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Private Rented Sector

What Is It?

Over the past ten years the growth in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) has become a key feature of the South Essex housing stock and a significant driver in the local housing market. Between 2001 and 2011, the South Essex PRS was up by 6.1% while owner occupation fell by 5.1%. Private renting has surpassed social renting and the trend is set to continue. Basildon and Thurrock were the only authorities to still have slightly higher levels of social rented housing compared to private rented.

A number of households have been meeting their affordable housing needs through this tenure as it has grown in scale, however, it has also become the tenure for frustrated “would be” home owners including families with children who cannot afford to buy and are not eligible for social housing. Rents have increased significantly across all South Essex local authorities and the widening gap between market rent and the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is placing a serious strain on the lower middle income group who are not eligible for social housing but rely partly or wholly on Housing Benefit payments set by the LHA to meet their housing need.

What Are We Doing?

Key evidence was submitted by South Essex Housing Group to the New Rugg Review covering the state of the local private rented sector, associated problems / obstacles and solutions that have or are being considered to resolve them.

The University of York’s PRS review and vulnerability report was launched on Monday 10 September 2018 (see link to full report below).

Key findings:

  • Current regulation of the sector is “confused and contradictory” and “failing at multiple levels”
  • Opportunities for linkage and simplification are being missed, with tenants and landlords unsure of their rights and responsibilities
  • Poor conditions are a problem at both ends of the market – 1 in 5 homes let at the top 20% of rents are non-decent, and 1 in 3 let at the bottom 20%. Conditions get worse the longer tenants are in their property, indicating that poor property management rather than old housing stock is the root cause
  • Changes to welfare reform are creating a ‘slum tenure’ at the bottom end of the market as more tenants are unable to afford to meet their current rent levels or find accommodation without the help of statutory or third sector agencies
  • Policy interventions – such as Build to Rent – are increasingly focused on helping higher and middle-income renters priced out of ownership, with little or no help for those on low incomes.
  • Of the households represented in the lower third income group, 38% live in the PRS. Requires fiscal / tax support for the 38% in this group.

Recommendations include: action to improve quality of the property through an MOT style system as a way to bring together and simplify existing regulation and help drive up property standards in rented homes. Introduction of a landlord register. Proposal to di-construct the silo approach to PRS and develop a clear overarching strategy.

The South Essex Housing Group will be reviewing the report findings through their dedicated Private Sector Housing sub group (see below) to support both national and local strategies to improve the sector.

South Essex Private Sector Housing Sub Group

The sub group last met on 26 November and was represented by the five local authorities of South Essex and chaired by Louisa Moss, Assistant Director – Housing & Community Services, Rochford District Council. The minutes provide a useful overview of what’s happening in the private housing sector in South Essex and includes an initial response to The Evolving PRS (Rugg / Rhodes report) and updates on stock modelling, empty homes, homeless provision / latest bidding, landlord forums and new legislation.

Key Links For Further Information

Evidence Review

Key issues arising from this South Essex evidence review can be found here.

The University of York’s PRS review and vulnerability report can be read here:

The Evolving Private Rented Sector: its Contribution and Potential

Vulnerability among Low Income Households in the Private Rented Sector in England

The South Essex Stock Modelling Report 2017

A number of local authorities within South Essex commissioned the British Research Establishment (BRE) to undertake a series of modelling exercises on their housing stock. – Basildon, Castle Point, Rochford and Southend-on-Sea. This current report provides a high level summary broken down by local authority and, for completion, including figures for Thurrock.

The full report can be read below.

Current Sub Groups:

  • Private Sector Housing
    Louisa Moss, Rochford District Council - e: Louisa.Moss@Rochford.gov.uk
  • Evidence review
    Alastair Pollock, SEHG Strategy Coordinator
02 Further Information

29/06/18

South Essex Stock Modelling Report

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pdf | 3 MB

29/06/18

Private Rented Sector – South Essex Evidence Review

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pdf | 804 KB
03 Latest Private Rented Sector News
St Chads Thurrock
20/03/18

St Chads Thurrock

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Housing Strategy Stakeholder Event
20/02/18

Housing Strategy Stakeholder Event

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CASE STUDY - Build to Rent
20/12/17

CASE STUDY – Build to Rent

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