Posts with tag: London housing crisis

Kensington and Chelsea to Move Families in Temporary Accommodation

The most expensive place to live in the UK, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, is set to move some of its most vulnerable residents out of London due to the spiralling property market.

The Conservative constituency, where the average home costs £1.4m, will spend £10m on properties outside the borough for those that have become homeless. It is looking for 39 homes in outer London, around the M25 and in the Home Counties.

The properties will become temporary accommodation for people who often suffer physical or mental health problems and who do not have somewhere to live.

The plan has been criticised by housing activists, who believe the use of temporary accommodation to house vulnerable tenants will isolate them from vital community support.

The council leader, Nick Paget-Brown, says: “In an ideal world, we would like to buy properties in Kensington and Chelsea, but the numbers simply don’t stack up. We could only buy a handful of homes here. By looking further afield, we can purchase significantly more, making a huge difference to those on our waiting list.”1

Nearby Westminster City Council has spent £3.6m purchasing 25 homes in Thurrock, Essex, for temporary housing. The amount of Westminster-owned properties located outside London is now around 100.

Kensington and Chelsea to Move Families in Temporary Accommodation

Kensington and Chelsea to Move Families in Temporary Accommodation

The most recent group bought by the council are in Grays, 25 miles east of central London. They cost an average of £183,000 each, compared to the average house price of around £1m in Westminster.

This strategy arrives after plans were announced to demolish flats in Chelsea, which the council currently uses for temporary accommodation. It is thought that they will be replaced by private apartments costing up to £4m each. Comedian Eddie Izzard and the deputy Labour leadership candidate, Tom Watson, have opposed the scheme.

A council spokesperson states: “We do not rule out having to go further afield and will consider the M25 area and southern counties.”1

A single mother of two, Doaa Borie, 38, has one child who has special educational needs. She says: “It is unfair and it makes me angry.”

Her family is facing eviction from temporary housing on the Sutton Estate, a social housing area in Chelsea, which will be partly replaced by multi-million pound luxury apartments.

“It seems like only rich people can lead normal lives,” she continues. “Sending people out of London is a very bad idea. This will damage children by pushing us away from the community.”1

The Labour leader of Thurrock Council, John Kent, claims he was not told about Westminster’s plans and demands that the authority pays the social care costs of residents it moves out of the area.

In a letter sent in March to Westminster’s Conservative council leader, Philippa Roe, Kent writes: “Your current approach simply props up your failing housing system.

“It increases the burden on the public purse through ever-growing housing benefit payments by pushing up rents and demand for housing outside London.”1 

The former leader of the Labour group at Westminster, Paul Dimoldenberg, also opposes the proposal: “Westminster Conservatives are continuing to export the homeless to East London and Essex where they have no social connections or family support.

“They are using their financial wealth to take away homes from residents in Grays who want to buy or rent locally.”1

The Westminster Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration, Daniel Astaire, defends the scheme as “a practical step to help people in housing need” and says housing is a London-wide problem that will not be solved by sticking strictly to borough boundaries.1

The average house price in Kensington and Chelsea is the most expensive of anywhere in the country, according to Land Registry.

The council is hoping to save huge amounts of money by looking outside the borough. It is planning to spend no more than £450,000 per home.

The system could leave workers in temporary accommodation with long commutes if they want to keep their jobs. However, the council says that any two and three-bedroom homes would be within commuting distance of the borough and in areas where the ethnicity of the population is similar to the different types of households who live in temporary housing.

Policy Director at homelessness charity Shelter, Roger Harding, voices his concerns: “This is yet another symptom of the capital’s drastic shortage of genuinely affordable homes, which is seeing homeless families uprooted and torn away from their local area on an unprecedented scale.

“Imagine the pain of losing your home and just wanting a little help until you get back on your feet. And instead, finding yourself being forced to pack your bags for a new town and waving goodbye to schools, jobs and everyone you know.

“If we don’t want to see parts of London becoming no-go zones for all but the very rich, then the only solution is for the Mayor and the Government to invest in building the genuinely affordable homes that we so desperately need.”1



The Problems with London’s Luxury Property Boom

Along the Thames in central London is what can only be described as a building site. The many luxury properties being built in the capital are said to bring money into the city, which trickles down to the general public, not just to the super rich.

