Swindon Housing Action Campaign calls for Swindon Council to increase resources to tackle poor living conditions in the Private Rented Sector

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Swindon Housing Action Campaign which STCG is involved in has called on Swindon Council to use some of the extra resources they will have from their proposed Council Tax increase, to employ extra Environmental Health Officers. EHOs are responsible for enforcing the law in the Private Rented Sector. See the letter to Council leader David Renard and Lead Member for Housing, Emma Faramarzi, below.

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Smoke Alarms and safety in the Private Rented Sector

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This is a letter to the Swindon Advertiser

Smoke Alarms and safety in the Private Rented Sector

The recent report in the Advertiser of the death in a fire in a privately rented flat in Rodbourne (“Alarm might have saved woman’s life”) highlights the issue of safety in the private rented sector (PRS). Unfortunately the flat in question did not have a smoke alarm. The inquest determined that it was an “accidental death” but the Coroner made the point that if a smoke alarm had been fitted the life of the woman might have been saved.

No doubt many people will have wondered, is the fitting of such alarms not a legal obligation in the PRS? In fact as long ago as 1991 a law was introduced which made smoke alarms a legal requirement in properties built from 1992. Yet 22 years later it is still not a legal requirement for buildings in the PRS built before then (except in the case of Homes in Multiple Occupation). More

Swindon Council’s Housing Strategy – ‘the market’ offers no solution to the housing crisis

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Download a PDF of this here swindoncouncilhstrat

Swindon Council is looking to develop what it calls “an overarching housing strategy, which will encompass social housing, intermediate and private market housing and include a refined approach to the challenge of vulnerable people facing homelessness.” It intends to organise a conference as part of the consultation process and ‘evidence gathering’. These are some initial observations on the document passed at the last Council meeting, “Housing Market Support”. Swindon Tenants Campaign Group will submit a more detailed paper to the consultation.

The Council’s document, “Housing Market Support”, does recognise some elements of the housing crisis which we face locally and nationally. It points out that: More

Home truths – Mark Prisk or Grant Shapps Mark 2

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By Jules Birch, Inside Housing

22/10/2012

‘We’re not in any way complacent,’ Mark Prisk told the Today programme this morning – having spent his interview being just that.

It’s the first time I’ve caught a media appearance by the successor to Grant Shapps, who was so ever-present in the radio and TV studios that he was dubbed the minister for Daybreak. Prisk is not on twitter either so other than a few brief interviews and a few blogs he is still a bit of a mystery to me.

The housing minister was reacting to the latest Home Truths report from the National Housing Federation, which includes the stat picked up everywhere that the number of people in work on housing benefit is rising by 10,000 a month.

The report forecasts that private rents will rise almost as quickly (35 per cent) over the next five years as they have over the last five (37 per cent). If that’s correct, then even more people will have to rely on housing benefit even if they are working. The total of in-work household claimants has grown by 417,830 or 86 per cent since 2009. More

Crisis reports 70% rise in evictions

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Published by Max Salsbury for

24dash.com

Monday 13th August 2012

 

Homeless charity Crisis has reported a 70% rise in evictions over the last three years.
Crisis’ analysis of Ministry of Justice Statistics revealed that 36,211 private landlords have been granted a court order to evict tenants in the last year.

This figure was up 12% on the previous 12 months and is 70% higher than the 21,351 court orders granted three years ago.

Duncan Shrubsole, Director of Policy at Crisis, said: “Sadly it is no surprise that we are seeing tens of thousands of private tenants facing eviction. They face a dreadful combination of high unemployment and underemployment, draconian cuts to housing benefit and soaring rents.

“Our concern is that many of these people will have nowhere to turn, and end up falling victim to homelessness. In fact government’s own statistics point to this already happening.”

Crisis’ analysis is backed-up by statutory homelessness statistics which show that between 2009 and 2011 the number of people approaching their council as homeless due to the end of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy or rent arrears went up by 42%, to almost 10,000 households.

Recent findings from the National Landlords Association also paint a picture of struggling households in the private rented sector, with 49% of landlords experiencing rental arrears over the last year.

Shrubsole continued: “We are calling on the government to rethink cuts to housing benefit that will inevitably leave increasing numbers of people unable to pay the rent. We are also in desperate need of more social and affordable housing in order to reign in the soaring rental market.”

Inside Housing proves Cameron rent claim wrong

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A claim by the prime minister that private rents are falling as a result of welfare reforms was wrong, research by Inside Housing shows today.

Mr Cameron told parliament on 11 January that ‘rent levels have come down, so we have stopped ripping off the taxpayer’. Number 10 later said private landlords were reducing rents – lessening the impact of benefit cuts – in return for local housing allowance being paid directly to them.

But an Inside Housing survey using freedom of information requests of every English council shows Mr Cameron’s claim does not stack up. Of 204 authorities to respond, just 36 reported any rent reductions in return for direct payment of LHA. More

Number of private renters closing in on social total

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9 February 2012 | By Alex Wellman, Inside Housing

The number of people renting homes in the private market could soon overtake those in the social market as figures show the gap is closing.

According to the English Housing Survey headline report released today by the Communities and Local Government department, in 2010/11 there were 3.8 million households in the social rented sector and 3.6 million in the private rented sector.

The difference between the two, now at 200,000, has been closing every year since 1980 when the difference between the two stood at more than 3 million households. More

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