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Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Posted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:21 pm
by MrsAverage
It's not just Landlords, it's so called care companies too. My relative with mental health issues was housed in a similar scheme that was supposedly 'supported living' but they took all the housing benefit AND fees for supervision and support , from each of 6 residents, that was minimal if it existed at all. I calculated they were taking over £150,000 per annum from that one house alone. The house was shown as leased to another company that was owned by another that had rented it from a third etc etc.

I tried tracing the financial trial back but it was very interwoven but a few people are making huge sums out of public monies and vulnerable people. It came about because councils have been fed the line its cheaper to subcontract when in fact they 're not getting value for money and are paying through the nose for often nonexistent services.

Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Posted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:53 am
by Chris From The Gulag
Another area in which those readers renting from a private BTL are losing out : ... 68896.html

Councils fail to take action on 99 per cent of most dangerous rented homes, letting criminal landlords walk free, new data reveals.

Exclusive: Millions of renters left in unsafe properties as local authorities struggle to cope with housing crisis.

Millions of private renters face being stuck in dangerous homes for decades because of a large-scale failure of local councils to take action against criminal landlords.

New data seen by The Independent shows local authorities took action in relation to just 1.1 per cent of the most dangerous rented homes in England last year.

The Independent previously revealed that almost 800,000 privately rented homes and 118,000 housing association properties in England contain the most serious type of safety hazards, including faulty boilers, dangerous wiring, vermin infestations and mould.

The new figures, obtained by Labour MP Karen Buck via a Freedom of Information request, reveal English councils used their legal powers to take action in relation to 10,069 homes with these “category one” hazards last year – a tiny fraction of the total.

At the current rate, it would take almost 30 years for all the existing hazards to be addressed.

Councils have a legal duty to act when a category one hazard is discovered, but the data suggests many authorities are failing to identify unsafe homes in the first instance.

The revelation comes as Ms Buck’s Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons after the Government agreed to support it.

The bill will make it a legal requirement for landlords to ensure their properties are “fit for human habitation” and gives tenants the power to take criminal landlords to court, rather than having to rely on their local council to act.

Ms Buck told The Independent: “These figures show that cash-strapped councils are only enforcing against a tiny percentage of properties with serious hazards, which pose a risk to the health or safety of tenants.

“Of course I would like councils to be better funded – environmental health is a crucial function – but we still need more. My bill will give tenants – council, private and housing association – a direct route to take action against their landlord if their home is substandard. It is an important step towards strengthening tenant’s rights, and will help ensure no one has to live in an unfit home.”

The small proportion of hazards that were identified and acted upon by councils paints a worrying picture of the dangers renters are facing.

Despite the figures revealing merely the tip of the iceberg, councils in England still found more than 2000 properties containing a serious fire hazard last year – a particular concern in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster in which a fire started by a faulty fridge caused the deaths of 71 people.

2,560 properties were also found to be inadequately heated, while over a thousand contained damp and mould.

In a finding that illustrates how some local authorities are failing to identify the risks facing renters, some councils admitted they had not discovered a single category-one hazard in any of the thousands of properties in their area last year.

Councils have a range of powers under the 2004 Housing Act if they identify a property containing one of the most dangerous risks.

They can issue different types of enforcement orders or prosecute the worst landlords.

However, the data shows there were only 283 people taken to court by councils last year for breaking the law in relation to the maintenance of their properties.

Almost three-quarters of councils (71 per cent) did not prosecute a single rogue landlord, while a third of all landlord prosecutions that did take place were in just two London boroughs.

Less severe options are also rarely being pursued. A fifth of local authorities said they did not issue a single improvement notice to landlords last year, while the average council issued just 13.

Others authorities have taken a much more active approach, suggesting there is a postcode lottery for renters wanting to take action over their unsafe homes.

Experts said part of the problem was councils failing to employ properly trained staff to inspect properties, while cuts to environmental health department budgets were also highlighted.

More than one in seven authorities admitted they were not using qualified environmental health officers to carry out inspections, suggesting people who are not fully trained in identifying and dealing with hazards are being tasked with investigating safety risks.

Dan Wilson Craw, director of campaign group Generation Rent, said: “These figures are a stark illustration of how stacked the odds are against tenants who are forced to live in squalid conditions.

“There are three causes of this lack of enforcement: first, cuts to local environmental health teams mean that they can’t inspect the home of every tenant who complains. Second, when inspectors find hazards, they don’t take formal action against the landlord in every case, even though this would protect tenants from retaliatory eviction.

