Private Rented Sector Housing (PRS)

Closed 3 Mar 2015

Opened 26 Jan 2015

Results expected 30 Mar 2015

Feedback expected 30 Apr 2015

Overview

The Council is currently reviewing the services we offer to tenants and landlords in the private rented sector. As part of our review, we are considering whether a discretionary licensing scheme might improve standards in the private rented sector in Hackney. We therefore want to hear your views about the Borough’s Private Rented Sector (PRS) and how it might be improved.

Initially we are looking to gather information about the PRS in Hackney. Our survey is seeking views about how private rented properties are managed in the Borough. This follows the Living in Hackney Scrutiny Commission investigation which reviewed the management of privately let accommodation in 2013/14.

HQN has been appointed as an independent consultancy to carry out stakeholder engagement, looking at how the increase of PRS properties is affecting the wider local community. We are seeking the views of private tenants, local landlords, residents and local businesses on how best to support and improve management of PRS properties in the Borough.

All information you give us is confidential and will only be used under the strict controls of the Data Protection Act 1998.

 

What Happens Next

This is an information gathering exercise that may lead to the development of a strategy for the future of Hackney’s private rented sector. Any future proposals to introduce a discretionary licensing scheme, if this is supported by the evidence, will be subject to formal consultation carried out by the Council.

Survey of private renters and landlords – the results

 In October, 2014, Housing Quality Network (HQN), an independent housing consultancy, was commissioned by Hackney Council to undertake an engagement and listening exercise focusing on the nature and future of the borough’s private rented sector.

 Specifically HQN was asked to look at two issues:

 The potential introduction of discretionary additional licensing for smaller houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and/or selective licensing for all private rented sector stock

  • The development of a wider set of services for Hackney’s private rented sector

Here are some excerpts from the survey:

Tenant: “Housing needs to be of a better standard and a more reasonable price. Rental prices have become out of control in Hackney and are driving tenants away.”

 Tenant: “It takes weeks, if not months, of chasing to get repairs done. If you disrupt the landlord in any way, there is always someone else who will take the property.”

 Landlord: “I'd rather sign an agreement with the Council so they are responsible for paying the rent.”

 Tenant: “Letting agents are allowed to create whatever fees they want and are never expected to provide a real service to tenants.”

 From the conclusion by HQN: “At present, although there are many decent landlords and lettings agents who operate to high professional standards, there are also those who are either unaware or headless of their responsibilities. We were told about the very poor conditions that some renters have to tolerate and of the insecurity many feel.”

 This survey builds on a review by the Living in Hackney Scrutiny Commission, conducted throughout 2013/14, which looked at the potential for further licensing of private rented accommodation in the borough.

 The findings of the survey will now be considered, which will form an important part of the Council’s plans to develop new ways of working and to better understand the private rented sector in Hackney.

 Cllr Philip Glanville, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “I’m grateful to HQN and everyone who took part in this report, which supports the view set out in the Council’s 10 Steps campaign that in order to help us achieve a better private rented sector, the Government needs to cut red tape around licensing schemes. The report in no way represents the Council’s final position on these issues, but we’ll consider its findings while reviewing our services for private renters and developing new ways to proactively target badly-maintained accommodation, which could well involve additional forms of licensing.”

 In addition to this survey, the Council has launched a campaign asking that the Government introduce 10 measures to help improve private renting both for tenants and for landlords, and is writing to Ministers; Members of Parliament; civil servants; the Mayor of London; London Assembly members; the Greater London Authority; other councils; charities; and trades unions for their support.

 The 10 Steps campaign is supported by Hackney Law Centre and Hackney Council for Voluntary Services (HCVS), and asks the government to introduce:

 1. Inflation-capped rents - to ensure greater security for tenants, as well as continuity of income for landlords. 

2. Longer tenancies - these should be offered for years, not months, giving more stability - particularly for families with children.

3. Stopping retaliatory evictions - by changing the law over notices seeking possession for assured shorthold tenancies.

4. Fast-tracking for licensing schemes - cut red tape for councils setting up licensing schemes to ensure high quality standards of accommodation and service

5. A national quality kitemark - so tenants can identify good quality accommodation

6. Paying housing benefit direct - explore further incentives for responsible landlords, including the choice for tenants for direct payments of housing benefit to accredited landlords who offer longer tenancies and stable rents

7. A public register of landlords and properties - to enable tenants to find out directly who they pay rent to and enable the Council to provide information and support to landlords who need it

8. A national ban on rogue landlords - as with disgraced company directors, plus bigger fines and more consistent sentencing    

9. Costs transparency - make it mandatory for landlords to publish related costs of a property, such as utility bills, and for lettings agents to explain their fees

10. Improving safety - mandatory installation of fire and carbon monoxide detectors and mandatory annual electrical tests

If you agree, you can sign the Council’s petition to the Government by clicking here.

The HQN report on the survey of tenants and landlords in Hackney can be downloaded below.

 Your browser does not support inline PDF viewing.Please download the PDF.

Areas

  • All Areas

Audiences

  • Residents

Interests

  • Understanding views
  • Gathering ideas