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Government policy turning London into ‘property developer’s paradise’

On Saturday private tenants from seven local tenant action groups across London including Digs held a ‘housewarming party’ at a development of newly built private rented flats in Stratford, east London in protest at soaring private rents and the government’s failure to tackle the problem. London rents have been rising at around 7 per cent per year.

The flats are built and let by Genesis which has been shortlisted to receive funding through a government subsidy ‘Build to Let’ scheme  for private rented housing in three developments in London. Rents in the occupied development, marketed as ‘Stratford Halo’, start from £1,700 per month for a two bedroom flat, the minimum size needed for a family with children – of which there are now more than 1.3 million renting from private landlords in England. Based on figures published by Shelter, these rents would only be affordable to families with an income of £76,000 or more.

Emma Bradshaw, one of the activists, said: “Private renting is expensive and gives people no security – the last thing we need is more of it. Rather than supporting developers to build expensive private rented housing that is only affordable to the very wealthiest, the government should bring in measures to keep rents under control and invest in good quality genuinely affordable social housing that gives ordinary people the security they need.”

The Government could be spending their money helping people in genuine housing need – there are 21,000 people on the council housing waiting list in Newham alone, where the protest was held. They could be building social housing or encouraging private landlords to build affordable housing, to take people off the streets, out of terrible temporary B&B were families are languishing for months and out of private substandard accommodation where renters are often exploited by landlords and agents.

Owen Hatherley writes of the ‘Build to Rent’ policy in the Guardian:

“As always, the invisible hand is being given a great deal of help in London, with the current demographic shift where the rich move in and the poor move out encouraged first by the restrictions on council tenure, then by the bedroom tax, and now by a fund being thrown at private developers. The Hertsmere Tower is the more obviously gross part of this equation, its most luxurious end, towering over a borough with 23,000 people on its waiting list, where neighbouring social housing such as Balfron Tower and Robin Hood Gardens are both being prepared for a better class of resident. This isn’t happening automatically, inexorably or accidentally – it’s public policy. Londoners are literally paying for the transformation of their city into a property developer’s paradise.”

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6 thoughts on “Government policy turning London into ‘property developer’s paradise’

  1. “encouraging private landlords to build affordable housing”

    I am not really sure, how your group expects private Landlords to build ‘affordable housing’. These Housing Associations have received a subsidy of £100,000 per property. Some housing associations got some of their houses for free from Councils.

    Council built their stock in the 1960s, that was 50 year ago. They would have built them for peanuts. During the 1980s and 90s council houses along Homerton, were boarded up, graffitied, door had been kicked in, broken windows, dangerous, unlit, unsafe etc… You don’t see any evidence of it. Hackney was grim.

    It is unfair by your group to suggest private landlords are ripping off tenants, because they don’t charge the same rent as social housing.

    If private landlords received a subsidy to build, I could rent out that property at below social rents because private landlords are more efficient then housing associations.

    My tenants enjoy no rent increases, until they move out. The same can’t be said for housing association who have increase rents by RIP (inflation) of 7% per year.

  2. Housing Association have failed to deliver social housing. They waste a lot of money. May be you should have protested outside the new offices East Thames in Stratford. They bought land, so they could build new offices which look like Foxtons. They waste public money, rather then build more houses.

  3. Housing Association building luxury flats, is a trend that is to continue. Other Housing Association have their own projects. It is not only them, but also pension funds who are building to-let. Again, they are aiming for the luxury end of the market.

    I seem to recall M&G (or may be someone else) bought a building in Stratford.

  4. I still wonder, who on earth will pay £1,700 pcm in Stratord Halo, Newham on a busy road with poor air quality.

    It seems Genesis has fallen for the Olympic hype. You can rent a lot of nice Victorian terraces for a lot less. In fact you can buy a 3 bedroom house In Newham for £250,000 for the same price you only get a 1 bedroom flat in Hackney. Although they won’t have the high ceilings, but they will have two receptions room, two extra bedrooms and garden and loft space.

  5. A lot of people are being slowly pushed out of the areas they grew up in, or simply can’t afford to buy property any more. It’s really sad to see but with a city like London I think it is inevitable. Just look at Paris or New York and you’ll find the same thing.

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