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Two top Tories blast the quality of private rental sector

Two of the country’s leading Conservative MPs have spoken at a Shelter conference which claimed millions of private renters were being “held back” in life.

The campaigning charity’s polling has claimed that over half of private renters - “equivalent to 5.8m people” - cannot save for the future because of their housing situation. 

Shelter says more social housing is required as an alternative for those private renters who cannot afford to buy, as well as for those in desperate housing need.


Housing Secretary Michael Gove announced that he would ‘tilt’ government funding to build more homes for social rent.

He said: “We’ve reached a situation for a variety of reasons where ... the availability of social housing is simply inadequate for any notion of social justice or economic efficiency.”

“The quality of the private rented sector, the circumstances in which people find themselves, the inadequacy of so many of those homes, the fragility and vulnerability that so many people find in their daily lives ... is insupportable and indefensible ... that is a function of broader supply questions, but it is also a critical function of our failure to ensure that there are homes that are genuinely affordable for rent, our failure to ensure that there are more social homes. 

“If we want to have functioning communities, if we want to have our cities and towns having places where keyworkers and individuals who keep our public services going can ensure that they have a decent roof over their heads and raise a family in stability and security, then we need more social homes.”

And former Tory party leader and Prime Minister Theresa May told the conference: “One of the challenges that I set myself when I spoke from the steps of Downing Street at the beginning of my premiership, was to continue the vital work of making this a country where each and every person has a safe and secure home to call their own. 

“Because our homes are our foundation. Ask almost any question about social fairness or the economy and the answer so often comes back to housing.  

“High housing costs are the at the heart of failing social mobility. Fundamentally it is a conservative ethos that whether you own your own home or rent in the social sector residents deserve security, dignity and the opportunity to build a better life. 

“We know our housing system is broken but the housing crisis in this country began not because of a blip lasting a year or because of a parliament but because not enough homes were built over many decades.” 

Referring to next month’s Queen’s Speech, May continued: “For too long, my party has been seen in many peoples’ eyes as the party only of homeownership. Indeed, dare I say it, our policies have too often made it seem that way. 

“But we are the party of decent homes for all, be they people who want to rent their home or to own their own home. Moreover, supporting those struggling to find a home to rent is in no way contrary to boosting homeownership.” 

“The Queen’s Speech does give an opportunity to bring forward the measure that require primary legislation including those reforming regulation of the private rental and social tenants that will tip the scale in favour of fairness.” 

Shelter chief executive Polly Neate added: “A long line of governments have focused on homeownership schemes that are only for the better off, rather than what most local families need – a secure home they can afford. 

“Unstable private renting is a lifetime prospect for millions of people, who are stuck paying private rents that leave them with no breathing room or opportunity to save for their future. Families want to put down roots and be an active part of their community, but their housing is holding them back.  

“Good social housing is as vital as education or healthcare, but it has been deprioritised for decades. If we try to level up without social housing, we will only push people out.” 

Want to comment on this story? If so...if any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals on any basis, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.

  • Mark Wilson

    Getting rid of private landlords, what's wrong with that?


    Your comment doesn't even merit a reply.


    Can you elaborate please.


    And this is the guy that wants to manage your rentals “Globe Apartments” maybe not your first choice Landlords when looking for an agent. Maybe he should be running the gift shop instead


    You haven’t noticed the huge rent rises, the unnecessary homelessness, and people bitterly complaining there are no houses available for private rent then?

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    There certainly needs to be a full range of housing tenures.
    Home ownership and Social housing suits those who want to put down roots and are settled long term. The PRS is vital for people who aren't ready to settle or who need to be able to relocate quickly for career progression or who suddenly find life takes an unexpected turn such as divorce. It especially suits those who want to live in a location of their choosing or have a couple of spare bedrooms, not a property allocated by the Local Authority or Housing Association.

    The one area of housing that could really do with expansion is rental retirement housing for people in all income brackets. We have an aging population with complex housing needs. If the government, financial institutions and local authorities focused on retirement housing it would free up existing family size housing close to amenities. It would give peace of mind to people who were worried about how they will afford to live on a pension or how they will heat, clean or maintain a large house. Done right it would help prevent bed blocking in hospitals and provide better quality home help, when people reach the stage of needing it, to enable people to retain their independence for as long as possible.
    Retirement housing has the advantage of taking up less land, so can be built on smaller brownfield sites close to amenities. While many people don't want to buy a retirement apartment, due to the difficulty in selling it when the time comes, renting one is far more attractive as long as the tenancy is secure.