“Third, many tenants don’t want to complain in the first place because they’re worried that they’ll be evicted or face a punitive rent increase.

“Additional rights such as the one Karen Buck is legislating for will help tenants whose negligent landlord gets nothing more than a rap on the knuckles. But councils still need to improve their response rates, and tenants need better protection from unfair evictions and rent rises – whether or not their home is unsafe.”

Some councils say they prefer to take “informal” action against bad landlords but this raises questions about accountability and the effectiveness of existing laws.

A Local Government Association spokesperson said: “Councils take tenants’ complaints seriously and are doing everything they can to work with the private rented sector to raise standards where it is required.

“The private rented sector is growing and, with limited resources and competing funding pressures, councils are working hard to ensure that complaints from tenants are prioritised and dealt with appropriately.

“Some may be resolved without the need for inspection and enforcement is a last resort when all other options fail. When councils do prosecute they are too often being hamstrung by a system not fit for the 21st century. It can take more than a year to bring prosecutions and in many cases paltry fines are handed out.

“Councils must be given a lead role in building new affordable rented homes so that people who can’t afford to buy are not forced into the more expensive private rented sector.”

Almost another case of " Smoke and mirrors " ... legislation exists but not enforced.

Those with the power to enforce ... how many of them rent an unsafe property ?

Therein lies an answer a little too close to reality ?

Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Posted: Sat Jan 27, 2018 10:42 am
by Chris From The Gulag
Ground zero ... Grenfell Tower ... who has to pay for the removal of unsafe cladding from numerous buildings , mainly tower blocks ?

An article from Private Eye goes straight to the throat !

High-rise, higher costs.

Cladding safety, Issue 1462.

IT WAS always hopeless optimism on the part of communities secretary Sajid Javid to think wealthy speculators in the freeholds of private blocks of flats would pay to remove Grenfell-type cladding. And so it has proved.

As Eye 1457 reported in November, the Tchenguiz Family Trust, based in the British Virgin Islands, is off to court to dump the £2m cost on 97 leaseholders at Citiscape in Croydon – that’s around £20,000 per flat owner, most on low incomes.

At Heysmoor Heights in Toxteth, Liverpool, where the 98 flats sell for less than £100,000, Abacus Land 4 Ltd, a Guernsey company, is demanding £18,000 from each leaseholder. It is administered by the Long Harbour/Homeground fund of David Cameron’s brother-in-law Will Astor, the heir to the viscountcy. This opens up the spectacle of hard-pushed flat owners, who cannot pay, possibly losing their homes through lease forfeiture to an offshore entity where the beneficial ownership is hidden – and where they may have benefited from tax advantages.

Astor’s spokesman, the former Tory MP turned PR smoothie Adrian Flook, assured the Eye the offshore owners of the freehold to Heysmoor were “exclusively UK-based pension and life insurance funds”. As they are all UK tax-exempt, he added, there are therefore no tax advantages, and registration in Guernsey is for “administrative efficiency” only.

‘Saving its skin’

Flook, who works for Sir Lynton Crosby’s lobbying firm Crosby Textor, also said Abacus had “swiftly and voluntarily” injected £750,000 on to the leaseholders’ service charge – as a loan – to cover interim fire wardens as well as building costs. He claimed that without this generosity the residents would have had to move, which would have been even more expensive.

However, Sebastian O’Kelly of the campaign charity the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, said: “Contrarily, one could say that Abacus has imposed a £750,000 loan and then proceeded to spend it as it chose. This wasn’t philanthropy; the freeholder was saving its skin with the fire authorities.

“Flook’s blather would be more weighty if Astor’s Homeground did not also charge old ladies £50 to keep a cat, and demand £108 to consider a freehold purchase – all familiar ploys in the leasehold game, which Astor spent six years learning at Vincent Tchenguiz’s side.”

To date, 17 freeholders are off to court to let a tribunal decide whether the terms of the leases mean hapless leaseholders have to pick up the tab for removing dangerous cladding.

One particular case would be notably unjust. A vast 980-flat development, New Capital Quay in Greenwich, which also has Grenfell-style aluminium composite material (ACM), was completed by Galliard Homes only four years ago. The freeholder remains Galliard’s own company, Roamquest Ltd.

‘Absolutely clobbered’

Huge sums are being racked up to provide fire marshals, and Galliard is showing every sign that it expects the leaseholders to cough up to remove the cladding that it put up itself. If the cladding and safety costs are as extensive as at Citiscape in Croydon, the total could be as much as £19m.

