Submission to the Fairness Commission from the Living Rent Campaign

Brighton & Hove City Council has set up a Fairness Commission looking at various areas of public life of which housing is one of the biggest issues.

The Living Rent Campaign has submitted our concerns and proposed solutions.  Read the full submission here

Here are the main points:

Understanding the problem in general

  • Power and control for landlords: The current regulation structures provide power and control for landlords and buy to let lending banks. The conditions of these buy to let mortgages limit tenancy length and 99% of tenancies are not subject to rent control of any kind.
  • Maximising profits: Many banks make conditions on loans that force landlords to use 6 month or 12 month tenancies as well reject tenants who are in receipt of benefits. The only factor that could help this “free market” approach would be an over supply of homes, but it is in the interest of developers to maintain a shortage so house prices remain high and profits are greater.
  • High Rents– In Brighton and Hove the average rent for a one bed flat is £867 per month (Home move- Oct 2014) Over 20,000 are on the waiting list for council accommodation. More recently Homelets (Jan 2016) claim that there has been an 18% increase in rents for new lettings over the last year- the largest in the country
  • Insecurity– Many people in private renting constantly have to move disrupting schools and the ability to put down roots. The average tenancy lasts 3 years.
  • Poor quality housing: In Brighton and Hove despite high rents 37 % of private rented properties fail to meet the Decent Homes Standard
  • Loss of public housing: Across the country, since 1980, through the Right to Buy over 1.5 publicly owned million homes have been lost for meeting need and many of these homes are now rented privately (estimated at 38% (10))
  • Since 1997 1,342 homes have been sold under the right to buy in Brighton and Hove
  • Affordability: “The assessment of affordable housing need report (2012) identified 88,000 households (72%) in Brighton and Hove who cannot afford to (either buy or rent) without some kind of subsidy or spending a disproportionate level of their income on housing costs (9)”
  • Loss of public housing: Over a million (probably around 1.5 million) council homes have been sold to housing associations, which are now raising funds by increasing rents on re-lets from social to up to 80% of the market rate (so called “affordable” rents)
  • Each year about £9.7 billion public funds subsidise private landlords in the form of housing benefit. It is better to have lower rents and use the saved benefit subsidy to support building truly affordable new homes
  • Nationally 30 % of private rented homes fail the decency standard.
  • Such large profits can be made from private renting that it is attracting landlords seeking to maximise investments.
  • Inequalities are growing as the gap widens between homeowners (who have a growing capital asset that more than 50% of homeowners now own outright) and renters many of whom cannot save, go out and are trapped as a huge proportion of their earning swallowed up in rent
  • Overcrowding is increasing as rents rocket, more and more people are forced to share space; in the 19th century families lived in single rooms and if unchecked for long enough this could happen in our lifetimes.

Clearly the relatively lightly regulated “market” has failed all but the landlords and property developers. Clearly also national policies focused on subsidising rents rather than investing in building new homes have exacerbated the problems of under-supply and affordability

Fair Rents for Private Tenants – public meeting and social event

Private Tenants public meeting,
Thursday 15 October 2015 – 19:00
Friends Meeting House
Ship Street
BN1 1AF Brighton
United Kingdom

Unaffordable rents, outrageous letting agents’ fees, benefits squeezed – private tenants are under pressure from all sides in a housing market that is out of control.

This event is a chance for private tenants to join forces and start to fight back.
There will be a showing of the film Si Se Puede, which documents the powerful eviction resistance movement in Barcelona, as well as plenty of space for discussion and action planning and social. Please bring a plate of food to share. Doors will be open from 6.30, the event will start promptly at 7.00.

Event supported by Brighton Tenants Union, the Living Rent Campaign and Brighton People’s Assembly against Austerity.

tenant resistance poster

 

There is a housing crisis. The Housing Bill will only make it worse!

All welcome to finalise plans for two public meetings in October: Stop the Housing Sell-off on October 8th and the Public Meeting for Private Tenants on October 15th. Also updates on the campaign for a living rent here in Brighton, which will be considered by the council’s Fairness Commission.
Wednesday, 30 September 2015 – 19:00
Southover pub (upstairs room)
Southover Street
BN2 9UF Brighton
United Kingdom

Social Housing Tenants

In Brighton and Hove there are 21,000 people on the housing waiting list. Selling off council and housing association homes, at a large discount will keep people waiting longer in overcrowded conditions.  Privatising ‘high value’ housing stock will rob councils of much needed funds for building much needed new homes. We have a petition to local MP’s to vote against this bill.

housing bill meeting poster2
Housing Bill public Meeting
Thursday 8th October  2015 19:00
BMECP Centre (Rose room)
10a Fleet Street
Brighton, BN1 4ZE

 

 

 

 

Private Tenants

Unaffordable rents, outrageous letting agents’ fees, benefits squeezed – private tenants are under pressure from all sides in a housing market that is out of control.

