A vision for private rented housing

A vision for private rented housing

By Nick Ballard

For nearly two decades we have seen the private rented sector (PRS) develop at a rapid pace. The decline in social housing, increasing gap between the LHA rate and ‘affordable’ rents, stagnating wages and rising housing prices has increasingly forced tenants into the PRS. Private tenants now include the most economically deprived in society, students, professionals, families and pensioners from every demographic.

Having a home is at the core of meeting anybody’s basic needs, yet we’re seeing more and more people being made homeless due to the end of their assured shorthold tenancies. The PRS is inaccessible to many due to the high rents and extortionate letting fees attached to any tenancy, with many landlords rejecting people receiving benefits. Tenants’ health is being decimated by poor housing conditions across the UK, with the most vulnerable relying on housing that is often damp, cramped and overpriced.

This may be viewed as a worst-case scenario but we have seen these conditions in member defence cases across the country, with rogue landlords taking advantage of people who have no other option.

The right to housing is fundamentally about life chances, providing shelter and a secure place for people to live, confident in the knowledge that they can build a home. We need to see an end to a private rented sector in which landlords and tenants are not fully informed and able to act on their rights and responsibilities. We’ve seen some positive moves towards reducing the costs associated with living in the PRS with the Letting Fees ban, and additional security for residents with the government’s promise to end Section 21. However, more needs to be done to improve the conditions in the PRS, make the sector more affordable for those who need it most, and allowing people to make their private rented houses homes, not “property investment opportunities”.

Only then can people truly put down roots, stop living day to day worrying about the precarity of their housing situation, and thrive by becoming fully involved in a community where they know they can afford to stay without fear of eviction or deteriorating health.

This article was written for The Vision Project by Nick Ballard. Nick is the National Organiser of ACORN, a community union focusing on the housing crisis and tenants' rights.

If you are interested in this article, you may also be interested in finding out more about our social lettings agency, Home Turf Lettings, or our housing advice service, Reach.

DHI has invited the author to write the above article. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies or otherwise of DHI.

The Vision Project is DHI's way of marking its 20th anniversary, not by looking backwards but by looking forwards and seeks a range of diverse views to really inform this process and develop its services for all.

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