Affordable? Social? at £497.83 pw for a 3 bed! £25,976 pa rent! Is it unlawful?

There are 201 so called social housing and so called affordable rent 3-bed properties in England with a weekly rent level of over £400.

  • How the fu*k can they be called social housing?
  • How the fu*k can these be called affordable?

All 201 of these are owned and managed by Clarion Housing Association and below is a table detailing the properties that will make your eyes water.

clarion 400 plus club

The table reads in the first row that in Croydon the average 3 bed social rent (SR) level is £136.77 yet Clarion charge an average of £427.64 per week at a claimed ‘affordable’ rent (AR) and which is a yearly increase in rent of £15,177.18 for each of the 49 of these 3 bed AR properties Clarion own and manage there.  An excess yearly rent of £743,682 and an average increase of 213% from social rent to the misnamed ‘affordable’ rent.

Hackney has the highest 3 bed AR level of £497.83 per week and this would require a household income of £143,911 to afford with rent at 30% of net income.

The figures in yellow at the bottom of the table reveal these 201 3 bed AR properties owned and managed by Clarion had an average yearly rent increase of £15,877 and these so-called affordable rents were on average 221% more than average social rent.

Housing associations can ‘convert’ a property overnight from a social rent to an affordable (sic) rent basis and over 130,000 social rent HA properties have been converted to become the so-called affordable rent properties in England.  Converted means the tenant paying a social rent leaves on a Friday and the replacement tenant on the Monday is charged the affordable rent level – the average 221% in the Clarion cases detailed above.

Using the standard definition of affordability which is 30% of net household income a tenant would need to earn £143.911 per year for a rent of £497.83 to be affordable at 30% of net income in LB Hackney.

Alternatively, the same £497.83 per week  and £25,976 yearly rent can all be paid by housing benefit if a tenant fully occupies one of these 3 bed AR properties – which is three times more than the £145.37 that housing benefit will pay for a 3 bed SR property in Hackney.

I wonder whether Esther McVey, housing minister & Will Quince, DWP minister with responsibility for housing and housing benefit realise this is Conservative housing and housing benefit policy from 2011 and which allows a bean-counter in a housing association to evict an existing tenant so they can charge the replacement tenant more than three times the rent and also charge the taxpayer to pay £497.83 per week for the same property on a Monday that the DWP paid £145.37 for the day before?

I wonder if any Conservative minister realises that a housing association can put up its rent and charge £15,000 more per year for the exact same property from the housing benefit bill. How the fuck is this called social housing never mind affordable housing!

Forgive me a second reader as I go into full Daily Mail mode here and which should please McVey’s paramour Philip Davies given his closeness to the Tax Payers Alliance but a single parent with two children working 16 hours per week at the National Living Wage will get all of this £25,976 per year in housing benefit paid in full and in addition to wages and other benefits.

The reason I use that example is I would very strongly argue that the housing association landlord has a far greater chance of finding a lone parent with 2 children working 16 hours per week than finding a tenant with a household income of £143,00 per year.  In short Clarion is deliberately targeting the lone parent working part-time so as to get this additional £15,000+ per year in rent paid by the taxpayer.

The Clarion HA social tenant WILL receive this £497.83 per week in housing benefit in Hackney where a private tenant will be limited to £376.04 per week in housing benefit as this is the maximum LHA for a 3 bed in Hackney.    The Clarion HA social tenant can receive this 32% more than a private tenant as housing benefit is not capped for a social housing property and this is £6,355 per year more than the private tenant in Hackney can receive.

The above figures come from the Statistical Data Return on 2017/18 and specifically from the Data Tool released with the huge set of spreadsheet tables:

 

The SDR Data Tool gives an overview by local authority for average 3 bed rents for both social rent and affordable (sic) rent.  The above example also reveals the numbers of each type and reveals 75 x 3 bed AR properties in LB Sutton.  I was looking at the misnomer called affordable rent generally when I came across the staggering average affordable (sic) rent charged in Sutton and which is the highest average in the country.

When I saw the 75 number of 3 bed AR properties my thoughts turned to who are these robbing bastard landlords who have the temerity to call themselves social.  Imagine my surprise when it was just one housing association landlord which is Clarion who has 73 of these 75 3 bed AR properties in Sutton. I looked a bit deeper at the full official SDR figures and across England there are 201 3 bedroom affordable (sic) rent properties with an average rent over £400 per week.  All 201 of these are owned and managed by Clarion Housing Association and are in the table above.

The highest rent they charge for a 3 bed AR property is £497.83 per week and £25,976 per year in Hackney and would need a household income of £143,191 per year to afford at 30% of net income so for example Esther McVey as the housing minister would not be able to afford a 3 bed social housing property on her £109,959 per annum salary.

I give you affordable rent dear reader in which Clarion is ripping off 201 social tenants to the tune of £3.1 million per year in excess rent through the ‘affordable (sic) rent’ device.  All you hear and read about from purported social landlords and politicians and the likes of Shelter and other lobbies is this term ‘affordable housing.’

It is a chronic misnomer and it is truly offensive when you look at the detail.

In February 2012 and more than 7 years ago one of ny first ever blogs was called the Great Affordable Rent Con and I have been warning about this ever since.  The Affordable Homes Programme which spawned affordable rent is all about existing tenants paying revenue subsidy in excess rent because government no longer provide capital subsidy.

