One day, at some stage before I retire from blogging, I would like to write a good news story about the regulation of the private rented sector in England. But today is not that day. For I have spent the afternoon reading “Regulation of Private Renting” by the Public Accounts Committee. And what a depressing read it is.
The Committee notes that the PRS in England has doubled in size over the last 20 years and now houses 11 million people. Some 13% of PRS properties contain a Category 1 Hazard (HHSRS; Housing Act 2004), which means there is something about the property (damp, cold, etc) which poses a “serious threat” to the health and safety of tenants. And this harms not just the tenants, but the whole of society. And that is because the cost to the NHS of dealing with the effects of poor housing is a staggering £340m each year.
In a conclusion which willl come as a surprise to precisely no-one who reads this blog, the Committee conclude that regulation and enforcement activity by local authorities is piecemeal and inconsistent. The matter is not helped by the government which is “not proactive enough” in supporting authorities and has no real idea of what level of financial support they require.
The scale of the task to create effective regulation is truly daunting and the current government – indeed, successive governments over my entire career – have shown little to no interest in what is required. Sometimes I just want to weep for the sheer desperation of at all.