Friday 9 March 2018

Why is Brent Council fixing a South Kilburn council property rent at 'up to' 80% of the market rent?

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I've been banging on about the meaninglessness of  'affordable housing' when used by the planning officers in the 'London Borough of Brent and Quintain' for some time and you're probably bored with it.

However, the term is used again in LocataHome, the free sheet of council and housing association homers available in five West London boroughs. Locata guidance says:
At the moment Housing Associations rent most of their homes out at Social Rents. Housing Associations will now be allowed to offer some tenancies at higher rents which could be up to 80% of a market rent. This is called “Affordable Rent”. 

Housing Associations will be able to charge the “Affordable Rent” on new build homes and will also be allowed to let some of their existing properties to new tenants at Affordable Rents. Tenants will still be able to claim housing benefit to help with their rent.
The 2 bedroomed flat advertised in the March 12 edition of LocataHomes (No 529) advertises a two bedroomed flat in Gorefield House, South Kilburn at a weekly rent of  £249.23 per week and adds 'Only applicants in employment should bid for this property.' The landlord is NOT a Housing Association - it is Brent Council. It is NOT new build.

As you can see in the above advertisement a similar property at social rent is just under £100 cheaper.

Brent's Draft Housing Strategy of 2017 had an appendix LINK which looked at what people in Brent could afford.  This table shows the gross income required to pay rent at a level of 40% of income.

So at 80% of market rent for a 2 bedroom flat the family would require an income of £54,971 per year. Incidentally 'up to 80%' in rent terms is the reverse of the 'up to' used for broadband speeds. For housing 80% is most likely while the broadband speed is rarely, if ever, reached!

The London Mayor is quoted in the draft strategy document as giving these figures for the London Affordable Rent and you will see that for a 2 bedroomed property is £152.73, around the same level as the Leighton Gardens flat above.

So I have three questions for Brent Council:
Why are you advertising council housing property on South Kilburn at a rent which does not meet the Mayor's affordability criterion and clearly envisages the tenant has an income well above the Brent median income?

On what basis are you charging a so-called 'affordable rent' for a property which is not new build and where you are the landlord?

What Council policy allows you to stipulate that the prospective tenant must be in employment?
Caroline Lucas challenged the whole concept of 'affordable' on Channel 4 News last night:

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