Rents Out of Control: How Londoners Are Being Fleeced by Greedy Landlords

17.5.12

Yesterday, in my article bemoaning the baleful effect on London of hosting the Olympic Games, I touched upon a story that had emerged last week, when the BBC reported that tenants in east London were being evicted as their landlords sought to cash in on the Olympics, charging up to 20 times the normal rent. The BBC noted that one estate agent “said properties typically rented for £350 per week were being marketed for £6,000 per week,” and the housing charity Shelter said it had “seen increasing evidence of landlords giving tenants little time to leave or increasing rents hugely during the Olympics,” and worried that “the situation will get worse as the Games approach.”

This is pretty disgusting, although it should come as no surprise really, as Britain has, over my lifetime, became a country where any means of making money is regarded as laudable, and wealth is, in many ways, the only barometer of success.

However, even without this particularly excessive behaviour brought on by the Olympics, the rental market in London is out of control. A shortage of housing, an excess of demand, the eradication of empathy, and the casual greed that underpins the buy-to-let mentality has meant that families and individuals unable to get on a housing ladder that is out of reach for many people — as prices in London and the south east remain outrageously high — are being thoroughly fleeced by landlords who are not bound by any rules and regulations, and who can — and often do — treat them with disdain while milking them of half their wages or more.

Sadly, however, the greed is so rampant that the thought that landlords — and rents — should be subject to any kind of control is apparently heretical, as is the notion that London’s housing bubble is so hideously overblown that, as well as making hard-working would-be first-time buyers suffer as never before, it is also diverting huge amounts of money from the economy as a whole.

To understand the scale of the problem, it’s worth noting that, in March, Shelter reported that “renting a two-bedroom home in London is unaffordable for families earning less than £52,000 a year,” and, that “in eight London boroughs, including Hackney and Tower Hamlets, families would need to earn more than £60,000 a year.”

Shelter also established that “almost one in four London families now rents from a private landlord — an increase of 70 per cent in the past two years,” and discovered that “the rate of inflation on private rents in London was seven per cent in 2011, almost double the rate of inflation on the average London wage,” meaning that, with the typical London household income at less than £35,000 a year, “growing numbers of families are at crisis point, paying up to half of their income in rent each month as they struggle to continue living and working in the capital.” Shelter’s report is here.

The scale of the problem is such that, last week, the Guardian‘s Amelia Gentleman produced a harrowing article about how people are now living in sheds. In Newham, she met a woman who pays £350 a month to live in a shed at the back of a “crowded HMO (house of multiple occupation),” where she lived before. She said she preferred the shed, which “has electricity and a tiny kitchen which leads into a bathroom, but there’s no hot water, so when she wants to wash she needs to boil two huge vats of water on the stove.” She “sleeps on a mattress on the floor, the furniture is broken, and the flat is heated only by a feeble electric radiator. When Newham council’s planning officials knocked on her door a few weeks ago, she was sitting dressed and wrapped in a duvet against the cold.”

As Amelia Gentleman noted, the rent that she pays to a Mr. McGuinness, alarmingly described as someone who “tends to go for the lower end of the market,” is, nevertheless, “at the limit of what [she] can afford.” When council officials asked her “if the rent seems fair,” she laughed and said she didn’t think so, “particularly when you take into account the man with mental health problems who lives in the main house and who regularly defecates in the garden, which is already scattered with detritus left by former tenants — old kettles and beer cans.”

Amelia Gentleman also pointed out that converted sheds “have become an increasingly mainstream — if illegal — part of the London property market,” because of “the explosion of property prices throughout the capital, and the huge shortage of supply.” As a result, “Landlords are subdividing family homes into smaller and smaller units, haphazardly extending plumbing and electricity connections from the main properties into the garden sheds and garages, which they have no problem in renting out.”

Newham’s mayor, Sir Robin Wales, said, “It’s big money. You get a few breeze blocks, sling up some crappy old shed in your back garden, and now you’re making hundreds and hundreds of pounds a week. It doesn’t take long for you to make a lot of money out of it, provided you are prepared to trade in human misery.” He added, “We found a walk-in freezer where people have been living, paying rent to live there. The record was one house with 38 people, of whom 16 were children.”

