Category Archives: mipim

Gyms, tiny rooms and massive rent – what we learned about student housing at MIPIM.

by Pearl Ahrens, UCL Cut the Rent

While some of us were outside MIPIM asking delegates to Give Us Back Our Fucking Rent!, others were inside seeing what deals were being done, what people were saying – and what’s going to happen to housing in this country.

Private rental sector and excusing higher rents.

“[We’ll see a] total convergence in real estate generally of housing and the rental sector, of life, work and play not as separate sectors”.

This, according to Matt Yeoman, Director BuckleyGrayYeoman, is the direction of travel for the private rental sector (PRS). He was speaking on a panel about the ‘Future of student housing’.

The upshot of this panel? The future of the PRS is about an increasing similarity with hotels and the hospitality industry. Making renting not about just having a place to live, but about providing a whole inclusive life-experience from the apartment block. This will have a knock-on effect on the private student accommodation sector, and that in turn will impact university-owned halls.

Property providers know the housing crisis is something they have created – Bruce Ritchie, CEO at Residential Land spoke of the “frustration of aspiring young people… most people know where they want to live, it’s just whether they can afford it”. And so, they reap the benefits of their own actions by renting instead of selling, by using the provision of extra services as an excuse to raise rents even further. In the private rental sector, ‘affordable’ doesn’t mean affordable. Affordable Rent means “subject to rent controls that require a rent of no more than 80% of the local market rent (including service charges, where applicable)”[1]

End of halls

Students who don’t get into university-owned halls end up in the private rental sector – a far cry from the ‘halls experience’ where they meet their friends and have the traditional first year of university. Phillip Hillman, chair of JLL UK Alternatives, sees this as a gap in the “immature” private rental market which private student accommodation is filling. For providers, private student accommodation is a great investment – it’s like the fast-growing private rental sector but with a more stable, Brexit-resilient stream of available tenants. Again, the idea is to provide lots of hospitality and built-in services – group study spaces, gyms etc. and cut back on everything else. That students can’t afford these premium apartments is a nuisance providers get around – according to Richard Gabelich, CEO at UK Campus Living Villages (CLV) with this “big focus on affordability, you can get away with smaller bedrooms if you’ve got great study space”. Companies like Richard’s are taking advantage of this opportunity at an extraordinary rate – the proportion of student accommodation administered by private providers went from 18% in 2006 to 41% in 2015/16.[2]. The trend towards providing other services also exists here, as Matt Yeoman said at the panel – “It’s entirely hospitality driven. [If not, it] will fail. [If we keep] upping the bar, [we] will be fine”

This drift towards hospitality ventures means private student accomodation, with these stark takeover rates, are ‘leading’ the way.  “Every PRS scheme we are working on feels like student housing eight to ten years ago”, Yeoman also said.

The problem with all this isn’t simply the provision of social spaces. It’s the social spaces being offered as a ‘luxury option’ and the hike in rents which this necessarily entails. This increase in rent is supposedly legitimised by the expansion of the provision of services, though there’s nothing to stop private student accommodation providers raising the rents to a price above and beyond what it costs to provide those services, and way above and beyond what most students can afford before they are forced to live in dire poverty.

How this relates to universities.

On the part of the universities, it’s difficult to provide enough spaces for all their students in the halls they own, and with gross underfunding from the government, the halls’ rents seem like the perfect source of income, ready and available to tap.The mere existence of private student accommodation allows universities like UCL to excuse their extortionate rents, driving up prices in all accommodation. For example, UCL over-prices all its accommodation to make a surplus which they plough back into the UCL Estates pot. While ‘higher quality means higher price’ attitude of private student accommodation providers is to be expected, one would expect better of universities, considering their duty to students.

If universities were properly funded by the government they wouldn’t have to scrape the pockets of their students to find research funding. However, with talk of lifting the £9000 cap, and with top unis like UCL actively lobbying for less funding from the government, it’s unlikely that they will be adequately funded any time soon. UCL’s former Provost Malcolm Grant was quoted advocating lifting the then £3000 cap all the way back in 2006, so to think that lifting the (now £9000) cap on tuition fees is a sustainable or just solution to funding problems is absurd.

