Tuesday, 02 September 2014

Shapps targets second home-owning tenants

Housing minister Grant Shapps is planning a crackdown on wealthy council tenants who own a second home.

In an interview with the Times newspaper on Saturday, Mr Shapps said it is ‘wrong’ that nearly 60,000 council tenants own another home.

‘It is all legal but morally it seems wrong when people are waiting desperately for just one home,’ he said.

The minister is planning to change rules that prevent local authorities from asking prospective tenants whether they own another home.

‘At the moment even if they do ask them and find out the truth, it would be illegal to do anything about it,’ he said.

The rule change to target home-owning tenants is the latest in a series of moves from Mr Shapps designed to make wealthy social tenants pay more.

Earlier in the year he suggested tenants who earn more than £100,000 could have to pay increased rents or face eviction.

Readers' comments (26)

  • F451

    Quite right Grant - they should be forced into a corner so that they buy the Council home too.

    An interestingly high proportion of Council Tenants alleged as owning second homes - is there any data to go with the claim? Maths is never my strongest science, but I make that around 1 in 40 council tenants own another home - it would be extraordinary

    If true, it would definately make sense of the claim by Shapps that 100,000 tenants would exercise their RTB as a result of his announcement, but would then fly in the face of his claim that Council tenants are all dependent upon benefits and that none of them work.

    Could the Minister provide some details to back up his claims?

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  • Joe Halewood

    One wonders whether Shapps is including caravans, large garden sheds in Southall or even barges in this 'other home' figure.

    Or even whether the 60,000 figure (about 2.5% of all council tenants) are part of the 1m plus buy-to-let ("amateur") landlords in the UK. Yes it is very discouraging indeed that council tenants make up about 8% of all people in UK but only 2.5% of them are second home owners and so thy need to triple this to reach the norm.

    Perhaps Shapps - who is sounding off on twitter like mad today that social housing tenants should not be considered second-class cictizens and treated like such - needs to incentivise social tenants to triple this uptake?

    Or maybe he wants those fortunate enough to have a large shed at the bottom of the garden to rent them out?

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  • Sexton

    Regardless of the accuracy of the figures, social housing must only be provided to those who do not own their homes.

    The other issue which has exaserbated the problem is buy to let and companies with large housing portfolios who do not follow any specific rules. There should be a heavy tax levy above an agreed threshold for these owners.

    So Schnapps probably has to forget his vow to the rich, in order to resolve this specific problem.

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  • Joe Halewood

    Sexton | 17/10/2011 1:37 pm

    Regardless of the accuracy of the figures, social housing must only be provided to those who do not own their homes.

    I disagree.

    If one of the principles behind those who say RTB is correct as (social)tenants have paid over and over again and so should receive discounts then why is owning a second-home wrong?

    Presumably a social tenant is ok to aspire to home ownership so its ok to take RTB and then acceptable to have a second-home, but not ok if you dont take the RTB option??? That is bizarre and perverse and deeply hypocritical. Its ok to aspire as long as you take up RTB - such conditionality on principle exposes the naivety and duplicity of such a position

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  • Electric Monk

    I love the fact that politicians get on their soapbox about morality.

    I'd warn Shapps about people in glass houses but he might think I'm offering him a housing solution!

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  • F451

    OK - I've scoured the CLG site and ONS and can not find any data relating to Council Tenants who also own property.

    I did find some guidance issued a few years ago by the Labour Housing Minister aimed at assisting landlords identify people who may be occupying homes under false pretense. This document estimated as many as 50,000 across Council and RSL stock, and those who were not occupying their rented home as their primary accomodation were just one of a long list of reasons given.

    Two questions for the Minister therefore - where does he get this data from and what reliability does it have?

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  • marty21

    It isn't a breach of the tenancy to own another home (i.e a home) provided it isn't used as a principal home. That said, it does seem dodgy to have a second home if you are in council accommodation.

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  • marty21

    meant to say Holiday home there.

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  • The tories said before the election they would not interfere
    with council tenants and would not diminish security
    of tenure,however since then they have been damaging
    and threatening council tenants non stop.
    They have passed severe leglislation to reduce
    vital benefits and damage security of tenure,
    and create great uncertanty amongst the public.
    They keep on finding some new subject to try
    to pass more and more leglislation to interfere
    with council tenants well being.
    In the past it was single parents who were
    continually belittled by the tories,but now
    its council tenants who are being knocked around.

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  • If housing is a "scarce resource" then sure make it illegal for anyone to own two homes in the UK. But that would require consistency whereas I think Mr Schapp's prefers attacking just council tenants.

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