Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Bedding Down

As from April, there’s going to be a rush for ‘bijou’ and ‘affordable’ one bed flats (aka substandard hovels) and there’s no point calling Kirsty and Phil. Impoverished claimants are being forced out of ‘too large’ social housing, or lose money (and they’ve no money to spare.)

It should by now slowly dawning on even those who routinely call claimants ‘scroungers’ that the incoming bedroom-tax bomb is going to cause so many problems. But I caught one idiot (an expert in his own field, but like many academics, moving on and appointing themselves as experts on everything) saying: Why not just move? My friends must move when they have another child and need a larger place.

But an enforced move into the private sector from social housing when claiming is very different, mainly because of the availability, even in different towns and cities of certain types of housing. Also people must find the money for vans, pay for storage, and find deposits (social housing rarely requests a deposit from tenants.)

Now, I know that developers do not possess psychic powers, but frankly, they are not building homes fit for claimants turfed out their previously stable addresses. Investors in housing are unlikely to care what claimants need, as they don’t even care what private owner occupiers want in the home they acquire enormous debt to buy.

The Private Rented Sector has many peculiarities, and one major weirdness of the buy-to-let boom was the proliferation of twat-flats (or as I call them, Dovecots). Manchester is extremely well-served for one bedroom urban flats; nobody’s sure why, but the developers of dovecots and conversions made homes for a perceived clientele that never really existed. They imagined that enormous hordes of young professionals would pay extraordinary rents for shoeboxes, and bedroom-taxed ex social tenants on benefits won’t afford the rents.

Meanwhile, Glasgow is full of two bed flats, fit to burst actually, but one bedroom tenements and other properties are scare. It’s sobering to remember that old style flats might have two bedrooms, but were crammed to the rafters with occupants like the Monty Python ‘Meaning of Life’ sketch.

Here’s my point. Times have changed, with blended, multi-generational families, needing space for homework, privacy, or silence when sleeping in the day due to shiftwork must be catered for. Simultaneously, claimant tenants (many in work, FYI) need a one bedroom flat when downsizing.

So, why not build what people need, including what they want? Why is nobody asking? And while we’re on the subject, why not build homes featuring what people need, like drying facilities, sound-proofing and storage?

There must be greater variation in any development. Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham etc are rammed with sweeping vistas of identically unsuitable one and two bad flats, with nothing bigger. We are increasingly relying on a private sector that builds for easy profit and not with regard to comfortable, sustainable homes. So when suddenly changing the rules, governments should be mindful of the available housing supply. And also, let’s find out what tenants need, and also, and importantly, let’s build what they want.


Dazzla said...

" Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham etc are rammed with sweeping vistas of identically unsuitable one and two bad flats, with nothing bigger. "

Yep. And having lived in both Manchester and Leeds, I can attest that the price of rentals is still rising despite this glut. How do we explain this?

RenterGirl said...

Profiteering. Also - never trust letting agents and their 'asked for' rents. Achieved rents more accurate. But yes, despite oversupply, rents rise. Ridiculous.

Dazzla said...

But you'd have to assume that the flats are held by an oligopsony, enabling them to control prices, otherwise all it'd take would be for a few of them to drop their rates and rents and there'd be a price war.

Unless the agencies are operating the cartel, which would be illegal. But how could you prove it?

Tesco Value Chef said...

It's not just the big cities. Even the insignificant Surrey town where I live has one such building, where flats rent for ridiculous sums but are too tiny for more than one person. I've not been in but I've seen floorplans. Apparently a spangly reception area, a concierge and a parking space are worth the money...

RenterGirl said...

It's a fact: UK homes are the smallest in Europe, and just too small. But it's the way that it was decided somewhere that Birmingham must have one bedroom flats, and elsewhere, other rules apply. What will happen to that landbanked land, now developers might be pressured to build not hoard?

Dazzla said...

I had a flash of insight this morning. It wasn't comfortable. I realised that this government have failed, utterly to reduce the deficit that formed the core of their election pledges and therefore their mandate to govern.

In the absence of GDP growth allowing them to demonstrate a better debt-to-GDP ratio, what's the easiest, most wealth-friendly way to make the deficit look smaller? Inflation. Look at the last few years:

University fees increase massively
Rail fares continue to soar
House prices encouraged to spiral out of control
VAT set at 20%
Benefits raised about the rate of inflation
Fuel prices allowed to rise unchecked
Minimum alcohol pricing

The policy is clear: the goal of this government is to reduce the deficit by inflation and the devil take the hindmost.

This means, of course, that you can whistle if you think the government's going to do anything that risks reducing the price of anything.

Anonymous said...

"So, why not build what people need, including what they want?"

Farmers get money to over-produce food. There is an abudance of food on supermarket shelves.

Where is the policy to over-produce houses.

You have unrealistic expectation. So your vision of a country is to be able to turn up to any city in this country and have plentyful supply of 1 beds, 2 bed, 3 beds etc... just sitting there empty for the asking.

Anonymous said...

Before blaming the PRS. Why don't you find out what happened to the billions that went into housing associations. W

hy does it cost them twice as much to build a house?

I could build twice as money houses, as they money housing associations gets.

RenterGirl said...

Yep Anon (the same Anon tetchily posting here) that's what we want. Homes. Good homes. Homes that are large enough for people to live in and also conformtable, dry warm and safe. After all - tenants do pay rent to live there. And you have a problem with that because...?
And if you did get the money social housing 'gets' you sound like you'd build over-prived shoeboxes and be a nasty landlord. Having a bad day, are you?

Anonymous said...

RenterGirl said...
It's a fact: UK homes are the smallest in Europe

Sorry, no they aren't.

Finland, Portugal, Belgium and Greece are smaller and the UK is not far behind France, Germany and Spain.

Perhaps you are getting confused with new builds?

Regards, HB Welcome.

RenterGirl said...

Yes, they are. Define newbuild: anything built over the past 20 years is smaller than elsehwere.

Anonymous said...

" RenterGirl said...
Yes, they are. Define newbuild: anything built over the past 20 years is smaller than elsehwere."

No they aren't. The property built over the last 20 years only accounts for around 10% of the total UK housing stock.

Your statement;
"It's a fact: UK homes are the smallest in Europe"

Is not a fact and is incorrect.

Regards, HB Welcome

Anonymous said...

"Define newbuild: anything built over the past 20 years is smaller than elsehwere."

My definition of new build would be more in line with most mortgage lenders- built in the last 2 years and/or never been lived in.

Alex said...

The binge on northern two-beds was a product of the financing technology; for a BTL mortgage to be a practical product for the typical BTLers and to be easily aggregated and then diced into mortgage backed securities, it had to be about that big, and it had to be in the North because that's where land was cheap.

Think of them as a heap of financial paper, and it all makes sense.

Anonymous said...

we have wages frozen,benefits cut and come april may well lose our homes just because we have a spareroom,meanwhile the politicians who are ruining our lives are living a life of luxury.heres a link to see the huge amounts they claim in expenses,seems being an MP is like being a lottery winner.
How much longer ordinary folk can take all these cuts i dont know,but i do know at somepoint the pressure will blow off the lid then we'll see the result of the tory Big Society.
heres a link to how your money is being wasted on the biggest scroungers in the UK