This event is a chance for private tenants to join forces and start to fight back.
There will be a showing of the film Si Se Puede, which documents the powerful eviction resistance movement in Barcelona, as well as plenty of space for discussion and action planning. Please bring a plate of food to share. Doors will be open from 6.30, the event will start promptly at 7.00.

Event supported by Brighton Tenants Union, the Living Rent Campaign and Brighton People’s Assembly against Austerity.

tenant resistance poster

Private Tenants public meeting,
Thursday 15 October 2015 – 19:00
Friends Meeting House
Ship Street
BN1 1AF Brighton
United Kingdom

Meetings, Events and Latest Petition

Next Campaign meeting – come along and help plan our exciting future events:
7 p.m. Wednesday 26th August
The Lord Nelson pub (back room)
36, Trafalgar Street
North Laine
Brighton
BN1 4ED

All welcome!

Housing Association Right to Buy – Say NO! – Petition

The Conservative government has proposed a ‘Right to Buy’ bill which will force Housing Associations to sell off their housing stock at a discount.

This policy would decimate the remaining provision of genuinely affordable social housing in the UK, and turn the housing crisis into a catastrophe. The campaign has set up a new petition calling on our local MP’s to oppose this bill
Say no to the forced sale of social housing in Brighton and Hove

Please sign the Petition and forward to your friends:

There is hope from the House of Lords where an amendment to the charities bill could scupper this planned sell-off.
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jul/20/lords-vote-tory-plans-extend-right-to-buy-housing-association-tenants-doubt

Living Rent Campaign stall

Campaigning for radical solutions to the housing crisis
All welcome to help gather signatures on the Living Rent Campaign’s new petition against the sell-off of social housing and let people know about the Tenant Resistance event on October 15th.
Saturday 12 September
11:00 to 13:00
Clock Tower
North Street Quadrant
Brighton
BN1 3GJ

Private Tenants Resistance Event

Thursday 15th October
7 p.m. (doors open at 6.30 p.m.)
Friends Meeting House (FMH)
Ship Street
Brighton
BN1 1AF

The Brighton Tenants Union, People’s Assembly, Global Justice Now and the Living Rent campaign are jointly organising an open discussion event for private tenants. The Living Rent Campaign agreed to make a contribution to the cost of the event.
We will show the Si Se Puede film, about resistance to evictions in Spain. There will be space for discussion of the problems facing tenants in Brighton & Hove and possible collective action and mutual support.
We would like to create a sociable atmosphere so would invite everyone to bring food to share. We will be able to use the café space at the FMH as well.

There will be a planning meeting for the private tenant’s event:
Tuesday, 15 September – 19:30
Old Ship Hotel
Kings Road
Brighton
BN1 1NR

 

Living Rent Campaign – Street stall at the Clock Tower on Sunday 7th June

With the election of a Conservative govt. we are facing more of a fight than ever for decent housing for all. This govt. have proved they have no care whatsoever for private tenants and wants to decimate what is left of social housing by the proposal to sell off Housing Association stock at a discount price. While Scotland has abolished the right to buy council housing this govt is going in the opposite direction, while other European countries like Germany and Sweden recognise the need to have a fair private rented sector there is no sign that this will happen here. We need to campaign now!!

Next Event – Street Stall
Supporting Love Activists Brighton at their regular Sunday Love Kitchen, and gather stories and messages about the housing crisis in Brighton & Hove. All welcome
Sunday, 7 June 2015 – 13:00 to 15:00
Clock Tower
North Street Quadrant
BN1 3GJ Brighton

Get involved!

All welcome to discuss next steps in the campaign on Brighton & Hove’s housing crisis.
Tuesday, 30 June 2015 – 18:00
Southover Pub (upstairs)
Southover Street
BN2 9UF Brighton
United Kingdom

Local Housing Forum – Be part of it!!

We recently held a very lively and informative housing hustings with local parliamentary candidates, to a packed auditorium in the Brighthelm Centre,

We are holding the second of our election debates, this time to give residents a chance to question local Councillor candidates on what they will do if elected to address the housing crisis in this area. We have asked the housing spokesperson of each party to reply to our questions which will form part of the debate on the night.

The Council does have powers to affect the outcome of people’s chances for a decent home:-

  • To build new social housing at a fair rent
  • Promote regulation of landlords
  • Working towards setting up ethical letting agents
  • Work together for the greater good of the citizens of Brighton and Hove

The council has already extended the HMO licencing scheme but much more needs to be done to ensure landlords comply with decent standards.

During our campaign we have spoken to hundreds of people, at our stalls and events who are at breaking point because they are not afforded one of the most basic human rights – a secure and decent place to live!

We have a petition of almost 3,000 local residents supporting A CALL FOR FAIR PRIVATE RENTS, NEW SOCIAL HOUSING AND SECURE TENANCIES, which we will hand in to all parliamentary and council candidates just before the election.

When: Wednesday 29th April
Time: 7pm
Where: The Brighthelm Centre, Stanmer Room Brighthelm Church and Community Centre, North Road, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1YD

Local Housing Election