Posted on 10 September 2018
The review, The Evolving Private Rented Sector: its Contribution and Potential, reveals that changes to welfare reform are creating a ‘slum tenure’ at the bottom end of the market.
The authors suggest the introduction of a 'Property MOT' - operating in a similar way to that which exists for cars - in which all properties let for residential purposes would be required to undergo an annual standardised inspection.
The review, funded by the Nationwide Foundation, is a detailed, independent analysis of who lives in private rented housing, how their needs are being met and the impact of policy interventions over the last 10 years.
It comes a decade after Dr Julie Rugg and David Rhodes, from York’s Centre for Housing Policy, published their original review of the private rented sector – the first to look in detail at how it functioned.
The main findings in today’s review include:
The review concludes that no government has been clear on the function of renting within the housing market and as a result, interventions have been piecemeal and poorly targeted.
Dr Rugg, co-author of the report and Senior Research Fellow at the University of York’s Centre for Housing Policy, said: “Since our first review was published, declining home ownership and a shortage of social rented homes have led to a surge in the number of people privately renting – particularly families with young children.
“Unfortunately, in its current form the private rental market isn’t providing a suitable alternative, and in the absence of an overarching vision from government, we’ve seen reams of policies and regulations to address problems in the sector which are not joined up or thought through.
“We need to see a fundamental rethink of the role renting plays in our housing market and a comprehensive strategy to ensure it meets the needs of all those who live there.”
Leigh Pearce, Chief Executive of the Nationwide Foundation, the charity that funded the review, said: “For years politicians have ignored the needs of private renters, resulting in a market that all too often fails to provide decent, secure and affordable homes – particularly for those on low incomes. It’s time the government started to take this problem seriously. Instead of more tinkering around the edges, we need fundamental reform and a clear strategy to fix renting. We hope this review will be the start of a cross-party conversation to make that happen.”
The 'Property MOT' would operate in a similar way to that which exists for cars: all properties let for residential purposes would be required to undergo an annual standardised inspection. It would bring together current requirements such as electrical and gas safety certificates and energy efficiency reports, but also include a new assessment according to a basic minimum standard.
The MOT test would be conducted by independent inspectors and would be a tax-deductible business cost for landlords.
Dr Rugg added: “Unbelievably, there is currently no minimum standard that properties have to meet before they are let and as a result, millions of renters have to put up with damp, disrepair and sometimes life-threatening hazards.
“A 'Property MOT' would give people confidence before they sign a tenancy that the property is well-managed and that standards won’t lapse in the future, while for landlords, it offers greater clarity and protection against prosecution.
“This proposal is just one way in which existing legislation can be simplified to make the sector work better for everyone.”
Links to the reports can be found here: