Private Renting: can social landlords help?
Private renting is a massively expanding sector, and has now overtaken social housing to become the second largest housing tenure in Britain after owner-occupation. Private renting plays a crucial role in housing many groups who can neither afford to buy, and are unable to access social housing. Vulnerable and homeless people are more and more housed in privately rented accommodation. However, the private rented sector is weakly regulated and offers little security to tenants.
This report explores how social landlords are increasingly contributing to the growth of private renting in a variety of different ways. Social landlords have experience in managing rented housing and a strong track record in providing long-term, secure, decent homes. They have an ethical purpose and a core mission to house people. Their involvement in the private rented sector provides an opportunity to make the PRS more stable, secure, and affordable. As well-established landlords and housing managers, social landlords can provide decent quality and secure homes to the people who need them within the private sector. As institutional investors, private renting at sub-market or intermediate rent becomes possible and social landlords should not seek to maximise profits as their main purpose. We also look at how local authorities can improve the private rented sector, looking at case studies of Newham, Liverpool, and other areas that have established local housing companies, have increased their regulatory role with licensing schemes and enforcement powers, as well as how the private rented sector differs in the devolved nations.
The overall conclusion of our report is that private renting by social landlords can deliver good housing for households in need of a home. This activity provides decent private rental homes; and surpluses to cross-subsidise social housing. We believe that through the development of private rented accommodation and the regulation and licensing of the private rented sector, social landlords and local authorities are able to provide a more social model of private renting.