PRS standards get Parliamentary once-over in North

APPG inquiry aims to explore current standard of  fast-rising northern PRS, which now makes up 20% of the region’s housing.

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PRS comprised just 9% of housing across the North 15 years ago – now it’s 20% and facing a once-over from the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG).

With a Call for Evidence already published, the inquiry held its first evidence session this week, which heard from the Secretariat: Northern Housing Consortium (NHC), Citizens’ Advice, the RLA, and CIEH.

The inquiry aims to explore the current standard of the PRS in the North, identify positive practice and make recommendations for how government could support the North to raise standards in the sector.

NHC chief executive Tracy Harrison said PRS standards in the North emerged as one of the key themes in research collaboration with the Smith Institute last year.

“It’s great to see Parliamentarians take up an issue so important to our members,” said Harrison.

“Our membership includes local authorities and housing associations, which gives us a unique perspective on the housing needs of local Northern markets, and we’re looking forward to working with members, Parliamentarians, and other partners to raise standards in the sector.”

PRS growth is pitched as one of the most significant developments in Northern housing markets over the past 10-15 years, and now accounts for 20% of housing, up from just 9% 15 years ago.

Despite recent efforts to drive out rogue landlords and bring regulation to the sector, PRS still had the highest proportion of households living in non-decent homes by the end of 2017 at 27%.

Culminating in a report to the government, the APPG hopes to offer recommendations on the policy levers that are available to enforce and raise a baseline of standards in all private-rented stock.

The Inquiry will provide an important northern perspective in the debate on what a healthy PRS should look like as part of a functioning local housing market, while functioning as a forum for discussion on  housing and related policy across the three Northern regions.

“Due in no small part to selling off large swathes of good social housing, the private rented sector houses some of the most vulnerable people in our society, and the time is long overdue for taking action to address this,” said Inquiry chair Ian Mearns MP.

“We will be taking evidence from experts and visiting problem areas over the next few months – we will present our findings to the government along with recommendations, which we hope will help to improve the living conditions for many people.

“It is not acceptable in the 21st century for so many tenants to be living in sub-standard and often dangerous homes,” he said.

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