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Think tank blasts “ineffectual landlords” letting out “poor quality housing”

A think tank claims that the government will pay landlords in the private sector six times the expected spend on new affordable homes in the five-year period between 2021 and 2026.

The New Economics Foundation - which describes itself as politically independent - says this is because over £70 billion will be paid to private landlords over this period through housing support.

Its analysis of official statistics claims to show that private landlords will receive more than six times what the government is expected to spend on affordable housing in the five-year period from 2021 and 2026.


It comes after the government announced in the October Autumn Statement that the local housing allowance would be increased to ensure people in receipt of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit are better equipped to deal with recent increases in private rents, which in November had increased 6.2 per cent year on year. 

The NEF says: “The increase means that even more public funds are being used to prop up a private rented sector riddled with poor quality housing and many ineffectual landlords, instead of investing in affordable social housing.” 

Alex Diner, senior researcher at NEF, says: “Everybody should have an affordable, warm and secure home to live in, yet the government is spending billions subsidising a broken system which too often fails to deliver this. 

“It is extremely inefficient for the government to be paying this money to private landlords when it should be building more new genuinely affordable homes and improving the quality and security of tenure for the homes we already have. 

“To overcome this mess, the government must build more social homes to meet the rising demand for affordable housing, reverse its u-turn to loosen energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector and improve its plans to regulate private renting.” 

The NEF also claims its polling shows that almost 40 per cent of private tenants that moved within the last year are paying an average £1,200 a year above the advertised rate, and that almost 40 per cent of private tenants who have moved in the 12 months have experienced damp and mould in their property.

The foundation also alleges that over 20 per cent of these tenants have seen their landlords raise the rent mid-way through the tenancy without agreement, and almost a similar proportion have reported concerns about the environmental standards of the property to their local council.

The think tank’s new chief executive, Danny Sriskandarajah, took office last month after being CEO of Oxfam UK; at the think tank he replaced former chief executive Miatta Fahnbulleh after she was selected as the Labour candidate for a parliamentary seat in London. 

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    What is unfathomable is why so many PRS landlords have chosen not to install basic insulation in the walls and lofts of their units and fit a lower running cost central heating system. Doing these simple things, over a period of time, is common sense. Always has been.
    We've had the now very reliable and accurate EPC national measurement system in place for 16 years. We've had the Conservative's excellent Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) in place for 9 years but still thousands of landlords think it makes long-term investment sense to own a poor quality asset and have their customers in crippling fuel poverty.
    The domestic EPC has always told landlords and tenants precisely what they need to know. The headline EPC Grade is the running cost measurement. That's the correct thing to measure for most - my rental occupiers care about winter heating bills and NOT carbon emissions. But if you do care about carbon emissions the certificate has (since 2008) presented a secondary EPC Grade with the CO2 pollution measurement. Sensible landlords look at BOTH EPC Grades and aim to get them BOTH to Grade C or better. I can't believe that there are still some landlords that don't understand the EPC national measurement system.
    These short-sighted landlords' business models are well and truly broken and their rental units are not fit-for-purpose. They are moaning loudly because they've been found out.


    Classic Gibbo 😂😂 you were up early today ….. keep em coming, Comedy 🎭 Gold 👍🏻


    All these properties were fit for purpose per-EPC. They are even more fitter now with climate change. It’s not worth upgrading the properties. Tenants don’t appreciate it.


    Martin, you are full of it. Go away and play with your toys.


    Gibbo’s gibberish again. He really has a one track mind. 😂

    Richard LeFrak


    Seriously, fuel poverty??? If two identical terraced houses in the same road one C and one D the pricing difference would be approx. 100quid a year. Granted that is a few loves of bread but the difference is not putting you on a plane to Tenerife for a pair of weeks is it.....

    Honestly you have an Head Full Of Magic..!


    I would absolutely love to make my properties more Energy eficiente but you can't cladding one without cladding the whole terraces as the brickwork is attractive and to clad one odd one woukd look ridiculous. Half the street is owner occupied and they are not interested.


    Peter your example of the 2 houses one of which is paying 100quis a year more for energy is likely paying 500quid a year less in rent, more than evens it's self out


    What a crock of carp!

    What is unfathomable is how some THINK there is a huge of problem with poor landlords (insulation or other things) and there's no evidence of such a HUGE problem except those who keep talking about it!

    The EPC isn't worth the paper it is written on because it doesn't reflect reality! So for example, if the cavity is too narrow to insulate the EPC system denigrates insulation standard even if other measures have been taken. It's a hit with cavity wall insulation or miss because it hasn't.

    It is also woeful in ignoring the big white elephant in the room, that there is conflict between ventilation necessary to combat condensation and mould, and thermal efficiency.

    If the government was really serious about insulation there would be thermal tests to really diagnose the poorly insulated.

