House of lords to make a decision on overcrowding
29/07/2008 12:45 pm
this case could have huge implications for social housing providers, if it becomes illegal for HA's and LAs to leave tenants in overcrowded homes, they will be open to huge losses in legal costs as tenants may sue. There is also the issue of where do they put overcrowded households as there aren't enough larger units to go around.
RTB decimated the larger units amongst council properties - particularly in london, they were then most attractive properties to exercise rtb.
so if the lords do declare it illegal to overcrowd properties, what do social housing providers do?
build more larger homes is the obvious answer, but funding is tight with the credit crunch, does the government increase funding to build more homes? Would brown be willing to increase public spending when his position is in doubt, if he leaves, would his successor do so? Would cameron do so if he gets in?
buy larger properties? again funding is the issue - lenders are becoming increasingly reluctant to lend to housing associations.
Encourage people to move out if they are under occupying - this already happens but the take up is not too impressive as far as i can tell, and you can't force people to move to smaller homes without changing tenancy agreements - so legislation would be needed.
Overcrowding is a major issue in social housing, it also raises other issues - imagine the bnp stirring up race hatred with larger ethnic families are suddenly given large new homes, as larger families tend to be from ethnic families.
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29/07/2008 12:46 pm
sorry, had to repost the link
30/08/2008 8:17 pm
It would be insane if Birmingham loose this case. Why on earth should the State (ie the taxpayer) be expected to continually re-house those who have chosen to breed vast families? They already get benefit cheques for each child they produce (something I would like to see stopped; this encourages overpopulation and breeding-for-benefits culture). I completely fail to see why the taxpayer should be responsible for housing and funding the personal procreative choices of others. If a family can afford to have lots of children, then fine. If not, don't. This choice really has nothing to do with State who should not be providing perverse incentives to breed vast families at the expense of everyone else. Let's hope during the next 20 years of incoming Conservative administration, there is route and branch reform of the benefit system to remove this ridiculous and divisive Lefty paternalism.
01/09/2008 10:15 am
with an aging population, we need people to produce more children
01/09/2008 3:28 pm
...or introduce some sort of Logan's Run type system to even things out a bit. We need more family homes. But if you want to encourage procreation then why not introduce tax breaks and free nursery care for working parents?
01/09/2008 11:34 pm
"we need people to produce more children"
Err...who says? Malthus is just waiting to be proved right you know....
Whilst I loathe Red-Green Neo-Marxist sandal wearing tree hugger types like the ludicrous Jonathan Porritt and the lamentable George Monbiot, Real Green (ie non-Marxist) organisations like the Optimum Population Trust are well on the money. Check out "The UK’s population problem" at:
The solution is not in building more housing. It's in there being less people. Given this reality, it is lunacy to go on paying benefits to breed. This must stop. Less people also means more housing to go round. Overcrowding problem solved! Kinda obvious when you think about it really.....
30/07/2009 2:19 pm
Then overcrowding becomes a form of homelessness and the same criteria should apply - if you moved into a three bedroom house and then went on to have four more children then you are wilfully overcrowded.
Of course then you're restricting people's right to breed but then hey, so does life.
30/07/2009 2:40 pm
Sorry I've only just read ILAG's post. Interesting thoughts there.
If we are going to control breeding rights are there criteria? IQ tests? Personality tests? Do we get special uniforms? If people violate their breeding orders what do we do with them? Will there be special facilities? Camps?
But of course they won't want to go to the camps so we'll need snatch squads to take them there. And they won't want to stay so we'll need razor wire and guard dogs. Machine gun posts. Should we have machine gun posts? And what do we do with the illegal offspring? It's hardly fair on law abiding breeders to let them live is it? I'm sure medical science can offer a humane solution.
Back in SaneWorld(tm) we provide housing, people live their lives. That's it. If government wants us to move everyone into 8 bedroom houses then fine, no problem just give us the land and the money and see us hand that in.
30/07/2009 5:53 pm
Another way of capturing the entertaining thread of those posts so far is to set this debate in the context of rights and responsibilities. We all I hope support freedom of choice (to have kids etc) but too few social commentators fully recognise that with freedoms & rights come personal and social responsibilities. The exercise of one's freedom of choice AND the taking of personal responsibility for the consequences must (surely?) be part of the same "social deal".
The alternative - exercising rights without limits or regard to personal responsibilities - simply supports the negative and unsustainable "sue you" culture and undermines the development of any wider sense of social justice which may be neatly summed up as giving people a "hand up, not hand outs".
30/07/2009 8:35 pm
The balance of rights and responsibilities was at the heart of New Labour thinking. It is called "communitarianism" and specifically under New Labour (that is now old) was on a contractual basis - simply the balance of rights and responsibilities was contracted. It was based on philosophy of Etzioni and before the right wing gets excited it also strongly included more to be done by the richer to aid the poorer as part of this balance (ie more redistribution)
Dole or JSA was a classic case. To remain eligible for the dole (ie your right) you had to agree to responsibilities, such as phone 6 employers a week, send off 326 CVs, etc
Because welfare benefits can be changed so can these "contracts" of rights and responsibilities. Yet you cant practically have contracts on how many kids one can have (post Maoist China excepted) or link this to a tenure agreement.
So whilst Housing Benefit is a benefit that gives welfare in its lay sense, it is not a welfare benefit that can be changed either.
