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Millions of PRS tenants living in sub-standard housing

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Millions of PRS tenants living in sub-standard housing

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Health

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Image: Damp via Shutterstock

A third of homes in England's private rented sector are failing decency standards, a new report has revealed.

According to the Chartered Institute of Housing's UK Housing Review 2014, 33% of the country's PRS homes would not pass the government's decent homes standard.

In sharp contrast, 15% of homes in the social sector failed to meet the standard in 2012 - down from 29% in 2006.

The survey reveals that the PRS overtook the social rented sector in 2012-13 to become the second biggest tenure in England, after homeownership.

There are now four million private rented households in the country (18% of all households) compared with 3.7 million social rented households (17%).

CIH chief executive Grainia Long has urged the government to look at new ways of improving standards in the PRS by targeting tax allowances.

Private landlords currently benefit from around £7 billion of tax allowances per year for deductible expenses such as repairs and maintenance, insurance and professional fees - but which don’t target or incentivise higher standards.

According to Ms Long, if landlords who committed to a higher level of standards benefited from a more targeted allowance, while those who did not saw their allowances stay the same or even reduce, the government could encourage higher standards – without needing to find any extra money.

She said: “This government has focused on measures to boost home ownership, but with more and more people living in the private rented sector – including more older people, more families with children and more vulnerable people from the housing waiting list – it’s vital that we look carefully at new ways to raise standards.”

The CIH says that the PRS's growth has been fuelled by the constraints on homeownership - and much of the growth has been financed through the buy to let market mortgage market, which the UK Housing Review shows has recovered sharply after the downturn.

Lending fell from a peak of £46bn of loans in 2007 to £9bn in 2010, before moving back up to £21bn in 2013, with buy to let landlords being able to access interest-only mortgages more easily than first-time buyers.

The UK Housing Review, which has been published annually for the last 22 years, brings together evidence from a range of sources to assess the health of the UK’s housing system.

This year's review, which is being launched today at the CIH's London office, has been sponsored by Affinity Sutton, Broadland, Crisis, HouseMark, L&Q, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Orbit Housing Group and the Scottish government.

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