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UK tenants should have the right to ‘rent for life’ so some believe
Tenants of private landlords should be given new rights to stay in their home as long as they want, along with guarantees that their rent will not increase above inflation, a think tank has argued.
Civitas said a new regulatory regime was needed in the private rental sector to prevent landlords exploiting the shortage of homes at the expense of tenants and taxpayers.
The private rented sector is expected to account for more than one third of the UK's housing stock by 2032. Presently, two fifths (40 per cent) of private tenants' incomes are typically taken up by rent.
Rising prices in the sector are being reflected in a growing housing benefit bill, said the report, called the Future of Private Renting.
The number of private renters needing housing benefit has more than doubled in the past decade, from 722,000 in 2003–4 to 1.7million in 2013–14.
This figure is due to reach 1.85million in 2018–19. The document also said the amount of housing benefit rent subsidies claimed in the private rental sector had more than doubled in real terms over the past 10 years, from £3.9billion in 2003–4 to £9.5billion in 2013–14, and is set to top £10billion in 2018–19.
While these sums were vital for growing numbers of low–income households with little choice but to rent privately, they were creating a "vicious circle" by propping up the rent inflation they are meant to alleviate, it claimed.
In areas with high numbers of claimants, this could give landlords the chance to set rents at artificially high levels, in line with the local housing allowance, the report said.
Its author, Daniel Bentley, argued that the private sector should be required to offer indefinite tenancies "as the norm". Once a rent has been agreed, index–linked ceilings on rises would give renters security.