The results for the Government’s English Housing Survey for 2018-19 were published yesterday, and they reveal a mixed bag of statistics. Tenancy lengths are increasing, but this isn’t necessarily a good thing for tenants.
The average length of tenancies in the private rental sector (PRS) has increased to 4.4 years, up from 4.1 years in last year’s survey. The Residential Landlords Association sees this as a positive.
John Stewart, Policy Manager at the RLA believes that landlords are helping tenants establish roots in their communities:
“The vast majority of landlords who do a good job welcome good tenants staying in their properties long-term and today’s figures bear this out. They clearly refute the picture some create that landlords spend all their time looking for ways to evict their tenants and it is time to end this scaremongering.
“The market is meeting the ever changing demands on it without the need for legislation. It is vital that the Government continues to support and encourage this with pro-growth policies that support good landlords to provide the long-term homes to rent to meet ever growing demand.”
Others see longer tenancies as a symptom of a broken property market. Joseph Daniels, founder of Project Etopia said:
“Falling home ownership among the young still threatens to become a national crisis rooted in high property prices and stretched affordability but the tide has finally started to turn.
“Help to Buy, both the equity loan and the ISA, and Stamp Duty relief, are behind the march of the first-time buyers who will be powering a recovery in home ownership in this age bracket.
“This points to a welcome softening in affordability issues but much more progress needs to be made. It will take considerable time and momentum until owner occupancy among younger people returns to the 59% seen in 2003-04.
“House building will need to keep pace with growing demand and buyers face very different propositions across the country with prices still unaffordable in many parts of the UK, particularly in the south of England.”
Dan Wilson Craw, Director of Generation Rent sees this as a big problem. Whilst landlords are providing a useful service, renting is not the end goal for most people, but owning their own home is looking more and more difficult.
“Renters are getting older and many are raising children in homes they can currently lose at their landlords’ whim. Renters are compromising on space to cover expensive market rents, so overcrowding is at an all-time high. Young and old alike, more renters fear they’ll be renting for life.
“These trends underline the urgency of reforming the rental market to give tenants stable and affordable homes. The government’s Renters’ Reform Bill is a huge opportunity to give hope to 11 million people.”
On overcrowding, it is worth noting that the percentage of overcrowded rented homes is at 6.2%, a 23-year high. Even more worrying is that the PRS is the only sector that has seen no decrease in its percentage of non-decent homes.
25% of private rented homes fail to meet the Decent Homes Standard 2018, compared to 17% of owner occupied, and 12% of social rented. This means that 1.15M privately rented homes are not considered to:
• Meet the statutory minimum standard for housing (the Housing Health and Safety system (HHSRS) since April 2006), homes which contain a Category 1 hazard under the HHSRS are considered non-decent
• Provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort
• Be in a reasonable state of repair
• Have reasonably modern facilities and services
With renters staying longer in individual tenancies, and looking at a longer proportion of their lives renting, it is clear that both landlords and the Government must work together to improve tenants’ lives.
The Government must make the property market more accessible to renters, first time buyers and young families.
And whilst the majority of landlords provide decent accommodation, more must be done to improve the quality of non-decent rented property. Read Just Landlords’ guides on landlord responsibilities to make sure that your property is up to spec.