Over recent years, councils up and down the country have been looking into what can be done to make local housing more affordable. One of the most ambitious projects to date has just published its final report.
Last summer, the Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, set up a Living Rent Commission to explore how Bristol could become a “living rent city”. Since it was formed, the commission has been co-chaired by Cllr Tom Renhard, Cabinet Lead for Housing Delivery and Homes, and Professor Alex Marsh of the School for Policy Studies at the University of Bristol. Generation Rent has been a member of the commission and as part of it we submitted evidence ourselves and heard testimony from other organisations, groups, and individuals with lived experience, working to understand how Bristol could become more affordable.
The commission’s aim was to explore measures to improve affordability in the private rented sector, including rent regulation. Our work produced some valuable insights into how rents have changed over recent years at a neighbourhood level, the first time as far as we know that this has been done in Britain.
The core principles of the commission were to:
- Improve affordability of the private rented sector
- Understand the impact of regulation on rent prices including on housing quality and maintenance
- Identifying the most effective rent controls
- Consider what other powers are required
- Consider how to empower tenants’ rights
In total, the final report outlines 29 recommendations. These focus on improving standards, tenants’ experiences, and the accessibility of private renting. The commission’s recommendations reflect that the powers to regulate the market must come from central government. The recommendations also reflect the need to continue the constructive dialogue with renters and other stakeholders in the private rented sector to achieve the goal of delivering meaningful and lasting positive change for the sector.