Reimagining rent for public benefit

February 22, 2018

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In February 2018, the BBC looked at the position of UK tenants in comparison with renters in other countries.

At Abode Impact, we know that the UK Private Rented Sector (PRS) is not good news for many. It leaves the vulnerable behind – and worse still, widens social divide for many more (Young Foundation 2017 research). Despite the PRS playing a bigger role in housing today, it is still failing to meet societal needs.

Poverty has doubled among renters in the last decade, with millions of people stuck in expensive and inadequate homes. 29% of privately rented homes fail the Decent Homes standard, and 17% are a threat to health and safety (Independent, 2017).

The current system is clearly failing the most vulnerable and the need for change is urgent.

Key barriers to innovation in the PRS

According to The Young Foundation’s Review of the private rented sector in England: Vulnerability and Innovation (2017), there is lack of maturity, professionalism and investment infrastructure in the sector, creating barriers to social innovation.

Abode Impact Barriers to PRS Innovation

Source: The Young Foundation’s Review of the private rented sector in England: Vulnerability and Innovation (2017)

But a change is coming

“The private rental system is vast, fragmented and complex but this doesn’t mean it’s unsolvable.  What we must do is build the infrastructure to support new ideas and creativity that could improve the sector, particularly for people who are vulnerable or living in poverty.”

Radhika Bynon, The Young Foundation

Supporting change

The Young FoundationThe Young Foundation believes that innovation can play a significant role in improving the experiences of tenants in the PRS. So much so, they launched the Reimagining Rent programme last year, funded by the Nationwide Foundation. The programme offers grants to support new organisations looking to transform the housing market. It provides a tailored package of mentoring, financial coaching, workshops and access to potential investors and funders.

Delivering change

Abode Impact was delighted to be awarded a place on the programme, alongside an impressive cohort of inspiring organisations, including Fifty Thousand Homes, Rentprofile, RentSquare, Cambridge House Safer Renting, Kineara and Homeless Rooms Birmingham.

Between us, we are tackling a number of problems that are prolific in PRS, such as wheelchair accessibility, housing supply, rent support, safety, homelessness, access to trusted landlord networks and investment.

At Abode Impact, we believe that impact investing in particular has a key role to play in PRS. We are building on the great work done by Resonance, Cheyne Capitaland others in aligning the interests of investors and residents.

Other organisations within the cohort are using different mechanisms, such as through the use of big data or creating partnerships with public sector bodies to create change.

Sustaining change

The longer-term impact of the programme will see the creation of stakeholder alliances and networks to help remove these barriers to innovation. This will ultimately attract institutional investment to help organisations such as us, and the others in the first cohort of The Young Foundation’s programme, to create a more secure, inclusive, safe and affordable PRS for tenants.

Eleanor Bowden, CEO of Abode Impact

www.abodeimpact.co.uk

Twitter @BowdenEleanor

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