OUR HOUSING REPORTS
ROGUE TENANTS: RESTORING FAIRNESS IN LONDON'S SOCIAL HOUSING
By Susan Hall AM, October 2019
London’s social housing is a precious resource which deserves to be treated with respect. Unfortunately, a small minority of problem, or ‘rogue’ tenants cause unfairness for the vast majority of tenants who are rule-abiding, by causing costly damage and vandalism to properties, costing an estimated £3.4 million over the past five years across London, and damage to individual properties of up to £25,000.
In order to tackle this problem, it is important for many councils and housing associations to improve their data collection, so that they can understand the scale of the financial impact and how best to tackle it, and information can be shared with other social landlords where appropriate.
With cost recovery rates as low as 2% in some organisations, collection systems need to be as robust as possible, and charging deposits should be considered where applicable. Councils’ housing allocation policies should be reviewed, so that problem tenants are not prioritised over rule-abiding tenants. The Mayor of London should also include robust property protection requirements when funding is allocated for new affordable homes or major repairs.
SOS: SAVE OUR SUBURBS
By Andrew Boff AM, November 2018
Protecting, enhancing and strengthening London’s suburbs is not just important in itself – it is crucial to meeting London’s chronic housing need, and to meet or exceed London’s housing target of 64,935 homes per year.
However, the Mayor’s planning and housing policies, in particular his draft new London Plan, present significant challenges and threats to London’s suburban character.
This report therefore makes the following recommendations to ensurethat London’s suburbs can beproperly supported and defended, but also fulfil their housing and development potential to London.
HELP TO RENT: IMPROVING ACCESS TO HOMES IN LONDON'S PRIVATE RENTAL MARKET
By Shaun Bailey AM, March 2018
Finding a home to rent in London can be extremely tough, and this can especially be the case for those who are unable to raise a deposit or demonstrate the right credentials to their landlord. With rough sleeping on the rise, and ‘hidden homelessness’ a significant issue, we need to make sure that everything possible is done to help remove barriers to new accommodation.
This report finds that increasing the provision of deposit guarantees for rented properties, as already offered by some London boroughs, can make a significant contribution to improving access to private rented homes. It makes a number of recommendations for how this can be achieved in London, including the sharing of best practice by local authorities, guarantee schemes being offered by employers, and support from the Mayor of London through his Housing Strategy and other initiatives.
SECRET SLEEPERS: LONDON'S PROBLEM WITH 'BEDS IN SHEDS'
By Susan Hall AM, December 2017
‘Beds in sheds’ – unauthorised dwellings in back gardens and garages of existing residential properties – is a problem that blights many areas of London, at considerable cost to local councils and communities.
These structures are often rented out by unscrupulous landlords as a substandard form of accommodation, with associated safety and fire risks – indeed, the London Fire Brigade has dealt with 499 incidents involving beds in sheds in the past five years. They can also lead to increased levels of fly-tipping, antisocial behaviour and other environmental issues.
Evidence in this report suggests that there are at least 9,000 unauthorised beds in sheds across the London, with councils potentially missing out on £9 million in unpaid council tax.
This report will look at the wide variety of approaches and experiences in detection and enforcement of beds in sheds across London, and how best practice can be shared.
PLOTTING YOUR FUTURE: ROLLING OUT PLOT SHOPS FOR SELF-BUILDERS ACROSS LONDON
By Shaun Bailey AM, October 2017
London is currently suffering a housing crisis, the likes of which has not been seen in recent times. By mid-century, it is very likely that the population of London will have increased to 11.3 million (a 37 per cent increase on the current population). This will undeniably put a significant strain on housing in the Capital. Indeed, in order to keep pace with this level of growth, 49,000 homes would need to be built every year until then. This will require a significant step-change in housebuilding.
This report argues that the Mayor should become more proactively involved with assisting local authorities who may be offering up some of their public sector land, with ‘serviced plot’ permissions in place, to interested self-builders. ‘Serviced plots’ are shovel-ready sites with planning permission, where plots or parcels of land are laid out and ready for construction.
There is a strong case for local authorities to provide self-builders with small plots within sites which the local authority may find difficult to develop itself, such an infill or small sites. One effective method of making the purchase of such plots accessible to the public is the establishment of Plot Shops in the boroughs where the land will be made available for self-builders.
This report will outline the scale of the self-build sector in the UK; what methods are being used at home and abroad to promote and support self-builders; and what the Mayor can do to help this vital part of the housebuilding sector.
SMART MOVE: BUILDING NEW BUNGALOWS TO FREE UP FAMILY HOMES
By Andrew Boff AM, November 2016
In the rush to build greater numbers, volumes and densities of new homes to increase London’s housing supply, there is a crucial type of provision that is currently being overlooked. Bungalows are extremely popular, yet they are currently in sharp decline in London and across the country. However, they could potentially offer many advantages to London’s housing market, especially by providing an attractive form of development for people who wish to downsize, freeing up largenumbers of under occupied and much-needed family homes. Therefore, as this report argues, the forthcoming review of the London Plan should be used as an opportunity to promote a new waveof efficient, space-saving bungalows in London.
While no one solution can tackle London’s housing issues on its own, and increasing overall supply must remain the key priority, addressing this untapped potential can make an important contribution to the housing needs of many Londoners throughout London’s housing market.
A PROBLEM SHARED: BOOSTING THE SUPPLY OF SHARED OWNERSHIP HOUSING IN LONDON
By Andrew Boff AM, September 2016
Shared ownership is a type of housing that allows the purchaser to buy a share of a property, whilst paying rent on the part that they do not own, usually to a housing association or a local council. Having purchased an initial share, people can then buy further shares as they go along- a process known as ‘staircasing’.
Shared ownership offers the opportunity for those who aspire to home ownership to gain a foot on the housing ladder, especially if they are unable to purchase a property on the open market.
Given this potential, an increase in supply of shared ownership homes would have clear benefits for Londoners and London’s wider housing market. It would ensure that the opportunities for home ownership are spread as widely as possible to those who would not otherwise be able to reach the ladder.