He also explained that many landlords — about 1 in 4 — insist on being paid in cash. “They just take the money and they don’t give a toss about the conditions the people are living in,” he said. “It is poor people who are being exploited by rogue landlords trying to trade on people’s misery.”

That misery is growing — not just in the people paying £350 a month or more to live in a shed, but also in the increasing numbers of private tenants falling into arrears and being evicted. As the Guardian noted two months ago, “The number of tenants being evicted through the courts by private landlords has increased by 17%” in the last four years.

For hard-pressed families, the government’s newly-introduced benefits cap is also a problem. Despite the malignant propaganda that accompanied it, portraying the unemployed as work-shy scroungers, taking huge amounts of money from the taxpayers to live in homes that workers can’t afford, there was no mention of the fact that it is the unregulated landlords who are taking all the money from the taxpayers, just as there was no mention of how benefits are, in many cases, all that separates the working poor from destitution — the working poor whose numbers are ever increasing as skilled jobs disappear and we become a US-style, minimum-wage wasteland of unskilled “service” jobs.

As the cap on benefits — a maximum of £250 a week for a one-bedroom flat and £400 for a four-bedroom property — begins to bite, evictions are already taking place. Last month, Amelia Gentleman reported from Marylebone, where officials at the county court had “started granting eviction orders to a number of landlords in housing benefit cases, allowing them to begin eviction proceedings against tenants who are no longer able to afford their rents as a result of the new cap on the amount the government will contribute to rent payments.”

During what was described as “a busy rental repossessions hearing,” one landlord, who had turned up “to evict a woman and her three children, the youngest aged seven, from the flat they have rented from his property company for the past two years.” It was his ninth eviction this year, and “he has a further 35 families that he has to evict over the next few months as the housing benefit cap takes effect.”

The landlord was unhappy. “The social cost is immeasurable,” he said. “Lives are being wrecked. I don’t like ethnic cleansing, and that is what is happening.” He explained that the tenants he was evicting were “exclusively non-white,” and added, “I don’t think that it will save any money and I am very worried about the social implications. What is going to happen to the kids? We have tenants in the office crying, regularly. Secure home life is important. See where this ends up in four years. See what social issues you are going to have … We are asking for trouble.”

With the cap making much housing unaffordable — not just for tenants, but also for councils — it was also revealed last month that some London councils have begun making plans to move housing benefit claimants outside London as the number of properties those on welfare can afford to rent shrinks considerably. Newham’s Labour council led the announcements, stating that it was planning to move 500 families who relied on housing benefit to Stoke-on-Trent. As the Guardian explained, “Tory-led councils such as Hillingdon, Croydon and Westminster have admitted either placing claimants outside the capital or said they were preparing to do so. Adverts have been placed in local newspapers in Berkshire asking for landlords to become part of a ‘three to five years guaranteed local authority scheme.'”

Given that I have heard from friends about the alarming and seemingly unstoppable rent rises occurring across the capital — one friend, a single mum with a young daughter, recently had her rent raised by £400 a month, without warning, and was left scrabbling around to find another property, for which she needed to secure a guarantee from someone she knew who was earning £36,000 a year — I was pleased to note that, a month ago, Owen Jones, writing for the Independent, reported first-hand on the unfettered greed in the marketplace, as he had to move unexpectedly, and discovered just what was passing for a fair rent these days. I’m cross-posting his article below, and afterwards I’ll bring the story up-to-date with recent developments.

I can afford to pay the rent — most people can’t
By Owen Jones, The Independent, April 20, 2012

I already knew that Britain was in the throes of an escalating housing crisis, but, on the move for the first time in two-and-a-half years and, having been protected from soaring rents by a benevolent landlord, I was in for an unwelcome meeting with reality. Looking for a modest two-bedroom place in London’s Zone 2 — with a housemate who, appropriately enough, works for a housing charity — I found that a standard monthly individual rent was £800, even £900. One estate agent asked what our maximum budget was: when I suggested £700 each a month, he spluttered down the phone. How many can actually afford — and I mean “have sufficient money left over to have a decent existence after paying the landlord” — these sorts of rents?

