The Government should look at whether more can be done to help young people who want to rent a home in the private rented sector, according to MPs and Peers. MPs want more support for young renters.
A new report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Private Rented Sector has called on the Government to review housing benefit and tax rules to ensure younger people get fair access to the homes they need.
The Group carried out an inquiry into private rented housing for under-35s. It heard that the private rented sector is growing – and it has the highest proportion of young people of any housing tenure. Some 18% of all English households now rent privately and more than half of those private tenants are under 35.
But the members of the Group heard concerns that a range of issues – including council powers to prevent properties being turned into shared homes to rent, and housing benefit restrictions for the under-35s – could be making it more difficult for young people to rent in the private sector.
The Group’s report calls for:
The Government and local authorities to look at whether planning powers, known as Article 4 Directions, are unduly restricting the supply of new private homes for rent. It says the powers can be a useful tool – but it should be easier for landlords to rent out shared homes to families, and then turn them back into use as a house in multiple occupation.
A full review of the Shared Accommodation Rate rules, which means single people under 35 can now only claim housing benefit equivalent to a room in a shared house, to see whether the changes mean not enough housing is available at the right rent for those who need it.
Investigating paying housing benefit directly to private landlords to encourage more to rent their homes to those on benefits.
An increase in the ‘rent-a-room’ tax allowance to encourage more homeowners to let rooms to lodgers.
A ban on council tax being charged for bedsit rooms, or the introduction of a lower band for bedsits, to ensure rented rooms aren’t made unaffordable by more councils charging separate council tax on them.
A review of VAT rules to encourage more properties to be converted for housing use.
Group chairman, Oliver Colvile, who is Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said:
“Growing numbers of young people rely on the private rented sector for homes. We need to make sure that the benefits, tax and planning framework we have in place allows them to find the homes they need, at a price they can afford. The government and local authorities need to work together to maximise the supply of good private rented homes available. With the private rented sector now the ‘youngest’ section of the housing market, we need to make sure it works well for young tenants and their landlords.”
Fears of ‘studentification’ are often behind the use of planning powers to restrict conversions to shared housing. But the Group’s report also highlights areas of good practice, including schemes to ensure neighbourhoods where high concentrations of students live are kept tidy.
The report says: “We call on such partnerships to be replicated as a way of properly integrating students into their local communities and addressing some of the concerns those residents have about high concentrations of such tenants.”
The secretariat to the APPG for the Private Rented Sector is provided by the Residential Landlords Association.
Access to private rented housing for the under 35s, the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Private Rented Sector, is available at http://rla.org.uk/policyhub/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Under-35s-Inquiry-Report_Oct14.pdf .
This is not an official publication of the House of Commons or the House of Lords. It has not been approved by either House or its committees. All-Party Parliamentary Groups are informal groups of Members of both Houses with a common interest in particular issues. The views expressed in this Report are those of the Group. The Report was researched by The Public Affairs Company on behalf of its client, the Residential Landlords Association and was funded by the Residential Landlords Association.
The APPG is chaired by Oliver Colvile MP (Conservative, Plymouth Sutton and Devonport). Vice-chairs are Karen Buck MP (Labour, Westminster North) and David Ward MP (Liberal Democrat, Bradford East)