Councils warn of rise in housing waiting lists as landlords sell up

Councils are warning of a growing crisis in the private rented housing sector, with a sharp rise in landlords selling up or converting their properties into Airbnb’s.

76% of councils surveyed by the District Councils Network (DCN) said this had caused a rise in housing waiting lists, causing more people to lose homes, and making it harder to find permanent accommodation for those in need.

48% of these councils said they were now experiencing a significant pressure on housing services due to this.

One council in a popular tourist destination in the south-west of England has reported a nearly 80% drop in the number of open market, long term rental accommodation available in their local authority area over the last three years, with many landlords leaving the market or providing short term accommodation for holiday makers instead.

Councils are reporting that a rise in rents is forcing some long term tenants to apply for hardship support from their local authority, with some council areas seeing rents rise to over a third higher than the average salary in their local area.

Councils are warning that the housing benefit many suffering hardship receive will likely not be sufficient in the longer term, as the Government looks set to keep Local Housing Allowance rates, which determines the amount of benefit received, frozen over the next year.

The District Councils Network is calling on the Government to increase investment in council housing and give councils the tools they need to create their own permeant housing for people in their communities in hardship.

Cllr Sam Chapman-Allen, Chair of the District Councils Network said: “This survey reveals a perfect storm of problems creating a crisis in the private rented sector across the country.

“Now the Government’s Eviction Ban has ended, this is a problem that could get worse, with councils also seeing increase in the numbers of tenants needing housing support due to increased evictions due to rent arrears.

“During the pandemic, district councils and the government worked together to help protect those who are most vulnerable through the Everyone In initiative, the temporary banning of no-fault evictions, and other measures such as furlough and the Universal Credit uplift.

“We need to urgently tackle this issue by permanently lifting housing benefit for tenants in private rented housing and for increase in Government support to invest in a renaissance of council house building to create homes, jobs and growth.”

Cllr David Renard, Local Government Association housing spokesperson, said: “These findings are concerning and highlight the need to tackle our severe housing shortage by building more social housing, which are much more affordable than in the private rented sector.

“We have set out the case for building 100,000 social homes for rent each year, which would go a long way towards reducing council housing waiting lists.

“We also need to see a cross-departmental government plan to tackle homelessness with long-term investment in prevention and services to support economically vulnerable people and households, to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place.”



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