Anna Bibby, 19 June 2019
The government has tightened laws for landlords with the Tenant Fee Act 2019, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, a proposed ban on the controversial Section 21 and, now, two housing-related charities have laid out a three-year research program to improve the Private Rented Sector (PRS) further.
The TDS Charitable Foundation (TDSCF) and the SafeDeposits Scotland Charitable Trust (SDSCT) have joined together and awarded just under £300,000 to the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE), a collaboration of 14 institutes led by the University of Glasgow. The purpose of the research program is to assist policy makers and practitioners on making informed decisions to improve the overall quality of the private rental sector in the UK. It also aims to educate practitioners on housing rights and obligation.
In the first year, CaCHE will use the program to investigate three key issues across the private rental sector. It will first look at the global approach to dispute resolutions and how this can be applied to UK housing, making it easier for both tenants and landlords. The second year of the program will be spent exploring the challenges that local authorities face when dealing with the PRS and tackle the low standards that tenants face. The final year will be spent examining discrepancies in deposit protection.
The program comes at a time where the government is starting to pay attention to the current state of the PRS. In this year alone the government has introduced the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, which aims to tackle poor quality accommodation being provided to tenants and has proposed a ban of Section 21 which allows landlords to evict tenants without providing a reason. The most notable of which is the Tenant Fee Act 2019 which has banned most fees being charged to tenants, making renting more affordable. Although these are certainly steps in the right direction, there is still a lot of work to do. Previous research from CaCHE found that many tenants in an Assured Shorthold Tenancies did not have their security deposits placed in a deposit protection scheme, despite it being made a legal requirement back in 2007.
Dr Jennifer Harris, senior research associate for CaCHE, said of the new research program: “Debate continues over how policy can most effectively respond to changes in the private rented sector and this TDSCF/SDSCT-funded research programme will produce findings that are relevant to the challenges, policy responses and nature of the PRS across the UK”.
It’s good to see that continuous work is being done to improve the standards of the PRS and hopefully it will lead to a system that works for both tenants and landlords.
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Anna Bibby, 19 June 2019