    The fact is that the actual cost saving in micro insulation improvements is negligible and isn't all that's involved in moving from D to C... so it's nothing like as simple as you'd like to believe.

    The stonecold fact is that the BIGGEST problem isn't rogue landlords, isn't insulation, damp or mould, it's lack of social housing. If there were enough social housing, then the PRS would have to be competitive and provide better standards without any need for onerous ans stupid legislation.

    So the better question is why aren't you campaign on the BIGGEST problem and focusing on the smallest one?


    It's funny that Gibbo never gets any likes on this site maybe he is on the wrong site

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    I have an idea why they keep paying us to house THEIR tenants 🤔🤔 because they have built sod all social homes for decades 🆘

  • icon

    "former chief executive Miatta Fahnbulleh after she was selected as the Labour candidate for a parliamentary seat in London."
    "The New Economics Foundation - which describes itself as politically independent"
    Politically independent - my a45e!!!!


    well said

  • icon

    The Nazi party was just as politically independent

  • icon

    Now they want to blame Private Landlords for people milking the Benefit System.
    It was totally irresponsible for Government to design a system to be milked what did they think would happen.
    Unmarried mothers taking advantage of the system given priority, kept, housed schooled and reared that’s where hundreds of thousands of your housing stock has gone creating a shortage, huge numbers have split up and even get divorced to get on it fact, that’s why marriages has declined
    Why are Government departments so inept spending 6 times the amount, how did people manage before Housing Support, that’s the fault of the Government and the Claimants, the people that puts a roof over their heads have a Property to pay for. A Brand New Think Tank just where did they crawl out of, they should know.

  • Alexandra Morris

    How can this be seen as independent.
    It’s a shameful attack on private landlords which is in unjustified even within its content.
    Not a single fact or piece of supporting evidence included within its paragraphs!

    1. EPC’s are not fit for purpose hence the reason they are being overhauled. They are a static snapshot for a single point in time often riddled with assumptions and calculations which are now outdated.
    2. Private landlords provide a much needed source of housing to plug a gap caused by poor government policy and lack of investment into social housing.
    3. Tenants still don’t understand process and my guess is this ‘survey’ has been positioned without a clear explanation of processes such as legal rent increases and what headline figures are. This lack of understanding is just as bad today despite the how to rent guide and various other meddling tools brought in following ‘think tank’ input, consultations and popular policy.
    4. Existing social housing is graded much much lower in quality than the private and is the reason lots of social tenants want to move to private. There is a big rise in fraudulent or misleading applications from tenants and in part its desperation to be accepted despite affordability issues because they are seeking a better standard of home.
    5. Damp and mould is not always a landlord issue. There is now lots of data around occupier lifestyle and living conditions, including overcrowding amongst families. When referencing it this should be contextualised in order to position the debate as ‘unbiased’ and drive change which improves the status quo.

    You have to ask why this has been published and what the benefit is to private landlords - to whom it’s been published!
    It’s just a self promotion press release for the foundation and key individuals, appealing to the wider, often misinformed tenant audience without a clear message on a proposed solution.
    We’d invite the NEF to publish their full survey and dataset and engage with the private sector on these matters should it have a genuine desire to effect change in housing stock and quality.


    It is just more bias that the 2 main parties will quote for them to strong arm the PRS into yet more needless laws defending poor tenants.
    It's not going to change anytime soon.
    Time to slowly leave the sector in my view. When a tenant leaves the house goes on the market. In time the Government will realise, whomever is in power, they will then really start to work and dig deep to find more excuses why it is not their fault but the previous Government and of course those greedy Landlords. And in my view so it will continue!


    Can I use your comment on other sites, as it’s completely relevant?

    Alexandra Morris

    Hi John if that is to me then yes of course.

  • icon

    Your comments sre untrue. Please stop these falsehoods.

  • icon

    Martin. Where is your evidence how do you know what we have got, you are making a lot of groundless assumption many of mine are ’C’ at a great deal of expense, unlike yours as you have advised us before sounds like dodgy EPC’s putting a full sheet of perspex plastic over entire windows making in operable dysfunctional and blocking fire escapes, this is totally irresponsible.

  • Fed Up Landlord

    Ban Gibbo and his Lefty Commie Propaganda Shelter claptrap posing as
    " good advice" . Off to Siberia with him.

  • icon

    The Govt has pushed social housing tenants into the PRS by failing to deliver adequate housing for decades. The fact that these people require LHA to afford private housing is not our fault - they shouldn't be here! If all the should-be social tenants were not in the PRS the level of rent for everyone else would be lower.

    Govt has failed EVERYONE with its lack of housing policy & this group has the temerity to attack the LLs who are the only group taking up the slack!

