Friday, July 25, 2008

Housing 2 ( Sub Letting )

It was the Queens speech in which the eye catching 13 year plan to build 3,000,000 tractors …,sorry I mean homes, was announced .With the building industry on life support , the houses they hoped ‘other people’ would build are destined to remain a glint in a PM`s eye .Ok , I hear you purr malevolently , but they are doing all they can aren’t they ? Perhaps not … and certainly not for the poorest

“ Now for the science bit “ -There are 4.9 million households living in social housing , 2.7 million in Council housing and 2.2 million in housing association properties . One question you will not hear the Labour Party asking is just how many of those are lawfully occupied, and how many are sub let .

Subletting a property can be a lovely source of income . Rents can be charged weekly up to £400 when the out going is as little as £60-£70 per week. It is entirely possible that the same person or family has other tenancies in neighbouring boroughs as such information is never exchanged . Some years ago one smart operator was discovered to have as many as 28. Councils never do anything about it as ,so long as they collect the rent ,meet their targets and avoid penalties .

Anecdotally the practice is at least endemic , oh yeah , prove it you say , you fiends, and I would love to, but solid evidence is suspiciously scarce.
In the 1990s two surveys ,conducted in Lambeth, were abruptly halted when it became clear that a can of worms had been opened .So why the conspiracy of silence ,well the reason is a familar one , needs testing encouirages neediness.

Let me explain;back In Islington , my political almer mater , the piteous needs of a waiting list of 13000 was endlessly reiterated by earnest bespectacled socialists trying not be too loony. So why were’t the caring souls rushing about with pitch forks turfing out unlawful tenants then.? Pssst building , or freeing , more housing does not reduce the waiting list and everyone knows it , you simply attract more applicants to the area.Indeed , Coucils like a large socia l housing role which makes them important, and hate taking on this constituency . Sure enough, in Islington, they were due for a further 13000 units in what was already a basket case Borough and the most crowded in Britain. This is vastly more satisfactory than starting a bureaucratic nigthmare a political war , and using the stock properly .

Official estimates on sublets vary from 3% to 10% but no proper counting has been done and my instinct says that as a family becomes wealthier they are not likely to hand their house back .I would guess 30% on the basis of those I met and knew . Even the governments estimates would give you 490,000 units and the grand total of 69 have been recovered.

Perhaps the Government don`t know . Events surrounding Caroline Flint`s suggestion that Coucil House dwellers might like to get a job suggests to me that they know perfectly well but dare not delve. She said .."she was suprised that more than half of those of working age in social acccomodation were without paid work"
Thats twice the national average and nearly 3/4 of that group under 25 are unemployed . She was not really suprised of course , and in any case was howled down by the left. . Any reform of the Coucil house citadels brings New Labour into direct conflict with Old where they have been dug in for generations. Picking fights its a delicate business and this poisonous turf war allows scandalous waste to go on unreformed.


Nick Drew said...

Mr M you are back with a vengeance, these are excellent posts

on sub-letting as with crime statistics, it would be fascinating to know the truth

(though as always, the question of what you'd do if you knew is always the real killer - but I tend to want to see the facts first, however ghastly)

now stub out that cigarette and give us parts 3, 4 and 5 of your masterwork

Newmania said...

Thanks ND, I `m afarid it will be intermittent

Retiredandcrazy said...

Ah! Good old Nanny State rides again! Is there no end to the madness?

asquith said...

I think we have started going down the right path now with housing association properties mixed in amongst private properties on new build.

Surely the architechts should have realised at the time that concentrating poor, unskilled, low-paid people on estates was a bad idea even in the days of full employment. They should have seen what was coming next. And high rises should never have been built at all.

I understand that they had to clear the slums, but this was the wrong way to go about it. Compare the fate of large council estates like those in Glasgow East with small pockets of social housing in largely private areas: the latter are far healthier.

I think we should push on with making it compulsory for new build estates to contain a measure of social housing. I also think there's a danger of certain areas like terraced streets being taken over by property speculators and used to house benefit claimants. Not only is this bad for the areas concerned, it's also bad news for the taxpayer who has to pay a subsidy to the landlord in housing benefit.

They are demolishing some council streets (actually they have now been taken over by a housing association, but when I call them souncil you know what I mean). They must be amongst the worst in England. Only something like a tenth of them have taken up the right to buy, and a few huge families dominate the area. They want to demolish it and spread them round, presumably thinking they will be better off when they're not all a bad influence on each other.

The housing association has properties in "affluent" areas (obviously nowhere in this city is properly well off, I mean the areas that aren't totally shit) and they will be moved there. But won't they just lower the area?

I really think they were spawned by socialist governments. The worst thing of all is that they knock out kids who won't get a decent upbringing. How dare they submit a child to this fate? Do they not realise they're not capable of being parents? I asked my manager this and she basically said they don't think like us.

God help us all if these children ever become politically aware, is what I say. They're not stupid, they might just figure it all out one day.

Newmania said...

Asquith when you make it compulsory to include what is in fact subsidised housing in new builds the developer makes his money back with "Luxury flats " and no mid range homes are built . It is exactly this type of home that is in short supply .
Furthermore by holding a proportion , say 30% off the market you increase the pirce for evryone else in what is really another stealth tax , increased mortgages

Incentives for needy lifestyles are reinforced , moverment geographically and socially stopped and as i have pointed out a large proportion are not occupied legally anyway.

I am utterly unconviced by the notion of bourgeois "mentors" on any number of levels and see the future as the end of Coucil housing except in dire distress.

Property ownership and its spread has been the only true social mobiliser

asquith said...

Yes, but we are waking up to the grim reality that property is, for some people, unaffordable. I think the Right To Buy was overall highly positive (as it gave people whose families had never owned property the chance to become self-reliant and no longer beholden to the state), its only downfall being that housing stock couldn't be replaced.

Some people simply cannot afford to buy in the open market, and I don't think they should be living with their parents, getting into debts they can never pay off, or paying so high an amount to a speculator as to make their work seem pointless. I was referring to housing association, not council properties, which are quite easily salted into areas where they can't be seen from the outside.

Such a policy would spell the end of the council estate. But we can see now the financial bedlam that comes from every single person wanting to be an owner-occupier.

You may have a point if you say that property should be cheaper. But how is this going to happen? Nether of us want wanton new build (though there has to be some building to replace stock that is no longer suitable for housing, such as many old terraces in this area).

Yes, dependence on the state should be reduced long-term. But I should say it would take at least 2 generations to get people off the government's teat without causing major upheaval. Besides, most of the people who would rent housing association properties under my proposed scheme are young single people, who get an astonishingly raw deal under the present tax and benefit system.

And what about this drive towards affordable housing in villages, so that local people can affor to live there and sustain a community rather than a pack of commuters and second homers? Sounds like a plan to me...

John Page said...

I wish the Private Eye writer had been given more space.

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