CLA research reveals continuing crisis in rural residential letting

Our research has revealed how the policies of a government committed to increase availability of affordable homes, are ridding rural areas of urgently needed rentable homes.
Rural home (Wales)

Robust statistics are vital to achieving the CLA’s lobbying wins, so when the Welsh Government launched a White Paper on housing adequacy, which included proposals for rent controls, we reopened our Welsh Housing Survey to gather information about how the Private Rented Sector (PRS) is changing. The information provided by members will play a pivotal role in shaping our arguments and influencing the decisions of Welsh Government.

We used the results to back up our opposition to rent controls, and emphasise to Welsh Government the need to understand the impacts of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act before making further changes to the PRS.

Survey findings

The survey showed that 40% of the properties were let out at an affordable rent (which is defined as below 80% of market rent), with 18% of the survey respondents letting properties at less than 39% of market rent. These members are acting as charitable landlords, providing low cost accommodation and supporting rural communities.

However, since April 2017, 164 properties have moved from an affordable rent to a market rent. Respondents highlighted the cost to upgrade the property to Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) as a motivation for moving to market rent.

Although 60 properties were added to the sector in the past five years, at least 134 were removed from the sector, either by being sold or the property being used for another purpose, such as for tourist accommodation. This net loss has worrying implications for the future of the PRS. Without a good supply of PRS properties, businesses in rural areas may struggle to fill labour gaps.

Respondents highlighted the uncertainty and administrative burden caused by the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 as the main motivation for leaving the sector, as well as the proposed Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards of ‘C’.

The properties being sold are just as likely to be used as second homes or holiday lets as they are to be used as affordable homes.

The survey also showed that planning delays and costs had been a blocker for people who wanted to build new properties to add to the PRS.

If past trends continue, the future of the PRS in Wales does not look bright. Respondents intend to sell at least 304 properties over the next decade, which represents 21% of the properties in the survey. The figure could be as high as 61% of properties.

Next steps

Thank you to all our members who completed this survey. The data we have collected will prove vital to our lobbying efforts. As well as using it in our recent consultation response, we will be sharing it with the relevant Ministers in the Senedd and be asking for a response from Welsh government about how they intend to protect the rural private rented sector in the future.

Key contact:

Bethany Turner headshot
Bethany Turner CLA Environment Policy Adviser, London