Saturday, 01 November 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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  • BlokeWithAConscience

    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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  • "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"

    No. As long as it is not your principle home, you can live in a council/social home and own as many properties as you like.

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  • This I agree with. I live in social housing, but would expect to pass it on to another person in need if I had enough money to buy a property. I think that is morally right. Where I think housing policy has gone very wrong, on the other hand, is the new "affordable" rent regime and the lack of social rent homes.

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  • I would love to live in social housing - but there simply isn't enough and the Condem clowns are using Social Housing and unemployment as scapegoats for the actions of their mates in the banks. I got laid off in June thanks to the governments policies and now after 13 weeks 'reward' (that's what the council said) I now have had my housing benefit cut to £80 a week. That leaves me £40 short a fortnight out of JSA of £135. Perhaps if there was social housing I might be able to manage on £80 HB a week. As there is little likelihood of finding work in Middlesbrough (thanks again Condems) it looks like I am going to lose my house - so I will shortly be presenting myself as homeless and costing the taxpayer a fortune whilst I live in substandard temporary accommodation. But then Grant Shapps has never lived in poverty and had to live with the consequences of his actions has he?

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  • Melvin Bone

    David: Your Housing Benefit was not 'cut' you in fact the normal HB rules were 'deferred' for 13 weeks. The theory is that you could have moved to a more affordable tenancy during these 13 weeks.

    BTW How many Housing Ministers have lived in poverty?

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  • Rosa Hooses

    Narra - it's morally dodgy, not legally dodgy.

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  • F451

    Hi Melvin

    Aneurin Bevan for one - do you want a full list?

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  • Great - hit them where it hurts.

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  • Peter Wicks

    In the interest of fairness I think every person in the land who has more than one home to live in should be made to rent at least one of them out to the homeless of this nation....now lets see...The Queen and all the hangers on has more than one home and the Duke of Westminster has his share of vacant homes....lets start at the TOP and work down the list and this will set a good example for for all to follow...

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  • Single Aspect

    Why on earth is there no mention of all those Tory voters who own second homes on the North Norfolk, Devon and Cornwall coasts then? Are they not to be taxed punitive rates until the pips squeak in order to fund the building of new council housing?
    Apparently not. It would appear that council and social tenants are the new scapegoats. I have come to expect nothing less from this idiot.

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  • The whole purpose of social housing is to help those who cannot afford anything else. If they can afford to buy then they should do so and stop having rents subsidised by the rest of the population. If its RTB then the proceeds should go towards building more homes that can be rented at affordable rates, if necessary subsidised by taxpayers. If they want to buy more homes and rent them out that will all add to the pool of available homes. It is morally repugnant that we are all subsidising housing for people who have the means to pay the full market rate or buy their own property. Have we all forgotten what social housing is all about? Why do people think it is OK for somebody earning a significant salary to be able to live in affordable housing whilst denying the homeless a roof? I own my home and could not bring myself to have a council house thus depriving thise less well off.

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  • Melvin Bone

    'F451 | 18/10/2011 9:40 am - Hi Melvin - Aneurin Bevan for one - do you want a full list?'

    If there are any other names other than some ex liberal chap who died in 1960...then yes please.

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  • F451

    OK - I've looked on Conservative Home, and even on Factiva, as well as reading the source article in Mr Murdoch's publication - still there is no indication about where this figure is from, no source, no verification, just Grant saying it is so.

    I was able to read about his modest home, how he doesn't have a second home (not for want of trying, eh Grant, what a backfire the camp bed story was), how he nearly died, how he produced children, what a wonderful child he was - but no where is there any indication of the validity of the 60,000 figure.

    Maybe an answer will come on Friday. Let me guess, official statistics via a homeletting agency website?

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  • F451

    OK Melvin - just for you: John Wheatley

    Now be satisfied or this could go on for a very long time.

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  • @David. If you have a spare room maybe try to get a lodger in.
    @Single Aspect. There's never any mention of home owners. Did you notice the frequent request during the riots to take away people's council houses, because none of the rioters were home owners or private tenants obviously.
    @F451 Grant doesn't need evidence. He said there was a Twitter Czar in a Manchester Council and obviously he was right. On Q Time he announced the gov't were building loads of social housing and obviously they are. Grant lips moving is all you need. Who needs evidence?

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  • F451

    True Butti - but now the statistic has been repeated in IH it's a little like a Migration Watch fact, it will gather a life of its own and everyone will claim it as true because they heard it somewhere - yet the real source is always somewhere else. Maybe it will appear in the Daily Mail this weekend, alongside their historical piece about how they derailed the first Labour Government by printing unsubstantiated lies that were too readily believable by a spoon fed public, and the forgery was not proven in time to reverse the popular knowledge that had resulted.

    Maybe IH can verify the statistic quoted - or at least publish the response the Minister gave when asked what his validation was.

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  • F451

    Still no verification about the figure quoted by the Minister - was the Minister lying by any chance?

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