Inevitably, I took to Twitter to vent. I was stunned by the response. Hundreds of furious Londoners bombarded me with their renting horror stories. One had a 35 per cent rent hike imposed on them at Christmas; another was forced to desert their Stockwell flat after a 40 per cent increase. “My tiny flat in the East End went up by £200 a month for the next occupants when I left,” freelancer Scott Bryan tweeted me. “It was £600 already. Eyewatering.” Another abandoned their own “tiny flat” in Zone 3 after their monthly rent went from £720 to £950.

Private landlords can do as they please, of course. Having a roof over your head is a basic human requirement and, when there is a lack of houses to go around, it is a need that can be exploited. A landlord knows that, if their tenants don’t like an outrageous rent hike, their only option is to put themselves back at the mercy of the ever more pricey private renting market.

According to Shelter, annual rents in inner London went up by 7 per cent last year — or just under £1,000 for a two-bedroom house. When people’s wages are flat-lining, that’s a big hit. Of course, some landlords — like mine — can be benevolent; others ruthlessly profiteering. It is a complete lottery.

I’m no victim. I can afford a high rent, even if it rankles. That is not the case for most. The number of us privately renting has soared: One in six households now have private landlords. And it is no longer largely the preserve of students and young people. Indeed, the number of families with children forced to privately rent has nearly doubled in just five years to more than a million. They face the prospect of having to repeatedly move, disrupting the education and overall well-being of their kids.

Greedy landlords are fully aware that most cannot afford to pay their extortionate rents. But they also know that the taxpayer will step in and subsidise them with housing benefits. According to the Homes for London campaign, to get a two-bed place in Camden, you need an average monthly household income of £5,324; in Tower Hamlets — one of the poorest boroughs in Britain — it’s £4,333, way over double Britain’s median household income. It’s the state that tops up the difference. Back in 2002, 100,000 private renters in London were claiming housing benefit; it soared to 250,000 by the time New Labour was booted out.

But Cameron’s Government has decided to punish the tenant, imposing a housing benefit cap that will force many out of their homes. London is on course to be more like Paris: with a centre that is a playground for the affluent, while the poorest are confined to the edges.

Here are the consequences of Thatcher’s ideological war on council housing. Her mentor, Keith Joseph, argued right-to-buy would spur on “embourgeoisement”. Instead, it has left five million people languishing on social housing waiting lists, and millions at the mercy of private landlords. Council housing has been intentionally demonised as something to escape from, and the lack of stock to go around has left it prioritised for those most in need. We’ve come far from Nye Bevan’s vision of council housing supporting mixed communities, replicating “the lovely feature of the English and Welsh village, where the doctor, the grocer, and the farm labourer all lived on the same street”.

But rather than leave millions at the mercy of the mini-autocrats of the rented sector, a new wave of council housing would offer accountable landlords, without the absurdity of market rates. Instead of wasting billions on housing benefit, we could spend it on building housing, creating jobs and stimulating the economy.

We could learn a lot about private renting from Germany. Local government sets the maximum rent for flats. The landlord cannot arbitrarily impose dramatic hikes; increases can only come in regulated steps. Such a solution would be good for the British taxpayer, bringing down the housing benefit bill without kicking the tenant. This ever-worsening housing crisis is just a striking example of a society based around the needs of profit, rather than people.

We were told the free market would liberate the individual: instead, it leaves them trapped by the whims of landlords, financially less free, and banished from entire communities. It is a con — and an expensive con at that.

*****

Just today, a highly critical report by the National Housing Federation, Shelter and the Chartered Institute of Housing pointed out that ministers “are failing to tackle the housing crisis and not enough new homes are being built, leading to rising rental levels and growing homelessness and overcrowding.” The report also “points out that while there has been a small increase in new builds, the 109,020 completed homes in 2011 is almost 40% below the 2007 peak of 175,560 — and less than half the number the government admits would be required annually to meet demand.”

The report also notes that homelessness is increasing, up 27% in the last two years, and that overcrowding is also “becoming an issue — with more families squeezed into ever smaller spaces.” The number of households living in overcrowded conditions has risen from 630,000 in 2009-10 to 655,000 in 2010-11.

For young people, a further threat from this savage government is to prevent under-25s from receiving housing benefit at all. That is not yet a policy, although it may become one, as there appear to be no brakes on the imposition austerity on the one hand and, on the other, a laissez-faire encouragement of ruthless opportunism that is of benefit to very few people.

