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Poor property conditions and variable standards of housing management in the private rented sector (PRS) are among the most important housing issues facing the UK today. In response to these challenges, regulation of the UK PRS has been significantly restructured over the last fifteen years. Regulatory policy is changing at different speeds in each of the four jurisdictions, and across the UK local authorities now have a broader range of powers to improve
standards and affect landlord behaviour. Local authorities however currently face the challenge of meeting increased demand for their services with
diminishing resources. Across the UK there are widespread criticisms regarding the inadequacy of current enforcement activities. There is currently a lack of research exploring how various PRS strategies and approaches are shaped on a local level.

In this context, our research aim was:
To investigate how UK local authorities are developing strategies to improve their PRS, and to provide suggestions for how regulation and enforcement in the sector could be improved.

The more specific research questions we addressed were:
How are local authorities enforcing the law aimed at tackling low standards in the UK PRS?
What PRS strategies are local authorities adopting and how do they combine formal and informal approaches?
What can other local authorities learn from the system and approaches adopted that can be used to help shape decisions on regulating the PRS?

These research questions were addressed in two stages. Stage 1 involved seven semi-structured telephone interviews with key stakeholder professional participants from national tenant groups and landlord groups and two interviews with participants working within Rent Smart Wales. Stage two of the research involved in-depth interviews with 61 professionals from across 13 UK local authorities. The sample included a wide range of individuals working at a managerial and strategical level and those responsible for enforcing the legislation “on the ground”. Analysis included consideration of written enforcement strategies and related documentation (where available).
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence
Number of pages94
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2020

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