We need a radical approach to the housing crisis

An answer prompted by a George Monbiot article in The Guardian: Poor tenants pay for landlords to have a good time.

I agree that “government policy has created heaven for landlords and hell for tenants.” I am a tenant. I always have been, and always will be. Not through choice but because I have never been rich enough to buy. As tenants my partner and I are treated like children. Constantly reminded it’s the landlord’s house, not a property we’re paying to call our home. All tenants are made to feel as though they should be grateful to the landlord for letting us rent their property. How would you feel if someone could turn up at your door whenever they choose, and just let themselves into your home? It makes you feel vulnerable. As if you have no agency.

I think we need a radical approach to the housing crisis. One that puts tenants front and centre. Yes we need rent controls. But we also need guaranteed long term leases. Terms of five or ten years should be the standard. Everyone needs that kind of stability to make a life for themselves.

There should be a register of landlords. You need a license to drive a taxi. You should have a license to rent private property. Tenants should be able to report neglect of a property, or abusive behaviour, without fear of eviction. A register of landlords would go some way to keeping both parties safe.

I think the owners of a ghosted property should be fined. Not small, slap on the wrist fines, but value of the property fines. Investors then have a choice, sell their ghosted property, or let it at rent-controlled rates. Similarly second homes, or holiday homes, should be either treated as ghosted properties, or taxed out of existence.

Mortgages should be calculated not on earnings, but on a proven ability to pay rent. I would argue paying rent is better indicator of someone’s ability to repay a mortgage than earnings. And if lenders still require a deposit they should be offered to individuals by the government, in the same way as student loans are, and similarly administered by HMRC.

The problems with the housing market were created by decades of poor political choices. For the sake of everyone, we need to make better choices.

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