It's Rural Housing Week 2022

CLA Property and Business Policy Adviser Avril Roberts reflects on Rural Housing Week 2022, with a focus on what will affect the rural housing supply

We’re coming to the end of Rural Housing Week so perhaps now is a time for some reflection on what will affect the supply to rural housing…

The focus of Rural Housing Week this year was Levelling Up (very topical), and rural homelessness. While the week may have been somewhat overshadowed by the resignation of yet another housing minister, there have been 11 in 10 years, there were many opportunities to focus on the role housing plays in levelling up the rural economy.

CLA members play a significant role in providing rural homes for rent, with 90% of members letting homes, of which 60% rent homes at values below market rent, and with 24% of all homes let below market rent. However, more frequently we are see members leaving the market due to the barrage of legislation being imposed on the sector. Just take Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards as one example. If residential landlords are to be required to spend £10,000 to reach EPC ‘C’ by 2025 or 2028 it is not surprising that some will be considering selling properties that will fail to meet ‘C’, or where the rent is not sufficient to cover the cost of the upgrades. This one example is the first of many facing the sector.

A few weeks ago, the Government published its white paper on renters’ reform “A fairer private rented sector”. The paper set out the far-reaching ambitions of Government to overhaul the private rented sector. We saw a re-commitment to abolish section 21 “no-fault evictions”, and proposals of a Decent Homes Standard, a PRS Ombudsman and a Property Portal.

If we continue to see members and other private landlords leaving the private rented sector because of legislative burdens these families will be displaced – perhaps contributing to the second theme of Rural Housing Week, rural homelessness. Therefore, it is imperative that these rented homes are replaced, meaning building new housing.

The Levelling Up theme of Rural Housing Week gave us the podium to talk about the failings of the planning system to deliver rural housing. If housing is the key to levelling up the rural economy, then the planning system must be fit for purpose, not only to deliver replacement homes for those being lost to other sectors, but also to increase the supply beyond current levels. The CLA’s Sustainable Communities report recommends five changes which could be made to enable more rural housing delivery, particularly affordable housing, in the areas that need it most. If these recommendations are adopted along with good policy implementation through the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, then all may not be lost for the supply of rural housing.

We will wait and see what a new housing minister brings, but the CLA will continue to lobby on behalf of members’ interests in the residential sector, both for the management of existing housing and the supply of new. Rural Housing Week may be at an end, but the political turmoil we’re seeing will present new opportunities for CLA influence.

Key contact:

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Avril Roberts Senior Property and Business Policy Adviser, London