Local Labour MP Matthew Pennycook told the Commons before Christmas that leaseholders “bought their properties in good faith and bear no responsibility whatever for failures in the building regulations regime, but as things stand they are going to be absolutely clobbered”.

So far, the only freeholder to agree to pay to remove Grenfell-style cladding is Legal & General at the Blenheim Centre/Reflexion site in Hounslow, west London, where the bill may exceed £10m. Unlike Astor’s clients, it has not chosen to hide its ownership.

Elsewhere, Javid’s pleas appear to have fallen on deaf ears. Will we have to wait until it’s too late and the courts have decided the leaseholders are liable before the government intervenes?

What a surprise ?

Landlord providing an unsafe building , now required , by Law , to remedy it and ... the leaseholders are expected to pay ?

Only winners around will be the legal profession ?

Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:27 am
by Chris From The Gulag
MOD housing ?

Oh dear ! ... 84456.html

Government decision to privatise thousands of military families' homes cost taxpayer up to £4.2bn, spending watchdog says.

Private company has made 'significant' income from properties that would otherwise have been public assets, National Audit Office finds.

The Ministry of Defence's privatisation of tens of thousands of military families’ homes has cost the taxpayer billions of pounds, according to the government spending watchdog.

The National Audit Office said the policy of selling off more than 55,000 military homes to a private company and then leasing them back had cost up to £4.2bn, because the properties are now worth significantly more than when they were sold.

The decision to sell the homes was made by John Major’s government in 1996. The private company, Annington Property Limited, paid £1.66bn for the properties, which are spread across 770 sites.

The MoD continues to rent back most of the homes and is paying £178m a year to do so, according to the NAO.

The watchdog said MoD assumptions in 1996 about the future value of the properties were “over-cautious”, although it accepted that the significant house price rise in recent years could not have been foreseen.

When it sold off the properties, the MoD assumed house prices would increase by 1 per cent per year, excluding inflation. The actual figure has been 3.9 per cent.

Sir Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said the sale and leaseback deal was "based upon pessimistic views of the future growth in property values".

He said the MoD could have seen an even bigger return if it were not for the fact that “rents charged to the military families who lived there were restricted for the first 20 years".

"This has cost the public sector a great deal in capital growth, and it has been a great deal for the landlord," Mr Morse said.

"In 2021 the period of restricted rents is over. The question is now whether the landlord will get a very large rent increase on top of the very substantial capital gains they have already received."

The NAO said the income Annington Property Limited has generated from the homes has been "significant".

The MoD wants rents to fall when restrictions are lifted in 2021, but Annington is looking for a rise of £84m a year, the NAO said.

The watchdog said the MoD needed to be better prepared for renegotiating the deal in 2021.

"Many billions of pounds are at stake, and were the department not to be ready when detailed negotiations start it could sacrifice very significant public value,” it said.

The report's findings come amid a £20bn black hole in the defence budget over the next 10 years, and widespread speculation of cuts to personnel and equipment in a bid to try to save money.

Meg Hillier, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said the sale of the 55,000 homes has "turned out to be a rotten deal for the taxpayer".

"There is a risk that when rents come up for renewal the next deal will be even worse," she added.

The NAO also found that the MoD is paying millions of pounds in rent on properties that are empty.

"In April 2017 the department was continuing to pay rent on 7,259 empty Annington properties,” it said. “If these properties remained empty for the whole year, the department would pay over £30m in maintenance and rent on them.”

Labour said the report was a “a damning indictment of the Conservatives’ decision to privatise the housing of service personnel and their families”.

Nia Griffith, the party’s Shadow Defence Secretary, said: “At the time they ignored repeated warnings that this sell-off of public assets would not deliver value for money, and now we learn that this dodgy deal may have cost the taxpayer up to £4.2bn.

“At a time when the defence budget is under severe pressure, with cuts to Armed Forces personnel and equipment looming, this level of waste beggars belief.

“This has left us in the ridiculous position where the Government now rents back the same accommodation at increased cost, and the MoD will be held over a barrel if the company demands costly rent rises in future.

“This is a classic example of putting an ideological belief in privatisation above the wellbeing of service members and their families. It is time that we ended the racket of outsourcing and delivered solutions that benefit both taxpayers and Forces personnel.”

An MoD spokesman said: "The NAO supported the Annington deal in 1997 and is clear that the surge in house prices could not have been predicted.