Some of the time, universities and private providers work directly together – in public-private partnerships. The trick of underfunding the public sector until it needs to be ‘saved’ by the private one is at play here, and was acknowledged by the panel. Hillman said that underfunded universities run halls with “half [of student accommodation] well below the standard that universities say is desirable, and the universities have no money, [so] they look to the private sector”. Gabelich, too is fully aware of the difficult situation the government put universities in. He mentioned how the cap on tuition fees is generating funding worries for universities, so private student accomodation provides “an avenue in which they can get capital from the private sector to invest in other areas (like research)… universities are cottoning on more and more to that”.

[1] http://planningguidance.communities.gov.uk/blog/policy/achieving-sustainable-development/annex-2-glossary/

[2] http://www.nusconnect.org.uk/resources/nus-unipol-accommodation-costs-survey-2015

[3] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/student-judges-student-accomodation-awards_uk_580f0d40e4b0f479c0d79810

Student Housing – the facts

Check out our infographic on the reality of student housing. No wonder grads had to ask MIPIM delegates for spare change, or camp out in Unite’s offices.

MIPIM – Give us back our f***ing rent!

by Harriet Vickers, Housing Action Greenwich and Lambeth, Katya Nasim and Becka Hudson, Radical Housing Network @radicalhousing  

We’re in the midst of a global housing crisis – and MIPIM is the command centre. A motley crew of private developers, speculators, politicians and councils gathered today in West London at property show MIPIM, only to be met by graduates holding collection boxes, saying ‘Give Us Our F****ing Rent Back!’, just one of the eye catching protests for housing justice that took place across the city.

MIPIM is an exclusive marketplace where public land and property that should be used to provide truly affordable homes is secretly sold off – or even given away. With a ticket price of £500, and with many deals being done around champagne-laden dinner tables few people know exactly what is said between universities and investors. When these deals do become public the consequences are stark with private halls costing students an average of £1212 a month – more than their student loan.

With a session entitled ‘Student Housing: Coming of Age’, our efforts this year focus on the ‘financialisation’ of student housing.

It is becoming routine that people who want to get an education in the UK must accept living in poverty whilst private companies bloat their rent and rake in millions a year.

Student halls are now prime investment opportunities, with £5.2 billion invested in the sector in just the first five months of 2015. Universities are acquiescing to this – selling so much accommodation that private landlords now make up 41% of all student housing provision and, as negotiated at events like MIPIM, this number is rising.

Whilst investors profit from the land-giveaway, ordinary people are being evicted, priced out of their communities, forced to live in poverty and made to live on the streets. Here’s why we protested MIPIM and what it means for students…

1.If the dodgy deals at MIPIM continue, only the very richest students will be able to get an education:

NUS research shows that the average student halls use up 95% of a student loan, leaving students with small amounts of cash to cover all living expenses, including food, clothes, travel and books. If student housing continues to be sold off at MIPIM, the only people who will be able to survive in higher education will be the richest people who can easily access significant extra financial support.

2. MIPIM is anti-democratic and unaccountable, and it makes student housing just like it: Over half of all universities don’t consult with students when setting rents, and almost half have no policies on supporting low income students with their rent. As they sell off housing to private companies with no accountability to students, these problems only gets worse, narrowing the scope for students to have their say and leaving them shut out of decisions that can drive them into poverty.

3.MIPIM means housing is bought only to be left empty. There are nearly 60,000 empty homes in London while almost 50,000 households are homeless, relying on temporary accommodation such as B&Bs. The number of young people sleeping rough in the capital has doubled in the last five years and the number of rough sleepers as a whole is higher than ever. Squatters and council tenants with a spare bedroom face sanction – while investors are free to leave their properties empty, waiting for the price to rise.

4.Developers say they’re giving students choice, when they are forcing them into poverty: At the moment, students are left with an average of £851 a year to spend on all living expenses after rent. Private accommodation already costs more than university owned alternatives. The more halls sold to private investors at MIPIM, the less money students will have to survive.

5.MIPIM means housing is used for greed, not need. The international property fair began over 25 years ago, and now meets regularly in Cannes, Japan and London. Investors buy up public land of all stripes for developments not intended as homes, but as piggy-banks for multinational investors.

