No Home Left Behind: An Inquiry into Property Standards in the North’s Private Rented Sector

To read the full report, click here.

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Housing in the North, the cross-party group that meets to discuss and advance northern-focussed housing policy in Parliament, came together this week to formally approved the final report of the APPG’s Inquiry into Property Standards in the North’s Private Rented Sector.

Researched and written on behalf of the group by the Northern Housing Consortium, the report – No Home Left Behind – represents 18 months of working in close collaboration with Local Authorities, Housing Associations, Combined Authorities, those representing both tenants and landlords, and third sector organisations.

No Home Left Behind concludes:

  • The Private Rented Sector regulatory framework is a comprehensive but complicated mixture of statute and case law that hinders enforcement and allows poor conditions to flourish.
  • The ability to identify landlords and poorly conditioned properties are essential to professionalising the sector and should be made central to efforts to reach minimum energy efficiency standards.
  • Local Authorities are held back in their ability to effectively use enforcement tools by severe budget constraints. Local enforcement teams should be maintained by properly resourced services with the right level of professionally qualified staff.
  • A long-term commitment to regeneration through a Housing Quality Investment Fund would support local collaborative partnership working to drive wider improvements in housing quality across tenures and bring a new focus to raising the standards of the North’s existing stock.

A range of recommendations are made to Government, covering:

  • The Regulatory Framework, including a review of current legislation, a national landlord database, and exploring the opportunities to link rental subsidy to property condition.
  • Tenant Empowerment, including the immediate introduction of the Renters Reform Bill and abolition of Section 21, and support for the growth of Social/Ethical Lettings Agencies.
  • Enforcing Standards, including increased and sustained funding for Local Authorities and greater local control over Selective Licensing.
  • Opportunities for the Future Role of the private rented sector, including the transformation of ECO funding to create a local authority led area-based scheme to tackle fuel poverty and the formation of a Housing Quality Investment Fund to level-up housing quality in the North and work towards a green recovery.

Ian Mearns MP, Chair of the APPG Housing in the North, commented:

“With the Inquiry we hoped to gain an understanding of the reasons for continued poor standards in parts of the Private Rented Sector in the North.

“Whilst many PRS tenants live in good quality accommodation, many others do not. And the APPG hopes it has developed a set of practical proposals to ensure the sector is a positive choice and experience for all households.

“We are grateful to all the organisations and individuals who contributed to this timely and important work”

Tracy Harrison, Chief Executive of the Northern Housing Consortium, commented:

“Housing stock in the North is often older, colder, and inefficient to heat. These types of properties form significant parts of the private rented sector and result in very poor conditions for tenants.

“At the same time, diminished resources in local authority enforcement teams, a complex regulatory environment and reluctance from renters to exercise their consumer powers, means Local Authorities are really facing an uphill struggle to try and stay ahead of the worst landlords.

“As Secretariat, the Northern Housing Consortium was delighted to work with, and on behalf of, the APPG for Housing in the North on this final report and suite of recommendations. Thanks must also go to Northern Housing Consortium members whose sizeable evidence and testimonies underpin the strength of this body of work”

To read the full report, click here.

The APPG Housing in the North provides a forum for Parliamentarians to discuss and advance housing and related policy across the three northern regions and seeks to ensure the needs and ambitions of northern communities are addressed in national housing policy development.

As Secretariat, the Northern Housing Consortium supports the APPG in facilitating a work programme that has in recent years concentrated on the regeneration of mixed tenure communities, housing an ageing population, and the impact of poor-quality housing on health and wellbeing.

To receive all the latest information on APPG activities, including future meetings, please visit:

https://www.northern-consortium.org.uk/services/policy/parliament/appg-for-housing-in-the-north/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Energy Angels Sponsor Blog – Restoring power in your empty homes

This year has been challenging for all of us, we’ve had to adapt in many different ways and adopt new processes to regain some normality. Some organisations have adapted quicker than others and will come out of this stronger, while others have closed shop and those experiences will leave a bad taste that will remain for a long time.

One of the biggest challenges has been contacting energy suppliers. Some call centres were completely closed, or call wait times were far beyond any reasonable time. Companies are now pushing online chat but that’s not ideal when you’re sat in a property with only a mobile phone.

This doesn’t help a voids/repairs departments when a property has just become vacant and requires action to get the power restored, so urgent work can be carried out by the repairs team.

Since 2006, we have approached the management of Energy for Social Housing from the landlord’s point of view, rather than the energy supplier’s. During the pandemic we maintained service levels for our clients without furloughing any colleagues, in fact due to the increasing amount of Social Landlords coming over to our free service, we’re delighted to have created new jobs during the pandemic and will continue to do so as Social Landlords continue to choose Energy Angels over other outdated services which have creaked and failed during lockdown.

Our service is underpinned by our 4 hour SLA, meaning any supply issues raised with us via our online portal are dealt with quickly and efficiently so that you can undertake any work and re-let the property without delay, reducing void periods.

You will also benefit from free energy credit from our choice of energy suppliers to cover the costs of keeping the power on when the property is empty. They will also install a smart meter at the same time, which will help improve efficiency in the property and minimise future issues.

We also appreciate the need to make sure your tenants are moving into their new homes on the cheapest possible rates, reducing the risk of anyone falling into financial hardship. With this in mind we can also create your own co-branded price comparison landing page to give your tenants when they move in to their property, giving them whole of market choice to find a cheaper tariff, reducing fuel poverty.

We’re delighted that so many Social Landlords trust us to manage their energy supplies, so they can concentrate helping their tenants and we’re always keen to help new landlords explore better ways of energy management for their empty and tenanted homes.