Our work in the private rented sector

The private rented sector (PRS) has doubled in size over the last decade. The continued growth of this sector has pushed it into the spotlight, with M·E·L Research at the forefront of delivering several crucial research and consultation projects.

 

Working alongside local authorities over the past four years, we have delivered several selective and additional licencing projects to provide much needed research and consultation of the PRS.

While many landlords and agents deliver good quality private rented homes, there are some who are providing poor quality homes that are badly managed. This creates anxiety for the tenants themselves, it builds ill-feeling with local neighbours, increases work for councils (eg removing fly-tipping and dealing with complaints) and puts private renting in a bad light.

This is the reason many councils are considering and using licensing schemes in the PRS. Councils already run licensing schemes for bigger houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) but they can also extend the benefits of licensing to smaller HMOs through additional licensing or even more widely to other private rented properties with selective licensing. The aim with all these schemes is to improve the management of privately rented housing, to continue this much-needed - but good quality - housing supply.

PRS licensing is a powerful tool for councils to improve the sector and tackle rogue landlords but its use is subject to considerable constraints.

Timeline and snapshot of M·E·L Research’s PRS projects:

2014/2015 - Croydon PRS Selective Licensing Consultation

The London Borough of Croydon was considering bringing in a borough-wide selective licensing scheme for landlords operating in the PRS.

This project saw us designing, running and publicising three stages of consultation taking a flexible approach to account for emerging issues from Enfield’s judicial review.

2016 - Hammersmith & Fulham Statutory Consultation into Private Rented Sector Selective Licensing

The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Council were aiming to improve the standard, safety and conditions for residents in the private rented sector and address issues around anti-social behaviour, and wanted do this in a way that would benefit both tenants and landlords.  The Council was therefore considering a number of different options and commissioned us to undertake a public consultation to determine the levels of support for the council’s proposals. Our methods included a residents’ survey, tenants’ survey, online consultation and stakeholder consultation.

“M·E·L Research delivered on time and on price. They were pragmatic, flexible and responsive. The output work was robust, thorough and unbiased.”

2017 - Sefton Statutory Consultation into Private Rented Sector Additional and Selective Licensing, and Haringey Private Rented Sector Additional and Selective Licensing

With the 2013 Sefton house condition survey finding that 24% of privately rented property failed to meet the decent homes standard, compared to 16% of all private housing in the borough, Sefton Council proposed to introduce both Selective and Additional (HMO) Licensing schemes for privately rented properties across selected areas of the borough. 

Similar to Sefton, the London Borough of Haringey also proposed to introduce both Selective and Additional (HMO) Licensing schemes for privately rented properties in the borough. 
We were commissioned for both projects and used a range of methods to consult with landlords, local residents, tenants, businesses and organisations in and around the borough, as well as stakeholders and neighbouring local authority areas.

2018 - Great Yarmouth District Council Evidence Base for Selective Licensing

Great Yarmouth District Council was considering introducing selective licensing to combat problems connected with private rented properties in two wards. M·E·L Research collated and analysed a wide selection of data to identify which LSOAs (neighbourhoods based on standard ONS geography) stood out within the two wards, to guide the designation if selective licensing were introduced.

Our work informed a public consultation on the selective licensing scheme. Following that, the Council have agreed to introduce the new scheme, which will start in January 2019.

2018 - Bath and North East Somerset Council Additional (HMO) Licencing Consultation
Our most recent project saw us working alongside Bath and North East Somerset Council (BANES) which was proposing to introduce an Additional (HMO) Licensing scheme across the whole of Bath city. 

As part of the licensing considerations, BANES Council commissioned us to produce an independent report on the consultation, along with the running of two public meetings to present the proposals to interested parties and gather feedback on the proposals along with stakeholder interviews from a number of organisations working in and with the sector.

The public consultation included four key methods of gathering views for the consultation: an online survey, a residents’ survey, two public meetings and stakeholder interviews.

“M·E·L Research provided a full consultation service to our specification including an excellent report and presentation. We were particularly impressed with the levels of engagement achieved with all stakeholders and the public meetings run and designed by M·E·L Research consultants.”

 

With growth expected to continue in the private rented sector, research evidence is invaluable to tackle problems associated with rogue landlords, improve property conditions and ensure tenants are being treated fairly. To talk to one of the M·E·L Research team about a PRS project email adam.knight-markiegi@melresearch.co.uk or call 0121 604 4664

MRS Evidence Matters