Introducing the Private Rented Sector

Blog post by Fiona Booth

Tuesday 10 April 2018

How are businesses helping their employees with housing?

The Business Partnerships Team has been investigating how UK businesses can support their employees living in the PRS. Many businesses already offer support, from deposit loan schemes and graduate accommodation to B&Bs for interns – but there is still potential for more to be done.

The Private Rented Sector (PRS) has almost doubled in size since 2002 with almost 4.7 million households, and it totals a value of £1.4 trillion. The lack of affordable housing, particularly in London, has the potential to impact business growth and can also cause difficulties in retaining and recruiting staff with employees on lower incomes being the hardest hit. The Prime Minister has confirmed that fixing the housing market is a government priority. 

As well as working with businesses, Government itself is committed to taking action to deliver a fairer, good quality, and more affordable private rented sector. We are banning letting fees to tenants and capping tenancy deposits to protect tenants from unfair charges at the outset of the tenancy.  We will insist that all landlords, like property agents, are members of a redress scheme so that tenants have quick and easy resolution to disputes and will ensure that all letting agents are registered and meeting strict minimum standards. We introduced banning orders and a database of rogue landlords and agents from April 2018, making it easier for local authorities to protect tenants and will shortly be launching a consultation on options to support landlords to offer longer tenancies to those who want and need them.

“The UK housing crisis disproportionately affects people on low and middle incomes[…] UnLtd has seen how social entrepreneurs can provide the solutions we need […] and welcomes the government’s support for these social entrepreneurs and for including them alongside developers, investors, construction companies and community groups – because if we are to tackle the housing crisis, it has to be through a joined up approach, where citizens, business, government and civil society work together.” Mark Norbury, CEO, UnLtd.

“We have seen our Build to Rent offer make an increasing impact on businesses and the wider economy. We’ve welcomed 150 Deloitte employees to East Village and 16 large employers are now part of our Preferential Partnership programme.” Neil Young, CEO Get Living

Here in government, a number of efforts have been actioned to combat this, from tightening up legislation on rogue landlords to banning letting agent fees. We kickstarted our PRS work with a November event to showcase best practice with 55 guests from business, civil society and the public sector. Starbucks, Deloitte, Golin spoke about what they’re doing to help the PRS. Building on our launch event, we held a roundtable in December to discuss barriers and opportunities, a site visit to see the joint Deloitte/Get Living London venture and a further roundtable with 30 guests at 10 Downing Street to discuss how business and PRS can be better aligned.

“The event at Number 10 was an excellent opportunity for us to shine a light on the responsible employers that have already signed the pledges and to share ideas about how the private sector can collaborate with government […] to help end the housing crisis.” Jasmine Whitbread, CEO,  London First

As a result of our collaboration to date, a number of opportunities to tackle issues surrounding the PRS have been identified. One idea is creating a network of businesses to help them understand what sorts of PRS support could be implemented in their company and who would be best placed to deliver it. Other discussion points include how technology can be utilised in the PRS space, as it has for commercial property. These opportunities will inform our work on PRS in 2018.

I would like to say a big thank you to all involved to date – it is fantastic to see so many interested partners.  Watch this space for May and June events!

If you are a business interested in learning more / getting involved in our work on PRS, please do get in touch with us via partnerships-team@cabinetoffice.gov.uk or call 0207 271 8207.

 

Photo – Living London

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