with critics warning the move will drive up homelessness following the recent end of the Covid evictions ban and the end of the furlough scheme in September. Discretionary housing payments (DHPs) provide financial support to people claiming housing benefit or universal credit who face rent shortfalls or need assistance with payments such as rent deposits in order to move home. The government boosted DHP funding from £139.5m to £180m in 2020/21 amid the pandemic, but is now cutting that back to £140m in 2021/22 – a reduction of 22%. Read more on the Observer website. 

Private Rented Housing – Parliamentary Written Answer

Dr Kieran Mullan: To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to create a fairer private rented sector.

Eddie Hughes: We will bring forward proposals to reform tenancy law to abolish Section 21 evictions and improve security for tenants in the private rented sector, as well as strengthening repossession grounds for landlords when they have valid grounds. Proposals for a new ‘lifetime’ deposit model will also be outlined, to ease the burden on tenants when moving from one tenancy to the next. We are also committed to raising standards in privately rented accommodation, and driving out rogue landlords, including by ensuring all tenants have a right to redress, and ensuring well targeted, effective enforcement that drives out criminal landlords.

First-Time Buyers In England Offered New Homes At Up To 50% Off

First-time buyers in England will be able to apply for a discount of up to 50% on a new-build home under a government scheme. The First Homes initiative could save buyers £100,000 or more. But some experts say that with demand for these cut-price homes likely to exceed supply, it could spark a scramble for properties and add more fuel to the house price boom. The government says the scheme is aimed at first-time buyers in the area where the homes are built, many of whom will be keyworkers such as NHS staff. Read more on the Guardian website.

Construction Orders Increase At Fastest Rate Since 1997

May PMI data indicated that the UK construction sector remained on a strong recovery path, as output growth reaching its strongest since September 2014. New order volumes increased at the fastest pace since the survey began just over 24 years ago. Input cost inflation was also at a survey-record high during May, reflecting a surge in demand for construction materials and severe supply shortages. Read more on the pbctoday website.

UK construction orders increase at fastest rate since 1997 (

RSH Announces Tenant Satisfaction Measures Sounding Board

The Government’s Social Housing White Paper asks the RSH to deliver a new consumer regulation function to help reset the relationship between landlords and tenants. One of the changes will be to implement a set of tenant satisfaction measures that will help tenants and the RSH hold providers to account and inform regulation. To allow enough time for implementation, the RSH is to consult on a proposed set of tenant satisfaction measures in winter 2021-22, ahead of discussions and consultations on the standards and operating model. To help with this, a sounding board has been crated with representatives from across the sector. Members of the tenant satisfaction measures sounding board include representatives from the organisations including;

·         ARCH

·         Chartered Institute of Housing

·         Councils with ALMOs

·         National Federation of ALMOs

·         National Housing Federation

·         TAROE

·         Tpas

Read more on the Gov UK website. 

One In Four Londoners In Temporary Housing Outside Their Local Area

More than one in four Londoners in temporary accommodation due to homelessness are being rehoused out of their local area, with some placed in cities more than 200 miles away such as Manchester and Bradford, analysis shows. At least 55,000 Londoners were in temporary housing outside their local areas at the end of 2020. Many are disabled or have mental health problems, or are in single-parent families with young children, and are awaiting a verdict on whether they are legally homeless or for settled accommodation to become available. Read more on the Guardian website. 

Evictions By Private Landlords Outstrip Social Housing Sector For First Time During Pandemic

Evictions by private landlords have outstripped those in the social housing sector across England and Wales for the first time during the pandemic, official statistics show. But the gap narrowed significantly between January and March, with private rented sector possessions dropping 21.7% compared with the previous quarter while increasing 12.2% in the social sector, according to figures recently published by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). A ban on bailiff-enforced evictions came to an end over the Bank Holiday weekend. Landlords have been restricted in their ability to remove tenants since the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020. Read more on Inside Housing.

Inside Housing - Home - Evictions by private landlords outstrip social housing sector for first time during pandemic 

Monday, 31 May 2021

England Has Five Million Fewer Council Houses Today Than In 1979.

·         In 2020, the latest published figures, England has just 1.6m council houses and FIVE MILLION FEWER than in 1979. Just 1 in every 17 of England’s 24.6m houses is a council house when it was 1 in 3 in 1979.

·         1979 saw England have 0.35m housing association properties making a social rented sector total of 6.91m. By 2020 England had 2.5m HA properties making a SRS total of 4.08m.

·         1979 was the high point of council housing with a record 6.6 million which was 32% of 20,826 houses in all of England and 1 in 3 of all houses in England was a council house.

Read more on the Housing Writes blog. 

400,000 Renters Face Eviction

 a large-scale survey reveals:

·         Around 400,000 renting households have either been served an eviction notice or have been told they may be evicted (5% of all renters).

·         Around a million renting households are worried about being evicted in the next three months (11% of all renters), half of which are families with children.

·         1.7 million renting households are worried about paying their rent over the same period (20%) of all renters).

·         Although renters are faring significantly worse than homeowners, their support has been cut while wealthier homeowners continue to benefit from the Stamp Duty holiday.

Read more on the Joseph Rowntree website.