Legislative reform is important in improving standards in the UK private rented sector, but it’s not the only change needed

New report by UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence explores how government policy across the UK is changing in light of the expansion of the private rented sector.

The private rented sector has grown significantly in recent years and is now the second-largest tenure in the UK. With the sector now accommodating many more families with children, improving standards of housing and management practices has risen up policymakers’ agenda.

Our report on the changing policy and regulatory landscape, published today, is the first output from our collaboration with the TDS Charitable Foundation and the SafeDeposits Scotland Charitable Trust. The report explores the substantial recent changes which have occurred in the regulation of the private rented sector in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Whilst policy across the nations of the UK is moving at different speeds, it has been moving in broadly the same direction: Governments are embracing more active, and often more radical, regulation of the sector. For example, in December 2017 the Scottish government abolished the equivalent of England’s Section 21 and introduced new, indefinite tenancies for private tenants. Outside of England, systems of regulation and licensing have become more extensive.

The report draws out two key issues, in particular. First, while there has been a lot of recent legislative and regulatory change, we know relatively little about how new structures have been implemented and powers exercised. What limited evidence exists indicates there are significant weaknesses in implementation. There is a considerable risk that a lack of leadership and resources for enforcement will limit the impact of these interventions in improving conditions and outcomes in the private rented sector.

Second, policy reforms have been multi-faceted, particularly in Scotland. The components of reform will interact in complicated ways and the overall impact will take time to emerge. We need better data, from effective systems for monitoring and evaluation, to comprehensively assess the impact of policy change.

The first part of our new UK-wide research project is currently underway which asks: How is the current law aimed at tackling low standards in the PRS being enforced, and what sort of changes could make the system more effective and increase compliance with law? The project explores the principles, practices and approaches which could be applied to ensure enforcement activities in the private rented sector are effective.

This study forms part of a new three-year research programme on “Raising standards in the UK private rented sector” funded by TDS Charitable Foundation and SafeDeposits Scotland Charitable Trust. The programme will provide crucial evidence on the sector to help improve policy and practice.

If you would like to learn more about this programme of work, please get in touch.

Read the full report: The private rented sector in the UK


Date: July 31, 2019 10:33 am


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