Housing: build a system that works for everyone: you can’t expect small landlords to have all the answers

Above Nick Murphy: Chief Executive of Nottingham City Homes Inside Housing recently featured in Inside Housing NCH recently set up a registered subsidiary to build private rented sector homes.

What’s wrong with owning a home?  What’s wrong with owning a second home? What’s wrong with owning a small portfolio? What’s wrong with a medium size portfolio? What’s wrong with purpose built social housing for private rent?


Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.  Above you can see part of the regeneration of the formerly notorious  Ocean Estate in Stepney Green, London,  where Dreda Say Mitchell sets her crime novels.

Good landlords have taken the initiative and done what they’ve felt is the right thing for them, their children and for people who can’t afford to buy. Fizzy Living –(their strapline: ‘Reinventing Renting’).

Fizzy are the private rented sector subsidiary of 15,000-home social landlord Thames Valley – built Fizzy City. Made up of 63 one, two and three bed flats for private rent, the development is aimed at professional 25 to 35 year old ‘rentysomethings’.

But although King Lear thought nothing would come of nothing….in fact, much good has come of small landlords, good landlords who have been lucky enough to help themselves to a pension by buying and letting over the last thirty years. 


It’s when you get to the way larger capital connects with our local communities, there’s a conflict of interest: a battle to the death. In Nottingham you can see how the pressure from venture capital onto the very brilliant idea of student pod accommodation has gone too far, skewing demographics.

Big financial interests, algorhythms think sociopathically about ‘cradle to cradle’ systems to protect and improve investments and returns. In a very real way it’s like a mad hatter’s tea party, the foot goes onto the accelerator and everyone jumps, moving one place on….


Image courtesy of Martyn Williams Alamy Live News

Algorhythms don’t care about the impact of institutionalisation of all aspects of care on the quality and ability of people to receive good nursery and after school care, good education, good health care, good training, decent work and homes throughout their lives.

In Nottingham no-one who works in any organisation linked to these processes can or dares to say, well actually, look at the number of properties set up to be let to students, old, new on the outskirts and in the city to students.

Students are encouraged by thousands of images of interiors to let without any connection to the actual numbers of student properties to let on the streets of Nottingham.

There’s a disconnect between an ideal interior world projected:

Above Over 4,000 Nottingham council homes have been fitted with solar panels. Image: Nottingham City Council. and a google snapshot of luxurious interiors that students can expect……

and the aspirations of ordinary people in neighbourhoods in Nottingham.

Below you can see that the city council has applied a prohibition on the use of letting boards in specific parts of the city:

However, the problem isn’t really the letting boards, it’s about housing meeting the needs of the people who work and live here.

And critically, noone really feeds back from the students about the pressure on them to adopt this cradle to cradle accommodation, planned by template, managed by algorithms.

The great plan for student development and accommodation in Nottingham doesn’t meaningfully connect with either the existing accommodation here nor the aspirations of people here…so the students leave pod accommodation after the first year because they want to experience a normal life, with ordinary people from every age and stage of life while all the systems in education and housing and work are preventing them from feeling that.

I think this disjunction, this structured disconnection,  creates stress.

Landlords who have traditionally rented to students in the older properties around Nottingham feel the insecurity and uncertainty of this market and need guidance to develop their property for mixed use and tenancy, surely?

What’s really bad though is that there’s a real housing need in Nottingham that isn’t being met.

Below is a statement of a strategy from Nottingham City Council:

Everyone is potentially at risk from the effects of poor housing conditions.

However, children, older people and those with chronic health problems are especially susceptible.

There is clear evidence to link poor health with poor housing; for example the link between poorly heated accommodation and high blood pressure or circulatory problems in elderly occupiers; and a raised level of asthma and other respiratory conditions in children living in damp housing with high levels of mould growth.

A major current priority for Nottingham City is to withstand the effects of the downturn and to channel efforts into activity that creates employment and leads to economic growth.

