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Better data key to improving rental sector – Citizens Advice

  • 14/03/2019
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Better data key to improving rental sector – Citizens Advice
If the government wants to improve the standards of the rental sector, it needs to significantly improve its collection of data on tenants’ actual experiences.

That’s the conclusion of Joe Lane, principal policy manager at Citizens Advice. Writing a blog for the Office of National Statistics, Lane noted that the data already available suggests there are significant problems within the rental sector.

He cited the recent English Housing Survey, which found that a quarter of private rented homes in England weren’t decent, while around 14% of homes had a category one hazard, meaning there was an immediate risk to people’s health and safety.

However, Lane argued there are also large gaps in the data collected about the rental sector.

He said: “One gap – or at least challenge – in the data is the lack of comparability between nations. For example, the Welsh Housing Conditions Survey ran in 2018 for the first time in 10 years, so there has been a lack of comparison for findings from the other UK countries’ housing surveys.”

Lane suggested that more comparison would allow all stakeholders to learn from policy successes and mistakes.

The data is also insufficiently granular, particularly when it comes to geography, he argued.

“In reality, people’s experience of private renting is driven by relatively small local markets. So when discussing affordability or how well housing stock meets demand, the notion of a national or even regional market often doesn’t reflect local experiences of landlords or tenants,” Lane concluded.

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