There is an alternative. The anti-MIPIM demo was organised by the Radical Housing Network and UCL Cut The Rent.

The first is a network that brings together over 30 grassroots groups to demand that housing is a right not a privilege, and to fight against social cleansing and for decent homes for all. UCL Cut The Rent are the campaign for lower rent at University College London, whose success with rent strikes this year is galvanising cut the rent campaigns with students across the country.

Today, we forced delegates to face those affected by the housing crisis they are creating.

Today’s demo is part of a housing movement that’s building across Europe, linked to The European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City. Trade unionists, tenants, campaigners and students are coming together, join us to ensure no people are without homes, and no homes are without people.

Say NO to MIPIM 2014

MIPIMF

What is MIPIM?
MIPIM proudly describes itself as the world’s largest property fair, attracting around 20,000 investors, developers, local authorities, and banks each year.
It usually takes place annually in Cannes, France. This year will see the first MIPIM UK, to be held at London’s Olympia 15-17 October. Billed as ‘the 1st UK property trade show gathering all professionals looking to close deals in the UK property market’ – a gathering of professionals and elites looking to profiteer from UK land and property.
Join affected communities, the Radical Housing Network, the European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City, Defend Council Housing, trade unions and a range of other groups to say NO to MIPIM: YES to housing justice!
Why?
MIPIM promotes an unsustainable business-as-usual approach to housing and land use that is privatised and profit-driven for the benefit the richest 1% whilst destroying our communities and keeping millions in poverty.
We are facing a major housing crisis with prices spiralling out of control, cuts to essential housing support services, the bedroom tax hitting the most vulnerable, and public land being sold off to speculators. Meanwhile record numbers of homeless are forced to live on the streets.
Local authorities that attend are on the lookout for potential business partners and corporate interests who’ll collaborate on yet more ‘regeneration’ plans. We don’t want more boutique hotels, offices, luxury housing and shopping centres, we don’t want our neighbourhoods to be gentrified and entire communities evicted. We want quality affordable housing for all.
There are alternatives. We say ‘enough is enough’. We demand:
  • No more sell-offs of public land
  • A national programme of council house building
  • Rent control and more rights for private renters
  • The decriminalisation of squatting
When?
Next organising meeting   Tuesday 9 September, 7pm – 33-37 Moreland St, EC1v 8BB Public meeting                     Tuesday 16 September, 7pm – 128 Theobald’s Road,                                                                  WC1X 8TN
MIPIM UK                            15 – 17 October, Olympia W14 8UX
Day of protest                      Wednesday 15 October from 9.30am
                                                Friday 17 October from 5pm
Where?
Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, London W14 8UX,

Making Links between Housing and the Environmental Movement: 2nd Forum on Natural Commons

Attending the conference “2nd Forum on Natural Commons”, held on 2nd June 2014 in London, the author was looking for common ground between the housing and environmental movements, to see what links could be made in the future. Having missed most of the first half, took the following notes for the second:

Carbon/ biodiversity credits/ offsets are financial instruments to provide incentives/ monetary payments for “protecting” eco-systems. However these credits have mostly led to land- & green-grabs, such that areas rich in natural diversity have been turned into private conservation reserves, fenced off for offsetting credits and used to harvest “eco” consumer products. Market-based credits have simply become a means for the commodification of the natural environment, a collusion between science, finance and government based on the flawed assumptions of “the market”; this type of conservation sees all eco-systems as a homogenous mass (so that for example irreplaceable ancient woodland is considered equivalent to any other forest) and the only value of the environment as a means to making profit.

Credits have lead to a redistribution of power in areas affected, with green-grabs, enclosure and “fortress conservation”, in which the indigenous communities are marginalised, and any deliberative process and debate closed down in favour of making money. In Europe and the UK, “independent” (private) verification contractors are paid to create offsets, these offsets then used for speculation and gaming, and areas set aside as offsets are often built on a few years later (issues of maintenance). There are often perverse outcomes from this type of environmental protection, such as the growing desirability of land around national parks, created to protect natural eco-systems, but now the favoured sites for the rich to live in wealthy enclaves. Similarly, “experts” (eg ecologists, geologists) colonise these “commons” and landscapes with rules and regulations to “protect” them, thereby stopping local communities from deriving sustenance/ recreation from them.