In fact, this luxury property boom could have damaging effects on the rest of the country. A Global Witness investigation discovered that around one in ten properties in the City of Westminster (9.3%) and 7.3% of properties in Kensington and Chelsea are owned by investors registered in offshore firms.

The Problems with London's Luxury Property Boom

The Problems with London’s Luxury Property Boom

It is easier to invest stolen money in property than try to hide lumps of cash. The London property market is increasingly attractive to tax dodgers, secret overseas investors and criminal gangs.

As the housing crisis has continued, and continued, politicians have insisted that housing shortages, soaring house prices, eradication of social housing and the messy private rental sector are normal. Politicians have taken no blame for the state of the housing market, but expect the public to manage.

This is no surprise, as they are not the ones struggling. Families are being moved out of London and over half of the people hit by the benefit cap will find the whole of the South of England unaffordable to them.

However, the coalition government pushed through a change to planning rules that mean many developers do not have to build or pay for social housing when constructing large residential developments.

Luxury property developments will not solve the housing crisis. Public housing is where investment is needed.

Some argue that rent controls and regulation of private landlords will avoid more housing stock being sold off to the buy-to-let sector.

While politicians suggest that the problems will end, the situation for those struggling to keep a roof over their heads seems to be increasingly challenging.

Housing as a concept has moved from shelter to asset. When Labour proposed a mansion tax, critics focused on those that have supposedly earned their capital gains, rather than entered the market at a convenient time, leaving many now without a viable option.

The current problem of a lack of supply and growing demand is deep-rooted in a housing system that has simply not been building enough homes.

Housing is now considered a profitable pursuit and central London showcases exactly that. It is no longer a liveable space for many people.

Luxury developments are not solving the problems that those in unstable situations, or even homelessness, are facing.

London’s Renters Move to Suburbs

The soaring cost of renting in London is pushing private renters away from the centre of the capital. The London boroughs of Kingston, Bexley and Harrow are now experiencing the highest demand from prospective tenants.

Kingston upon Thames, South West London, attracts the highest amount of online rental property searches every day, with each advertised home being viewed online ten times per day.

This compares to just 4.6 views for properties in the City of London, which has the lowest rental demand, according to online property firm Rentify. The company has analysed data from all major property portals over the three months to the start of July.

Areas with the highest rental demand in London


Online views per property per day

Kingston 10
Bexley 9.9
Harrow 9.7
Sutton 9.5
Enfield 9.4
Bromley 8.9
Hillingdon 8.8
Croydon 8.7
Richmond 8.6

Greater London covers an area of around 600 square miles and has over eight million residents. It is one of the most crowded property markets of the UK. As the city is facing a serious housing shortage, affordable properties are harder to find in central London. This is pushing many people into the outer districts.

The average rent cost in Kingston is £1,326.49 per month, compared with £2,334.70 a month in the City of London, which is the most expensive area to rent in London.

Rents across the whole of London average £1,500 a month, however this varies hugely depending on the borough.

The second most popular area for rental searches is Bexley, South East London. Here, each property receives 9.9 online views a day. The borough has good transport links to inner London, but still has a suburban atmosphere, with over 100 parks and open spaces. It also has some of the most affordable rents in Greater London, with an average price of £1,026.20 per month.

Demand from students is high, due to the nearby University of Greenwich, amongst other colleges.

Amber Thompson is a 23-year-old dancer from Nottingham. She paid £390 a month to rent an ensuite room in a four-bedroom house between August 2013 and January 2015. In the past six months, she has been paying £650 per month for a tiny room on Tooley Street, near London Bridge. She is planning to move back to Bexley.

She notes: “Rent costs in Bexley aren’t anywhere near other areas in central London. You can find a decent-sized four-bedroom house here for £1,500 a month. However, it’s really competitive; the whole process took five or six weeks last time.

“Most viewings will have at least seven groups of prospective tenants looking round at once.”1 

The second most expensive area to rent in London is the City of Westminster, with an average price of £2,181 per month.

Unsurprisingly, demand is lower in this area, with properties attracting just five views a day.

Tom Dymond, a 26-year-old freelance photographer moved to Oxford Street around three years ago. He pays £1,600 per month for a one-bedroom flat, which took just two weeks to organise.