There are voices calling for change — the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), for example, has just issued a report suggesting “devolving power, resources and responsibility for housing to the mayor to ‘remove the worst iniquities which he spoke out against during his campaign.'” As the BBC noted, ‘When the housing benefit cap was announced in 2010, Boris Johnson said he would ‘not accept any kind of Kosovo-style social cleansing of London’ adding: ‘The last thing we want to have in our city is a situation such as Paris where the less well-off are pushed out to the suburbs.'”

In addition, Shelter’s Homes for London Campaign has some useful suggestions for the Mayor, although none of them go far enough. What is needed is an end to the absurd housing bubble in London and the south east, a return to controlled rents, and a huge project of building social housing, which would, as Owen Jones noted, also stimulate the economy.

But that particular course of action — stimulating the economy — seems to be something that, absurdly, the government, fixated solely on the slow death of the economy by a thousand cuts, is not able even to contemplate. In the meantime, as I have mentioned before, a sensible course of action would be for motivated activists to start a major DiY campaign of occupying empty land and abandoned commercial property, to show David Cameron what the “Big Society” means when you have nothing but motivation and creativity.

NoteSee here for further details of “Take Over the City,” a movement in Milan in the early 1970s. I also urge anyone interested in this topic, and how it is manifesting itself in the US, to read “Out of Reach 2012” by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, “a side-by-side comparison of wages and rents in every county, Metropolitan Area (MSAs/HMFAs), combined nonmetropolitan area and state in the United States. For each jurisdiction, the report calculates the amount of money a household must earn in order to afford a rental unit in a range of sizes (0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 bedrooms) at the area’s Fair Market Rent (FMR), based on the generally accepted affordability standard of paying no more than 30% of income for housing costs. From these calculations the hourly wage a worker must earn to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom home is derived. This figure is the Housing Wage.” A map, showing how many hours workers on the minimum wage need to work to rent a two-bedroom apartment is here, and it shows that “In no state can a minimum wage worker afford a two-bedroom unit at Fair Market Rent, working a standard 40-hour work week.”

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

26 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    cosmicsurfer wrote:

    Your article is very much the topic of American cities as well…As the number of units drop from an influx of former homeowners that have lost their homes, rents are sky-rocketing….I would think that, in London, it may be worse with the advent of the Olympics and the silly landlords thinking they can make their retirement fund off of a week rental to out of town Olympic nuts..

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, cosmicsurfer. You reminded me that I meant to add the information about the unaffordability of US rents, as produced in a report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, which I’ve now added to the note above. Check it out here: http://nlihc.org/oor/2012
    And the map is here: http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/oor/2012-OOR-Min-Wage-Map.pdf

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    cosmicsurfer wrote:

    In LA as in NYC, there is rent control for certain units. Nearly everywhere else in the US, it is whatever the landlord can strip from the renter. Now that the US is moving so far Right, LA and NYC are threatened with repeated attacks by the local officials in an attempt to get rid of rent control. NYC is one of the most expensive cities in the nation next to Honolulu with a small 1 room studio going for $1000- $5000 a month depending on the location and now all locations are becoming “gentrified” (What a terrible word for developers rehabbing in order to make lots of money – there is no gentrification about it). In Denver, we tend to be about 10-20% above the norm for cost of living because the city brings so many tourists and is the biggest city this side of the Mississippi and east of LA. We are on the par with San Diego, CA.

    In the City Council Meeting the other night [check out cosmicsurfer’s article about Denver officials’ war on the homeless here], one of the 4 who tried to kill the ordinance brought information from the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless that states, as of this year, in order for a single individual to afford living and keep a roof over their head as small as a single room apt, they need to make $15.51/hr working full time. That is double the minimum wage

    I have heard London is much more expensive than NYC but with the NHS the costs seemed to be offset. Now, with the cut to NHS, the thought of so many in that city being run to the street is inhuman.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Wow, London more expensive than NYC? I didn’t think so. Travel is cheaper, food is about the same, rents mostly insane in both – but the US, I thought, has perfected turbo-capitalism, so that communications costs are much higher, for example (here we had a genuine price war for landlines and broadband), and then there’s the health costs. We haven’t lost the NHS yet, despite the legislation being passed, so we can still fight that one, and we absolutely must.

