Number of private rented homes rises 1.5m in a decade

Some 1.5 million houses and flats have been added to the stock of privately rented homes since 2001, new government figures reveal.

This means that for the first time the private rented sector is now almost equal in size to the social housing sector.

Data from the English Housing Survey shows that since 2001, the number of homes in the private rented sector has risen from 2.2 million to 3.7 million as of 2011.

Over the same period, local authority-owned properties fell by one million to 1.8 million, while the number of housing association properties has increased from 1.4 million to two million, giving a total of 3.8 million social houses.

Both private rented and social houses now comprise approximately 17 per cent of the country’s housing stock each.

Commenting on the figures, Alan Ward, chairman of the Residential Landlords Association, said they demonstrate the need for more investment in the private rented sector.

The news that the private rented sector is now equal in size to the social rented sector demonstrates the ever-increasing importance of the sector in meeting the UK’s housing needs.

“Whilst the number of properties in the sector has increased by over a million in ten years, all the figures persistently show a chronic shortage of privately rented properties, denying tenants genuine choices over their housing needs, and serving only to drive up rents,” he said.

Property owners can make sure that the standard of the current private rented housing stock is maintained by taking out landlord buildings insurance, which will help ensure any necessary repairs are carried out as needed.

But in the long-term, Mr Ward suggests the government needs to takes action to stimulate investment in the sector.

“With the government’s review of investment in the sector and the opposition’s private rented sector policy review both due to be published soon, ministers and shadow ministers must ensure that reforming the way the sector is taxed is a priority to boost investment and growth in the sector to meet the demands of tenants,” he said.