    Excellent points, impeccable logic, so definitely won't happen in the public sector but could be a way ahead for private landlords.

    After all, lifetime rentals in this sector might be a shorter commitment than some current fixed term tenancies?

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    The parts of the speech quoted above do not support the click bait title at all.

    In the main, the comments talk about government failure to adequately invest in social and affordable housing. At no point is the quality of the PRS ‘blasted’.

    There’s one line which talks about reform of regulations, but that’s about it. As much of the speech is an admission of political failings I can only agree with most of it.


    Spot on! Title should be 'Tories Blast Lack of Social Housing'.

    The PRS is supposed to run alongside Social Housing not replace it. For some reason we are now expected to cover the shortfall but then do it for nothing! We are just plugging the gap & making a living out of it, which for some reason makes us evil.


    “Two top Tories blast the quality of private rental sector“

    Graham Norwood, have a word with yourself. Your credibility is undermined by this kind of behaviour.

    PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Does Graham Norwood work for Shelter, or Landlord Today ? - Can someone please remind me !

  • Suzy OShea

    Yes, more social or council housing needs to be built. But if you trust Mayhem May or lying gove to deliver this, nothing will happen!

    This government needs to stop hammering PRS landlords and help them instead!

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    In the Belfast Telegraph it reports Gove as saying “The number of people who have been able to access ownership – to own their own home – in this country has been declining for years now." The stats seem to disagree with him and if you look at statista you will see that FTBs are doing pretty well as it happens.

  • icon

    Mark, great idea Mark do you you think we give 2 hoots, you keep them all, I always earned my living and never depended on letting to keep me. I had nothing & earned my money contracting initially to get property unfortunately my taxes still go to keep them. Why do anyone think private Landlords should put up with this level of abuse, least of all from lame duck Organisations that do nothing only moan about those who do.

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    A shelter conference! Says it all. All big businesses have conferences. Manly paid for from profits not picking the pockets of those who mistakenly think it’s a charity. Shelter the charity (business) that houses no one.

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    Time they started hitting out at council housing who provide properties full of damp and mould and who don't get penalised in any way for doing so, who don't have to spend vast amounts of money to upgrade their properties and take months to do repairs and can never be banned from letting out properties. everyone should have to provide quality homes not just the private rental sector.


    I viewed a council flat in a high-rise block today on behalf of a vulnerable person being offered it on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis.

    Jeeeez… disgusting doesn’t cover it…

  • icon

    Best way to get more houses is to give most small Landlords the opportunity to sell the properties they have....If the capital gains tax was reduced i'm sure a large amount of us would get rid of properties, thus freeing up a lot more houses. A large amount of people want out with all the legislation coming in.


    It was suggested to Osborne that if he really wanted more home-ownership he could do this. Turns out he wasn’t actually that interested in increasing home ownership after all.

  • George Dawes

    Goves just another puppet , a dancing one at that

  • Matthew Payne

    "We’ve reached a situation for a variety of reasons...." Just 2 actually Michael. Under the tories only 51,000 new social housing units have been built each year, (and even then some of those have been replacing old), as all stakeholders bar the people that need them, have been disincentivised by the planning system and funding arrangements to build any more.

    Meanwhile the population has been increasing by 400,000 every year and your governments disjointed policies like the TFA, S24, MEES etc etc have reduced supply of housing and turbo charged rents so noone can afford them. You do the math!

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    In terms of "the quality of the private rental sector" I'm unconvinced there is actually any accurate data on this. I am sure there are good and bad and everything in between, and clearly a shortage, judging by the interest in every property advertised. But there is no assessment or even register of all rental properties, so nobody can possibly know the quality.

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    Jo, well put a complete range of tenures to suit all ages and lifestyles. A level field and not Discriminatory rules like we have now and Licensing Schemes to drive up Rents making property unaffordable to Rent. The type of person you to Rent to now is a deciding
    factor whether you need a license or not, disgraceful behaviour by local Authorities surely their aim should be the quality of the housing for all, and not based on who you let to.

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    I pity anyone who takes any of this at face value.


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