How landlords drive up quality in the rented sector

Refurbishment is big business in the rental sector – and is helping drive up quality

Despite recent attempts by politicians to colour the PRS as sub-standard and riddled with rogue landlords, in fact the quality of rented accommodation is on an upward trend.

A survey published this week by InterBay Commercial proves the point. According to the specialist buy-to-let lender, the number of rented homes in England deemed ‘non-decent’ by the Office for National Statistics has fallen for the tenth year in a row. The most recent data reveals a decrease to 24.5% in 2018 from 44% in 2008. There is still a way to go but the vast majority of landlords are now providing good quality homes for people to live in. And this is in spite of the rapid expansion of the sector in the last decade, adding 1.5 million new rented homes.

Confirmation that quality is being driven up year-on-year is borne out by the latest English Housing Survey. This shows that the vast majority (84%) of private renters were satisfied with their current accommodation. 

In addition to the professionalisation of the sector due to the advent of buy-to-rent, which is promoting high-quality living space, InterBay claims that landlords’ commitment to upgrading properties has been a key factor in this improvement. 

The lender’s survey of more than 700 property investors shows that 70% of landlords who recently undertook a refurbishment did so to improve the property, either to enhance the presentation or to elevate the quality of the accommodation for tenants. 

As well as ensuring a property is an attractive prospect for potential tenants, refurbishment typically bolsters a rental property’s value and income potential: 74% of those who undertook a refurbishment said it enhanced the property’s value, and 82% saw monthly rents rise. Even after accounting for those who did not see the value of their property rise, the typical refurbishment added £13,000 to a house’s value.

So it may be an easy target for political point-scoring, but the private rented sector has been the success story of the housing market in the last decade. Growth and professionalisation have improved both choice and quality for tenants.

However, faced with a range of potentially damaging future policies and proposals from across the political spectrum, continued investment is not a foregone conclusion. Rather than demonising landlords and driving them out of the market, they should be well-regulated and properly supported. Interbay Commercial thinks that, should the current rate of change in the PRS continue, “it will weigh on landlords’ decisions to spend more on their portfolios, and risks undermining a decade of progress”.

We agree wholeheartedly.  

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