In Hastings colleagues have been gathering various bits of information, evidence and statistics regarding the private rented sector. They recently did a mystery shopper exercise where they went to letting agents.
Hastings is starting to hit a crisis point with regards to private rented sector (PRS) accommodation, and I fear that if Hastings doesn’t do something regarding this issue that we will get to the situation we have in Brighton and Hove where rents for a typical one bed flat now costs over £850 per month. This situation has been exacerbated by George Osborne’s announcement of a freeze on housing benefit / local housing allowance (in Brighton and Hove at c£612 per month).
Many local authorities do not have specific, dedicated PRS strategies, although there are bits and pieces about PRS but these can be buried in homeless strategies.
Given the death of social housing as we have known it, and the likelihood that the PRS is now so pivotal in providing housing for ordinary people, it is important that any PRS strategy seeks to harness a partnership between landlords, tenants and housing organisations.
Over the next few months my colleagues in Hastings are going to try and pull together into a meaningful document all the evidence, statistics, and information we have, and holding a meeting with other agencies to discuss the what we know and what we can do. We will try to convince Hastings Borough Council to implement a specific PRS strategy.
It pains me to add at this point that I have no idea on how we can solve the PRS crisis. But at very least I would hope that we can get people thinking and talking about the issue.