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To think that anyone could have watched Panorama tonight and still believe in the Right to Buy?

(60 Posts)
GrannyTwice Mon 20-Apr-15 21:46:01

Or not believe that we need to do something about the private rented market and the £3bn of tax payers money going to private landlords?

Anne58 Mon 20-Apr-15 22:07:33

I think that the "Right to Buy" proposal is only intended to be for people living in Council or Housing Associations, and has nothing to do with privately rented properties.

aggie Mon 20-Apr-15 22:10:36

It does affect it , if all the hosing is bought and rented out there is no social housing for reasonable rents , no decent places , only over priced rotten housing stock

Gracesgran Mon 20-Apr-15 22:27:40

Totally agree Granny Twice. The people working in the area had the answer - huge fines. They should probably be scaled in relation to what they have received in housing benefit.

We are so far behind with housing it makes me wonder if they should build modern versions of the prefabs they built after the war but only as council housing or they would be more like the caravans in the programme.

AshTree Mon 20-Apr-15 22:28:00

Our area doesn't even have any council owned housing stock, so there is only limited housing association property available, and people need to be in pretty straitened circumstances to qualify.
This leaves all those people unable to get on to the housing ladder with no choice other than to rent from private landlords, and possibly paying over the odds for the privilege.
More worrying, however, is that they have no security of tenure, with only 6 monthly renewable rental agreements. I don't know what the answer to this dilemma is, certainly not a return to the 'sitting tenant' problem of yesteryear. But with housing association property sold off, more and more people will be in this precarious position.

GrannyTwice Mon 20-Apr-15 23:22:49

yes aggie - exactly. Ash - the thing is that there are plenty of countries thst have a large rented sector which works and people do have security of tenure such as Germany, France. So why can't we do that?

durhamjen Mon 20-Apr-15 23:29:32

The Labour Party is going to make three year agreements the norm when they get in.

GrannyTwice Mon 20-Apr-15 23:52:22

But even 3 years isn't that good is it? In Germany, for example, Trade Unions invest in the rented sector. They build and then rent homes. For them it is a long term investment and tenants have security - pay your rent, honour your agreement, it's your home. One summer as a student, I worked as an au pair in Hamburg. The family I worked for had a lovely rented flat - owned by a TU -there was one room in it that could belong to either their flat or the flat next door - this meant that over time, if your household got smaller, you gave up a room but were able to stay in your home. And another family could have a larger flat. Genius

durhamjen Tue 21-Apr-15 00:15:12

Better than six months, which is the norm now, GrannyTwice.

Gracesgran Tue 21-Apr-15 06:41:01

That sounds brilliant GrannyTwice but I have never heard any suggestions for long term renting here. Of course this was just what council housing was originally - a home for life. The Trades Unions have a very positive role in Germany don't they.

I am still trying to imagine how the extra room worked smile

ayse Tue 21-Apr-15 08:08:23

I've lived in private rented accommodation twice in my life. The first time was in 1970. Lived on the third floor in a large Victorian bedsit, separate kitchen and shared bathroom. The ceiling paper came down in the kitchen and we had a rash of woodworm (live beetles) everywhere. The geyser was made in 1914 and it was so scary and didn't work. The gas board came in and condemned it. So no hot water, a small storage heater for a huge room and we paid £35 per month. We took the landlord to a rent tribunal and apparently the rent had been set at £30 per month so he had been overcharging us. We didn't pay rent for 6 months to re-coup the loss (at the council's advice). He gave us notice at the same time as the court proceedings and we left within the required time.
The second time was a couple of years ago when we were flooded out. Rented a two bedroom house in a not very nice place (I didn't know at the time). The heating didn't work, the fridge didn't work, the house stank, the bathroom was filthy all for the sum of £400 per month. This was a six month tenancy and it took ages to get anything fixed even though the managing agent was very helpful. He told us the landlord didn't want to do repairs as 'they cost too much and we were being a nuisance'. So it seems my rates are paying for some poor person to be shoved into 'difficult' accommodation!
I feel so sad for people who have to move every 6 months. How can this be good for family stability, education etc. especially for the poorest in our society. No wonder we have a dislocated society. How can it be good for the rate payer who foots the bill? I'd rather social building of good quality homes for rent at a reasonable cost. Then re-invest in further housing.
As you can probably tell by now, I feel that housing should not be sold off at any price, unless of course it is previously replaced. Longer term tenancies are a must in my opinion for health and the stability of society. I also believe that private accommodation should be inspected and conform to a modest standard - such as all appliances (if provided) should be in good working order; repairs should be made in a timely fashion, etc. I also think that landlords should be protected from damage caused by tenants and have more easily accessible redress in these circumstances.
I just don't see how privatising more housing will provide decent and affordable homes unless other action is taken to regulate the landlord, tenant relationship to provide 'a level playing field'. Post-war style pre-fabs would be a great deal better than some of the dire places people are expected to live and that rate payers pay for.

annsixty Tue 21-Apr-15 08:52:58

Those post-war pre-fabs were very good accommodation. They were cozy and compact and surely had the advantage that they were built very quickly. I remember that in Nottingham they were still in use many years after their original "sell by" time. They would certainly provide a much needed boost to social housing needs.

annsixty Tue 21-Apr-15 09:05:23

Just for my personal interest I googled the pre-fabs in Nottingham and some were still in use after 50 years. What is needed is a Government with the will to do something about the housing situation and needs in this country. A pipe dream?

