Social landlords could increase housing stock for poorer renters

Social landlords, which tend to be local authorities and housing associations, could create more private rental properties to help with the shortage of affordable homes.

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has compiled a report – Private Renting: Can social landlords help? – which has concluded that the government could take a more ‘light-handed’ angle on regulation involving housing associations or councils and the private rented sector (PRS).

The report looked at case studies of 20 social landlords, including four local authorities, three housing charities and several private landlord organisations, and has concluded that those landlords who offered to rent property out below the market rate would be able to break even or make a small profit, and they could make the PRS more affordable and better quality for many.

Long-term solutions

“With government support for secure, decent quality, well managed rented homes that pay their way, social landlords are able to make ‘long-term, slow, patient investments’ that allow them to deliver this,” the report says.

“Government can foster this progress through ‘light-handed’ regulation and a supportive approach to private renting itself.

“The efforts of social landlords and councils to expand and improve private renting demonstrates a commitment to raising the quality, security and stability of private renting, and to enhancing its standing as a socially beneficial tenure.”

Helping households

At present, such social housing is financially regulated by the government. Rents are set according to the local authority’s housing policy as well as the amount of funding they get from central government.

Professor Anne Power, who led the research, added: “Our core conclusion is that long-term, slow, stable investment in low cost, secure renting allows social landlords to use their management experience, their existing assets and their capacity to borrow, to expand private renting.

“This would lead to more socially responsible, more stable and therefore more useful private renting. Social landlords can do much more to house lower income households in receipt of Housing Benefit, but able to pay rent reliably with this help.”

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