"We have a team working on renegotiating the deal, and believe that rent prices should continue to fall to secure value for money for taxpayers.”

Another example of the private sector benefiting from the sale of OUR assets.

If the rents charged do rise to market levels , how many service men and women will be able to afford them ?

In which case , any restrictions on future tenants and / or redevelopment plans to encourage the cream of the private sector ?

Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Posted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 10:38 am
by Chris From The Gulag
So much for affordable housing ? ... 86046.html

Number of social homes to fall by 230,000 by 2020, analysis reveals.

The Chartered Institute of Housing says 79 per cent of the Government’s homes budget up to 2020/21 will go towards private housing, while only 21 per cent will be spent on affordable homes.
Almost a quarter of a million social homes in England for residents on low incomes will have been lost under the Conservatives by 2020, new figures have revealed.

More than 150,000 of the most affordable homes have gone since 2012, and a further 80,000 will have disappeared by 2020, analysis showed – taking the total to 230,000 in just eight years.

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), which conducted the analysis of official data, said the loss was a result of government policies such as Right to Buy and the decision to stop funding new social housing in order to focus on more expensive “affordable housing”.

The finding raises fresh questions about the Government’s social housing rethink in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, and highlights how tens of thousands of the most affordable homes have been sold off at a time when house prices and private rents have rocketed.

CIH urged ministers to urgently change their approach and prioritise the funding of genuinely affordable homes over other types of housing.

Since 2010, the Government has stopped all central funding for new social housing and instead focused on boosting the building of new “affordable” homes, which cost up to 80 per cent of market value and are 20-30 per cent more expensive than social homes.

Other measures, such as the Help to Buy scheme, are geared towards helping more buyers access full-price properties, but none are designed to help create more social housing.

The CIH said 79 per cent of the housing budget up to 2020/21 will go towards private housing, while only 21 per cent will be spent on affordable housing. The organisation said the budget should be “rebalanced” to prioritise lower-cost homes.

Labour said the new figures were “indefensible” for the Government and called for Right to Buy to be suspended until more of the homes sold have been replaced.

The CIH study found that, since 2012, 103,642 council homes and 46,972 housing association properties at social rent have been lost, mainly because they were converted to more expensive “affordable rent” properties or sold off under Right to Buy.

If the trend continues, a total of 230,000 social homes are likely to been lost between 2012 and 2020: 158,642 council homes and 70,972 housing association properties.

The drastic loss of social housing is explained largely by the Right to Buy scheme, under which hundreds of thousands of social homes have been sold off since its introduction in 1980.

In recent years, swingeing budgets cuts have stopped local councils building new homes, meaning just one new property is now being built for every five sold under Right to Buy.

Just 1,102 new social homes were completed across England last year – down from 36,700 in 2010.

Despite widespread warnings about the loss of low-cost housing, policies introduced by the Conservatives in 2016 as part of the Housing and Planning Act will accelerate the loss of social homes.

The law introduced measures to extend the Right to Buy scheme to housing association properties, despite growing calls for a rethink of the policy, and will also force local councils to sell off their most valuable council homes.

Commenting on the latest figures, John Healey, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, said: “This lays bare the haemorrhage of low-cost housing under the Conservatives. In the midst of a housing crisis, it is indefensible that communities are losing much-needed affordable homes.

“In many cases the taxpayer is paying three times over: first to build the homes, second for a Right to Buy discount of up to £100,000 per property and third for the higher housing benefit bill as more people end up in more expensive private rented homes.

“Labour will suspend Right to Buy, only allowing properties to be sold if they are replaced like-for-like, and build at least 100,000 genuinely affordable homes a year – including the biggest council house-building programme in 30 years.”

The new figures are likely to place fresh pressure on ministers to overhaul their current housing policies.

After the Grenfell Tower fire raised questions about a lack of investment in low-cost homes, the Conservatives promised a “wide-ranging, top-to-bottom review” of government policy on social housing.

Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, admitted in October that the Tories were “failing” on housing and promised a “complete rethink of our approach to social housing”.

In the same month, Theresa May announced an extra £2bn investment in affordable housing, including some for social rent, but analysis showed this would fund just 5,000 homes per year – a tiny fraction of those that have been lost.

Terrie Alafat, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “For many people on lower incomes, the only truly affordable option is social rent. It is simply unacceptable that we are losing so many of our most affordable homes at a time when more and more people are in need.

“We need to increase the number of homes we are building, but it’s not just a numbers game – we need to make sure we are building the right homes, in the right places, and that people can afford them.

