Private renting is becoming more difficult by the day
Private renters are finding the search for a new home more difficult by the day. A call on all sides for policy change is growing louder as evidence of a worse crisis mounts:
Shortage of homes
At national level the number of homes available to rent continues to fall steeply. Industry research shows a 35% reduction since 2019. Property data consultants TwentyCi say the market is ‘under stress’. They point to ‘monetary, fiscal, regulatory, and demographic factors driving historic stock shortages and consequently higher rents’.
Like others having to respond to interest rate rises, landlords are passing on higher costs. In their case it’s much higher mortgage payments. Many are withdrawing from the market and selling up. In the 3 months to June Rightmove reports rents reaching record levels; they were up 14% in outer London with average monthly asking rent £2206. Our own research in Epsom & Ewell underlined the
difficult impossible situation facing low-income renters.
All this is raising the level of tenants’ insecurity. BBC Newsbeat* covered the sorry experiences of people facing eviction under the infamous Section 21 ‘no-fault’ regulation. Often the problem was the tenant’s inability to meet a demand for a huge rent rise.
In May the government published its Renters Reform Bill which will will scrap Section 21 notices. Since then however the number of tenants receiving Section 21 notices has apparently returned to pre-pandemic levels. It seems the bill has spooked some landlords casting doubt on their ability to repossess their property should the need arise. For that and other reasons homelessness is rising as shown in official statistics for the first quarter of 2023.
Call for change
In response, a group of housing and social support organisations** has written to the prime minister seeking urgent action to prevent a deeper crisis. Their open letter also notes the government’s prompt efforts to help mortgage payers cope with higher interest rates which is in ‘stark contrast’ with delays in delivering security for renters.
They regret that the Renters Reform Bill is now delayed by the parliamentary timetable and call urgently for longer guaranteed security for renters in their homes.
* Renting advice, BBC Newsbeat, 26/07/23
** Including Citizens Advice, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Shelter, Chartered Institute of Housing and 23 others, coordinated as Renters Reform Coalition.