London needs ‘holistic strategy’ to improve its private rented sector

Report calls on boroughs, the GLA and the DCLG to help London’s dominant individual landlords  improve services.

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Having doubled in size in just over a decade, London’s private rented sector (PRS) now risks the health and wellbeing of many Londoners, a report says.

Future of London (FoL) also believes the sector’s ‘status quo’ poses a threat to the economic success and productivity of the capital.

The resulting report calls on boroughs, the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to help London’s dominant individual landlords to improve their services through information and incentives.

It also highlights examples of boroughs developing initiatives to inform tenants of their rights, which is key to reducing eviction rates.

London’s PRS doubled in just over a decade and continues to rise; 40% of London’s households could be in the PRS by 2030.

The PRS provides temporary accommodation for those at risk of homelessness, and caters for the growing number of households that cannot afford to buy.

But with nearly a million people living in the PRS in poverty, 90,000 children in the PRS and spiralling costs of temporary accommodation, FoL wants change.

“Londoners deserve private-rented accommodation that is safe, affordable and secure,” says FoL head of policy and report author Jo Wilson.

“The status quo risks the health and well-being of many Londoners, and the economic success and productivity of the capital,” he said.

Over three years, FoL investigated public-sector approaches to improving the PRS, looking at themes as diverse as new development, regulation, energy efficiency and tenant rights.

The final report highlights the evolution of the sector over the last 10-15 years and outlines four main issues to be tackled to foster the collaborative and equitable PRS London needs.

Those issues are:

  • Increasing the supply of affordable, high-quality PRS
  • Professionalising the landlord sector
  • Making the PRS work for tenants
  • Improving energy efficiency and tackling fuel poverty

The report shows that 15% private house building is in the PRS, with 9,500 homes under construction.

They are being delivered through a range of funding and delivery models, and include permitted development conversions at the lower end, and high-quality, investor-backed Build to Rent homes at the upper end.

“Build to Rent is generally expensive,” says Wilson, “but it’s possible to adapt the model into something more affordable, and the high management standards and longer tenancies could influence the wider sector.”

The report calls on boroughs, the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to help London’s dominant individual landlords to improve their services through information and incentives.

It also highlights examples of boroughs developing initiatives to inform tenants of their rights, which is key to reducing eviction rates.

The report has extensive recommendations under each theme for London boroughs, the GLA, DCLG, housing associations, developers, investors and tenants.

Its three strategic recommendations are:

  1. Work in partnership with landlords and tenants
  2. Engage with and support Build to Rent
  3. Share and create more information and data

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