In this section:

ARCH annual report


The ARCH annual report for 2015-16 is now available to view.


Download it here.

Social landlords and market rents Matthew Warburton - 25/04/2013

Private_rent_300Telford & Wrekin Council is planning to build 550 homes for the private rental sector on its flagship Southwater development over the next three years, it was reported this week. The council said it was seizing "a significant commercial opportunity" that would provide "valuable new income" through rents and the government's New Homes Bonus.

Telford & Wrekin is a stock transfer authority which owns no social housing, but, interestingly, may soon become a landlord providing housing at market rents. Interestingly, the news story emphasises the business case for providing these homes, but does not say where they fit in the council's housing strategy which emphasises the shortage of affordable homes in the borough.

Nevertheless, Telford and Wrekin join a growing number of councils looking to stimulate new developments for market rent in their areas, reflecting a growing demand from households on moderate incomes who might formerly have looked to buy. Oddly, this is often described as a growing demand for "private" renting, but it isn't; it is a demand for rented housing from people who can afford to pay market rents. Demand for market renting would be a better description.

Private renting implies a private landlord and the current shorthold tenancies which are designed to make landlording work as a business by making it easy to get possession when they need to. The private rented sector is also rife with restrictive tenancy conditions long limiting tenants' rights to redecorate, improve or adapt their homes.

Many tenants accept insecurity and restrictive conditions only because they have no alternative. If renting is to become a longer term choice for a growing number, tenancies more appropriate to longer term occupation need to be made available.

It is debatable whether granting longer tenancies is such a big disincentive to private investment in the sector; some evidence suggests that some institutional investors, such as pension funds, may be relatively comfortable with a longer term investment even if they cannot cash in their asset at short notice.

But there are also good arguments for social landlords getting more involved in the provision of market housing because they are able to provide the security and, just as importantly, accountability, that longer term tenants expect and deserve. Housing associations looking ahead to a world without grant are already moving into this space. Councils ought to be thinking about doing the same.

Like emailLink
ARCH Member Comments 4 people like this