Published: 13 July, 2012
• THOSE calling for higher “market” rents for all but the very poorest of Islington’s council tenants continue to peddle the rent subsidy myth.
Councils built for long-term investment rather than quick profits.
This allows rents to remain low over the lifetime of the building.
These aren’t subsidised and in Islington we have estates built in the 1930s or earlier that continue to generate rental income – well after building costs have been paid off.
By contrast, the private rental sector has no security and charges stratospheric rents at no long-term benefit to the community.
As Shelter pointed out recently in its report, only households with an income of more than £72,000 can afford to rent a two-bedroom flat in the borough.
Similarly, home ownership is now out of reach for most people in London and large parts of the South-east.
Councils and non-profit-making housing associations should immediately embark on a massive programme of house-building for modest rent with full security of tenure.
But, as in Germany or Switzerland (where most people rent), they need to be able to take a longer view of their investment.
Amwell Street, EC1
q CongratulationS to Islington Council on its decision to reject the government’s demand that tenants should pay 80 per cent of private rents.
The government should make it its business to end the outrageous rents being charged by private landlords, by restoring the rent controls that existed before the Thatcher era.
I am also delighted that the council will ignore another government directive to give five-year-only contracts to new tenants, unlike many housing associations which appear quite happy to go along with this proposal.
Such a contract would create huge insecurity. Tenants will be reluctant to invest in their homes with such a short tenancy and it will certainly involve some sort of means-testing.
Islington Pensioners’ Forum
• It is right that the council is now finally standing up to landlords.
But there is much more to be done.
We must have improved security for private tenants, an ethical lettings agency that doesn’t charge the earth for simple administration and a “living rent”.
Having seen both this and the last government sell off social housing, promote buy-to-let and do anything they could to promote a housing boom that has left the country divided into property haves and have-nots, it is understandable that people feel hopeless.
It is left to landlords to plug the gap left by the lack of affordable housing, because the council is letting developers get away with a scam.
Some of the so-called affordable housing is on the market for £500,000, even up to £700,000.
These are sold on part-rent, part-buy, so by the time charges for mortgages, rent on the remainder and service charge are added these would wipe out the income of all but the most-well-off people.
This is a scandal.
The council has taken a stand over rents for social housing tenants, which Islington Greens support, but we believe much more should be done around the private rental sector and so-called affordable housing.
Islington Green Party