GillT57 Tue 21-Apr-15 09:22:44

You have summed it up very well Ayse. The lack of security for families is awful, one of my colleagues rented a house for 8 years, decorated it, made improvements such as making a utility area in the back of the garage ( with the landlords happy approval) and then was told the house was being sold. This was their home. It caused major disruption, and cost them thousands in fees, none of this was their fault. There are of course also some tenants who abuse and wreck properties so there needs to be protection on both sides. A system of 3 year renewable tenancies, if both sides want it, is a start, and long enough for a family to start putting down roots in an area,get children settled in school etc. My husband went to see a potential client who wanted to turn his outbuildings into a rentable studio ( no insulation, no running water) and when DH told his this wasn't feasible or legal the owner wasn't happy. He was probably even less happy when DH reported him to the local housing department about the poor souls living in the back of the garage in one room with a toilet and a sink. These people should be fined an amount at least totalling the housing benefit they have been paid by the taxpayer, and then reported to HMRC for investigation into their financial affairs. Selling off more housing stock will lead to even more of this scandalous theft from taxpayers and exploitation of tenants.

Nelliemoser Tue 21-Apr-15 09:22:58

This conservative idea made me feel sick, totally frightening. The only thing I could say about it would be peppered with asterisks.

There are a lot of very well designed modern "prefabs" I think Germany have designed a lot of these.

There could be easy ways to establish security by say allowimg 2x six month lets and if no problems extending it.

The problem is the private buy to let market is subject to the owners reselling the property when they want to sell off for their "pension pot or whatever. It all depends greatly on how good the landlords are.

I am sure a housing association could provide a much more secure arrangement for a long term let and they would probably been much more prepared to keep their property in really good condition.

Near to us, a local councillor was fined for letting a really unsafe property, which says a lot about the whole system (and some local councillors.)

JessM Tue 21-Apr-15 09:49:15

We need a lot more social housing and unless we have a government that puts its back into making this happen the people at the bottom of the market are going to be living in worse and worse circumstances. Some private landlords look after their property and their tenants. But if the value of the property is low (as it is in many places) and the rents high then there is little incentive for them to maintain the property well.

Right to Buy is not the best thing for tenants necessarily. The house we bought in recent downsizing (my sister in law sweetly referred to it as a cottage - I describe it as a council built property) was bought from the council under right to buy. Eventually it was repossessed, bought by a builder and then sold on. Right to buy involves not only taking on a mortgage but all the costs of maintenance - a new boiler, replacing windows etc etc all of which can incur more debt if they are on a lowish income to start with.
(tenants may never have been exactly on top of things - we are unearthing all kinds of rusting decomposing household rubbish like carpets and car parts in the back garden... )

ayse Tue 21-Apr-15 09:49:19

Annsixty, you're right - someone needs to get a grip! time for action, not broken promises and the market does not regulate itself! The current situation is building big problems for the future, not the least is social unrest.
I like the idea that Trade unions in Germany are involved in social housing - perhaps ours ought to consider doing likewise.

gillybob Tue 21-Apr-15 09:57:48

We seem to be moving backwards. Due to the huge shortfall in social housing there there are more and more people relying on overpriced, below standard private rentals. Less and less ordinary working people able to get onto the property ladder and many private landlords building up their property empires and getting very rich indeed.

Surely it would be quite easy to oversee a private rental market. Properties should be regularly inspected to ensure they are fit for purpose and rents should be "set" at a reasonable level.