For housing partners this means making the best possible use of the opportunities for delivering new housing, improving existing housing, supporting those people left most vulnerable by the downturn and ensuring that services are delivered in an efficient and effective manner, leading to the improvement of neighbourhoods.

Given the cross cutting nature of housing there are links between this chapter and several others covered elsewhere in the JNSA:

Homelessness, domestic violence, asylum seekers and refugees, adults with physical and learning disabilities, mental health, students and falls.

Also there is a link to Nottingham City Council’s Vulnerable Adults Plan 2011 – 2014 relating to Supported Housing Services.

Issues and gaps

The three year plan of the Nottingham Housing Strategic Partnership 2013-2015 has the following aims:

  • a balanced housing market which offers a range of homes and tenures which meet citizens’ varied needs and choices.
  • a housing offer which makes people want to work and live in the city, particularly aspiring working households. 
  • housing to be of a good quality and standard so that it promotes better citizen health and wellbeing and supports our children to thrive and succeed.
  • citizens to be able to access and live in good quality appropriate housing so that they can achieve their ambitions to live as independently as possible, making  a contribution. 
  • Much remains to be achieved to improve housing standards and the existing housing offer,
  • The private rented sector which is becoming the tenure of the future.
  • Addressing Specialist Housing Needs is important because of economic downturn.
  • Increasing Housing’s contribution in our neighbourhoods is a priority
  • We need to work more efficiently in our neighbourhoods to make them more attractive and make them more resilient to negative impacts of the recession.New Homes are important:
  • There is evidenced need for additional housing
  • The city’s housing offer needs to be improved to make it a more attractive location


For employers to retain residents

  • Housing development will aid economic growth
  • Housing development will help achieve regeneration objectivesImproving Housing standards is important:-
  • to make best possible use of existing housing stock – it is more cost effective and sustainable than building new homes.
  • Reduce the fuel bills of citizens on lower incomes and to cut carbon emissions:
  • retrofitting energy efficiency measures to existing homes are the most significant way of doing both.
  • The existing stock across all tenures needs to be kept in a good state of repair in order to prevent it becoming a larger, longer- term problem, to which the only solution is major regeneration.
  • Private rented sector is growing in importance in the housing market; with this comes a need to raise standards in the sector to meet tenant expectations.
  • Private rented home sector will expand as a source of accommodation through which homelessness duties will be fulfilled; this and its role as a quality. housing solution.
  • A need to work with the sector to improve standards.
  • The poorest housing conditions are experienced by the most vulnerable people in the city: by tackling poor housing a major contribution to other aspects of citizen wellbeing is made.
  • Improving housing improves health, reducing a call on health  resources.
  • Empty homes are a wasted resource and a significant nuisance to people living close by them


  • Specialist Housing Needs and Support is important because:-
  • Nottingham is a City with high levels of deprivation.
  • Local demographics are changing with the population ageing
  • numbers of people who have disabilities in unsuitable accommodation increase.


  • Local Authority Formula Grant to support people with disabilities reducing so a reduction in the supported accommodation provision in the City


  • loss of a number of services which support vulnerable people to live independently.
  • The Welfare Reform Act and Localism Act impact on vulnerable people disproportionately. 
  • The effects of the recession also impact disproportionately on the vulnerableand the homeless and push more people towards reliance on local services


    to offer them advice, assistance and support in meeting their housing needs.

  • The Health and Social Care Act 2012 confers new responsibilities on local authorities to improve the health of their citizens.
  •  Monitoring of the percentage of adults with mental health problems and learning disability in settled accommodation and the number of households who become homeless.


The increase in the aging population present the following housing issues:-

  • Older people want to remain living independently in their own home; this will require additional support services available to all.
  • Older people will need repairs and adaptations to their homes to assist them to live independently and prevent them going into care.
  • Making the best use of our existing housing stock will be a challenge, terraced properties are difficult to adapt and access upstairs is often problematic.
  • We will see an increase in the numbers of people requiring assistance to maintain their home and garden.
  • Changes to the way we advise and support people must be tailored to suit the individual needs of older people and must link with other advice services to ensure people are aware of all their options.The Nottingham City Council Vulnerable Adults Plan 2011 – 2014 contains information relating to additional housing support services, including the Home Improvement Agency, Handypersons Service, Home Service and Signposting Service.

