Housing News Digest

The Tenants' Union Housing News Digest compiles our pick of items from all the latest tenancy and housing media, sent once per week, on Thursdays. 

Below is the Digest archive from November 2020 onwards. From time to time you will find additional items in the archive that did not make it into the weekly Digest email. Earlier archives are here, where you can also find additional digests by other organisations. 

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Social rent homes in England fall by more than quarter of a million in decade

Chaminda Jayanetti
The Guardian (No paywall)

More than a quarter of a million social rent homes in England have been lost in the last decade, according to analysis of government statistics. Between April 2013 and April 2023, the number of social housing homes owned by local authorities and housing associations in England fell by 260,464 units, according to the charity Shelter, which calculated the figures. Polly Neate, its chief executive, said: “We are seeing more social housing being sold off or demolished than built, despite the staggering 1.3m households stuck on social housing waiting lists in desperate need of a genuinely affordable home.


# Must read International, Public and community housing, Rent.

The cat in the flat: Singapore lifts ban on pets in public housing

Rebecca Ratcliffe
The Guardian (No paywall)

Tommy is, without doubt, the head of his household. If he wants the air conditioning switched on, he simply glares at the unit on the wall. If he wants an early night, he’ll miaow for the TV to be silenced. But, until now, he has been living in violation of a law that bans cats from much of Singapore’s housing. This year, the 34-year ban will be overturned, allowing the city’s many fugitive cats to breathe a sigh of relief. Tommy’s owner, Adam, 42, who spoke under a pseudonym because he is breaking the regulation, says he can’t understand why the ban existed in the first place.


# Hot topic International, Rent, Starting a tenancy.

Stabilising rents in England: why and how we should limit rent rises

Tarun Bhakta
Shelter UK (No paywall)

The conversation in England about rent controls is a mess. Very often you will hear 'rent controls don’t work' as a throw away comment, often without any evidence - and that throwaway comment is used to dismiss any kind of regulation of rents. One of the most frustrating things about this take is that it’s far too simple. There are hundreds of different types of rent controls - ranging from ‘rent freezes’ to ‘rent pressure zones’ to ‘rent stabilisation’. And to say that they simply 'don’t work' ignores the fact that many countries across Europe are operating some form of rent control. In fact, regulating rents is totally normal. In many places it’s a fundamental element of living in a secure, stable rental system. Something we really really lack in England. Shelter is calling on all parties to commit to security and stability for renters.


# Must read International, Rent.

When I look back on 14 years of Tory rule, there is one awful housing policy that stands out

Peter Apps
The Guardian (No paywall)

hat springs to mind when you think about the damaging legacy of the last 14 years of welfare cuts? Probably policies such as the bedroom tax, the two-child limit or the punitive introduction of universal credit. But one policy is often left out of this reckoning, even though it has arguably had an even greater impact: the repeated capping and freezing of local housing allowance (LHA). This cut is a direct cause of Britain’s soaring homelessness figures, the desperate mothers trapped for years in wholly unsuitable temporary housing, the rapid social cleansing of our major cities and even the financial crisis overwhelming England’s local authorities.


# Hot topic International, .

Co-living seemed like a perfect solution to the Gen Z and millennial housing shortage—but the closure of yet another pioneer reveals an uncertain future

Seamus Webster
Yahoo News (No paywall)

Common Living, which was founded in Brooklyn in 2015, was a pioneer of a new venture in residential property management: Rather than leasing out entire units, rooms would be rented out to individuals. Utilities, WiFi, and cleaning costs would be bundled together with rent—and apartments would be fully furnished. Since then, co-living has ballooned across the U.S. and around the globe, but Common Living’s journey as a trailblazer of the model ended unceremoniously late last month when the company announced it was filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and liquidating its assets. The firm, which operated a U.S. portfolio of 5,200 units in 12 cities, now joins a growing list of co-living operators who have flamed out, leaving questions about the future viability of the model.


# Hot topic International, Rent.

How the world’s richest nation is solving its housing crisis

Tristan Rutherford
Yahoo News (No paywall)

Solving a housing crisis in the world’s richest nation per capita doesn’t come cheap. Apartments in Monaco routinely sell for €5,000 (£4,230) per sq ft; a studio apartment will easily go for €2m. Prices have risen by 40pc in a decade to set new records across the principality in what was already the world’s priciest nation, with more incomers eyeing up opportunities. And residents of the world’s most densely populated country, including Sir Lewis Hamilton and Dame Shirley Bassey, demand the best. The solution is to spend €2bn reclaiming land from the Mediterranean Sea.


# Hot topic International, .

Why were we evicted? I had to ask the new tenant to find out – and the reason cuts to the heart of the UK’s housing crisis

Ruby Lott-Lavigna
The Guardian (No paywall)

The call about my eviction came on a Friday afternoon in February. The estate agent rang me from an unknown number to let me know my housemates and I would need to leave our home. We had only moved in the year before. “Why?” I asked, confused, with a panicky feeling rising in my chest. “The landlord doesn’t have to give a reason,” he said unapologetically and then hung up. Section 21, or “no-fault”, evictions are one of the cruellest facets of the housing sector, and they’re increasingly common: recent figures show a staggering 52% rise in these evictions in London in the past year.


# Hot topic International, Eviction, Rent.

Backpackers demand right to squat in flood-affected Lismore houses

Max Tillman and Miranda Saunders
ABC (No paywall)

Overseas backpackers and itinerant workers are heading to Lismore to squat in flood-affected houses. The properties involved are among 623 purchased by the New South Wales government's Reconstruction Authority as part of the buyback program introduced after the devastating floods of 2022. The ABC has been told the people learned homes in the area were vacant via a loose social network formed at Tasmania's Rainbow Gathering festival in March.


# Hot topic NSW, Disasters, Rent, Share houses.

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