Carbon Trade Watch have put together a short report on the global issue of biodiversity credits and their abuse in a “A Fish for a Tree: Understanding the (il)logic behind Biodiversity Offsets”

There is still plenty of land-grabbing in the EU and UK, especially around infrastructure, agricultural and energy policy, a constant battle between large corporates vs small producers, rights of possession vs rights to produce, etc. Resource issues are treated as a technical issue (monetary value), rather than a rights-based issue, and highly centralised land ownership leads to problems of access to land for everyone else. One recent example of this green-grabbing is that of a large solar farm in Sardinia, Italy, where 64ha of prime agricultural land was taken over for a private solar farm, with small farmers forced off the land and given small, one-off compensation payments, while the EU subsidised the solar project to the tune of Euro7 million a year.

Friends of the Earth and FERN have put together an excellent selection of case studies from the UK which demonstrate how biodiversity offsets are used by property developers to defraud communities of their ancient woodlands, green belt, meadows, etc.
“Case studies of biodiversity offsetting: voices from the ground” [foe, FERN; 2 June 2014]

In seeking to draw parallels between housing struggles and environmentalism, the first similarity is their opposition to the prevalent system of rapacious capitalism. Corporates and governments alike cynically manipulate instruments and legislation to promote and protect their own vested interests, using “institutional abuse” to break down resistance to their predetermined agendas; for example in the UK, Social Services currently threaten families under eviction with having their children taken into “care” if they do not comply. Secondly, the centralised and concentrated control of land, power, resources, etc means that there is little scope for alternative models, and where alternatives do exist, they are constantly under threat from encroaching resource-grabs (eg council housing taken over by housing associations and Right-To-Buy).

Governments and corporates are short-termist in their approach, preferring quick wins for profit, tax income, votes, etc. to the detriment of long-term sustainability and human rights; for example the current engineered property bubble will have dire consequences for the economy in the future, while state-backed extreme energy-extraction like fracking is already posing serious threats to human health, potable water resources, climate change, and the industrialisation of the countryside. The collusion between state and capital is global in nature, as illustrated  by two upcoming international summits that will see power brokers carving up common resources and selling them off without any public consultation; in the case of housing this will happen at MIPIM in London in October and in terms of environmental commons, is currently happening through the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), set to be codified into UK law with the Infrastructure Bill.

In housing, as in the environmental movement, there is a concerted and growing grass-roots resistance to the complete disregard for people and planet. In order to succeed, networks from both movements need to start co-ordinating strategies and tactics, share information and research, provide mutual support and find common targets from their respective angles. This unity of purpose created one of the defining moments of the ‘90’s anti-globalisation movement; in Seattle in 1999, during the WTO summit, separate marches of environmentalists, trade unionists, human rights activists, etc converged, united and took action to close down the summit just as state and corporate leaders were unilaterally agreeing the privatisation of national resources. With the latest summits on global privatisation, we are once again called upon to defend what we still have, and actively implement what could be.

Follow at:
#naturenotforsale
#londonnotforsale

Stop Selling Our Cities!

This week is the annual MIPIM conference- the world’s biggest property fair, where our cities, lives and communities are bought and sold.

This year, activists, campaigners and citizens from across Europe are fighting back. Today is the European Day of Action against MIPIM, and the Radical Housing Network is pleased to be a supporter. A People’s Tribunal is taking place in Cannes, with people coming from across Europe, including the UK, to put the developers of MIPIM on trial for the damage they have done to our cities.

From the European call-out:

At the annual real estate spring party “MIPIM” in Cannes businessmen will not be totally alone this year. For the first time in 25 years of undisturbed deal making they may meet some of their final “customers”, victims or resistors, shouting in a square of Cannes. The “European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City” organizes an international protest against the huge speculation projects, which normally get prepared and celebrated at this annual meeting of the who-is-whos in the global property market.

Here’s a very cool video explaining more about MIPIM:

Last week, we went to City Hall, to tell Boris and the GLA to stop selling our city at MIPIM. Check it out:

MIPIM on trial: Case studies on Southwark and Brent released

mipim cyclists 4

What has MIPIM ever done to us?

