A housing analyst says student rent increases should be capped in the same way as social housing rents are.
Rory Hughes, writing on the website Wonkhe, says: “The social housing sector – with better regulation over safety and standards – pretty much exists exists to support low-income households, an unregulated market wouldn’t work and because increases in rent impact the taxpayer as well as the tenant. Higher education students are clearly also a vulnerable group of tenants and a demographic on low incomes that is being hit hard by any increases.”
He makes it clear that he is advocating rent caps for those students in Purpose Built Student Accommodation, rather than ‘digs’ or buy to let HMOs.
So he continues: “PBSA clearly is a distinct housing sector, with similarities to that of supported social housing, indeed some is even run by charities (including universities) and housing associations. Student maintenance loans (which are ultimately mostly taxpayer funded debt) are being further swallowed up by PBSA landlords through large increases in rents.
“And PBSA is mostly a vastly profitable business, so profits would be the main thing squeezed by any rent cap, not the valuable budgets of social landlords. This should make the necessary trade offs of caps even less of a consideration to the government.”
For the past four years English social housing has been subject to an annual rent cap set by the Regulator of Social Housing using a standard formula.
Hughes asks: “Is it time then that we discussed and lobbied for not only an emergency rent cap aligned with social housing in the next year, but the creation of a permanent rent-setting formula for PBSA, set by government and closely linked to student finance and changes in living standards?
“ … In the mid 2010s, the government mandated all social housing landlords to cut rents by 1% every year for several years – perhaps this could help the long-term PBSA affordability crisis?"
You can see the full article here.
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