Recommendations for consideration by commissioners

  1. Customers that are common to all services only engage once, to open the door to all services they require. Socially isolated people are likely to engage with GP services and related community health professional that may have and illness linked to issues with poor housing standards and affordable warmth.
  2. Integrated offer for older people whereby an individual can purchase in one step a full package of domiciliary care, housing repair, adaptations and telecare services they need rather than a separately assessed and costed collection of services. The offer may involve the use of :-Our Home Improvement Agency as a single point of contact providing advice and information about the options available for self-funders with individual budgets.

    A single assessment process which can identify the nature and level of support required.

    The delivery and housing repair and adaptation with domiciliary care staff.

    Sharing the risks and rewards between statutory services and providers to

    deliver more for less.

    Integration offers the potential for better and personalised services for individuals.

    Housing and care staff  trained to consider the impacts and interconnections of housing conditions and care needs, to enable more effective solutions, (enabling a swift response to repairs which may cause trip hazards, installing minor adaptations and tackling heating problems).

    Savings e.g. by preventing hospitalisation. Integrated care means care and housing staff operate as one team with joint appointments.

Further develop and integrate into other services, preventative housing services that have an impact on residents’ health and prevent hospital admissions. These


Services may include:

  1. Home Improvement Agency,
  2. Handyperson Service,
  3. Healthy Housing Referral Project
  4. Adaptations Agency
  5. Home Safety ServiceStrategic Approach
    The three year plan of the Nottingham Housing Strategic Partnership 2013-2015

    Supply of new homes

  • More affordable homes.
  • A new extra care scheme.
  • Build bungalows
  • Build other housing for older people.
  • Increase private sector building presence in the city
  • Enable the development of more purpose built student housing
  • Enable the development of build to rent bespoke private rented housing as an alternative to home ownership.
  • Raise standards in the private rented sector. Deliver the Nottingham Standard and bring more properties into accreditation.Additional licensing of House in Multiple Occupation.


    Assist vulnerable homeowners to improve their homes. To complete and

    evaluate the equity loans pilot and explore new funding mechanisms to ensure the continued availability of loans to enable homeowners to carry out repairs to their property and raise standards

    Tackle fuel poverty. Maximise the opportunities of the Green Deal and the Energy Company Obligation between 2013 and 2018. New areas under Green Deal of hard to treat cavity wall insulation, solid wall insulation and works to private landlords’ homes are of particular interest.

    Bring long term empty homes back into use. Source funding to bring empty residential properties back into use or convert empty commercial properties for residential use

    Addressing specialist housing and support

    Improving standards within existing homes

    Within social housing. To complete the decent homes programme by 2015 and maintain decency in all social housing

    Prevent homelessness.


  • Five year homelessness prevention strategy for 2013 – 2018 homelessness strategy for 2013 – 2018.
  • Further develop homeless prevention and early intervention initiatives. 
  • Provision of a range of suitable, flexible and quality specialist and supported accommodation for vulnerable people
  • Provide appropriate accommodation which meets the needs and aspirations of older people. 
  • Build or convert more retirement accommodation built to lifetime homes standards. Encourage house builders to provide bungalows and other housing places such as extra care units for sale or rent for elderly and disabled people in every community.


  • Solutions to issues in multi-landlord areas though local area collaboration.
  • Effectiveness through shared delivery of services, neighbourhood resilience and prosperity through non-traditional landlord activities






One thought on “Housing: build a system that works for everyone: you can’t expect small landlords to have all the answers

  1. Housing is a really interesting area at the moment, both for people who have bought their home, people who rent, people who rent out a property, or a few properties, or many. My own view about landlords and property is that they need to feel connected to the economy that their tenants live in and that more secure jobs throughout people’s lifetimes would make an enormous impact on the landlord tenant relationship.


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