Average rent per month

Sutton £1,016.83
Bexley £1,026.20
Croydon £1,084.79
Kingston £1,326.49
Richmond £1,364.30
Hackney £1,451.79
Wandsworth £1,682.68
Kensington and Chelsea £1,875.22
City of Westminster £2,181
City of London £2,334.70

He says: “I didn’t find the process particularly competitive. The rents around here aren’t the cheapest and the flat had been on the market for a while. I used to live in Shepherd’s Bush and that was far more competitive. You could get 20 people turn up for a viewing.”1

Average rents around London

Kensington and Chelsea accounts for just 1% of the capital’s total area, but is another of the most expensive boroughs in London, with an average rent of £1,875 per month. Residents enjoy a thriving nightlife, including celebrity hotspot clubs.

However, the high cost of renting here is putting off aspiring tenants. Advertised properties attract just 5.3 online views per day.

Harrow, North West London, is an up-and-coming area. It is known for its independent school, but is also home to a range of semi-detached houses and flats with good transport links to central London.

The average rent here is £1,269.27 per month, a double-digit rise in the past year.

Chief Executive of Rentify, George Spencer, comments: “High rent prices in London are not a surprise anymore. But the figures show how tenants in certain areas of London are pretty desperate, sometimes visiting a property online up to 15 times a day.

“There is a severe housing shortage in the capital that becomes more evident in the peak rent season of late spring and early summer.”1


Will Generation Rent Really be Moving into Sheds?

Published On: July 21, 2015 at 12:02 pm


Categories: Landlord News

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Londoners are used to living in what feels like a garden shed. But for those priced out of the property market, could this actually become a reality?

The prototype of an eco-friendly micro house is to go to auction at the end of July with a guide price of £8,000. The home is portable, 130 square feet and comes with a fold-down bed, kitchenette and shower room.

At just a third of the size of a London Underground carriage, this house seems pricey. However, it is around 60 times less than the average price of a one-bedroom flat in London, £501,727, according to Zoopla.

This wooden studio house could be one of the only opportunities a young Londoner has to buy their own home.

Parents may also like the idea, as mortgage approval rates are low for these buyers, and these micro homes could provide a way for adult children to move out. It could allow them the extra cash not spent on rent to save for a deposit.

Thierry Laduguie, who is the head of the UK division of supplier Ecodom, says that the firm has already received enquiries from parents who wish to purchase the house for their children.

He says: “It’s becoming too expensive for people to buy a house in the UK. More and more people are looking for modular housing solutions.”1

The energy-efficient micro houses will be constructed off-site by Ecodom and delivered fully made up within two months of ordering.

The auction prototype has a few design flaws. At three metres tall, the new owners will need to apply for planning permission before putting it in place and the electrics are to EU standards, so need adapting to meet UK regulations.

New models are expected to retail for £16,000, including delivery costs and VAT. They will be constructed out of energy-efficient timber frames, rather than solid wood panels, and insulation making them cheaper to heat and lighter than the current 5.1-tonne prototype.

Find out more here:


London Housing Associations Selling Expensive Property to Fund Affordable Homes

For every pricey home a housing association sells, three affordable homes are funded.

Traditionally, housing associations were focused on housing the poor and needy. Now, they are selling off £1m-plus properties designed by top architects to rich Londoners.

This commercial attitude is turning housing associations into business-oriented firms.

Critics say that selling expensive homes at market value is fuelling spiralling prices, which make it difficult for people to get onto the property ladder. The housing associations argue that private sales generate higher profits that fund affordable housing. For every one pricey property sold, an association can build up to three cheaper ones.

Group Chief Executive of Thames Valley Housing – which has set up a private rental company named Fizzy Living – Geeta Nanda, says: “We are independent bodies and, unlike local authorities, can borrow against our assets to raise finance for development.”

Executive Director for Development & Sales at housing charity Peabody – which owns and manages over 27,000 homes around the capital – Jeremy Stibbe, comments: “We have strong ethics and values, and we are proud to make profits as the money goes back into delivering more homes.”

