Social Housing vs Private Renting: Is it safer to rent privately?

Will Leyland, 07 July 2022

Understandably, the social housing sector remains more affordable than the private rented sector and so many still seek social housing as a better alternative, especially those on low incomes or in receipt of state benefits.  For many, however, they either prefer or are forced into the private sector. This tends to mean more desirable areas to live in, better facilities and a better recourse to repairs and maintenance. 

It’s also true that even in the last decade, the private sector has undergone a huge overhaul in terms of the governance and legislation that ensures tenants get fair treatment.

As recently as this month there have been government announcements about further methods to ensure the safety of those in the private rented sector under the white paper published in June. It makes provisions, for example, to ban no fault evictions, and stops landlords from discriminating against tenants with pets and children.

As the private rented market continues to become a safer environment for tenants, can the same be said for the social housing market?
Firstly, the BBC have written about calls for social housing to have the same requirements for electrical safety checks that private rentals do.

Social housing vs private renting

In an article, they said “Five-year mandatory checks were introduced in the private rented sector in England in June 2020, mirroring an existing scheme in Scotland.

The charity, Electrical Safety First, said the checks had found 7,000 faults including exposed live wiring. It wants the law to now cover England’s four million social housing properties.

The government said it was consulting on the issue.”

Further to this, Landlord Today published similar findings when considering the reporting of charities that look at social and private housing. They said “Under the law landlords are obligated to submit a failed condition report with secondary evidence of remedial work.

However, under the current laws in England these checks do not cover the social sector, which accounts for around 4m households.

The charity believes a social housing safety vacuum has been created in England which remains the only nation within Great Britain not to implement five-yearly electrical safety checks for the social housing sector.”
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Will Leyland, 07 July 2022