“The Prime Minister is absolutely right to make housing a priority, and some of the things the Government is doing will help. But government investment is still heavily skewed towards the private market.”

CIH said the Government should immediately reform the Right to Buy scheme to allow councils to keep all the proceeds they generate from homes that are sold. Currently a significant chunk of the money must be given to the Treasury.

Mr Alafat said: “Right to Buy is undermining efforts to provide genuinely affordable homes for people on lower incomes.”

The Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government was contacted for comment.

Some housing policy ?

Those members with BTL interests must be licking their lips ?

Sheer madness !!!

Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Posted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 10:47 am
by Chris From The Gulag
Yet more gloom this morning : ... 85456.html

Number of social housing properties in England drops 11% in one year.

Record low number of cheaper homes 'shameful', says Labour.
The number of homes available for social rent in England has dropped 11 per cent in just 12 months, plunging the amount of cheaper housing to a record low.

Nearly 40,000 fewer social houses were rented in 2016/17 than the year before, in what critics have said is a “shameful” and “shocking” result of the Government’s housing policies.

The biggest drop was in the number of social homes run by private providers, which fell by almost 30,000 to 231,500 last financial year, analysis of official statistics showed.

Meanwhile, there were more than 10,000 fewer houses let for social rent by local authorities.

There has been an overarching downward trend in the number of social houses since figures started to be recorded in their current form in 2007/08. In the nine-year period, the number of homes let for social rent has fallen from 366,820 to 334,602.

Instead of socially rented homes, which are typically available to families at about 50 per cent of the market rate, the Government has prioritised the building of “affordable” homes, which can be rented at up to 80 per cent of market value.

The policy has come under fire for not providing genuinely affordable homes for people on low incomes.

The new figures emerged after it was revealed last week that the number of people sleeping rough in England has more than doubled since 2010. Official Government data showed that on any given night in autumn last year, 4,751 people were recorded sleeping on the streets, a record number.

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire last June, which raised questions about the adequacy of social housing provision, the Government has launched a review into the issue. But activists have said authorities should not wait for the results of the inquiry before taking action.

Housing charity Shelter has launched its own commission into the future of social housing following the disaster.

Chief executive of the charity, Polly Neate, said: “Despite Government promises to increase affordable housing, there just aren’t enough social homes available to rent, and it’s clear that those sold off through Right to Buy are not being replaced fast enough.

“With rising numbers of working people unable to afford their rent, more than a million on council waiting lists and rising numbers of homeless families stuck in temporary accommodation, we very obviously need to urgently increase the number of social homes available.”

Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, John Healey MP blamed cuts to the housing budget since the Conservatives entered government.

“These shameful statistics show that the number of new low-cost homes being let has fallen to a record low,” he said.

“This is the direct result of deep cuts to affordable housing investment made by Conservative ministers since 2010.

“The next Labour government will build at least 100,000 genuinely affordable homes a year, including the biggest council house building programme in over thirty years.”

Liberal Democrat housing spokesperson, Wera Hobhouse, said the new figures demonstrated a “shocking decline” of social housing in the UK.

“The reality is more and more people are unable to afford to put a roof over their heads,” she said.

“This Government continues to talk about ‘affordable housing’ whilst ignoring our diminishing social housing stock. Social housing is vital for those who cannot afford to buy a home.

“We have reached crisis point. Council waiting lists are running into thousands. The Government must act to allow councils to borrow to build.”

The Minister of State for Housing, Dominic Raab, meanwhile, pointed to other figures published in the statistics bulletin.

“The latest social housing data show landlords are taking less time to rent out their properties once they become vacant and for the first time since 2007 the cost of social rent has reduced,” he said.

“We want to do much more. Through planning reform, release of public sector land, targeted investment and our Social Housing Green Paper, will build the homes Britain needs and people can afford.”

Yet another ticking time bomb.

And one with a problem that cannot be fixed in a single generation.

What a future in store for the next generation ... unaffordable housing coupled with competition with robots for jobs ?

Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Posted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:08 am
by Chris From The Gulag
The " Right to Buy " scheme rearing it's ugly head again : ... 89881.html

Number of council homes sold off under Right to Buy increases five-fold in six years after Tories lift cap.

Councils warn spiralling sell-off of low-cost homes is 'unsustainable' as Labour calls for scheme to be halted.

The rapid loss of social housing because of the Right to Buy scheme has been laid bare after new figures revealed more than five times more homes are being sold now than in 2012.