  5. suzianna says...

    Your readers my be interested in Rent Control E-Petition.

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/5700

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for that! I hadn’t seen it before.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Neil Wilson wrote:

    Its not just london

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Jonny Ridley wrote:

    Thatcher, Thatcher, Thatcher. “You have the right to buy your council home.” A generation later we realise that thousands and thousands of people couldn’t really afford to buy the home they were so earnestly encouraged to, leading to repossessions and greedy on-the-cheap auction vulturing, creating the modern breed of buy-to-let landlords that provide no more service than the bricks and mortar themselves, who know exactly how desperate the market for rentals is and exploits it. We even get buy-to-let makeover shows plastered all over daytime TV as if it’s a great thing, when in reality, if you’re watching daytime TV you can probably afford fuck-all.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Jonny Ridley wrote:

    And also, instead of dealing with these vultures, Cameron’s plan all along, publicly, was to raise council rents to meet the prices in the private market in order to raise revenues to tackle The Deficit™. That’s Big Society for you: you fucking proles figure it out for yourselves, while we sweep the infrastructure from under your feet.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for sharing, Neil, and for pointing out that it’s not just in London, and thanks for the comments, Jonny. The only thing I’d add is that some of the people watching the daytime makeover shows are the landlords, because they don’t have to work. It’s a sad, coarse world when success is measured by how much, directly or indirectly, you’ve managed to exploit other people.

  11. Sorry, no space here | Off The Tangent says...

    […] Investigative journalist Andy Worthington also recently wrote about housing issues, specifically focusing on “greedy la… […]

  12. damo68 says...

    hi andy ..i have moved 5 times in 5 years from london back to hastings ,hastings to brighton and then back to hastings and back 2 london..i feel like a man on the run ..i have been at the mercy of lettings agencys and private landlords..im on a low income so i am litteraly at the mercy of thease people[so called]and they do as they please they will behave how they see fit …and if you dare complain about poor service [damp,raw sewage ,rats ect ect]your outta there they throw a fit and evict you..AND THATS HOW IT GOES..good reliable tennant or no..it doesent matter your out the rent goes up and on it goes..all of this is harming people …when will this end..and id say if your healthy have real world skills get outta hear..CANADA,AUSTRALIA,NEW ZELAND,..go dont waste you time or live in the uk …GO

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Damo,
    Thanks for the comments. Sad but true, I believe. We don;t hear voices like yours when the mainstream media covers this story – which they don’t do enough, anyway. Last year, when it was reported that young people could no longer afford to get on the housing ladder, the complacent mainstream journalists – aging, with their mortgages paid off and their salaries way beyond the national average – coined a new catchphrase – “Generation rent” – instead of responding as genuine journalists should have done, and railing against the injustice of it all by focusing on those affected by the casual greed of landlords and the artificially sustained housing bubble.

  14. damo68 says...

    hi again andy .its all getting out of control i mean your right its all very well for thease and i hate to say it middle class journalists liveing in paid for houses [well arent they the lucky ones] they have no concept of wot life is like on the houseing front line in this country its unbelievable you are literaly at the mercy of thease ..monsters..who say we’re provideing a service ..yeah right exploting the poor .lol..sob..i can recall a couple of years ago sitting in the office of some scrote letting agency i sat there for an hour before they acknowledged me they showed me a flat andy you would not belive it man .shit on the floor needles ,blood vomit a hole in the roof man you could see the sky,yeah they did clean it but the electrics were fucked andy i had no power for a mounth..thats the houseing front line andy thats wot its like..lucky journalists in there big islington houses…how cosy

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Damo. People need to know, but they rarely hear voices like yours. The only thing I’ve really seen looking at any of the suffering of people being horribly exploited was a programme that Jon Snow of Channel 4 news did. He started his career fighting for decent housing in the 1960s, when “Cathy Come Home” caused such a stir on the BBC. Now we have the same thing going on, but no one cares. The “I’m All Right Jack” brigade look all smart and contemporary, but really they might as well be in 18th century powdered wigs, while the poor are dying in overcrowded, unsanitary misery. Where are people’s hearts?