GrannyTwice Tue 21-Apr-15 10:13:26

Housing has been the most political of footballs since after the First World War. Providing housing to rent cannot just be seen as a 'pension pot' or just another investment opportunity. Most people, most of the time need more than just a roof over their head - they need a home. My socialism has its roots in my childhood housing experiences. I was born in Hull in 1946 and because of extensive bomb damage, there was a huge housing shortage. My first home was basically a slum property. When I was 7, my father got a job with the local authority as a caretaker and a prefab came with the job. I can still remember the utter amazement at the kitchen, indoor bathroom and garden. I thought I was the luckiest little girl in the world as i grew lupins and picked the caterpillars off my father's cabbages. We still had friends living in Nissan huts and slums. My family were very active in local Labour politics and one uncle was a councillor. He lived with my grandmother at the time and held his weekly surgeries there. One day, it must have been around 1957 , I went to visit my grandmother whilst the surgery was on and there was an enormous queue snaking down the street. Many of the women in the queue were crying and I found it very distressing. I later asked my uncle and mother what was happening and they basically explained the 1957 Rent Act to me which abolished rent control and security of tenure for all new tenancies.( they didn't use those words of course). I really did grasp the point - they were crying because they had a house which they were afraid of losing and I knew it wasn't fair and thst I was so lucky and I wanted everyone to be as lucky as me and have a nice prefab. And of course the 1957 Act opened the door to Rachmanism. After that, rent controls and security of tenure legislation changed as the colour of governments changed and the rest as they say is history. Right to buy, no rent regulation, no meaningful security, not enough house building, lives blighted and sometimes ruined, the health of children in particular affected by poor quality housing, families split up. We should be ashamed of ourselves - and yes Labour Party I am looking particularly at you as you should know better. What are we playing at? And now RTB of HA - I feel that little girls passion and fury rising in me again

whenim64 Tue 21-Apr-15 10:17:28

Jess my little house used to be owned by the local authority. It had been a tied cottage bequeathed to the city when the owner became mayor. Before I bought it, the previous owners - an elderly woman and her son - bought it under 'right to buy' at a very low price, then put it on the market five years later. I found out, after buying it, that they made a profit of £160,000! Not a bad return after five years, when the local authority had just completely renovated and refurbished it. What they actually paid equated to what had been spent on the structural work that had been done. The son became a joint tenant in order to buy the property with his mother. The profits bought them a nice bungalow in Wales. Great for them, I was happy with what I paid, but that was another house taken out of housing stock and not replaced.

Two years ago, the local authority sold its housing stock to housing associations for £1 each and the housing associations have systematically brought all the houses up to date with structural work, kitchens, bathrooms, new roofs, dropped pavements, driveways etc. i can imagine their response to the notion of so many tenants wanting to buy these properties for a drastically reduced price. Where are the replacement houses going to come from?

If there was a policy of one sold, one built, maybe it would be more ethical but how can a house sold at 30% of its market value fund this? All it's going to do is drag down the provision and quality of social housing - ready made slums yet again.

GrannyTwice Tue 21-Apr-15 10:19:15

And she's shouting 'how could anyone vote Conservative' ? I remember sitting on the stairs with my father after the 1959 election just refusing to believe that they had won!

whenim64 Tue 21-Apr-15 10:22:30

My post crossed with yours, GrannyTwice. Yes, how can anyone vote Conservative? I dread election day in case the worst happens. The thought of another five years of this is beyond depressing.

absent Tue 21-Apr-15 10:27:56

I think it is an obnoxious idea to sell off council houses and housing association houses and believe it is very important not just to keep, but to expand social housing for those on low wages, unemployed without much hope of a job because they live in areas of high unemployment or vulnerable in some other way.

However, I feel I must point out that not all landlords are money grabbing buggers who refuse to repair dangerous wiring or leaking roofs. I bought rental houses in England because I had money to invest and, being self-employed for most of my adult life, I didn't have a company pension. All the houses were in perfect condition when they were first rented out – I paid for state-of the-art damp-proofing in two of them, new boilers and rewiring, Mr absent and I spent a lot of time redecorating to a very high standard, my brother-in-law designed and fitted a beautiful new kitchen in one of them, I bought new carpets, curtains and light fittings everywhere, etc. etc. The rents charged are the "going rate" for the area and hardly astronomical and I pay attention when the agent tells me that maintenance work or replacement of some appliance of some sort is due.

I don't believe that I am the only landlord who does his/her best to ensure that the properties I bought as investments aren't also homes that people are content to live in.

nightowl Tue 21-Apr-15 10:30:54

That's a very moving post Grannytwice and I couldn't agree more. Both my sons are renting, in very different circumstances. My elder son and his family pay over £1000 per month for admittedly a very nice house (they can't get a mortgage as self-employed) but after 4 years have only a monthly tenancy because the owner can't make up her mind whether she wants to sell it angry

My younger son is a student and lives in squalid conditions because student landlords refuse to do even the most basic repairs and maintenance. I know students are not the most careful of tenants but if you put a lot if young people together in a house that is a slum to start with what can you expect? These were once nice houses but due to the huge increase in buy to let, often with investment landlords buying up several properties in the same street, the whole areas have degenerated into slums. There has to be far more social housing that is not up for sale, and a very much slimmed down private rental sector with strong regulation.

nightowl Tue 21-Apr-15 10:32:15

Crossed posts absent. I'm sure there are good, responsible landlords.