Tenants are being shafted to given excess revenue to social (sic) landlords and in the case of Clarion in and around London we see by what extent that is.  The English average AR increase is 44.4% as I have previously pointed out and an average approaching £2000 per year more in rent.

ehsar

One final point is a legal one.  As far as I am aware there is no checks on what rent level a social (sic) landlord charges.  No body or agency regulates this.  I ask you look at the Clarion Table of Shame and look at Reading where Clarion charge an average £442.88 per week for a 3 bed property at the AR level … a level that is supposedly a maximum of 80% of full market rent.  This means the average full market rent of a 3 bed private rented property in Reading is £553.60 per week!

Utter claptrap.

The 3 bed mean affordable rent for general needs in Reading is £206.92 and which suggests a maximum full market rent figure of £260 per week and a check on Rightmove reveals 40 of the 150 properties are available at this £260 pw / £1100 pcm.

The 3 bed LHA rate for Reading is £228 per week and if you take a cursory glance again at the online portal Rightmove you find 150 3 bed PRS proprties for rent on Rightmove of which 146 of those 150 are below £400 per week.

I have double and triple check this Clarion figure of £442.88 per week in Reading to make sure it is not an affordable rent supported housing figure which it is not.  It is an affordable rent figure for a 3 bed general needs property at Cell AQ658 of the tab called “SDR18_Aff_Rent_by_LA_GN” and yet the rent charged is not 80% of full of gross market rent (GMR) to which the affordable rent model is limited to but 170% of the GMR figure for Reading!

It more than suggests that Clarion has set an unlawful rent in Reading and this is deserving of an official investigation not just in Reading and not just for Clarion owned properties but for all so-called “affordable (sic) rent” properties.

I have details of many more examples of housing associations setting what I would strongly state to be unlawful rent levels, meaning more than 80% of Gross Market Rent and examples from across England fro low rent areas to middle rent areas to high rent areas.

I finish with hammering home an earlier point above of who the hell are these £400+ per week AR properties aimed at.  They are not aimed at the working household but at the benefit households who are disabled ones in receipt of PIP or DLA or those in receipt of ESA and in the Support Group as receipt of these benefits exempts the household from the overall benefit cap limit of £23k in London and £20k outside London.  All of these £400+ AR levels from Clarion exceed the OBC cap.

I would also argue they are not just contrived rents but rents they are contrivance under Housing Benefit Regulations – in short properties deliberately engineered to take advantage of Housing Benefit regulations which is unlawful and sees Housing Benefit not paid and rightly not paid.

I notice too that the recently retired chief executive of the National Housing Federation, David Orr CBE, has taken up a role as chair of the Clarion HA board.  Make of that what you will housing people and all I will say is how apt is that for this champion of housing association greed, commercialism and asocial operation and practice!?

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UPDATE

Net Income Calculation – The £143,911 gross income pa is my typo and should read £143,191 according to one salary calaculator yet it comes out at £142,711 by another (below) for 30% of net weekly salary to equal the £497.83 pw rent charged

salart calculator

FURTHER UPDATE – Reading

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) released the latest local reference rents (LRR) on 5 August 2019 and which reveal for Reading a 3 bed rent of £225 per week

lrr reading 5 aug 2019

The source is here (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-reference-rents-listed-by-brma-and-property-size-july-2019) and so there is no doubt whatsoever that Clarion setting an alleged affordable rent of £442.88 per week is way in excess of gross market rent let alone by a maximum of 80% of that figure!

This has to be an unlawful rent!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Affordable? Social? at £497.83 pw for a 3 bed! £25,976 pa rent! Is it unlawful?”

  1. Once s.21 has gone, what would be the disadvantages of a portfolio LL becoming a RSL? The regulation appears to be less stringent, you would likely gain favour with the LA and stand a much better chance of getting on the (lucrative) ‘preferred provider’ list of emergency accommodation…as well as being eligible for higher HB amounts.

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  2. Isn’t the point of social housing to house those not capable of paying market rents and whose domestic circumstances warrant social housing qualifications.
    Surely it is recognised that a political choice has been made to subsidise certain members of society with social housing.
    But obviously social rents need to charged and not ‘affordable’ rents.
    Social housing has a purpose and if social rents aren’t charged then that somewhat defeats the object of the exercise!!!
    Proper social housing has its place.
    It should be managed correctly as social housing
    If a political choice is made to effectively eradicate social housing then the Govt of the day will need to be lobbied.
    But Govt must be honest as to how it regards social housing.
    As to whether it is correct that social housing at social rents should exist in expensive areas is another debate.

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  3. As to affordability, its traditionally been seen in SRS at 30% of net pay … and Berlin has just had a 5 year rent freeze imposed on its private rented sector as rents rose to 21% of gross income that brought over ten thousand marching on the streets! As another comparison Halifax say average mortgage payments equate to 26% of net income across the UK so affordability is extremely subjective. Yet another sees Labour policy seeking to cap rents at 35% of income (they dont say net or gross)

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  4. Thanks Joe. Very interesting. My calcs are simpler, as I only assume take home pay is 74% of gross – I rarely need to calculate take home figures for high earners (like you would need to be for the rents in this article!) who pay higher rates of tax. As a point of interest, my organisation will consider something affordable at 30% of gross income and 45% of net.

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  5. Just updated the post and which explains. The £116.6k produces a weekly take home pay of £1400.84 of which 30% is £420.25 pw yet the rent is £497.83 and needs a takehome weekly salary of £1659.xx

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  6. How do you calculate your affordability figures where you state that ” this would require a household income of £143,911 to afford with rent at 30% of net income.” This seems high to me. I “only” get to an income of £116,600. -Dan

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