Supporting private landlords not pushing them out is key for a modern sector of the future

by | Jul 10, 2018 | Blog post, Environment, Safety & Standards, Housing Supply & Rents

We have recently launched our latest research report from our quarterly survey programme that is tracking key trends in the private rented sector and landlord attitudes and behaviours.

Our findings are showing that landlord sentiment to the sector and investments is deteriorating. We estimate on top of the 46,000 privately rented homes that have already been lost (MHCLG, 2018), there will be a further net loss of 133,000 homes to rent.

The causes of this sell-off by small-scale private landlords is clear. The government tax changes are making it unviable to operate in the sector. In our previous research, we found that 62% of landlords reported their profitability would be reduced by at least 20% and 67% reported they would minimize investment due to the government tax changes (Simcock, 2018).  There is also increasing academic and sector evidence indicating the likely adverse impact on households that rely on the sector, and specifically, those who claim Housing Benefit/Universal Credit (See: Miles, 2016; Pattison, 2017).

These changes make it easier for those who are wealthier and cash-rich to invest in the private rented sector, over those middle-income earners that may look to purchase a property with finance. While also limiting the access of the sector for the more vulnerable tenants and those who can’t afford to buy nor can’t access social housing.

The Government has released a consultation on longer-term tenancies. This could be beneficial for both landlords and tenants in the right circumstances and signifies a move towards an evolved modern private rented sector. However, in the international examples of private rented sectors, where there are longer-term tenancies, there is also smart taxation policies that support private landlords to provide long-term homes.

The growth of the private rented sector has been driven by the small-scale landlord (Ronald & Kadi, 2017), and efforts to push out the small landlords could counter-act the current efforts to reform security of tenure. Leaving tenants with less choice and reducing competition between landlords. In the long term, this will not help to improve renting for the consumer, with either increasing costs and/or diminishing quality.

Therefore, we need to move to a broader but fair reform of private renting; with improved access to justice for landlords and tenants, expanded options for security of tenure, and reformed taxation policy that supports not penalise private landlords.

References:

MHCLG. (2018). Dwelling Stock Estimates: 2017, England. London, UK.: Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government. Retrieved from https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/710382/Dwelling_Stock_Estimates_2017_England.pdf

Miles, D. (2016). The impact of recent tax changes on the private rented sector. Imperial College London.

Pattison, B. (2017). Landlord perceptions of mortgage interest relief. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Hallam University. Retrieved from https://research.rla.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Landlord-Perceptions-of-Mortgage-Interest-Relief-FINAL.pdf

Ronald, R., & Kadi, J. (2017). The revival of private landlords in Britain’s post-homeownership society. New Political Economy, 1-18.

Simcock, T. J. (2018). The Impact of Taxation Reform on Private Landlords. Manchester, UK: Residential Landlords Association. Retrieved from https://research.rla.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/impact-taxation-reform-landlords-2018.pdf