A paper examined proposals, suggested by the United Kingdom Labour Party, to reduce rental costs and improve tenant security through the introduction of rent controls. It said that introducing controls would not improve affordability, but would lead to higher initial rents, a misallocation of housing, and a reduction in the supply of homes to rent. The report argued that security of tenure was not a major consideration for the majority of groups who rented in the private sector, and called for the stimulation of the supply of rental properties through the liberalization of planning laws, arguing that this would then reduce the cost of rent.
Source: Ryan Bourne, The Flaws in Rent Ceilings, Discussion Paper 55, Institute of Economic Affairs
A code of practice for landlords in the private rented sector was published, to encourage provision of accommodation at a standard above the minimum legal requirements and in line with industry best practice.
Source: Private Rented Sector Code of Practice, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
A report examined how to improve standards in the private rented housing sector, and the potential role of incentives to landlords. The report recommended: a review of the statutory minimum legal standards, and their enforcement; regulation of letting agents; an end to lettings fees; a nationally agreed set of standards for the accreditation of landlords; and a range of incentives, including conditional tax reliefs.
Source: More Than a Roof: How incentives can improve standards in the private rented sector, Chartered Institute of Housing/Resolution Foundation
The government published a range of final reports evaluating the impact of changes to the local housing allowance (LHA) system of housing benefit from April 2011. The second wave of the primary research with landlords and tenants had been completed in spring 2013, at which time the LHA measures had only just started to affect all claimants and the impact of the measures on some claimants would also have been reduced by the temporary support provided by discretionary housing payments. The summary report therefore noted that some lagged effects would continue to emerge and that it would become increasingly difficult over time to attribute any changes to the LHA reforms, as opposed to other welfare reform measures or broader changes in the housing market.
Source: Christina Beatty, Ian Cole, Ryan Powell, Peter Kemp, Mike Brewer, James Browne, Carl Emmerson, Andrew Hood, and Robert Joyce, The Impact of Recent Reforms to Local Housing Allowances: Summary of key findings, Research Report 874, Department for Work and Pensions
Two reports provided the findings from advisory stakeholder working groups on proposed energy efficiency regulations under the Energy Act 2011 for the domestic and non-domestic private rented sectors.
Source: The Domestic Private Rented Sector Regulations Working Group ï¿½ Report to Government, Domestic Private Rented Sector (PRS) Regulations Working Group
Source: The Non-Domestic Minimum Building Energy Performance Standards Working Group – Report to Government, Non-Domestic Private Rented Sector (PRS) Regulations Working Group
A report examined the impacts of the changes to local housing allowance within the context of London's higher housing costs and, in particular, the impact of recent policy on disposable household income, increased work incentives, and spending on housing benefit. The report had been commissioned alongside research that took a longitudinal approach to examining in more detail the impact and awareness of benefits changes on sixteen families.
Source: Hannah Aldridge and Peter Kenway, Can the Changes to LHA Achieve Their Aims in London's Housing Market?, New Policy Institute
A campaign group launched its 'manifesto' for the private rented sector, calling for improvements across the sector, including affordability, security of tenure, housing conditions, and housing management.
Source: The Renters' Manifesto: A blueprint for building a new sector in 2015, Generation Rent
A report provided findings from a study of the impact of national benefits policy changes on sixteen households with children who were claiming local housing allowance and housing benefit for privately rented properties in London. The research aimed to understand the awareness of households as to the impact of policy changes on their incomes, and to understand how they responded to any changes. The research had been commissioned alongside a report that looked more generally at the impact of changes to local housing allowance in London.
Source: Rezina Chowdhury and Natalie Cass, The Experiences of Families Claiming Housing Benefit During a Time of Cuts and Changes to Benefits, GFK
A think-tank report provided findings from research with local councillors in England with lead responsibility for housing matters. The study had examined their opinions on the private rented sector (PRS), covering issues such as: the growth of the sector; regulation; the quality and management of private rented homes; actions that local government would like central government to take; and how investment in the sector might change. The report said that only two per cent of councillors listed the PRS as their council's top priority for new supply of housing, although 57 per cent of councillors thought that growing the PRS was important to meeting local housing needs, 69 per cent stated that they were keen to attract larger landlords to build and manage private rented housing, and 74 per cent thought that PRS provision by housing associations would increase. The report said that councils had concerns regarding the regulation of large numbers of small buy-to-let landlords, the quality of private rented homes, length and security of tenure, and rent levels.
Source: The Growth of the Private Rented Sector: What do local authorities think?, Smith Institute
A report examined requirements for electrical safety in private rented accommodation in England. It said that there was currently no requirement for professional certification of electrical systems (apart from in houses in multiple occupation), and called for the introduction of mandatory, certified, five-yearly checks, and for Residual Current Device (RCD) protection to be required within all properties. The report said that enforcement through local authorities would be vital, as would the introduction of restrictions to prevent section 21 eviction notices being served on tenants who complained about poor conditions in their home.
Source: Martha Mackenzie, Home Improvement: Tackling poor electrical safety in the private rented sector, Shelter
A special issue of a journal examined the experiences of, approaches to, and explanations for the interactions between developing financial and economic crises and national housing markets in European countries.
Source: Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, Volume 29 Number 2
Links: Table of contents
Notes: Articles included:
Mark Stephens and Christine Whitehead, 'Rental housing policy in England: post crisis adjustment or long term trend?'
Kathleen Scanlon and Marja Elsinga, 'Policy changes affecting housing and mortgage markets: how governments in the UK and the Netherlands responded to the GFC'
Michelle Norris and Dermot Coates, 'How housing killed the Celtic tiger: anatomy and consequences of Ireland's housing boom and bust'
A report examined the impact of regulation on the private rented sector in the United Kingdom, and examined three case studies: tenancy deposit schemes; landlord and property registration; and managing tenants. It said that there was a need to reduce the regulatory burden, and that increased regulation could increase rents and shrink the sector. It said that any regulatory proposals should be subject to cost-benefit and sensitivity analysis and concluded that there should be a rigorous review of the existing regulatory framework that avoided exaggeration benefits, recognized the limits of state actions, and included an integrated analysis of impacts on operating costs, investment, and rent levels.
Source: Michael Ball, The Impact of Regulation on the Private Rented Sector, Resident Landlords' Association
A consultation paper was issued, setting out a draft code of practice for the private rented sector. The consultation would close on 30 April 2014.
Source: Draft Industry Code of Practice – Private Rented Sector Code (PRS Code), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
A report examined the extent of poor conditions in the private rented sector in England. It said that one-third of private rented sector homes did not meet the Decent Homes Standard, but fear of retaliatory eviction was a major barrier to tenants' reporting of problems. The report said that one in eight renters had not asked for repairs to be carried out in their homes, or challenged a rent increase, in the previous year because they feared eviction. The report called for the government to restrict the use of Section 21 Possession Notices (which could be used to end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement without having to show any grounds) when renters reported disrepair, and supported the use of rent repayment orders for tenants who had lived in properties with serious hazards.
Source: Hannah Gousy, Can't Complain: Why poor conditions prevail in private rented homes, Shelter
A report said that, on existing trends, the proportion of households in home ownership could fall from 65 per cent to around 49 per cent by 2041, in spite of strong aspirations for ownership. The report discussed the potential consequences for the private rented sector in the United Kingdom, and called for institutional investors, such as pension funds and life insurance companies, to invest in long-term property portfolios that facilitated renters' purchases of their properties as their circumstances allowed. The report discussed a toolkit, developed to assist landlords in maximizing their investment returns.
Source: Natalie Elphicke and Calum Mercer, Nation Rent, Million Homes, Million Lives
A report examined students' experiences of the private rented sector in the United Kingdom. It said that over three quarters had experienced at least one problem with the condition of their home, most commonly damp but also infestations of mice, slugs, and other creatures. More than half had experienced delays in repairs and around half said that their property was inadequately insulated, or was draughty. Of those who had left a property, 43 per cent said that they had some or all of their deposit withheld. When asked what they would like to see changed, 66 per cent said they wanted a minimum condition standard, 52 per cent said a ban on letting agent fees, and 51 per cent wanted more services to ensure landlords/agents fulfilled their duties. The report made a range of recommendations, including for the banning of letting agent fees and regulation of letting agents across the United Kingdom; more co-ordinated support for students who experience difficulties; support for energy efficiency; and accreditation schemes for student property.
Source: Homes Fit for Study: The state of student housing in the UK, National Union of Students
A survey of private sector tenants in Britain found that more than half (52 per cent) said their biggest problem as renters was the existing cost of rent, with 39 per cent of respondents saying that rent levels caused them to limit heating their property, and 33 per cent saying that they cut back on food. The survey found that one in three (33 per cent) said they lived in properties with unacceptable dampness.
