The Private Rented Sector and the Organisations that Supply It

Last week I attended two big housing related events and an online blog debate.

The first up was “Housing 2012”, the big annual Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) conference, which was being held for the first time in Manchester. I attended as a new CIH member visiting the exhibition.

Later in the week I was back in London, where I was a key note speaker at the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) 9th Annual Buy to Let Conference.

Both events interest me as a consultant as I have corporate clients from both local authorities and lenders.

And from my home office yesterday I was a panelist at an on line Guardian Housing debate on the private rented sector (PRS).

CML Event – An Opportunity Taken

A “no journalist” rule precludes me from saying too much about the CML event except to say that lenders are thinking hard about new solutions, new products and approaches to buy to let mortgage lending.

With Robbie de Santos (Shelter), Ray Boulger (Charcol) and myself challenging lenders to look at new ways of meeting the needs of the private rented sector as well as speakers from the Home Builders Federation, it’s clear that the UK’s mortgage lenders are very willing to listen to people from outside the lending fraternity.

That’s a very good thing.

Long Term Tenancies – Shelter and JRF are now on Board

Readers of my blog will know that I have criticised politicians who call for landlords to issue longer term tenancies without realizing that landlords hands are often tied by mortgage lenders terms and conditions which often do not allow landlords to issue such long term agreements.

I’m pleased to see that my views on this are now being echoed by both Shelter and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Lenders seem to be listening now too. (Readers will recall how Green London Mayoral candidate Jenny Jones re-directed her campaign when I politely pointed this out.)

Housing 2012 – An Opportunity Missed?

At the CIH event, “Housing 2012” issues to do with the private rented sector did get an airing in passing, at the main conference, though it is surprising to me that there was no single debate dedicated to PRS issues over the whole three days.

As this is the year that the private rented sector overtook social housing in terms of the total number of households housed, it was potentially a great opportunity to look at the issues around the PRS.

Perhaps next year?

Private Rent Regulation

And so finally to the Guardian’s on line discussion: “Private Rent Regulation” yesterday.

At the end of the debate the panelists were asked to summarise what we all thought the main points were. Here is what I said:

1. Problems in the private rented sector have their causes in the underlying lack of housing – a direct result of the UK’s rising population. If we are not to address the factors behind rising population then we need to address the lack of housing. This requires us to look at the planning system and confront the powerful vested interests ranged against building on available land.

2. Rent controls, like any price controls of a good or service that is distributed by a large number of suppliers, will not work as all the international evidence shows.

3. The private rented sector is already subject to a large number of different laws and regulations. If the tools available to tackle the operators who ignore the regulations are insufficient, too costly to apply or if the penalties for non-compliance are lacking then we should aim to fix these problems before overlaying any further regulations.

4. There is a lot of cost currently being incurred by local authorities in their attempts to get landlords engaged via a range of different schemes. It is time for a review of their effectiveness.

5. The mayoral race in London revealed a slight lack of understanding among politicians about the private rented sector. Central and local government and other interested bodies must develop a better understanding of the PRS including the constraints faced by landlords. To achieve this we need more senior people in housing with real hands on experience of the private rented sector and we need to see them talking to the private rented sector more.”

The link to the Guardian online debate is here:

Email me to let me know if you agree.

ABOUT LETTINGFOCUS AND WHAT WE DO is the home of Private Rented Sector Consultancy and advice.

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