Policies implemented by the government covering the private rented sector (PRS) are reportedly failing tenants, due primarily to their disjointed and uncoordinated nature, a landmark report has revealed.

The review, compiled by David Rhodes and Dr. Julie Rugg, who completed similar research in 2008, discovered that many properties within the PRS do not satisfy the Decent Homes Standard. The report blamed consecutive governments for inadequate policies which lack an all-encompassing vision for the PRS, forcing many tenants to occupy a home with substandard conditions. According to the review, the existing legislation for PRS is contradictory and confusing, and fails at several levels.

The report also indicates that the government’s changes to welfare have created a variation of slum tenure at the lower portion of the market, while policies such as Build to Rent focus primarily on aiding middle and high-income tenants who have been priced out of home ownership. These measures leave little help for those with lower incomes.

Dr. Rugg has emphasised that the shortage of social rented homes and declining home ownership have contributed to a rise in the number of residents privately renting, particularly households with infants and young children. She explains that due to a lack of complete vision from the government, reams of regulations and policies have been implemented which are not thoroughly considered or coordinated. She is calling for a fundamental reconsideration of the private rented sector and the role it plays in the housing market, with the implementation of a comprehensive strategy which will meet the needs of all tenants.

To help fight against inadequate property management within the PRS, the report from Mr Rhodes and Dr. Rugg calls for the introduction of a test system of checking and licensing homes that are rented privately. The test would give tenants confidence before signing a tenancy agreement that the home is fit for human habitation, and that standards will not drop in the future, whilst providing landlords with protection against prosecution and increased clarity.

The report has been welcomed by organisations such as the National Landlords Association (NLA) who believe that PRS would benefit greatly from an increasingly strategic approach from the government. Richard Lambert, CEO at NLA, has stated that rather than policy-based evidence, the sector needs evidence-based policy, as the review clearly calls for increased knowledge of landlords, their business plans and motivations, whilst recognising that tenants, and landlords, are not all the same. Mr Lambert has also stated that understanding the tenant is crucial in ensuring that the sector satisfies the requirements of tenants, with landlords needing to establish a strong consumer focus.

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