Millions of private renters putting up with substandard homes
A third of private rented homes in England are failing decency standards according to a new report. Thirty-three per cent of the country’s private rented homes would have failed the government’s Decent Homes Standard (the test for social housing introduced in 2000) in 2012, according to analysis in the Chartered Institute of Housing’s (CIH) UK Housing Review 2014, which is being launched today.
In contrast, just 15 per cent of social rented homes failed to meet the standard in 2012, down from 29 per cent in 2006.
According to latest figures from the English Housing Survey, in 2012-13 the private rented sector overtook the social rented sector to become the second biggest tenure in England (after home ownership.) There are four million private rented households in the country (18 per cent of all households) compared with 3.7 million social rented households (17 per cent).
CIH chief executive Grainia Long said the government should look at new ways of improving standards in the private rented sector by targeting tax allowances. Private landlords currently benefit from around £7bn of tax allowances per year for deductible expenses such as repairs and maintenance, insurance and professional fees, but they don’t target or incentivise higher standards. If landlords who committed to a higher level of standards benefited from a more targeted allowance, while those who did not saw their allowances stay the same or even reduce, the government could encourage higher standards – without needing to find any extra money.
She added: “This government has focused on measures to boost home ownership, but with more and more people living in the private rented sector – including more older people, more families with children and more vulnerable people from the housing waiting list – it’s vital that we look carefully at new ways to raise standards.”
The growth of the private rented sector has been fuelled by the constraints on home ownership. Much of the growth has been financed through the buy to let market mortgage market, which the UK Housing Review shows has recovered sharply after the downturn. Lending fell from a peak of £46 billion of loans in 2007 to £9 billion in 2010, before moving back up to £21 billion in 2013, with buy to let landlords being able to access interest-only mortgages more easily than first-time buyers.
The UK Housing Review 2014 has been sponsored by Affinity Sutton, Broadland, Crisis, HouseMark, L&Q, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Orbit Housing Group and the Scottish Government. It is being launched today at CIH’s office on Grays Inn Road, London. Speakers include CIH director of policy and practice Gavin Smart, Million Homes, Million Lives co-founder Natalie Elphicke, CIH President Paul Tennant and review authors Steve Wilcox and John Perry.
Buy the UK Housing Review 2014 online or call 024 7685 1700