A report evaluated recent changes to Local Housing Allowances (LHAs) and Housing Benefit (HB) in the private rented sector (PRS) in Northern Ireland. It said that, overall, the effects had been 'fairly muted', with no evidence found of large scale tenant displacement or of landlords leaving the LHA submarket. However, it said the LHA measures had changed the attitudes of landlords towards letting to single people under 35, there were increased negotiations over rents with both existing and prospective tenants, more landlords reported increased rent arrears, and tenants reported growing pressure on their household budgets. The report said that the LHA measures had only just begun to take full effect at the time of the second wave of the research, and that the changes would have ongoing consequences which, as further welfare reforms evolved, would mean ongoing affordability problems for many low income households in the PRS.
Source: Christina Beatty, Ian Cole, Stephen Green, Peter Kemp, Ryan Powell, and Elizabeth Sanderson, Monitoring the Impact of Recent Measures Affecting Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowances in the Private Rented Sector in Northern Ireland: Final report, Centre for Regional, Economic and Social Research (Sheffield Hallam University)
A report examined the long-term outcomes and well-being of vulnerable homeless households resettled into the private rented sector (PRS) in three locations in England (Greater Manchester, East Sussex and East London). It said that people's hopes for stability, safety, comfort, and warmth were not met in the majority of cases, with many properties having quality or safety issues. PRS tenancies were seen as expensive and the report said that people struggled to meet living costs, including those for energy and food. The report made recommendations for better support and funding, for longer tenancies in more suitable properties, and for local and national frameworks to address issues of quality and safety, and problem landlords.
Source: Mary Smith, Francesca Albanese, and Jenna Truder, A Roof Over My Head: The final report of the Sustain project, a longitudinal study of housing outcomes and wellbeing in private rented accommodation, Crisis/Shelter
The government published a discussion paper on property conditions in the private rented sector in England, inviting comments on a range of issues and policy options, including: rights and responsibilities; retaliatory eviction; rent repayment orders; safety conditions; licensing; and rating systems. Responses were invited to be made by 21 March 2014.
Source: Review of Property Conditions in the Private Rented Sector, Department for Communities and Local Government
A report examined the consideration of poverty within the strategies, policies, and business plans of local authorities, housing associations, and private landlords, and the role of housing providers in reducing poverty. It said that policy focused on issues such as social exclusion and tenure residualization, rather than the interactions between housing and poverty, and there was little evidence available on explicit anti-poverty strategies. It noted the tensions for housing associations in balancing their commercial aims with their more traditional social goals and said that 'affordable rents' were likely to increase the poverty of some tenants.
Source: Anna Clarke, Sam Morris, Chihiro Udagawa, and Peter Williams, The Role of Housing Organisations in Reducing Poverty: A review of strategic and business plans, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
A briefing paper outlined key trends in the private rented sector in England, drawing on data from the 2011 Census. It said that, since 2001, the sector had grown in all regions, but the greatest growth was in London. There had been an increase in the number of younger households and, in terms of household types, the greatest proportional growth had been seen among single adult households, families with dependent children, and houses in multiple occupation.
Source: Some Key Trends in the Private Rented Sector in England: Analysis of Census, Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management (University of Birmingham)
A paper examined the extent and nature of the private rented sector in England. It outlined the growth in the sector and the levels of housing benefit that were paid to private landlords, before making four recommendations: for better use by local authorities of existing powers to encourage improvements in property standards; for local authorities to establish community housing agencies to operate a system of landlord accreditation, tenant matching and other management services; for a multi-agency support team for vulnerable private tenants, to work alongside housing management services; and for home improvement grants and loans to be managed through the accreditation system.
Source: Bill Davies and Anna Turley, Back to Rising Damp: Addressing housing quality in the private rented sector, Institute for Public Policy Research
A London borough began consultation on proposals to extend its existing licensing scheme for large houses in multiple occupation, such that it would cover smaller houses in multiple occupation. It also proposed to introduce a selective scheme that would cover all privately rented homes. The selective scheme was proposed for three wards (Harlesden, Willesden Green and Wembley Central), but the consultation asked whether it should cover a wider area. The consultation would close on 10 March 2014.
Source: Additional and Selective Licensing in the Private Rented Sector in Brent: A consultation exercise, Brent Council