All Along the Watch tower- What Housing Crisis?

“’There must be some way out of here’, said the joker to the thief”.

I suppose it’s a common feeling that we all have. Every endeavour is the fruitless one. St Jude or St Martin? Like carrying water in a leaking pail or finding there is no gold at the end of the Rainbow. . . . . . . . . .Keep looking  its just a bit further, just over the edge there….. see? Goal posts are constantly being moved

Is it deliberate I wonder? To stack the cards towards a  life aspiration but break the tools  you need to get there. It seems with every resolution to the problem of nationwide insecure accommodation, the answer seems to be that the government are wanting to build more” affordable home”

There is a housing crisis throughout the UK of staggering proportion. The reason for this are multifaceted and the solutions varied and incomplete.  Is it because it has been underinvested in? Maybe , Is it because local development policies’ are short sighted and turn into local council political footballs? Maybe, Is it because of the right to buy? Maybe. But beyond doubt it has a lot more to do with Greed than an influx of European house hunters.

It could be argued that the problem began with right to buy and has been compounded since by mouldy mistakes after rotten remedies.  The real problem with “right to buy” was that the receipts from these highly discounted properties went straight into government coffers. Many local authorities only managed their stock on behalf of HM Government and most of this money simply wasn’t given back to councils  to re-build and why was  this I hear you ask? The reason was probably becasue ofhe planned and iminent formation  of  “Housing Associations”. An idea  which represented  social housing privatisation by the back door. The government  created a free market and encouraged councils to grant permission for RSLs to build on every scrap of land they could find. This was stunningly  short sighted as until very recently, planning and long term housing strategy was dictated by the whims and the politics of local council. In one particular Authority, Council officers spent a long time trying to convince the members that new council owned property needed to be built and succeeded in convincing  the then Labour held council, only to come up against an election. With  a change of political wind the new conservative control  kicked the ideas into the long grass. being freemarket in general, they favoured  Housing association development as it provided both  , Social rented accommodation, affordable housing and fully private ownership but perversely, not enough of any of it to make a difference. Mean while Council waiting lists rolled into the thousands.

It doesn’t take a genius outside observer to understand that the demand on social housing, stems primarily form the idea  that it is cheap and secure. Of course as in true conservative style, one way the government have tried to tackle the massive increase in demand is to promote false deterioration of need. this has been done by the idea  of attempting  decrease the demand by allowing councils to bring their rents to market value. Ultimately, this will end up costing the tax payer a fortune in another way  as in many cases it will be forced to foot the bill through housing benefit. Most people accessing social housing have to rely on some sort of Housing benefit contribution to their rent, It is a circle that goes round and round.

Currently the whole problem with the demand on social housing is the insecurity of the private sector housing and the unregulated way letting agents profiteer from this insecurity. This really stems from the labour governments introduction of the “assured short-hold tenancy” which allows a landlord to dispense of a tenant for any reason given the correct section 21 notice. There have been a number of useful amendments recently to curb the excesses of the worst sorts of behaviours. ( Localism act demanding deposit protection and more recently the clamping down on “retaliatory  evictions”). However it is not uncommon for many agencies to fix their tenancies for a fixed term of six months and charge £200.00 every time a renewal is needed. For those who don’t know, if this contract is not renewed, it goes on forever and becomes periodic until a landlord or tenant issues notice. But instead,  agencies adopt this model of repeated fixed contracts an income generator and in  general, keep their landlords ( single  property landlords) uneducated in the Housing Act , if a tenant stands up to the agent by refusing to pay the extortionate fees, then they are likely to receive their notice as no reason has to be given in order to end the tenancy. There is no risk to the agent , as tenants around the country are lining up in the race to the bottom and there is no risk in a loss of rental income or periods of voids, only a generation of income with the new incoming tenants fees. Among the other disgraceful behaviour rife amongst these agencies is charging £100.00 for a credit check, 3 monthly inspections ( a constant reminder that you are there under sufferance) and poor repair work. Because of the lack of social housing it is definitely a landlords market they have plenty of people queuing up to take your home. This means they can act with impunity with many councils lacking the will to intervene meaningfully, in this  illegal behaviour high demand, 0 repercussions and high profitability means that throughout the land  poor deals and  slum conditions are rife.

In my particular home town, t is the norm to pay £800.00 per month for a three bed property  for 6 months then have to pay £200.00 every 6 months  to be given permission to continue to do this. If you also introduce the overwhelming preference for “non DSS” tenants then this has had the effect of pushing the local council waiting list in a small rural town (60K population)to over  3000 people.

So then, What’s the solution????? The government thinks that rather than give authorities more duties to step in and control rents and rogue behaviour or even give tenants back some sort of security of tenure to weed out the less committed landlords, they decide we should all be owning homes.

It’s a wonderful idea but at the same time successive governments have decided to launch this maxim as a panacea for the housing crisis, the banks decide they are going to give out less mortgages. (http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/mortgageshome/article-2539142/MMR-New-changes-April-make-harder-obtain-mortgage.html)

Nowadays,  its not enough to have a pristine credit record. You now have to have £15000 in the bank, be under 40 and not enjoy a glass of wine at the weekends.  You also have to have a good  combined income of about £50k per year. Does that sound like the majority of first time buyers you know? Didn’t think so. So the government can build all they houses they like, if the bank won’t lend you the money, you’re still fucked.

Make councils build and give them a duty to clamp down on rental profiteering , mandate banks to readdress their criteria to be more realistic ( it wasn’t our fault they caused the crash) . Stop the banks , estate agents and  homeowners being greedy, bring down the housing bubble and introduce rent control. This will allow  everyone to pay an affordable rent so the landlord can profit and the tenant can be secure, at the moment its really out of hand. There can be no break in the circle of greed as it is in no-ones interest. The government shy away from this as it sounds too socialist, when the alternative is alienating their funding supply and friends.

This is my experience, I am generation rent and I hate it. The only goal I have in life is to own my home not a massive place but a nice little suburban semi, it seems the government and the greed of the increasing few who already own houses are making it impossible, quite simply we are trapped in a renting hell.

All along the watch tower Princes kept the view.

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