Councils said Right to Buy had became “unsustainable” after it emerged the sell-off of council homes has drastically accelerated in the past few years, while Labour labelled the figures “indefensible”.

More than £3.5bn of public money has gone to help almost 60,000 tenants buy their home at a hefty discount in the past six years, prompting local councils to warn of a “fire sale” of low-cost homes.

Town-hall leaders said Right to Buy had become “unsustainable” and could not be continued unless councils are given more powers to build replacement homes.

The analysis, released by the Local Government Association, provides one of the clearest indications to date of how the Government’s decision to increase the size of the discount people are given when buying their council home has accelerated the loss of genuinely affordable housing.

In April 2012, Conservatives ministers “revamped” Right to Buy and raised the maximum discount on a property to £75,000 (it has since increased further, to more than £100,000, in some parts of the country). Since then, the number of homes sold off has increased by 409 per cent, from 2,638 in 2011-12 to 13,416 in 2016-17.

This has come at a rising cost to the taxpayer, with the average discount given to tenants having more than doubled since 2012, from £26,690 to £61,810 – a 132 per cent increase.

It means tenants are able to buy their home at less than half the market value – with the average discount now at 43 per cent of the property’s value, up from 25 per cent in 2012.

In total, nearly 58,000 council homes have been privatised under Right to Buy in the past six years alone.

The mass sell-off comes despite the number of social homes in England having hit record lows and council house waiting lists reaching ten years in some parts of the country.

While Right to Buy has helped tens of thousands of people get a foot on the housing ladder since 2012, Labour said the total number of households under the age of 45 who own their own home has dropped by a million since 2010.

Despite concern over the impact of the Right to Buy, in 2016 the Government extended the scheme to housing association properties – meaning a further 1.5 million low-cost homes could be sold off.

The LGA called on ministers to allow councils to keep more of the money they make from Right to Buy sales, in order to fund new homes. Currently town halls only retain about a third of the revenue, with a hefty chunk going to the Treasury.

Councillor Judith Blake, the LGA’s housing spokesperson, said: “Councils support people’s aspiration to own their own home and Right to Buy is one way of doing this.

“However, selling council homes at a discount of nearly half price has led to a social housing fire sale that threatens the future of the scheme. The rate of homes sold under RTB combined with the restrictions on councils is making replacing homes sold virtually impossible.

She added: “This loss of social rented housing risks pushing more families into the private rented sector, driving up housing benefit spending and rents and exacerbating our homelessness crisis. This is particularly concerning as many of the homes sold through the scheme ended up being rented out privately at more expensive rates.

“For RTB to work, councils must be able to replace every home sold. Councils must be allowed to set RTB discounts locally, retain RTB sale receipts in full to replace sold homes, and be given the freedom to borrow to build new affordable homes and play a lead role in tackling the country’s housing shortage.”

Despite ministers’ repeated promises that all homes sold under Right to Buy will be replaced, currently just one new property is being built in place of every five sold off.

The result is a rapidly diminishing stock of social homes, with the Chartered Institute of Housing revealing earlier this week that more than one in 20 social homes in England is likely to be lost between 2012 and 2022. Right to Buy was highlighted as one of the main factors behind the decline – a finding underlined by the eye-watering LGA analysis.

It has previously emerged that four in 10 properties sold under the Right to Buy are now owned by private landlords, marking a huge privatisation of housing stock as homes aimed specifically at those who most need them are turned, in the course of just a few years, into private-rented homes at full-cost rents.

Labour said the new figures emphasised the need to freeze Right to Buy entirely.

John Healey, the Shadow Housing Secretary, said: “In the midst of a housing crisis, the Conservatives’ wasteful Right to Buy is indefensible.

“Since 2010, communities have lost 170,000 council homes while the number of younger home-owners has fallen by a million. The Conservatives’ approach to housing is failing on all fronts.

“Labour will suspend the Right to Buy and start the biggest council house building programme in thirty years. We will back first-time buyers on ordinary incomes by building 100,000 discounted FirstBuy homes, targeting help to buy and giving local people ‘first dibs’ on new homes built in their area.”

An spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “Right to Buy is giving people who aspire to own their home the opportunity to do so, and more than 80,000 households have used the scheme since it was reinvigorated in 2012.

“Every additional home sold off must be replaced by an extra one, nationally. Councils should deliver these properties within three years.”

Figures speak for themselves.

Privatisation of social housing ?

Yet another way of depressing the lives of those unable to afford to purchase their own homes.

