A most interesting argument about the housing market


We might also term this an interesting installment in our "How to lie with statistics" course. From the Green MEP for the South East:

Perhaps as a result, the south-east has seen the biggest rise in rough sleeping levels with a shocking 96% overall rise since 2010. And in 2013/14, no new social housing was built at all by the region’s local authorities.

This represents a massive political failure to serve the interests of our communities.

Well, no, not really. Here are the numbers for housing completions in Britain. What you will note is that council building of houses is, as is stated, pretty much non-existent. That's because we changed the way we did this, moving over to social housing being constructed by social housing associations, rather than councils directly. We can still argue, of course, that more of these should be built. But the way that number has been quoted leaves the impression that no social housing is being built: when some 25,000 units were last year, at least some of which will be in the South East.

Then there's this which is a most ugly idea:

This should be implemented alongside a “right to rent” policy. Homeowners who are unable to meet their mortgage payments and are under threat of repossession would have a right to transfer ownership to the council, at less than market value, in exchange for the right to remain in the home and pay rent as council tenants. This would stop people living under threat of eviction and in fear of not being able to make next months rent.

This is equivalent to compulsory purchase of the property by the council. And given that it's at less than market value it is a confiscation from the holders of the mortgage. It's flat out theft in fact.

That then has an interesting knock on effect: if the security of a mortgage is to be called into question in this manner then all mortgages will cost everyone more. Further, quite apart from this, negative equity is not eradicated upon the sale of a property. The total amount is still owed to the mortgage holder. so this solution doesn't even solve that problem of people being in negative equity.

Yes, this is election season and all sorts of barkingly mad things are proposed at such times. But really, this could do with a bit more thought.