In news that will be pleasing to many landlords in the Portsmouth region, the English Housing Survey – an annual report produced by the government – 82 per cent of residents are satisfied with the quality of the accommodation their landlords provide. This is more than the proportion of social tenants who responded positively about their accommodation. For many, this represents something of a sea change in popular opinion, where some private landlords have historically been viewed as providing lower quality accommodation than can be found in social housing schemes.
The rates of dissatisfaction among tenants in England are also noteworthy in the report. In the private rented sector, approximately ten per cent of respondents claimed that the quality of their accommodation was unsatisfactory. This compares with 13 per cent of social housing tenants who complained that they were dissatisfied with their living quarters. In addition, over two thirds of privately renting tenants said that they were satisfied with their tenure status. This last statistic is particularly interesting for private landlords who sometimes feel the need to defend themselves against the claim that their accommodation is offered with a tenure that is less secure than that which is found in the social housing sector. In fact, the survey notes that the average length of time that private tenants remain in a tenancy is on the rise and currently stands at in excess of four years.
The survey also reveals another statistic that private landlords in England can be proud of. With growing average rental charges of the last few years, it is possible to overestimate the degree to which private tenants are forced out of tenancies due to financial pressures. In fact, the report states that 73 per cent of tenants in private accommodation left their current tenancy simply because they were ready to. Interestingly, just a tiny proportion – only two per cent, according to the survey – left their tenancy due to rental increases imposed upon them by their landlord. Of the 787,000 private tenants who moved out of their home in the last year, just 86,600 did so because they had been asked to by their landlord or letting agent.
In another section of the survey there is more good news for private landlords who are sometimes unfairly represented in the media as being poor when it comes to repairs and maintenance issues. The report states that by far the majority of private tenants are satisfied by the level of maintenance works undertaken in their accommodation. Over 71 per cent of respondents to the survey said that they were happy with their landlords in this area.
Nevertheless, renting is still not as popular as becoming an owner occupier. The England-wide study reveals that just over a fifth of tenants are happy with remaining tenants in the long-term. By far the majority of peopled in rented accommodation would prefer to move into a home they own themselves. What is preventing them from doing so appears to be nothing more than the high cost of housing in the UK, a particularly acute problem in the south east of England. This is something that appears to be a generational issue. The number of renters aged between 25 and 34 years of age has doubled in the last ten years, the survey reveals.
Finally, it is worth mentioning just how large the private rented sector in England has become. According to the survey, there are some 4.4 million homes in the country which are owned by private sector landlords. This figure compares with just 3.8 million homes which are either run by social housing associations or local authorities. Without private landlords, even those with just a few properties in their portfolios, the country’s renters would have very few options available to them.