The starting point for this project was the recognition that while private renting has been growing rapidly in Wales, it has not traditionally been at the forefront of decision makers’ thinking and plays a relatively small part in housing policy in Wales. This is in part because the subsidy support for private renting comes from Housing Benefit which is not a devolved power. How the private rented sector (PRS) is evolving, however, raises many immediate issues about the quality of housing provision; about the best approach to establishing a housing investment programme; and about rent setting and allocation rules in the social sector. Perhaps most positively there is evidence of interest from institutional investors, including international investors, in investing in a modern, well-managed PRS as well as in intermediate and even social housing. Studies in London and Scotland (see Whitehead & Scanlon, 2013) have pointed to opportunities that might in certain circumstances be transferred to Wales.
Three questions have been identified as priorities for this short project:
(i) What are the issues for government arising from the growth of the PRS in Wales?;
(ii) Whether the shifts from owner-occupation to PRS raise issues around longer term public expenditure costs and value for money for both government and individual households; and
(iii) If the PRS is to be a long term tenure of choice, whether it is likely to be possible to interest institutional money and professional management in the market (i.e. what are the barriers to large scale investment?).