Renting is changing. We are seeing a period of extensive reforms across the rental sectors in the UK. Scotland has already introduced significant reforms to their private rental sector, with England and Wales looking to introduce similar measures. In the past few years, we have also seen the introduction of a ban on letting agent fees, tax changes for private landlords, welfare reforms, new enforcement powers and the ‘Homes’ Fitness for Human Habitation Act. At the same time, we are seeing the emergence of new technologies enabling property owners to access different markets, such as Airbnb.
Despite these reforms, there are still concerns over property conditions, landlord practices, and affordability. Approximately, one in four properties in the private rented sector don’t meet the Decent Home Standard and, due to welfare reforms, there is an increasing gap between market rents and what is covered by Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates.
With the magnitude of the planned changes, the already introduced reforms, and the issues that permeate the rental sectors, there is a significant need to share knowledge and evidence from across the sectors to encourage evidence-based policymaking and practice. To support this, today, we are launching the Evidence Network for Renting (EN4R).
Our network acts as a knowledge-exchange hub to bring academics, policymakers, and stakeholders together to share knowledge, evidence and information on renting. We want to support the development of research on new issues and foster a culture that enables evidence-informed policymaking.
Our network will:
- share research and knowledge across professional, policy and academic groups,
- promote opportunities which enable connections to be developed between different groups,
- nurture opportunities for new research and evidence-informed policymaking and practice.
EN4R will be holding its inaugural conference this June in Manchester City Centre. Our conference called Renting in 2020 and beyond – development of a shared research and policy agenda is designed to help different groups share the latest research findings, collaboratively identify research challenges and opportunities, and develop policy and practice recommendations.
I have to graciously thank the Housing Studies Association and the Institute for Social Responsibility for their funding and support of the event and initiative. Their funding is further enabling us to support Early Career Researchers to get involved with the conference and we will be able to provide two £50 travel grants to the best ECR abstracts submitted. We will soon be launching a call for papers for our conference, so please do keep an eye out for this.
On a parting note, I am reminded of the famous proverb, ‘if you want to go fast, go alone. if you want to go far, go together’. By working together across the sector, sharing knowledge and evidence, we can help to shape policy and practice that can make renting better and improve the lives of everyone involved in renting.
To find out more about the network and how to get involved, please visit: edgehill.ac.uk/en4r
This event is being supported by a Housing Studies Association bursary, to find out more, please visit the HSA funding page here.