He sums up the new entrepreneurial attitude as “investing private sector profit into social purpose.”1

Stibbe believes that George Peabody – who founded the Peabody Trust in the UK – would support the strategy. Peabody demanded a 3% return on his initial donation of £500,000, equivalent to over £20m today.

Notting Hill Housing and L&Q have multibillion-pound developments including high-profile central and inner London projects: the 900-home Albert Wharf in Docklands and The City Mills in Hackney.

Most housing associations build private homes in their own name, but some set up separate companies.

Fabrica, the sister company of A2Dominion, is launching penthouses priced from £1.1m in The Chroma Buildings in Southwark. Apartments at City Wharf, a group of warehouse-like blocks with communal roof terraces and courtyard gardens overlooking Wenlock Basin in Shoreditch, cost between £500,000 to £1,095,000.

The 327 flats at City Wharf are aimed at attracting young professionals, with wine fridges as standard in the kitchen and storage for 300 bikes.

Notting Hill Housing is selling £1.8m townhouses in Canonbury, Islington. Peabody is offering homes in the Chancery Building, a new riverside complex that wraps around the US embassy at Nine Elms. One-bedroom flats start at £595,000.

At St John’s Way, near Clapham Junction, 249 of 528 Peabody properties are for private sale, with prices ranging from £530,000 to £1,236,000.

Architecture is intrinsic to many of these developments, bearing in mind the original Victorian estates around the capital.

Similarly to those estates, the new blocks are simple and feature occasional architectural flair, influencing the generally harsh urban setting.

Mint Street, the first completed new scheme in Bethnal Green, has defied its surroundings – a curving railway viaduct and Travelodge – with Pitman Tozer Architects creating a refreshing project.

The larger than average flats have double-glazed winter gardens, creating a layer of sound insulation. It is being used as a template for other Peabody developments, including over 100 affordable homes at Merchants Walk in Tower Hamlets, 580 properties at Fish Island, Stratford, and 112 homes at More West in Kensington & Chelsea. Prices start at £626,500.

Chief Executive of Notting Hill Houses – which is collaborating with Sellar Property Group (who built the Shard) on a 1,030-home scheme at Canada Water – Kate Davies, states: “Developing our own homes for sale on the open market allows us to have control over design and quality.”1

L&Q’s Quebec Quarter is another large development coming to London. It will easily attract buyers as it is situated on the Jubilee line between Canary Wharf and the West End.

The Government is planning to introduce new legislation that will require housing associations sell homes to their tenants. Local authorities will fund this through selling their most expensive assets.

Nanda says: “You have to wonder why we have created a system that makes delivering new affordable homes so complicated.”1

Furthermore, a former crime hit council estate in Stockwell has been transformed; old blocks are being demolished and housing association Network Living has built new flats in a white tower that has a roof garden, named Park Heights. Prices are from £435,000.



London Councils Building Homes Outside Capital

Published On: June 12, 2015 at 9:18 am


Categories: Landlord News

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The housing crisis has reached new levels in London, with borough councils planning to build homes outside the capital, as “there isn’t enough space.”

London Councils Building Homes Outside Capital

London Councils Building Homes Outside Capital

Westminster City Council has drafted a housing strategy, explaining proposals to partner with other councils and build property outside London in an attempt to keep up with demand for affordable housing.

The document says that the City Council hopes to work alongside other town halls to build homes out of the capital, “helping address London’s chronic housing shortage.”1

Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration, Business and Economic Development, councillor Daniel Astaire, says: “We cannot meet all our housing needs within the city’s boundaries – there isn’t enough space and what there is, is among the most expensive in the UK.

“Pressure on housing in central London is unprecedented and enormous. No one local authority acting alone can solve this very complex problem.

“We will take a lead in working with other boroughs and the Mayor to develop some fresh ideas, and I hope this draft strategy will start the debate.”1

In April, The Independent revealed that over 50,000 households were secretly sent out of London boroughs in the last three years.

Wandsworth Borough Council was recently accused of social cleansing after sending a letter to tenants encouraging them to move from London to Birmingham. Read more here: /london-council-accused-of-social-cleansing/.

Astaire continues: “We are a council of action, not words. This year we’ll lay foundations for 350 new homes as part of an investment of over £60m to provide more high quality homes. We can, and will, do more.”1