Tag Archives: Housing

Launching a Living Rent Commission

Todays blog by Cllr Tom Renhard, Cabinet Member for Housing Delivery and Homes and Labour Councillor for Horfield

In Bristol we face a housing crisis.

We have almost 18,000 households (and growing) on our waiting list for social housing, along with over 1,100 households in temporary accommodation. The cost of renting in this city is one key cause alongside the lack of security that renters have in the private rented sector.

Over the past decade the cost of renting in the city grew by 52%, whilst wages only increased by 24% over the same period and current levels of inflation are far outstripping any growth in income. The spiralling costs mean housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable, pushing many further away from their place of work, family, and support networks, impacting across sectors and low and middle income households

Cllr Tom Renhard, end revenge evictions

This is why we have launched a Living Rent Commission.

We are bringing the best, partnership focused organisations together to explore the issues facing renters.

The principle aims of the commission are to:

  • Improve affordability of the private rented sector
  • Understand the impact of regulation on rent prices including on housing quality and maintenance
  • Identifying the most effective rent controls
  • Consider what other powers are required
  • Consider how to empower tenants’ rights

The powers needed to ensure the rental market is accessible and works for all do not exist. The commission will make recommendations on possible rent stabilisation powers. The powers come from government and so we will work with Westminster on policy development to reform the private rented sector, enabling Bristol to become a Living Rent City.

While we will focus on delivering change for the tens of thousands of renters in Bristol, we are also making links with other urban areas and could see this work pave the way for rent reform that benefits millions across the country. This is our time to make the case for a Living Rent, and it has never been more important given the current cost of living crisis with no immediate end in sight.

We have a track record of supporting action to improve conditions for renters. Whether that be lobbying for the end to no fault evictions, that are a huge driver of homelessness in our city, or campaigning to bring in the eviction ban during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been pushing for renter reform for some time.

With cross party support, I wrote to the Secretary of State setting out the city’s support for the Renters Reform Coalition proposals for change. We will lobby to ensure these issues remain on the agenda. I will continue to fight for better protection for renters and ensure they are not driven out of Bristol.

So how can people contribute to the work of the Living Rent Commission?

We will be ensuring a wide range of people have the opportunity to be heard, including the lived experience of what it is like on the ground. I am grateful to the organisations who are prepared to work together on the Advisory Board and other organisations who will have plenty of opportunity to shape the work.

Get involved, so Bristol can have a clear voice on this – we need a Living Rent that is manageable for people and works for Bristol.   

Want to know more? Get in touch by emailing: city.office@bristol.gov.uk

Membership of Living Rent Commission Advisory Board as at 26/07/22:

  • Fair Renting Campaign
  • Generation Rent
  • ARLA
  • ALL Wessex
  • Shelter
  • Bristol Older People’s Forum
  • Ashley Community Housing
  • Black South West Network
  • UWE Student’s Union
  • UOB Student’s Union
  • We Can Make
  • Trowers and Hamlins
  • Brighter Places

Giant plans for affordable housing delivery

Today’s blog is from Councillor Tom Renhard, Cabinet Member for Housing Delivery and Homes and Labour Councillor for Horfield

Goram and Vincent were the giants of legend who created Bristol and some of its features, such as the Avon Gorge. They were the inspiration for the name of our Council owned housing company – Goram Homes – and now we are helping them to change the face of Bristol again.

This week at Cabinet, we approved the Goram Homes pipeline of council-owned sites to be developed by Goram and its partners. These sites will now be brought forward for new market rate and affordable homes.

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the need for new homes in Bristol, particularly affordable homes, and what the council and its partners are doing about it. We recently approved ambitious proposals to accelerate affordable housing delivery in Bristol to deliver 1,000 affordable homes each year from 2024. Goram Homes and their pipeline are going to play a major role in us hitting this target.

Because the land in the pipeline is council-owned, we have a greater opportunity to build the kind of homes that are needed in the city. Through the partnership model that Goram uses, we can also build developments at a faster pace, using new approaches like Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) to deliver homes that are more sustainable than those made with traditional building methods.

These aspirations are reflected in Goram’s updated pipeline. To take the city’s biggest and most ambitious future housing site – Hengrove Park – as an example, by adding this site to Goram’s pipeline, Bristol will benefit from over 700 new affordable homes when the build is completed. A significant proportion of these will be social rented council homes. That is 50% of the overall total of just over 1,400 sustainable new homes that will be delivered. In fact, out of the 2,992 new homes in Goram’s list of sites, 48% of them will be affordable – a far higher percentage than is likely with developers operating under a more ‘normal’ market model.

Affordable to whom?

We’re very aware that when we talk about “affordable” homes, it means very different things to different people. Put simply, it means housing for eligible households who cannot afford to pay market rents or are unable to buy homes at market value. Types of affordable housing include social rented properties, affordable rented properties, and shared ownership homes.

National policy defines affordable rents as 20% below the market rent. In Bristol, we’re committed to going further than this. Our priority is Social Rent, which is the most affordable of rented homes. Affordable housing providers in Bristol also cap each new letting at Local Housing Allowance levels, which are well below 80% of the market rent.

If you want to know more about affordable housing, this blog from the Bristol Housing Festival is a good place to start.

The council and Goram Homes’ approach will remain focused on building and supporting mixed, balanced communities. That means a mix of affordable and market homes, with sustainability and community at their heart. By delivering homes in such a way, we can make sure that we build the homes we need to give people from across Bristol the opportunity to call somewhere home.

High-Rise Blocks

I was saddened to hear news of the tragic events of the fire at Grenfell Tower in London yesterday.   My thoughts and sympathies are with the friends and families of all those affected.

I would like to reassure Council Tenants that the Council and Avon Fire and Rescue Service work extremely closely on fire safety and all our tower blocks have Fire Risk Assessments in place which are checked annually.   We also have a number of other safety measures in place, such as smoke detectors in every home.

We do not believe that there is any cause for concern about the council’s housing blocks, but the Council will of course consider the details of the fire in London as they emerge, including whether there are any other steps which may need to be taken.

You can hear my Cabinet Lead for Housing, Paul Smith, speak on BBC Radio Bristol this morning about the safety of high-rise blocks in the city via: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p054dcbb (2:06:30)