  • Peter Lewis

    I’ve just had an epc done on my ex rental property ready for sale. The top floor flat is sixteen years old from new, has cavity wall insulation, double glazing, improved attic insulation, low led light bulbs, since new it has always had two ratings of C, however the latest epc has been rated a D. As the flat is in Wales who’s Senedd still intend to bring in epc ratings of C or above into law I would have not have been permitted to carry on renting out what is practically a brand new flat.
    How can an epc go from C to D overnight on a flat that was only built sixteen years old beats me. Perhaps the cheapest way of getting an epc rating upgrade is to change the person who is carrying out the epc survey? As a footnote the other five flats in a building consisting of six identical flats are all rated C.


    No doubt Gibbo will come rushing to defend the assessor and tell you that you should have fitted a PIV or some such contraption.😂

    The system and the assessors are flawed. I have a similar situation with two identical flats with one being rated lower than the other. This, despite one having a new immersion and electric heater. 😱


    LLs are being expected to put right the poor building standards that were applied! Higher insulation standards should have been mandatory for 20 years before anyone is expected to retrofit! We are paying the cost for the builders bottom line!

  • icon

    Surely the answer then is to provide more "affordable social housing"? Hardly the fault of landlords who are just covering their costs. Also I'd suggest the "ineffectual landlords" letting out "poor quality housing" are more commonly found in the social housing sector.

  • icon

    Peter. I agree with you I had the same problem reduced on renewal from a ‘C’ to a ‘D’ because I don’t have the Cavity Wall Cert’ which was do by Government Scheme because I never had it and the Contractors didn’t issue them that was done by a separate body, CIGA is one but there were others cannot be traced.
    They send Certs’ to the property not to the owner
    and Tenants have changed several times since. There were 4 Major Companies doing the work who made millions then Bankrupted the Companies or changed their name’s.
    Peter maybe I misunderstood or typo you can’t have 2 previous ’C’s as that would be 20 years and not due yet. However I suppose you could upgrading to a ‘B’ and request another one.

    Peter Lewis

    I had a new one done ready to sell because i had had the extra insulation put into the attic thinking that i might get a ‘b’. Unfortunately it went down to ‘D’.

  • icon

    Poor quality homes and poor quality tenants go together like peas in a pod, they deserve each other


    Some tenants feel more at home in poor quality houses


    Almost all only became poor quality after the tenants moved in and begun trashing the property.

    Only a low life tenant would contemplate moving into an already sub standard property.

    In addition, practically all landlords bring properties back up to standard in order to obtain the best tenants and market rents. It doesn't make sense to do otherwise.

  • icon

    Genuine question to the NEF.
    When you state that “Everybody should have an affordable, warm and secure home to live in”, as an ECONOMICS foundation, you surely understand that higher quality properties cost more, and the higher the standard demanded, the higher the cost of delivery. Who would you say should foot the bill for these improvements? And if the tenant stops paying for the asset they agreed to pay for - who should cover that cost to provide the security you say they should have?

    Would be very interested to see the calculations you have undoubtedly made that support your answer to the above question. And if you haven’t done the maths on how to fund what you wish to be true, don’t worry Labour don’t do this either so you’ll probably get along just fine.

  • icon

    We need to abolish most THINK tanks and replace them with DO tanks.


    I wish I could give this comment 100 likes.

    • B L
    • 01 February 2024 16:06 PM

    Think Tanks need projects to have fund, they are associated with the experts in different fields. We have already too many members in the government to think. It seems to be a vehicle so one can get CBE and OBE but no proper function.

  • icon
    • B L
    • 01 February 2024 15:27 PM

    PRS is only 19% of total housing, this NEF article posted in the wrong place, it belongs to social housing /council. As it happens that lots of councils have run out of money to manage the properties properly. The key point is the councils need to learn how to manage their budget properly, not to waste tax payers' money in fruitless projects. This article should be booted out of this portal. All charities should publish a list where the donation goes, in the shops and on the websites. This will avoid misappropriation. Charities' CEO remuneration should also be clearly marked. Don't we have too many charities, is this a warning sign of economy or something else? Heard government stopped funding a charity because they support terrorists.


    Article in local paper today1/5 or 20% of norwich council housing needing repair


    Great post

  • icon

    What makes everyone entitled to a secure warm home if that’s the case why would anyone bother to do anything or is that why so many do nothing, not my duty to provide it.
    I see more houses vacant because of all the constant attack HNO’s (houses with no occupancy).

  • icon

    Hmm so the money “will be paid to private landlords”…if only that was a certainty. With Universal Credit the money will be paid to the tenant and may not be passed on at all to the landlord. The idea is that the landlord can get direct payments when the tenant has got 2 months of arrears, however some scheming manipulative tenants make up false stories about their landlords or about the property to get the payments back to themselves to squander it instead. I know a landlord waiting for a possession hearing where there’s £25k of arrears so 20 months worth and no guarantee the DWP won’t switch back to the tenant again.


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