A council that has repeatedly criticised landlords when saying that the private rental market is “out of control” and wants rent controls introduced as soon as possible, has now changed its tune by asking them for help because of the shortage of homes.
The lead councillor for Housing and Homelessness Andy Batsford has sent out a plea to local landlords to help with what he calls “the growing rental market emergency” in Hastings, according to Batsford more than half of the town’s population live in rented ‘homes’.
He is claiming that over the past year there has been a nine per cent increase in rents and even states that in ‘recent years’ it has risen by 40 per cent.
Batsford says: “These rent increases are proving to be a disaster for our local families and residents who are seeing their lives devastated by the burden of huge monthly rent bills. These are now well over half of their wage packet and that’s before all the other bills and costs.
“This situation is driving family after family into debt, break ups and ultimately making people homeless and needing to seek help from the council.
“Every single case includes individuals and children in desperately unhappy and unhealthy situations not being able to go to school, or family life breaking down due to the stress of money and not having a safe roof over their heads.
“This rental market is out of control and broken, pricing family after working family out of the opportunity of the most basic need – a safe, secure home. There just are not the rented homes out there on the market to rent at real affordable prices, forcing working families to stretch their finances. We as a town need to come together and support and help our fellow families.”
To attempt to address this situation he has sent out “a massive call” to local landlords to help by allowing the council to let out their properties and not lettings agents.
He says: “This will ensure that local families currently in temporary accommodation have a safe and secure home and can get back to work and the children back to school and some sort of normality.”
The council’s deal for local landlords will be a guaranteed three years’ rent even if their properties are empty. The council will also manage the properties and be fully responsible for the maintenance and repairs. It guarantees to return their properties in the same condition as they were before the three year term ends.
At the same time Batsford says that his council will still continue to campaign for the ‘necessity’ of a rent cap system “that they enjoy across Europe.”