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Average rents, housing court and right to rent

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

In today’s political update we look at the latest ONS figures, calls by a senior member of the Labour party for a dedicated housing court and confirmation that the government does not plan to issue those with EU settled status with physical documentation to help the access rental homes.

Average rents up by 1.4% 

The Office for National Statistics has published the latest Index of Private Housing Rental Prices.

It says:

  • Private rental prices paid by tenants in the UK rose by 1.4% in the 12 months to December 2019, unchanged since November 2019.
  • Private rental prices grew by 1.4% in England, 1.2% in Wales, and by 0.6% in Scotland in the 12 months to December 2019.
  • London private rental prices rose by 1.2% in the 12 months to December 2019, up from 1.0% in November 2019.
  • Focusing on the English regions, the largest annual rental price increase was in the South West, 2.2%, down from 2.3% in November 2019. This was followed by the East Midlands (2.1%), Yorkshire and the Humber (1.9%) and the East of England (1.5%).
  • The lowest annual rental price growth was in the North East where prices increased by 0.5%, followed by London and the North West, which both increased by 1.2% in the 12 months to December 2019.
  • Focusing on the long-term trend, between January 2015 and December 2019, private rental prices in the UK increased by 8.5%

Over the same period (the 12 months to December 2019), inflation was:

  • 1.4% as measured by CPIH which includes owner occupiers’ housing costs
  • 1.3% as measured by CPI
  • 2.2% as measured by RPI

The ONS has also published the latest analysis comparing growth in the Index of Private Housing Rental Prices (IPHRP) with other measures of private rental growth covering the period October to December 2019.

Labour call for housing court

Senior Labour MP Clive Betts has echoed the RLA’s call for a dedicated housing court to help landlords with legitimate repossession cases.

In a debate on the Queen’s Speech Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson MP, told the House:

“We are working to deliver a rental system that protects tenants and supports landlords to provide the homes the nation needs. 

“We will abolish no-fault evictions, helping tenants to stay in their homes while ensuring landlords are given the protections they also need. 

“We are determined to improve standards in rented accommodation and to professionalise the sector. 

“There is no place in this country for squalid or unsafe rented properties. We will make sure that all tenants have a right of redress if theirs is not of an acceptable standard.”

Challenges

Clive Betts MP (Labour, Sheffield South East – Chair of the HCLG Select Committee in the last Parliament) welcomed the pledges made in the Queen’s Speech on housing but said “there are big challenges.” 

He said: “If we are to abolish section 21 evictions, we need to think about how we deal with rent increases without having an overbearing rent control regime. That is a big challenge, and it might be something the Select Committee will want to consider. 

“We recognise the good intention, but we want to know how it will be delivered in practice.

At the same time, we want to see legislation on housing courts so that there is an easier way for landlords to evict tenants who simply do not pay their rent. 

“Landlords normally wait for the section 21 time to elapse before doing it, but if section 21 is not available, landlords need to have those powers. It is recognised in the Queen’s Speech, but we need a timetable for that to come into effect.”

Proving Right to Rent 

Catherine West MP (Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green) has received a response to her written question asking whether the Home Office plans to provide physical documentation for EU nationals with settled status to ensure they do not experience discrimination from prospective landlords and employers.

The Home Office Minister, Brandon Lewis MP, said this will be done through online means.

He said: “The Home Office’s intention is that EU citizens granted status under the EU settlement scheme will evidence their status and entitlements through digital means via online services. 

“This will provide a simpler and more secure means to establish a person’s status and there are no plans to provide EU citizens with physical documents for this purpose. 

“EU citizens will be required to use the online service to evidence that they have status under the scheme when moving jobs or accommodation after the new immigration system is introduced. 

“In the meantime, they can continue to rely on their national passports or identity documents.”

Appeal

The government’s appeal against a damning ruling by the High Court that the Right to Rent breaches human rights law is being heard today.

Following a Judicial Review of the policy secured by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) and supported by the RLA and Liberty last March, the presiding judge concluded discrimination by landlords was taking place “because of the scheme.”

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Communications Manager for the RLA and award-winning Editor of RPI magazine. With 16 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and editorial content for our media partners.

She issues press releases promoting the work of the RLA and its policies and campaigns to the regional and national media and works alongside the marketing team on the association’s social media channels to build support for the RLA and its work.

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