Thanks to Laurence at Zed Books, there’s a special offer on some relevant Spring reading. Lucky 30-somethings are invited to join a South London housing co-op seeking and everyone is invited to contribute to IPPR research.
Agents’ Fees (again)
Thank you very much indeed to everyone who has already been in touch about letting agents’ fees. We’ve found out about some absolutely shocking fees charged to renters around London. So far, fees for renewal of a tenancy seem to be the most unreasonable. It’s hard to justify charging such high prices for this service but sadly, because they still can, some agencies still do.
Renters’ Rights London is still seeking your informed opinions, therefore, to ensure that our response to consultation is as robust as it needs to be. Whether you rent your place via an agency now or have done so in the past, we’ll be grateful if you’ll share your experiences and views. You can remain anonymous, if you prefer, but please be assured that Renters’ Rights London won’t share your personal details with anyone, anyway; the details of your story stay with us. Please tell us about your experience of letting agents’ fees?
Quaggy Housing Co-operative
Christine wrote to Renters’ Rights London to tell us about Quaggy Housing Co-op, recently formed and currently seeking new members.
“We’re a group of four single adults in our 30s, in the process of setting up a new housing co-op in South London, and are looking for new members! We’d describe ourselves as left-leaning, and most of us are involved in political or community activism. We’re setting up a housing co-op together as we enjoy communal living but don’t like the lack of control or security that having a private landlord inevitably entails!
We’re hoping to buy an existing property in South London. The exact area yet is to be decided between those in the group but realistically, it’s likely to be in Zone 3 or 4. We’ll be sharing some communal space and some meals. We hope to get somewhere with big enough for five to six people, with room to expand (perhaps for children in future!).
We are using a form of housing co-op known as Mutual Home Ownership Society, which means that some of your rent goes towards building up equity in the house (as if you were paying off your own mortgage). This means that when you leave, you would be entitled to take this money with you.
This type of co-op isn’t currently common in the UK, but we feel that this is a better model in London at the moment, because it helps to compensate for the fact that the rents won’t be cheap to start with, and because it will hopefully put people in a better position to secure decent housing if they have to move on in future.”
Hopefully, Christine will keep Renters’ Rights London informed of developments because if all goes well for Quaggy Housing Co-op, this model could work for others, too. If you’re interested in joining Quaggy Housing Co-op, email Christine; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Slow to No Progress for Renters’ Rights
I was hoping to be able to offer you more details of The Housing (Tenant’s Rights) Bill, which was expected to have its second reading debate on Friday 24 March. The Bill proposed establishment of a Living Rent Commission to conduct research into, and provide proposals for, reducing rent levels in the private rented sector. The recommendations would be reported to Parliament by the Secretary of State.
As Londoners are now spending two-thirds of average income on rent and more than one third of working people are eligible for housing benefit to meet their rents, this looked to be a positive initiative.
Measures to promote long-term tenancies are also included, although it’s hard to know how these could be implemented universally when many buy-to-let mortgages (and as the average landlord has one or two rental properties, there are very many buy-to-let mortgages) include clauses that prohibit offering any tenancy of longer than twelve months.
Yesterday, Renters’ Rights London received word from Minnie, in Caroline Lucas’ office, to tell us that the Bill is so far down the list for Second Reading that it won’t be heard on the day. Even if more Private Member’s Bills are heard in this session of Parliament, it’s unlikely that any will make much progress before the session ends.
It’s disappointing news. Likewise, the Renters’ Rights Bill (which would legislate against agents charging fees to tenants) is still stuck at Report Stage in House of Lords, where Baroness Grender introduced it.
Still, as Phillip Hammond promised in the Chancellor’s Autumn statement, there will be an end to these onerous fees. If you’ve ever rented a home via an agency, do please help us make the case for that end to come sooner, rather than later?
On The Economics of Land & Housing
Newly-published by Zed Books, Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing examines the role of land in housing policy, for a general readership. The authors argue that a good quality, regulated private renting sector would decrease demand for home-ownership. Personally, I’m not sure whether I agree that the private renting will ever be the best answer but certainly, proper regulation would be a welcome relief.
As I bought my copy just yesterday, I may well be convinced of the case within a week. As Toby Young, Head of Policy at Shelter is one of the authors and it’s published in association with the New Economics Foundation, Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing is well worth reading.
Buy your copy of Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing >> direct from Zed Books, including the magic words ‘RENTERSRIGHTS’ in the ‘promo code’ box, and pay just £9.75 (rrp £14.99).