Winchester City Council has set up its own housing company, Venta Living, one of a growing number of councils going down the private route to help meet the growing demand for rental properties.
It aims to provide high quality homes, offering assured short-term tenancies for private renters. The first available 41 one-bedroom apartments are in the Winnall Flats (main picture) redevelopment and will be particularly cost-effective for tenants due to their energy efficient design.
Cabinet member for housing, councillor Chris Westwood (pictured), says he’s very aware of the need for more privately rented homes. “The creation of Venta Living Ltd allows us to offer high quality, secure short-term tenancies for people who choose to rent privately,” he explains. “The homes are very energy efficient, so not only will they be warm and comfortable – they’ll save people money on their bills too.”
Many local authorities around the UK are setting up housing companies to address housing management and as a way to provide properties to rent, either by buying stock or through new builds.
Interestingly, as a result of moving into the PRS, these councils will be competing with the same private landlords that they regulate via licensing and safety schemes.
According to research by University College London, 80% of councils had housing delivery companies in 2023, an increase from 58% in 2017. Some councils own multiple companies for different purposes, including Epping, South Cambridgeshire, Gateshead and Hounslow.
However, figures from 2021 show that while there was evidence of 20,249 homes having been delivered between UK authorities, only 2,097 (10%) were for private rental.
Not all such initiatives go well for their council sponsors - Croydon's 'arms-length' private developer, which built both affordable rent properties and homes for sale within the London borough, collapsed in 2021 and was blamed in part for the council's own severe financial woes.