Allied with this continuing Government policy is the Issue of Housing Benefit.

£ 25 BILLION or so per annum ... £ 10 BILLION or so goes to BTL and other private landlords.

... and the supply of social housing continues to shrink as demand continues to soar !!!

Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:43 am
by Chris From The Gulag
More on the fallout following Grenfell Tower ... the cost of removing cladding : ... 98676.html

Grenfell Tower: Residents of private flats face £500,000 bill to replace flammable cladding, hears tribunal.

Son of 95-year-old leaseholder faced with vast bill, says father being treated for stress in hospital.

Cladding similar to that used on Grenfell Tower will only be removed from another south London block of flats if residents pay up to £500,000 or the Government provides funding, a tribunal has heard.

Leaseholders of the Citiscape block in Croydon were handed a combined £2m bill to replace the aluminium composite material (ACM) panels last month – the same type as those believed to have aided the spread of the fire in north Kensington, which claimed the lives of 71 people in June.

​Management company First Port has gone to a first-tier property tribunal in an effort to make residents pay.

It is estimated that the total cost to replace the cladding will be £2m, and at least £500,000 is required to strip it from the flats.

One of the leaseholders, a 95-year-old man, is being treated in hospital due to stress, his son told the tribunal.

Richard Low-Foon, whose elderly father Luc lived in the block, said he was trapped in a “catch 22”.

He told the hearing: “I cannot see a way out of it at this stage unless through a miracle we get some funding. At the moment he is staying in hospital because of all this – it got too much for him.

“I had to put him in a care home before Christmas on the understanding that I would defer payment until I sell the property, not that I am able to sell the property because of this.”

The management firm claims it was denied a loan by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which said it would only deal with individual leaseholders.

FirstPort is also seeking to recoup the cost of hiring fire wardens to monitor the blocks full time at £4,000 a week – so far running up bills of approximately £128,000 since 26 June 2017.

FirstPort regional director Paul Atkinson told the hearing: “We have no other funding options.”

He added: “I know we have discussed with RBS – but I wasn’t privy to that conversation – the bank wouldn’t be willing to loan it to us but they would be willing to talk to individual leaseholders.” The Independent contacted RBS for comment but they did not respond.

FirstPort originally told leaseholders they would owe £500,000 in service charges, later quadrupling the estimate to £2m. But at the time of the deadline for last year’s service charges – September 2017 – they had only put the £500,000 estimate to residents.

This means full work to replace the cladding post-removal cannot begin until they formally levy the remaining £1.5m costs, which will happen this year.

“By getting a very sketchy estimate, FirstPort has lost a year in being able to carry out the work,” Amanda Gourlay, representing leaseholders, said.

Judge Angus Andrew, who is chairing the panel at the tribunal, said it was “an uncomfortable issue” and asked: “What happens if the money doesn’t come?”

Mr Atkinson replied: “It is difficult. We know we don’t have the capacity to loan as much as required. We were with the MP for Croydon a few weeks ago urging him to speak to a [Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government] minister, which he did.”

Leaseholders had feared any ruling at the Citiscape tribunal could set a precedent for other private blocks across the country.

But Mr Andrew stressed the decision should not be interpreted as such, saying in his opening remarks: “Any decision we come to cannot be read across to another block of flats. It doesn’t set a precedent.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “As ministers have made clear, we want to see private sector landlords follow the lead of the social sector and not pass on the costs of essential cladding replacement to leaseholders.

“The Government is not in a position to comment on individual legal cases. We are keeping the situation under review.”

The tribunal continues.

Unsafe cladding is installed on both public and private buildings.

Tenants , both social and private , leaseholders and rent payers , are all affected.

The lucky ones will be those whose landlords pay for removal WITHOUT passing on the costs.

Having said that , if they are public landlords , the tax payers will be picking up the tab.

Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:16 am
by Chris From The Gulag
Ground zero ... MoD properties ... article from Private Eyer on how us tax payers got shafted yet again :

MoD homes fit for zeroes.

A MERE 22 years after the Ministry of Defence under Michael Portillo sold its family accommodation so the military could rent it back, the National Audit Office has put a figure on the rip-off: had the 55,000 houses remained in public hands, taxpayers would have been up to £4.2bn better off.

This corresponds broadly to the amounts that have been siphoned offshore in vast interest payments to the funds behind owner Annington Homes that are run by Guernsey-based Guy Hands’ Terra Firma outfit (highlighted in Eye 920 way back in 1997).