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Dhyanne Green wrote:

    Greedy landlords = rent rises here in Western Australia brought about by our state Premier – Barnett allowing mining ‘ [massive pay cheques, fly in and fly out] for the benefitr of the state and it’s residents – because mining employees are spending their money here – pricing the average and lower income earners out of everything. Even caravan parks and ‘plots to pitch a tent’ are out of the question for many people. Insufficient public housing and so it goes on. BUT our greedy premier is spending A$25m – yep you read correctly – on bloody new or refurbished offices for him and his ‘liberal’ party.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Dhyanne. Great to hear fro you. I could begin to suspect a conspiracy, but what it really is that when like-minded, greedy parasitical scumbags get together, as these politicians do, and when their policy people share their ideas, they all focus on the worst rapaciousness from each others’ countries, finding new areas to exploit and drive the rest of us further into the ground. It should end up with full-blown rebellion, but we’ll see …

  18. Patrica says...

    Generation rent is unfortunately a reality. Rent coupled with the cost of living outstrips the minimum wage meaning that tenants are unable to save up the the deposit required to buy a house. The run up to the London elections revealed that the housing crisis and the lack of affordable homes is a key issue for voters.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    And unfortunately we ended up with Boris once more, Patrica. Ken Livingstone, who was up against a ridiculously one-sided propaganda machine, and who still only lost by 60,000 votes, might have made a difference, but with Boris I suspect that, behind all the blab, it will be laissez-faire rip-off business as usual. Thanks for the comments!

  20. damo68 says...

    boris is a stinking filthy tory he dosent give a shit ,he is only interested in corperation money and other stinking white upper middleclass pigs and they literaly do not give a shit about the poor or those on a low wage he only pretends the whole bumbling boris routeen is an act he,s as sharp as the knife he will stab you in the back with ..id like to say when will people rebel in this country..we won’t we’re too appethetic we’re only interested in x factor …..and our own selfishness the uk is over ,leave get outta here emigrate..australia..new zealand ,canada,latin america ..go

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Damo. I wish I could say you’re wrong, but I can’t, of course. Very disappointing that about a million Londoners actively voted for Boris, and that some young people still buy the PR that he’s a comedian. He once told me to fuck off in a not at all comic manner. But that’s another story …

  22. damo68 says...

    wot is it with modern society its gone mad,crazy googoo gaga..i just watched britains hidden homeless ,good god these young bright people homeless it’s a disgrace a whole generation in this country feel they have no future homeless and unemployed with 0 prospects all the while the repulsive greedy corperate shame that is the olympics is thrown in our face and the R.E.P.U.L.S.I.V.E diamond jubilee also all the while the disgusting vile tories cut away at benifits thus leaveing the generation i’ve mentioned feeling more and more helpless..disgracefull

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for mentioning “Britain’s Hidden Homeless,” Damo. I had missed that. It’s on iPlayer here:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01jhxpg/Britains_Hidden_Homeless/
    I couldn’t put it better than you – “good god these young bright people homeless, it’s a disgrace.” People need to take off their self-satisfied blinkers and ask themselves why it’s supposed to be acceptable to look after no.1 while a generation is being lost and so many are suffering.

  24. Frig Society says...

    Excellent, detailed piece on an area of government spending that is receiving no attention at the moment. I did a more focused piece on the long-term effects of right-to-buy over at my blog:-

    http://frigsociety.com/2012/05/24/the-long-term-effects-of-right-to-buy/

    Covers a lot of similar ground. Looking to get actual numbers through FOI, but the big problem is that Data Protection trumps it if the landlords are renting as private individuals (e.g. not renting through a limited company).

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Great to hear from you, and thanks for that link. Very worrying indeed to hear that the estate you lived in is now largely controlled by one man. So 30 years on from “right to buy,” feudal landlords are back. Now, where are those pitchforks …?
    Seriously though, please do let me know if you get anywhere with your FOI request. I hope to keep focusing on the important, and under-reported topic of our current housing scandal, which those with mortgages and sufficient income really don’t care about at all.

  26. Reclaiming London | The Grammar of Matter says...

    […] I tracked down the picture (here)… […]

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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