House of Commons, Insecurity in the private rental market, January 2022

The LGA’s view is that the best way to increase housing security is to address the unaffordability of housing, which is a key reason why many people lose their tenancy and become homeless. To fix the unaffordability of housing, the Government needs to reform Right to Buy so that councils can build more genuinely affordable homes, by allowing councils to keep 100 per cent of receipts from homes sold to reinvest in housing delivery.


Key messages

  • The Local Government Association recognises the need for measures to improve housing security for tenants. Everyone deserves a safe, warm, secure and affordable place to live, this is critical for health and wellbeing. 
  • Parts of the private rented sector work effectively and provide high-quality accommodation for those who choose to rent or who are unable to buy. However, poor housing conditions are, generally, concentrated at the lower end of the market that provides accommodation to vulnerable groups.  
  • The LGA’s view is that the best way to increase housing security is to address the unaffordability of housing, which is a key reason why many people lose their tenancy and become homeless. 
  • To fix the unaffordability of housing, the Government needs to reform Right to Buy so that councils can build more genuinely affordable homes, by allowing councils to keep 100 per cent of receipts from homes sold to reinvest in housing delivery.  
  • It is also important that challenges of the welfare system such as inappropriate local housing allowance (LHA) rates are addressed. Though this has marginally been addressed in the Coronavirus Act, 2020, this is on a temporary basis. The confirmed freeze of LHA rates is significant for those living in the private rented sector and that are relying on housing benefit. While the cost of living is increasing, the freeze will leave even less money in the pockets of those on low-income.
  • It is important that there is an upgrade to the Housing, Health and Safety Rating system (HHSRS) governing property conditions which are not understood by many landlords. Local authorities need better data with a national registration system of all landlords, and adequate funding to develop appropriate responses to the challenging nature and context of the PRS. 
  • The LGA supports action from the Government to strengthen protections for those in the PRS. Government has acted through its commitment to abolish Section 21 of the Housing Act to protect tenants from no-fault evictions, and to introduce a ‘Renters’ Reform Bill’ to strengthen protections for tenants in the PRS. To date, the bill has not been introduced but the LGA has committed to taking an active role in shaping it.  
  • The Government should also bring forward its pledge to end ‘no fault evictions’ in their entirety, which would help reduce the number of people evicted. 
  • While PRS is a critical sector, the key to solving the housing crisis will be empowering local authorities to build affordable housing. Previous research for the LGA and partners shows that investment in a new generation of social housing could return £320 billion to the nation over 50 years

Key statistics

  • The Private Rented Sector (PRS) has doubled in the last 20 years, and now accounts for 19 per cent of households in England, including an increasing proportion of young people, families and lone parent families. 
  • The proportion of properties in the private rented sector in local authority areas ranges from just over 15 per cent to more than 40 per cent. The national average is 19 per cent. 
  • Approximately 40 per cent of the PRS comprises households in the bottom third of incomes.  
  • Absentee and buy-to-let landlords have bought low value poor condition properties that were often originally scheduled for clearance. This has resulted over the last decade in neighbourhoods with more than 50 per cent of the stock in private renting and 25 per cent vacancy rates. 
  • Building 100,000 new social homes with the right infrastructures per year would result in a £14.5 billion boost to the economy. This would kick start our construction sector with 89,000 jobs worth £3.9 billion and adding £4.8 billion, with a further £5.7 to the supply chain.
  • Research commissioned by the National Housing Federation suggests that an investment of £12.8 billion a year over ten years would kick start the delivery of around 1.45 million affordable homes to rent and buy across the country. 
  • As the amount of social housing has declined the demand for affordable housing has increased. This also means ensuring that households in temporary accommodation can be moved into settled housing. The latest statutory homelessness statistics show that there are currently more than 95,000 households in temporary accommodation. 

Contact

Jonah Munn, Public Affairs and Campaigns Adviser

jonah.munn@local.gov.uk