You cant reduce existing rights under a tenacy and you shouldnt be able to sue either if you initially rented a 3bed/5 and now there are 8 or 9 of you. Its not necessarily the perverse rewards ILAG discusses either with HB over welfare benefits as HB is paid on property size not number of occupants (with some minor excetions)
So the communitarian way wont and cant help ovecrowding the way it has 'helped' change the dole balance of rights and responsibilities. Im not an advocate or devotee of communitarianism anyway but it helps to explain why Scrumpy Jacques point cant be put into practice
30/07/2009 10:11 pm
the issue here is not about responsabilities. all posters I have read agree that there should be responsabilites. the issue is what do you do with the people who then you call irresponsible in overcrowding their homes?... do You evict them? Do you cut their benefits?... do you send them to jail?... Do you take away their surplus offspring?... Do you give them the infertiltiy treatment?... the fact is most people who call for a stop to overcrowding from irresponsible tenants do not have an acceptable (dare I say 'humane') solution... In my opinion there is only one solution, Education, education, education (Ooops - sorry, i didn't mean to sound like a Blairite).
31/07/2009 10:00 am
Kass, I have to agree. We need to house these people in decent properties whilst they exist and educate future generations not to bang so many kids out in the first place. I would consider introducing a change to the benefits system to discourage such high levels of childbirth in future generations, but it is not an acceptable solution to punish current generations for a situation we, the policy makers and housing providers, have created.
The only other comment I would make is that my belief is that Right to Buy has been a major contributor to this, with many families who do not qualify for social housing being forced to look at the lower end of the market (private rental in ex-council stock) and squeezing as many people in as possible. Because these properties aren't managed, this is never dealt with. I also think this has caused the perception that immigrants move to the top of the housing list; the homes they are in are not council homes, they are market rent homes on council estates.
31/07/2009 10:18 am
In line with Sanchos comments, could compulsory purchase of all sub-let leasehold and freehold ex-council properties be a solution? it would increase the number of available properties....
31/07/2009 10:47 am
james yurky Fri, 31 Jul 2009 10:18 GMT....
YES, that would help, no doubt.
31/07/2009 11:25 am
In the current market, I suspect most owners of buy to let properties on council (or HA) estates would be happy to sell them back at market value to get out of their mortgages. The issues is that the HCA won't fund 'purchase and repair' programmes anymore as they are, somewhat stupidly, focused on doing shiny new builds, not helping the people that already live in inadequate homes.
01/08/2009 1:14 am
In terms of RTB, as I have said in earlier posts, the absentee RTB landlord who rents their property back to the council for temporary accomodation for a tidy profit is truly a curse. The absentee RTB landlord is practically the enemy of the residential RTB owner occupier as the existence of these creatures essentially reverses the creation of mixed communities on housing estates. In order to kick start capital receipts to LAs, as part of a proposed re-invigorated RTB regime, featuring a return to the full 65% discounts of the 1980's, it would not be unreasonable to include a "no sub-let" clause in all future RTB leases so that these properties remain residential owner occupied in perpetuity. Clearly this could not work with houses where the freehold is sold, but it could very well with urban housing estate sales that are all leasehold in tenure.
03/08/2009 10:27 am
This must be my agreeing thread. ILAG, I agree. If there was no sub-letting allowed and this was actually policed, I would ahve much less of a problem with RTB.
03/08/2009 11:06 am
SO in a social housing market of chronic undersupply we see a proposal to return to RTB massive discounts!!
Sancho your tiliting at windmills agreeing with anything like that!
Just a thought - if all RTBs were taken back in social housing at the cost they were sold would we have a problem with undersupply or overcrowding. Sorry thats not a thought it a very valid point!!
But hey we know that isnt going to happen. Yet what continues to happen on this site and in government policy, is knee-jerk policy being decided based on what is happening in London and London alone.
Yes there are pockets of illegal sub-letting there that are high, im not denying this, but to steer national policy based on this is lunacy.
But this is characteristic of housing policy for the last few decades - incremental knee-jerk reactionary policy steers made not for the good of social housing, but only for the good of political votes.
03/08/2009 11:51 am
Until there is a RTB social housing will never be safe. Any other way of looking at it it seems to me just ignorance or an excuse to justify RTB. By allowing RTB, the clever will make a profit out of it and the simpletons or reckless will lose their homes...
03/08/2009 11:54 am
Yes, a full 65% discount is too much but a discount of, say, 30% would only mirror various low cost home ownership schemes and keep communities together.
I think buying back all the old RTBs was already my thought, so you're preaching to the converted there. I just think what we need to do is fix the mistake that was made before (allowing subletting) by buying them all back, then allow it again along the same lines as open market homebuy.
Interestingly Joe, you say that we are discussing things based on London alone, but also claim that there is a 'chronic undersupply' in housing. My understanding was that much of the midlands and north west had high void rates...
To be honest, I couldn't care less about national policy. It's all nonsense. However, I have seen estates with very high levels of RTB and very high levels of renting (I'm talking about completely legitimate renting of RTB properties here), where the vast majority of overcrowding, ASB and general wellbeing issues are from these properties, not the Council owned ones.
The policy can say what it likes, but there are people in our country who are in a living hell and it was created largely by RTB owners being allowed to let their properties.
03/08/2009 1:25 pm
And staying with the theme of rights and responsibilities, if we're going to be responsible for managing neighbourhoods instead of just individual tenancies then we should have the right to some say about who lives in those neighbourhoods. Which a 'first refusal' on any RTB being put up for sale would go some way to contributing.