Politicians Tinkering Around The Edges Of Renting

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 52 months ago
Politicians Tinkering Around The Edges Of Renting

Photo by Zefrographica from the Londonist Flickr pool

Another day, another report (PDF) about the private rented sector. This time it comes from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Private Rented Sector and focuses on renting for the under 35s. It's a demographic particularly hard hit by a housing benefit change in 2012 when single, childless people under 35 would only receive enough money to cover a room in a shared house. The previous limit had been 25.

Changing the age limit had repercussions on things like: parents without custody not being able to live anywhere their kids could come stay; the Shared Accommodation Rate still being too low to cover a decent room; putting more pressure on the shared accommodation market; and landlords becoming even less keen to rent to tenants on benefits. The report recommends... reviewing the policy. Wowee. Slow down guys, let's not get carried away.

Our lack of enthusiasm is echoed by Generation Rent, which issued a press release saying:

"Half of 16-34 year-olds are renting privately and every week two days’ wages goes straight to their landlord. The private rented sector is systematically sucking money from the young and it will take much more than tinkering on the edges to give young people a secure and affordable home.

"The recommendations in this report simply don’t go far enough and in most cases do no more than call for a review. This incremental approach fails to reflect an understanding of the pressure cooker in which renters of all ages are living today. We are counting on MPs to release that pressure, not to keep us simmering."

Quite. Other tinkering in the report includes allowing landlords to turn properties into shared housing without planning permission, raising the tax allowance for people renting a room in their homes and VAT. We looked for any concrete move to make renting in the private sector more affordable for everyone that needs it, but in vain. Across England, the private rented sector (PRS) makes up 18% of all households but in 19 inner London constituencies, it's more common to rent than to own. As the PRS increases — and it will — we'll become more and more reliant on the free market to set how much we pay for a roof over our heads. How's that working out so far?

It should be noted that an All-Party Parliamentary Group isn't like an official House of Commons committee, but their findings can be influential. It should perhaps also be noted that the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Private Rented Sector has secretariat services provided by a consultancy on behalf of the Residential Landlords Association, but the group does contain good people like Jeremy Corbyn and Caroline Lucas before anyone accuses them of being completely lobbied to hell.

Last Updated 13 October 2014