Industry news

News in brief

• Less than five per cent of the Government housing subsidy is being spent on new homes. More than 95 per cent of the state’s housing subsidy was instead spent on housing benefit and support for mortgage interest, new analysis has revealed. Research from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has found that only 4.3 per cent of this investment was actually spent on building new homes, down from 82 per cent in 1975/76. The UK Housing Review 2018 showed that investment in social housing has dropped from £13.7bn in 1979/80 to £5.1bn in 2016/17, in today’s prices. Chief executive of CIH, Terrie Alafat, said: “The Government has pledged to deliver 300,000 new homes a year. That is absolutely the right ambition, but we are never going to reach that target unless more investment is switched to bricks and mortar. Investing in new homes would help make housing more affordable for people who are struggling – and it is also the only sustainable way to cut the housing benefit bill in the long-term.” The review also reveals that 1.97 million homes have been sold through right to buy across England between 1980 and 2016/17.

• The National Fire Chiefs Council has called for a clear duty holder with responsibility for fire safety at every building to be introduced through the Hackitt Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety Standards. Mark Hardingham, chair of the NFCC’s protection and business safety committee, said: “NFCC has been clear in its submission to the Hackitt Review that a clear ‘duty holder’ is required to ensure those who do not take their fire safety responsibilities seriously are easily identifiable and can be dealt with appropriately through the courts.”

• Labour has vowed to restore legal aid funding for advice work on all housing cases, reversing cuts made five years ago. The commitment could help up to 50,000 people a year enforce their housing rights at a cost £9m a year. In 2012/13 housing advice was provided in 85,192 cases, but by 2016/17 that had fallen to 35,474. The party claims the number of legal advice cases has plummeted by almost three- quarters, from 573,739 in April 2013 to 147,284, with housing and welfare rights among the areas most badly affected. Under the current guidelines, legal advice is not available for housing disrepair cases unless they have become so serious that they are affecting a resident’s health. A Citizens Advice study has estimated that every pound of legal aid spent on housing advice could potentially save the state £2.34.

New student letting service will save landlords in agency costs

A new online student letting service that covers landlords for up to six months’ worth of unpaid rent if the tenant is unable to pay, and reduces costs for landlords by more than a third, has launched in Bristol. The easy-to-use platform, Conker, has access to

thousands of university students looking for accommodation in the Bristol area. With backing from Unite Students, the UK’s largest accommodation provider of its kind that houses more than 50,000 students, Conker will use Unite’s network to connect landlords and students. On average, landlords pay £3,300 per property

to fill and / or manage their multi occupancy properties. With Conker, these costs are reduced by more than a third, and landlords can decide how involved they want to be in the management of their properties, as well as having a dedicated account manager. The student letting service also has additional

24/7 support for maintenance requests and student queries to remove hassle for people who let out their second or third property or those who do it as a full-time business. Neil Hinwood, Head of Proposition and Service

Design at Conker, said: “Conker takes away some of the pitfalls of being a landlord by covering them with up to half a year’s unpaid rent and helping them to avoid the hefty letting agent fees to find and manage tenants. Not only that, it gives landlords access to thousands of students that are trustworthy and in need of housing. “Conker serves the gap in the market to make

student lettings much more convenient and secure for the landlord. With the backing of an established company like Unite Students, we feel that people will be able to trust Conker to make their lives easier when letting property to students.” To find out more, you can visit

Council seeks to limit number of student houses in city

Liverpool City Council has told landlords to stop converting family homes into student accommodation in part of the city, unless they obtain specific permission to do so after complaints from residents about anti-social behaviour. The council’s cabinet has approved plans to

control the number of converted properties in the Dales area of Wavertree, which already has approximately 700 HMOs and has resulted in the area being referred to as a student village. Existing conversions for student lets are

14 | HMM May 2018 |

unaffected by the new order. It came about after the council received hundreds of complaints about noise, litter, bad behaviour and late night parties, which residents said was changing the family- friendly feel of the area. A consultation exercise received almost

unanimous support from residents who complained that large numbers of family sized properties were being bought by absent landlords and converted into ‘students digs’ with six or more students per property.

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