New Housing Minister Felicity Buchan has admitted to MPs that the private rental sector has seen the private rental sector shrink by over a quarter of a million households under the Tories’ watch.
In a candid letter to fellow MPs, Buchan says she realises that the PRS is now under immense strain as the number of homes to rent is far outstripped by supply, explaining that there were 260,000 fewer households in 2020/21 compared to the high point in 2016/17, according to the English Housing Survey.
The National Residential Landlords Association, which has been shown a copy of the letter, says it welcomes Buchanan’s recognition of the supply crisis, but says the government needs to solve the problems it has been instrumental in creating.
“Since 2015 successive Chancellors have sought to choke off investment in the market with a series of tax hikes,” says NRLA policy director Chris Norris (pictured).
“All this has achieved is to cut supply whilst demand continues to soar for fewer and fewer properties. The ultimate losers in this are tenants, who are finding it more difficult to access the homes they need.”
In her letter, Buchan said there had been a “broad equilibrium in the overall number of landlords leaving and entering the market” during the past decade.
She also tried to downplay any worrying reasons behind the drop in numbers, explaining that it might be due, at least in part, to the pandemic, when adult children moved back in with parents, or from multiple households ‘bubbling up’.
Buchanan also said it was difficult to know whether properties sold by one landlord were entering private ownership or staying in the PRS with a different landlord, or by how much landlords planned to increase or reduce their portfolios.