Buried in the NAO report were details of the extreme returns made by the investors: “Rising rents and house prices mean the actual [annual] rate of return was 13.4 percent for the period from the sale [in 1996] to the end of March 2017.” Looking ahead: “Assuming the current owners were able to sell the entire property portfolio, they would achieve a return on their equity investment of 56 percent.” Not without reason did public accounts committee chair Meg Hillier call the contract “a rotten deal for the taxpayer”.

Captive rental market

The auditors were too polite to mention the others making a killing on the deal, as the Eye has reported regularly. Jamie Hopkins, chief executive since 1998, becomes a millionaire all over again each year, thanks to his position sitting on investments and with a captive rental market. Last year, the latest accounts show, he trousered £1.4m, up on the regular £1.3m of recent years except 2012, when he bagged £2.7m.

With a major rent review on the way, and Annington citing a consultancy report recommending it be paid £84m a year more than it is now, Hopkins’ and Hands’ prospects don’t look too shabby. The MoD, meanwhile, is being helped in these negotiations by its “strategic business partner” on military housing, which happens to be… Capita.

Meanwhile, the rent MoD personnel pay has been almost static since 2010, due to the relationship between military rent and pay and public sector pay restrictions. The MoD has to make up the ever-increasing difference between what it collects from service families and what Annington Homes charges in rent. If the MoD increases its rent charges to military personnel, it will somehow have to increase wages too. This would be a double hit as wages impact on pensions, which would also increase.

There is no solution to this financial problem. As long as armed forces families live in tied housing, the MoD will have ever-reducing control of rents and their impact on wages and pensions, no matter which rent payment option the MoD chooses. As the deal grows less attractive with each passing year, the outsourcing nightmare continues.

Our assets ... MoD housing ... sold off in order for the private sector to make a killing ?

An increasing trend since Thatcher's policies in the early 80s.

Almost all the cream has now gone leaving a ramshackle of a property portfolio left for the mere surfs.

Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Shelter & Other Reports

Posted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:18 am
by Chris From The Gulag
Problem with the supply of affordable housing continues to grow :

Affordable homes shortage '" Equivalent to size of Leeds. "

The shortfall of new affordable homes in England will soon be equivalent to a city the size of Leeds, a charity is warning.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation says the supply has fallen short of demand by 30,000 every year since 2011.

This cumulative shortfall could reach 335,000 by the end of this parliament, trapping families in insecure housing as a result, the charity said.

The government said it was investing £9bn in the sector.

Married parents of three Dawn and Adrian, from Milton Keynes, told BBC Radio 5 live Investigates their family's health had suffered since being forced into temporary accommodation while they wait for suitable social housing to become available.

"Both of us have had issues with mental health and ability to cope," said Dawn, who asked that their surnames not be published.

"It's all come to a head, the culmination of that means Adrian's pretty much had a breakdown for the last couple of months and been signed off work," she said.

Adrian, who like Dawn works full-time, said not being able to afford a home meant that "being a proud man, at the end of the day, I took a lot of stick to myself. I beat myself up inside.

"Because when you've got a wife and three children, I felt a failure," he said.

What is affordable housing?

Affordable housing includes social rental properties, provided through councils or housing associations, or homes in shared ownership.
Some of these rental properties may be let to tenants at up to 80% of the market rate.

Where can I afford to rent or buy?

The government is due to release a green paper on social housing this spring and independent assessments suggest around 78,000 new affordable homes are required in England each year between 2011 and 2031, to meet demand.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation's acting head of policy and research, Brian Robson, said their analysis shows there have been only 47,000 additional affordable homes in England each year over that time.

"If delivery continues at the current rates by the end of this parliament, by 2022 that would have reached 335,000 homes.

"That's equivalent to a city the size of Leeds," Mr Robson said.

The analysis is part of a briefing document the charity will present to the government on Monday for inclusion in its social housing green paper.

The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, and Housing Minister Dominic Raab were unavailable for interview.

In a statement, the ministry said: "We are delivering the homes our country needs and since 2010 we have built over 357,000 new affordable properties.

"But we are determined to do more and we are investing a further £9bn, including £2bn to help councils and housing associations build affordable homes where they are most needed."

Housing ... one of the essentials in today's Sad New World.

Most on low incomes trapped in inadequate housing unable to move or , in many cases , afford the rent without a handout from the tax payers in the form of Housing Benefit.

As the shortages get worse , so does the prospect for millions unable to improve their lives.