Today we release two case studies on the disastrous effects of the pacts between MIPIM developers and politicians on the lives and communities of Londoners.

Read the murky tale of developer Lend Lease’s relationship with Southwark, which gave birth to one of the most appalling instances of community displacement, coupled with financial mismanagement and barefaced lies. A revolving door between Southwark employees and Lend Lease, coupled with the fact that Lend Lease has paid for Southwark to attend MIPIM, provides a striking illustration of the networks of power that are leading to the sale of our cities from under the noses of citizens.

Or try the story of the South Kilburn estate – one of a number of “regeneration” projects managed by the Brent Housing Partnership which have seen local residents “decanted” to make way for luxury apartments. Perfectly adequate homes have been demolished, and in many cases nothing has been put in its place, as money runs dry and building plans stalled. The pattern will be familiar to communities across the country.

Today we head to City Hall, at 2.15pm, to demand an end to the sale of our city, which is forcing prices up and communities out.

Next week, people from London will join those from cities across Europe in Cannes, where MIPIM takes place. A tribunal will be held, with these London case studies forming one part of a Europe-wide picture of the role of MIPIM in the housing crisis. It is time to join the dots.

Press Call: City Hall Demonstration to Stop Boris selling London at MIPIM

Date: March 6th, 2014
Time: 2.15pm
Location: City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2AA
Contact: Rob Ronan- 07761789947 (Interviews available on request)

On Thursday 6th March housing groups and residents from across London will demonstrate outside City Hall to express their anger at Mayor Boris Johnson and over 20 UK councils participating in the MIPIM conference which is fuelling the housing crisis.

MIPIM is the world’s biggest property fair and will take place from 11 to 14 March in Cannes in the south of France. The fair has a €1600 entry fee per person and brings together 20,000 investors, developers, local authorities, and banks.

Boris and councillors will be meeting potential business partners in Cannes for the selling of public land and to approve ‘regeneration’ plans for more hotels, offices, luxury housing, shopping centres in UK cities.

As London councillors will be setting off for MIPIM on Thursday there will be a ‘speak-out’ of people’s difficulties in finding affordable, secure housing in the UK. This will be followed by a presentation of three reports about the disastrous impacts of corporate housing developers benefitting from lucrative public contracts. A competition is being held to bring the most ‘For Sale’ signs in protest at policy to marketise housing which makes profits for speculators, landlords and developers, and ignores the housing need of the communities experiencing ‘regeneration’.

Nic Lane from ‘Brent Housing Action’ says: “We, the people who have been affected by deals made at MIPIM by our “representatives” knew nothing of these deals until it was too late. Residents all over London are being forced out of their communities because of rising rents, and the building of unaffordable ‘affordable’ housing schemes to replace council housing.”

Liliana Dmitrovic of ‘People’s Republic of Southwark’ added: “We are coming to City Hall to show that our land, our cities, and our homes, will not be sold by politicians to line the pockets of developers. These are the individuals responsible for the housing crisis, and we believe that everyone deserves a decent home.”

The ‘London not for sale’ demonstration will be part of protests across Europe in response to a call from ‘European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City’, which is supported in London by the ‘Radical Housing Network’.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. Link to Mayor Boris Johnson’s keynote speech at the MIPIM conference last year

2. A teaser list of councils, developers, estate agents, banks and investors attending the MIPIM conference this year

3. Follow #londonnotforsale for updates

4. www.radicalhousingnetwork.org Twitter: @radicalhousing

Stop Boris selling our city at MIPIM! March 6th, City Hall, 2.15pm

MIPIM FLYER FRONT (1)

MIPIM is the world’s biggest property fair, where our cities and our land are up for sale. It takes place in Cannes, bringing together about 20,000 investors, developers, local authorities, and banks to figure out how to carve up our cities and sell off our land.

The companies which attend MIPIM, and our government “representatives” who share their champagne, are responsible for the eviction of communities, the gentrification of our neighbourhoods, and the housing crisis itself.

This year, on March 12th, people in cities across Europe are taking action to denounce the sale of our cities. The actions have been called by the European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City, and is supported here by the Radical Housing Network.

