Survey shows PRS housing quality has improved over past decade

Responses suggest proportion of non-decent homes fell as sector professionalises and landlords undertake refurbishment.

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Landlords’ spending on refurbishment has seen the quality of PRS properties improve in the last decade, a report says.

According to InterBay Commercial – part of OneSavings Bank –  the proportion of non-decent homes in PRS fell from 44% to 24.5% over that period.

In spite of the sector growing by 45% over the period, adding 1.5m homes, Interbay’s analysis suggests the number of non-decent homes has fallen in absolute terms too; down by 275,000.

The resulting report says: “While there is clearly more work to do, the improvement is significant and sustained.

As a result, the latest English Housing Survey shows that the vast majority (84%) of private renters were satisfied with their current accommodation.”

The survey of more than 700 property investors, conducted for InterBay by research house Savanta, shows 70% of landlords who recently undertook a refurbishment did so to improve the property, be it its presentation or the quality of the accommodation for tenants.

Meanwhile, 45% of landlords cited increasing a property’s capital or yield as their reasons to refurbish.

InterBay’s analysis shows that landlords typically spend £12,000 per refurbishment. This varies considerably on the type of refurbishment.

Typical spending per heavy refurbishment (substantial works such as conversion, extensions and often requiring planning permission) on average stood at £40,000, compared to just £7,000 on a light refurbishment (typically including modernisation or redecoration).

The survey identified many landlords take a “little and often” approach to refurbishments, seeking to ensure they maintain rental income and the quality of the property, while a minority seek more significant and costly works to add value or convert a property.

Indeed, just 18% of those who had recently refurbished a property had undertaken a heavy refurbishment, and of these, nearly two-thirds undertook the works to add value to the property.

Overall, 28% of landlords spent less than £5,000 on their last refurbishment, and 43% spent less than £10,000.

At the other end of the scale, just 13% spent more than £100,000.

Some 74% of those who undertook a refurbishment said it enhanced the property’s value, and 82% saw monthly rents rise – with the average rent for a refurbished property rising by £81 per month, up by 8%

Even after accounting for those who did not see the value of their property rise, the survey identifies a typical refurbishment added £13,000 to a house’s value.

For those that saw the value of their home rise, often those undertaking larger-scale development, the survey identifies the increase as substantial.

These landlords estimated refurbishment boosted the value of their property by 9%, adding around £20,000.

The larger the renovation, the larger the average increase in value too. While a light refurbishment typically adds around £9,000 in value, compared to an outlay of £7,000, a heavy refurbishment, involving a £40,000 spend on average, adds £96,000 to a property’s value, the survey found.

It may be an easy target for political point-scoring, but the private rented sector has been a success story since the financial crisis, catering for a growing proportion of the population that either cannot or chooses not to purchase a home,” said Darrell Walker, Head of Sales, InterBay Commercial.

“Nonetheless, continued investment in the sector is not a foregone conclusion, and it must be supported rather than undermined.

“Landlords have been buffeted by the headwinds of policy change since 2015, and costs have risen for investors.

“Should this rate of change continue, it will weigh on landlords’ decisions to spend more on their portfolios, and risks undermining a decade of progress,” he said.

 

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