Hello and welcome back to my fortnightly ramble through some of our housing related news items.
Immigration in Cambridge
There are many reasons for our housing crisis but it seems that in Cambridge they blame immigration.
This is shown by a new survey which also shows that Cambridge is more positive about the immigration saying it improves cultural diversity whereas in nearby March there is more concern about the negative impact of low skilled EU workers.
Jill Rutter, Director of Strategy at British Future, said:
The conversations in Cambridge and March show how attitudes to immigration, even in the same county, can vary from place to place depending on the types of migration that people experience. Yet both groups were worried that more needed to be done to address the impact of high migration on housing in their towns.
If you want to have your say on immigration you can take part in the online National Conversation.
How the Grenfell Survivors could be housed
I was a bit startled to read this story on the LBC website which states that an estate in Chelsea has been deliberately left empty.
The owners want to re-develop the estate with less social housing and more private housing sold to make a profit. The plan was refused but in the meantime, the estate has been emptied and deliberately left empty and vandalised.
The article points out that there is more than enough vacant accommodation here to house all the Grenfell survivors. In a video on the LBC site a former resident claims that they could be ‘refreshed’ and made ready for Grenfell residents within a month.
Talking of Grenfell, the terms of reference have now been announced for the Public Inquiry and can be read here.
It will be very interesting to see the conclusions reached on the matters listed, which includes at (c)
the scope and adequacy of building regulations, fire regulations, and other legislation, guidance, and industry practice relating to the design, construction, equipping and management of high-rise residential buildings;
However, Joe Beswick and Katya Nasim, campaigners with the Radical Housing Network writing in the Guardian have called for an independent parallel inquiry to mount a broad investigation into housing policy and practice:
The decision to limit the scope of the inquiry to technical issues will produce an outcome that frames Grenfell as an isolated case, an outlier. It is only by examining the impact of decades of privatisation, deregulation and cuts to social housing, and the associated reinvention of local government as government by private company, that we can truly answer the question of how this tragedy could be allowed to happen in 21st century Britain.
I agree that we need a national conversation about social housing policy – something Ben and I have been banging on about on this blog for years.
However, I think there is also a place for Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s more limited inquiry under its current terms of reference. Its findings will no doubt provide ammunition which can be used to inform the wider arguments.
More housing problems
Even without an Inquiry, it is clear that there are big problems with our housing throughout the country:
- residents are being ordered out of their homes in four 13 story tower blocks in Ledbury due to gas safety fears
- whereas 10% of housing in Kensington and Chelsea is empty most of the time, while
- Another survey claims that 1/3 of private rented housing fails basic health and safety standards
It’s not good, is it?
But good for Motorhome vendors
It seems that there has been a recent surge in motorhome and caravan purchases according to this article in the Telegraph.
Not just for ‘staycation’ holidays but also so people visiting friends with no spare room can have somewhere to stay. Spare rooms it seems are becoming an endangered species.
If you do this though, you need to be careful where you park to avoid breaking the law. The article states:
If you park on a drive that’s fine, as long as there is no covenant in place which forbids it.
If you are parked on the road this is fine as long as you are in a campervan, as most of them are no bigger than a large car. Caravans are not allowed.
Generally, it is better to stay in a caravan park or in a pub car park which allows caravans and camper vans. This is because you can easily connect to gas and dispose of waste.
So now you know.
1925 Law of Property Act outed
One bizarre news story which is a warning to kind hearted neighbours everywhere is this story in the Mail.
This is about the Hardings, a couple who have been told by a Judge that, due to a ‘little known’ act from 1925, they cannot evict their tenant and one time friend, Mr Gregory, from the property they purchased to ‘help him’ 20 years ago, when he was struggling to pay his mortgage. After the purchase, the Hardings rented it back to Gregory at a concessionary rate of £800 pcm
The act in question is the Law of Property Act 1925 – which although ‘little known’ to Mail readers is very well known to lawyers as it underpins our current land law system.
The case mentioned in the article, Bannister v Bannister, is about someone acquiring a life interest where property has been purchased from them on the cheap on the understanding that they could live there free for the rest of their life. Life interests under the LPA25 equate to a 90-year lease.
The Judge found that the Hardings purchase was very similar so now they are stuck with a 90-year lease and a tenant whose rent is limited to £800 pm. And they have to pay his costs of £11,000.
Two things I would like to know:
- Did the Hardings get Gregory’s property at an undervalue? The article does not say but I assume that is one reason for the Judge’s decision
- Did the Hardings get any legal advice at the time about what they were doing? Although if they did I suppose its a bit late now to make a claim.
Generally, it’s best not to be too kind to people where property is concerned.
What made me smile this week
The (allegedly) real quotes from letters to the Council on housing issues I just found here.