William Eichler 30 January 2018

‘Light-handed’ regulation could help councils provide private rented accommodation, reports says

The Government should do more to support the increasing provision of private rented accommodation by local authorities to help ease the housing crisis, researchers argue.

A new report from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) makes the case for a more ‘light-handed’ approach to regulation governing the relationship between housing associations and councils, and the private rented sector.

Entitled Private Renting: Can social landlords help?, the report suggests this would help to expand and improve private renting to help low income families who cannot get access to social housing.

The report, which was based on evidence from 20 social landlords, four local authorities, three leading housing charities and several private landlord organisations, found social landlords can break even or produce a small surplus if they let property at sub-market rents.

It also said social landlords have the potential to make the private rented sector more stable, more secure, more affordable and of better quality.

‘With government support for secure, decent quality, well managed rented homes that pay their way, social landlords are able to make “long-term, slow, patient investments” that allow them to deliver this,’ the report says.

‘Government can foster this progress through “light-handed” regulation and a supportive approach to private renting itself.

‘The efforts of social landlords and councils to expand and improve private renting demonstrates a commitment to raising the quality, security and stability of private renting, and to enhancing its standing as a socially beneficial tenure.’

Professor Anne Power, who led the research, commented: ‘Our core conclusion is that long term, slow, stable investment in low cost, secure renting allows social landlords to use their management experience, their existing assets and their capacity to borrow, to expand private renting.

‘This would lead to more socially responsible, more stable and therefore more useful private renting. Social landlords can do much more to house lower income households in receipt of Housing Benefit, but able to pay rent reliably with this help.

‘This is an urgent task and a real opportunity for the sector.’

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