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Downsizing - the Housing Minister's latest idea

(48 Posts)
GeraldineGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 17-Jan-12 13:48:36

I may have to go on BBC Breakfast tomorrow (though not necessarily - half the time these things get dropped) to talk about the housing minister's latest idea to encourage older people to downsize by renting out their houses. See

We discussed this a while back - when it was a slightly different idea, but wondered if anyone had any strong feelings?

Granny23 Tue 17-Jan-12 14:03:01

Does not affect us directly as we still live in a small, 2 bed cottage but I think there are lots of questions not answered by the article e.g.

Where are the Councils going to find all the small, sheltered housing?
What happens to the property when the elderly owners die?
What would be the position if the elderly owners needed to go into long term care? Who would pay? Would the big house have to be sold at that point?

gracesmum Tue 17-Jan-12 14:05:56

I may be indulging in a knee jerk reaction but I am tired of people telling us what to do. If I had had the wherewithal to buy a bigger house before we had children - would that have been proscribed? Now that they have flown the nest, and are pushed to accommodate grown up offspring+ partners + now babies when they choose to come home (not often enough)Why am I not to be allowed to enjoy the house we have paid for - usually at considerably higher mortgage rates than pertain these days.
If I want to rent out my house - fine, but where am I supposed to live then?
A young Mum in the village remarked to a neighbour whose house is of a similar size to ours "I don't know why you want to stay in that big (as if!) house. You should sell it and downsize and then a family could buy it."
Her reply ws along the lines of Make me an offer at the house's market value and I'll consider it.
I know it is desperately hard for couples to buy their first home but that is not because we are "house blocking" - it is a mixture of the fact that prices have soared because of the availability of high % mortgages, people expect to buy where we would have rented for a few years at least until babies came along, the rise in separated households has led to an increase in demand, and inevitably - there are houses available, even at nearly affordable prices but NOT WHERE PEOPLE WANT TO WORK. Selling council housing has taken a huge chunk of affordable housing out of the equation, put massive pressure on the rental market - and the next generation selling on these houses - often at a significant profit has done nothing for affordable housing.
Are we retirees mugs?Target the developers/landlords/building societies, but leave us alone!angry

kittylester Tue 17-Jan-12 14:34:52

Thank you gracesmum you saved me a rant!! angry

In our village we are having hundreds more houses built which have, mostly, 4,5 and 6 bedrooms. Families are, generally smaller now so what we need is more houses that are "affordable" not bigger houses. If we rented out our big house could our two daughters, two sons in law and ever growing numbers of grandchildren use the bedrooms that are unused by the tenants, when they all descend at the same time eg Christmas ( she said with feeling!!)

It is our family home! angry

northerngran Tue 17-Jan-12 14:49:30

I still live in our family home in what's a very quiet area. No I don't need the space any more apart from when family come to stay...but we paid for the house, we pay for the upkeep and we pay our council tax so I feel it is nobody's business but our own if we want to live here.

It also concerns me that one would have no say in who gets to live in your house if you do decide to let it in these circumstances. While I appreciate the vast majority of tenants would be completely fine there will always be some who will not respect either the home or the environment. It's not just about the thought of the house we have worked so hard all our lives for being 'trashed' but also we have built up wonderful relationships with our neighbours and I would feel somehow responsible if they ended up living next door to people throwing wild parties all all hours and so forth.

(My view may be rather coloured by the experience of my SIL whose (very nice) neighbours went travelling for a year and rented their flat out to two young women who had music blaring through the walls most nights and parties in the garden most weekends. Despite trying everything they could think of no one really wanted to know as so their lives were made a misery for months on end)

absentgrana Tue 17-Jan-12 15:10:59

When MPs come up with these ideas, they seem to think simply in terms of living space and do not consider all the things that go to make a house a home. Many grans have lived in their homes for quite a long time and know the shopkeepers, neighbours, local doctor, postman etc and are very familiar with the area, its bus routes and so on. Many people have also spent a lot of time and money over the years improving, modernising, decorating and generally making their homes – and gardens – ideal for them.

I don't actually want to be shunted into a house/flat decorated in colours I haven't chosen, with flooring I might not like, a smaller bathroom with a less powerful shower, possibly a less efficient boiler and heating system, a kitchen that I might consider inadequate, leaving behind my home on which Mr absent and I have and still are lavishing time, money and effort for someone else's benefit.

gracesmum Tue 17-Jan-12 16:56:32

In the days when people still had council houses there were cases of widows or couples with grown up children staying in the house that had been their home for years. How much more reason to say "Hands off" when it is your own property. We bought it, we paid for it and asked for no help, we choose to heat and light it - it is OURS.
Is the same measure being advised for MPs and others who own more than one property?? I think not.
My BP is close to simmering!!

petallus Tue 17-Jan-12 17:13:39

I wouldn't be interested in the scheme. Don't trust politicians enough for one thing. I have a four bedroom house in the S.E., not affordable to first time buyers. At the moment three of our bedrooms are in use with one spare for the frequent visits from grandchildren. If ever I want to downsize I will sell my house and buy or rent something smaller and give the equity to my children.

em Tue 17-Jan-12 17:16:42

A couple of beautifully-constructed and very articulate rants Gracesmum. I think you've done an excellent job of expressing the feelings of many. They can't shift me as I downsized post-divorce but I suppose some would say I don't need 3 bedrooms and a dining-room in my flat as there's only me here now.......too bad - it's mine, I paid for it, I maintain it, so hands off!

gracesmum Tue 17-Jan-12 17:24:11

You can't beat a good rant can you?grin
A dining-room em?? Good grief woman - you'll be wanting an indoors loo next!!

kittylester Tue 17-Jan-12 17:27:40

Do you actually eat in there, em? We've got one too but it only gets used for eating when all the bedrooms are full! Don't tell them though!

Nsube Tue 17-Jan-12 17:29:42

Would the housing minister like to set us all a good example and then report back after a year or two?

em Tue 17-Jan-12 17:34:17

Dining-room still a useful space for books - oh and we do eat there when the flat is full of family! As for the indoor loo........I am seriously considering that but then again don't all 'old people' manage with commodes?? Mustn't get above my station with delusions of grandeur!

gracesmum Tue 17-Jan-12 17:37:32


johanna Tue 17-Jan-12 17:41:11

Where would you like us to downsize to ?
A two bedroom thatched in Devon , or a box on the edge of the local sink estate?
Another hare brained scheme.
As so very well expressed by the previous posters, the practicalities, " emotionalities ", let alone the legalities , will be impossible to achieve.

We are being told that there are now more young people living alone than ever before. More single parent families than ever before.
Is it they who need the " big " house?
I don't understand.

jeni Tue 17-Jan-12 17:44:54

My dining room table is covered with files for work and a bag of baby dresses and chocolate and homey bought on holiday for dd and gd. They are coming this weekend and I can't wait as I haven't seen gd since my birthday at the begging of December.

Gally Tue 17-Jan-12 17:59:35

I agree with everything that has been said so far. I seem to remember that it was Mrs. T et al, who allowed a huge stock of council housing to be sold off at minimal prices - a lot of which have made their new owners quite rich in the meantime. Will the MP's give up their 2nd homes for use by these young families? I have always thought that there should be a Hostel/block of flats for MPs who need to be in London for 3 or 4 nights a week to rent; they can then return to their family homes at the weekends and, when own their children have departed, they can join us in down sizing - Oh yes? I don't think so. angry The whole notion is a nonsense and smacks of Big Brother. We started off in a run down 2 bedroom cottage and worked and saved hard for years to improve it and get on the ladder for a bigger and better home; our children are doing the same - although I find it hard to see them struggling with mortgages/jobs/children/exhorbitant childcare etc. in order to keep a reasonable roof over their heads. I like my house, it's big - it has to be to accommodate us all and I waited a long time to get it how I want it; why the hell should I sell it when I don't want to? As has been mentioned before, there is a huge stock of empty housing - let them put their (our) money into renovating them

Gally Tue 17-Jan-12 18:39:37

Geraldine If you are on - what time? - so we don't miss you!

johanna Tue 17-Jan-12 19:29:25

Yes, would also very much like to know.
Bye the way * Gally *, what you said about Big Brother struck a chord.
Very true me thinks.

GeraldineGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 17-Jan-12 19:44:50

Thanks, everyone, this is all brilliant and very good ammunition. I'm on at 7.40 although they've been known to cancel at 6.30am, so don't believe it unless it happens. smile

jeni Tue 17-Jan-12 19:48:11

gally I couldn't agree more. We started off in a three bedroomed semi mini box. We never inherited anything and everything we had was due to hard work on our part. I agree this house which I own is too big for me, but I have lived here for 32 years and have spent a lot of money adapting it for my disability at my own expense.
I would feel claustrophobic in a small house without my views, high Ceilings and roomy rooms.
Anyway I doubt if any young family could afford it!
I have come to the conclusion that there are fools, damm fools and politiciansJ,

Hattie64 Tue 17-Jan-12 20:05:20

It's time they started building council housing. It's costing the Government a fortune in paying out the housing benefit on high private rental property. I live in a 4 bedroom house, which is ideal when my family come to stay. I suppose we could rent it out for£1000 a month to a family on benefits, and we move to a 2 bed property and make a bit of money in the process? Or put the old man in a home and I move into a penthouse with a sea view on myowm. Actually I would quite like that.

artygran Tue 17-Jan-12 20:07:19

How many people live in the housing minister's house? (not a three up two down semi, I'll be bound!). We have just up-sized to a house we worked b****y hard for and dreamed about for years, so are not in any hurry to downsize but when the housing minister (and all the other grasping MPs) leads by example, I'll give it some thought... don't think I'll have to worry about it in a hurry, do you?

Cyril Tue 17-Jan-12 22:47:28

There are so many strands to this Big Brother idea. I wonder how much will be saved in Pension Credit costs if older people can be bullied out of their 'too large' properties so that they can be rented out to the 'deserving needy' with the capped rents that our government has recently dumped on Claimants?

Any pensioner on Benefits would need to declare unearned income received in this way (very nice tax gathering, much better rate than basic) and would no longer have any claim to Benefits. More savings for the Exchequer and it would also create jobs. I wonder what would happen if your rental income was interrupted for any reason?

As the administrators of the Scheme every Local Authority would need to employ more staff and pass on the costs in admin charges to the owners of the properties. As managers of the properties would they be free to decide on what was judged to be an acceptable standard for the property and select any equipment or fittings that needed to be repaired/replaced? This government has already set out on the path of giving even more power and authority to the Local Authorities. This would create lots of jobs for yet more public servants. What a lovely way (not) of charging those who have already paid through their own efforts to be able to pay the mortgage on what is for so many their only asset.

Of course it will also help with another of this government's schemes in lowering rents which would be followed naturally by lower property prices as it would be so much cheaper to rent.

Then they will be able to make another claim that they are making it easier for first time buyers to get on the property ladder. Of course, the price could drop rather too fast if a lot of properties become available in a short time.

What the government has not told us anything about is where and under what conditions, these older people, who will be once again contributing to the tax system and giving work to an ever expanding army of public servants, will be expected to live.

The pensioners are being asked to give up their homes; their opportunity to have guests or family nursing help when needed; their goods; their friends; their support network; their known transport arrangements for shops; doctor; dentist; clinic; etc; and familiar routines at an age when change is even more difficult.

Words fail me to truly express what I feel about this proposal.

CariGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 18-Jan-12 06:53:21

** geraldine will be on BBC Breakfast this morning (around 7.40) to talk about this. Don't miss!! **