People in London are organising, and plans are brewing. We don’t want Boris Johnson and local councils selling our homes, because we have the rage that comes from our experience of corporate control. We are for quality, secure, truly affordable housing for all, and we will get it.

Join us, 6th March, 2.15pm, outside City Hall. Bring stories of your life in the housing crisis, or your struggle against it.

Bring For Sale signs – a prize will be awarded for the borough with the most!

Follow #londonnotforsale for updates

Get in touch for flyers and posters to share.

Call for participation with the European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City

In December housing rights activists from a number of European cities met in Paris to discuss ideas for joint actions in 2014. One of the main outcomes was a general plan for decentralised action at the occasion of the international real estate fair MIPIM.

MIPIM 2014 will take place from 11 to 14 March in Cannes in the south of France. This is one of global capitalism’s major annual events for all aspects of the real estate business, including the buying and selling of land, the planning, construction, financing, facilitation and management of housing and commercial property around the world. Some 20,000 people will take part, with an entry fee of €1600 per person. At MIPIM the planet is for sale.

Some of those attending the MIPIM real estate market will come from public municipalities and councils around the world. They will be seeking to sell public land and infrastructure, directly, as part of development projects or in “private-public-partnerships” (PPPs), the collaborationist approach of UN-Habitat’s “Manifesto for cities”. They will be approving ‘regeneration’ plans that respond to the interests of speculators: hotels, offices, luxury housing, shopping centres. Here, they will make contact with possible business partners to sell the commons in order to escape their financial crisis. The ordinary people who will be affected often know nothing of these deals until it is too late. We are coming together to disrupt this process.

The inhabitants of capitals across Europe will be targeting political representatives travelling to MIPIM to sell off our cities. Over 20 UK and London councils are already confirmed, including the Greater London Authority, with overall responsibility for housing in London. A teaser list of councils, developers, estate agents, banks and investors attending is below, along with a link to Boris’ keynote speech at last year’s MIPIM.

Please scan the list for any corporations you are struggling against, and let us know the projects they are involved with, and demands you have of them. Our actions will be successful if we can bring together diverse groups already organising against attendees, and make the links across the city and internationally. We will be acting not just on our own behalf, but also in solidarity with organisers in Southern Europe, whose domestic housing policies are controlled solely by the Troika and international big business. If we have enough local case studies we will present a dossier at a tribunal in Cannes during MIPIM in addition to the London action.

The Radical Housing Network is pulling together a coalition to take action against our political representatives selling off London – we are calling meetings for all constituencies who are affected by transnational real estate, especially those whose enemies are named below.

Contact londonnotforsale[at]gmail[dot]com for further information, or to get involved in organising for March.

Savilles
Harrow Estates- Redrow PLC
Exemplar
Knight Frank
Helical Bar
Barclays
Wilmott Dixon
Albany Homes Developments
A2 Dominion
Travelodge
Blackrock
Morgan Sindall Group PLC
Muir Group
Muse Developments
British Land
Neat Developments
Capita
One Housing Group
Cowell Group
Pembroke Real Estate
Generation Estates
Great Portland Estates
Kier
Skanska
London District Housing Association
M and G Investments
UBS
United House Group
Quadrant
University of Oxford
Axa
British Property Federation
British Airways Pension Fund
Presidential Capital
Pricewaterhousecoopers
CLS Holidays PLC
Bloomberg
Reed Elsevier
Genesis
Goldman Sachs
Hamptons
Curson Real Estate
Shaftesbury PLC
ICM Wealth Management Ltd.
Hilton
Jeffries International
Land Securities
Langham Estate Management Ltd
Landmark
Capital and Centric PLC
Carillion
Logicor Europe Ltd.
Royal Mail Group
Residential Land Ltd.
Terence O Rourke
Transport for Greater Manchester
London and Continental Railways
Lendlease

UK Councils
Bath, Somerset
Bolton
Bristol
City of London
York
Derby
Glasgow
Greater Lincoln
Greater London Authority
Leeds City Region
Leicester
Ealing
Hounslow
Scottish Cities Alliance
Sheffield City
South Gloucestershire City
Cardiff City
Wakefield
Coventry
Southwark