By Sebastian O’Kelly
The Guardian has described this two part BBC2 documentary as the most “nakedly furious” documentary in years.
Part 1 was broadcast on Tuesday night, and now on iPlayer, looking at the political drive to encourage home ownership, which is now spectacularly failing as home ownership is falling.
The second part broadcast next Tuesday at 9pm looks at other failings in leasehold, the corruption of the housebuilding sector, the appalling build quality, the despair of young people unable to get on to the housing ladder, the outrageous rental market and the failings in social housing.
At the heart of this, as I tell the programme, was the utter disaster of turning housing into an investment asset rather than a social need over the past 25 years. This let rip a generation of baby boomer investors hoovering up housing that would normally have been bought by poorer people and the young, and they in turn were muscled out by richer investors, and overseas punters, who wanted the largest slice of this attractive pie of inflating asset prices.
The worst sector, and the area most attractive to “financial engineers” were leasehold properties: where the landlord with a minimal investment – the freehold may be worth only 1-3% of the collective leases of a block – makes all the decisions, and has a uniquely privileged position in law.
How politicians promised home ownership, but with policies that sent prices out of reach.
How the strain on housing – from new builds to social homes – reached breaking point.