PRS tenant campaign group accused of ‘playing to people’s fears’
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities
Standard housing pictureImage: Housing via Shutterstock
A campaign group that fights for tenants in the private rented sector has been accused of "playing to people’s fears" and "failing to provide a true reflection of the sector".
According to the Residential Landlords Association, Generation Rent's newly released manifesto fails to provide a "balanced picture of the sector", and instead "seeks to exaggerate the scale of the challenges facing tenants".
The RLA says that GR's claim that PRS tenants are facing financial difficulties because of soaring rents "fails to note figures from the Office for National Statistics which show that rents in the PRS have been increasing by much less than inflation measured both by CPI and RPI".
Richard Jones, the RLA’s policy director, said: “The RLA recognises that there are many challenges facing the private rented sector. It is however important that policy solutions are rooted in evidence rather seeking to play on and exploit people’s gut fears of the sector.
“It is time the politics of division came to an end in favour of a reasoned and rational debate about how to ensure the sector is fit for the 21st century, both for landlords and tenants.”
The RLA takes issue with a number of elements in GR's manifesto:
Claim: The PRS is characterised by insecure, short-term tenancies.
The RLA says that this claim fails to recognise that the English Housing Survey itself notes that the average length of residency for a tenant in the PRS is now 3.8 years.
Claim: Landlords and letting agents are astonishingly unregulated.
The RLA says that there are over 100 Acts of Parliament containing around 400 individual requirements.
Additionally, the RLA says the manifesto fails to mention that government figures show 83% of tenants in the PRS are satisfied with their properties compared to 81% in the social sector, while "just" 9% of tenancies in the PRS are ended by the landlord, "mostly as a result of tenants committing anti-social behaviour or failing to pay their rent".
Responding to the RLA's critique, Alex Hilton, director of Generation Rent, said: “Unlike the RLA we don’t believe that the PRS has reached a tenant nirvana, and if they were to spend the day with any local authority environmental health team they would probably feel the same way.
"The ONS explicitly warns people not to cite their rent statistics which they class as “experimental” and are completely contradicted by the 12% increase in household spending on rent they recorded between 2011 and 2012.
"Bandying these figures around won’t convince the 40% of tenants who are cutting down on heating that they have it good. We have published a consultation on a broad range of ideas. We encourage the RLA to propose their own ideas to improve the lives of private renters and to create a more sustainable sector.”