Ashley Campbell: The private rented sector is key to providing housing choice and tackling homelessness
After its research found that most local authorities believe the PRS should play a bigger role in tackling homelessness, CIH Scotland is now looking to develop a PRS Charter and is to commission research into affordability. Policy and practice manager Ashley Campbell explains more.
In 2021 CIH carried out a survey of local authorities across Scotland asking about progress with implementation of Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans, the impact of the pandemic and other challenges. 69 per cent of local authorities told us that the PRS should play a bigger role in tackling homelessness. The PRS was seen as a way to increase choice for people and reduce the time spent in temporary accommodation or on housing waiting lists.
However, there were a few caveats. In many areas, private rents are unaffordable for low-income households and the gap between private rents and Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is increasing again. And while the majority of landlords act professionally, there are some concerns about the quality of homes in the PRS and security of tenure. Respondents made it clear that these issues needed to be addressed before private renting could be a viable choice for more households.
The Scottish Government has committed to a number of significant changes to the rented sector setting out intentions in the draft strategy, a New Deal for Tenants, and we expect to see some of these included in the Housing Bill later this year. We understand that the Scottish Government is exploring options for:
- A form of national rent control for the private rented sector
- Allowing tenants to personalise their properties and keep pets
- Increased penalties for illegal evictions and possible restrictions on winter evictions
We are now working in partnership with Fife Council and an expert steering group to ensure the PRS is fit for purpose and can deliver better outcomes for tenants. We are working with the sector to develop recommendations for a PRS Charter, building on learning from the Scottish Social Housing Charter. The PRS Charter would not add any additional burdens but would clearly set out rights and responsibilities for landlords and tenants, providing a strong basis for the new regulatory regime that the Scottish Government has committed to.
We are also commissioning research into affordability in the PRS which will cover:
- The likely impact of the current regulatory environment on future affordability
- The gap between Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and the actual cost of rents
- Issues and limitations of the current system used to calculate support with housing costs
- Scottish Government levers to address affordability
If you would be interested in bidding for the research, get in touch with Ashley Campbell for a copy of the project brief email@example.com. The deadline for bids is 31 May 2023.